Four heartwarming dog-rescue adoption stories from across Canada

Every year, thousands of dogs are abandoned and rescued by shelters across Canada. And every year, thousands of dogs find their new forever homes, often thanks to caring cottagers who couldn’t imagine heading north without their new best friend. To celebrate the people who open their homes and cottages to canine companions, we’ve compiled four amazing stories of dogs with sad starts but happy endings.

Cheaper by the dozen


Earlier this summer, the Hamilton-Burling SPCA Cruelty and Investigation Team removed 15 Shih Tzus from a Hamilton home. The dogs were found infested with fleas with heavily matted fur, were extremely frail and at risk for parasites. Several of the tiny pooches had eye infections and all of them were poorly socialized. Since their rescue in August, the dogs have been bathed and shorn, given flea treatment and medication, undergone significant dental work and behavioral rehabilitation. They spent time in foster homes and have made an incredible recovery. “Their legs are getting stronger, their coats are healthier, their appetites are normal, and they are all playing well,” says Karen Reichheld, HBSPCA’s manger of Animal Care. The 15 dogs were just put up for adoption earlier this week and already, six of them have been adopted and found their forever homes. Happy tails!

Chester the brave


After months of searching for the perfect dog to adopt, Mary and Celeste found Chester the miniature poodle cross on the Toronto Humane Society website. The one-year-old fluffy puppy now happily resides with his loving family, but he suffered from a past of abuse and homelessness that made him nervous around humans and other dogs. When Mary and Celeste went to visit him for the first time, Chester was so terrified he wouldn’t go near them and wouldn’t accept treats. Even after they brought him home, the first few days Chester was so still fearful he would stay in his crate all day. Like so many other rescue dogs, with time, Chester has grown to trust his family. It’s always so difficult for dogs that come from a history of abuse to accept a new family, but in just four months, Chester is already so comfortable with Mary and Celeste he’s sleeping with them at night.

Molly the kisser


Before Molly was adopted, she was a stray in Nova Scotia for a long time. Living on the streets, Molly was forced to eat from garbage cans while hiding from raccoons. Even after she was finally rescued and brought in by the Nova Scotia SPCA, no one claimed her. When Laine Parnell moved from Vancouver to Nova Scotia, she knew she wanted to get a dog. She started looking at the SPCA, but as she says, “none was ‘the one’.” Then she saw Molly online and instantly fell in love. When Laine met Molly for the first time, the black dog was nervous, but she jumped onto Laine’s lap, put her paws around her neck, and planted a big, doggy kiss on her face. “It was like a reunion, not a first meeting,” Laine says. It took some time for Molly to get used to domesticated life. For instance, she needed to be leashed and by Laine’s side constantly for the first month since she was so scared. Laine even had to hug garbage cans to show that they were not scary objects. Eventually, she overcame her fears of garbage cans, the dark and children. These days, Molly and Laine are still inseparable, but in a good way. Molly keeps Laine company while she works from home.

Whisky the warrior


Whisky has been in a loving home since 2008, but he spent the first year of his life between owners and cities. Whisky (originally named Bijou) was surrendered to the Prince Rupert branch of the British Columbia SPCA because he was a hyper handful for his family. After a short stint in a foster home and with another family that didn’t quite work out either, Whisky worked with the SPCA staff to get his excitability under control. After some more training, Whisky journeyed to Vancouver with Drive for Lives, an animal transfer program that relocates animals to nearby shelters with high demand. Once in Vancouver, Whisky quickly found his forever home with Paula and Mike. They learned that the key to controlling Whisky’s hyper tendencies was by keeping him mentally stimulated. These days, Paula and Mike take him on hikes, encourage him to jump over rocks and weave through poles. His most impressive trick, however, is his coyote-styled howl.