So Happy Together

When it comes to the bond between people and their pooches, there’s no better feeling than saving the life of an animal in need. Herewith: True stories of heroic humans and the rescues they love.
Words by Jorge Arauz | Photos Jaime Seymour-Newton | February 23, 2022 | People

Paying It Forward

Before being rescued by a local shelter, Zuza spent most of her life chained to an old refrigerator and kept in a dark shed with no sunlight. That’s when Wendy & Fernando Redondo saw a post on social media and sprung into action. The couple already had experience with volunteering for different shelters and rescues, helping pets achieve a sense of normalcy amidst the chaos: taking them on walks, grooming their matted fur, training them on basic commands and helping them become more desirable for adoption. An animal in need is a friend in deed — abandoned kittens, birds with broken wings and newly hatched chicks that fall out of their nest — they don’t think twice when they see an animal in despair. “All the things you do matter,” they say. “You may not be able to change the universe, but you can change an animal’s entire world.”

Vision of Love

For Miami artist Isa Zapata, adding her rescue dogs to the family was kismet. “A few days before adopting our first little guy, James, I had a vision of myself painting in my studio with a doggie next to me,” she says. That premonition came true when she encountered a woman at the gym with two puppies up for adoption. “After ceremoniously lifting James in the air Lion King style, I went over to hold him and I still haven’t let go!” Three years later, she and her husband went to donate supplies to 100+ Abandoned Dogs Of Everglades Florida to help 40 dogs saved from a horrible hoarding situation. “That’s when we met Nero — shy, cautious, scared and full of love,” she says. “We knew he’d have a hard time getting adopted so we immediately volunteered to foster him.” Little did they know, the more mature James would become a role model for his new furry little brother, helping him adapt to his new life and teaching him the ropes. “We took Nero to meet several potential adopters, but he’d always jump right back into our arms,” she says. “He made it clear we were his humans so we officially adopted him and added him to our pack!”

All In The Family

For The Striflings, Dec. 22 has a very special meaning. It’s the day they adopted both of their dogs, Paco and Lucy, rescued 6 years apart. When it comes to the bond between the pets, despite their enormous size difference of 8 lbs vs 80 lbs, the family jokes they are extremely attached to one another, just like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins. “Much has been said about the unconditional love you get from your pets, but we believe that love doubles from a rescued or adopted pet,” they say. “They are very attuned to what is going on around them and are fully aware that you have either saved them or taken them to a much better life — they’re forever appreciative and will remind you at every opportunity.”

A Dog’s Life

When Kylo was adopted from Royal Canadian Pet Rescue, his new family was immediately smitten with the stately pooch. “The moment we found out he had a rare heart condition, we never doubted his life should be saved,” says Lina Amashta. “We searched the world for the best doctors treating his condition and flew him to Colombia immediately to have the surgery done!” Seeing her new furry friend laying helplessly in the recovery room with tubes everywhere broke her heart — until he started coming to. “As soon as he heard my voice, he started wagging his tail and opening his eyes, you could tell he was very happy to see me,” she says. “It was such a beautiful and priceless moment!” She believes that Kylo is just as much a part of the family as her husband and kids. “Animal lives matter,” she says. “Giving a pet a dignified life in a loving home is an incredible way to create an atmosphere of joy and happiness around the family.”

Out Of This World

H. Saturn V Rocket. It’s definitely not a name you see every day, and one you would likely not assign to your pet, but for 10-year-old Liam Turkek and his little brother, Matthew, it was a perfect fit. Now his favorite dog and his favorite NASA mission both have the same name. Rocket (for short) was adopted from Labrador Retriever Rescue of South Florida shortly after the Tureks’ dog passed away. When Rocket was a newborn puppy, so small his eyes had not even opened yet, he was found on the side of the road with two of his siblings in a tied-up garbage bag. He was the only one to survive. Parents Mike & Laura have been involved with animal rescues for a long time. “All of the pets we’ve shared over our life together have been rescued in some manner,” they say. “Rescue animals will change your life forever. They may need a little more time, training and special attention to settle into their new life, but they know that you rescued them and they express that through their unconditional love, snuggles and loyalty for the rest of their days.”