The Impact of Adoption: 4 Stories That Will Touch Your Heart

Story by Rebecca West

“I have found that when you are deeply troubled there are things you get from the silent, devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.”

Attributed to the late-great Doris Day, Hollywood actress and passionate animal activist, it’s a quote that many can relate to. Pets impact our lives in a multitude of ways, most of which are positive. From emotional benefits to health benefits, they have a profound influence on our wellbeing. They can also spur us into action. Here are four stories of Tucson residents who shared their experiences with adopting rescue dogs and the outsized impression it’s had on their lives.

For Terry, Harry and Molly were like pennies from heaven. Things had been rough lately — really rough — before these two adorable little fur nuggets came into her life. For starters, she came down with a serious respiratory illness in December 2021, one that left her hospitalized for 10 days, followed by months of rehabilitation and physical therapy. Feeling exhausted most of the time from low oxygen levels and struggling with her breathing exercises, she and her 92-year-old mother were getting by on each other’s emotional support. It was particularly tough on Terry, though, as she still missed her two small dogs, a bonded pair she’d had for roughly eight years and never got over. “They were my best friends and soulmates,” she reflected wistfully.

In 2009, after completing work on the Phoenix Mars lander for U of A, she decided to take some time off. While walking her two dogs on the same two-mile stretch they navigated every morning, Terry took a fall on an already fragile spine and needed five surgeries over the next nine months, leaving her mostly bedridden and in and out of the hospital. “The dogs stayed by me every minute, and they were the only joy and source of relief from my pain, but more from my mental state of going from doing everything to doing nothing and possibly not even being able to use my arms or walk right again.”

Then, in February 2011, she was finally cleared to travel to Florida for extensive rehab and physical therapy, but there were still two problems. First, her marriage was lamentably in tatters by then. Second, getting there. “I had to leave my two dogs because Shiloh, my Chihuahua-Shih Tzu mix, was allergic to the rabies vaccine and couldn’t fly. I couldn’t split the two apart. They were like husband & wife. I wasn’t able to travel long distances by car then, and my ex loved them as much or almost as much as me, so I had to leave them behind. They were everything to me, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Longing for another bonded pair all these years, Terry finally got her chance this past January when she saw one of our Wednesday Rescue Pet of the Week posts on Instagram, where we highlight dogs in need of forever homes. Harry and Molly were being fostered by Tucson Cold Wet Noses when Terry ran across the post on 1/18/21 and immediately reached out to us. She said at the time, “I know everything happens for a reason, and I’m praying this will finally be the two I’ve waited for.”

After some back and forth and some home visits, Harry and Molly officially became part of the family on January 30 (ironically, Shiloh passed away just two days earlier). Since then, every day has been a delight. They keep her and her mom beaming from ear to ear with their silly antics and constant companionship. At approximately 8 and 10 years old, they fit right in as if they’ve always been part of the family. “I’m so over the moon words can’t even begin to describe it and the happiness they bring to this house, especially since mom’s cancer diagnosis. I am grateful every day to have found them, and mom loves them, too. They are just a joy and uplift our spirits every day. We are truly blessed!”

“Those who teach the most about humanity aren’t always human.”
-Donald L. Hicks, Author of Look into the Stillness

Then there’s Iryna from Ukraine, who moved to the States a few years ago with her husband and eventually ended up in Tucson. Her adoption impact story began on July 18, 2021, when she saw the online photo of a 5-month-old dog under the care of Pima Animal Care Center. Completely taken with the pup, she recounted that she didn’t sleep that night and instead tossed and turned until morning just thinking about the animal. As soon as the shelter opened, she dashed over and began the adoption process. By the next day, July 20, Iryna and her new baby girl “Kira” were driving home to start their lives together as a family of three. Initially noted as a timid girl, Kira has come a long way in the last year.

“These days, since Russia has invaded Ukraine, my dog Kira is my biggest support. It is unbelievable what is going on there because we [Russia and Ukraine] are like family. And I have my family and friends in Ukraine. Some of them I have lost connection with since everything started, and who knows if we will ever meet again. It is so sad, but I am glad Kira always interrupts my sadness and crying by bringing me a toy when she sees me like this.

“Kira has been helping me go through a very hard time with my family being there, and I don’t know what I’d do without her. I feel she is my soul, believe it or not, and is my best moral support giving me kisses hundreds of times per day. I think it’s to tell me, ‘everything is good, and we have to keep ourselves up through this war.’ I am very happy to have her, and I feel like she has been rescuing me, and I didn’t rescue her.”

Iryna is also on a mission for Kira. Turns out she’s one of a litter of four, and Iryna would very much like to arrange a playdate with Kira’s siblings adopted in Tucson between 7/18/21 and 7/21/21. She included their PACC ID #s at the time: A746137, A746138, and A746139. She’s tried posting about the much-dreamed-of reunion on Facebook to no avail. Iryna’s still optimistic, however, and hopes that perhaps someone reading this might recognize their pup in Kira and reach out to her. She’s even created an email address for potential contacts specifically for this purpose: kirabarboska@gmail.com.

Obviously the apple of her eye, Iryna wanted to speak her heart to her faithful companion by sharing this message, “Thanks a lot, Kira, for being my support throughout this, the most difficult time in my life. You are my love!”

“I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”
-Maya Angelou, Noted Poet and Civil Rights Activist

The night before local Realtor Angela adopted Chloe back in November 2016, her cousin had shared a video taken by an Arizona animal advocate networking for shelter pups. The gist of the clip was that if the dog was not adopted by the end of the next business day, she would be put down. “I saw it, and tears literally started to flow,” Angela recalled. “She looked just like my other sweet pittie. The shelter she was in is a very high-kill one in Maricopa County. I’m in Pima County and already had four dogs, so my original attempt to help was to tag everyone I knew in Phoenix and beg for someone to save her. I reached out to local rescues here in Tucson, too.”

By about 11 a.m. the next day, it was clear to Angela that nobody was going to step up. “All of my girls agreed we needed to go save her, and they said they would help with everything.” Again, with four dogs of her own, Angela was a little concerned, but her heart wouldn’t let her leave Chloe there to die. Her initial thought was to just go up and save her and then find her a forever home if need be. That didn’t exactly work out.

With a roughly two-hour drive in front of her and facing a time crunch, she ran into multiple obstacles as if to thwart her rescue efforts. But Angela would not be deterred. “When we finally arrived, Chloe wasn’t in her kennel, and my heart sank for a moment, but then two amazing volunteers walked up with her.” There was a brief moment when Chloe became agitated over the other dogs barking, and Angela fleetingly questioned her decision, but she silently swore to herself, “I’m adopting her no matter what.”

Playful and very sweet, they were able to take Chloe home the next day after she was spayed and microchipped. “Our lives have never been the same since, and I’ve definitely been on a mission to help as many pups as possible! I absolutely adore animals, but after rescuing Chloe from the E-List, my entire perspective changed drastically. I started doing so much more to help advocate for animals. I was volunteering with Tucson’s Cause for Canines for a while doing fostering and transportation. After my second grandbaby was born, I had to slow down a lot because my daughter needed my help, and I’m a full-time Realtor. But I still donate to causes and regularly advocate in various ways to help animals in need.”

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
-Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

Tucson Artist Alex shared, “I initially adopted my dog because I was graduating from U of A, and I knew I wouldn’t be walking as much. So, I needed the motivation. Funny enough, while searching for my first forever dog, I stumbled across the world of animal rescue. I fostered a handful of dogs before I adopted Tater Tot. And then, when I adopted him, I stopped rescuing for a little while but picked it back up again. Eventually, I adopted my second dog, Snapple, seven years later. Neither of my dogs were foster fails, but they came from different rescues. Last July, I said goodbye to my first hospice foster dog of four years. She was my 28th! Each dog has taught me and my own that it is never too late to have an awesome life. I am so happy that there are amazing adoption stories! It always makes me so happy to hear them.”

What’s your epic adoption impact story? If you don’t have one yet, start making your own today!



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