Category: Rescue Stories

Pet Adoption Tails: Vicki Childs and Freya and Rainey

Australian clinical therapists Vicki and James Childs are staunch advocates for underdogs. They are the proud parents of two adopted dogs, Freya and Rainey, and three ElderBulls that have crossed the rainbow bridge (see their tribute page on Instagram). Vicki shares, “I have owned and loved rescue dogs since I was 20 years old. I Read More...

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Vicki and Fat Flea, taken 13 years apart

Australian clinical therapists Vicki and James Childs are staunch advocates for underdogs. They are the proud parents of two adopted dogs, Freya and Rainey, and three ElderBulls that have crossed the rainbow bridge (see their tribute page on Instagram). Vicki shares, “I have owned and loved rescue dogs since I was 20 years old. I first met a Staffordshire Bull Terrier when I was 14 years old, and my heart was won over from that moment on. I’ve never met a Staffy I haven’t liked. They are and will forever be my ‘heart breed.’”

With a vast experience of working with various rescue groups, Vicki has adopted seven dogs over the past 30 years, all of whom have lived long and wonderful lives. She opens up about her adoption experiences with her husband James, and their newest adventures with three-year-old Freya (a Staffordshire Bull Terrier) and 10-month-old Rainey (an American Staffordshire Terrier).

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Can you tell us about the first pet you adopted with James?

Vicki Childs (VC): James and I fell in love in 2002. Shortly after, we rescued and adopted our first girl together, Fat Flea. Fat Flea had a fantastic life story, from a horrible beginning which included being riddled with mange and worms to a life of fame. In 2013, she was immortalised at Sydney’s iconic and world-renowned Bondi Beach as “Sydney’s Happiest Staffy.” It was such an incredible thing for a rescue girl to achieve. She was handpicked by the artist out of thousands of dog entrants to be painted in a mural at Bondi Beach. Called “Happy Staffies,” the mural showcased the loving nature of Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Flea had a remarkable life and was with us from 2003 until September 1, 2017, when she passed away at the grand age of 15. 

Fat Flea’s smiling face was immortalised on one of the walls
at Bondi Beach

WF: How did you come to adopt Freya and Rainey? 

VC: Freya came into our lives through Dog Rescue Newcastle. It was around six months after Fat Flea passed away. While we still had our other Elderbulls (Lilly Bet and Jack Dewy), we had a sense that due to their advanced age, we would more than likely lose one of them in the not-too-distant future. 

While I was not actively looking, I have always wanted a Pied Staffordshire Bull Terrier. One night while scrolling through Facebook, this sassy little squat ball of muscle with the most charming face popped up on my feed. I stopped scrolling to admire her and was shocked that she was looking for a home. She was 16 months old and had already been in three homes, which is nothing unusual for some rescue dogs. But it was unfortunate to think that she had been in so many homes at less than two years old.

I screamed out to James to come and look at what I had found. He also thought she was lovely, but held little hope we would get her as she was a “true to type” Staffy, well-bred, incredibly appealing, and a Pied. Nonetheless, I lodged an application and hoped for the best. I was disheartened when I saw many people commenting and stating they were going to fill out applications. With two senior Elderbulls already in residence, I tried not to get my hopes up, but secretly, I was quietly manifesting this to happen. 

Several days later, I received a call from Freya’s foster parents (who lived around 30 minutes away), asking if we would like to come and meet her. I almost jumped out of my skin and did a happy dance like I was 20 again. 

Adoption love with Freya

Upon seeing Freya in the flesh, I was taken aback at just how beautiful she was. But more than that, her temperament was as close to perfect as I’d seen. Freya was laid-back and happy, she demonstrated excellent body language when meeting Jack Dewy and Lilly Bet. We took them on a longish walk together, which always gives you a good reading for how the pack will order or reorder itself. 

I knew from the first 20 seconds that Freya would be coming home to live with us. We had to wait 10 days before we could pick her up. It was the longest 10 days of our lives. We picked her up, brought her to a nearby park, and then reintroduced her to the Elderbulls. After that, we all walked home happily together. 

Freya and Rainey’s first day together

Little Miss Rainey came to us in April 2019. We adopted her as Dewy had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We did not want Freya to be on her own suddenly, and for the first time in over 15 years, we found ourselves looking for a puppy. Little did we know we would wind up with this energetic and smart Freya lookalike. At the time of her adoption, she was just shy of three months and already suffering the common ailments seen by pups who have been bred by backyard breeders: full of worms, mangey, pot-bellied, and extremely lethargic. But since coming home to live with us, she has returned to excellent health. She is doing well with her training and learning how to dog under the guidance of Freya and Dewy (before he passed in May 2019).  

Our decision to adopt Freya and Rainey has been based on firsthand knowledge that these lovable souls are so deserving. These dogs absolutely know that they are given a second chance, and they pay you back in the most incredible way with a lifetime of love and loyalty.  It feels good at a heart level to know you’ve taken an action which saves a soul. At the time, it may be only one soul, but that soul knows it has been afforded a new life. All of those saves combine to make a huge difference worldwide, and the movement now known as “adopt don’t shop” is considered an exceptional badge of honour among those who elect to adopt rather than shop.

WF: As a mom of two Bull Breed canines, what would you say are their best traits? How would you convince others to adopt abandoned dogs belonging to this breed?

VC: Bull Breeds are very misunderstood. Unfortunately, the media has often incorrectly identified any type of dog with a “broad box-type head and muscly low-slung body” as a Bull Breed when often, that is not the case. Having owned nine Bull Breeds in my lifetime, I can emphatically impart that like any other breed, they are only what you instil into them. If you treat a Bull Breed with love and respect, that is precisely what you will get in return. They are beyond loyal and attach with great affection to their “family.” 

Bull Breeds are ideal for families that want low-maintenance dogs. Their short coats are easily cared for, and they have excellent robust health. They love adults and children alike.  If you’re searching for a best friend with a huge heart, then you need to consider a Bull Breed.

WF: What would you say are Freya and Rainey’s most fascinating quirks?

VC: These two girls love watching children on TV. Freya will often go right up to the TV and try to lick a child on the screen if she sees them crying. It’s very endearing and speaks volumes of this breed’s love of and for children.

Freya loves the camera. As soon as she hears my lens cap come off my camera or sees my phone move up to her height, she starts posing. She barks and tries to engage with the camera, offering up that unique and irresistible smile. On occasion, she will even wink on command for a photo.

Freya strikes a paws

Rainey is somewhat of an athlete; she is very fit and extremely agile. Rainey loves nothing more than playfully teasing Freya. It’s never out of the ordinary to see Rainey on top of her three-feet-high kennel, hiding all of their toys and bones so Freya can’t reach them. Rainey delights in being taller and more agile than sweet Freya. Often she gets this little smirk on her face, which is quite hilarious. Rainey is the most curious of all our rescue dogs to date.

WF: What are the things Freya and Rainey enjoy doing with you?

VC: They are “people” dogs and thrive on being part of the family. They are gloriously happy keeping us company while we relax around the home and equally happy accompanying us on outings just about anywhere. 

Our dogs act as roving educational ambassadors for all Bull Breeds everywhere; we often take them to pet events and fairs where they demonstrate just how well-behaved and lovable they can be. Freya and Rainey love going out to meet people. They have a better social life than many people we know. As an aside to that, we all love going bush out into nature where the girls can run and experience total freedom in wide open, isolated spaces. 

WF: An Instagram post reveals that Freya is training to be a therapy dog. Could you talk more about this journey with her?

VC: Freya is training to be a Delta Dog. With our line of work, many clients present extreme anxiety and restlessness. A gentle and kind dog laying at your feet or sitting next to you can make all the difference and bring anxiety levels down. 

Freya’s training had been going well, but disaster struck with Freya requiring surgery on one of her knees. We will be resuming training after she has fully recovered. Training to be a therapy dog doesn’t mean the dog needs to be perfect. It means the dog needs excellent manners and understands what is acceptable and not acceptable in terms of supporting a person. The dog needs to have an affable nature and love people; these are all traits of Bull Breeds. We are also hoping to train Rainey once she turns one.

WF: Your other Instagram account focuses on elderly Bull Breeds. What would you say is the best thing about having senior pets at home?

VC: Senior dogs bring something extra special. There is a wisdom and dignity in older dogs that belies any real description. It’s a knowingness, an almost calming energy that greets all who are lucky enough to engage with a senior dog. They know the drill, so to speak. They have lived a life of keen observation, and with that often comes intuitive knowledge of how their respective owners are feeling and what they need without having to speak the words. 

Of course, the other fantastic aspect of seniors is all of the memories they bring every time you gaze upon their perfect sugar-frosted faces. Adopting an aged pet is ideal for those who don’t want to wait out the puppy phase of chewing, barking, and learning how to dog. Seniors already know how to dog with great skill.

The three, well-behaved Elderbulls

WF: What’s your advice for people adopting senior dogs for the first time? On a related note, what considerations should they take note of in caring for these pets?

VC: The prime thing to remember is that a senior dog has already lived a life and it may not be in accordance with the life you are now expecting of them. Take some time to allow them to observe how you do things and how your household runs, and what expectations you have of them. Like all things in life, it takes a few weeks for you to become comfortable with one another; to learn each other’s likes, dislikes, and quirks. It’s also important to remember that senior dogs won’t need the same amount of exercise that a pup may. Many seniors are happy to bask in the sun with a short walk in the afternoon.

In terms of caring for a senior dog, it’s important that they have a nice comfortable bed as they can get a little less mobile as they reach their twilight years. A proper diet with plenty of fresh, meaty bones goes a long way to longevity and amuses any age. Plenty of fresh water, short walks, trips, and inclusion in your life as much as possible all help a dog live a long and happy life.

Bathtime with Dewy and Lilly

WF: What’s the best tip you can give for first-time animal owners?

VC: Be patient and kind with your pet. Often, it can take a while for the pet to understand what you are asking of it. Be generous with your praise and cautious with your criticism.  Remember that your pet isn’t a toy or an ornament. Pets thrive when they are included in family life, cared for, and nurtured as part of a family. Enjoy the journey, and where possible, strive to grow together. 

Also, set consistent rules and don’t expect that your new pet will automatically know it is not allowed to jump on the couch or dig holes. These are behaviours which you need to train your pet to understand.

WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal?

VC: There are a few primary considerations to take into account when adopting a rescue animal. The very first thing to do is spend quality time with the animal you are thinking of adopting. Just like people, animals have very distinct personalities, and some animals get along better with one person or another animal than they do another.  

Our key advice is to understand that the dog you view straight out of the pound or kennel may not be the dog you see after the settling in period. Often, animals will shut down or give up after extended periods of being locked in a small concrete cell. They can appear to be lifeless, depressed, or even naughty. (Let’s face it. Who wouldn’t be feeling like this in the same circumstance?) After spending an hour or so out of the kennel, the animal’s real personality may start to show. Sometimes, a very quiet and shy dog will transform into a loving, outgoing, and energetic ball of fun just knowing it has its freedom outside of that kennel for only an hour or so. This is why it’s important to spend as much time observing the pet’s behaviour in the time you have. If that means visiting several times over the course of a week, then take the time to ensure you’re getting a good fit.

The other thing to remember is that it’s going to take some time for adopted animals to feel comfortable in their new surroundings. When they first go home with you, they will want to explore and search around the house and yard; they may even run around doing zoomies and bark with joy at being free. Allow the newly rescued pet to do this. Equate this to moving into a new home yourself. It takes time to make a new home feel comfortable and be at ease with your new surroundings.  Forgive any little “accidents” quickly; these new family members don’t know your rules yet. 

Also, factor in the breed of the dog. If you’re a very active person who enjoys jogging, you’d be best to get a high-energy dog. If you’re a “Netflix and chill” kind of person, a happy lounge lizard with a “fat boy” attitude will be a perfect fit. Rescue dogs are not second-class citizens. Most of the time, they are victims of circumstances. They are full of life and love, just waiting for an opportunity to shine.

WF: How has your life changed after adopting your pets?

VC: Our lives have been significantly better since we started the process of adopting our pets. We are happier, healthier, and now have a much wider circle of friends. With social media being a wonderful way to share our pets, we have met some of the most amazing friends all over the world, many of whom are adoptive parents too! 

Having a friend who loves you unconditionally is a beautiful feeling, and these adopted pets show so much gratitude and love for their new lives.

WF: Why would you personally encourage adopting animals?

VC: There are so many reasons to adopt an animal. When you decide to adopt a pet, you are making a conscious effort to save a life, and that’s an honourable and kind thing to do. The world is short on kindness, and your one gesture has a ripple effect in that your friends, family, and even work colleagues get to witness how an adopted animal can positively impact a person or family.

Adopting an animal often assists in breaking the cycle of unscrupulous backyard breeding. Why pay thousands of dollars for an often genetically unsound pet when you can see exactly what you are getting (looks and temperament wise) when adopting?

For Jim and I and many other friends, adopting an animal feels good. It allows you to understand that these animals are not broken or defective, they just need a second chance.  Opening your heart to an adopted animal is one of the most beautiful things you can do, and we promise you that in time, you will feel like you were the one who may have been rescued.

The Elderbulls Christmas card 2017 traveled all over the globe,
even as far as Norway and Brazil

Follow Freya the Pied and Rainey Snuggs on Instagram.

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption Tails: Elizabeth Ford and Hazel, Friedrich, and Gretl

Elizabeth Ford is a 42-year-old stay-at-home mom/wife from Atlanta, Georgia. A person who enjoys learning new things, she keeps herself busy by reading, making crafts, and taking lots of pictures of her domestic short-haired cats: Hazel, Friedrich, and Gretl. Elizabeth speaks with Waldo’s Friends and shares how her family welcomed these three black cats into Read More...

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A selfie with all three cats

Elizabeth Ford is a 42-year-old stay-at-home mom/wife from Atlanta, Georgia. A person who enjoys learning new things, she keeps herself busy by reading, making crafts, and taking lots of pictures of her domestic short-haired cats: Hazel, Friedrich, and Gretl. Elizabeth speaks with Waldo’s Friends and shares how her family welcomed these three black cats into their home.

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Do you remember your first pet adoption experience?

Elizabeth Ford (EF): Our first cat adoption was more of an acquiring, I suppose. His name was Scotty and he was a sweet tabby cat. In June 2015, my friend found him in her backyard, and he was so sweet and friendly. She asked around but no one was missing their cat, so she decided to keep him. Her cat didn’t like him at all, so she asked on Facebook if anyone would like him. I convinced my husband that we needed a cat and we ended up bringing him home. Sadly, he didn’t live very long. Only about six months or so before he died, but we enjoyed every minute with him.

WF: How did you come to adopt Hazel, Friedrich, and Gretl?

EF: It all started with a patch of sunlight in my living room that appeared in the fall. I had thought for years how nice it would be to have a cat sleeping in that sun patch. Scotty did just that when we brought him home, but after he died, we decided we never wanted to be without a cat.

Our first adopted cat, Scotty, enjoying that sun patch

A few weeks after Scott’s passing (and a few days before Christmas at that!), I woke up to find my husband placing a small, stinky, purring kitten on my chest. He and the kids were leaving for a week and thought I shouldn’t be alone, so he rescued her and surprised me with her. She was set to be euthanized and was actually a day or so past the date they had set, but my husband inquired about her and found that she was still alive and available. 

Hazel in a box

After about a year with Hazel, we decided she needed a friend. My husband didn’t really want another cat, but thought if it were a grey or Russian Blue cat maybe we could adopt another. I decided to go to our local PetSmart on cat adoption Sunday and see what I could find. I didn’t see any grey cats, but I was looking at a little black kitten and the lady asked if I wanted to hold him. I said yes, and when she handed him to me, he purred and snuggled his head into my chest. I was smitten but didn’t think I should be impulsive and bring the kitten home without discussing it with my husband, so I got his name, picture, and information and left without him. 

I told my husband about him and he loved the idea of a snuggly kitten (Hazel only snuggled with me at this point). I decided that if it was meant to be, he would be there the following week. We went back, and he was there! I look over to show my husband, and I found him holding a different black kitten. He brought her over to me and said, “Can we get this one?” She was gorgeous and super soft. 

They said she was set to be euthanized, but I already had my heart set on adopting the male kitten and the price of adopting two was more than we could afford. The smart adoption lady saw our dilemma and said they could reduce the price. Basically, they ended up giving us one of them, and since black cats are so hard to adopt out here in Georgia (silly superstitious people), they were happy to adopt out two black cats. That’s how we walked in to get a friend for Hazel and ended up with two: Friedrich and Gretl.

Friedrich and Gretl can often be found snuggling together
(Gretl tolerates it until Friedrich insists on more licks)

WF: Were there any challenges that came with adopting these cats?

EF: I guess the only problem we had was Hazel adjusting to two little ones. It wasn’t bad though and was to be expected. Friedrich and Gretl were not from the same litter. Friedrich was in a foster home, and Gretl stayed at the shelter. However, they bonded right away. 

The first few hours home, Hazel chased them and hissed a lot, so I decided to keep them separated from her. I wanted to introduce them slowly by cracking the bedroom door open and letting them sniff each other, then switching rooms so Hazel could stay in the room they had spent a few days in, and they could explore the rest of the house without being hissed and chased. 

After a week of that, I put up a big flattened cardboard box (about four feet high) as a room barrier, so they could hear and smell each other without the door in the way. Well, Gretl was having none of that and decided to jump up on top of the box (quite impressive for someone so tiny!), balanced on the thin edge for a few seconds, and jumped on the other side where she proceeded to arch her little back up and hiss at poor Hazel. I broke out some catnip to chill everyone out and played with them all. They seemed to get along with Hazel fine after that.

WF: What makes your rescue cats unique? We saw some posts featuring Gretel’s shocked face and it’s hilarious.

EF: Ha! Gretl IS hilarious. I know she can’t actually make faces, but I swear, sometimes she rolls her eyes at me! She tricked us into adopting her by being so cuddly at the adoption event. In reality, she doesn’t like to be picked up or touched very much. She will jump away from us like a grasshopper if we reach for her with two hands. But my daughter refuses to leave her alone “because she’s so soft” and snuggles her whenever she gets the chance. Gretl is getting used to my daughter, but still only wants me to touch her on her terms. 

Gretl relaxing on the floor

Hazel would play fetch as a kitten. I discovered this a few days after she was adopted. She brought me a mouse toy on the couch where I was sitting, and for some reason, I threw it off. She ran to it and brought it back to me. I thought it must be a fluke, but when I threw it again, she went after it and brought it back. She still brings me a mouse toy every night, but more often than not, just looks at me with annoyance if I dare throw it. Friedrich would play fetch when he was younger, but not as much as Hazel did.

WF: To the clueless cat admirer, your three cats look so alike. How can you tell which cat is which?

EF: I actually get asked this question quite a lot, pretty much every time I post a picture of the three of them together. I usually keep it short on Instagram, but I’m happy to share more details with you.

Hazel is thin with tall legs, and her walk is very fluid and graceful. She has soft fur with a couple of white hairs beginning to show and her eyes are yellowish green. She rarely meows, but when she does, it is more of a demand. “Maaah! Put me down, hurry up and feed me!” She can usually be found doing a sort of partial loaf on any and everything. She has a very sweet disposition and loves to cuddle on my left shoulder.

Friedrich is our big boy. Not as big as a lot of cats I know, but definitely bigger than the girls. He has a sort of scruffiness to his fur, almost like a slight wave to it, and his skin is strangely loose like he is wearing the fur of someone else. His happy little tail is always straight up in the air, but if it’s not, all you have to do is talk and it sticks up like a flagpole. His eyes are droopy, heavy lidded, and are yellowish green like Hazel’s. He makes a thump thump thump when he runs and his chunky belly sways back and forth. His meow is pretty obnoxious to me, but my daughter finds it adorable. He is very talkative and always wants to be fed or drink from the sink. He is also very sweet and will come running to my daughter’s lap when she pats it and tells him to come snuggle.

Friedrich in a bag

Gretl is our pretty kitty. Her fur is dense, dark black, and sleek like velvet. She reminds me of a seal. She has big, round golden yellow eyes and has long, tickly whiskers. On the rare occasion I pick her up, she is much heavier than she looks and has a sort of compact body with a long tail. She is very fastidious and will even give Friedrich a cleaning if he asks for one. She’s tried once or twice to clean Hazel, but that didn’t end well. She can be sweet, but definitely doesn’t like to be picked up and held. She has snuggled with me a couple of times, but I keep still and never touch her so she will stay longer. It is rare though and I feel honored whenever she bestows that privilege to me. She is a really good jumper, so I have several pictures of her peering down on us from up high. Gretl’s meow is high pitched, drawn out, and just adorable. 

I’ll admit, I sometimes get them confused at a distance or if they are curled up with their heads hidden, but not that often.

WF: How did you come up with their beautiful names?

EF: I just love hearing pets named with interesting people names instead of the typical names like Midnight or Smoky. I think it’s hilarious when you meet a cat named Winston, for instance, so I decided to give mine old-fashioned or unique human names. 

Once, I met a friend’s niece who had a baby named Hazel. I thought it was such a neat, vintage-sounding name, and if I were to have another child, I would have named her Hazel. However, I knew I was not going to have any more children and so I thought I’d name my cat after her. It fits her well. 

For Friedrich, my husband wanted a cat named Fred (he had a childhood cat with the same name), but I had a deceased uncle named Fred so it seemed wrong to name my cat as such. We compromised and decided on Friedrich after Friedrich von Trapp from The Sound of Music, a favorite movie of mine. 

Gretl is also named after a von Trapp child. Now that she is older and her personality is more apparent, I probably should have named her Baroness Schraeder! 

WF: What’s it like having three indoor cats in a household with teens and birds?

EF: Three cats in a household with teens and birds is not as bad as you’d think. Everyone gets along really well. The teens have never given me any grief and they love the cats as much as I do. The cats get along with the birds, but once in a while, we’d hear a commotion and find Gretl or Hazel hanging from the side of the cage. Not to worry though because their cage is very secure and sturdy. Of the three, I’d say the birds are the most obnoxious, but only because they are very loud and seemingly never stop squawking. They are silly and fun to watch, and I can’t blame the cats for wanting to get a closer look.

WF: Any funny stories you can share about your three cats?

EF: I feel like I spend half the day trying to figure out what Gretl wants from me. She starts meowing at me as soon as she hears me open my bedroom door. Do you want a splash of cream? Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? What more can I do for you, your majesty? When I make dinner, she is always there in case I have a bit of meat for her. Which, of course, I give her because she is so STINKIN’ adorable with those big eyes and little squeaky meow.

Starting around 4 pm, they all gather around me wherever I am. The closer it gets to dinnertime, the closer they get to me or stare as hard as they can at me until I acknowledge them. Hazel will sometimes become extra sweet and purr and rub on me, while Gretl will walk up to me, give me one rub on the ankle, and walk away to stare. If that doesn’t work, she tries again, maybe rubbing me twice then stares me down with all her might. When I finally get up to feed them it’s always fun to see the parade of kitties behind me.

I used to feed them raw food but had to stop when it became too much work and overwhelming to prepare raw food for three cats. I stopped about two years ago, but whenever I put on gloves or cut something on the cutting board, Gretl runs to me and meows, begging for food. She remembers that sound from when I cut up their chicken. I have to show her when it isn’t meat so she will leave me alone. Hazel also remembers that time. Whenever I opened the silverware drawer to get a spoon out to dish up their food, she used to stretch up and try to knock it out of my hand. I don’t know why she decided she should, but she still occasionally does that. Such a nut.

Friedrich can’t be bothered with much exertion. If something is happening in the kitchen and he wants to know what’s going on but just got up from a nap, he will plop onto his side and just stare me down. His stare is very intense and almost intimidating, but I know he’s just a big teddy bear.

WF: What are the things the three cats enjoy doing with you and with each other?

EF: They like playing with a laser pointer! All they have to do is hear me touch it and they come running. Friedrich, especially, loves the laser pointer.

The girls seem to like to torment poor Friedrich. I know they are just playing, but I don’t think that he enjoys it as much as they do. They will chase him around the house and because he is slower than they are, they practically run on top of him. Hazel will try to bite his ankles to make him run faster. It is funny for us, but I’m sure he doesn’t appreciate it.

They like to bird-watch too! I have a bird feeder on a tree in front of the house and they seem to be entertained by it. The side porch has a hummingbird feeder and a small fountain. Little chickadees like to bathe in the fountain and sometimes peck at their reflection, and lizards seem to visit as well. There is a reflective coating on those French doors so the birds and such can’t see the cats, but they can see the birds. They seem to really enjoy that. Gretl will sometimes jump to try and catch them, and that is quite entertaining for us.

Hazel, Gretl, and Friedrich do
some bird-watching 

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for owners taking in multiple cats for the first time?

EF: Do some research first. Perhaps even foster some cats first to see how you would like having multiples in your house. The internet is full of great advice from vets and experts. I loved watching the show My Cat From Hell, so before adopting our cats, I had a lot of knowledge of how to treat cats stored up in my mind and was able to put them to use. 

If you are bringing them into a home with another cat, give them time to get used to each other by separating them for a week or two and gradually introducing them through a crack in the door or a tall doggie/baby gate. Let them switch spaces so they can get used to each other’s smells, and when the time comes to integrate them, it will be less stressful on everyone.

WF: How has your life changed after adopting your cats? And why would you personally encourage people to adopt animals? 

EF: I was never an animal person. I didn’t dislike them; I just couldn’t be bothered. I never understood why someone would cry over a pet that had died… until ours did. I understand now how they can become a beloved part of your family and how much joy they bring.

There are so many animals out there in need of a loving home. You may just find one that rescues you as well.

Follow Hazel, Friedrich, and Gretl’s adventures on Instagram.

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption Tails: Joni Galeste and Dog

Thirty-year-old Joni Galeste wears many hats. She is a professional ballet dancer, a musical theater actress, a ballet teacher, an environmentalist (she holds workshops on living a zero waste lifestyle), and a proud pawrent of three dogs and four cats: Dog, Moafy, Tooie, Larry, Benjie, Jerry, and Scooter. The Manileña has a soft spot for Read More...

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Thirty-year-old Joni Galeste wears many hats. She is a professional ballet dancer, a musical theater actress, a ballet teacher, an environmentalist (she holds workshops on living a zero waste lifestyle), and a proud pawrent of three dogs and four cats: Dog, Moafy, Tooie, Larry, Benjie, Jerry, and Scooter. The Manileña has a soft spot for abandoned animals, taking in cats and dogs since she was just 12 years old. Joni named her first adopted cat Daisy, who turned out to be male and lived with them for 13 happy years. Her experience with Daisy exposed her to “rescuing more animals, including hand rearing around 20 kittens then rehoming them. As CARA Philippines’ youngest member (back in 2002), I learned the importance of spaying and neutering through the organisation.”

Joni chats with Waldo’s Friends to share her outdoor-loving pooch’s adoption story. She candidly says, “I think having a history of rescuing and rehoming animals gave Dog a chance of finding her forever home because any other person would have just left her because she was ‘just another stray.’”

Joni, Raffy, and Dog during a foggy climb on Mt. Ulap

Waldo’s Friends (WF): How did Dog come into your life?

Joni Galeste (JG): Dog followed my fiancé Raffy (ran after seems more like it) all the way home from the Magallanes MRT station after being pet. I remember Raffy calling me, frantically asking what time I’d get home because there was this dog sitting just outside my house in the rain, waiting for him to come out for her again. He claimed he had tried everything to get rid of her. Shooing, running serpentine patterns, hiding. Nothing worked. She just never left his side. I told him I’d be home in bit and that he should just take her inside, dry her up, and feed her. 

We honestly had no idea what to do with her. With four other dogs and a few cats at home, we knew we didn’t have the space and time to handle one more, let alone afford it. We initially tried to find her a home so we agreed on calling her “Dog” in the meantime, just so we wouldn’t get attached. Eventually, we ended up adopting her and the name stuck.

WF: What makes Dog unique? 

JG: She’s crazy smart, easily trainable, and she’s learned to communicate with us. She lets us know when she needs to be let out or when she’s thirsty. She even sighs when I ask her to go to the bathroom for bath time. She rarely barks, and she knows how to put her head through her backpack for her to wear when we climb. Dog’s most unusual habit is that she smiles at us when she knows she’s been naughty. Hahaha! 

Dog smiles when we give her snacks

WF: Do you have any favorite anecdotes about Dog?

JG: Sometimes when she’s sleeping and I tell her to get off the bed, she’ll peek with one eye, slowly close it, pretend to still be asleep, and ignore me.

WF: What are the things Dog enjoys doing with you?

JG: I think she’d love to do everything with me if she could. She just loves tagging along and being with us. She gets so excited every time we ride the car or when we take a jeep or trike to wherever. She also runs alongside me when I bike and she has no trouble keeping up. At the same time, she’s so well-behaved that I can take her to the mall with me and she’ll just patiently wait with me for a few hours while I work or read a book.

WF: Dog’s Instagram account features countless trips you’ve taken together. What would you say are her favorite places to visit? Is she more of a mountain girl or a beach babe?

JG: I’m not sure which she enjoys more because she shows the same level of excitement every time she sees her leash, backpack, crate, or the car. I think she just really likes going out in general. Hahaha!

Sunset at Calatagan with the stillest waters

WF: How do you ensure that outdoor hikes and beach runs are safe for your dogs? 

 JG: Make sure that you know your dogs. If they’re known to bolt and run away, best to keep them on leash. If they aren’t athletic or they overheat fast, make sure that the place isn’t under direct heat and that there’s always water available for them to drink or a cooling pad for their bodies. If they’re known to be mouthy, keep watch because they might ingest something they shouldn’t. It’s really about knowing your dogs and learning how to read them for needs they might have.

WF: Any tips for pet owners who plan to take their dogs traveling for the first time? How can they encourage their pets that aren’t as brave as Dog?

JG: Get them used to short trips first. If they’re scared of the sound of cars, best to keep walking them until the streets get busier so they become desensitised. It’s really about getting them used to different activities and making it enjoyable for them so they look forward to these activities instead of being anxious about them.

WF: With seven pets living under one roof, how do you make sure all the animals coexist peacefully?

JG: I think proper socialising and making sure they all know who the alpha is are essential. We talk to our pets a lot so they understand commands, and they know when we mean business whenever they get too rowdy. It helps that there’s a connection between all of us and that they understand me as well.

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for first-time adopters? What about to those adding a new pet to their existing brood?

JG: The best and most important tip I can give would probably be to train them early. Having a well-mannered dog you can take anywhere is so convenient. 

For those adding a new one, best to figure out which part of the bed the new addition is gonna sleep in. Hahaha!

WF: Why would you personally encourage adopting animals? 

JG: Thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized annually. You can save a life by adopting instead of buying. Every time we adopt an animal, it also frees up new space at a shelter for another stray. Most of the time they’re also already well socialised because they’re in a shelter with other animals. Plus, I noticed that adopted dogs are the sweetest because they have a lot more love and gratitude in them.

WF: How has your life changed after adopting Dog? 

JG: She makes me braver. Being a girl, there were always a bunch of things we were told to do or not do. Do not be too vocal of opinions, sit more ladylike, don’t go off on adventures alone, don’t wear skimpy outfits, etc. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we are not capable of doing certain things because we are girls. My whole life I’ve fought against the stigma that girls have to act a certain way. My whole life, I’ve had to defend my fire, always trying to prove that I am just as brave, independent, and strong as others. But just like anyone who consciously puts up a fight, it gets tiring.

This is where Dog comes in. One too many times we’ve heard, “She’s just a mutt.” Or “Why do you treat her like a purebred?” On too many occasions, we’ve had to prove that she is not just as good, but even better than most purebred dogs out there. She’s intelligent, courageous, curious, and obedient. She has a mind of her own, but when she’s being stubborn, she’ll give in if I say, “Pleeeeease???” Hahaha! Some people wonder why we fight so hard when we can just be. Some people wonder why we travel together, go out, do things, and post about it.

Well… We do it because we can! We post about it so others realise that they can as well. We will keep doing what we do until all women and mongrels are never viewed as “less.” Beyond the labels and beyond what they think we are, Dog reminds me how to live life and how to be unapologetic about who I am.

Joni and Dog defy the odds at Mt. Tarak

Follow the adventures of Joni and Dog on Instagram.

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption Tails: Ivy Ilaya and Maru and Dany

Animal lover Ivy Ilaya is the proud pawrent of six-year-old Maru and five-year-old Dany. Previously based in Manila, Philippines, Ivy is now exploring the other side of the world in Costa Rica with her two cats in tow. She shares how she adopted Maru and Dany, and how they all traveled 16,162 km to their Read More...

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Ivy with Dany and Maru

Animal lover Ivy Ilaya is the proud pawrent of six-year-old Maru and five-year-old Dany. Previously based in Manila, Philippines, Ivy is now exploring the other side of the world in Costa Rica with her two cats in tow. She shares how she adopted Maru and Dany, and how they all traveled 16,162 km to their new home.

Waldo’s Friends (WF): How did Maru and Dany enter your life? 

Ivy Ilaya (II): Maru was born at my parents’ house in Quezon City. A beautiful white stray cat was temporarily staying in our home, but we did not know that she was pregnant back then. My mom and I are highly allergic to cats, but I have always loved cats, and it had been quite a while since I had a pet of my own. When I found out about the pregnancy, I told my mom to let her stay with us for a while, at least until the kittens were big enough to be adopted out. I’d visit my parents’ house every weekend, treating the momma cat as my own and making sure I had enough antihistamines every time I went there. During that time, I was a huge fan of the YouTube sensation Maru, and promised myself that if I have a cat, I would name him Maru. 

On September 14, 2013, momma cat gave birth to four kittens—two white cats, one black cat, and one grey white tabby that had the same colouring as the Japanese Maru cat. Later on, the three kittens and the momma cat were adopted out, while Maru stayed at my parents’ home with the rest of our dogs. 

One dreadful day in February, Maru suddenly went missing! It took three weeks before he finally returned, and from that day on, I made sure he would never be an outdoor kitty anymore. I brought him to my condo (so he has a better, more quality life by staying indoors) and got myself immunisation shots (so I could live with him and all his fur and dander). 


As for Dany, I had been working long hours and traveling a lot, and felt that Maru needed a companion. I initially hesitated adopting another cat because Maru isn’t really fond of other cats or pets for that matter. However, I felt that if I introduced them properly, then he might be able to adapt more quickly than I expected him to. 

I initially looked at kittens because I felt that Maru may take it easier if the new pet is a kitten. But then I remembered ending up with lots of scratches when playful Maru was still a kitten, so I decided to look at full-grown cats as well. One of my friends from Cat Care Philippines helped foster this fat calico cat, Dany, who had a burn on the side of her body. I remember seeing her in the parking lot of my friend’s condo (where she used to reside), and somehow, my heart was drawn to her. Another friend who also fostered Dany found out that I was interested in adopting her, and started sending me photos of her: when she looked extra plump and cute, when she was being lazy, when she was such a good girl in the car, and when she was terrorizing other foster dogs. 

When her spay procedure and vaccinations were complete, Dany came to live with us on November 26, 2016. I was really scared of how Maru would react, but Dany just kept quiet and isolated while I introduced them. Being super curious, Maru kept smelling the new cat from the other side of the door. Dany, being her sweet but ferocious self, did not back down and decided that she can go out and meet whatever was on the other side of the door. By the second day, I tried letting Dany out, and she immediately cuddled up to me, let Maru do his thing, and figured out that the bed was the best place to hang out in. By the third day, Maru and Dany were already eating together (no more hissing from Maru), and they have been siblings ever since. ️


I guess it helped that 1) Dany was used to having other pets around, so it wasn’t too difficult for her to accept Maru, and 2) because from the onset, I started feeding them across each other with the door closed, they got used to each other’s scents faster. Also, as both cats can be playful with each other, they do not allow one or the other to be the boss—so that also helped because one didn’t take over the other. It’s cute because when the other “cries for help” (e.g. taking a bath), the other runs up to see if they can help their sibling.

WF: Before Maru and Dany, did you have previous experience with pets? How did this affect your decision to adopt these cats? 

II: We had lots of dogs throughout the years, which were mostly given to us. I had a cat when I was around 12 years old, which we bought from Cartimar. I remember going there and looking for a Persian cat, but ended up getting a big Siamese, just because she had already outgrown her cage, and it seemed like no one was going to buy her. During that time, I remember feeling so bad about the other pets, all locked up and without anyone really taking care of them. I never went back to Cartimar after that. 

We were also not aware of spaying and neutering back then. My cat would end up destroying everything in the house (including the window screens!) every time she was in heat. She ended up having three or four sets of litters, and two of her litters stayed with us. However, after about six years of going in and out of the house whenever she pleased, she disappeared. I never had another cat after that, and I decided that if I got another one, I would learn more about taking good care of him, and understanding how to make a cat’s life better.

WF: What were the challenges that came with adopting your pets? 

II: The biggest challenge for me was managing my allergies, especially since the cat stayed inside my condo the entire day. I had to find a doctor who would encourage me to keep my pets instead of getting rid of them. Thankfully, I found a wonderful doctor, who is also a furmom herself, so she really helped me with the immunisation process. It was expensive, and I had to invest in a lot of things like a good vacuum and air purifier, to help me overcome my allergies. I’m still technically allergic, but I think that having the cats with me helped lessen that. 

Another challenge I had was that the condo I previously lived in only allowed one pet per unit. Since my sister was also living at the same floor and building, I got her to secure Dany’s permit even if Dany lived with me. 

WF: What makes your adopted pets unique? 

II: While Maru and Dany have been together for almost three years, they do not like to cuddle at all. They may sleep near each other or beside each other, but I barely see them cuddling one another. They like having their own space, but at the same time, like to be where the other is. For example, if one is on the sofa, the other would also want to sleep on the sofa. 

Maru loves to sploot with his legs stretched like frog legs, and is very loud. Dany squeaks, but she looks up to Maru a lot, because once Maru demands for food, Dany’s squeaks suddenly turn into loud meows as well. 

I have A LOT of funny stories about them (check out our Instagram account to see what these two have gotten themselves into!), but one thing is for sure: They always somehow know how to get inside my cabinets so that they could sleep on top of my clothes—both new and dirty! Maru can also pick up hair ties from inside my bags, no matter how hidden these are.

WF: What are the things your cats enjoy doing with you? 

II: Dany loves to cuddle with me, kiss my face, and be beside me a lot of times, but she hates it when I’m the one hugging her. Maru is a bit more aloof, but he enjoys it when I carry him around, especially if it’s to let him out to the balcony. He also loves to sleep on my head and bury his face on my pillow.

Sweet kisses for mummy

WF: We heard that Maru was once a pet meowdel. What advice would you give aspiring cat mums who would like their pets to be professional meowdels? 

II: Yes! She once modelled for Bow & Wow, a local pet store. The important thing is to always keep your social media audience and furriends engaged with everything your cats do. Instagram has been a great platform for us—we met lots of friends through the Instagram cat communities, and I have to say, they are the nicest and most helpful people around the world. ️️️

The professional meowdel

WF: You and your cats just recently moved from Manila to Costa Rica a few months back. Can you give tips for people who plan on making their pets travel long-haul? 

II: The most important thing about doing long-haul travel is to research on the best way to get there. Find the answers to questions such as: What are the requirements of the receiving country? How many flights will it take for them to get there? Are there options to bring them as carry-on? Which airplanes allow pets on board or in the cargo? Also, check if there are any pet-related Facebook communities in the country that you are going to. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions.

WF: How easy or hard was the adjustment process for the cats? More importantly, how did you make them feel at home in your new space? 

II: I suppose the most difficult part for them was the long travel. It helped that when they got to the hotel, I was there the entire day, so they felt safe with me even when they were in a new environment. 

Similarly, when we moved to our new apartment, I made sure to stay at home the entire day so that they could roam around and feel safe. I also kept some of my clothes in different areas of the apartment so they always have a familiar scent.

WF: Are there new activities they can do in Costa Rica which they weren’t allowed to do back in Manila? 

II: We finally have a small garden/balcony, which Maru and Dany love to explore. I let them out for a few minutes to eat grass (but highly supervised and one at a time) since I haven’t gotten some of their things that I had shipped. Once I get their harnesses and leashes, they will be able to enjoy the fresh air longer.

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for first-time cat owners? What about to multiple cat owners? 

II: Please spay and neuter your cats! Find a vet that you can trust and who loves your pets as much as you do.

WF: What can you say to people thinking of adopting a rescue animal? 

II: It’s the best thing in the world! Please adopt don’t shop. It saves lives.

Adopting Maru and Dany changed my life A LOT! I really became more responsible because I know that my cats depend on me for the most part. I love them so much and I want them to be able to live longer lives, so I make sure that they’re spayed/neutered, they get their vaccinations, and they get their yearly check-ups (full blood tests) to determine how they are. I also became more observant of everything that’s happening to them. I feel that I am also more capable of love because of them.

Siblings Dany and Maru

Follow Maru and Dany’s delightful adventures on Instagram.

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

All photos by Petograpiya

Pet Adoption Tails: Jason Kraus and Gibbson

Thirty-one-year-old Jason Kraus is the author of Belly Rubbins For Bubbins, a self-published book that was inspired by a senior dog that he and his wife Michelina adopted during the holidays of 2016. He is currently the proud fur-dad of two aging pit bull mix dogs: the 13-year-old Gibbson (fondly called Bubbins) and the 10-year-old Read More...

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Thirty-one-year-old Jason Kraus is the author of Belly Rubbins For Bubbins, a self-published book that was inspired by a senior dog that he and his wife Michelina adopted during the holidays of 2016. He is currently the proud fur-dad of two aging pit bull mix dogs: the 13-year-old Gibbson (fondly called Bubbins) and the 10-year-old Mac (who they welcomed into their home just three months ago!). Aside from opening up about senior dog parenting, Jason reveals what it took to create his children’s book and spread awareness for animal rescue. More than just spaying, neutering, sheltering, fostering, and adopting unwanted animals, Jason stresses the importance of teaching compassion and educating people (starting with children) to be able to help more dogs in need. 

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Before Bubbins came along, did you or Michelina have any previous experience with animals and/or pet rescue? How did this affect your decision to adopt Bubbins?

Jason Kraus (JK): Michelina had worked at a vet office for a few years when she was younger and previously had dogs. Growing up, my family had two rescue dogs as well. Although I was somewhat knowledgeable about dogs, I had heard a lot in the media that pit bulls were dangerous. Having interacted with a lot of pit bulls, my wife told me that it was not true and that they were very friendly and loyal dogs.

WF: Were there any initial challenges or hardships that came with adopting Bubbins?

JK: When we first got Gibbson, he had some bad stomach and urinary tract issues and was extremely uncomfortable. He would cry and cry and would only stop crying when being cuddled up with someone. Aside from that, he also didn’t know how to walk on a leash.

Can I come to bed now?

WF: How easy or difficult was it for your family to take in an older dog, especially one that was diagnosed with cancer?

JK: We never saw his age as a bad thing or even a challenge. In fact, we find that senior dogs are even more appreciative and truly just want a loving family and a comfy spot to lay. We just have to help them get around sometimes as they both have issues with their mobility. Like going up or down the stairs, they can do it but we have to monitor them for safety. 

Although Gibbson does have thyroid cancer, thankfully it has not progressed. We keep him on a very strict diet and are always monitoring his thyroid.

WF: What makes Bubbins and Mac unique?

JK: Gibbson has an insatiable appetite for being cuddled and always wants to be near people (usually laying next to you or ON you. Haha!). He is also very verbal with his noises—you can literally tell what he is thinking by whatever sounds he is making. When cuddling, he lets out grunts of satisfaction. When he wants to go upstairs to bed or go for a walk, he will breathe very deeply and then let out a very funny annoyed grunting sound. He will also jump onto the couch and plant his face in your lap even if it’s the first time he’s met you.

Naptime with Mama

When Mac first came to us, he could barely walk because his leg muscles had atrophied. Plus, his front legs are bowed in. Now, only after three months, he’s cruising around and even tries to run outside sometimes! Mac also makes hilarious noises. When he makes his noises, he sounds like a dinosaur.

The adorable Mac

WF: What are the things Gibbson enjoys doing with you and Michelina? Since the book you wrote is called Belly Rubbins For Bubbins, we assume he’s really a big fan of belly rubs!

JK: Yes, Gibbson LOVES to have his belly and his ears rubbed, and most of all, he loves just laying with people. Gibbson also loves going for his walks and “playing” outside with his ball, even though he doesn’t really run after it. It’s more like jogging. Haha!

The book inspired by Gibbson

WF: Speaking of the book, what inspired you to create it? What do you hope to achieve in publishing this children’s book?

JK: I was inspired to write this book while I was getting my Master’s Degree in Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security. We were taught that the only true way to stop terrorism was education. Although they are two different subjects, I still believe the same solution applies. As one of our slogans goes: “We can spay neuter, shelter, foster, and adopt, but until we educate, it won’t stop.” We must go after the disease, not just its terrible side effects. We are not winning the rescue battle and man’s best friend is suffering. We hope to stop abuse and neglect before it happens by teaching children to be kind and compassionate to all living beings.

WF: How long did it take for you to write the story, illustrate the pages, and print it? 

JK: It took about one week to write the bulk of the story, and some edits were made during the illustrative process as I was able to see the story come alive. The illustrative process took about eight months. 

WF: What are some of the milestones you’ve achieved after publishing the book?

JK: After launching the book on May 4, 2019 with so much amazing support from the rescue community, we hit number two (overall) on the Barnes and Noble Top 100 bestsellers list. That was pretty cool!

It has been amazing to get messages from people across the world who have purchased the book and appreciate its message—as they too believe that education is so important in changing the horrible things that are taking place in their countries and around the world.

WF: How did you decide which charities would benefit from the proceeds of the book?

JK: We selected three organisations on the East Coast: Newark Associated Humane Societies (it was the shelter that took in Gibbson when he was found wandering the streets); Green Mile Rescue (it was the rescue that pulled Gibbson from the Newark AHS Shelter as he was in bad shape); and New York Bully Crew (very well-known rescuers and advocates for pit bull type dogs). We also selected four additional organisations in California. These were recommendations of individuals we had been working with on the West Coast. We have always wanted this movement to be nationwide!

People weren’t always kind to Bubbins

WF: In your story page, you mentioned that you originally thought pit bulls were “mean and dangerous.” As an owner of two loving pit bulls, what other misconceptions do you hope to debunk?

JK: No dog is inherently mean and/or dangerous—it is all about how the dog is raised. Pit bulls do not just “snap” or get triggered randomly. They are just like any other dog. Pit bulls are also not inherently aggressive. They score very highly on temperament tests as a breed. Lastly, pit bulls are not inherently dangerous to children. In fact, they were actually used as nanny dogs because of their temperament and loyalty.

WF: Can you talk about the lesson plan you’ve developed with Lisa Potiker of Lucky Dog Humane Education? How will your book be integrated with the program?

JK: After I reached out to Lisa, she was gracious enough to develop three common core standard lesson plans surrounding the book. These lesson plans focus on social emotional learning and help children understand and practice kindness and compassion toward others.

Currently on our website, anyone can access the first of three lesson plans for free. The two additional lesson plans, as well as our 8.5-minute humane education video (which explains what a rescue dog is, what a shelter is, how to interact with and be respectful to dogs, and what children can do to help) can be purchased on our website through our Humane Education Program. This program also comes with a PDF formatted version of our e-book, so teachers or educators can easily display the book on their projectors or smart boards.

WF: Why would you personally encourage people to adopt older or sick rescue animals? 

JK: The obvious reason would be that they are least equipped to survive shelter life and they deserve to spend their last days in comfort knowing they are loved. There is something about older/sick dogs that when they are rescued, they seem to appreciate it even more. While many people think older dogs are more of a hassle, it couldn’t be further from the truth. All they want is a comfortable and safe place to nap, and they are always so content just to do what you are doing. They love just being in your presence. Every single dog, whether old or sick, deserves a loving family!

Happiness is finding the perfect area to nap 

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for people thinking of adopting an older or sick rescue animal?

JK: Make sure you are feeding your dog high quality food that is tailored to their specific needs. Also, consider the setup of your apartment or home. If the dog is unable to walk, are you or others able to carry him? Make sure you are able to come home during the day time, as sick/older dogs may have to go to the bathroom more often. Most importantly, DO NOT judge a dog based on how they appear at the shelter. Dogs have an amazing ability to bounce back once they are in a loving and supportive environment. You just need to give them a chance!

WF: How has your life changed after adopting Gibbson?

JK: Since adopting Gibbson, I have switched jobs to take on the humane education mission full time. I have become more compassionate towards all animals (I no longer eat beef or chicken) and other people as well. I understand that there is much, much more to life than looking after one’s self-interest. Truly, the more you give, the more you get.

Bubbins claiming his spot

Follow Gibbson and his family’s journey on Instagram.

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption Tails: Camyl Besinga and Yoda and Mittens

Camyl Besinga is a residential interior design consultant and a full-time mom to two kids and two cats. Taking in cats since 2003, Camyl first adoptee was a spotted stray named Cutie. She says, “My childhood home has a wide yard, so it’s perfect for cats who come and go as they please. It helps Read More...

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Camyl Besinga is a residential interior design consultant and a full-time mom to two kids and two cats. Taking in cats since 2003, Camyl first adoptee was a spotted stray named Cutie. She says, “My childhood home has a wide yard, so it’s perfect for cats who come and go as they please. It helps that we don’t have a very busy neighbourhood, so most of my neighbours know which cat belongs to whom.” Camyl reminisces how she became the cat mum of Yoda and Mittens with Waldo’s Friends.

Camyl and Mittens

Waldo’s Friends (WF): How did Yoda and Mittens come into your life? 

Camyl Besinga (CB): In 2008, my then-boyfriend-now-husband Ryan’s household help found an entire litter of black kittens living under his car. They were not so sociable and would scamper away when they tried to catch them. Yoda was the second of her litter that they were able to catch. Since my husband already had a very temperamental black cat in his house, he couldn’t adopt Yoda and her sister Kobe, so I volunteered to adopt them. 

Yoda and Kobe eventually warmed up to me as I initially kept them in my bedroom. Sadly, before I could have them both vaccinated and dewormed, Kobe succumbed to what I think is parvo. Yoda quickly became the house favorite because of her big, expressive eyes and unusual color. She is mostly silky black but has a triangular-shaped white patch at the bottom of her stomach—making it look like she is wearing white underwear!

Yoda as a kitten, with sister Kobe and Mama Camyl

Meanwhile, Mittens was another cat who literally strayed into my mother’s garage and found friendly company with my sister’s black Labrador. We named her Mittens because when she was younger, the dark spots on her paws were so pronounced that it looked like she was wearing mittens. When I moved out of my home, I eventually adopted her and Sticker.

WF: Did you experience any challenges while the cats were growing up? 

CB: Yoda and Sticker practically grew up together, so they were best buds. We often found them snuggling up to each other in bed, giving each other baths, and calling to each other. Mittens was the third wheel, but she was sociable enough to not feel left out. 

Baby Sticker, Yoda’s BFF

Then, we decided to bring Shadow, my husband’s adult male cat, into our small apartment. Shadow was used to living in a busy street. He also came and went, so despite being vaccinated and regularly dewormed, he most probably carried viruses from the street. Unfortunately, he brought one into our apartment, and within days of him living with us, all three female cats were struck ill and had to be hospitalised. 

Worm’s eye view of besties Yoda and Sticker

Yoda seemed the most resilient, but Sticker did not survive. As soon as Sticker died, Yoda’s condition deteriorated considerably. The vet asked us to bring them home so that they could recuperate in more familiar surroundings, but Yoda was visibly depressed with Sticker’s passing. She went into hiding in my closet and would not eat, drink, pee, or poop for over a week. I really thought she was going to die. Mittens recovered slowly too, as pus developed on her hind legs. We had to bring her back to the hospital for treatment and minor surgery. 

I didn’t blame Shadow because it wasn’t his fault he was the virus carrier, but of course, we were incredibly saddened with Sticker’s passing. In mourning, my husband and I deep-cleaned and disinfected the entire house. We felt we owed it to our cats to make their home a healthier place to live in.

WF: What would you say makes your cats unique?

CB: Yoda has never fully developed for reasons unknown to me. I heard a vet say that that was really one of her breed’s characteristics, while another told me it could have been because she was also struck with the same virus that killed Kobe, which resulted in her stunted growth. Aside from always being skinny and always sporting that “white underwear,” she sheds her hair once or twice a year. Visitors are daunted by her being a black cat and because she stares at them so intently, but she has always been so affectionate to me. When I ask for a kiss, she willingly kisses me with her cold, wet nose. 

Papa Ryan showing off Yoda’s white undies

Mittens is the more sociable one. She loves getting people’s attention, and she often gets it because of how cute she looks. She has icy blue eyes, but one of them is smaller than the other, so she has a strange, thoughtful look on her face. She is also very affectionate to strangers, but when we try to hug, kiss, or cuddle her, she always tries to break free! It’s frustrating because she is so cute. Haha! She also loves staring at birds outside the window and does that bird-watching whimpering that cats are so famous for. 

Mittens on a mission to get her Papa’s attention

WF: What are the things your adopted pets enjoy doing with you? 

CB: Yoda loves to snuggle between my legs in bed. Before we had kids, I would always let her until I’d get leg cramps. Haha! She doesn’t stay in bed with me as much as before, mainly because she doesn’t like how rowdy the kids get when they’re playing in bed. But when I work in bed, you’ll always find her there with me. 

Yoda giving me one of her five-minute stares

Mittens always sits by my feet under the dining table while we’re eating. I don’t know why because we don’t feed them table scraps. She also loves sneaking out the door! We sometimes find her waiting patiently outside our door to let her in—after being unaware that she’d been out the entire afternoon. 

WF: What’s the best tip you can give to people who decide to save kittens or cats off the streets? 

CB: As soon as you adopt a cat (or any kind of pet for that matter), have them neutered or spayed. 

WF: Why would you personally encourage others to adopt animals? And what’s your advice for people thinking of doing so?

CB: There are so many animals out there who are alone, unloved, and who deserve the same kind of love and attention we give to every pet we’ve ever had. 

The best advice I could think of is for interested people to do their research and visit pet shelters like PAWS or CARA. Basically, get knowledge first about the animals they would like to adopt before they do it. 

Despite their reputation, cats are so easy to love and care for. It’s true that they don’t give the same loyalty and affection that dogs give, but cats can be just as lovable in their own unique ways. 

Big cat Shadow, helping with the laundry

Follow Mittens and Yoda’s cat mom on Instagram.

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption and Fostering Tails: Glady and Her Puspins

Glady is a proud mama to seven puspins [domestic shorthaired cats found in the Philippines]—Guruji, Dharma, Ekam, Guyito, Kimmy, Titus, and Xanthippe—and currently a foster pawrent to Brienne. A market research analyst and a part-time yoga instructor, she believes that her two jobs manifest certain cat-like characteristics: curiosity as a researcher; and mindfulness and calm Read More...

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Glady is a proud mama to seven puspins [domestic shorthaired cats found in the Philippines]—Guruji, Dharma, Ekam, Guyito, Kimmy, Titus, and Xanthippe—and currently a foster pawrent to Brienne. A market research analyst and a part-time yoga instructor, she believes that her two jobs manifest certain cat-like characteristics: curiosity as a researcher; and mindfulness and calm as a yoga practitioner. Glady shares how her clowder was formed and how it grew over the years. 

Dharma and Glady

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Hi Glady! Were you always a big cat lover?

Glady (G): I’ve always loved cats. I had cat friends since I was a child, but I never really got to officially adopt one since Guruji. Before Gur, I had taken care of a cat for nine years. Figaro was given to our family, but I eventually became his unofficial parent. Although he was neutered, Figaro was used to being an indoor-outdoor cat, and sadly, he just did not come home one day. That was eight years ago. It was devastating not to know what really happened to Figaro, but I eventually healed from my grief, and (though I wasn’t planning on having a new cat just yet) found Gur over a month after I lost Figaro.

Figaro, gone but never forgotten

WF: How did you meet Guruji and your other cats?

G: Gur was a skinny kitten whom I found lying on the sidewalk outside the yoga studio I practiced at. I thought he was sick or dying, so although I never planned on having a cat that soon, I picked him up. He started moving actively (as a two-month-old kitten is expected) as soon as we were settled in the jeepney. 

Uncle Gur dressed up as Jon Snow

I met Dharma a year later. She was a friendly kitten whom I met while walking home. I just kept talking to her and she followed me the whole block until we got to our building. She even followed me up to the elevator and to our unit. I was only planning to feed then release her, but I became so distraught over the next few days after letting her go that I looked for her again and decided to adopt her if I found her. 

What I didn’t know was that she was pregnant—she gave birth to three kittens a few months after, whom I had adopted out to good homes. Ekam (or Yekkers) was one of those kittens. He was adopted by someone, but after receiving complaints of being so destructive, he was returned to me. Now, at seven years old, he is one of my sweetest cats and still acts quite kitten-like.

I found Guyito as a week-old kitten (still with his eyes closed) on the eve of Typhoon Yolanda. He was the first one I had to hand-feed, so I think he does see me as his mom. He almost did not survive his first few weeks with me—he got a terrible respiratory infection that caused him to stop nursing and gaining weight. Thankfully, he grew up to be a healthy boy, though still smaller than the others.

Gur, Dharma, Yekkers, and Guyito are collectively called the Ginger White Quartet. 

Kimmy was a mom cat who gave birth at our parking area. Titus and Xanthippe (who I also call Tampipi) are her kittens, but she had a third kitten who got adopted out. These three got along so well with the rest of the cats (especially Gur, who usually just keeps to himself) that it became very hard to separate them. I collectively call them Kimmy and the Unbreakables, with all their names from the show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt that I was watching back then. I wanted them to grow up healthy and “unbreakable.” 

Kimmy has mastered the art of loafing

WF: How did you end up naming your other cats? 

G: My first three cats have Sanskrit/yoga-themed names. Guruji was found outside the yoga studio and his name means “teacher.” In a way, as my eldest cat, he taught me a lot of things. Dharma means “path.” She literally crossed my path when I met her. In a way, she led me to the path of being a cat mom. Ekam is Sanskrit for “one” since he was the firstborn of Dharma’s kittens. I just named the kittens “one,” “two,” and “three” because I never planned to keep them! Guyito does not have a yoga name because I didn’t plan to keep him either. I just randomly named him after the Philippine Daily Inquirer mascot whose plush toy became Guyito’s cuddle buddy on his first night home.

Dharma and Ekam

WF: What were the difficulties that came with adopting your cats?

G: Since all my cats came to my life unplanned, it was hard to adjust my space and resources to accommodate them all. I also had to see to it that they all received the same quality of care they had prior to having the newcomers.

WF: What makes your adopted pets unique? 

G: Gur is a gentle but stern alpha cat. Everyone either respects him as their elder or kind of feels intimidated by him. Dharma is sweet and being rescued as a bigger cat, I feel she is grateful to me for giving her a home (unlike those whom I rescued younger). She is still quite a playful cat, despite being one of the oldest here. Yekkers is talkative and playful. Guyito is quiet, kind of insecure, and socially awkward. He is clingy and likes to come when called (or even just at the slightest eye contact!). Kimmy and her kittens are more bonded to the other cats than they are to me. Though a sweet boy, Titus hates being handled. Tampipi is chatty and feisty, but sweet in her own little way.

Tampipi’s markings are so unique

WF: What are your favorite activities with your cats?

G: They are typical cats who sleep most of the day, but they do enjoy a good teaser game! Yekkers likes to play peekaboo, while Guyito and Dharma look forward to exploring the corridors (supervised) when I open the main door. None of them are lap cats, but they like sharing my pillow or blanket when I sleep.

WF: With quite a number of cats around, how do you catproof your home?

G: There aren’t anything on display that I don’t want them to eat or destroy, especially since some of them have pica. Also, a good vacuum is very important!

The face Titus makes when he encounters the dreaded vacuum

WF: Do you have a special space at home reserved just for them? 

G: I live alone in a condo, but having them feels like I’m really not just living for myself. The cats are pretty much free-roaming and we’re lucky to have enough room for all of them to have their own private nooks and to have containment areas if need be. It helps that all the resident cats get along (being all spayed and neutered is a huge factor here) and they have enough climbing and hiding places as well as litter boxes. However, my current foster Brienne though is not friendly with the others, so she stays in my room for now. I’m definitely at my maximum number of cats now. 

Yekkers loves baskets and high places

WF: Can you talk more about your fostering experience? 

G: I first learned about the concept of fostering when I saw a feature on TV.  I thought it was a good way to help out cats if you can’t adopt them permanently. My first unplanned fostering experience was with Dharma’s kittens because she happened to be pregnant when I got her and I couldn’t keep them all. I didn’t want to do it again though because while I could manage my own feelings about being separated from my fosters when it’s time to bring them to their permanent homes, I feel sad for the cats who have formed bonds and have to be separated again. Cats are pretty sensitive creatures and get stressed at even the slightest change. I want to expose them to as little stressful situations as possible.

Fostering is hard. I’ve successfully adopted out a few cats to good homes, but it’s a combination of effort and luck. In a way, Guyito was a foster fail too! I planned on getting him adopted after he was weaned, but since he got sick for a while, I had to wait until he recovered 100%. While growing up, I was still worried about his other health issues so I decided to keep him.

As for my former fosters who are now living with their forever homes, it feels fulfilling to find people who will care for as much if not more than I would for them.

Foster cat Brienne is still looking for
her forever home

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give to people with multiple cats like you? 

G: The hardest part of having a multiple cat household is monitoring their health. Cats are known to instinctively hide their illnesses, so a heightened sensitivity to any change in their behaviour is important to make sure they get treatment before they get worse. Personally, I make sure everyone gets equal attention even by just simply saying all their names when I leave the house or retire at night.

When living with cats, you eventually get better at deciphering their behaviour. They are such complicated creatures and each one is unique. It’s particularly hard when one or some of them just suddenly change their eating behaviour and the vet can’t find anything physically wrong. You have to think back at minor changes around the house that made them behave strangely so that you can address them.

Inevitably, some sacrifices like personal luxuries have to be made, especially when there are unexpected expenses such as when they get sick.

WF: After going through an outbreak, do you have any tips on how to deal when multiple cats get sick? 

G: Prevention is always better than cure. I have taken all known precautions (including vaccinations against common viruses), but sometimes, it still happens. That was my first time dealing with an outbreak—a respiratory infection that was highly communicable—and having multiple cats hospitalized. In which case, early intervention is super important because if I had waited longer before they got treated, it would have resulted in worsening symptoms and more expenses. 

I was lucky to have been armed with knowledge when this happened to us. Being a member and administrator of a secret online cat care community, cases like this have been experienced by other fur parents, so I learned indirectly from what they shared.

WF: Why would you personally encourage adopting and fostering animals?

G: There are so many homeless animals in need of homes out there, it really makes no sense to breed and buy. Plus, their unique personalities and stories of how they have come into your life is part of what makes them special.

All cats are beautiful regardless of breed. I hope more people will be open to adopting street or shelter cats and see beyond their initial appearance. People are sometimes surprised that my cats are puspins because they are big and cute, but I always tell them that they didn’t start out that way. They became more beautiful (as all cats will) because someone cares for them.

Guyito has an important message to share

Follow the adventures of Glady’s lovable puspins or follow her Instagram account devoted to ginger white cats

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption or foster story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Foster Paw-renting Tails: Gillian Tero

Twenty-eight-year-old Gillian is an aspiring lawyer who’s been fostering cats for over a year. To date, she has taken in four kittens and seven rescues into her home, teaching them “how to cat” with the help of her costume-wearing rescue pets, Mina and Aki. She shares the delightful story of how she accidentally got into Read More...

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Gillian and her first foster, Wren

Twenty-eight-year-old Gillian is an aspiring lawyer who’s been fostering cats for over a year. To date, she has taken in four kittens and seven rescues into her home, teaching them “how to cat” with the help of her costume-wearing rescue pets, Mina and Aki. She shares the delightful story of how she accidentally got into fostering with Waldo’s Friends. 

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Hi Gillian! Tell us about the first animal you fostered. 

Gillian Tero (GT): My first foster was a handsome boy named Wren. I came across him on a work day, hearing his meows from a bush during my coffee run. Though I was wearing a skirt, I crouched down to look for the source of the cries and I found myself looking straight into the eyes of this scared little kitten. 

I went back to my office and promised that if he was still there after I clocked out, I’d take him home for fostering. Note that one shouldn’t immediately take kittens. You have to exert effort to see if their mom is around. Well-meaning humans who disturb the litter can affect their smell. If the mom does not recognize their smell, she will ignore them. Young kittens need to be with their mom during the first weeks to grow healthy and learn proper cat behaviour.

After work, I went back and found that he was still there! I was afraid to pull him out of the bushes, so I prayed for a miracle to happen. A roving security personnel saw me, and ended up helping me out. I brought the noisy kitten back home and called him Wren because he reminded me of the small chatty bird. There was no turning back from that.

WF: Did you have any formal training for fostering kittens? 

GT: I had no formal training, but I do take great measures in educating myself. International cat personalities like Kitten Lady and Jackson Galaxy have helped a lot with situations like what to do when you see a kitten on the street. I am also lucky to have found a wonderful group of cat lovers who are aligned with my passion for local cats and their welfare. 

WF: Are you officially involved with any of the animal rescues in your community?

GT: Most of my fostering efforts have been supported out of my own pocket. However, I ALWAYS get a lot of support from friends who are just as crazy about cats as I am. The support is always overwhelming. So to say “I foster on my own” is inaccurate. In my opinion, it takes a village to rescue and foster animals.

At present, I am on a break from hosting fosters. It’s admittedly hard work, and all you get is LOVE from the fosters. In lieu of this, I started a Facebook group called Cats of Salcedo Village (CoSV) to help the many stray cats in the village. We are not a formal group, and anyone can add themselves to the group. Our focus is to primarily have the kitties in the area included in TNR projects to control the population.  

WF: What’s the most number of fosters you’ve taken in at one time? 

GT: I have a limit of two fosters at a time. Since I already have two cats, that would make four cats in total. In my tiny apartment, that means everyday hurricanes. LOL! I think I couldn’t responsibly handle more than that. 

All rescuers, fosters, and adopters should also think of the cats’ best interests, including their mental health. They also get stressed and this can be triggered in many ways, one of which is sharing territory and forming bonds. Even if my Mina and Aki are the sweetest cats, they still need adequate space from other cats. This aspect gets a bit complicated and I am still learning that all cats have their own personalities.

Cassie hanging out with Aki

WF: What do you love most about fostering?

GT: I love seeing them grow to become healthy kitties! Most of them have come to me as scrawny trash goblins, but most of them grow up into majestic furry felines. My best example would be my foster Rita. She was extra skinny when she first came to me. After a few months of care, Rita grew up to be one beautiful little lady. Seeing their big fursonalities shine is another perk that I am blessed to witness. They are just always grateful love bugs.

Rita’s beautiful transformation starting from the day I got her

WF: What would you say are the biggest challenges that come with fostering? 

GT: For me, it’s finding the best home or family for my fosters. This is the most challenging because I want to find the best fit for the human and my foster. I also desire for my fosters to live their best lives. In fact, I always hope they find a better life with their potential adoptive homes compared to their time with me. 

It could also take months before an interested person comes up. That’s also a fear—that no one ever comes forward and takes an interest in a foster. I would hate to have a foster fail because in my heart, I know that I would always want to give them away to better people and better homes. I pray it never happens to me!

Wren and Rita in their furever homes

WF: You mentioned your furbabies Mina and Aki earlier. How did you come to adopt them?

GT: Mina was part of the community cats of my condo. A kind-hearted cat lady took the initiative of regularly feeding and spaying/neutering them. I befriended her and learned that she had plans of transferring most of the cats to a shelter because the property administration was pushing for the pound to take them away even though they were all sterile already. Mina was a sweet beautiful kitten who happened to be a lap kitten! A calico who is a lap kitten? In the known cat world, that personality is kind of rare! Someone else wanted to take her in, but I asked and acted first. She is my first cat love and will always be my first baby girl.

Aki was given to me by an officemate a couple of months after I had taken Mina in because he had too many cats. It was the universe just proving to me that “nope, you can’t just have ONE cat!” I set firm boundaries right after I got Aki. We are not adopting any more cats because I am a single mom to Mina and Aki! I think this is also why I am more open to fostering. I can have more cats but only temporarily. 

Fostering also makes adopters’ lives easier because kittens learn to socialize with other cats and interact with humans better. While they are with me, I also train them to learn skills like using the litter box, learning that the vet is an okay place, learning tricks to earn treats, and sitting on cue. I decided to train my cats because, as I live alone, it would get tiring for me to keep them calm during meal times. I can’t have a riot of excitement every time I prepare their food bowls, so I taught them to sit and wait. It worked. None of my friends did this with their cats and I was always met with something along the lines of “you can’t train cats! They train you!” But I am a stubborn person, and I persisted. 

Just like dogs, most cats are food-motivated! I use a clicker to train them. Aki knows how to fist bump (but he ALWAYS complains) while Mina knows how to jump to me to be carried. Training is usually done just on weekends and when they’re a little hungry. I just keep the trainings short but frequent. It does take a lot of patience and communication with your kitties. I believe these activities enrich the life of my indoor cats mentally, and it also strengthens the bond we have with each other. 

Me and my cats in the morning (this is how they wake me up!)

WF: How do Mina and Aki feel about having foster siblings?

GT: Good thing you asked! Before I take a foster in, I do my best to tell them that someone is going to stay with us. “We will have a little guest. I need you to be nice to him/her. And yes, I will be sharing some of your food with them, okay?” I tell them that I still love them to the moon and back even if we have new cats at home. 

WF: How did you get into the habit of dressing up your cats? And more importantly, how do they feel about it?

GT: I have a Sunday cat lady group where we meet up and, sometimes, bring our cats. These friends of mine are the ones who are actually obsessed with dressing up their cats. Most of my costumes are gifts from them. 

As for how they feel about it… THEY HAVE NO CHOICE. HAHAHA! But seriously, Aki and Mina are the sweetest cats. Putting costumes on them is fairly easy and they don’t really complain.

The cutest cats in costume

WF: You shared some powerful thoughts about spaying/neutering in one of your Instagram posts. How do you feel that this practice still isn’t as common in some parts of the Philippines? And how do you spread awareness about this issue in a grassroots level? 

GT: That post was borne out of frustration with a certain rising Filipino cat blog who had an obvious dissonance with being a responsible pet guardian and breeder. My cat lady friends and I take the hard stance that breeders contribute to the overpopulation problem. Breeding only “cute” breeds also deviate the focus from all the responsibilities that come with lifetime companionship. Sadly, a lot of people tend to only like the surface level beauty… Why buy love though? 

I feel frustrated upon learning that most people and friends don’t spay/neuter. When the opportunity arises to share my knowledge, I really get serious about it. I even give them tips and all the available resources so they have no excuse not to consider it. I think this has worked so far. I’m not a very patient person with humans, but sharing this knowledge and living this advocacy needs that skill and value. After all, I come from the same background growing up in the province, so the people I meet now remind me of how I was before. 

Back then, my family adopted many unwanted aspins. While we were able to give them shelter and food, adequate vet care was lacking and we didn’t allot budget for spaying and neutering them. Those doggies (a maximum of 14 at one time!) lived an average of 10 years with my family.

WF: For your foster cats, do you make sure they’re spayed/neutered before they go to their forever homes? 

WF: I have learned this the hard way with having one adopter refusing to neuter his cat. Admittedly, I should have extended more resources to have them spayed and neutered before they go to their FURever homes. Luckily, the rest of my adopters have all agreed to spay and neuter the babies they have adopted from me. 

Recently and with help from my cat lady friends, I have been using a collated guideline for screening potential adopters. Included in this list is a series of questions to see the adopter’s stance on spaying/neutering.

WF: What are some of your funniest or most interesting foster stories to date?

GT: My cats somehow take on parenting roles. Mina is always motherly to the kittens, while Aki takes on some “pupils” of his own. He teaches them how to be a proper cat—annoying, princely, and awfully cute! He also teaches them the Art of Complaining. Aki is more vocal and very opinionated. He talks whenever he feels like it. A lot of the fosters grew up seeming to be just as vocal as he is. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but it’s definitely a funny aspect to their personalities!

Wren and Rita learning how to be a cat through Mina and Aki

WF: How easy or difficult is it for you when you know it’s time to give your foster away? 

GT: Giving them away is never easy, emotionally. But as Kitten Lady says, “Goodbye IS the goal.” This challenge is true not only for me, but also for Mina and Aki. They form bonds with my fosters, so we do a little ritual every time we have to say goodbye to someone. I am reiki-attuned so I give all my cats reiki and communicate with them about what is going to happen soon. I tell them that their foster sibling is going to their “best love” and I think it works. It lessens the stress of tearing away the bonds we have made with each other. Mina and Aki seem to understand when I talk to them that way too.  

Rita on her adoption day

WF: How has your life changed after fostering cats?

GT: My life has been so enriched! I feel prosperous with the quality friendships and connections that have opened up to me because of these cats. I never feel “lack” when I set my mind to fostering a new kitty. And there’s always an abundance of love. Gosh, the love that cats give… it’s crazy sweet! And I say this after growing up having a ton of dogs! The two just speak different languages and express their love distinctly. 

WF: What’s the best tip you can give for first-time and long-time foster parents?

GT: For first-time foster parents, bring your new fosters to the vet FIRST THING and quarantine them at home especially if you have resident cats. Not only is there a risk of spreading diseases, introduction of new and resident cats needs time or else you’re only forcing unnecessary stress on both parties. Cats don’t speak to each other like dogs and humans do. They. NEED. Time.

For long-time foster parents, please think of the quality of life you are able to give to your fosters. Taking in too many will not only take a toll on your finances. It will also hurt you and your cats’ emotional well-being. 

WF: Why would you personally encourage people to foster and adopt animals?

GT: Fostering and adopting, especially local strays, changes their lives forever. I also believe in the philosophy that the more you give, the more you receive. When you find yourself in the capacity to give a small animal a home and some of your love, I can guarantee that you will gain more than you could ever imagine. I believe that animals are pure and their love blesses people. If you have the capability to help them, then there is absolutely no need to be afraid of their love.

Follow Gillian and her adorable rescue cats on Instagram.

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption or foster story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption Tails: Bea Ledesma and George and Potchie

Bea Ledesma is a certified dog lover. She grew up with a family that could not get enough of them, saying, “My family loves all kinds of dogs, so adopting aspins [short for asong Pinoy or Philippine native dog] was never an issue. Aspins are incredible dogs—they make for clever, loving, and adorable pets.” The Read More...

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Bea Ledesma is a certified dog lover. She grew up with a family that could not get enough of them, saying, “My family loves all kinds of dogs, so adopting aspins [short for asong Pinoy or Philippine native dog] was never an issue. Aspins are incredible dogs—they make for clever, loving, and adorable pets.” The group publisher and executive vice president for Hinge Inquirer reveals how she came to adopt George and Potchie, and how these two lovable pets have brought immense joy to her life. 

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Tell us about your dogs.

Bea Ledesma (BL): George is an aspin who’s about five and a half years old. My sister adopted George and gave him to me. George is such a sweet and loving creature, so the adoption has resulted in a wonderful addition to the family. 

Bea with George and Shinjo
Photo by Shaira Luna 

Shinjo is a Chow-Lab who was very selective about who he allowed to get close to him. When he let you hug him, it felt like you’d earned an Olympic medal. As he got older, he mellowed and became a devoted pet who loved peanut butter dog treats and sleeping on the living room carpet. When he passed away, it felt like a huge chunk of my life had disappeared. 

After Shinjo’s unexpected passing, I thought another dog would help with the grieving process. A friend mentioned that there was a Chow Chow up for adoption at the shelter of Carina Suarez, so I went to visit and fell in love with Potchie immediately. Potchie stayed with me for six months, until he passed away due to heart complications.

On the day I adopted Potchie

WF: Did you encounter any problems with adopting Potchie or George? 

BL: I’ve never had much of an issue. Just like any pet that must adapt to their home, learn its rules, and make space for themselves, adopted pets follow the same path. Potchie’s adoption itself was a breeze, thanks to Carina. 

WF: What would you say are the unique traits of your adopted pets?

BL: George is a natural showboater. Whenever strangers meet him, he’s preening and showing off. George is a professional model and has been featured in numerous magazines. Granted many of those sites and magazines have been under me, but animal nepotism hasn’t been banned yet.  

A mockup cover featuring George 
Photo by Patrick Segovia;
design by Nimu Muallam 

Normally, Chows are ferocious, but Potchie was universally sweet. He never tried to bite anyone. Potchie also had a limp, so upon meeting Potchie for the first time, people would be instantly enamored. The limp only increased their adoration. 

Sweet as ever

WF: What are the things George enjoys doing with you?

BL: George goes with me to work almost every day. He joins meetings, drops by shoots, and greets visitors at the reception area. 

On the helper’s day off, I would wake up to find George staring at me, waiting for me to get up and take him out for a walk. Sometimes, I’d wake up with a jolt to find him nose to nose with me. 

George waiting for me to get out of bed

WF: What’s it like having multiple pets at home?

BL: At the moment, it’s just one. But when there are two, oh it’s joyous chaos. There’s nothing better. 

Whenever I’d come from work on a late weeknight, I’d hear them by the front door, just waiting to greet me hello, tails wagging joyfully as if to say, “You’re here! You’re here! The world is bright and sunny and happy!” And even if it was 1 am after a long day, it would feel the same way to me. 

Potchie and George in costume

WF: As someone who has owned pets for a long time, what’s the best tip you can give for first-time pet owners?

BL: Patience. Lead with a firm and loving hand when training your pet. With George, it took almost six months to potty train him. To be fair, he was just a puppy with a tiny bladder. Now that he’s a responsible adult, he never slips and pees indoors. 

George was a great trainer for Potchie, who was never potty trained. After less than a month with George, Potchie already knew how to pee in the garden. 

WF: Why would you personally encourage adopting animals?

BL: I’m a firm believer in the phrase “adopt don’t shop.” There are so many pets looking for a home, pets who are caring, endearing, smart, and warm. A lot of people are beginning to recognize how cute aspins are. You don’t need a breed to be cute.  

George striking a paws for a feature
on dog accessories
Photo by Patrick Segovia 

WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal?

BL: Meet them. Engage with them. Discern if their personality is a match for you, your home, and your lifestyle. Do you want energetic and bouncy? There are plenty of dogs who require room to jump and run around. Or are you more of a laid-back person who would enjoy a more blasé, nonchalant pet? A cat or an older dog might be more your jam. 

WF: How has your life changed after adopting these dogs? Do you have any plans of adopting another one in the future? 

BL: They say people with pets live longer. But, for me at least, it’s not about the length but the quality of life. George makes me so grateful to be alive. His sweetness and loving nature makes for a wonderful contrast to my otherwise dour personality. And yes, I’m definitely open to adopting another pet. I’m just consulting with George on the ideal timeline. 

[Editor’s note: As of the publication of this story, Bea and George happily welcomed another dog into the family.]   

I did a CDG campaign and, as you can see, George was the star
Photo by Renzo Navarro 

Follow the adventures of George on Instagram.

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Cover photo by JP Talapian. Photos courtesy of Bea Ledesma

Pet Adoption Tails: Kaley Carlyle and Chupey

Twenty-eight-year-old Kaley Carlyle is a Radiation Therapist living in Atlanta, Georgia. With a passion for animal rescue, she and her husband live in a home filled with foster dogs and four adopted pooches: Tempest, Kipling, Bailey, and Chupey—the newest addition to their family! Born just over a year ago, Chupey has captured hearts all over Read More...

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Kaley and Chupey

Twenty-eight-year-old Kaley Carlyle is a Radiation Therapist living in Atlanta, Georgia. With a passion for animal rescue, she and her husband live in a home filled with foster dogs and four adopted pooches: Tempest, Kipling, Bailey, and Chupey—the newest addition to their family! Born just over a year ago, Chupey has captured hearts all over the world because of his perennially smiling face and unique appearance. Kaley reveals how she came to adopt Chupey, and how he has helped her spread the word about adopting and raising dogs responsibly.

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Hi Kaley! Can you tell us about the first pet you ever adopted?

Kaley Carlyle (KC): The first pet I ever adopted was a black lab mix named Buddy. My parents gave him to me for Christmas when I was 10. He was a “free puppy” from someone who had put a sign out by the road. We really did not know much about dogs at the time, and we learned so much from Buddy. He was truly an awesome dog and lived 15 long years. I could not have asked for a better first dog and friend. 

While we had Buddy, I got my second dog, and she was the one that turned me into a rescue and adoption nut. We actually found her in a dumpster when she was eight ounces and four weeks old. We named the little Jack Russell/Chihuahua after the dumpster she was in, Dempsey. She was my little sidekick; went everywhere with me, even in theaters and into my college classes sometimes! But she was killed when she and I were on a deck that collapsed and fell. It tore me apart, but out of the heartache, I decided that I needed to help others find “their Dempsey.” So I started taking in dogs from bad situations, taking them to the vet, then finding them homes. I made friends from all over and rescued more and more. And it hasn’t stopped from there. Nearly a decade later, it’s how I came to meet Chupey.

WF: How did Chupey enter your life? 

KC: Chupey was born in South Georgia to an outdoor older dog that was allowed to get pregnant by any male passing through. Chupey was very different from his other siblings, in looks clearly, but also developmentally. He was always a step behind them in opening his eyes, walking, etc. But it didn’t stop him from trying! 

I was alerted to Chupey’s plight when he was a few weeks old. I had been trying to get his owners to fix their dogs for ages as I had been asked to take a few puppies from this mom before that were born with minor issues. So when I found out a puppy with even more potential issues had been born, I was determined to help him and his mother. I told the family that I would take the puppy, but I had to be able to help them get his mother fixed. Thank goodness they agreed! We got Chupey, and a few weeks later, his mother was spayed with help from the non-profit No More Puppies GA. I intended to get Chupey healthy and find him a forever family, but when the time came, I realised he was already with his forever family. 

Each of my four dogs has their own interesting adoption stories, all from a myriad of situations. Personally, I will never not rescue or adopt, as I have seen too many dogs without homes. And I love helping a dog that starts off abused and eventually comes out of their shell to become your best friend. 

Little smiling Chupey

WF: What makes Chupey unique?

KC: Chupey wears his uniqueness right out on his sleeves. Haha! He is very physically unique and we are just now learning why. Thanks to one of the geneticists at Embark (who Chupey took a DNA test with), we have actually found that he has a partial duplication of his 6th chromosome. This is huge as it could potentially explain some of what makes his body look the way it does! We are still learning more on the subject as we speak. 

WF: As a young pup, did you ever worry that the physical “oddities” Chupey was born with indicated sickness or something else? 

KC: I was extremely worried when I got him. I had seen pictures of him and could tell from those that something wasn’t right. I also knew that he had spent his first few weeks under a shed not receiving the specialised care that he truly needed. Furthermore, I had no clue if all of the deformities on the outside meant that something else was going to be even more wrong on the inside. 

When I picked him up, I still wasn’t quite sure what to think. He was covered in flea dirt and his skin seemed so dry and sickly. Plus, he had two nasty scratches on his neck and ears from where two dogs on the property pulled at him. Chupey didn’t seem super normal then. He was eight weeks old, but he seemed to act more like a four-week-old pup in the way he interacted and moved about. Plus, he slept a lot. 

Despite his appearance, the vet was surprised to find a pretty normal pup. Over the next four months, we had multiple check-ups, blood tests, and random visits to assure that it was truly the case. In that time, Chupey started to act more like a normal dog, other than the fact that he still slept so much more than most dogs his age. His mental state seemed to rapidly develop over the first month he was with me, to the point that I no longer worried about it at all! We then found out from his blood tests that his liver was working overtime. We believe his liver might be underdeveloped, so Chupey has been on a low-protein diet since then to give his liver some rest, and the results have been amazing. His energy came to him within two weeks and has not gone away since. Chupey loves to run and play and it’s hard to wear him out now! 

It’s been a journey to get to this point, and I still don’t know what challenges Chupey will encounter in future. I don’t know how long I will be blessed to have him, but for now, I am just happy that he is happy, healthy, and lives a great life! 

WF: Were there any challenges that came with adopting Chupey or your other pets?

KC: To be totally honest, I don’t usually have any issue with most dogs settling into the home. Perhaps I am very lucky, or perhaps I am so used to fosters that I know how to set them up for success. But I do think a very large part of it is that adult dogs are usually so much easier than people give them credit for. Everyone wants to adopt a puppy because they are small and cute or because they don’t think an adult dog will have the personality they want. But believe it or not, I think it’s much better to adopt an adult if you want something very specific out of your dog. With an adult, you can already tell their personality and their likes and dislikes, where puppies do not truly develop their own personality quirks until a few weeks or months after people adopt them. 

Adults are also intelligent. Rarely do I struggle with potty training adult dogs who have never been in a house.They usually take about three days to figure it out, way faster than puppies! But if I were to reveal the toughest part of adopting, I would have to say it would be finding the right one. I find it easier when dogs find their way to me, the way I came to adopt Tempest, Kipling, and Chupey. We went out searching for an English Bulldog and adopted Bailey and she is absolutely amazing! But I totally prefer the rescues that find you. I guess it’s the surprise! 

WF: Speaking of Bailey, are she and Chupey best mates?

KC: Yes, Bailey and Chupey are pals. The two of them remind me of some sort of hilarious comedy duo; the tall lanky one with all the energy, and the heavier set, grumpier looking one of sorts. It’s brilliant! 

It started when Chupey was super small. He would always seek her out in her bed to cuddle as she was one of the warmest things in the house. I have many pictures of him cuddling up to her when he was a tiny baby. I think their friendship comes from the fact that Bailey is extremely tolerant of how into physical contact Chupey is, whereas the other two dogs are not. Chupey loves to lean against you, rub against you, and give tiny nibbles when he is super happy; all things Bailey never really bothers to do anything about. Even in the rare case where she gets annoyed with him, all he has to do is nibble on her legs or chest and she turns to butter as she loves having her itches scratched. It is a win-win! 

Bailey is a soft, warm cushion to lie on

WF: Any funny or interesting stories you can share about your adopted pets?

KC: When you have multiple pets, there is always something funny or interesting to watch going on! I have four dogs, and all of them have neat little quirks that combine to keep me smiling most of the time. 

I enjoy taking them out when the weather is cool enough and love watching the interactions with everyone. If we go to a dog park, Tempest is running around, bossing everyone around like a lifeguard though he is the smallest dog. Kipling is going from lap to lap getting smooches and pets like he never gets any at home. Bailey is careening around, running into other dogs and the backs of people’s legs like she has never been in public before. Chupey has no clue what to do with all the attention everyone is giving him. 

Some of my favorite interactions occur in the dog park, as I get a lot of questions about my dogs. I often take the chance to talk to other pet owners about rescue pets and the importance of spaying and neutering, as well as offering any advice. My dogs are all so varied and unique, whether that be in looks or quirky personality, and it gives me a great opportunity to talk to people about what I am passionate about without coming out of nowhere to them. 

Having fun outdoors

WF: What are the things your rescue pets enjoy doing with you and your husband?

KC: I hate to be boring, but their favorite thing to do with us is sleep. They are all cuddly and they love to snuggle! They each have their favorite places at night and usually gravitate to the same areas! The dogs also love working out in the yard when my husband is out there, and I know he is grateful for the company! They also love begging for food…although they don’t beg from my husband. All four tend to gather around me, probably because they know they are likely to get a scrap or two from me. Oops!

WF: How does Chupey feel about you dressing him up in cute outfits?

KC: Chupey loves his outfits. I think early on he learned just how much warmer he is when he is wearing something over his skin. Whenever he wears them, he always rubs against our legs and rolls on the carpet. He had even taken to sitting in front of a heater with his PJs on when he was younger. He loves warmth! Chupey hasn’t gotten to wear anything since early this year due to the heat, but I have started buying new pieces as he did so much growing since last winter. I recently held up his first coat and his first pajamas next to him and almost started to cry! He has gotten so big! 

Looking fine and dandy as a puppy

WF: What’s it like having four dogs at home?

KC: I’ve had many numbers of dogs in my home, counting fosters and rescues. The high numbers can be stressful depending on the age of dog you have, their behaviour, and their needs. I have had eight dogs before where everyone behaved perfectly and amicably. There was literally no stress at all. It really depends on how everyone jells. 

In my opinion, having four personal dogs is a lot tougher than three. Three dogs is actually my favorite number, and I like to have a diverse range of ages, as seniors are my favorite. I do not have that right now, but sometimes, you can’t predict who you fall in love with! Having four dogs, especially ones with higher energy, means that someone is always in your space, someone always wants your attention, and someone is usually getting into something they shouldn’t. Even though mine behave very, very well, I always listen out for strange sounds or stretches of silence that are suspiciously long! Traveling can be a bit harder too as you have to make sure there is someone you trust to care for a small circus. But having four also means that there are more than enough kisses to go around, and you never get cold at bedtime in the winter!

WF: What’s the best tip you can give for single-pet owners who decide to get another pet?

KC: I am more than happy to tell them the truth; that having two dogs (that get along with each other) is usually easier and more rewarding than having one. Two dogs play with one another, alleviating some of the boredom pets feel at home alone all day, which also takes some pressure off of a tired owner after a long day at work. Yes, there is more cost in vet work and food, but some clinics give you discounts for multiple pets, and the pets often keep each other happier and healthier! 

Dogs (and even many cats) are social creatures and yet they spend huge amounts of time during the day alone. But a friend helps with that. Some people worry that their pet will not love them as much if they get a friend. But as someone who spent their childhood with one dog that eventually got many friends when he was older, I promise you that dogs have more than enough love to give you and their friends! 

WF: How has your life changed after adopting and rescuing dogs?

KC: My life has completely changed after adopting animals. For nearly a decade, it has taken over much of my spare time and my identity. It has changed the way I look at movies, TV, social media, marketing ads, and even more. It has changed me so much that I even complain about representation of mixed breed dogs in media, which is something that most people have never even once thought about. 

I heavily encourage anyone and everyone to adopt. You can find almost any kind of dog in a shelter or rescue if you are patient enough. Most people just simply do not want the hassle or tell me that they deserve to have exactly what they want, which I understand but still find incredibly sad. No one likes to think about dogs being euthanised, but they like to disconnect themselves and pretend that their actions have no bearing on the state of shelter dogs. But it does, even if it is in the smallest possible way. 

Rescued dogs are so grateful for their rescuers. I know that sounds crazy to say, but most of them truly do. There is a difference to how they act once settled into their new home, especially the ones who have suffered more abuse. There is a weight that lifts off of them in the first few weeks of their new life. And they look at you with such love and adoration that I personally could never go back to not adopting. I understand people’s hesitancy, which is why I often encourage fostering or volunteering first, so they can be around rescue animals, see how great they are, and see how much of a bad hand so many have been dealt through no fault of their own. 

WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal?

KC: First off, I advise people to have an idea of what they want. Some people do not care what type of dog they get. They simply want to rescue one and that is great, but others have specific needs in their lives. Do you not have time for a puppy? That is okay, adopt an adult! Does your apartment restrict sizes? That is okay, adopt a small adult so you know their full size! Do you want a running partner? Go to the shelter and visit the dogs and ask to take them for walks! Do you have a family member with allergies? That’s no big deal! Just adopt a non-shedding dog.If you are dead set on a specific breed or mix of that breed, there are breed-specific rescues and pet search engines that allow you to find that breed near you.

After having an idea about what you want, you need the supplies. It is never a good idea to make an impulse decision or bring a pet home with nothing ready for him. Crates can be bought used or very affordably. Research your vet, your food, and what types of preventative you want to use for him. 

Once you have everything ready, I encourage you to go MEET the pets. Do not just look online. Go meet them and see how they interact with your family. Find a rescue that lets you do a trial run if possible. That way, you can see how the pet does in your home! 

Adoption is great and so many people have wonderful experiences! And they are saving lives, which is always a treat.

WF: How do you feel about Chupey having 25.5K Instagram followers? Does it put the pressure on you to share more unique posts and discuss responsible pet ownership? 

KC: It boggles my mind that Chupey has so many followers. People all over the world comment on his pictures in a variety of languages. He has had pictures drawn of him and has had toys sent from other countries. I simply cannot fathom it. It is really amazing. And it makes me super happy that my cute but strange-looking little guy has so many fans considering he came from such a rough life. 

I do feel a certain pressure to try to capture as many interesting and varied experiences with him on my camera as possible. I try not to post too many similar things close together, and I try to stay aware of little holidays like National Coffee Day or Tongue Out Tuesday so that I can provide Chupey’s followers with something fun and interesting to look at that. I try not to let it get too repetitive, although the followers have said they don’t really mind as long as they get more Chupey. Haha! People are asking for Chupey products, but I am not really sure how to tackle it. I am still trying to figure it out because I know people want them and it would be a great way to raise money for rescue dogs in need.

The platform that Chupey helps me stand on is the importance of adopting, especially special needs pets or those that may not be as attractive as others. I also love to talk about why spaying/neutering is so important. Luckily, Chupey and his life tie very heavily into all these issues, so the fact that many people love him so much is a wonderful thing. 

Pawsome siblings Kipling, Chupey, and Tempest

See more of Chupey and his adopted fur siblings on Instagram.

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!