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Animal Friends Blog


10 Famous Adoption Stories

Every rescue animal deserves to be adopted into a home that will provide them with the love and security they need. These amazing stories illustrate how important rehoming is, and why adopted animals can prove to be the most amazing additions to any family.

1. Oscar

Oscar became famous for travelling around the world with his owner, Joanne Lefson. Photos of him against backdrops of scenes from various countries received an enormous online response, and Lefson also published her own book in 2010 about their journey titled Ahound the World: My Travels with Oscar. Lefson rescued Oscar from a shelter in Cape Town the day before he was meant to be euthanised, and used their mammoth journey to raise awareness about the importance of rehoming animals. They visited over 20,000 animal shelters over five continents, and Oscar remains the only dog ever to have travelled over 200,000 kilometres. They were scheduled to climb to Mount Everest Base Camp to campaign for providing stray dogs with a home. Sadly, Oscar died before making it to Everest when he was hit by a car in California in 2013. His legacy continues through Lefson’s new society ‘Oscars Arc’, which was established to raise awareness about animal adoption, and to campaign against euthanasia in shelters.

2. Haatchi

The story of Haatchi and Owen Howkins is astounding. Haatchi the Anatolian Shepherd was left for dead when he was tied to a railway track after being beaten over the head. His tail and one of his legs were severely injured after being hit by a train and had to be amputated. Haatchi was rescued and then rehomed after Owen’s father’s fiancée read Haatchi’s story on Facebook. The boy and his new dog immediately bonded and became inseparable. Owen, aged seven at the time, suffers from Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes his muscles to constantly seize up. He became withdrawn and anxious as a result, struggling to make friends at school and socialise, and was nervous about leaving the house. Haatchi’s arrival transformed Owen’s life, giving him the confidence to speak to strangers and go outside. The pair have won numerous awards, and Haatchi and Owen’s story has inspired two short films and a book.

3. Nala

Nala the cat was given up to a rescue shelter aged just four months old when her owners could no longer afford to look after her. Shortly after, she began to develop respiratory problems. Nala was eventually adopted and nursed back to health by Varisiri Mathachittiphan, and became an internet sensation after her new owner posted photos of her on Instagram. Nala is now considered to be one of the most famous cats online with over 1.7 million followers on the social media site, and her owner now uses her Instagram account to promote animal welfare and the benefits of spaying and neutering for reducing over-population at shelters.

4. Maddie

Maddie the Coonhound rose to fame as a result of the images and videos her owner posted online of her balancing on various objects. She was rescued by Theron Humphrey from a shelter in Georgia, and the two embarked on a year-long journey across 50 American states to tell ordinary people’s life stories after Humphrey discovered his dog’s unusual ability. He would then take a photo of Maddie on location to use as an accompaniment to each story. Humphrey has used the success of ‘This Wild Idea’ to create ‘Why We Rescue’, a project showcasing success stories about rehoming. Maddie even has a book by Humphrey to her name called Maddie on Things: A Super Serious Project About Dogs and Physics. Currently, thiswildidea’s Instagram page has over 778,000 followers.

5. Reese

The story of Reese the Maltese dog that emerged in early 2014 is unbelievable. Reese went missing from his Texas home in 2007 and seven years later was discovered by the side of a road in Washington. He had escaped from the Davis family home, who had rescued the dog from a shelter in Texas and renamed him Harley. Reese’s microchip identified his original owner as Dinah Miller, and he was flown back to Texas.

6. Peanut

The dog that played Baxter in the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy endured abuse and neglect before he became famous. He was discovered in a Los Angeles shelter by a trainer, and became instantly recognisable to fans of the popular film. Peanut died in 2010, and Quince, his successor in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, had also been rescued after being discovered in a car park. As a result, Anchorman 2 and Nutrish launched ‘Baxter Burgudy’s Scholarship for Classy Dogs’ in 2013, with Nutrish vowing to donate a dollar to the San Diego Humane Society for every Facebook like the page received.

7. Stormy

A retriever-terrier mix puppy, along with his parents and siblings, was rescued by the Dallas Animal Services shelter with the help of Dallas Fire-Rescue and Watershed Management after getting stuck in a storm drain. The animals’ rescue was followed on the shelter’s Facebook page, and they decided to hold a raffle after they were inundated with requests to adopt the dogs. Stormy was the first one to be adopted, and found a new home with the Carruther family.

8. Marnie

A rescued Shih-Tzu with a unique appearance, Marnie was adopted by MTV producer Shirley Braha after she was discovered by Animal Control in a terrible condition on the streets of Connecticut. She had to have fourteen teeth removed and was found to be blind in one eye. She became one of the most popular dogs on Instagram with over 943,000 followers to date, after her tilted head and distinguishable long tongue got her noticed. Her head tilt is thought to be the result of Vestibular Syndrome, which Marnie may have previously suffered from. Fortunately, Braha’s love and devotion means that she can now see out of both eyes.

9. Rudy

Six of the twenty-two Labradors used for the title role in the 2008 film Marley and Me were rescue dogs. One of the dogs, Rudy, was adopted by shelter volunteer Susan Woolley the day before he was going to be euthanised due to a leg injury. Although the shelter tried to find Rudy a home it seemed nobody wanted him, so Woolley adopted the dog after realising what was going to happen. She was then contacted by Larry Madrid, the on-set trainer for Marley and Me, who was searching for a rescue Labrador to portray ‘Marley’ in the film.

10. Lil Bub

Lil Bub was the runt of a feral litter that was taken in by an Indiana shelter when it was discovered she would require a lot of special care. The cat was born with numerous conditions including dwarfism, and she is a ‘perma-kitten’, a cat that will look like a kitten for the rest of her life. She is also a polydactyl cat, born with twenty two toes as opposed to the usual eighteen, and her teeth have never grown. She is also the only cat in recorded history ever to have been born with osteopetrosis, meaning her bones grow denser the older she gets. Far from setting her back, Lil Bub gained fame when her owner Mike Bridavsky photographed her with artists that came to visit his music studio and posted them on the studio’s blog. The photos attracted attention, catapulting Lil Bub into internet stardom with over 642,000 followers to date on Instagram. The cat has her own range of merchandise including clothing, soft toys and phone cases, the proceeds of which go towards helping animal rescue organisations. In February 2014, Lil Bub’s Big Fund was created with the ASPCA, which is a national fund established to provide donations to shelters housing animals with special needs. $200,000 has been raised from meet and greets at shelters and the online store, whilst awareness of the importance of adopting and spaying and neutering animals has been spread.

Find out more animal-related information on our blog, article and guide pages. Insuring your pet gives you peace of mind that you and your pet will be covered if anything were to happen. Animal Friends offer a range of policies for dogs, cats and horses, and we also insure older pets.


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Hello, fellow animal lovers! I’m Elena, and I take care of social media for Animal Friends Insurance. I’m here to share the latest on animal welfare, our charity work and pet care. I foster and adopt rabbits and have a rescue dog called Luna.

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