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How To Save A Life

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Let me introduce you to the best birthday present I ever received: Henry!



As an animal-lover, I’ve always loved going into Petsmart on Saturdays.  Well, loved and hated it at the same time.  You see, Saturdays are adoption days at Petsmart, which means the store is filled with adorable little critters in desperate need of a loving home.  Visits to the store would play out like this:

CCK: Mom, can we please adopt a dog?  Pleeeease?
Mom: Katie, we have a dog.  Molly would not be happy if we forced her to share the limelight with another dog.
CCK: But otherwise they’ll go back to the shelter, and many of them will be put to sleep!
Mom: Don’t think about it; it’s too sad, and we really can’t adopt another dog.  Your dad wouldn’t allow it.

About a week before my eighteenth birthday, Molly needed dog food.  A trip to Petsmart was in order.  And it just so happened to be a Saturday.  By now, I knew not to even ask if we could adopt one of the wide-eyed, tail-wagging pups at the store.  Resigned to my one-dog life, I silently cuddled with an especially-spunky puppy.  So my jaw almost fell through the floor when:

Mom: Would you like to take him home?
CCK: That’s really mean.  You know how much I want to save one; why would you joke about something like that?
Mom: What if I’m not joking?  It’s almost your 18th birthday.
CCK: (Still not letting herself believe it.)  You said Dad wouldn’t go for it.  Nor Molly.
Mom: I don’t know, Katie.  He’s really cute.  Your dad couldn’t stay mad at a face like that for long.  And I bet Molly would at least tolerate him, if not learn to love him.

And so…

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It always makes me sad to see all the dogs for sale in pet shops (mostly from puppy mills). Why buy a puppy when you can rescue one as cute as Henry?  It’s cheaper and you’re saving a life! Henry came from an abusive home, so he was terrified of people, animals, and especially feet when we first brought him home.  In fact, it was months before we even knew he could bark.  But the poor (well, not anymore) guy has come a long way.  Nowadays, he is the ultimate lap dog, ad you can’t stop him from giving you kisses!

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. The best birthday present I received was the day before my 30th birthday I found out my husband and I were expecting our little girl. 3 years later, life has never been the same :) and getting news like that hours before the big 3-0 bday was something I will never forget. All my other presents pale in comparison to the point I can’t even remember them. Usually days/weeks after the holiday, I don’t remember the gift, just the special times I had with friends/fam. Truly, it’s not about the gifts. Enjoy your Sunday chica!

  2. taleoftwovegans says:

    Aw, how sweet about Henry. I totally agree with you that adopting is the only way to go – if you have room in your life for a pet and don’t adopt, you’re basically sentencing a shelter animal to death! I just adopted my two little ratties, and I’m so excited to have them! They’re both a little older, and pretty under socialized, but they’re slowly warming up to me! :)

  3. Emily says:

    Henry is adorable. I’d really like to adopt a dog someday! I keep researching poodle rescues (my family has a standard poodle) and dreaming. :-)

  4. My best birthday present ever was my cat! Actually, I received both of my cats for birthdays. One when I was just 10 (she was a kitten … oh the scratches as we grew up together), and the wonderful cat we have now when I was … um, well, older. We have had her for nine years as of October and she is still the most wonderful, cuddly cat ever.

  5. Henry is so cute. Look at the blue-green colour of his eyes! I love pets, they’re much more easier to handle than children.

    I had a cat not long ago, but my dad threw him away while I was in China. :'(

  6. garbanzogirl says:

    Aww, this is such a sweet post! I don’t really know what my best birthday present ever was. I do really love my bike that I got for my birthday, maybe that’s my favorite. I don’t know how anyone can buy instead of adopt, when so many dogs need homes. We rescued our dog Rowdy from the pound on a day that they had to “get rid” of a lot of dogs, and I’m sooooo glad we adopted him. He’s so sweet, and he’s the best cuddle buddy ever!

  7. Jenny says:

    I always wanted a pooch but my sister is allergic.. I begged my mom to just get rid of my sis but for some reason she wouldn’t allow it, so strange! 😉

    Henry is such a blessing <3!

  8. Teresa says:

    Katie, that is the sweetest story. Henry is sooo lucky to have you! It really does make me sad to think of all those poor abused and also orphaned animals suffering out there. That’s why I ALWAYS tell people to adopt a pet rather than getting one from a pet store or breeder.

  9. What a great story!!! The first year the fiance and I were together, I had just moved into a new apartment, and he noticed that I didn’t have a decent television… so he surprised me and went out and got me a new one! It was more the thoughtfulness than the TV that was great…but the TV was nice too!

  10. Run Sarah says:

    What a sweet story! Henry is beautiful :)

  11. Marina says:

    My best present was when my bf came to my house. He drove for 8 hours in a bus just to be with me for a few hours. My cat was injured, I was so sad on my 18 bday, and he was all I needed.
    p.s. my cat died the day after :(

  12. ~Jessica~ says:

    What a wonderful post ~ it’s great to hear Henry’s ‘story’ and it sounds like the two of you were just meant for each other. I totally agree with you about the need for more people to rescue dogs, and it makes me so sad and angry when people buy from unscrupulous breeders. I used to volunteer in an RSPCA cattery and the state some of the poor souls came in in was just heartbreaking…eventually I had to leave because it was just too distressing that I couldn’t save them all and take them all home…I still feel so guilty about that, and wish I could have been stronger for them.

    Henry is adorable, and personality-wise reminds me of my rescue cat, Minnie. She too came from two consecutive homes where she had been abused and feet were her greatest fear for many years.

    Once again, thank you for such a heart-warming and poignant post : )

  13. Melinda says:

    That’s awesome. I went to buy shoes once at DSW and next door was petsmart. I heard all the commotion that is a saturday adoption day there and HAD to go over and look. I fell in love with this one dog but it was too late to have the place call my apartment complex to check I could have dogs. I waited a whole week and it sucked. The next weekend I was the first one there and got to take my baby home. I have had her 4 1/2 years I am so happy she was able to come with us overseas (I posted pics a few days ago on my blog of her attempting to swim for the first time). It is so easy to get sucked in when it comes to adoption day. I found my cat in a dumpster. Adopted animals rule!

    The best birthday present I ever got (and my husband and I do go over board with presents) was the wii for this past birthday. Now I can stay entertained when I am home alone since I live overseas and have no family here. He also got me the wii fit so I can do workouts if I don’t leave the house in the bad weather.

  14. Kayla says:

    Awee. So how did Molly react?
    & ITA about adopting, there’s no excuse. There are breed specific rescues, if you want a particular breed & shelters are FULL of full of dogs that came from legit breeders, bc animal owners everywhere are giving up their pets to save money. Sadly, it’s one of the first expense cuts families are making (don’t ask me how!)

  15. I got to spend many different nights celebrating my birthday this year with many different friends, and I can say honestly that it’s the best present I could have hoped for :)

  16. Devan Newman says:

    such a beautiful puppy :)

    me and my sister got a puppy on our 7th Christmas :) A golden cocker spaniel we named Quincy
    he is majorly precious. i adore him.
    he is getting so old, and need surgery on his eye next month :(

  17. GREAT post Katie. My innards get all twisted when I hear anyone say that they BOUGHT a dog or cat. I won’t go on about it, and I try to give them the benefit of the doubt that they do not KNOW that they could in fact adopt a dog (even a very special, coveted breed) from a shelter or a specialty rescue organization. So my hats off to you!

    One of the best birthday presents was a weekend in Sideways Wine country (aka Santa Barbara) with a slew of my family and friends. Good times.

  18. Sharon says:

    My favorite bday present was my baby kittens… ok they’re not kittens anymore but I still think of them that way :)

  19. Tiffany! says:

    Aww, what a cute dog! That is such a great present.

    My favorite birthday present was on my 19th birthday and my boyfriend took me to Michael Mina for dinner and gave me a ring he bought made out of a vintage 1930’s button. Haha. I usually cry on my birthdays but that was my best birthday yet and no crying!

  20. Jen says:

    wow katie….I must say that doggie is quite adorable. My best birthday present was also a dog that my parents adopted for me from a shelter. It was kind of like what happened to you – we already had a dog but I wanted another one really badly and finally my parents gave in. He’s a miniature poodle who was originally given the name “Peewee” by his foster mom but I had to change it. He was only a peewee because he was soooo skinny having been a stray. I changed it to Cheddar. I really don’t know why since I hate cheese…I just thought it was a cute name I guess.

  21. Shelby says:

    Best Birthday Present = Love <3

    Corny but so true.

  22. psychoj1 says:

    My best birthday present? That’s so hard! I have had so many meaningful ones, I don’t think I could choose!

    Henry is ADORABLE!!!!!!
    <3 jess

  23. Awww Katie, he’s so cute! I miss the pups and kittens at Mum and Dad’s place (they have two dogs and three cats) but I live interstate now in a share house so I can’t have pets.

    I do have a fish called Eddie though – that’s as good as it gets for me at the mo!

  24. Cecilia says:

    Katie!! I miss you so much! I’d been gone for so long … hah! but now I’m back 😀

    Yessss I wanted a dog SOOOOOOOOO badly, but my parents absolutely REFUSED to go through the process of losing another dog again :( Ne tips?

    I’m going over to ya coconut contest right NOW

  25. Jen,

    I hope you see this message! I’m not ignoring all your sweet comments. But every time I send a reply email, it comes back as undeliverable :(

  26. Christina says:

    Henry is adorable!

    I can’t think of my best birthday present ever – that’s such a hard question – I always love what I get! I’ve never gotten anything as cool as a dog though :(

  27. Katharina says:

    I adopted my little pup, Matilda. I am so lucky to have stumbled upon her.. but I really think it was destiny because me and her are a perfect match. I agree with you on adopting being the way to go. So many puppies need wonderful homes.

    Best birthday present? My dad walked into the room when I was watching TV and announced that he booked us a flight to spend a weekend in NYC for my 16th birthday 😀

  28. Maria says:

    Awww, Henry is super cute, and I’m so glad that he is in such good care now :) He is obviously well-loved by the chocolate covered family!

    I never got a puppy for my birthday (it was just a random day, hehe), but this year, I received so many wonderful cards with heartfelt messages. I really felt so thankful for the amazing messages people sent me and truly felt their love shining through (as cliche as that sounds!). Messages, notes, letters, and cards really make me happy =)

  29. broccolihut says:

    What a cute story! I am so glad you brought Mr. Henry home–I love seeing his pictures on your blog:)
    There is NO WAY I could top your birthday present…but I gotta say, I was pretty psyched when I got my Magic Bullet for my 16th birthday…

  30. Mackenzie S says:

    OMG Your dog is so cute! Dogs are just about the best kind of pet in the world =) I love mine <3 haha

    Hm…best birthday present? I never got my dog as a present, but I did get to go to Disneyland for my birthday so that was pretty much the highlight of my year haha The happiest place on Earth =)

  31. dewtakeflight says:

    Henry is absolutely adorable! I believe 100 percent that we should adopt animals from shelters. Its really sad to think about all the ones who end up being put to sleep–even in “no-kill” shelters. I volunteered at one for 1 year and found out horrific things that I hate thinking about :(. I did end up bringing home a beautiful puppy though :).

    keep inspiring!

  32. mihl says:

    I remember those conversations. We had them so often. And my parents still have one dog and two cats, as it has always been (sometimes we even had three cats). They are all from shelters. I wish I could adopt an animal too, but our apartment is too small.

  33. jcd says:

    Aww, what an adorable story and adorable pup! Your mum is right – nobody could stay mad at that face. How old is Henry? Does he get along well with our other dog?

    I spent the better part of my Thursday evening at the Humane Society cuddling with all the cats and dogs. (In their new building the public can walk right in the life rooms and cuddle with all the animals – I love it!!) Why I was there? My brother adopted a puppy!! It was his birthday present to himself. We always adopt our furry friends from the shelter – I couldn’t think of going elsewhere.

  34. Marianne says:

    Hmmm…I can’t even really think of a best birthday present. Sad, isn’t it? We always just get money, so I end up buying myself presents.

    Alot of the pet stores around here actually do adoptions of stray/abandonned pets now, instead of bringing in new pets to sell.

  35. Wonderful post. I did a whole post on my rescue pup, Chobie, called “Rescue Dogs And Other Miracles.” Hubby thought that was a pretty cheesy title, which may be true, but I tend to get pretty sentimental about my little pup. I love her!!

  36. Anita says:

    I don’t blame you. He’s got those big brown eyes, he’s committed and trustworthy. Dependable and consistent, handsome. What more can you ask for ? Happy Valentine’s Day.

    1. Well, in a perfect world, he wouldn’t shed on the couch… but he’s so darn close to perfect that it’s scary ;).

  37. Jade C says:

    This is the first time I’ve happened upon this particular post and it is adorable and so sweet :) .

  38. S. says:

    Henry is so cute.

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  40. Katie says:

    My dog is a rescue dog too!! We got Maddie about five years ago from a shelter, and she had been left alone a lot so she had big abandonment fears… but she got over that soon because with us, three teenagers who’d never had anything more than a goldfish before, she wasn’t left alone for an instant! =D Now she’s happy and crazy and wonderful. Give Henry a hug for me!!