Few things can make a person happier than seeing their pet grinning at them, especially if they can capture that moment on camera! The Miles of Smiles Photo & Story Challenge celebrates moments like that. Users submitted snapshots and tales of their pets, and our panel of judges has narrowed the field down to 25 finalists.
Three grand prize winners will take home a $500 cash prize, as well as $2,000 in cash and supplies for their favorite shelter. That’s certainly something to smile about! Here are five of our finalists.
Banjo, Supporting the Dakin Humane Society
Banjo is a high energy senior citizen. Every morning, he bursts out the door barking a good morning to all. He loves his toys, and even insists on bringing a toy to bed every night. He knows when I am sad and jumps on my lap staring into my face with sweet love. Banjo has been with me through cancer and divorce. He is my confidante, my comfort, my pal. He always makes me smile.
Story submitted by JoAnn Cibelli.
Beau, Supporting SAFE Haven for Cats
Over the past 20 years, we have had adopted retired greyhounds into our home. Beau was moved off the racetrack after only seven races, in which he always finished at the back of the pack. Although labeled a slow runner, once settled in our forever home, he showed us he was fast as the wind but with a goofy sense of direction.
His calm loving nature made him a natural therapy dog and earning his Canine Good Citizen certification was a breeze. Beau was always ready to present his head for pets, he expressed his excitement with prancing dances and a hearty roo-roo. To Beau, every day was the best day ever, and none better than when a car ride and a day at the beach were involved.
Beau was our second rescue greyhound and he shared our home with our beloved siamese cats and anyone who walked in the door. We were drawn to the mild manner and peaceful contentment the greyhound aura brings to a home. Beau recently left us at age 11 due to cancer. For us, our time with him was too short.
We have now adopted another greyhound named Nina. She has helped us heal especially during this trying time of isolation and social distancing. She fills our days with constant love and affection. And like Beau, she loves her car rides to the park for our daily walks. We know Beau would approve. We value knowing that providing a home for these sweet dogs hopefully makes up for the conditions they endured in earlier years.
Story submitted by Marla Spencer.
Binx, Supporting Texas Ferret Lovers Rescue
My girl was the best ferret I could ask for. She was there for me through all the best and worst parts of my life. Every time I ever needed to cry, I held her close to me and just let it all go. She would lick the tears from my face and cuddle me until I felt better (and she was not typically a very cuddly girl). When I had nothing and nobody, she was my escape from life.
Then when things finally starting going well for me, she was still there with me every step of the way, being happy right along with me. She used to bounce all over the house doing the “weasel war dance.” Occasionally when she was very, very excited, she would make her happy noises, known as “dooking.” She had the best time poking her head in and out of her tunnel with her mouth open.
When she was young she had a rubber bone toy that she used to play fetch with herself with in the cage when she got bored. She had a four-story cage at the time and she would run all the way up to the top story with the bone, drop it all the way down to the bottom, then run and grab it and take it all the way back up to do it again. Usually this would continue until I would let her out.
Binx was my best friend in the whole world for eight years. She was my everything. Seven months ago, I lost her to lymphoma, which is very common in ferrets. I still tell stories about her every chance I get. There will always be a piece of my heart that belongs to her. She began my love for ferrets, and I have now owned four ferrets, my latest addition being a rescue. She used to be the only thing that made me smile, and I feel so fortunate to have been the one that she lived her eight years of life with.
Story submitted by Kelcie Martin.
Booboos and Dinah, Supporting Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc.
My two white Dollface Persians are the loves of my life. One boy (Booboos – copper eyes), one girl (Dinah, blue eyes), littermates. I always wished I could have a kitty growing up, but my mother was severely allergic so it just wasn’t possible. I wrote to Santa every year asking for a white kitty, with pink ears, a pink nose, and blue eyes.
One day a close friend of mine called me to where he volunteered and said, “Olivia, your kitty is here!” At the time, I was still living with my mother, about 20-years-old. But I went to meet her anyway. I spent about an hour sitting with her, which ultimately ended up with her sleeping peacefully in my lap. I put money down to make sure she wouldn’t go anywhere.
Went back with my mom, and she and her brother were the only two left. We got Dinah out to take home not fully knowing how to make it work and my little man was sitting all by himself looking so sad he was alone. My mom said, “Honey I think we need to get them both”. I had never considered TWO babies! My brain short-circuited and the next thing I remember is holding them in the car on the way home.
It ultimately didn’t work at my Mom’s… kitties, especially fluffy ones get everywhere and into everything. So I decided to move into my own apartment five doors down with my two babies. And we lived happily ever after.
Please consider voting for me! My babies are healthy and have beautiful eyes, as are the kitties of Blind Cat Rescue, but they could use your support. Thank you!
Story submitted by Olivia Perry.
Calvin, Supporting Texas Husky Rescue
Calvin came to me as a foster from Texas Husky Rescue, but I knew from the moment I met him, he wasn’t leaving.
In November of 2018, a nice couple reached out to us, Texas Husky Rescue, because their newly acquired husky puppy was terrorizing their miniature dachshund. They loved their puppy, but they were worried that he would ultimately hurt their beloved dachshund. I drove over to their place and met this terror to society but quickly noticed that he was actually scared of the world. I sat on the ground, not making eye contact with him, for over 30 minutes before he hesitatingly came over to sniff me out. It was a long process, but I was finally able to scoop him up and take him home with me.
Over the course of the next few months, I worked with Calvin daily, trying to help him learn that the world wasn’t such a scary place after all. Over the course of that time, Calvin began to come out of his shell and show the true depth and immenseness of his personality. He brought an energy to my pack that no other foster dog had brought before. And with that, he officially earned himself a full-time place at my house.
In the summer of 2019, my 16-year-old husky crossed over the rainbow bridge. She was the one who made me fall in love with the breed but also made me realize that they are an extremely difficult breed. Because of her, I threw myself into husky rescue. I was beyond devastated when she died. She was the one who helped me celebrate my marriage and the birth of my two kids. She was also the one who never left my side when I could hardly get out of bed the months following my mother’s death.
Fortunately, I now had Calvin to help guide me and the rest of our pack through the devastation of her loss. His constant goofiness and antics made it difficult not to smile and enjoy the simplicities of everyday life.
Now that Calvin has fully come into his own, he has helped over 50 other foster dogs learn that the world is not such a scary place. His confidence exudes on those most terrified of dogs, and they can’t help but follow after his footsteps.
Calvin always seems to be smiling, so it is hard not to smile when I see him, even when he has just dug in mud outside and then smeared all of that mud all over the inside of the house. He reminds me that life isn’t to be taken too seriously and that it’s better to laugh at than cry over the curveballs life throws my way.
Story submitted by Meghan Regent.
These are just five of the Miles of Smiles finalists. There are 20 others. To hear more of their stories, click here!
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