These Pets Put on a Show, Including a Cat That Meows Until His Owner Sees How High He’s Climbed

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.

Henry, Supporting Best Friends Animal Society

Several years ago my husband and I had lost our beloved cat, Charlie, to feline leukemia, and after several months, we were ready to adopt. I went to the local city animal shelter and walked into the cat room, where cats that got along were allowed to mingle.

PHOTO: KAREN BASSO

An orange and white tabby walked up to me, made eye contact, and loudly meowed. He kept following me everywhere I went in the cat room, and when I sat down on a bench, he settled at my feet. I left the room and went to see the cats that had to be kept separated, in cages, but eventually went back to the cat room. The same orange and white cat was waiting at the door like he was looking for me.

I told the staff that I had made my decision, and they informed me that his name was Henry. He had been surrendered by a young woman who told the shelter that he was her grandmother’s cat, and when her grandmother had to move in with her, the granddaughter did not want the cat living there, so she took him to the city shelter. That story made me even more certain that he was going home with me. Henry had basically adopted me.

PHOTO: KAREN BASSO

When I took him to our veterinarian to be checked, she found a lump on his left ear tip that turned out to be cancerous. She had to remove part of that ear, but it does not bother him in the least.

He is a very affectionate cat and always wants to be with me. My husband died unexpectedly last August, after battling Parkinson’s Disease and dementia, and Henry has saved me. He is very funny and makes me laugh every day. He climbs up on the back of my desk chair when I am on the computer and lays down with his legs on either side, like a lion relaxing on a tree branch. He jumps up on top of the half wall in the entryway, yells for me to come see, and looks down on me. He is a major lap cat and sleeps by my side every night. I would be lost without Henry.

Story submitted by Karen Basso.

Houdini, Supporting Standish Humane Society

It’s almost 5:00 a.m. and Houdini reaches over and pats my lips. “I’m hungry,” he says. It’s useless to protest and, despite the hour, this little guy has been the love of my life for almost 13 years, so I give him an ear rub and roll out of bed.

PHOTO: JANET STRECKER

My days are filled with his constant companionship. I call him my “now you see me, now you don’t boy” because I can look over to see him peacefully sleeping on the couch and take a step only to fall over him, scaring both of us. How is he in one place and then another in the blink of an eye? It’s fortunate neither of us has been broken any bones by these encounters!

Houdini loves a small, pink heart-shaped mouse and I think I was as frantic as he was when it went missing one day. I moved every piece of furniture, the refrigerator and the stove. I missed hearing his familiar guttural growl when he located his prey to bring to me for praise. I spent nights fretting over the missing mouse when I suddenly remembered a pocket caused by torn fabric under the couch and pink mouse was found!

How does Houdini put a smile on my face? His gentle pats give me a reason not to sleep through gorgeous spring mornings that sound like birds singing and smell like freshly cut grass; his constant nearness makes me feel loved and needed even with all its precariousness and occasional threat to life and limb; his devotion to a single toy, although he has hundreds, reminds me that he’s a gentle hunter with a happy life. I sometimes see such innocence in Houdini’s face, but I know that’s a disguise behind which is a boy who will tap my arm incessantly until I share my dinner with him or nip at my legs if he thinks I’m not moving fast enough in the morning toward his empty food bowl.

PHOTO: JANET STRECKER

Sunny days stretching out his long body enticing me into giving a belly rub, rainy days curled up next to me under a quilt, his biscuit kneading on my perhaps too round tummy, are just a few of the simple things that make me smile every day.

Story submitted by Janet Strecker.

Hunter, Supporting American Belgian Malinois Rescue

Hunter the Wonder Mal came to live with our family March 17th, 2019, the luckiest day of the year. He really was the piece that was missing. Hunter is a cuddle bug, loves belly rubs, walks and has a very high ball drive! He is so smart we are still training with him and still learning new things at the age of 9-years-old! My 15-year-old daughter’s favorite trick is to have him weave between her legs and what they call getting my six!

PHOTO: JESSICA HUSTED

This was our first time using a rescue and ABMR was excellent to work with. I am so thankful for them because Hunter is absolutely a crucial member to this family and we love him so much! Hope more people adopt and rescue.

Story submitted by Jessica Husted.

Kolby, Supporting Butte Humane Society

Kolby has made us smile since day one. We went to Butte Humane Society to help support the animals who were displaced during the Camp Fire in Paradise. We had looked online and were interested in a few larger breed puppies. When we arrived, we asked to see a pup and went into the office to fill out paperwork.

PHOTO: MARIE PETRIC

Behind a gate was a bouncy 18-week-old pup throwing a soccer ball squeaky to himself. We were in love! His back story is that he was found in a burnt out car. We think he is weiner dog mixed with Jack Russell yet he looks like a lab puppy with an overbite.

Kolby always smiles, loves his two kitty brothers and has become my shadow through 2020. He makes everyone smile with his goofy grin and continues to love us everyday.

Story submitted by Marie Petric.

Lucy, Supporting Castoff Pet Rescue

PHOTO: JENNIFER KITCHENS

Lucy was chained and left in the yard when her first owners were evicted. A German Shepard mix, she was about 9-months-old and weighed 18 pounds, less than half of what she should have weighed. You could count every rib and bone. When she came from the shelter she was still scared but wanted to lean against us and had the sweetest smile. She’s 5 now and 75 pounds of smiley lapdog. I’m reminded everyday of the unconditional love of dogs.

Story submitted by Jennifer Kitchens.

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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