Rescue Dog is Scared of Most of the World, Except for the Kittens She Fosters

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.

Samantha, Supporting Animal Aid for Vermilion Area

Meet Samantha. That would be the smiling pup. She was supposed to be a foster, but when I got her home I realized she was scared of the world… Well, everything except for me. After months of trying to socialize Samantha, it was clear she wasn’t going anywhere. I became over protective of her due to her fears.


Fast forward five or so years later, and here we are, killing it in the foster kitten game. We now foster kittens and Samantha absolutely adores them. The little guy next to her is Alf, a previous foster in our home. Alf was adopted by a great friend of ours and we get updates weekly. Alf came to us after losing several siblings. He was very sick.

Both of their stories bring a smile to my face. Sam is full of anxiety, and I smile at her knowing I help carry some of that stress away.

Story submitted by Brandy Stein.

Smudge, Supporting Standish Humane Society

Smudge is a handsome polydactyl tuxedo with all paws perfectly tipped in white. He has that round face that always seems to be smiling and huge golden-green eyes that are absolutely captivating. There is one thing “wrong” with this sweet little boy – he is completely blind due to total retinal deterioration.


Smudge came to me as a 2-3-year-old happy, curious, ball of energy who had no idea he wasn’t completely perfect. Within a day of arriving, he had completely investigated and taken over our home. Smudge knew no fear! It was amazing to watch him jump on counters and furniture regardless of the height. He loves to run up and down the hallway, and just shakes it off when he hits a wall.

Rescued animals typically come with a history and do not always have immediate trust and loving behavior that comes from being raised as a kitten or puppy from birth. I feel so fortunate that Smudge is the most loving, trusting little ball of black fur. He curls up at with me at night, looks for me throughout the day, and is always there with a good morning kiss. He brings me such a sense of peace, calmness, and acceptance. Smudge gives me many reasons to smile, each and every day.

Story submitted by Donna Niklason.

Tinkerbell Trinket Tinkertoy, Supporting Capital Area Humane Society

Tink never smiled in her photos, in fact she was well known for her grumpy glare. The photo of her smiling was the day before we lost her to cancer. We got to visit her outside briefly at the hospital and took a photo together, to discover after she actually smiled for us.


She fought for a year and a half and really thrived on chemo, she was playful for the first time in her life, she went on leash walks every day, and we explored parks, pet stores, and the world together. I’m so proud of my best friend for fighting along side us to make all those memories, and that will always make me smile.

Story submitted by Autumn Laitala.

Waffle, Supporting The Cat House on the Kings

Waffle adopted my wife and myself back in 2007. She made us smile right from when she arrived as a kitten riding in the pocket of someone’s hoodie, and apart from a brief stint of freedom when she escaped from our new house – she was away for a month and was so self-sufficient, she actually put on weight – she has never stopped.

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She also put up with her adopted sister furbaby, who we sadly lost a couple of years ago (even though she pretended not to like her, it was more a case of ‘no one hassles the other cat but me’), and gave us all the mutual love and cuddles we needed to help get through when that happened (and still does).

Waffle drives us nuts, but makes us laugh and keeps us sane, which is the most valuable thing in the world.

Also very occasionally (as seen by the attached pic), she will not only deign to have her photograph taken, but every so often strike the perfect pose and hold it just long enough to fool us into thinking we are actually in charge of her, and not the other way around.


I can be just as creative as her on occasion, too, as is also evidenced by the pic. If she’s going to sit on my desk, I’m going to make it worth it.

Story submitted by Kate Barker.

Zeus, Supporting Rescued Pets Movement

Zeus is my soulmate dog. He really understands me and is always there when I need a big dog hug. He has beautiful eyes that sparkle when he’s happy. He’s been such a good big brother to our other two dogs and a great role model to over 200 dogs and puppies we’ve fostered. I adore this hunk of love!


Story submitted by Jackie Sklar.

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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