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Two Dogs Are Better Than One!

Animal lover finds her dynamic duo and adopts two rescued adult dogs, one a puppy mill survivor

Zelda, a Lab Mutt-i-gree, was the center of her family’s world for 12 years.

When Karen Verrier first set eyes on Zelda, a beautiful Lab mix, at North Shore Animal League America over a decade ago, she fell in love in an instant. Zelda joined her family that very day, and it wasn’t long before the dog and owner were constant companions and best of friends.

“She was my little shadow,” Karen says. “I couldn’t move without her knowing about it and being right at my feet. She was my girl for 12 years.”

When Zelda passed away, Karen was devastated. But despite her grief, Karen knew that the best way to heal and honor her love for Zelda was to share her life with another animal in need of rescue.

“I’ve always believed in adopting an animal instead of purchasing one from a store,” says Karen. “Also, I didn’t want a puppy because so many people prefer puppies to adult dogs and I wanted to give an adult a chance. I’ve rooted for the underdog my entire life and have always wanted to give an opportunity to those who may not have as much of a chance as others.”

Karen made the two-and-a-half hour trip from Connecticut to Animal League America with her son Ryan and friend Ginny Russo, who is the proud adoptive mom of two Chihuahuas, Molly and Abby, both of whom were rescued by us from puppy mills. Like Karen, Ginny is a whole-hearted believer in adopting shelter animals, also known as Mutt-i-grees®, instead of buying from a pet store or over the Internet.

“Whenever I hear anyone talking about getting a pet, I tell them to adopt, and I encourage them to adopt from North Shore Animal League,” says Ginny, who is the Assistant Town Clerk for Watertown, CT. “The staff is very honest about the animal’s background, so when you adopt, you know everything you need to know. Everyone is so easy to work with.”

Because of Ginny’s dedication to the adoption of rescued animals and her promotion of the cause to anyone within hearing distance, many dozens of canines and felines of all ages have been adopted by residents of Watertown and nearby areas who made the drive to our headquarters on Long Island. In addition, Animal League America has sent its Mobile Adoption & Rescue Unit up to Watertown, partnering with Watertown’s local area shelters to bring their animals to various events. “Animal League America is all about saving shelter animals and finding them homes, whatever shelter they are from,” says Ginny.

Lily (left) and Novalee relaxing in their new backyard.

When Karen, Ryan and Ginny arrived at Animal League America, they met Novalee, a Dachshund whose photo Karen had seen on our website. We had rescued Novalee from a puppy mill, where dogs are kept in tiny wire cages, receiving little or no medical attention, socialization or affection. Not surprisingly, Novalee was traumatized by the experience, and she displayed a lot of fearful tendencies, especially around humans.

Mill dogs are often far more comfortable in the presence of other dogs than they are with people, so Kennel Manager Lindsey Sanator and Kennel Director Christina Travalja suggested that Karen might consider adopting two dogs instead of one.

As Karen, Ryan and Ginny watched, Lindsey placed Domino, a Chihuahua mix whom we’d rescued from a California municipal shelter, in the play area with Novalee. The two shared a run in our kennel, and it was clear immediately that they were good friends. Novalee immediately perked up; no longer trembling, she left the corner of the pen and joyfully ran to greet her buddy Domino, leaving her fears behind.

Karen could see immediately how close the dogs were, and also how comfortable they were with Lindsey, who had spent a lot of time working with them. It was then that Karen realized that these two dogs would be the perfect additions to her family.

“When a trainer or handler would come by whom the dogs knew, you could see how Domino loved to give kisses and Novalee loved being petted,” says Karen. “I knew that, given time, they would come to love me and my son just like they loved the people at Animal League America.”

Karen was right on the mark! After just a few weeks with their new human family, Novalee and the newly named “Lily” have warmed up to Karen and Ryan tremendously. They now jump up on the sofa and let their human companions rub their bellies—a clear sign of trust that brings joy to Karen, Ryan and neighbor Ginny. Every day, the dogs are letting go of their fears more and more, and Karen is thrilled that she adopted this darling duo.

“I’m so glad we have the two because they are so different in so many ways,” she says. “No matter what you’re looking for—a cuddler on a sad day, a walking partner on an energetic day, and of course good kissers every day—you have that in Novalee and Lily.”

Are you ready to add a new bundle of love (or two) to your family? August is World Mutt-i-grees Rescue Month, so it’s the perfect time to save a life! Please click here to see some of the dogs, cats, puppies and kittens up for adoption at Animal League America’s Port Washington, NY headquarters. We are open 365 days a year, and we look forward to meeting you!