aapp Pets Are Joy Contest

Aapp asked for pictures that represent the happiness that pets bring…and you delivered.

As pet parents, we love to take pictures of our babies. Our pets seem to always be perfectly posed–lounging, sprawling out, sleeping, snuggling each other, chewing a bone, or sitting pretty in the window. So when aapp invited our supporters to show off your floofs and puddy tats–in a visual representation of what the joy of living with pets means to you–y’all had a lot of adorableness to share.

I have no idea how our esteemed judges narrowed down the winners since literally EVERY entry we received was absolutely FULL of radiant joy! But I want to thank author and animal advocate, Cara Sue Actherberg; Steve Dale, a CABC certified animal behavior consultant and host of two nationally syndicated pet radio shows; David Lenti, Vice President of Partnerships for High Schools at Double Good; and Dr. Shadi Ireifej at Vet Triage, for their participation!

— Courtney Wennerstrom, Aapp Content Director

Oliver, Tuffy, and Rachelle: An Interspecies Match Made in Heaven

Rachelle and Oliver

Those smiles!!!

I interviewed Rachelle Veronikis-Pettit over the phone, and her cheerfulness and excitement when talking about her pets was palpable. Her voice was vibrating with pride as she told her stories about her dog and cat. She and her pup-tart, Oliver, are joined at the hip. He follows her around the house, and tries to participate in everything she does, including emulating her post-shower grooming rituals, as you can see from her winning photo. Oliver has a feline brother named Tuffy and they have grown up together. Rachelle and her husband, Doug, adopted Tuffy and Oliver at the same time when they were just babies, and they have been inseparable ever since.

Oliver and Tuffy

Tuffy and Oliver

In a fun coincidence, Oliver was a rescue puppy at Operation Paws For Homes, and was fostered by author and animal advocate by Cara Sue Achterberg, whose tour de force One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelteringand Rescue (2020) I recently reviewed. Tuffy was born close-by, on a farm in Harrisburg, PA. In yet another twist of fate, Tuffy and Oliver share a birthday, September 21st, which makes their love story even cuter.

These Virgos cuddle, play, and even take turns licking a Frosty Paws treat–now that’s sibling cooperation and respect! Like most pet parents, Rachelle loves her babies deeply. She rocks Oliver to sleep singing “you are my sunshine” and recites this sweet Mantra to Oliver and Tuffy everyday: “I love you so much, I don’t know what I would do without you”. I appreciate Rachelle’s willingness to share these intimate moments with aapp–she, Oliver, and Tuffy are an inspiration for anyone who needs a reminder of how much pure love exists in the world.

Sarah and Rudy: Proof that Love Sees Us Through

Sarah and Pomeranian

Sarah and Rudy

Rudy is a 13-year old Pomeranian who loves snow, steals pizza any chance he gets, and is the light of his sister, Sarah’s, life. I interviewed Sarah via Zoom, and Rudy sat on her lap almost the entire time, pawing sweetly at the screen. I wanted to reach through time and space to kiss his happy little face. For her 8th birthday, Sarah’s dad and grandfather surprised her with a teeny-tiny puppy–and the rest is history. Even though these two are inseparable, Sarah insists that Rudy has a special relationship with everyone in her house, which includes her brother and her parents, and that he is truly the glue to their family: “we each have a role in his life. He has routines and rituals with all of us,” she gushed.

Rudy is also a therapy dog, especially skilled at helping his humans grieve and cope with trauma. He comforted Sarah’s mother when her dad died (the same man who brought Rudy home ), and seems to have a knack for recognizing when someone needs his attention and affection. At 21, Sarah is a 3rd-year nursing student and has been working in the Covid-19 unit for the past year. In her winning picture, she had just come home from a particularly difficult nightshift in which she lost a patient. Basked in sunlight, the two share a moment of solace and connection. Sarah explained that nursing during a pandemic has forced her to grow up very quickly, but that Rudy “makes everything better”. Dogs are all love and pure magic: sorcerers who take our pain and transmute it into beauty.

Sarah also wants to dispel misconceptions of Pomeranians as yappy and unsocial. She says Rudy loves everyone and is a huge fan of being held and enthusiastically greets everyone who comes for a visit. Aapp wishes Sarah the best in finishing nursing school, and I am certain Rudy will have a bunch of new fans after reading about his impressive abilities to comfort those who need it.

Published On: May 15, 2021|Categories: Courtney on the Human-Animal Bond, New and Stories|