Heartwarming pet stories

Some of my sweetest memories are about animals in my life, those with me now and others who have passed over that Rainbow Bridge. Puppy shenanigans, a newborn foal, chickens that chase the dogs -- all have brought smiles to my face over the years. I asked 10 women to share their most heartwarming stories of a beloved pet. Do any of these stories trigger loving memories of your own?

"When my husband was in the final stages of cancer we brought a hospital bed in for him. Our Shih Tzu was quite confused by all of this. As I sat in a chair next to my husband, Gizmo begged to get on the bed. Afraid he would disturb my husband, I put him in my lap. Gizmo gently eased his front half onto the bed where my husband's arm lay and laid his head and front paws across them and they both slept peacefully as I watched on." -- Donna, Pocahontas, Ill.

"Years ago, my mom, sister, and I all realized with horror that my little brother was missing. He was a toddler, and we'd each assumed that someone else was watching him. We lived in the country, and there was an unfenced pond behind our house; we ran towards it, terrified that he'd fallen in and drowned. We found him by the water, in the care of our yellow labrador, Belle. She had him by the shirt, and was pulling him away from the edge, clearly a much better babysitter than any of us were. In the 14 years we had with her, there wasn't a day we forgot that she saved my brother's life." -- Grace, Athens, Ga.

"We had a golden retriever, April, who was almost human. I recall one incident when my two-year-old niece was living with us where she had crawled up to the top of the stairs. No one had noticed, but April did! She barked constantly until we got up to see what was the matter. My sister insists to this day that April saved her daughter from falling, sparing her broken bones and maybe saving her life." -- Gail, Hillsborough, N.H.

"When we adopted our first hamster, we never knew how much impact he would have on our family. Buddy was blind in one eye and had come from a home where he was abused and neglected. He was the first hamster the kids and I adopted and inspired our mission to rescue small animals in need. We adopt them, as well as put important information out to others. Because of Buddy, we learned that there are many small animals in situations like his or worse. Now whenever we have room, we adopt those special case small animals that others shy away from. Buddy came to us as an aggressive, shy, and abused creature. But before it was time for him to cross Rainbow Bridge, we gave him loving care that brought back his sweet personality. True, we helped Buddy. But he also helped us as well as many other small animals. We plan to open a rescue in the future, thanks to Buddy." -- Lyn, Denver, Colo.

"Micky, the turtle, was my pretend dog. I grew up in an apartment building in a big city, no pets allowed. I took Micky wherever I went, sometimes on a leash. He slept next to my bed in a green painted wooden box with windows. I loved him." -- Ute, Elizabethtown, Ky.

"One of my favorite memories of my cat Nicky is from a photo my husband took of him, my oldest son (who was about 4 months old), and me. We were exhausted and I fell asleep on the floor on a blanket with the baby, and Nicky curled up next to him and held his tiny hand between his paws. I still keep the photo on my fridge, 10 years later." -- Kim, Tampa, Fla.

"CoCo was a special cat that was later diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening nerve disease that took her precious life. I will never forget the day she had her first litter of kittens and her big sister coached her through labor by meowing and stayed by her side. She even helped her lick the newborn kittens clean. I really wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it." -- Renata, North Bergen, N.J.

"Last winter when I was really sick with the flu, my cat, Garfield, was my constant companion. He would curl up right next to me and he would keep a paw on my head while I slept. It didn't cure me, but it made me feel better." -- Tammy, Marion, Ill.

"When I got home from the hospital after a major tonic/clonic seizure, I was bruised all over from the thrashing and the IVs that I ripped out. My dog, Dodger, sat down next to me, smelled me thoroughly and then began to lick each and every bruise. It took about 20 minute of soft, tender ministrations." -- Ramona, Big Lake, Minn.

"When I was about 9, I had a dog named Petey that reminded me of the dog from The Little Rascals. My dad decided we could no longer keep a dog and took him to a friend's house in the country to 'turn him loose' while my dad visited his friend. I was torn up about losing my dog and after a time of crying in my bedroom, went outside to sit on the front step. Imagine my surprise when I saw Petey running up the lane to jump all over me and lick my face. Now, imagine my dad's surprise to see that Petey had beaten him back to the house!" -- Kim, Bainbridge, Ohio

More from Marie Anne:

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