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dog rescue

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Terrified, emaciated dog comes to life as volunteer sits with him for human connection

He tries making himself so small in the kennel until he realizes he's safe.

Terrified dog transforms after human sits with him.

There's something about dogs that makes people just want to cuddle them. They have some of the sweetest faces with big curious eyes that make them almost look cartoonish at times. But not all dogs get humans that want to snuggle up with them on cold nights; some dogs are neglected or abandoned. That's where animal shelters come in, and they work diligently to take care of any medical needs and find these animals loving homes.

Volunteers are essential to animal shelters running effectively to fill in the gaps employees may not have time for. Rocky Kanaka has been volunteering to sit with dogs to provide comfort. Recently he uploaded a video of an extremely emaciated Vizsla mix that was doing his best to make himself as small as possible in the corner of the kennel.

Kanaka immediately wanted to help him adjust so he would feel comfortable enough to eat and eventually get adopted. The dog appeared scared of his new location and had actually rubbed his nose raw from anxiety, but everything changed when Kanaka came along.


The volunteer slowly entered the kennel with the terrified dog, crouching on his knees for an easy escape if needed. But the dog attempted to essentially become invisible by avoiding eye contact and staying curled in a tiny ball. It seemed like it was going to take a long time for this nervous pup to warm up.

Before long, he's offered a treat. Success! The brown dog takes the treat, and as minutes pass you can see his body slowly relax, eventually coming to sit directly next to Kanaka for pets. In the few minutes of the video, you see such an amazing transformation that proves this little guy just needed some love.

"It was so cute when he started wagging his tail. You could tell his whole demeanor just changed, and he was happy. Just a few kind words and a little attention. That’s all animals need. Well, besides food. Lol," one commenter says.

"That moment when he starts to realize he's actually safe. That gradual tail wag, and the ears perking, the eyes lighting up. You don't have to be an expert to show an animal love and respect," another writes.

"After that first treat his entire demeanor changed. He went from not trusting you to thinking you may be kind and he could feel less stressed. That was really amazing to see," someone gushes.

This sweet scared dog just needed human connection by someone taking the time to sit with him to know he was safe. Once he was sure the shelter was a safe place, the dog even welcomed those who came to visit him after seeing the video.

"I went to the shelter today to visit 'Bear'! Everyone would be thrilled to hear that he seems very happy and energetic! He has a little red squeaky bone toy that he loves. He licked my hand immediately and rubbed his head on my legs and arms, eager for affection. What a sweetheart," a commenter writes.

Thanks to Kanaka's sweet gesture, the dog, now named Shadow Moon, was adopted and is now living his best life with his new human dad and husky brother. You can follow Shadow Moon's journey on his Instagram page.


This article originally appeared on 12.1.23

Photo by Emil Priver on Unsplash

Golden retriever reunited with family.

Sometimes we all need a feel-good story, and here at Upworthy, we seek out those stories so we can bring them to our audience. When we saw this one in the Daily Sitka Sentinel about a blind elderly dog being reunited with her worried family, we knew we had to share. An Alaskan family was faced with extraordinary stress after losing their sweet elderly pup, Lulu, after she wandered away from the yard.


Alaska is no place for a pet to go missing, with the wide range of wild animals sharing the habitat with its human population. From grizzly bears to moose, wolverines and everything in between, Alaska isn’t the safest place for domesticated animals to wander around alone. So when Lulu went missing it’s understandable that her family was worried for her safety. Thankfully for the frazzled family, a construction crew found the elderly dog three weeks after she had gone missing. The construction workers first thought Lulu was a bear hiding in the salmonberry bushes.

Lulu was close to death when she was found, but she’s now back with her family getting lots of snuggles and being nursed back to health. Ted Kubacki, Lulu’s owner, told the Daily Sitka Sentinel, “She means everything. I have five daughters 4 to 13 years old, so they’ve spent every day of their life with that dog.”

After the canine wandered off on June 18, the Kubackis were victims of a mean practical joke when someone told them they had found Lulu. After the Kubackis responded to the text with joy, exclaiming, “Oh my god, this is incredible,” the jokester replied, “just kidding,” dashing the joy and hope of the moment in one cruel text. The family became increasingly worried as the days went by.

Kubacki said, “She’s just so helpless, and you kind of imagined that she can’t get real far because she can’t see.”

Knowing their dog was blind, elderly and essentially defenseless against any predators or people who might do her harm, the family began to give up hope. Days, then weeks passed with no sign of Lulu, until three weeks later when a construction crew ran across what they thought was a bear. Once the crew got close enough to see the bear was actually a lost family pet, they got her out of there and called the Kubackis.

“I called my wife from work and I was just screaming... She just starts yelling, then she yells to the kids. And I just hear them screaming like crazy,” Kubacki told the Sentinel. The normally 80-pound golden retriever had dropped to just 57 pounds, was dirty with matted fur and was obviously dehydrated and hungry.

Kubacki explained that when their beloved dog returned home she could barely pick her head up. But, he said, “Slowly but surely she started eating and she was kind of able to pick her head up. But then yesterday, she propped herself up on her front paws by herself, like nestled into me and gave me a kiss and wagged her tail and it was just so great.”

We’re so happy this story had a storybook ending. Now Lulu can live out the rest of her golden years getting the snuggles she so richly deserves.

Pawternity leave is a real thing.

Getting a new puppy or kitten can be life altering in the best way, but those first few days can be a doozy. Trying to get a new animal acclimated to your home and schedule isn’t always easy and if you have other pets, it can make it downright impossible to do without taking some time off to monitor everyone. That’s where the concept of pawternity leave is helpful. You may be thinking pawternity leave sounds made up, but it’s actually a real thing for some companies.


It’s totally true. Several companies offer some form of pawternity or furternity leave for employees to welcome and acclimate new pets into their home. The range of time varies from 10 hours of paid leave to up to two weeks. MParticle, a company that offers two weeks of leave, has one stipulation on those two weeks. You must be adopting a shelter pet to qualify. Some companies even offer paid pet bereavement time. After all, these little furry guys are members of the family, so when we inevitably have to say goodbye, being able to take a day or so without guilt is important.

Pets can help with things like anxiety and depression, and some can be trained as service animals to help people live safely in the world around them. If someone adopts an animal from a shelter, they’re helping to clear out some of the overpopulated shelters to make room for other animals in need. Employers trying to be more in tune with what their employees need and providing some sort of leave when adding a new pet or during the time of pet loss is a wonderful step in the right direction for so many reasons.

Which companies are providing this unique benefit? There are a few. For example, Rover and Mars Petcare provide employees with 10 hours of leave and up to a week off for a new pet, plus the added perk of bringing the pet to the office after the 10 hours is up. MParticle pays for up to two weeks' leave if the employee adopts from a shelter. BrewDog, a Scottish beer company, offers a week of leave. Collective Measures, a marketing company in Minneapolis, and Zogics, an industrial cleaning supply company, also offer pawternity leave, while Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants of San Francisco, The African Garden, VMware, Maxwell Health, Trupanion and Drugmart.com all allow for some form of pet bereavement leave.

Though these companies are in the minority with their pet leave policies, we can only hope that more companies will join in the future to allow an easier transition for new pet parents.

Photo by Dillon Kydd on Unsplash

10-year-old rescues dogs and gets Disney show.

Disney XD is getting a new face! Ten-year-old Roman McConn from Evans, Georgia, has spent most of his life rescuing animals. Literally, most of his life: He’s been rescuing animals since he was 4 years old! So when we saw The Washington Post’s profile of him, we knew we had to share this story with the Upworthy audience.


Roman began rescuing animals from local shelters when he was living in Texas, but because he couldn't bring them all home, he would create videos of the animals at the shelter, which his mom shared to social media to try to bring attention to them. He made it a personal mission to find every shelter pet a home, especially those that were harder to get adopted and at risk of being euthanized.

Currently, many animal shelters and rescues are overwhelmed with pets in desperate need of being adopted—many the result of “pandemic puppies.” And with puppy and kitten season in full effect, shelters need more help than ever to find homes for these animals. Adults can help by ensuring that stray animals are spayed (normally inexpensive or even free at local humane societies) and by volunteering to foster animals or adopt from shelters instead of purchasing from a breeder.

Roman’s mission to see every pet from a shelter get adopted is a lofty aspiration but one he is embracing full-on. According to The Washington Post, Roman and his mom founded Project Freedom Ride, a nonprofit organization that transports dogs from Texas to northern states where adoption rates are higher. The nonprofit has rescued 4,200 dogs since its founding in 2016. Seventeen of those dogs appear on Roman’s new Disney XC show, “Roman to the Rescue,” which has so far released 7 of its 17 episodes. In each episode, Roman and his team focus on one dog to figure out its personality and show it in the best light.

It is amazing to see how one kid’s efforts have started not only an organization rescuing thousands of animals, but hopefully a movement for young people via his show. If you want to catch his new show to see how he gets these 17 dogs adopted, you can find it on Disney XD on DisneyNOW.