A house is not a home until we put our precious things inside.
For most of us, that means our family more than our possessions. I know families are not just those we are related to but also those we choose. Ask anyone that loves a pet, they will tell you that their animal is very much a part of their family. That their pet makes their house into a home. A home full of love.
We started this award to honor those furry family members that give so much love and the parents that do so much to care for them. Our first application period was from April 1st-30th, 2014. There were many great stories of animals who have greatly impacted and improved the lives of their owners. After careful review the panel has selected two winners.
Congratulations to the first two recipients of the Loving Home Award:
Jessie (with owner Rebecca Cate) and Bear (with owner Holly Brown).
The essays the owners submitted are posted below.
In July of 2013, my family and I stopped at a pet store to pick up a few things. While there, we stopped to look at their ferrets. We fell in love with one of them and couldn’t leave without him. He was climbing over everything in his cage, trying to get closer to us. When the store worker opened the cage, he practically jumped out on us. We already had one ferret at home but we had an immediate connection with this little guy. He looked like a little bear. So, we named him “Bear”. Bear rode in my lap the whole way home.
Bear immediately improved our lives. We normally spent our time at home focused on the TV or computers. Bear changed all that and demanded our attention. He loved to play with our other ferret. But if we were around, he dedicated all his attention to us. He would do anything it took to get us to play. If we were busy, he would climb up our legs and get right in the middle of whatever we were working on. Sometimes, he would hide behind the couch and then he would playfully attack our feet as we walked by. The more we jumped and squealed, the more excited he got. His tail would get bushy and he would wag it like a puppy. As soon as our shoes came off, he would drag them behind our couch. That was where he hid all of his favorite goodies. He always had a pile of tennis balls, plastic baggies, colorful straws, shoes, and even my remote controls if he could snatch them.
Bear loved to go outside. If there was an old hollow stump or rabbit hole in the yard, he knew every inch of it. He loved to play tag with us in high grass. He would crouch down until we were close enough for him to surprise attack us and then he could be seen bounding across the grass in attempts to get us to try to catch him. We would sometimes spend hours doing this. His playfulness was not the only joy he brought into our lives though. No matter how sleepy he was or how bad he felt, he would stay awake as long as he could. He didn’t want to miss a moment of our family time. When he couldn’t fight his exhaustion anymore, he would climb into our laps for a nap. If we were laying on the couch, he would be curled up right beside us. Sometimes, he would just lay there and look straight into our eyes. You could always see the love in his eyes.
Bath time was always more interesting with Bear around. If he heard running water, he had to get in it. If you wanted to take a bath, you’d always have to search through his toy stashes to find the tub stopper. He had an obsession with that thing! But once the water was ran, he would jump in. If you were in the shower, he would peek around the curtain until he couldn’t resist it anymore. Then, he’d be in there with you. He loved running water!
His love was always felt in his kisses. He took every opportunity to steal them. When my alarm went off in the mornings, he would wait beside my bed for me to get up. In the evening, he would come running as soon as he heard my keys in the door. If he awoke in the middle of the night, he would climb up in my bed and kiss my face until I woke up to play with him. I always looked forward to these little moments. He could always bring a smile to our faces and make us feel loved.
Bear passed away in January of this year. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think about him and miss him. He brought joy into every aspect of our lives. We have three other ferrets now. All three are still being treated by UT for the same illness that caused Bear’s passing. We love each one as an individual and as valuable parts of our family. But, there will never be another Bear. He still holds a place in our hearts that only the memories of him can fill. (Holly Brown)
When I adopted Jessie, I did not know that her name means ‘gracious gift of God’. But that truly is what Jessie is to me.
My house seemed so empty after my previous dog died in 2010. I thought about getting another dog, but decided to wait. A month later, I was on the Young-Williams Animal Center website and saw a picture of a Black Lab named “Jessica” and I was drawn to her. I scheduled a time to go meet her, but when I arrived she had been spayed earlier that day and was still asleep. I called the following day and was told to come meet her, but again arrived to find that she was resting and that I could not see her yet again. I was leaving the shelter when an employee came running and said she had woken up. Since she had just had surgery, they decided we could meet in the training room. Jessie walked in and laid her head on my shoulder and I knew that she had picked me, and that there was a reason that I had made more than one attempt to meet her. We were meant to be together.
It was a challenge at first. Although the shelter noted she was approximately 3 years old, she was actually only 1, so just a big puppy. In addition, she had several medical conditions that took a few weeks to diagnose. During these few weeks, I became very attached to this 70 pound puppy who seemed so grateful to be rescued. I fell more in love more each day. My house that had been so quiet was full of “puppy love” again!
There are no words to tell how much Jessie means to me and how she has created a loving home environment. She is my best friend, and she makes me smile and laugh each day. I am lucky to work from home, and although she sleeps most of the day she will look up occasionally to make sure that I am still nearby. She sleeps in my bed with me at night, always facing the door to “protect” me (although she is really a big baby). She is always glad to have visitors, and has charmed the UPS man so that he brings her a dog treat every time that he makes a delivery.
I travel quite a bit with my job, and my elderly mother often stays with Jessie when I am gone. They have developed a very special relationship, and my mother has said she hates to go even a day without seeing her “grand-dogger”. She brags about Jessie as if she were her own dog. I never knew how much she meant to my mother until she suffered a stroke-like condition last year. She did not even know her own children’s names, but when I asked, “what is the name of my black dog?” she said “Jessie” with no hesitation. When released after several months in the hospital, she said that all she thought about during that time how much she missed Jessie, and that she could not wait to get out of the hospital to see her.
Jessie brings joy to everyone who meets her, and she has never met a stranger. She welcomes everyone to my home with a tail wag and a play bow, eager to share her love and affection.
Jessie – gracious gift of God, best friend, loyal companion, protector, grand-dogger, and the one who has brought so much joy and love to my home!
Our next Awards period in which applications will be accepted is from September 1st through September 30th, 2014. See below for application information:
Eligibility & Application Process:
1. Applicants must receive their long term veterinary care from the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center John and Ann Tickle Small Animal Hospital. Faculty, students or staff of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM) are not eligible to apply.
2. You must complete the application and essay in its entirety; deadline for application is by midnight September 30th, 2014. One application per family per application period.
3. The essay should be no more that 1000 words. Please discuss any of the following topics in your essay:
a. How your pet has improved your home environment.
b. How your pet has created a loving home environment for you and/or your family.
Receipt of the award(s) will be determined by the applicant(s) who best demonstrate the relationship between the animal and the owner(s), and how the animal has impacted their home environment, in a way that brings love and joy. The award will not focus on families in financial distress or those with animals in poor health as a primary criteria.
1. Two individual awards, in the amount of $250 each, will be provided by Shannon Foster-Boline, Broker, Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace, Realtors and Lisa Wiles with Mortgage Investors Group.
2. Awards will consist of a $250 credit on the client’s account at the UTCVM small animal clinic. This award may not be reassigned to another client or converted into cash.
3. Awards will be decided by a panel consisting of a mixture of five individuals from the UTCVM veterinary faculty, administrators and/or technicians.
Sponsors for this award are:
Shannon Foster-Boline, Broker Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace, Realtors
Lisa Wiles, Senior Loan Officer, Mortgage Investors Group (865) 210-5522.