Join Us As We Look Back on 2021!

We hope you’ll help us celebrate pets and people during Willamette Humane Society’s sixth annual Week of Wonder! 

Visit the page every day for a new story about a happy ending you made possible in 2021 through your support. Stories are released by 10 a.m. each day. You’ll see the specific animal’s photo become full color and his or her story will appear. 

Week of Wonder is about celebrating the prior year, but it’s also about preparing for the year to come. You can help by making a tax-deductible donation during this wonderful week.

Remember to check back daily until December 31 for a new story! You can also follow along on Instagram and Facebook. Thank you! People just like you made these stories possible. 

Day One: Twiggy

Sweet Twiggy was born blind. This is a hard enough challenge for any cat, but Twiggy had more to endure. In January of 2021, she was found living alone beneath an apartment building in Salem. Somehow, she was finding a bit of food and staying safe. But her future was far from secure. 

The people who found Twiggy fed her and looked for her family. When their searches weren’t successful, they brought Twiggy to the shelter. Because of your support, this sweet cat could get the help she so desperately needed. 

Twiggy weighed just three pounds and was very weak. She could walk unassisted, but not very far. But she perked up and purred when petted. 

The donor-funded medical team felt Twiggy needed to rest, heal, and grow in a foster home. Her foster family set Twiggy up in a spare bathroom, but as Twiggy got stronger, she wanted to be where the humans were. In time, she was curling up on laps, nose-kissing her cat foster siblings, and exploring countertops. 

Soon, Twiggy was ready for a new chapter. And just four days after she was available for adoption, she was chosen by a wonderful family that named her Toph. 

Here’s what they say about their new family member: “The minute I saw her I knew she belonged with us…Toph joined another cat, George, and they were both joined shortly after by a 12-year-old chihuahua, Solo. Toph got familiar with her new home surprisingly quickly. At this point, she effortlessly walks around without bumping into anything (although when she gets excited she spins in circles and could not care less about bumping into things).”

Because of your support, Toph left her rough beginning behind and now lives a life filled with snacks, wrestling, purrs, and cuddles. Can you help support the next Toph?

Day Two: Vanilla

Vanilla is healthy, young, and absolutely adorable. But he can also be a very nervous, worried little dog that doesn’t want to walk through doorways, wear a leash, or meet new people. 

Thanks to people just like you, Vanilla is surrounded by support. 

When he arrived at the shelter, Vanilla immediately started working with our donor-funded Behavior and Training team. Cream cheese, lunchmeat, and words of reassurance became critical parts of each day. 

Sometimes Vanilla barked. Sometimes he froze. But slowly, he learned people were trustworthy. And soon, he started asking for pets and cuddles from his new friends (including the approximately 75 volunteers he met during his five-week stay). He went on several walks a day, and he learned leashes led to really great things (like cookies). 

Vanilla was adopted and renamed Damien. Because of your help, he keeps learning and growing. 

When his new family took him for walks, Damien had episodes of freezing, fleeing, and panicking. And sometimes, he seemed too worried to accept affection from his adopters. The donor-funded Behavior and Training team was there to support this family in transition.

Damien attended a one-on-one consultation with a WHS trainer, and he is currently enrolled in a Teens and Tweens manners class at WHS, where he is learning cues like “Go to your mat” and “Go say hello.” He is working with the same trainers he knew and loved while he was at the shelter. 

Because of people just like you, Damien had a safe space to land. And because of your support, Damien’s new family can help him learn how to be a good member of his community. 

Day Three: Piston

This handsome black kitty almost didn’t make it to see his fifth month of life. But thanks to supporters of Willamette Humane Society, he did. 

Like many cats, Piston attempted to find warmth inside a car engine. Unfortunately, he was not able to escape the engine in time and took a near-fatal ride. Thankfully, he made it out with only one injured eye and two injured ears. 

When he was discovered, he was taken to Salem Emergency Clinic and assessed. His finders reached out to Willamette Humane Society for help and our donor-funded Medical Team went to work. 

They were able to remove the dying and damaged pieces of his ears and clean his wounds. At the time of intake, Piston was only 4 months old and had already lived a stressful and harrowing life. 

Surgery recovery goes better in a home, so Piston was matched with a WHS foster family. That’s where he met Paige. Paige and her family gave Piston the space he needed to adjust to living with humans and as his wounds healed, his full personality bloomed. And in the end, they also gave him a new home.

Paige shared that “His whole story and personality had a special place in my heart and he helped me go through one of the hardest times in my life.”

It appears they’ve both helped each other since Piston joined the family.  We’ve all experienced the incredible, healing bond between humans and animals. 

When we come together, everyone improves. Give today to support that bond.

Day Four: Tiny

Small in size but mighty in heart would be a great way to describe Tiny, now Lambchop. 

When she came to us in November, she was shut down. As a 11-year-old senior dog, she needed extensive medical care. Lambchop needed a new lease on life. And boy did she get it!

Our veterinarians removed all of her teeth and several mammary masses. To recover, she was matched with a foster family where she could be evaluated and cared for. This foster family helped her come out of her shell, and it wasn’t long before she was politely requesting to spend time on her foster mom’s lap. She even started to eat better and show what a gentle, polite, dignified house guest she is!

But the main goal was to get her placed in a home where she could live out her days. And it happened!

Lambchop found a wonderful home to join and her new mom says she is “perfect and we love her.” Thank you to everyone who made this happy ending possible. 

Day Five: Nico

Nico was hard to miss when he first came to the shelter. He had a large, ulcerated tumor growing out of his jaw. What also immediately stood out was this handsome lab mix’s gentle and loving personality. 

He became an instant favorite of staff and volunteers and met the morning shelter crews with “welcome back” excitement. Even though he was dealing with a painful growth, Nico’s light never faltered and his joy was infectious.

Our surgeons removed the growth from Nico’s face, and they took off another inside his mouth, too. Those tumors were sent off for testing and Nico’s support circle waited anxiously. 

The results came and were met with shouts of relief—the tumors were benign!

Around that time, a sweet and special family came to meet Nico. The connection was instant and he went to his new home. 

Nico is now the proud ruler of 2.5 acres of fenced yard on his family’s small farm. His mom shared that “it’s his favorite thing to trot around”. She also told us that while Nico is a daddy’s dog, his love extends to the rest of the family as well, and they are very happy to have found him.

Cats and dogs like Nico find care and love here at Willamette Humane Society, thanks to supporters just like you! 

Day Six: Tender Tomcats

Big cheeks. Torn ears. Greasy coats. Bud, Thomas, Tooney, and Ty arrived in rough shape. And because of people just like you, these cats went through an amazing transformation. 

All four of these guys arrived at the shelter intact. Their long exposure to testosterone was responsible for the big cheeks. (And it was probably part of the torn ears, too. Toms do love to fight for the ladies.) 

All four were neutered at the WHS Spay and Neuter Clinic. Bud, Ty, and Tooney had eye surgery too. Those big cheeks had forced their eyelashes inward, and each blink meant a scrape on sore corneas. 

Ty spent even more time with our donor-funded medical team. He needed surgery for two deep facial bites and a broken tooth. He also developed ringworm and was treated with medicated baths and oral medications. 

Slowly, as these beefy boys healed and learned to trust, they became total sweethearts. They rolled on their backs, pawed at the air, and mewed at people walking by. 

And all four learned how to pose for our photographers too. You probably saw them on our Instagram and Facebook pages in 2021. Of all the pets we posted, these four got the most love from followers.

All four of these cats were adopted by people just like you. And one had a very special happy ending. 

Bud went to PetSmart as part of National Adoption Week in November. He sat side-by-side with kittens, and a kind couple looked past those wee fluffballs and took tough Bud instead. 

Your gift helps support happy endings just like this.

Day Seven: Pixie's Pack

On a bright, sunny day in late June, we got the call. A group of chihuahuas needed to leave a sad situation behind. Because of the support of people just like you, WHS could say yes to this little family in need. 

Eight adult chihuahuas—ranging from 1 to 4 years old—soon arrived at the shelter. One litter of very tiny babies came along too. The donor-funded medical team realized that this small family needed big help. All of these pups had been exposed to the deadly parvovirus before they came to the shelter, and many had very concerning symptoms. 

The team got right to work and spent most of that first long night providing nutrition, fluids, and medical care to the frightened, sickly dogs. All four of the puppies succumbed to the virus. But slowly, the adults got stronger. And then it was time for a new team to help. 

These chihuahuas lived small lives before coming to the shelter, and they were very worried about new sounds, smells, and experiences. They needed to be carried outside for walks, as they would not wear leashes. It took time, but these pups had a safe space to learn and grow. And when they were ready, your support helped all eight of these dogs connect them with new homes. 

Petite Pixie was the first to go home. She was chosen by a family on the first day she was available for adoption. She left with them in late July. Another shy sibling needed more help. He went into an experienced foster home to learn more about confidence. He was adopted in late August. 

This story has a sad beginning. But because of your care, concern, and support, this chihuahua family’s future is looking very bright. 

Bonus Story: Toasty!

Remember this face? It’s Toasty! He took the web by storm this fall when we announced that he was heading to a one-day adoption event at PetSmart. So many of you were hoping to meet him, and 65 pets (Toasty included) were adopted that day.

You may not have heard that Toasty had a long road to that adoption. In fact, this little cat endured multiple medical issues before he was ready to go home, including malnutrition, anemia, ringworm, and an injured eye. 

Toasty is the last story in our Week of Wonder. Be sure to watch the video of his incredible transformation. And thank you for reading all of the stories we shared!