Shaking Off the Past, Woman Finds Way to Create New Family to Love

By PetcoFoundation on Mar. 23, 2017


Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Melissa Rhodes won Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association in Charleston, West Virginia a 2016 Holiday Wishes award. 

Homeless. It’s a word that brings many thoughts to mind: hopelessness, sadness, loneliness, emptiness and feeling infinitely lost. I know, because I was there once.

Out of the blue, my husband of 15 years forced me to leave my home, the pets I loved and the life that I had known since I was 19. Where would I go? What would I do? It was all gone; no house, no car, no bed – nothing.

Thankfully, my mother took me in until I could find a new home in a new city. But I was there for five months feeling homeless and hopeless. I had a place to stay, but it wasn’t my home; my home was gone.

The worst pain was losing my sweet dog Nutmeg. No place is truly home without a furry friend to share your life.


So, after I found a new home, got a car and got a new job in a new city, I visited the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association (KCHA). There I saw hundreds of homeless cats and dogs. I knew how they felt; safe, yes, but not home.

I saw a furry, but thin and scraggly cat at the back of a cage. He was six-years-old, the product of a hoarding situation. He meowed, and I noticed his missing teeth. I opened the cage, and he jumped into my arms. He came alive. He purred and padded me with his paws. He had so much love to give.


The kennel attendant said the cat had been there a long time because no one wants to adopt older cats. I knew how that felt, so, I took him home and named him Archie. Archie was my reason to get up in the morning and my reason to come home a night. He was my reason to smile, even though I cried many nights into his soft fur. He saved me more than I saved him.

A year later, I saw a post on KCHA’s social media page of an older dog, with a sick cough, who had been abandoned by his family. He was so scared, he sometimes screamed. I know how it feels to lose your home. I felt a connection to this dog. So, I went to the shelter to meet Parker. He was amazing, and I brought him home right away. Now Archie, Parker and I complete each other’s lives. We will never be alone as long as we have each other.


Home is not a physical place; it’s comprised of the people and pets that you love and who love you back. I am thankful for KCHA, because they make a huge difference in the lives of homeless pets by finding them forever homes. They brought Archie, Parker and me together.

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