13 of the Most Heartwarming Pet Stories of the Decade

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Many of the top pet stories of the decade involve rescues and reunions. various

From amazing puppy rescues to grumpy feral cats, the decade was filled with wonderful pet stories that will warm your heart. We had a hard time choosing our favorites, but here's just a sampling of some of the sweetest pet tales of the 2010s.

Hero hiker carries hurt dog down a mountain

Tia Vargas with Boomer
When Vargas's dad saw her carrying a dog, he laughed and said, 'Isn't this hike hard enough?'. Ted Kasper

When Tia Vargas was hiking in the Grand Tetons she ran into a family that had found an injured English springer spaniel on the trail. Vargas hoisted the pup on her shoulders and started carrying him down to safety, even though he weighed 55 pounds. She reconnected with her dad, who was waiting for her a little ways down the trail, and she credits his sense of humor and the help of angels with saving the dog.

"When I wanted to quit is when I prayed. Prayer gave me the strength. That and my dad's jokes. He made me laugh and it gave me energy. And feeling the angels lift the dog off of my neck was what I needed to continue on." Vargas found the dog's family, but they were moving and couldn't take him with them, so of course she adopted him.

Police officer rescues a shivering dog tied to a fence

A dog tied to a fence.
Joe was emaciated and nearly frozen when he was found abandoned in a park. New York City Police Department

On a freezing day in January, an NYPD officer noticed a dog chained to a fence in a city park. The officer hopped out of his cruiser, wrapped the shivering dog in a towel and got him quickly to an area shelter. But when a couple weeks passed and the abandoned dog still didn't have a home, the officer stepped up and made it official: He adopted the pup he rescued and now "Joe" is part of the family.

Delivery driver rescues blind, deaf puppy

Starla the rescued puppy sleeps on her way to her foster home.
Starla the rescued puppy sleeps on her way to her foster home. Speak! St. Louis

When a UPS driver was zipping along his route in rural Missouri in the hectic time right before Christmas, he thought he noticed something in the snow next to the highway. When the eagle-eyed Good Samaritan stopped to check, he found a tiny blind and deaf puppy nearly hidden in the snow. Now named Starla, the itty-bitty puppy was likely discarded because of her disabilities. In addition to being hearing and vision impaired, she was filled with worms and had a hernia. But now she's warm and safe and playing in her foster home with a special needs rescue, all thanks to a guardian angel in a delivery truck.

Young boy and his kitty are a perfect match

It hasn't been easy for 7-year-old Madden, who was born with a cleft lip and two different colored eyes. He didn't know anyone who looks like he does, until his mom heard about a very special kitty. Mom brought home Moon, who also has a cleft lip and two different colored irises, just like Madden. "We knew they were destined to be best friends," said Madden's mom. "Funny how a pet can make you feel less alone."

Dog won't leave trapped owner's side

Kentucky fire marshal Bill Compton comforting Lucky the dog on road after accident
A roadside emergency forged an unlikely bond. Jordan Yates

During a nightmare of a roadside emergency in Kentucky, more than 50 rescuers worked frantically to free people trapped in an overturned RV. One of the passengers was a dog named Lucky who refused to leave while his owner remained caught in the crash. While the emergency crew worked to free him from the scene, the victim stroked the pup, which helped calm them both. Once the scene was cleared, a fire chief and the pup walked down the road and took a break from the chaos. Lucky was reunited with his family later in the day.

This cranky 'grandpa' cat loves his foster kittens

Feral cats aren't generally known for being cuddly and warm. They are mostly anti-social and prefer to be left alone. That's exactly Mason, who was rescued from a large feral cat colony then adopted by Shelly Roche. But Mason went from being a grumpy old man to a loving caretaker when he was around the babies.

"When Scrammy (ginger kitten) started licking Mason's ear, and Mason leaned into it, I completely melted," said Roche. "The one thing missing for Mason had been contact with another living being, and while he didn't want that from ME, he had clearly been craving it from his own kind."

Veteran reunites with his dog one last time

Patch spent the day on Vincent's bed.
Patch and John Vincent were so incredibly happy to see each other. Albuquerque Animal Welfare

After entering hospice care, veteran John Vincent just had one request: He wanted to spend a little time with his beloved dog. Because the 69-year-old Marine had no family in the area, he had to give up his Yorkie terrier mix named Patch to Albuquerque Animal Welfare. Knowing that Vincent likely had little time left, his palliative care social worker reached out to the organization and volunteers were quick to bring Patch by to visit. He spent the whole day curled up on the bed, sharing kisses and cuddles.

Naps with cats inspire shelter donations

Terry Lauerman naps with a kitty at the Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary
Terry Lauerman naps with a kitty at the . Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary

When Terry Lauerman, a retired teacher, decided to spend some of his free time volunteering at his local shelter in Green Bay, Wisconsin, he just wanted to brush cats. But a few hours of taking care of kitties sometimes can be tiring, so Lauerman would sometimes take a cat nap with a few of his four-legged friends. His napping breaks went viral, prompting him to encourage people to donate a few dollars for the cats.

It worked. Within days, more than $20,000 had been given to the shelter in his name.

The puppy that fell from the sky

The aptly named Tony Hawk is recovering from his high-flying adventure with a foster family. Austin Animal Center

When construction workers in Austin, Texas, heard tiny cries, they thought a puppy was trapped somewhere in the debris. But the screams were coming from above as they saw a Chihuahua pup caught in the talons of a hawk. As the little one was flying overhead, he was suddenly dropped in their midst. Amazingly, he had few injuries after his fall and the workers quickly took him to a medical care where he got help for his injuries and then was brought to a foster home. His name? Tony Hawk, of course.

Community rallies to keep man with his dog

Lucky says goodbye to his dad at the animal shelter.
Lucky says goodbye to his dad at the animal shelter. Katie Corbett

When Mr. Williams was evicted from his Atlanta-area home, he walked sadly into the area animal shelter with his best friend, Lucky at his side. He was able to find a room in a hotel, but he couldn't take his dog with him. Lucky had to spend his first-ever night in a shelter. A shelter worker posted about the duo's plight and the next day, Lucky had a temporary foster home while offers poured in for food, clothing, jobs and other resources.

Shelter worker sleeps with dogs in a storm

A woman sleeping with a dog at an animal shelter
Shanda Antle and Hawking the dog enjoyed a good night's sleep in one of the shelter's playrooms. Homeward Bound City Pound

When a doozy of a storm was forecast for Nova Scotia, animal shelter employee Shanda Antle wasn't about to go home. She knew the animals would rely on the staffers to be there for them, so she unfurled an inflatable bed and slept in a playroom with a dog named Hawking. They had the same taste in movies and the 70-pound pup didn't snore, so he was the perfect bed mate.

Cat left during a hurricane and returns more than a decade later

Cat is reunited with his owner after 14 years.
T2 snuggles up with his dad after a happy reunion. Vanessa Aguirre/Humane Society of the Treasure Coast

When Perry Martin got a call that someone had found his cat, he was a little confused. His cat T2 had disappeared during a hurricane in 2004 and had never been seen again. But Martin was optimistic and found that it was truly his long-lost kitty that had resurfaced. Thanks to a microchip and some smart sleuthing by a vet's office, they were reunited after 14 years.

Vet eats breakfast with shy shelter dog

When a severely emaciated and shy pit bull was too afraid to eat when humans were around, veterinarian Andy Mathis came up with a way to rebuild her trust: He started crawling into her pen to share breakfast. The popularity of the video reminds us that simple act of kindness can have a big impact.