Happy holidays my friends! I may be a summertime gal at heart, but Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. I have Christmas spirit running through my veins all year round, but just after Thanksgiving I turn into Buddy the Elf. The element of surprise, Christmas decorating and spending time in the kitchen with my girls is all too much for my heart to handle. Things may look different this holiday being away from our extended families, but we’re still grateful for this magical season. We hope you’re all safely celebrating the season with the ones you love.
While we all may be a bit more excited than normal for the year to come to a close, we had to take some time to squeeze in one last blog post to cover a very important topic (and no, it’s not Pantone’s 2021 color of the year). Let’s shine a big spotlight on our fur babies! I truly believe that spending so much time with our pets this year has been one of the biggest bright spots. It’s well known that having a pet leads to true health benefits – bonding with our pets can instantly lower blood pressure, combat feelings of anxiety and lonliness and provide a much needed distraction to the news reports this year. And of course, they encourage us to get outside! Having a furry fiend Increases opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, which is something we all need more of these days.
I know I’m not alone in my love for these guys either: rescue animals were featured as Time Magazine’s 2020 Pet of the Year. According to the ASPCA, animal welfare organizations across the country saw a spike in adoptions during the second half of March, with an estimated national adoption rate of 58% at the beginning of the month, jumping to 85% by the end of the month. I also saw recently that for many shelters across the US, the number of homeless dogs and cats entering shelters has declined significantly. And though I’ve seen some concerns about this, it looks like adopting from a shelter right now is very safe. According to the CDC, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low – there is no reason to think that any animals, including shelter pets, play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
Bottom line here: we love our pets, and if we’re being honest, they probably have loved EVERY second of us being home for nine months straight. How will we ever break it to them that we have to return to work one day?! This year, we’re donating funds to local animal shelters to say thank you to all of the fur babies out there and to those who work to help us find and take home our favorite furry friends. Here’s some ways that you can donate too:
- ASPCA: Donate online or call (800) 628-0028.
- Humane Society: With your donation, you’ll protect animals suffering in factory farms, in research labs, in puppy mills and in other situations of cruelty and neglect.
- Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland: There are so many ways to give back here – as a one-time gift, a regular contribution, and/or in honor of a pet or loved on.
- Hart of Maine: The Homeless Animal Rescue Team (HART) is a shelter and adoption center for cats in Cumberland, Maine. Their organization is filled with tireless volunteers that provide love and care for surrendered cats and are supported entirely by the generosity of individual donors, foundations, and businesses.
Fun fact: Our couples are also huge pet lovers! And we are so here for it.
We’ve had a ton of conversations with our couples this year, and somehow, we always end up talking about our fur babies. But we’re hardly complaining. It’s probably the one thing all of our couples have in common – most babes have even made it into the official planning process in some way! We wanted to take some time to celebrate them today. So, without further ado, please meet some of our 2021 couples and their absolutely adorable pets!
Up first, meet Lucie, Dave and pup Kiefer! Kiefer is rambunctious and jovial, and joined the family just about three years ago. After almost four years of Lucie telling Dave they should get a dog, one day she noticed him Googling dogs and local shelters. She knew that the window of opportunity was there, and pounced. A month later, Kiefer came home to Brooklyn!
- Favorite story, according to mom & dad: When Kiefer was a puppy, we took him to the “doggie lake” at Prospect Park in Brooklyn He LOVED the water and waded out on a nice big rock. He splashed around, enjoyed the water, and played with other dogs on the rock. He started getting bolder, and walked out a bit farther on the rock…. until next thing he knew, the rock ended…. and Kiefer sunk into the water not prepared to be “in the deep end”. He popped back up (what a relief) and quickly swam to shore. That was the day Kiefer learned how to swim. It was terrifying but funny, and the poor guy hasn’t touched water since.
- Celebrity voice if Kiefer could talk: Kiefer Sutherland, of COURSE
- Wedding incorporation: Only the star of the invitation!! And maybe the bridesmaids too? We love it!!
Up next is Annie, Nick and pup Riley! Though this cozy pic might make you think otherwise, Riley is an outdoor enthusiast – he loves to hike, go to the beach (we relate!) and play with other dogs. He is very much so a dogs-dog and demands to say hello to every dog that he passes.. He’s very happy, wiggly, energetic, and playful!
- How Riley joined the family: Annie and Nick adopted Riley on November 2, 2019! Nick grew up with dogs, but were adopted by his parents when they were on the older side, so he always wanted to train and raise a puppy. We talked about it for a few years and finally decided to move forward with it! Riley is a rescue from Aruba; there are a lot of feral dogs on the island and a few different nonprofits have volunteers who fly puppies back to the U.S. He was fostered in Dennis, MA, minutes away from where Annie’s family loves to vacation on Cape Cod. We picked him up there on a chilly November day and the rest is history!
- Favorite story, according to mom & dad: On our first day with Riley, Nick naively thought it would be a good idea to try some off-leash training right away. We brought him to some trails on Cape Cod, took off his leash, and tried to have him follow us using treats. He immediately turned around and started walking back towards the car! Luckily, he’s now great off-leash, but it took some time 🙂
- Wedding incorporation: Annie’s sister (and maid of honor) walked Riley down the aisle at their micro-wedding this past September! He was very excited to be included and he was a star in the pictures!
My heart is BURSTING from seeing these snuggles – am I the only one?! These two cuties are no other than Clark and Bean, kitten children of our awesome Couple Allison and Dylan. Clark and Bean were a dynamic duo when they were adopted to years ago. According to Allison, Clark is a big softy – he spends a ton of time lounging and relaxing in front of the wood stove. (Sounds like a good life if you ask me!!) Bean on the other hand is shy, but once he gains your trust he’s a loyal companion who will greet you when you get home.
- Favorite story, according to mom & dad: We adopted Clark and Bean from Hart in Cumberland in February of 2018. Dylan’s sister Abby is a vet and would volunteer giving cats their vaccines and check ups. When Abby told us about the cats, she said that they were bonded and needed to be adopted together. The first night we brought them home, Clark jumped into Allison’s lap knowing he was in his forever home. Bean was a little apprehensive and would call for Clark who would go find him and lead him into the room with us. Bean would get scared and run into the other room and then call for Clark who would then bring him back. This went on for an hour where Clark finally gave up and snuggled with Allison but it was so interesting to see them communicate and lean on each other for support. After Bean got used to everyone he has been inseparable from Dylan and of course his first love, Clark. We often find them snuggled together in such odd positions or wrapped in each others arms.
- Celebrity voice if Clark & Bean could talk: Bean would be Ewan McGregor and Clark would be Sean Connery
- Wedding incorporation: Since they couldn’t be there for the big day (that would have been a disaster!), we named our specialty cocktails after them. Clark was a blood orange margarita and Bean was a beer by Mast Landing.
I actually don’t know if I can handle more cuteness, buuut let’s keep going. Please meet Brianne, Angelo and Oscar! Brianne and Oscar have been two peas in a pod for six years now, even before Angelo came into the mix. But it didn’t take long for Oscar to warm up: Angelo insisted on meeting him the first time him and Brianne hung out! Oscar is, according to Brianne, “too smart and stubborn for his own good, incredibly loyal, BEYOND food motivated (will practically do backflips for treats), and always down for an adventure.”
- Favorite story, according to mom & dad: I used to live in downtown Dover, NH which meant on our weekend walks, there were always PLENTY of treats from people late-night snacking. One night when we were walking, I see Oscar go into full stealth, sneak-attack mode, snatch something up in his mouth, then try to slink away; he found the Holy Grail of treats and scored a whole, intact slice of pizza. While I was crying from laughing so hard, I genuinely felt bad taking it away from him because I have never seen any dog put so much effort into securing food, but, can you really blame him?!
- Celebrity voice if Oscar could talk: Daniel Craig; Oscar is smooth and handsome like James Bond (this suggestion was all Ang but I couldn’t agree more).
- Wedding incorporation: We’re slightly obsessive dog parents and finding a venue that allowed him to be there with us for not only the ceremony, but entire duration of the day including the reception was one of our top criteria. For the reception, we created a signature drink sign with a drawing of Oscar and after loving the way it came out, we decided to fully embrace our love/obsession and also order cocktail napkins and drink stirrers with his face on them!
This little guy is no other than Beezer, doggy son to Kristina & Tom. Beezer joined the fam 9 years ago, and was actually Kristina & Tom’s first dog together. According to Kristina, “Beezer is a stubborn French Bulldog, but also so sweet and affectionate. He always has to be touching one of us, whether it’s cuddling next to us or his paw or head rested on our legs. He’s a lazy dog who also happens to have a serious food obsession. He usually starts begging or barking at us to give him his food a couple of hours before his meal time.”
- Favorite story, according to mom & dad: For Christmas one year, we bought Beezer three bags of dog treats that we were hoping would last for months. We wrapped up the treats and put them under the tree, and the next day we headed off to do more Christmas shopping. Hours later, we arrived home and walked into the house to wrapping paper everywhere. It took one look at Beezer’s guilty face to find the culprit. When we went to clean up, we found the three bags of dog treats, chewed open, with not even a crumb of a treat in sight. Beezer ate a few month’s worth of treats in the span of a couple of hours! Needless to say, he slept soundly the rest of the day!
- Celebrity voice if Beezer could talk: Alfalfa from the 1994 Little Rascals movie. We always picture him having the cutest voice.
Chrissy and Mike, you’re next! These sweets are getting married next year and you better believe that their pup Indy (or Indiana if we’re being formal!) will be by their side. Indy has two personalities he’s famous for: a silly, playful side and a major snuggly, cuddly side. He loves to play outside, but is also just as happy to snuggle up on the couch.
- How Indy joined the family: We’ve had him for about 2 years, so not long enough! We found “Buster” online and drove all the way out to Pennsylvania (7 hours one way) to a beautiful dairy farm. It was well worth the long drive. He smelled like cows for the first week we had him! We named him after Indiana Jones’s dog. In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade you find out that Indiana Jones is actually named Henry Jones Jr who took the name Indiana from the family dog! Sean Connery says “We named the dog Indiana!”
- Favorite story, according to mom & dad: He makes us laugh everyday! It’s can be the looks he gives us when he wants to play or when he jumps into bed with us in the morning like a toddler on Christmas or the “ah-ooo-gah” sound he makes when he has a really big yawn or jumping like a kangaroo in the snow. He always makes us laugh.
- Wedding incorporation: We are still planning much of the wedding details but we know he’ll be involved in some way. We will have some children at our wedding so he may have the task of keeping them entertained!
Surprise to no one: AFA has some fur babies too!
Like all of our Couples, the fur baby obsession is going strong with this team. We wanted to share some of our favorite moments so you can get to know the sweet AFA pets as well!
Marie, you’re up first my dear! I knew Marie was a dog lover from Day 1. These pups have been a conversation topics many times throughout her time with our team and honestly, we wouldn’t want it any other way!
And how did these sweet pups join the family? According to Marie: “We got Jameson from Maine Lab Rescue in February 2016. Brian and I had sadly lost our dog in November of 2015 and had just started talking about potentially looking for a new dog. I saw an older dog on the Maine Lab Rescue’s Facebook page and since they were having an adoption event near by we decided to go meet the dog. Brian said he was willing to just go LOOK but wasn’t so sure if he was ready to commit. Well, that older dog wanted absolutely nothing to do with us and it just so happens that, that day Maine Lab Rescue also had a new litter of puppies up for adoption. All the other dogs were already claimed except for Jameson. We overheard one of the workers say “What should we do with Jameson?” and Brian immediately chimed – “We will take him!” [so much for just going to look 😉 ] Jamo nuzzled right into my neck and we knew he was meant to be ours. We got to take him home a week later (longest week of my life) and he has been our sweet boy ever since. He also just recently turned 5 on December 5th!”
- Personality traits, according to Marie: Jameson is our Sun baby. He has such a playful spirit and would rather chase the ball or play tug with squeaky toys, over anything else. He LOVES other humans and getting all their attention and has deemed himself the nickname of “mr. jealous” on occasion. He is also the biggest cuddle bug and the second Brian gets up at 5am every morning, Jamo immediately hops into bed and we snooze back to back for another hour. He is also an extremely curious dog and always wants to be right where mom or dad is, and if one of us leaves the rooms he feels the need to go with us to make sure we don’t need his help. 😉 Jamo is also the kind of dog who knows when you are feeling sad and does not like it when people cry. He will come over and lick your face or try to nuzzle his head into your neck and it is just about the sweetest thing ever.
- Celebrity voice if pups could talk: Jameson would definitely be Macaulay Culkin in the Home Alone movies. Jack would probably be a mix of Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood, depending on the situation.
This sweet girl right here is none other than Kona – Jordan and Jake’s pup! Kona is a VERY smart, loving and spunky gal who has been with the fam for about 3 years. Jordan adopted her at four years old, but it was a loooong time coming. “I had wanted a husky since I was a little kid,” she explained. “I mean this was YEARS of dreaming. I would stay updated on local shelters to see if any huskies became available in the area. One day, I saw this beautiful dog was available for adoption and took the next day off from work to meet her. To be specific: I arrived 2 hours before the shelter opened in order to meet her first! Kona became part of our pack and can’t imagine it without her!”
- Favorite story, according to mom & dad: One Saturday afternoon, we had a friend up visiting, and the three of us went into the Old Port for lunch. We came back home to find Kona standing on the top of one of Jake’s four foot tall speakers. We were all on the floor cry laughing, it was hysterical. She must have stepped on the table that was next to the couch, and then hopped up onto the speaker to look out of the window. How long was she up there for? We have no idea. But it was so silly, especially since Kona isn’t one to get into our things or really make trouble! Too funny!
- Celebrity voice if Kona could talk: Scarlett Johansson. We can’t really explain why, but Scarlett Johansson’s voice in HER is what we think her voice would be like. Jake came up with this — and cannot agree enough!
Next up is Courtney and Ryder! Ryder joined the family with Courtney and her boyfriend in July of 2019 and they’ve been obsessed with her ever since. July 2019 may seem like ages ago, but Ryder is still in full-on puppy mode. She is a full Australian Shepard (though I know they’re still questioning it after many asks about her being a Border Collie!). According to Courtney, “To put it simply, Ryder is insane hahah. She can be the sweetest, loving dog in the whole world but she has a TON of energy and she likes to take it out on us! I’m convinced she thinks she’s a shark with how much she likes to bite and chew on her toys. She won’t fetch.. just run away from you and chew them in the process!”
- Favorite story, according to Courtney: Ryder has always liked her space when it comes to snuggling. She’ll give in for a bit, but once those 20 minutes are up, she’ll be moving to the other end of the bed so she can stretch out and enjoy her ~alone~ time. One night when I was getting ready to head to bed, I realized I couldn’t find Ryder. She never leaves our side, so I was really concerned. But come to find out she was completely stretched out under the bed already fast asleep! It’s now her favorite spot – she army crawls under each night and we don’t see her until the morning.
- Celebrity voice if Ryder could talk: I don’t know if the Energizer Bunny has a voice but that’s her: crazy, high energy and very vocal!
And last but not least, meet my fun-loving, entertaining babes – Charlie Brown and Lucy! Charlie Brown is a full-bred vizsla. We adopted him from Widdershins Farm in Dover-Foxcroft and we adopted Lucy from Snow Tendra Bengals in Lisbon Falls last year. Both of our babies are hypo-allergenic pets and were a consideration for my hubby’s severe dander allergy. While I have always adopted animals from shelters and rescues, these two were breeder babies because of our home dynamic and for health issues. We still volunteer our time and donate to local shelters whenever we can and truly love the experience.
- My favorite story? Everyday Lucy and Charlie run around the house and chase each other for hours. When we first got Lucy last Christmas, we were worried that Charlie would be jealous and “hunt her” because of his breed. Lo and behold they are the best of friends. Lucy is a more avid hunter than Charlie, catching mice, chipmunks and birds all while on a lead outside!
- Celebrity voice if they could talk: Charlie Brown would most definitely be Goofy, and Lucy is no doubt Karen from Will and Grace.
Aaaand that’s a wrap on my new favorite blog post ever! These sweet babes mean the world to us, and we’re to happy to work with others who feel the same. Just call us obsessed pet parents! I know I can speak for my whole team and all of our couples when I say we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’d love to hear your pet stories too! Share your favorite fur baby pics and stories in the comments so we can all enjoy.
Xoxo – wishing you all the happiest of holiday seasons!