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2018 World’s Cutest Rescue Pet

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Congratulations to PEOPLE MAGAZINE’S 2018 World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Winner and runners up. Check out our rescue winners’ tales of love, hope and happily ever after.

2018 World’s Cutest Rescue Pet Winner – Penny

With her passport stamped, Penny’s journey began with the help of Kyra’s Rescue. Facing an unknown future and the loss of an eye, this loveable pup was whisked out of Turkey to begin her new life in the United States. Shortly after her arrival, she found her forever family in Virginia—in fact, she arrived on a very special birthday for her human mom! Penny’s life didn’t just change that day, but she changed the lives of her human family. Penny has helped her 12-year-old human sister, Kate, control her type 1 diabetes by keeping her active and healthy and has brought out 10-year-old Nora’s loveable, compassionate and playful side. From mom to dad and two sisters, Penny’s life wasn’t just rescued that fateful day—but she rescued the lives of her forever family too.

RUNNERS-UP

Rex

Meet Rex, a yellow lab mix who is always on the go living his life to the fullest! Although born with a disability that left him without the use of his front legs, Rex has never let that stop him. He loves to swim, with a life jacket of course, and enjoys scooting around on his cart. The love and joy Rex shares is contagious as he proves day after day that no disability will slow him down. Follow Rex’s inspirational story on his very own Facebook page!

Keller

5 years ago, Keller’s future looked bleak. She was born deaf, her vision was impaired and her breeder was threatening to put her down because no one would want a “broken dog”. Thankfully, the breeder turned her over to a rescue and Keller was adopted at 7 weeks. Her new human mom, Amanda, quickly realized that Keller was a pretty normal dog and very smart. After some training and learning about each other, Keller and Amanda can communicate with over 70 hand signals. In fact, both now travel the country showcasing Keller’s talents in agility contests and teaching others what special needs dogs are capable of, and that they need forever homes too.

  • The Serious Benefits of Play

    dog carrying a frisbee in its mouth

    Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

    The benefits of play

    Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:

    • Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
    • Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
    • Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
    • Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
    • Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.

    How to play with your dog

    There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.

    When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.

    When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.

    Playtime tips

    • Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
    • Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
    • Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
    • Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
    • You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
    • If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!

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