Life Enrichment
Top 10 Atlanta Pet Winners

Top 10 Atlanta Pet Winners

Best Self’s “Best Pets” contest was a close one – there are so many deserving pets out there that bring love into people’s lives. Here are our top 10 winners, each amazing in their own special way.

FIRST PLACE WINNER
Hannah Ward and Klaus


Klaus is a German shepherd



What special activities do you and your pet enjoy doing together?
Klaus and I love to go for runs together and he loves to swim. You also will never find him without a tennis ball, or three, in his mouth. We play fetch constantly!

What is unique about your pet?
From the time I brought Klaus home, he has been trained in German and English and knows all of his commands in both languages. Klaus and I also train with a police K-9 officer in obedience and protection.

How has having your pet enriched your life and the life of others?
On February 12, 2010, my German shepherd, Thor, a police K-9 who I rescued from an abusive situation, was hit by a car and killed. I was absolutely devastated and so was my other German shepherd, Kaiser. Eventually, I began looking for a new puppy to keep Kaiser and me company and contacted a breeder in Tennessee to see if she had any puppies available. She emailed me back and said she had a litter born February 12, the exact same day that Thor died. I felt like it was a sign. The next weekend I drove up to Tennessee and brought Klaus home. He reminds me so much of Thor. He works hard when he is training but loves to cuddle and play as soon as he gets home. Klaus has been the biggest blessing to my family.

Brenda-McClelland

Brenda McClelland 
with Georgia and Southern

Georgia and Southern are golden retrievers

What special activities do you and your pets enjoy doing together?
Running, lake, dog park and dog friendly restaurants, riding around in the jeep and watching dog shows with them on TV.

How has having your pets enriched your life and the life of others?
They are the kids we couldn’t have - so they are our family. Their silly personalities and playfulness make you smile whenever you are around them. They are “love bugs,” just big lap dog wannabes!

Anything special you’d like to share about your pets?
They are named after Georgia Southern University and have actually been featured in the “Fanomaniac” video for Georgia Southern University.

Casper_Sally_Bella_choaCasper, Sally and Bella

Casper, Sally and Bella from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta are golden retrievers



What special activities do you and your pets enjoy doing together?
Casper: (Owner) Lisa and Casper love spending time in the water.  They enjoy getting their paws wet at the beach or the pool!
Bella: Bella loves snuggling with patients on the exam table. Bella and (owner) Kara like to go for walks in Piedmont Park where Bella enjoys playing fetch with pinecones.
Sally: (Owner) Anitra and Sally love playing fetch, hiking, swimming and cuddling on the couch.

What is unique about your pets?
Casper, Sally and Bella are full-time pet therapy dogs at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Casper is a member of the Volunteer Services team and is a certified service dog for Children’s at Scottish Rite.  Sally is a member of the Guest Services Department and is a certified service dog for Children’s at Egleston. Bella is a certified service dog for the Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children, which promotes the safety and well-being of children through community advocacy and the identification, assessment and prevention of child abuse.

How has having your pets enriched your life and the life of others?
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta offers pet therapy programs to help ease patients’ anxiety and promote shorter recovery times. As part of this program, Casper, Sally and Bella do just that and brighten the day for patients, families and staff at the Children’s campuses. 


Jake-SmithJake Smith with Payton and Brady

Payton and Brady are shih tzus

What special activities do you and your pets enjoy doing together?
In Jake’s words, “Walking the dogs with my daddy in our neighborhood every morning, giving them treats on a regular basis, having both dogs come along in the car when we run errands or go to my pre-school and snuggling with the dogs at night in my parents’ bedroom.” 

What is unique about your pets?
Although she’s a girl, Payton is named after former Chicago Bears great Walter Payton and Brady is named after New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

How has having your pets enriched your life and the life of others?
Payton and Brady are two of the most loving, friendly dogs you’ll ever come across. They epitomize loving animals and have been that way ever since we got them. They are friendly to everyone they encounter and especially enjoy the company of my wife’s 95-year-old grandmother as they sit on her lap whenever they see her.  
Anything special you’d like to share about your pets?
Brady’s howl often catches people completely off guard in that he sounds like a cross between some kind of tropical bird in distress and a human being pretending to make a wild animal sound. It’s truly bizarre and unique! Payton has a toe fetish and often ends up licking toes, typically girls with exposed, manicured toes when they come into our home. Both dogs were home during a recent burglary and despite their small stature, we have no doubt that their presence in our home (they were locked in on the second floor by baby gate) and loud barking helped minimize the extent of the theft and damage caused.

Ashley-ChandlerAshley Chandler and Knox


Knox is an English pointer



What special activities do you and your pet enjoy doing together?
Knox and I love to go camping and hiking, the dog park, and tailgating for UGA football games!

What is unique about your pet?
Knox is unique and special in many ways, of course, I am biased. He was returned to the Atlanta Humane Society when he was just a puppy, and was very underweight. I hate he had to endure any suffering, but if it weren’t for him being returned, and thankfully not just thrown out on the streets, we would not be together today.

Regardless of his “ruff” start to life, he is full of love and life! I can’t remember a moment since we adopted him that his tail hasn’t been wagging, even when he sleeps. 
He is a complete goofball, and can always put a smile on your face. We joke that he is the “dog with nine lives” because his curiosity and fearless attitude have gotten him into a little trouble. Not long after we adopted him, he ran into a car. He has sliced open a pad on his foot, inhaled salt water into his lungs at the beach and spent the night at the dog hospital, and recently, he was bit by a poisonous snake, but goes on to wag about it!

How has having your pet enriched your life and the life of others?
Knox embodies all there is to unconditional love and living life to the fullest! Whenever I’ve had a bad day, or just need a friend, he is there to snuggle with me and make everything okay. Knox has never met a stranger, be it a dog or person, and is always looking to brighten your day. I hope everyone gets the chance to meet a dog like Knox, because just words will never do him justice. He is still young and very energetic, but once he is a little older, I hope to take him to hospitals as a therapy dog because his smile is contagious. Knox is always up for new adventures and has the most wonderful spirit. I am grateful he is in my life.

Bec-WeizeneckerBec Weizenecker and Levi

Levi is a vizsla/lab mutt

What special activities do you and your pet enjoy doing together?
Levi has been a tremendous blessing in my life. We do everything together. He is my road trip buddy, my running partner, and when I cook he is the official taste tester. 

What is unique about your pet?
Levi helped me train to run the Georgia Half Marathon, sometimes running up to 12 miles at 
a stretch with me.

How has having your pet enriched your life and the life of others?
He is protective, affectionate and loyal. Levi is always by my side, and follows me around the house from room to room. He even likes to look over my shoulder when I am writing emails. Levi loves laying on my lap (even though he’s too big now) to watch movies and eat popcorn, our favorite snack. He loves to go to the dog park, tailgate for Georgia Tech football games and visit my sorority house where he is quite popular. It has been amazing watching him grow. Once a weak puppy on the verge of death, he is now a spoiled dog that paws at you if you stop petting him. He has been everything I wanted in a dog and I can’t imagine my life without him.

Kim-ShahidKim Shahid and Dakota


Dakota is a golden retriever



What special activities do you and your pet enjoy doing together?
She loves to retrieve tennis balls and is obsessed with chipmunks and is the best snuggler.

What is unique about your pet?
Dakota was dropped off to be euthanized by her owners due to the fact that she had horrible hip dysplasia, kidney failure and botched eyes. The vet contacted Adopt a Golden Atlanta and of course they scooped her up. I was asked to foster her and I said “yes” without a doubt. I took her to swim therapy and they said it was a waste of money so I took paint cans and bought white pipes from Home Depot and taped them to the cans and practiced with her every day to build strength in her hips. She can now run and play and even our canine wellness person never thought this would happen because she was in such bad condition. Her eyes will always be somewhat droopy and her kidneys will never heal but have remained stable. I feel fortunate that she is still with me today.

How has having your pet enriched your life and the life of others?
She truly is the light of my husband’s and my life. I had two rescued goldens and fostered her and my husband didn’t want another dog. I couldn’t bear to give her back so he finally gave in to me and let me keep her. To this day he can’t imagine life without her. She does this “woo woo woo” every morning and just makes us laugh. She has this chipmunk friend that she stares at all day in our front window. We put an ottoman there so she could sit there and stare at her. When the chipmunk goes in the hole she runs to the door like it’s going to be there waiting for her at the door. I look forward to seeing her every day when I get home. Dakota is just an overall special dog that had at one point a rough outlook on life. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with her and have her for this amount of time. Words can’t describe my love for her!

Nancy-ShevitzNancy Shevitz and Uncle Max

Uncle Max is a pure-bred ragdoll cat

What special activities do you and your pet enjoy doing together?
We love sitting in the garden watching the birds together. He also loves being groomed and having his huge belly rubbed. Another game we play is bounce the ball. I bounce it high in front of him and he jumps up to each bounce. We also play fetch.

What is unique about your pet?
Uncle is unique in that he is very mellow. He gets along with everyone. He is 15 pounds of muscle, loves belly rubs and follows me around like a puppy.
How has having your pet enriched your life and the life of others?
He has brought a peaceful feel to our house. We had some issues with who would be alpha cat before Uncle but now he lets whoever wants to be in charge be in charge.

Anything special you’d like to share about your pet?
When we first got Uncle Max he was painfully shy and could not look us in the eye without squinting. He stares up at as with the biggest baby blues eyes ever and swoons. In my opinion, one cannot have too many Ragdolls and we are all so happy to have given this well-deserving young cat a loving, fun home to grow old with us in.

Jen-LesshafftJen Lesshafft 
and Canaan

Canaan is a schnoodle
(schnauzer/poodle mix)

What is unique about your pet?
My husband and I love spending time with Canaan. Whether it’s a trip to the lake to swim and hike or a visit to the dog park, we just enjoy him and his sweet, funny personality.

How has having your pet enriched your life and 
the life of others?
Canaan has the uncanny ability to befriend any and all people and pets that he comes in contact with. If you “like” dogs, it is impossible not to LOVE him. He is friendly and playful, energetic and calm. He knows how to blend in with the pack or stand-out amongst the crowd. His natural ability to adapt to a variety of environments truly makes him “one-of-a-kind.” Having Canaan as a part of our lives has really shown us why dogs have earned the nickname “man’s best friend.” The unconditional love he shows us everyday makes it difficult to be upset or in a bad mood for more than a few seconds, the time it takes for him to run up and greet you with lots of doggie kisses.

Anything special you’d like to share about your pet?
Canaan loves to run around and play, especially with his best friend Ollie. He’s also a master of hide-and-seek. When I come home, I find a new hiding spot and he always is able to seek me out. And of course, he greets me with lots of kisses.

Kara-PardueKara Pardue and Emma Ann

Emma is a rat terrier

What special activities do you and your pet enjoy doing together?
Since we do not have kids, Emma does everything with us. We go shopping, swimming, to the lake, four wheeling, hiking, go to the beach, get mani/pedis...basically everything!

What is unique about your pet?
She has enjoyed going and visiting nursing homes when her great grandmother was in them...she has brought so many smiles to her elders.

How has having your pet enriched your life and the life of others?
She has been such a blessing for my husband and me. Her quirky personality brings many smiles and joy to our home and family. I know whenever I have had a bad day my little Roo Roo will bring a smile to my face. Her love is unconditional, and I am perfect in her eyes!








A Special Thanks to Red Bandanna for their support of 
Best Self’s “Best Pets” Contest.

Red Bandanna has been serving the community for over 10 years. At each of their 14 Atlanta locations pet owners can find healthy and nutritious food for their cat or dog as well as a knowledgeable staff to help with any questions you may have. They also have an array of vitamins, supplements, accessories, grooming supplies, treats, toys and more. And a special thank you to all our prize package sponsors.

And a special thank you to all our prize package sponsors.
Our top 10 pet owners received an amazing prize package (valued at over $600) including gift certificates and goodies from Bella by Alethea, Brain & Body Solutions, Evos, G Salon and Red Bandanna. Thank you to Nancy G’s Café for our celebration party.