We asked readers to share their stories on how they

connected with their pet that was once in need. The response

was overwhelming. Here are the two winners and their prizes, which were donated by Nestle Purina in Dunkirk:

So I get this great idea that my husband, who’s retired, needs a pet during the day as I work a lot of hours. I thought it would be good for him to get out and exercise, maybe with some small, cute little dog he could walk.

So we went to Northern Chautauqua Rescue and there were about 10 dogs and they were all barking, some small, some medium, and in this one cage was a really docile large dog just staring at us. We looked around and I kept looking back at the big black and white dog. He didn’t let out a peep. The lady there told us he was a good dog, but he’d been there over 7 months. Well we didn’t see any small dogs so we left, but on the way home I started to feel bad about the big black dog, so with tears in my eyes, I told my husband we just had to go back. And we did and later that week, I was driving home in the cab of our truck with a huge dog sitting on my lap drooling, thinking, what have I done?

We got Nanook home (he’s an Alaskan Eskimo/Malamute mix) and the first night we had to leave him, he took out the Christmas tree, left paw prints on our leather couch, and knocked down the window candles. Oh boy! So we called Jan at the rescue center and she kindly sent us the lady we call “The Dog Whisperer.” She came to the house and had us leave, and I don’t know what she said to him, but he has been the best dog ever.

The first few weeks after we got Nanook, we had a large snowfall. I was walking Nanook on the hill next to our house when I fell backwards in the snow. Nanook was ahead of me, looked back and immediately ran over to me, laid down and threw his huge paw over me to protect me. I tried to get up, but he wouldn’t let me and by then I was laughing hysterically with snowflakes falling down on me and had to finally pick up his paw and roll away so I could get up. I guess that is when I knew this dog was a true “rescue dog.”

So right now I wouldn’t trade Nanook for anything. He’s our family and the man who didn’t want a dog, gets up religiously three times a day to walk his dog.

— The Spinners