Paw Patrol: BELLA Team + Readers Share Their Furry Friends

The BELLA Team + Readers Share Their Furry Friends And How They Are Helping Them Get Through the Current Social Distancing Climate


We’ve all been called to stay home, work from home, and distance ourselves as much as possible from others. Among many ways we could describe this, for me personally it’s sucked. Why?

Years ago, it was a choice for me to stay home and focus on my family. When I  started my business, things changed. Staying at home was not the best choice for my mental health and my family felt its wrath.

One upside to this whole new normal we’re all living, you can still walk your dog. In fact, did you know that shelter adoptions have increased dramatically during this time? That means that many homeless animals are finally getting furever homes.

Animals provide incredible comfort and companionship, especially during times of crisis. Some of the health benefits of having a pet include:

  1. Decreased blood pressure.
  2. Decreased cholesterol levels.
  3. Decreased triglyceride levels.
  4. Decreased feelings of loneliness.
  5. Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities.

Don’t miss a beat! Click HERE to become a BELLA Insider!

I asked our team and our readers to share their pets with us, their adoption stories, and how they are helping them cope during this unprecedented time we’re living. These stories (and these pictures) are so heartwarming. Enjoy!

Vanessa Coppes, CEO BELLA Media + Co.

Pets: Blue (7) + Pepe (13)

So Blue’s story begins when Edwin Devia started a Go Fund Me Campaign 7 years ago:

“Hey everyone. I found this guy roaming the streets of Newark. Hungry, alone, cold, and thirsty. He would walk up to kids wagging his tail and they would just run away in fear. I walked up to him and he had this sadness in his eyes as if to say ‘why doesn’t anyone want me’ ? It took almost an hour for him to trust me enough to get into my truck. I already have two dogs and if I had the room I’d keep him. I dropped him off at the Newark shelter.  I found out later that they have an 80% kill rate if the dog doesn’t get adopted quickly.  He’ll be up for adoption in 7 days. This money is for his check up, shots, neutering, adoptions fees, some food, doggy food and water bowls, a leash and some treats.  I’m trying my best to find him a forever home and with your help it can be done!”

The campaign was shared 7.5K+ times.

Through Facebook… it reached my best friend in the Dominican Republic who tagged me on the post. I saw his face, then read ‘the shelter he is in has an 80% kill rate and if the dog doesn’t get adopted quickly’…my heart sank. I knew I had to do something, even if it was just to help get him home.

The next day I called the shelter (just like 3oo+ people) and asked if he was still there. They told me he was and I set out to visit “Chance,” as Edwin had named him. I found out he had not been claimed and that he would legally go up for adoption in a few days. He seemed strong, very strong and sad… Anxious to get outside and sooo sweet.

His eyes had me at first glance. I then started working him into my home. I showed his picture to my husband and kids and thought that Blue would be a cool name because his coat looked grayish blue. Tomás (my then 7 year old son) came home from school that day and said that if we got him, we should name him “Blue” Coincidence? I think not!

I was concerned about his size and most importantly, his demeanor around my kids…my gut kept telling me however that adopting him would be the right thing to do, especially for our family.

Thank you Edwin for not turning away from him. Thank you for taking the time to get the word out and thank you to everyone  who shared and donated to the campaign.

Blue came home 5 years ago today. He is beyond beautiful and such a good boy! Larissa (my BFF in the DR who has been rescuing animals) I am forever grateful for the virtual nudge! I know Blue rescued us too.


Pepe is my 13 year old Chihuahua whom I brought to the US with me when I moved here in 2006. He is my shadow. He follows me everywhere I go. He is the sweetest Chihuahua you’ll ever meet.

Through this time, both of my dogs have been incredibly comforting to our family. They keep us active and most of all laughing as they’re enjoying having us home more than ever.

Lauren Vena, Cover + Features Makeup Artist for BELLA Magazine

Pets: Buddy + Bella

“We have 2 dogs. Both rescued. We have always rescued dogs and are very big believers that you can find the dog you are looking for in a shelter and that it will be you and your family’s best friend forever.

Let’s start with my Buddy…
Buddy is a golden retriever. He was only 5 months old wondering the streets of Brooklyn with a sign around his neck that said “Help Me” my husband’s friend called my husband Joe and they took him to a vet where they scanned him to see if he had a chip -he did! The owner thanked them and asked if he wanted him?!
We realized the previous owner left Buddy on the streets because he didn’t want a dog anymore. Buddy not only is the love of my life but, I had him trained as a therapy dog. He now goes to schools and rehab facilities to give love and support for others. He is 5 years old today.
Our Little Bella was rescued from Hurricane Maria. She and the litter were found in a storm drain. She was only weeks old. She is part Chihuahua Corgi and we say part Raccoon!! 😅 She is now 2.
Not only do these 2 dogs love each other but they are our family! They have been there for my kids through this time of anxiety, boredom, homeschooling, stress, cuddles or just endless love!
Like Vanessa Coppes once told me Dog spelled backwards is God. So True!”

Lynette Barbieri, Financial Representative

Business Development Associate, BELLA Magazine

Pet: Baxter (Aka Fugly)

“We adopted Baxter six years ago at the beginning of December. My son and oldest daughter brought me to the mall to “just look” at the puppies. Our beloved Golden, Chloe, died at the young age of seven unexpectedly. She passed away Thanksgiving Eve. We had to the tell the family on Thanksgiving morning. It was devastating, to say the least. My son was going back to college after Christmas and was worried that I wouldn’t be o.k. without Chloe. Needless to say, I didn’t want a dog so quickly, but I couldn’t resist his face, so we took him home. It’s been an adventure ever since.
He’s a companion when I feel alone, he calms me when I have anxiety, and there is nothing like a pet’s unconditional love. Of course, we didn’t know his teeth would grow in the way they did, he slightly resembles the warthog in Lion King!
Vanessa nicknamed him Fugly once his teeth grew in. We couldn’t imagine not having our Fugly man around!”

Alexandra Anastasio, Entertainment Editor | BELLA Magazine

Pet: Romeo

“It’s been almost three years since Romeo came into our lives, and like his moniker, he is a loving, sweet pup, who thankfully has been a source of comfort during this difficult time we’re currently living through.

Romeo is a schipperke, small in stature but big in personality. Playful, energetic, independent, yet extremely loyal and devoted. Appropriately nicknamed, “the little black devil,” ask any Schip owner and they’ll tell you how these furry little dogs steal your heart from day one.

The third of this breed I’ve owned, Romeo came into my life 10 months after we lost our 15 year old boy Veno to cancer. Heartbroken, I knew I had a lot of love to share, and at the end of the day, the happiness a dog brings, allows us to keep our hearts open.

As we all are navigating through some uncharted and difficult times, our dogs have no idea as to what’s happening in our world, all they know is that their world just became a bit fuller.

Being at home has allowed me to spend more time with Romeo (as opposed to the countless hours I spend at work), we go for daytime walks which are good for both of us (for different reasons), and if I’m having a moment, a quick hug, you know the type where you bury your face in their fur, gives me pause, and I remember, I am safe, and unconditionally, I am loved.”

“My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet.”

– Edith Wharton (American novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and designer)

Jessica Cirz, Photographer | Cover + Features Photographer for BELLA Magazine

Pet: Spencer

After our daughter left for college, we decided to bring Spencer home to our family. He has added so much love and joy into our lives. Every morning when I wake up, I look at his face and think “I can’t believe I get to spend another day with this little boy…” Isolation has been difficult for him too, but we are in this together!


Gina LaGuardia Editorial Director, BELLA Magazine

Pet: Carly

“I am so appreciative every day for my best friend, Carly. You can’t help but feel more at peace with those love-filled eyes looking up at you. I’ve always believed that dogs knew best when it comes to valuing what is important—a cozy bed, family you love, and a full belly—so when I feel especially worried and anxious (typically each morning), I look to Carly to quietly remind me that love and togetherness are the things that’ll get us through these difficult times.”

Mindy Gura, The Style Duo | Stylist, BELLA Magazine

“This is my beautiful dog, Kirby! He is a special breed called a Chatham Hill Retriever (a cross between a cocker spaniel and miniature retriever) We got Kirby 10 years ago because my husband and I knew we were only having our one son, Josh. Having an only child we felt it was important to add an energetic, funny, spunky puppy to the household for him to grow up with. Kirby adds all those things and so much more! And especially during this time of quarantine he is keeping us all wonderful company!  We love him with all of our hearts!”

Jenna Guarnieri, JMGPR | Public Relations, BELLAMagazine

Pet: Jack


Jack is my rock and breathe of fresh air. He brings a smile to my face even during the worst of times.”

Jennifer Barreto-Leyva, Body Positivity Advocate | BELLA Latina Contributor

Pet: Charlie

“For years my parents refused to have a pet at home. My sister and I (especially her) begged in all possible ways and the answer was always the same: no.

Three years ago, in the middle of one of the most violent protests in my country Venezuela, the pet conversation was again on the table, this time with a very different tone. Still kind of surprised to be honest.

Someone, out of the blue, offered my mom a new born Yorkshire for free. The offer was way to tempting. I was kind of afraid it could be a fiasco or a scam.

Mom and I called and next day took the risk to pick up our little fireball that changed our life forever.

We name it Charlie, just like his dad.
He is still with us, showing us on a daily basis that not only did we make the best decision, but are also getting the kind of love that is a different and priceless kind of love.”

Brenda de Leon, Teacher | Dominican Republic

Pet: Shawnee

“This is me with my Shawnee!  Shawnee was born on July 12, 2013 and I got her on September 27 of that year.  She is a Coton de Tulear.  She is the second Coton that I have had.
After losing my first Coton, a boy named Oreo who was with me for 11 years, I said I would never get another dog.  But I got some pretty strong and obvious signs from above that I should!  I found a breeder, whose name is also Brenda, but she had a waiting list.  So I waited.   Then out of the blue one day she contacted me that she had a puppy if I wanted it!   Needless to say I did!
So I flew to Tampa, Florida and picked up my new baby!  She has been and is such a special girl.  She has helped me get through so much.   In October of that same year my mother had brain surgery and my sister had breast cancer just weeks within each other.  I went to Texas to give them love and support and when I got back  Shawnee was there to gave me the love and support that I needed.
The following January I fell and broke my wrist, shoulder and elbow, all on my right arm.  When I arrived home from the hospital Shawnee never left my side.  She would lay next to me with her head on my cast, as if this was her way to help me heal.
During this quarantine, aside from constantly being with me, she makes me smile and even laugh.  She makes me get out of bed or off the couch when I really just want to hide under the covers.  She looks deep into my eyes when I talk to her and that gives me a sense of comfort, a sense of love, a sense of understanding.  Somehow even a sense of some Higher Consciousness.  She wants to play when I’m not really in the mood but always has me laughing and smiling and glad that I took a few minutes to forget about everything and just be in the moment with her.   She loves to be petted and even asks for and demands it!  And in her own little way she returns the love the only way she knows how to, unconditionally.
So as you can see Shawnee is very special to me.  She is laying right here next to me as I’m writing this!

Janice Martínez, Physical Therapist + Blogger from New Jersey

Pet: Swyper

When my daughter, Hayden, was three years old, her father (my husband at the time), texted me a picture of Hayden and a puppy at a pet store with the line “Can we keep him?” Of course I said yes, even though I knew I would be the one taking care of him. Soon after, I was diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy with reconstruction.
Swyper was by my side the entire time through recovery. Once I recovered, my husband and I divorced. Going through a tumultuous divorce and custody battle, again, Swyper never left my side all the nights I cried myself to sleep. Now in quarantine, he has me full-time. He is always full of unconditional love and comfort through every struggle. It’s amazing how dogs can sense our pain.

Theodora Sergio, Nicholas Pools | New Jersey

My children always wanted a dog, however, my husband and I never agreed to get them one.   We agreed to get a cat 10 years ago and Lily is still part of our lives.  This Summer on our annual trip to Cyprus we went downstairs to find the children requesting a meeting with us.  Our oldest Florentina is a student at NYU and our middle child Andreas was preparing to move to Penn State as a Freshman.  Our youngest Nicholas would be left at home, for another three years to finish high school.

The meeting was set and they presented us with a power point presentation on the benefits of owning a dog.  They had a pros and cons list made up.  Different types of dogs and reasons why we should say yes, even names.  We decided to finally agree to get a dog because we were worried about Nicholas.  Our children have always been very close so this would be a big change for our family.

We all searched websites and decided on a Mini Golden Doodle.  I was searching on my computer while the kids searched on theirs.  We ended up all picking Marco without realizing it, so when we compared notes we knew it was meant to be.

When we got back from vacation, Marco arrived.  We had all voted to pick his name from a list the kids made.  I never expected to love him as much as I do.  The kids convinced me he would be a mini, however from the first day it was obvious he would not be that small.  He is now 8 months old and weighs 35lbs. !

Marco entered our life and has made it so much better.  He opens my bedroom door every morning at 7:30am and comes up to the bed.  I go downstairs with him to let him out.  We have breakfast then go for a walk together.  He has brought so much joy into our lives. 

Marco is so excited to have everyone home now.  He visits everyone in their room, the kids are loving having Marco as a pet.  Especially now, he is a distraction from what is going on around us. 

Who would have thought that our world would turn upside down and we would all be confined to our homes? 

Marco reminds us all to be happy and grateful.  He is good natured and although he may get into a little trouble here and there, he is so much fun to be around.  Marco truly makes me smile, at times he snuggles next to me to watch TV, sits in the kitchen and keeps me company while I cook, warms my feet as I sit and work at my desk or brings toys for me to play tug of war or catch with him.  He even tries to play with Lily, however she is not very receptive. Having him here has reduced our stress and helped us deal with COVID-19 restrictions.  I don’t know how we would have gotten through this difficult time without him.

We are all very grateful Marco entered our lives and feel blessed that he is part of our family.


I know, I know… Considering getting a pet of your own? PLEASE visit your local shelter. There are so many fur babies looking for a home.

For more information on where to rescue your first or next fur baby, go HERE!

To donate, go HERE!

More from Vanessa Coppes

Make An Impact

  What better time to celebrate some of the influencers, companies, and...
Read More