Animals make ‘paw’sitive impact on owners’ lives

We asked our readers in Amherst, Bedford, Brookline, Hollis, Lyndeborough, Merrimack, Milford, Mont Vernon and Wilton to send us photos of their pets. We received 174 photos from animal lovers – all telling us how their pets are special. Some pets were rescued at shelters, some found their way to good homes after being lost and some were nurtured since birth. We saw photos of turtles, lizards, cats, dogs, parakeets, dogs jumping, cats drinking out of fishbowls, cats and dogs playing dress-up, and even a rescued squirrel.

Though we saw how each was special and loved in their own way, we could only choose four winners.

And, the winners are:

Cutest Pet: Lola

Lola is a 1½-year-old puggle, whose mother is a beagle and her dad is a pug.

“Lola is a sweet lovable little lady who adores people. Newcomers are in danger of getting licked to death. She loves to play and when she’s done playing she’s ready to play again! I must say, there are many times that she’s LUCKY she so cute!”

– Submitted by Roberta R. Rossi, of Bedford

Ugliest Pet: Speckles

“This is Speckles, and we caught this picture mid-sneeze. We rescued her five years ago and we love her more and more each day. She may not be around much longer, so we cherish the time we have with her now.”

– Submitted by Mia Laberge, of Merrimack

Pet/Owner Look-alike: Chris and Lizzy

Chris Pyle, of Hollis, entered his gecko Lizzy. He says Lizzy is a pretty cool pet because he likes to watch and study her. She lives in a terrarium in his room and he takes care of her every day.

– Submitted by Chris and Stephanie Pyle of Hollis

Most Unusual Pet: Rocky

“Here is our pet, a sugar glider. His name is Rocky (short for Rocket), and he is almost six months old. Since joining our family, he is always traveling along with one of us in our shirts or in a pouch. He is a loving member of our family. Sugar gliders are native to Australia and are related to the koala bear.

“Our family had been looking for just the right pet since my husband, Andy, is allergic to cats and dogs. I had looked into small animals that you would find at your local pet store, but they either had a very short life span or were smelly and destructive. (Not interested in birds, lizards, turtles and fish… I like the cute and cuddly kind myself.) We happened upon Rocky at the Mall of New Hampshire. About twice a year, the company Pocket Pets has a kiosk when they have baby sugar gliders to sell. I had never heard of sugar gliders before, and thought that this was everything that I wanted in a pet. Sugar gliders make wonderful pets. They live 12-15 years, and are very clean animals (they don’t have dander or shed so they are great for people who have allergies). They don’t smell, and are not destructive.

“Rocky is very affectionate. In the wild, sugar gliders bond with other members of their colony for life. Our family has become Rocky’s colony, and so has bonded to us for life. We take turns with him in our shirts, and he goes everywhere with us. He makes a few familiar noises too … he barks like a Chihuahua when he is calling for us, he chirps like a bird when he is happy to see us, and purrs like a cat when he is content. He is very smart too. They say sugar gliders have the intelligence of dogs, and I believe it. At six months, Rocky can already untie knots and unbutton buttons!”

– Submitted by Judy Straussberg, of Merrimack