Pam Mandel credits her dog Harley with keeping the blues at bay. For the last three years, he has barked too much and startled at loud noises and diesel engines. He’s also been very good at getting his owner out of the house at least once a day. “He wakes up, stretches, lets out this contented little groan, and in that moment, I feel good about the world,” she says. 

 

 

Rabbah Rona Matlow and her wife refer to themselves as “a couple of crazy cat ladies.” They have three right now: fierce Ziva; Joe, who is sensitive to Matlow’s chronic pain; and baby Marie. There have been dogs and fish along the way, but nothing has suited them as much as cats. “We love our fur babies, and they love us,” she says. “We are a family.”

 

Beeker the retired racehorse was 6 years old when a rescue group saved him from the slaughterhouse, and kindergarten teacher Rachelle Mosholder volunteered to help rehabilitate him for a life outside the racetrack. Beeker and Mosholder — a member of Temple B’nai Torah — are a team. “His unwavering support, love, and dedication is constant and has supported me through major life struggles,” she says. “I am never truly alone. Having a companion animal is essentially tzedakah, only I’m the one receiving it.”

 

Rico the cockatiel is 2 years old and has escaped his home with Alison Levy and her three boys more than once. Levy adopted him after pleas from the kids but has found personal comfort in his riding her shoulder and chattering away. The second escape lasted more than a day and ended with the help of a zookeeper who recognized him as a pet, happened to have a birdcage in his car, and spent an hour chasing him down. Levy is looking forward to years of more chattering and a lot less chasing.

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