The Perfect Pooch: Adopt Love this Valentine’s Day Lexington physician Nick Kouns likes to pay it forward on his birthday. A lifelong dog lover, with three rescues at his house, he feels so strongly about adopting from local humane societies that he celebrates his birthday every year by underwriting adoption fees for friends and family. In recent years, more than a dozen animals have found new homes via his Facebook announcement that the tab was open at the Humane Society. He adopted Cooper, a blue Weimaraner, in summer of 2011. (Any animal lover who has their heart set on a specific breed should check in with an adoption counselor at the Humane Societies; recent trips to Lexington Humane Society included visits with a Beagle, a St. Bernard, a Chinese Crested, and a very spunky Jack Russell.) Kouns says, "While most people have a preference as to breed and variety, many are not aware of the fact that just about every rescue shelter has beautiful mixed breeds as well as purebred dogs and cats available and yearning for a home. Animals are prone to depression and capable of sadness and grief much in the same way as their human counterparts. In short, love is felt and yearned for by all living things. My partner and I have three rescues, and would never consider acquiring a pet from a breeder, given that so many animals are in such desperate need of a home. For example, I love Weimaraners. Cooper is my second Weimaraner rescue, and there is a Kentucky Weimaraner rescue organization that has more dogs than homes. In fact, most breeds have a state rescue organization dedicated specifically to a type or variety of animal. I beseech your readers to do at least a little research as to what is available via rescue organizations or their local Humane Society before buying an animal through a puppy mill or retailer." One of his friends wrote, after welcoming the newest family member, “a few days ago Nick posted on facebook that for his birthday, he wanted to give away adoptions of the typically four-legged kind. My family accepted his generous gift last night. When I picked up Ricky they told me to look up the story of where he came from. [He was one of the Elliott County dogs rescued in a hoarding case.] When Ricky woke up this morning, he looked around and checked out his space and started jumping up and down for what could only be perceived as pure joy. He is part terrier and maybe a little chihuahua mix. He has a little Mohawk and he loves for me to brush his hair and play and snuggle. I'm grateful beyond measure to Nick for this incredible gesture and I hope it gives others the same idea. I'm pretty sure from the sound of his voice, it kind of made his birthday.” He responds, "All life is precious and the five or ten minutes it takes to look at all the adoption options makes all the difference in the world." So, if you’re looking for love this Valentine season, check in with our friends at Lexington Humane Society or Woodford Humane. We invited these organizations to share a few adoption success stories to inspire you, and they sent these along. Laela Came Home After college, I was living in a single bedroom apartment, and missed having a pet. My parents had always had dogs while I was growing up, and I missed having a sweet face to come home to every night. I began to look for an adoptee visiting LHS almost weekly. After more than 3 months of visits, I had almost given up my search, but decided to go back one last time. I walked into the puppy area, and in the first kennel a small face peered up at me. As I leaned down to read the doggie info chart, I noticed that this precious black and white spotted baby was shaking. I asked the LHS worker why she seemed so scared and she said this was her first day available for adoption. My heart bled for her, so I asked if I could take her out of the kennel to get to know her. As I took her out and petted her, she immediately stopped shaking and I knew she was THE ONE for me. 6 years later, Laela is still a baby to me with her big brown eyes looking up at me. She has become a big sister to our two other rescues and taught them how to sucker Mom and Dad into extra treats and getting on the couch. She has graced our house with such love and constant loyalty and has been a true companion to me. I thank God every day I made that last trip to LHS. - Submitted by Lori Hatton Jupiter Love We adopted Jupiter on August 8, 2012. After losing my Doberman and my kitty, I didn’t think I’d ever have room in my heart for another fur-baby. Boy was I wrong! Jupiter (‘Jupi’) stole my heart right there in the puppy room at LHS and I just had to take him home with me! He is so energetic and full of life and always wanting to play. Jupi has a big brother, Labrador retriever Jake, whom he just loves. - Submitted by Paula Squires and James McGee Emmy the Genius "Seventeen years ago, I brought my sweet Emmy home. On our last anniversary together in 2008, I wrapped and hid her new toys around the house while she was in the backyard. Very quietly and with no inflection, I said, ‘Happy Anniversary, Emmy.’ Her head whipped around, eyes bright, smile bursting across her face. She raced toward the house, past me and into the living room, looking for those presents she knew had to be there. My genius dog. I miss her every single day. She made my life very, very special." - Submitted by Carol Spence Jake and Squirt Cue the Odd Couple theme, because you’re about to meet one of the oddest: Jake and Squirt, a senior border collie and a sassy Chihuahua. Jake and Squirt arrived at the Woodford Humane Society together after their previous family moved and couldn’t take them along – a story that is all too common. It’s less common to find a pair of dogs as strongly bonded as Jake and Squirt, though; Jake was miserable if he was separated from Squirt for even a short period of time, and WHS knew they had to go home together. Sherry and her husband were a little skeptical about taking home both dogs; they live on a farm, and weren’t sure that was the right place for Squirt. Who ever heard of a farm Chihuahua? But they knew how important it was to keep these two together, so they gave it a shot. As it turns out, the adoption was a perfect fit for everyone, on two legs or four: Jake and Squirt love exploring and playing on the farm, and Sherry and her husband love sharing their lives with their mismatched canine companions. Sherry says, “We couldn’t have found a better fit for us! We love these boys with all our hearts, and they love us right back.” Squirt loves them so much, he even lets them have a little space on the bed now and then. Clarabelle Ahh, puppy love – that’s what found Clarabelle a home, and Nicole a best friend to grow up with. Nicole had been begging her parents for a dog for years (a story that will no doubt sound familiar to a lot of kids and a lot of parents), and they had finally agreed; the next step was to find that perfect pooch. They spent a lot of time looking, and visited a number of adoption centers and rescues, but Nicole just couldn’t find the One – until they arrived at Woodford Humane, that is. She spotted Clarabelle from a distance: a black and white puppy – part akita, part border collie, with too-big ears - playing in one of the exercise yards. After a few minutes of playtime with the bouncy puppy, Nicole knew her search was over. She had found her new best friend, and Clarabelle was coming home. Eight years later, Clarabelle is still the perfect dog (and she’s even grown into her ears). She is still Nicole’s best friend, and she will be for many years to come. That’s what puppy love is really all about – building a love that lasts a lifetime, long after the puppy has grown up. This article appears on page 7 of the February 2015 print issue of Ace. Subscribe to the Ace e-dition for Lexington news, arts, culture, and entertainment, delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning.