PEDIGREE Foundation Celebrates “Pawlidays” with Rescue Stories from Mars Petcare Associates

Once again in 2019, PEDIGREE Foundation put out a call to Mars Petcare Associates to share their rescue dog stories as part of our Pawlidays fundraiser. A winning Pawlidays Pup was chosen from the submitted stories and is being featured on limited edition sweatshirts sold by the Foundation’s DOGS RULE.® store.

While only one Pawlidays Pup is featured on a sweatshirt, ALL the stories we received were so wonderful, we wanted to share them here. We start below with the story of Willy, the 2019 Pawlidays Pup. We’ll be adding more stories throughout the holiday season.

Shelter and rescue dogs save us as much as we save them. At PEDIGREE Foundation, we work every day to help shelters and rescues help homeless dogs through our grant program. You can help by donating or shopping our DOGS RULE.® gear.

Hope you enjoy these stories – and we wish you happy Pawlidays!

Meet Willy, the 2019 Pawlidays Pup

Willy the dog sitting outsideFor a long time, I lived in a house with 40 other dogs, but only enough food to feed a few of us. We had to fight for every bite, and I was small, so I usually lost. When the police freed us, for the first time I had enough to eat and place to sleep.

Heaven Can Wait Dog Rescue nursed me back to health and took me to a home with a dad, a mom and a dog named Porcini. I was jealous that she had so much space and two humans to herself.

Then they told me I was staying. No one ever wanted me before! They kissed me and told me I was cute, not even seeing my hunched back, scars and thin hair.

This December is my one-year adoptiversary. I’ve had my first hike, my first day at work, my first road trip and so much more. Every night, Mom, Dad, Porcini and I snuggle together, and I feel safe.

I wish all dogs could know what it’s like to be so loved.

Congratulations, Willy, and thanks for being our 2019 Pawlidays Pup!

Holiday sweatshirt design with Willy in the center

Read excerpts from other submissions for Pawlidays Pup below…. Thank you so much to everyone who submitted!

Tippie Wee

Miss Tippie spent the first three years of her life as a breeder dog in a Midwest puppy mill. Nebraska Dachshund Rescue was able to get her out of that life and into mine. Tippie had a full life filled with my love and that of many Mars Petcare Associates. She passed away in December, and will be remembered as a unique little cuddle bug. The memory of her shines bright — here is her story.

Anyone who ever met Tippie did so with a smile. Tippie was a cuddly little food motivated sneaky dachshund. Her personal motto was “a calorie spent is a calorie wasted” and her theme song was Happy. I think she may have received her name from her foster mom because this little girl was known to tip over trashcans to get the goods inside.

My favorite thing about Tippie was how she was such a scene stealer. I had people ask to take their picture with her, she slowed down traffic, caused cars to drive by twice just to see her again, and my brother would not walk her around his neighborhood because of all the people who wanted to stop him, meet her and talk about her. What can I say, I adopted a celebrity!

Being a dog mom is an adventure and there is no one else I would rather have loved this adventure with than Tippie. She was such a terrific little girl.


I think my rescue dog, Sadie, RULES! We got her in 2004 from the Humane Association of Wilson County. She has been a long loyal companion to me, my wife and two daughters. And, she finally had the opportunity to play “grandmother” to our new puppy this summer.

Sadie represents so many good things to my family. She’s lived a long life of health, and always enjoys watching over our family day and night. She lost her hearing recently in her old age, but her nose is strong as ever, especially when it’s dinner time.

We’ve been feeding Nutro to Sadie since day 1. The previous Nutro plant in Lebanon, TN, would donate food to the Animal Shelter that Sadie came from. The shelter gave me a bag when I took her home, and we’ve been feeding her the same for 15 years.

I started working at Mars Petcare in 2016, but already had a connection with our great products thanks to Sadie and the Humane Association of Wilson County.


We rescued Porter from Woof River Animal Rescue out of Memphis, TN last June and he has forever changed our lives.

Porter came to us with a really big fear of strangers. We try to bring him as many places as possible as to help him conquer these fears. One of his regular places is here at work, where he LOVES to come. It has become quite the game for many Associates to see if they can get in Porter’s “inner circle.” Besides dogs – they are all in in Porter’s book!

We joke that he has figured out he’ll get the most treats and attention by playing hard to get. I tell people you better come by every day because he won’t take a treat out of your hand and let you pet him on day one (or 5).

Porter has consistently grown his “inner circle” of Martians over the past year. It is one of the sweetest things to watch him greet one of his people with the waggiest tail and a hug. (his back against your legs), while someone on the outside is wondering why he won’t hug them. Porter is the best!


Cookie is a pit bull mix…which made her truly stand out since she was rescued by a Jack Russell rescue group!

We think she is about 7 years old, but she has the energy of a puppy. Despite her arthritic back leg, she loves nothing more than running around our fenced-in back yard, big dog walks (with our cat Muffin by her side) and any toy with a squeaker inside in need of liberation!

With her high energy, she tore her ACL in her good back leg, as it was taking the pressure from the bad one. But after double ligament replacement surgery, she moves well. The children in the neighborhood love petting her and pointing out her one brown eye and one blue eye.

I can’t imagine what life would be like without her, or if her shaggy fur and sweet appearance hadn’t led to a Jack Russell group taking heart and rescuing her.


Maggie was adopted from Guilford County Animal Shelter in Greensboro, NC. She looooves to chase soccer balls, lay upside down and pull the squeaker out of all her toys.

I had gone to the shelter to adopt a different dog that I had seen online, but when Maggie and I locked eyes, I knew she was the dog for me.

She is happy and energetic and always smiling, so she has become the favorite of many people here in the office.


After college, I wanted a dog. My sister-in-law would send me pictures of dogs at shelters, and eventually we went together to meet one. But even though I tried to coax him out, he didn’t want to meet me. I tried for a few minutes before realizing maybe he wasn’t for me, despite how sweet he was.

I stepped back from his kennel, and immediately my eyes were drawn to the left. Right beside the dog I had gone in to see was a skinny little blonde girl with huge ears sticking straight up.

Toward the end of our meet-and-greet session, it was coming time to make the final call. I looked at my sister-in-law, who was just staring right back at me. I knew that adopting a dog would change my life forever. I would have to make adjustments because I had a life I was responsible for besides my own.

We sat in silence for about 45 seconds until I said, “I can’t put her back in that kennel. This is my girl now.” Three years later and we are still going strong. I went in for a little boy and came out with my soul sister, Lucy! She has moved from two Nashville homes, to a Dallas apartment, to a home back in Smyrna and has been by my side the whole time. I wouldn’t change the adjustments and responsibility for the world.


Tango is the first dog I’ve ever had, and I had no idea the level of joy and happiness he would bring into my life. Although it sounds cliché, I truly question who really rescued who in this case.

I originally made the decision to adopt a dog to fill a void in my life. I was living in a new city, didn’t have any friends in the area, and had been dealing with a lot of negative personal issues at the time. I always loved dogs, but up until that point in my life, never really had the time to commit to owning one.

Now, Tango is my best friend. I come home from work every day to immediate hugs and kisses. He’s full of energy and loves to play, so I’ve found myself being more active: taking him to parks, going on long walks, or running with him.

He’s always by my side and always loving on me. I wake up most mornings with his head on my pillow, paws wrapped around my shoulders. We both love each other unconditionally, and Tango certainly filled the void in my heart that I had been missing. I’m pretty sure Tango knows he was rescued, but I can’t imagine doing life without him!


Jude has always marched to the beat of his own drum. He is an 80 pound lap dog that’s scared of thunderstorms. And he is REALLY able to make you feel like he’s listening to what you’re saying, since he tilts his head as if he’s trying to understand.

I got Jude when I had just moved to Nashville and I didn’t know a soul here. I decided to just go “look” at dogs at the shelter, with no intention of actually adopting that day. But this little black puppy yelped…and I knew he needed to come home with me.

Jude came to me at the perfect time. He helped me get out of the house more and start conversations with people. I made new friends at work because our dogs were friends. When we talk about how dogs bring out the good in us, it totally resonates with me…Jude brought sunshine back into my life when I was feeling quite lonely in a new place.


I adopted Hershey at our Mars “Puppy Bowl” party almost 4 years ago. I always have to explain why his name is Hershey… I had just moved here from Pennsylvania and I still worked for Mars Chocolate, but was visiting Petcare the day of the party.

When I first saw him, I absolutely fell head over heels. I looked at his nametag and it was Hershey! I know any other Mars Associate would have changed his name, but for me it was meant to be since I had just moved here from Pennsylvania and grew up going to Hersheypark with my family. Hershey was my little piece of home to remind me that everything was going to work out with my new job.

He also was the one who led me to realize what my purpose was in my career and what my passions were. Everyone always says you need to love what you do, and I’ve come to realize what makes me happy thanks to Hershey…working directly on making a Better World for Pets through Better Cities for Pets and working with shelters! I’m so proud to be a part of this work!


When I first saw Bullet, he wasn’t much bigger than a soda can. I knew I had to have him! It was the best thing I have ever done.

Although Bullet is now 7 pounds, not much has changed from the day I got him four years ago. His hobbies still include jumping all over the big dogs (not knowing he is significantly smaller), and playing referee (loudly) when there are too many dogs playing with each other and he can’t find a way to join in without getting stepped on.

Perhaps the cutest thing Bullet does is howling along to the radio when sad songs come on. His favorite is “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town. Anytime those first few notes play, he stops whatever he is doing and starts howling along.

It is truly amazing how much joy such a small animal can bring into my life, and how much positivity he forces upon my world even when things are going wrong. While technically I rescued him, as cliché as it sounds, he has truly rescued me every day since the day I was lucky enough to call him mine.

If you love dogs, you can help right now.

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