Dog and a cat make up the Pet of the Year finalists list. But just because the canines, felines, and other animal friends who previously appeared didn’t cut doesn’t mean they are any less special.

With 2022 drawing to a close, it looks back at the winners of the inaugural Pet of the Week awards and highlights some of the most memorable four-legged friends to be featured in the weekly celebration of all things furry.

2022 has been a memorable year for great pets with even more amazing stories, whether Bubbles the blind beagle who drives his Jeep, Zoe the singing rescue dog, or Boots the cat, who loves a game of hide-and-seek.

Special mention should also go to Elvis, the sheep rescued from a slaughterhouse, and Fluffy, the costume-wearing cat. The simple fact is that every Pet is unique, and if you would like yours to be featured, scroll to the bottom to find out how.

Pet of the Year Winner

This year’s winner is Olive, a dog who was granted a second chance at life after suffering terrible neglect while in the questionable care of her original owners. It’s an opportunity she has seized with both paws.

A mixed-breed chihuahua/terrier who lives in New York with her owner, Elizabeth Dachs, Olive took the award after making a remarkable recovery against the odds. She was in pretty bad shape when she was rescued from a kill shelter by Hickory Level Hound Rescue in Carrollton, Georgia. She was missing teeth, unable to walk, and completely deaf, with an open sore that ran down the length of her back.

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Olive, a chihuahua/terrier mix, overcame seemingly insurmountable odds and is now thriving. ELIZABETH DACHS

Yet, from the moment Dachs saw her photo on Facebook. She knew she was the one who could help this sweet pup get back on her feet. “We already have a beagle called Diesel and weren’t looking for another dog,” Dachs said. “But I could not resist this photo of this 8-pound dog and the thought of her all alone. Within an hour, I was on my way to adopt her.”

Olive is happy in her new home, where she communicates with her owner’s family through sign language. She is getting “younger every day” as the wounds and trauma of her previous life heal, and her story inspires us all.

“Olive is small but mighty and very loving,” Dachs said. “I thank my lucky stars daily for allowing us to have Olive in our lives. She is part of our family now.”

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Finalists for Pet of the Year

One of a trio of pets who were a close second for the yearly award, Howard, like Olive, endured more than his fair share of hardship in his younger days.

He was abandoned, and very little is known about his previous life when owner Kerry Carlson first found him. He was being looked after by the staff at Vintage Pet Rescue in Foster, Rhode Island, which specializes in older dogs. And those with disabilities that may not otherwise be cared for and have a chance of finding a new home.

Early together, Carlson discovered that Howard, also this week’s Pet of the Week, had eyesight problems. A doctor eventually diagnosed double glaucoma, which meant he was essentially blind. “It was a dark day hearing that news,” Carlson said. “I cried all the way home.”

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This week’s Pet of the Week, Howard, the dog, was also a finalist for Pet of the Year. Living in Massachusetts with owner Kerry Carlson, he loves hiking and adventures with his owner. KERRY CARLSON

Howard very happy

But brighter days followed, with Howard not just learning to live with his disability but flourishing with it. “He’s so happy and navigates the world like a champ. I’m always so proud of him,” Carlson said. “I’m a hiker, so Howard is often hiking with me. He loves it. Sometimes I swear he’s smiling.”

Next up is Sugar, an 11-year-old mixed breed who now serves as a de facto carer for one of his pooch companions. Making her more than worthy of inclusion on this list. According to Sugar’s owner, Alli, she came from Craigslist in Florida and is a mix of “maybe a wolf, fox or coyote, along with husky.”

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Sugar’s owner said she spent time living in the swamps of Florida before finding her final home. PHOTO COURTESY OF OWNER

What did Alli say?

Alli said she did a little digging and found that Sugar spent some time living around the swamps before coming into her care.”I believe she was abused, and it was like she had been kept by one of her owners in a small cage. She could barely run and would scream if you touched her hip area.”

Sugar may have gone through several different homes in her younger days, but she’s very much settled in now. Alli describes her as “a princess and sweet as the day is long.” Sugar is also kept busy thanks to her friendship with Alli’s other dog, Miggy. Who was rescued from New York City? “He understands Spanish and has cataracts, so Sugar helps him in his daily deeds as his vision fails,” she said.

Last but by no means least, there’s Blackie, the rescue cat. Who was saved from the streets of California and now lives safe and sound in Louisiana? Owner Diane Rakowski previously told Newsweek the black cat was “left to his own devices, homeless, to roam the streets.”

Rakowski has been involved in cat rescue for 18 years, and while in California, she was determined to save him. “California has its share of stray cats,” she said. “Blackie caught my eye, appearing hungry and homeless. I saw this skinny black kitty, skittish and elusive cat.”

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Blackie is enjoying life as a house cat in Louisiana, his owner says. DIANE RAKOWSKI

What did Rakowski do?

After trapping Blackie so he could get treatment to improve his quality of life. Rakowski decided to take him with her when she left California. He now spends his days living a life of luxury as a deservedly spoiled indoor cat.

“Blackie likes his kitty treats and will beg for bits of bologna sandwiches, chips, and Lucky Charms cereal,” Rakowski said. “He is a great hunter of bugs, indoors only, and likes watching the outside activities from an inside window.”

Rakowski was delighted to learn Blackie had been named a finalist for Pet of the Year and gave an update on how he was doing.

“Thank you so much for choosing Blackie as a finalist. I’m extremely proud,” she said. “Blackie is doing very well, and he continues to thrive in his new home in Louisiana. He’s as playful and silly as ever. I’m sure he doesn’t miss his humble beginnings in California.”

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