Sheryl + Oscar

Adopted Puppy is the Best Medicine for Recovering Patient

every gift saves lives

every gift saves lives

Sheryl + Oscar

Five years ago, I died. My heart stopped at Penn Station in New York City, and I was dead.

The New York Police Department revived me, and I ended up having triple bypass surgery. My recovery was difficult and I was out of work for months. I had no energy, was sick, scared and needed help.

"When I was literally at my lowest, Oscar lifted me up."

I hadn’t had a dog in over five years, but I remembered that my last dog gave me a sense of purpose. So, I decided to adopt again. I searched on Petfinder and connected with Fur Babies Rescue & Referral Inc. They had just rescued a pregnant dog from North Carolina and transported her to Long Island where she gave birth to eight puppies in her foster home.


I requested the largest male dog (I like big dogs and I cannot lie!) and they reserved him for me. I met him at four-weeks-old. It was love at first sight. Four weeks later, he was mine. I named him Oscar.

Soon after, Oscar and I were taking walks together and snuggling on the sofa. He gave me the exercise I needed and the will and encouragement I lacked for my recovery.

A couple of months after his adoption, I visited the cardiologist and received my first positive post-op checkup. Before that, things weren’t going very well. He asked me what I had done differently, and I told him I had adopted a puppy. He said, “Then I wish I could prescribe a puppy to all my patients!”

Oscar was helping me heal. He got me up and out doing things that improved both my mental and physical health. Oscar loved me unconditionally, even with a big, ugly 12-inch scar on my chest that made me so self-conscious. He makes me feel safe and happy. He gave me a reason to try. When I was literally at my lowest, Oscar lifted me up.

As I got better, I wanted to give something back to others. So, we trained and Oscar passed the Therapy Dog Certification test on his first try. We now volunteer at the local library for their kids “Read to Me” program. We also volunteer for Dogs on Deployment by helping find foster homes for soldiers’ pets, so they don’t have to give them up.

Oscar just turned four. I cannot imagine how my life would have turned out without him. I just celebrated my “Second Fifth Birthday.” I get to have two birthdays every year now; the day I was born, and the day I came back to life.

Oscar has no idea what he has done for me. He just loves me. I love him more. He saved me.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Sheryl Leventhal won Fur Babies Rescue and Referral Inc. in East Rockaway, New York a 2016 Holiday Wishes award.