Kate Howard's life took an unexpected turn after a mysterious dog wandered onto her front lawn. Much to her surprise, she actually shared a past with the strange animal. Here's her remarkable story...
On what seemed like an ordinary day, Kate Howard was met with a surprise visit: a stranger's dog had shown up unexpectedly on her front lawn. Little did she know, it was a moment that would soon change her life.
At the time, Howard, who was a writer, worked at the Kentucky Center for Investigating Reporting as a managing editor. During her free time, she would share her everyday life and activities with her Twitter followers. And one particular story quickly caught their attention.
The 37-year-old shared with her followers that she had a close friend named Heidi. "Heidi for a second: she was a journalist too, and she faced her diagnosis with incredible grace and bravery," she explained. Unfortunately, Heidi passed away because of health problems.
It so happened that the memorial services for Heidi were held on a Monday, so Kate Howard requested a day off from work to grieve the unfortunate loss. The writer sadly spent the day saying goodbye to her dear friend - instead of going into the office for work.
A Mysterious Visitor
Little did Kate know, she would soon find herself even more worked up during the already emotional afternoon. She told her Twitter followers, "today, I was sitting on my porch, enjoying the sunshine and the rest of my day off after returning from the memorial service of a friend who died far too soon."
All of a sudden, she was joined by a couple of visitors on her lawn. "A woman and her dog stopped at my yard, and the dog plopped down on my grass," she said. Being a huge dog-lover, Howard was rather happy about the extra company. But there was something special about this puppy in particular.
The "Charming" Dog
Howard shared that the dog that had found its way to her front yard was especially adorable. She explained, "The dog was cute, a brown pitty girl with white markings. All dogs are perfect, but she was particularly charming." She instantly felt connected to the surprise visitor.
As it turned out, the feeling was not one-sided. The dog wasn't ready to leave Howard's lawn and ignored all her owner's attempts to get her moving. "Her owner was trying to get her rolling again, but she was staying put," Kate shared. But things took a turn when the dog's owner began to scold her...
Up until that moment, all Howard knew was that she was sitting peacefully outside, and an adorable puppy approached her. But when she heard the stranger reveal the dog's name, something shifted in her mind. "She (the owner) called her. 'Winnie! Come on!' Her name was Winnie!" Howard wrote.
The writer admitted that she was startled. Several thoughts were suddenly going through her mind all at once. "I realized it instantly when the owner called her Winnie, and I knew her answers to my questions were going to prove it," Howard later shared with Global News.
Howard remembered November of the previous year, when she fostered a dog with the name 'Winnie,' just like the one sitting before her now. So many memories suddenly came rushing back. "I just immediately started trying to scramble off my porch and get down to her so I could pet her," Howard explained.
"I fostered a dog for the first time over Thanksgiving. She was a soft wiggly baby puppy I named Winnie. I cried for three days after she was spayed and went up for adoption, worrying about whether she had found a good home," Kate shared with her Twitter followers.
The name 'Winnie' was given to Howard's previous foster pup by the writer herself. She told TIME Magazine how her mother was actually the one to suggest the name for the foster dog since Howard loved the cartoon Winnie the Pooh when she was a little girl.
Howard recalled how difficult it was to let her beloved companion go after becoming so close to her during their foster time together. Hearing that this puppy had the same name made her overwhelmed with emotions... and she was convinced that it wasn't just a coincidence.
Forced to Say Bye
Kate recalled how difficult it was to let Winnie go after their foster time came to an end. She knew she had to because of the size of her apartment at the time. "She was a really sweet, perfect puppy who I would have been extremely tempted to foster-fail and keep if I had a yard when I fostered her," Howard told TIME.
She explained that the foster dog was a bit too unruly to live with her permanent dog, named Foxy, who she had owned for 13 years. "I was in an apartment, and she was too rowdy for old Foxy," she explained. She admitted that she knew it was the right thing to do, even though it was a very difficult goodbye for her to say.
A Mystery is Born
Howard confessed that she had constantly worried about whether her Winnie would find a loving home. She had formed a strong bond with the foster pup, and wanted to make sure she was okay. But unfortunately, Howard believed she had no way of finding out the answer to her question.
Thankfully, Kate was mistaken on this one, and she eventually was able to learn that Winnie had found herself a new home and that her new owners loved and cared about her very much. But the strange thing about this was how she had gotten the information.
Closing That Chapter
Howard hadn't expected to become so attached to the foster dog. The tears and heartache that followed their separation convinced her that she couldn't foster again. It pained her to know that many puppies out there were looking for foster homes, but the heartbreak was too much to go through again.
However, learning that Winnie was doing well after finding a new home changed Howard's perspective a bit. "I was thinking about trying to foster again once I moved," she recalled. "If and when Foxy's toes heal up, and she might be up for company, I'd definitely think about trying again."
The Tragic Facts
Knowing the statistics regarding foster animals, Howard had become very concerned about Winnie having a good life. According to reports from the American Humane Association, about 10% of puppies are returned to shelters or rescue homes after getting adopted.
To make matters worse, Howard knew that almost 1.2 million dogs were euthanized every year because they never got adopted. "I was so worried about whether she found a good home that I asked the shelter to put my name in her file in case she was ever brought back," Howard shared. But luckily, that never happened.
Her New Chapter
Although Winnie's time at the shelter had a happy ending, Howard was never made aware of it, since no one called and notified her that the dog was adopted. Trying to move on, the writer moved out of her apartment the following year and settled into a new home in Kentucky.
It was only a couple of months after moving into her new house that Kate sat on her front porch, mourning her dear friend. And it was only then that Howard received the answers to many questions she had wondered about ever since she let little Winnie go the year before.
The Investigation Begins
Howard wasted no time in asking the stranger questions about the mysterious dog that had just stepped onto her lawn. The stranger shared that it had been only a few months since her last dog sadly passed away. To cope with the loss, the stranger decided to adopt a new puppy.
She shared the story of how she had just begun to search for a new companion on an animal service website when she spotted an adorable puppy. The stranger told Howard that she instantly felt connected to Winnie, and was certain that she wanted to welcome her into her home.
A Forever Home
"When (she) saw Winnie's precious face on the Animal Services website, she got to the adoption site EARLY, intent on making sure she was first in line to adopt her when she became available," Howard wrote on Twitter, recalling the story the stranger on her porch had told her.
'"She is a great, well-behaved pup,'" Howard mentioned. She felt happy after hearing the stranger's story, but there was still a nagging feeling she couldn't quite get rid of: the dog was strangely familiar. She decided she couldn't let the woman walk away without finding out the truth.
She knew the chances were very slim, but there was no way she could go on without finding out whether she really knew the dog. "I asked the woman whether she adopted Winnie with that name," Kate shared. "She said yes, as she didn't want to change her name and confuse her."
"I asked when. She said last November," the writer continued. The similarities between the Winnie in front of her now and the Winnie she gave up last year were too overwhelming. She felt even more suspicious after hearing the stranger's answer - could her theory possibly be correct?
Reunited At Last
A few more moments into the conversation, Howard's suspicion was confirmed: her beloved Winnie, who she had grown to love so dearly back in 2018, was, in fact, the same one sitting on her lawn. "By then, I was practically leaping off the porch screaming. I FOSTERED THIS DOGGGGG," Kate exclaimed to her followers.
A range of feelings swept over the journalist - surprise, happiness, relief. It all began to fall into place in her mind - it now made perfect sense to her that the dog didn't want to leave her yard! Apparently, the canine had shared Kate's feeling that the connection between them was a little too familiar.
“My Heart Is Going To Burst”
Kate couldn't believe it - what were the chances her former foster puppy would find her way back to her more than a year later? She shared the emotional moment with her Twitter followers, writing, "I feel like my heart is going to burst because it's full of rainbows."
"Now, I just moved into this house a couple months ago. And it turns out this house is a block over from Winnie! I would have been at work, not on my porch, this afternoon if not for traveling from the memorial service of my friend Heidi, a tremendous lover of dogs," she said.
Did Winnie Know?
After discovering that this was her foster dog, Kate had to find out if Winnie had any memories of the time she spent under her care. "I have no idea if she actually remembered me, but she might have," Howard told Global News. "After she sniffed me, she came over and rubbed on my legs and let me pet her."
Winnie's reaction tells us all we need to know - we can safely assume the canine recognized Howard when she ran onto her front lawn. What makes her behavior even more remarkable is that this wasn't the same house she had lived in previously! The puppy must have formed a very strong bond with Kate.
An excited Kate expressed her joy to her Twitter followers. "It was beyond comforting for my first foster dog to turn up on my front lawn today, her fur still soft and her ear still crooked and her tail still wagging," she wrote. She even added photos of Winnie as a foster puppy, along with pictures of her as an adult.
Howard had been so concerned about Winnie that she was now overwhelmed with happiness, knowing that the dog was living a good life. “It was such a relief to see that she was well cared for and happy,” she shared. “I just felt overwhelming gratitude for the woman who adopted her and is obviously giving her a great life.”
A Heartwarming Revelation
In addition to her excitement about being reunited with her former furry companion, Howard was beyond thrilled to discover that Winnie had found the loving home she deserved. After all that time of feeling worried and concerned, she had finally been reassured.
Howard had brought up the subject of the woman possibly returning Winnie to the shelter. "Oh, no... I would NEVER bring her back!" Howard recalled Winnie's new owner telling her. Kate was touched to learn that she wasn't the only one who had so much love for Winnie.
Breaking the News
There was no doubt in Kate's mind that several other people would enjoy hearing about the incredible story of the special dog. She wrote many tweets, filled with memories and emotions, and posted them on social media. So many users were touched by the story that the thread went viral amongst the platform's dog lovers.
The thread, first posted on October 15, 2019, revealed every detail of Howard's story - starting with her friend's memorial and ending with her discovery about the dog that had paid her a visit that day. She and her former foster dog ended up living within a walking distance from each other - what were the chances?!
Meant to Be
With more than 13,300 retweets, Howard's story went viral on Twitter, and many users wrote heartfelt comments after reading the story. One person wrote, "A serendipitous foster dog reunion tugs right at the tear ducts." Others shared that Howard's words had made them emotional.
Users all over Twitter were touched by the sweet reunion between Kate and Winnie. A few people expressed their thoughts and perspectives on the anecdote. "The moral of the story for me is you get back what you feed into the universe, so choose wisely," one user pointed out.
Howard's story reminded several other readers of the lucky coincidences that had happened in their own lives. A few users even shared very similar experiences to Kate's. It appears that, fortunately, finding a long-lost fur companion is much more common than one would think!
"This reminds me of a story of mine, about 11 years ago, my parents gave up our lovely puppy for adoption bc of divorce, and I was sad for years," one person commented. "Then a couple of months ago, I was @petsmart for lizard food and met a dog that looked like him but older, same name… turns out it was him."
"...And There She Was"
"Dogs (and cats, for that matter) can be the most comforting presence. They know when you're sad or sick, and they really help. So that added an extra layer to the beauty of her showing up on my lawn," Howard explained to TIME. "I didn't even know I needed her, and there she was."
Hearing Kate's story, we can't help but feel that it's truly remarkable how sensitive pets can be to humans' feelings. It seems almost as though the canine could tell that her foster human had been finding it hard to deal with giving her up. Dogs like Winnie are simply remarkable.
Howard addressed the overwhelming number of comments and messages she received, saying, "I have heard from so many of you who have loved rescue dogs and fostered yourselves. Thank you!" It appeared that others shared her views that animals should be adopted instead of bought from breeders.
She even went on to share that her reunion with Winnie had changed her thoughts about fostering again. "I was SO sad after I brought Winnie back that I wasn't sure if I was cut out for fostering, but seeing her yesterday made me think maybe I can give it another shot," she said.
Fortunately, Winnie's new home wasn't that far away from Kate's new home in Kentucky. "Her mama agreed to come by in the future so I can see her," Howard shared. "Me and my pup Foxy aren't doing much walking around the neighborhood because she's been injured pretty much since we moved in."
"Get a load of this sweet baby," she captioned an adorable photo of her former foster baby. One Twitter user suggested that Howard buy Foxy a kiddy wagon. "Good idea," was Kate's response. "I'm a little worried she will try to jump out... still got a lot of spunk and energy despite the sedatives!"
Finding Old Footage
Howard made sure that all of her followers - who were almost as touched by the story as she was - were updated on her friendship with Winnie. The writer shared a cute old video she had of the little foster pup following Foxy, who was trying to get away.
"Side note: Winnie loved foxy more than foxy loved Winnie," she tweeted, adding the laughing, crying face emoji at the end. By the looks of it, Foxy wasn't too happy with all of Howard's attention going to Winnie. But luckily for the senior pup, Winnie found a new home soon after.
New Family Members
Fast forward three years later, Howard's continued to be a fabulous dog mom. After Foxy was sadly put to rest, the writer went on to adopt two new dogs, named Violet and Bodhi. "Sometimes my puppy tries to sit on my other dog, and she just.... stands up. And he is stuck up there, with his long legs flailing everywhere," she joked.
The journalist has also recently announced her resignation from her position at Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting after six long years working with them. "It's the best job I ever imagined I could have," she said. But we can't help but wonder if she'll use her free time to adopt more cute puppies!
Continuing The Legacy
Another remarkable part of the story was that Heidi - whose memorial Howard had stayed home that day to attend - was also a big animal lover! Kate wanted to make sure her followers knew about her friend's love for her own fur babies, so she posted photos of Heidi's dogs for them to enjoy.
"And these were her dogs: Griffin and Chiweenie Thunder," she wrote beside the images of the two precious dogs. The fact that Winnie showed up on the same day that Kate stayed home from work was truly remarkable - and it has us feeling that maybe some things happen for a reason.
The Story Continues
Howard's story, which had gone viral on the social media platform, garnered a lot of positive reactions from users. However, despite all of the happy and heartfelt comments, Winnie's owner - who Kate spent a lot of time with that day on the lawn - decided she wanted to remain anonymous.
Kate Howard respected her wish - and since 2019, the only names social media users got to know through the story were Kate's, Heidi's, and the names of the dogs. But we can probably rest assured knowing that Kate and Winnie - and her owner - probably visit each other a lot on their neighborhood walks...