We love a sweet story about a pet adoption, and once in a while there are those that stick with you — like the Pit Bull whose 8-year-old owner adored him so much that she wrote instructions for his new owner, or the 18-year-old dog whose adopter was so excited to meet her that he was waiting at the shelter when it opened.

In honor of National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, we’ve pulled together five of our recent favorites in the gallery below. If you’re thinking about bringing a shelter pet into your life, here’s what you need to know.

Rhino Lightning’s story went viral when he was surrendered to the Humane Society of Utah with a heartbreaking “owner’s manual” written by his family’s 8-year-old daughter. The little girl had advice for her dog’s new family, including, “He likes sleeping under blankets. Take him on at least 2 or 3 runs a day. Tell Rhino I love and miss him every night.” The pup had been adopted by the family of six two months earlier, but proved to be a difficult fit. Thankfully, Melanie Hill heard about Rhino’s plight in February and knew she had to give him a home. “I want this little girl to know her puppy is smothered in love,” Hill said.

A 3-month-old kitten who stowed away on an oil rig off the coast of New Zealand got spoiled by the crew who found her in March. They gave her lots of food and love, then had her flown back to the mainland by helicopter because pets aren’t allowed on the rig. The workers believe the kitten, who they named Maui after the name of the platform, was hiding out in a shipping container that was delivered to the rig. Maui was brought to the St. Aubyn Veterinary Clinic, and was quickly adopted by a woman named Sophie, who works for the company that found her.

At 18 years old, Julep had lived a long and happy life, until her owner passed away and his family couldn’t take her in. She wound up at the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, D.C., breaking records as one of the oldest dogs they’d ever had. When they shared Julep’s story on Facebook, though, she hit the jackpot. Wayne Lerch, whose 11-year-old dog had died three months earlier, couldn’t wait to take her home. He was waiting at the shelter when it opened one morning in March. “The combination of her age and Wayne’s obvious adoration for his new 'old lady' left us in tears,” said shelter spokesperson Alix John Tolley. The sweet dog has been renamed Tootie.

A 34-year-old firefighter and Army veteran was just supposed to pose with a German Shepherd puppy for the annual Charleston Animal Society Firefighter Calendar. But when the pup “warmed right up” to Rob Tackett, he fell in love. “He carried her around like a baby all day,” said Jen Coleman, assistant producer for the calendar shoot. Tackett adopted Kimber and has been training her as a PTSD dog to help other veterans in need.

Our last story is another modeling session turned forever home. Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Tyler Matakevich was only planning to sit for a photo when he traveled Philadelphia early this month to help with the anti-animal-cruelty campaign, Show Your Soft Side. But his heart instantly melted when a little black Lab mix puppy was placed in his arms, reported The Dodo. "It felt like they set me up," Matakevich said. "I knew right away” that he planned to give Jerrica a home. Days later, his girlfriend drove to Delaware from their home in Connecticut to pick up the pup, who they renamed Bailey. She’s now made herself right at home and has had a great time pestering her older sibling, a 13-year-old dog who was already a family member.
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