When Kate Howard came home after a long day, she found a mysterious dog sitting on her lawn. This is the fascinating story of their fateful connection, which went on to inspire animal lovers across the internet.
Her Story Begins
The day this story started was just like any other day for Kate Howard. That is, until she saw a strange dog standing in front of her house. She had no idea just how much her life was about to change.
In those days, Kate was working as an editor at the Kentucky Center for Investigating Reporting. The 37-year-old spent much of her time working and writing, and in her spare time, she was often on Twitter, sharing personal thoughts and stories with the netizens that followed her.
Losing A Friend
One particular story she shared got a lot of attention online. It concerned her friend Heidi, who had recently passed away due to health struggles. "Heidi for a second: she was a journalist too, and she faced her diagnosis with incredible grace and bravery," Kate told her followers.
Howard quickly made plans to join the memorial service for Heidi. So on the following Monday, she got the day off work, which allowed her to spend the day mourning and remembering one of her closest friends, alongside the people that knew her best.
A Surprise Visit
Understandably, the memorial proved to be an emotionally-charged day, and Kate returned home feeling drained. She took to Twitter to share the remainder of her day. "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."
But the update didn't end there. Soon after, two strangers appeared in front of her. "A woman and her dog stopped at my yard, and the dog plopped down on my grass," she added. Howard adored dogs, and despite her emotional fatigue, she greeted the fluffy bundle on her lawn.
“All Dogs Are Perfect, But…”
She quickly found herself bonding with this canine visitor, even more than she normally would when she met a new dog. And for good reason, as she would later discover. "The dog was cute, a brown pitty girl with white markings. All dogs are perfect, but she was particularly charming."
She wasn't just charming - she was stubborn too. After a round of pets and hugs, the dog sat back down on the lawn beside Kate and refused to move, no matter how much the owner tried to move her. "Her owner was trying to get her rolling again, but she was staying put," Kate said.
Was It A Coincidence?
But when the owner began scolding the immovable pup, Kate began putting pieces together. At first, she thought she was simply patting a sweet puppy that had passed by her front lawn. Until the owner called her dog by name. "She (the owner) called her. 'Winnie! Come on!' Her name was Winnie!" Kate continued on Twitter.
That was all she needed to hear to bring up a flood of thoughts and memories. Was that really the dog's name? If it was, Kate had a lot of questions to ask. "I realized it instantly when the owner called her Winnie, and I knew her answers to my questions were going to prove it," she later told Global News.
But why did this name mean so much to Kate? Well, as it turned out, the 37-year-old had fostered a dog the year before, in November. And that little puppy also went by the name ‘Winnie’. “I just immediately started trying to scramble off my porch and get down to her so I could pet her,” she recalled.
Howard rushed to Twitter to update her followers on the amazing coincidence. "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."
The dog’s name also had some extra significance since it was a name that Kate was allowed to choose herself. In an interview with TIME Magazine, she shared why she had decided on the name. As a child, Howard had loved the stories of the cartoon bear from Winnie The Pooh, and her mother suggested it.
The name stuck, and Kate quickly found herself attached to the lovely dog that had entered her life. But she was just a foster parent after all, and eventually, it was time for Winnie to go. But seeing the wiggly little dog on her front lawn again brought back wonderful memories. She had to know more about Winnie’s story.
At the time that Kate had been fostering Winnie, she badly wanted to keep the puppy with her. However, it wasn't meant to be - her living circumstances didn't allow it. "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," she told TIME.
But unfortunately, that wasn't the case. "I was in an apartment, and she was too rowdy for old Foxy," Kate explained. Foxy was the dog she had owned and loved for almost 13 years, who unfortunately wasn't compatible with the energetic puppy. At the end of the day, sending Winnie off to a new family was the best decision for her.
End Of An Era
After months of living with and loving the fluffy bundle of joy, Kate had to say goodbye to Winnie. But it was not a completely happy goodbye - the woman had bonded deeply with Winnie, and she worried about whether or not the puppy would find a good home with a loving family.
Sadly, fostering standards at the time meant that Howard would not receive any indication of where Winnie would be going. It was only now, on that sad day almost a year later, that she discovered what had happened to her foster puppy. And in a way that she could never have expected.
Over time Howard realized that fostering Winnie, and letting her go, had put far more strain on her than she realized. The emotional weight of giving up another beloved dog had become overwhelming. From that point on, Kate resolved to never foster another dog again. It was all too much.
Though she had remained steadfast up until that point, learning about Winnie's new life helped to change her mind. "I was thinking about trying to foster again once I moved," she admitted. "If and when Foxy's toes heal up, and she might be up for company, I'd definitely think about trying again."
The Reality Of The Situation
And Kate wasn’t just being a worry wart - she had legitimate reasons to be concerned. She was very aware of the foster animal statistics that didn’t bode well for little Winnie. For example, the American Humane Association reported that of all puppies adopted from shelters, 10% were later returned.
If that wasn't bad enough, 1.2 million innocent dogs were euthanized/year as they could not be rehomed. "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," Kate said.
Getting On With Life
Fortunately, Winnie was a puppy, and puppies have the best chance of adoption. But of course, Kate wasn’t to know that, since the shelter did not notify foster “parents” when their dogs were adopted. So the forlorn journalist began to continue on with life and even moved to Kentucky in August 2019.
After all that heartache, Kate had finally moved on. But she could never have expected that her questions would be answered, and her fears appeased just a few months later. Because in October 2019, a gorgeous little one-eared dog came romping onto her front lawn - and everything fell into place.
Once Kate felt a strong suspicion that the adorable little pup was the one she had raised, she began asking the dog's bemused owner as many questions as she could. The two women fell into conversation, and Kate learned that the women's last dog had passed away. She took on Winnie as a way of moving past that heartache.
A few months after her beloved pet's passing, Winnie's owner had begun trawling through animal service websites looking for a potential new pooch. That's when she first laid eyes on Winnie. The sweet little dog stuck out to her, and she knew then and there that this was the dog for her.
Winnie’s New Home
Howard took to Twitter to share how the story was unfolding, including the woman's adoption experience. "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."
Hearing about this woman's story of finding a connection with a new pet after such a sad loss was heartwarming. "She is a great, well-behaved pup," Kate added. And as happy as she was for the woman and her new dog, Kate still felt that there were some missing pieces to the story.
Kate still hadn't officially confirmed what she really wanted to know. Was this adorable auburn puppy the same one she had fostered the year before? "I asked the woman whether she adopted Winnie with that name." Kate continued. "She said yes, as she didn't want to change her name and confuse her."
Well, that was something. But did the timeline fit? "I asked when. She said last November," Howard added. Sure enough, this woman had adopted little Winnie the same month that Kate Howard had returned her own little foster dog. It was all falling into place.
It All Comes Together
Kate couldn't hold back any longer. She told the woman everything about those months when she had fostered a dog named Winnie the year before. And just like that, the woman confirmed it. "By then, I was practically leaping off the porch screaming. I FOSTERED THIS DOGGGGG," Kate reminisced.
After such an emotional beginning to the day, Kate could never have known it would end like this, being reunited again with her precious Winnie. But looking back on it, it made sense that the little dog had planted itself on her front yard and refused to budge. It was as if she knew exactly whose house she was walking past.
“My Heart… Is Full Of Rainbows”
Above all, it was a strange but wonderful coincidence, and it cast a brighter light on what had started as a sad day. She could hardly believe that she finally got to hold Winnie again, knowing that she was safe and happy in a new home. "I feel like my heart is going to burst because it's full of rainbows," she exclaimed.
"Now, I just moved into this house a couple months ago." She continued. "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."
What About Winnie?
While it was obvious that Kate still had many precious memories of her time with this special dog, could the same be said for Winnie? "I have no idea if she actually remembered me, but she might have," Howard mused hopefully, while talking to Global News.
"After she sniffed me, she came over and rubbed on my legs and let me pet her," she continued. Given the enthusiastic greeting, we can't help but think that the precious pup knew exactly who she was with. And what's even more amazing - it was a completely different house they had shared when Kate had fostered Winnie.
Love And Gratitude
Naturally, Kate updated Twitter on her feelings following this enchanting encounter. "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." Her followers were enraptured, and she even uploaded a few puppy photos of Winnie.
There was no way of overstating just how glad Kate was to see her former foster pup again. “It was such a relief to see that she was well cared for and happy,” she said. “I just felt overwhelming gratitude for the woman who adopted her and is obviously giving her a great life.”
A Happy Life
While finally getting to pat and hug her old friend was a lovely thing, it wasn’t what made Kate happiest about the interaction that day. Beyond anything, she was just relieved to know that grown-up Winnie was living her best life in this new and loving home with her owner.
In the space of a moment, all of that fear and worry she'd felt after giving Winnie back had dissolved into nothing. And that was confirmed when Howard asked the new owner how she felt about returning dogs to shelters. "Oh, no… I would NEVER bring her back!" she had exclaimed. It was clear Kate had nothing to worry about.
As we mentioned, Kate had been documenting this heartwarming story on Twitter, as she knew many people would be charmed by it. And sure enough, it wasn’t long before it spread around the internet. Netizens were so enamored by the human-dog reunion that her Twitter thread went viral!
It all started on October 15, 2019, when Howard began recounting the unusual series of events. Everything from the somber memorial earlier in the day to finally confirming the identity of the sweet little dog on her lawn. And the news that Winnie’s new owner lived a few blocks away was just the icing on the cake!
You Get What You Give
It's safe to say that Kate's story struck a chord with many of the people who read it. Eventually, her Twitter thread racked up over 13,000 retweets and countless comments. "A serendipitous foster dog reunion tugs right at the tear ducts," is how one user described the story.
Many dog lovers couldn't help but feel emotional while reading it, and some even chose to share their feelings about the story and how it had connected to them. As one user said, "the moral of the story for me is you get back what you feed into the universe, so choose wisely."
But above all, it reminded many people of their own “serendipitous” moments, where they had also had unexpected reunions with animals that had meant a lot to them. Kate was surprised to learn that there were many people out there who also had these fortuitous animal encounters.
"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."
For Kate, it was wonderful to read about these experiences. After all, she was a big animal lover. "Dogs (and cats, for that matter) can be the most comforting presence. They know when you're sad or sick, and they really help," she told TIME. "So that added an extra layer to the beauty of her showing up on my lawn."
In her eyes, Winnie had appeared exactly when Kate had needed her, after such an emotionally exhausting day. "I didn't even know I needed her, and there she was," she said. It seemed fitting that Winnie and Kate's connection could remain so strong after the dog knew her former owner was nearby and needed comfort.
Hope And Inspiration
In the following weeks, Kate wanted to acknowledge all the lovely stories and comments that her followers had shared in the wake of her Twitter thread. "I have heard from so many of you who have loved rescue dogs and fostered yourselves. Thank you!" she said.
Kate was an advocate for adoption from shelters rather than purchasing from breeders. And these events had her rethinking her stance as a former foster parent. "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."
And while she began to reconsider her feelings about fostering, she was also able to spend some more quality time with Winnie. "Her mama agreed to come by in the future so I can see her," she gushed. "Me and my pup Foxy aren't doing much walking around the neighborhood because she's been injured pretty much since we moved in."
Speaking of Foxy, Kate felt it was time to share photos of her very first doggy love. "Get a load of this sweet baby," she shared. One follower suggested she even buy Foxy a "kiddy wagon." "Good idea," she replied. "I'm a little worried she will try to jump out… still got a lot of spunk and energy despite the sedatives!"
Digital Treasure Trove
Next, her followers were in for a very special treat. After digging around in her files, Kate found footage she had recorded while she was Winnie’s foster parent. The people who had been following her story were now able to watch clips of Winnie and Foxy interacting in her old apartment.
The video showed an energetic Winnie trying to follow the older dog around the house. "Side note: Winnie loved foxy more than foxy loved Winnie," Kate captioned the video, paired with a 'crying-laughing' emoji. Although Kate was heartbroken to let Winnie go, we have a sneaking suspicion that Foxy was probably pleased.
A New Family
But let's fast-forward in time. Almost three years to the day she was reunited with Winnie, Kate is still living with and loving her doggy friends. We're sad to say that Foxy has passed away since then, and she made the decision to adopt 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 continued. While she's not busy with her fur babies, the journalist is looking for a change of employment after 6 years with the Kentucky Center For Investigative Reporting. "It's the best job I ever imagined I could have," she said - but it was time to move on.
Memories Of Heidi
It’s easy to forget one of the more special aspects of this story - that it started on the same day as a memorial for Kate’s friend, Heidi. This was especially fitting given that Heidi had been a dedicated animal lover. For Kate, it was important that her friend was remembered as a part of this special story.
So she chose to reminisce on her encounter with Winnie by sharing pictures of Heidi's own beloved pets. "These were her dogs: Griffin and Chiweenie Thunder," she told her Twitter followers. Looking back, it was a stroke of remarkable luck that Howard had chosen to take the day off work three years ago.
A Heartwarming Tale
Many people who followed this story were curious about one participant, who as yet remained unnamed. That person was Winnie’s new owner, the one who had met Kate on her front lawn. Though she was happy for Kate to share the story, she preferred to remain anonymous.
And anonymous she remained, at least to the thousands who followed Winnie’s story. But we hope that this new owner remains a presence in Kate Howard’s life, so she can keep in touch with Winnie for years to come. Whatever happens, there’s no denying that this story gives hope to foster godparents and animal lovers everywhere.