11 Inspiring Animal Stories That Will Warm Your Heart

Some animals face tough obstacles from Day One, like the dog born without front legs or one born without sight. Others demonstrate a sense of loyalty that knows no bounds, like an elephant that befriends a mutt. Still others survive and thrive in the face of harrowing circumstances, like ducks crossing a busy highway or a dog who survives for weeks at sea. From the tamest of domesticated animals to the wildest of wild, these inspirational animals are practically guaranteed to bring out the human in you. Be warned: Have a tissue (or three) handy.

Summer the Sheep
After losing the use of her back legs, no one lost faith in Summer's recovery. Fitted with a wheelchair on her back legs, Summer the Sheep needed some encouragement to walk.  But she was soon rolling around like an old pro in her wheelchair. Although it turned out that she had an incurable disease, Summer's ability to regain some strength in her back legs and frolic around the farm show that with the right attitude, anything is possible!

Wallace the Wonder Dog
"Wallace the Pit Bull," a rescued American Pit Bull Terrier, showed the world that pit bulls aren't inherently bullies. Taken in by two caring pup parents, Wallace was trained to put his energies into becoming a disc champion, competing—and winning—many flying disc competitions and being an ambassador for a largely misunderstood breed. He recently passed away after being diagnosed with two terminal cancers, but his legacy lives on in his ability to open people's minds to the idea of saving shelter dogs and pit bulls.

Pig on Wheels
Chris P. Bacon was adopted by the vet who was asked to euthanize him after he was born with a defect that stunted the growth of his rear legs The vet brought him home and taught him how to use a dog wheelchair. The adorable pig now lives as a happy pet and takes full advantage of his second chance. Everyone deserves a shot at happiness!


Ray Charles the Golden Retriever
This dog is a force to be reckoned with. No, he doesn't play the piano like Ray Charles, but he is blind. And like his namesake, he doesn't let that stop him from living life. According to his Facebook page, Ray Charles was born blind, but he runs and plays with three brothers and a sister just like any other dog. Written from the dog's perspective, the Facebook page says that Ray Charles believes he was born this way so that he "could help inspire others who are born with physical/mental disabilities to always live their lives to the fullest and do as much as they can with what they are given." Words of wisdom from a young pup.

Grumpy Cat
Grumpy Cat looks grumpy, but her sourpuss expression is making people all over the world smile. Grumpy Cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, became an Internet sensation in 2012 when her photo was posted to Reddit. Accused of photoshopping a grumpy look on the cat's face, the owners posted a video of the grump, thus proving her permanent scowl was real. Believed to have feline dwarfism, her small stature and grumpy face haven't held her back; she has her own website, Facebook page and too many memes to count. She even won Meme of the Year at the 17th Annual Webby Awards! Grumpy Cat is the perfect example of turning a frown upside down.

Christian the Lion
If you've never heard of Christian the Lion, grab your handkerchief. In 1969, two young men bought a lion cub on impulse from a seller in London.  They raised Christian until he was too large to care for and then arranged his return to Africa . A year later, after Christian had been reintroduced to the wild, the two men headed to Kenya for a visit with their former cub. The reunion that ensued is an amazing tribute to the intelligence, loyalty and heart of a big cat. This inspiring animal beat the odds and is proof, for many, of the emotional intelligence of our animal friends.

Ban the Survivor Dog
In an amazing tale of survival, a dog who was swept to sea during the 2011 tsunami in Japan spent three weeks drifting on a roof and lived to bark the tale. Ban, the dog, was found 1.2 miles offshore by a coast guard that was investigating the debris field and was later reunited with his owners. Talk about one dog who deserves an extra treat—every day for life!

Faith the Walking Dog
A dog born without front legs is often doomed, but Faith is another story. With owners who refused to give up, Faith learned to hop on her back legs--motivated by peanut butter--essentially learning to walk upright like a human. It just shows the amazing adaptability of animals to their circumstances and the amazing things that can happen when people care about their pets. Faith and her family are an inspiration to anyone who needs a reminder to keep trying and keep the faith.

Elephant's Best Friend
This amazing story of Tarra the elephant who befriended Bella the dog goes to show that friendship knows no bounds. Friendship and loyalty can obviously span across species and can turn into something truly beautiful. Virtually inseparable, the elephant and dog pair were together all the time at the elephant sanctuary where they both lived. But when Bella was injured, Tarra kept vigil right outside the building where Bella was recuperating--for three whole weeks. A more recent update showed that after almost a decade of friendship, Bella died, believed to be killed by coyotes. They also believe that where Bella's body was discovered was not the site of her attack—but that Tarra found her and carried her home, friend to the end.  

Tillman, the Skateboarding Bulldog 
Bulldogs aren't known for being the most graceful of animals, but Tillman the skateboarding bulldog has the balance of the most experienced skateboarder—because he is one. He flies down boardwalks with ease on his 'board, making onlookers grin and inspiring people along the way. It just goes to show: Just because you don't fit the mold of a particular sport, that shouldn't hold you back!

Physical Therapy for Mick
Boston Terrier Mick was born with a rare condition called Swimmer Puppy Syndrome which caused his legs to splay out to the side. Unable to walk, most dogs born this way or euthanized. But Mick ended up the hands of the Mia Foundation, a nonprofit rescue that specializes in animals with birth defects. They didn't believe they could help him at first, but after doing some research they started a physical therapy program. Mick took an active role in his own recovery and gained the strength and coordination to walk after only a few weeks. Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you to succeed!

Isn't it amazing how animals can inspire and touch our hearts? Share your favorite inspiring animal or pet story in the comments!