The Most Adorable, Inspiring, and Silly Pet Stories from 2020

Pets made 2020 a little bit better, and these are some of the special creatures who made an extra special impact this year.  

Photo: @yokokikuchi_ks / Caters News
01 of 10

Most Photogenic Prankster

@yokokikuchi_ks / Caters News

For Hina, a 5-year-old Shiba Inu, there's no such thing as the perfect family photo. "She's simply not as patient as her three sisters," says owner Yoko Kikuchi, who posts the pup's hilarious antics on Instagram (@yokokikuch_ks) for her 120,000 adoring fans. "But I love to share this happiness."

02 of 10

Best Travel Buddies

hedgehog and kitten BFFS

Pre-pandemic, this intrepid duo – Herbee the hedgehog, 2, and Audree the Bengal cat, 1-and-a-half – made friends around the world, from Paris to Italy. Now they're home in Wiesbaden, Germany, where Audree gave birth to three kittens. "It's about feeling happy where you are," says owner Talitha Girnus, who still posts their daily adventures for 2 million Instagram fans (@Mr.Pokee). "It's a great lesson."

03 of 10

Most Fearless Hero

hero rat Magawa

In September Magawa, an African giant pouch rat, won a medal from the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, a veterinary charity in the United Kingdom, for sniffing out 39 live land mines in Cambodia. At just 2.7lbs., he's able to safely step over the explosives – which he detects by their chemical smell – without setting them off. "Magawa's work is lifesaving," said the PDSA.

04 of 10

World's Cutest Rescue Dog

worlds cutest rescue dog
Sharon Vanorny

Lamp Chop, a 12-year-old Maltese from Wisconsin, won this year's PEOPLE's World's Cutest Rescue Dog Contest. Saved from a puppy mill, "she's a super-cute face to an ugly industry," says owner Christin Schubert, who volunteers with Bailing Out Benji, a nonprofit dedicated to ending puppy mills.

05 of 10

Cutest Baby

Smithsonian National Zoo

Xiao Qi Ji (or "Little Miracle") was born at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., on Aug. 21 to 22-year-old Mei Xiang, the oldest panda to give birth in North America."[He's] brought so much joy for so many," says Annalisa Meyer, the zoo's deputy director of communications, adding that the cub will likely make his public debut in early 2021.

06 of 10

Top Canine Honor

Sully dog statue
James Chang/America's VetDogs

For Veterans Day, Sully, President George H.W. Bush's beloved former service dog, received his own bronze statue from America's VetDogs at their Smithtown New York, facility. The nonprofit originally trained Sully, who's now a facility dog at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

07 of 10

Best Namesake

Dennis Quaid Adopts a Black Cat with the Same Name: 'I Just Couldn't Resist'
Dennis Quaid and cat. AFF-USA/Shutterstock; Lynchburg Humane Society

In August actor Dennis Quaid, 66, captured hearts when he adopted a 6-year-old black cat named Dennis Quaid from the Lynchburg Humane Society in Virginia. "I couldn't resist," said Quaid. "I'm out to save all the Dennis Quaids of the world."

08 of 10

Oldest Golden Girl

oldest golden retriever August
Augie. Courtesy Golden Hearts

This beloved pup named Augie celebrated her 20th birthday in April – making her the oldest known golden retriever in history. The Tennessee dog, whose owner Jennifer Hetterscheidt says she "still enjoys daily walks," marked her big day with a pet-friendly carrot cake and cuddles from her three canine siblings.

09 of 10

Top Animal Rescuer

Koala Dog
Fiona Clark Photography.

Bear, a border collie-koolie mix who's trained to sniff out lost koalas in the wild, took on new challenges this year, helping firefighters save more than 100 burned and injured koalas from Australia's devastating bushfires.

10 of 10

Top Animal Advocate

Aries the cat ambassador
Courtesy Tracy Pitisci

Although Aries, 2, was born with hyperextended rear legs, there's "not much that slows him down," says owner Tracy Pitisci, who launched @aries_the_cat_ambassador, where the little cat's disability helps raise awareness for special-needs animals everywhere.

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