By Tom Lambert
A little over a year ago Nichole Kramer-Kiuchi and her husband Yuya unexpectedly lost their beloved dog, Obie.
The Sheltie was a big part of their lives. They took care of him, but Obie took care of them just as much, if not more, with his unconditional love.
It took some time to grieve. But time helped heal their wounds, as it often does. Four or five months later they started thinking about opening their hearts and home to a new companion.
“There was something missing in our home, it was time,” said Nichole, a Mechanical Engineering Lead in Generation Design. “We knew the pandemic wasn’t ending anytime soon so it would be a good time to look into adopting another dog.”
The couple started searching earlier this spring for the perfect fit for them and their Lansing home. After browsing several shelters, they found the West Michigan Humane Society, which led the couple to adorable brothers that were at a foster home in Grand Rapids.
The duo was originally from Louisiana and brought to West Michigan by the BISSELL Pet Foundation (BFP). The Foundation, which serves all 50 states and Canada, has a goal to “help reduce the number of animals and rescues, and to find a loving home for every pet.” With the help of supporters, BPF has awarded millions of dollars to their growing partner network of animal welfare organizations.
The dogs immediately caught Nichole and Yuya’s attention. But they wanted to make sure they would be a good fit.
The next step was a virtual meeting, where Nichole and Yuya were instantly smitten as they watched the then nearly 1-year-old pups at their foster home. They were repeatedly told the dogs came as a package deal, and that was fine with them.
“They acted exactly like brothers, you could see that right away,” Nichole said with a laugh. “One of them was chilling and laying on the ground and the other was poking and prodding him to play.”
What sealed the deal for the couple was when the foster parents told them both were “the ultimate cuddlers.”
“That set us off and really excited us,” Nichole said. “It was a sign that ‘yup those are the dogs we are looking for’ moment. Our search was over.”
The couple now has joy in their lives once again – in the shape of two furry 35-pound puppies who are inseparable as they frolic around the yard trying to get the better of the other one.
They are a mix of Australian Cattle Dog, American Sheffield, Boston Terrier, and Jack Russell Terrier. One is named Porter for his “hyper-hoppy” personality and the other Stout for his calm, cool demeanor.
On top of all the excitement of joining a new home, they are also about to be television stars. The Hallmark Channel has filmed the pups for a show called “Tails of Joy” that is scheduled to air Labor Day weekend (Sep. 5-6). The show follows the dogs from their original home in Louisiana, which has been facing a surplus of dogs needing to be adopted.
“I think they let it get to their heads a little, they have been acting like divas,” Nichole joked. “Seriously, everything has clicked so far, it’s been fantastic that they’ve come and settled right into our home. They have definitely made our home better. The only thing is that they are super early morning dogs and I am most certainly not a morning person, but we are working through that.”
Nichole said in such an uncertain time, the dogs have been a true blessing.
“They help give us mental and physical destress relief,” she said. “They give you unconditional love. All they want in return from us is to feed them, give them a bit of attention, and take them for walks. That’s really not a lot to ask for making our lives better.”