Look back at some of this year's most heartwarming moments with dogs, cats and even an alligator!
There were many highs, lows and whoas in the year 2023, but one thing was consistent: PEOPLE readers loved their pets and the pets of others — and couldn't get enough content about them.
As the year comes to a close, we're looking back at some of the heartwarming pet moments that captured our attention in 2023 — from Selma Blair's various outings with her devoted service dog Scout, to Wally the emotional support alligator's day at a hockey game.
Selma Blair's Service Dog, Scout, Goes to the White House
If you've seen Selma Blair out and about this year, then you've probably seen her service dog, Scout. The Cruel Intentions actress adopted the pup in Dec. 2021, to assist her with her daily tasks since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis back in 2018.
Since then, the now three-year-old English Labrador has accompanied her everywhere — press tours, coffee runs, even the White House.
"He's with me all the time," Blair told PEOPLE back in 2022. "If I fall into a big [muscle] spasm or have some trouble moving and need to recalibrate, he can get between my legs, help me get up, and balance me. It's given me a lot of independence."
Molson the Golden Retriever Gets a Real Puppy Companion
A golden retriever in Hawaii got the gift of a lifetime when his family decided to find him a friend.
Molson had always carried a stuffed dog named Kelsie with him, since being separated from his siblings as a puppy. His owners noticed Molson formed an immediate attachment to the toy, which the owners gave the pup so he would not miss his brothers and sisters.
After watching their four-legged friend cuddle the toy for over two years, the Deverys decided to get Molson a real-life companion in the form of a puppy named Posie, who looks similar to Molson's favorite toy.
A now-viral video posted by 16-year-old Jasmine Devery shows the two pups meeting: Molson gently drops Kelsie the stuffed animal, tail wagging furiously, as he approaches his sweet new sister.
Justin Theroux's Pit Bull Mix, Kuma, Hits the Red Carpet
It's hard to steal focus from Justin Theroux once he steps in front of the camera, but his gorgeous dog, Kuma, did so effortlessly when the two attended the Humane Society's To The Rescue! Gala in New York City back in October.
A champion for pet adoption, Theroux adopted Kuma in 2018 and the pair have been inseparable since. "If you are considering getting a dog, please visit your local shelter," he wrote on Instagram, while celebrating their fifth anniversary. "There are TENS OF THOUSANDS of Kumas out there that would love to make your life so much better."
Wally the Emotional Support Alligator Gets His Moment in the Spotlight
Wally the emotional support alligator had quite the year. The internet's favorite reptile made waves in September when he was denied entrance to the Citizens Bank Stadium, home of the baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies.
Unfortunately, the stadium's policy states that only “guide dogs, service animals or service animals in training are welcome” and “all other animals are prohibited,” thus excluding Wally both as an “emotional support animal” and as an alligator.
However, the tiny reptile had his crowning moment at a different ball game. In November, the Philadelphia Flyers' mascot Gritty, appeared with Wally during the NHL team's game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Gritty brought the gator out during the hockey game's "Lion King Cam" segment — where hockey fans at Wells Fargo Center hold up their kids like baby Simba in hopes of getting on the jumbotron.
The fun moment between Gritty and Wally (who belongs to Pennslyvania native Joie Henney) made it to the mascot's Instagram.
Taylor Swift's Feline Trio
Swift's cat companions started with Meredith Grey — a Scottish Fold — back in 2011. She then followed up with another Scottish Fold whom she named Olivia Benson in 2014 and then a Ragdoll kitten named Benjamin Button in 2019.
Famous for naming her cats after some of her favorite fictional characters, Swift got a sweet surprise when Mariska Hargitay — who plays the famed Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit — returned the favor by naming her new cat Karma, after the singer's hit single of the same name.
And further elevating her cats' fame, Benjamin Button even appeared on Swift's Time cover for Person of the Year in 2023.
Bayley Is the 'Spitting Image' of Snoopy
An adorable mini sheepadoodle stole the hearts of many animal lovers when he went viral for his striking resemblance to famous cartoon canine Snoopy back in April.
The one-year-old's cute face caught the eye of the Instagram account Doodle Dogs Club, which then shared a photo of the dog next to a shot of the cartoon character from Peanuts.
"Meet @Bayley.Sheepadoodle, the spitting image of Snoopy!" the caption read. "With those big ears and that button nose, Bayley is the perfect real-life version of our favorite cartoon dog."
Bayley's official Instagram account also hopped into the comment section of the post, writing: "😳 That's me 🥰😁 Hi 🐾 everyone ❤️ Thank you @doodledogsclub for putting my photos together. You are paw🐾some 😘"
The picture has since accumulated over a million likes.
Chris Evans' Superhero Dog, Dodger
Chris Evans is Captain America to most, but it seems one of his personal heroes is his four-legged bud, Dodger.
In April, the Marvel star and the Boxer mix teamed up with pet food brand Jinx and Evans couldn't stop raving about his love and adoration for Dodger — who was named after the Artful Dodger in Disney's 1988 film Oliver & Company.
"He's so honest. He's so genuine," the actor told PEOPLE. "He has no idea who I am other than I'm just his man, that's it ... And that's just so refreshing. There's just something about him that feels like a brand new soul, and it just makes me smile every time I see him."
Ariel, the Spaniel with Six Legs
A United Kingdom animal shelter revealed they had rescued a female spaniel with six legs back in September.
The dog was “handed into a local veterinary practice” on Sept. 27 after she was found abandoned in the parking lot at the Pembroke Dock location of the B&M home improvement and garden store chain.
Greenacres Rescue Pembrokeshire — the shelter who took in the sweet pup — wrote on Facebook that after running some tests, they found that, “internally [the dog] is normal” and “her organs are all as they should be.”
"We have no idea why she would be born with a defect," Greenacres' Mikey Lawlor told Newsweek. "Never seen this before."
Lawlor added that the shelter named the puppy Ariel after The Little Mermaid character because her “extra legs look like a tail.”
At the time of the reporting, Ariel was adjusting well to her foster home while the rescue evaluated what medical intervention she would need next.
Ralphie the 'Demon Dog' Gets a New Home
At first glance, it's hard to believe this cute little French bulldog would have a hard time finding a home. However, in a brutally honest Facebook post written in January, the Niagara SPCA told readers that looks can be deceiving, this pup named Ralphie was an actual terror. Described as a "fire-breathing demon," this 26-lb. bundle of chaos had a hard time being adopted due to his riotus ways.
"He's a whole jerk- not even half," the SPCA wrote. "Everything belongs to him. If you dare test his ability to possess THE things, wrath will ensue. If you show a moment of weakness, prepare to be exploited. Sounds fun, huh?"
However, after some training and rehabilitation, Ralphie finally found a new home in March.
"Well, it's time to reveal Ralphie's next adventure," the Niagara SPCA shared. "After reviewing 700+ emails, speaking with several dozen potential adopters, and sending applicants on to Ralphie's trainer to review, we found who we believe is Ralphie's perfect adopter."
Ralphie's new pet parent was a dog owner named Jason, the shelter revealed. The Tennessee resident was "uniquely qualified because both his Frenchie and Dachsund had bite histories before living with him" and now live "super active and enriching lives — running marathons, and placing in agility and flyball."
Lupita Nyong'o Adopts a New Cat Amid Breakup
"Introducing my new companion, Yoyo!" the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever actress wrote. "I have historically been afraid of cats, but when my life was altered instantly recently, a little voice whispered to me that it was time to embrace change and new possibilities," she said, seemingly alluding to her split from Selema Masekela.
And according to Nyong'o, her new feline friend is already showing tons of personality. "He LOVES company. He LOVES food," she wrote. "He is very picky about his wand toys. He only drinks running water. The bugs in the house don’t stand a chance. He can’t be trusted around supplements!"
Stache the Sealyham Terrier Wins 22nd Annual Dog Show Presented by Purina
A Sealyham terrier named Stache took the coveted first prize and won Best in Show at the 22nd Annual Dog Show Presented by Purina. The Kennel Club of Philadelphia hosted the event, and the 2023 National Dog Show aired on NBC on Thanksgiving, following the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
"It's an exhilarating feeling to win," said his owner Margery Good in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "Stache deals easily with multiple things happening around him. He's so well-balanced, and he loves to show."
Ahead of his National Dog Show win, Stache was the #2-ranked Terrier and #12-ranked All-Breed show dog in America. With the 2023 National Dog Show's Best in Show title, Stache has now won 49 Best in Show prizes.
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