After uncovering the shocking connection that she had to a stranger's dog, Kate Howard's life was altered forever. And it's since captivated users everywhere. Here's her inspiring story of serendipity and second chances.
Kate Howard was just living her life and minding her own business when a random canine unexpectedly appeared on her front lawn. Little did she know then how this moment would impact her life as she knew it.
Up until the life-changing exchange, the 37-year-old writer was working as a managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigating Reporting. But when she wasn't busy at work, Howard spent time sharing her life with her Twitter followers. There was one story, in particular, that quickly gained traction.
Howard had a really good friend named Hiedi, she explained to her Twitter followers. "Heidi for a second: she was a journalist too, and she faced her diagnosis with incredible grace and bravery," she explained. Unfortunately, her dear friend had health problems, and she passed away.
Since the memorial services fell on a Monday, Howard needed to request a day off from work. So, on the day of the funeral, instead of spending her time working hard at the office, the writer was sadly saying her final goodbyes to one of her closest friends.
An Unexpected Visitor
Howard had no idea just how emotional that afternoon would soon become. She revealed on Twitter how it all began: "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."
Suddenly, things took a turn. "A woman and her dog stopped at my yard, and the dog plopped down on my grass," she continued. Now, because Howard was a big lover of puppies, she wasn't annoyed or bothered by this - instead, she actually enjoyed the company. She would later find out why she felt that way...
A "Charming" Canine
The canine that had approached Howard's front lawn was especially adorable, according to her. The journalist explained, "The dog was cute, a brown pitty girl with white markings. All dogs are perfect, but she was particular charming." There was an instant bond between Kate and her new furry friend.
So much so, that the dog refused to leave the lawn. Despite trying to get her canine's attention, the stranger's pet simply wouldn't budge. "Her owner was trying to get her rolling again, but she was staying put," Kate recalled. But things took a turn when the stranger began to scold the puppy.
Originally, Howard didn't think too much about the whole situation - she was just relaxing outside, and a cute puppy wanted to play with her. But those thoughts quickly shifted when the dog's name was revealed to her. "She (the owner) called her. 'Winnie! Come on!' Her name was Winnie!" Howard explained on her Twitter thread.
The writer was taken aback: She thought there was no way that was really the dog's name. All of a sudden, there were many thoughts racing through her head. "I realized it instantly when the owner called her Winnie, and I knew her answers to my questions were going to prove it," Howard later recalled to Global News.
Memories Come Flooding Back
That previous year, in November, she had fostered a dog with the same name as the one now sitting on her front porch. Hearing the name 'Winnie' made all the memories from that time come rushing back. “I just immediately started trying to scramble off my porch and get down to her so I could pet her,” Howard explained.
"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," Kate confessed to her social media followers.
Winnie's Heartwarming History
When Howard had fostered the mutt that prior Fall, she was given the opportunity to name her by herself. The writer confessed to TIME Magazine how she came up with it. Her mom had actually been the one to suggest the name Winnie because when Howard was a little girl, she adored the cartoon Winnie the Pooh.
After getting to know Winnie so well during their foster time together, it was difficult having to let her go. So when she met another puppy with the same name, a whirlwind of emotions came back to her. As far as Kate was concerned, there had to be more to the story here. And she was right...
The Painful Goodbye
Although Howard didn't want to let Winnie go, she, unfortunately, had to due to the size of her then-apartment. "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," Howard revealed to TIME.
"But I was in an apartment, and she was too rowdy for old Foxy," she said, referring to her permanent dog Foxy whom she had been the proud owner of for nearly 13 years. So while it was a difficult goodbye, Howard knew that letting someone else adopt Winnie was the best choice for both her and the canine.
A Brewing Mystery
Howard was worried about whether or not her beloved foster puppy was gonna end up in a loving home. Especially after the two had created such a special bond - she truly cared about her well-being, but sadly she had no way of knowing where Winnie eventually ended up living.
Or at least that's what she thought… but luckily for Howard, she eventually managed to find out that Winnie was living her best life with new owners who cared and loved her. Yet the way that this information was revealed to her was completely unexpected…
She Closed That Chapter
Howard had no idea that she would form such a strong attachment. After having to deal with many tears and heartache, the journalist made the decision that she would never foster again. Even though she knew many puppies out there needed it, she couldn't bear the pain again.
But after discovering that everything worked out for Winnie, she changed her mind. "I was thinking about trying to foster again once I moved," she recalled. "If and when Foxy's toes heal up, and she might be up for company, I'd definitely think about trying again."
The Tragic Truth
A large reason why Howard had been so concerned with Winnie's future was that she was familiar with the statistics regarding foster animals. Based on reports from the American Humane Association, one-tenth of all puppies that got adopted from shelters or rescue homes eventually ended up getting returned.
Nearly 1.2 million canines a year were tragically euthanized because they were unable to find a forever home. "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," Howard recalled. But thankfully, since Winnie was a puppy, she quickly got adopted.
Trying To Move On
Despite the good news, no one from the shelter ever called and notified Howard that her foster pup was adopted, so she decided to just try and move on. That following year, in August 2019, the journalist moved out of her apartment and into a new home in Kentucky.
But just a couple of months later, in October, as Kate was trying to get over the heartache, an adorable female puppy with one ear ran onto her new home's yard. That day didn't just give Howard the answers to the many questions she had pondered for months - it also changed her life for good.
The Interrogation Begins
Sure enough, Howard bombarded Winnie's owner with endless questions regarding the mysterious puppy. After chatting for a while, she came to learn that the women's former dog had sadly passed away just a few months prior. To get over the heartache, she decided to get a new furry companion.
The stranger standing on Howard's porch explained to her how she had started searching on an animal service website when an adorable dog caught her eye. She immediately felt a connection to Winnie and knew that that was going to be the puppy she would adopt.
A Permanent Home
"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," Howard recalled on her Twitter thread about the story the women had told her.
'"She is a great, well-behaved pup,'" Howard added. This made her happy, but she couldn't help but become more curious as to why she felt like she already knew this strange puppy. She needed to get to the bottom of it. So she continued to interrogate the stranger.
Although it was a long shot to assume so, Howard had to explore the possibility that she might know this dog. "I asked the woman whether she adopted Winnie with that name," Kate recalled. "She said yes, as she didn't want to change her name and confuse her."
"I asked when. She said last November," she continued. There were too many similarities between the dog sitting on her porch and the dog she had said goodbye to last year. This made the journalist even more suspicious. Could this be the same Winnie she took care of?
An Appalling Revalation
As the two women continued talking, they came to a surprising realization: Winnie was indeed the same dog that Howard fostered back in 2018. "By then, I was practically leaping off the porch screaming. I FOSTERED THIS DOGGGGG," Kate recalled of the heartwarming exchange.
Howard was beyond surprised - but even more happy that this was her beloved Winnie. Everything started to click and make more sense. It was no wonder that when the dog first jumped onto her yard, she didn't wanna leave! These two knew each other from the previous year. She couldn't believe it.
“My Heart Is Going To Burst”
What were the chances of this reunion happening? Howard was in disbelief that she was getting to see her first foster puppy once again. She rushes to Twitter to share the remarkable exchange. "I feel like my heart is going to burst because it's full of rainbows," she gushed.
"Now, I just moved into this house a couple months ago. 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," she shared about the coincidence.
Did Winnie Remember?
After realizing that she knew Winnie, Howard wondered if the puppy had any memories about her. "I have no idea if she actually remembered me, but she might have," Howard hoped. "After she sniffed me, she came over and rubbed on my legs and let me pet her," she gushed to Global News.
Based on the canine's reaction, we're going to assume she knew who Howard was when she went running onto her front porch. It's an even sweeter story once we learned that it wasn't even the same house that Winnie had lived in previously. Howard must have been an incredible foster mom.
Howard described to her Twitter followers how it felt: "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." She even included images of Winnie as a puppy and an adult for her followers to see.
After being worried for so long about where Winnie was, Howard was filled with positive emotions after learning about her new life. “It was such a relief to see that she was well cared for and happy,” she confessed. “I just felt overwhelming gratitude for the woman who adopted her and is obviously giving her a great life.”
A Heartwarming Discovery
Not only was she happy to be reunited with her long-lost foster puppy - but Howard was also delighted to learn that at the end of everything, Winnie was adopted into a loving home. She had spent so much time concerned and was relieved to finally get some answers.
"Oh, no... I would NEVER bring her back!" Howard recalled of the new owner's thoughts on returning Winnie to the animal shelter. In a remarkable twist of fate, it seemed like the two of them both harbored an endless amount lot of love for that special pup.
Sharing Her Story
When the unexpected turn of events had happened, Howard knew that many others would get a kick out of hearing her incredible story. She typed up several heartfelt tweets and posted them on her social media account. Soon enough, her thread had gone viral amongst many dog lovers.
On October 15, 2019, she shared every detail of the coincidental events - from Heidi's memorial to questioning Winnie's new owner, she didn't leave out one detail. Who would have thought that a foster dog and her former foster parent would end up living just a few blocks away from each other!
Coming Full Circle
The viral story had more than 13,300 retweets and hundreds of heartfelt comments. One Twitter user wrote, "A serendipitous foster dog reunion tugs right at the tear ducts." Other users had even revealed that reading Howard's words made them feel emotional.
The sweet tale of how Winnie and Howard were able to reconnect was truly heartfelt. Some people even left comments about what the anecdote had meant to them: "the moral of the story for me is you get back what you feed into the universe, so choose wisely," one comment noted.
The things that Howard had written led many other individuals to be reminded of their very own serendipitous moments. Many Twitter users shared that they, too, had incredibly similar experiences. We guess reconnecting with former animals is more common than we had thought!
"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," commented someone under Howard's tweets. "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."
A Dog's Sixth Sense
Howard explained to TIME, "Dogs (and cats, for that matter) can be the most comforting presence. They know when you're sad or sick, and they really help. So that added an extra layer to the beauty of her showing up on my lawn," Howard said. "I didn't even know I needed her and there she was."
Our furry friends are truly amazing creatures who can probably sense how humans feel. It was almost as if Winnie could sense that her former owner was having a difficult time being separated from the puppy. This story just gets more and more wholesome!
A Newfound Hope
After receiving hundreds of comments and many messages, Howard finally spoke up. "I have heard from so many of you who have loved rescue dogs and fostered yourselves. Thank you!" she gushed. Howard was an advocator for adopting animals over shopping for them, and it seemed other people felt the same.
She even explained how the whole situation had started to change her respective about fostering again. "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."
Plans for the Future
Luckily for Howard, Winnie didn't live too far away from her new home in Kentucky. "Her mama agreed to come by in the future so I can see her," she shared. "Me and my pup Foxy aren't doing much walking around the neighborhood because she's been injured pretty much since we moved in."
Alongside a sweet picture of her long-time furry friend, "Get a load of this sweet baby," she wrote. One Twitter user suggested she get Foxy a kiddy wagon, to which she answered, "Good idea. I'm a little worried she will try to jump out... still got a lot of spunk and energy despite the sedatives!"
Old Footage Emerges
Howard continued updating her many followers. She even gave them a glimpse into her life by sharing a video from the time that Winnie was living with her. The clip showed Winnie following Foxy and the older dog trying to get away from the puppy.
"Side note: Winnie loved foxy more than foxy loved Winnie," she tweeted along with the laughing, crying face emoji. It seemed like Foxy wasn't too fond of Howard giving the foster dog all of her attention. LOL. But luckily for the veteran dog, Winnie didn't stay for too long.
Nearly 3 years later, Howard has continued to be a great puppy mother. Sadly after Foxy passed away, she went on to adopt two new dogs, 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 joked.
More recently, the journalist also noted that she was leaving her job at Kentucky Center For Investigative Reporting after spending 6 years with them. "It's the best job I ever imagined I could have," she said. Does this mean she has more time on her hands to foster or even adopt more adorable canines?
The Legacy Lives On
But perhaps the most remarkable part? The memorial that Howard attended the day she reunited with Winnie was for her friend Heidi - who, ironically enough, was also an avid animal lover! The journalist wanted all her followers to know this about her late friend, so she posted two images showing off Hiedi's former dogs.
"And these were her dogs: Griffin and Chiweenie Thunder," she gushed alongside two adorable images. We can't help but wonder how things would have turned out had Howard gone to work that day. We guess that sometimes things really end up happening for a reason.
The Journey Continues
Even though the story received a ton of traction and had gotten loads of positive reactions, there was one important person who wanted to remain anonymous to the public. Winnie's new owner, aka the one who got bombarded with questions, didn't want anyone finding out her identity.
Her wish was granted because, since 2019, the story has only been associated with the name Kate Howard. Yet still, we're sure the two of them constantly see each other since their homes are only a short two-block distance from one another. In other words? This story is just getting started...