Adopted Dog Inspires Recent Graduate to a Career in Animal Welfare

Maral felt lost after college graduation. Then she met and adopted Sweetie, a dog who inspired her to use her career to help other pets in need.

Maral + Sweetie

After college graduation, Maral was at a crossroads. Then she met Sweetie, who inspired her to pursue a career in animal law. Sweetie gave Maral a sense of purpose, and now Maral pays that forward to advocate for animal welfare.

"It hurt my heart that someone could be unkind to Sweetie, or any animal, and largely get away with it. That is why I decided to move to Portland, Oregon, where I could attend the best law school in the country for animal law. Yes, Sweetie now has her ‘Juris Dogtorate!'"

I saw her little ear, the one that does not flop over, peek up at me one fateful volunteer day. The rest, as they say, is history.

I met Sweetie in 2014, in the throes of a confusing time of trying to figure out what to do as a recent college graduate, a real adult. I was honestly a bit lost. Sweetie was described as the most scared and shut-down dog PAWS Atlanta had ever taken in—rescued from the side of the road while pregnant, just and skin and bones.

Honestly, I saw a lot of myself in Sweetie—she needed safety, stability, and guidance (and I did too). At the time, I was living in this anxious state of, “What is my life going to look like? What is my purpose here?” I recognized how she must feel because I felt that way too, and I knew I could help her; little did I know how much more Sweetie would help me.

It hurt my heart that someone could be unkind to Sweetie, or any animal, and largely get away with it. That is why I decided to move to Portland, Oregon, where I could attend the best law school in the country for animal law. Yes, Sweetie now has her “Juris Dogtorate!”

After falling in love with Sweetie, I began to see her goodness in every animal. After law school, Sweetie and I took a job at an animal welfare charity where we collaborate with food businesses and legislators to develop welfare policies for animals. Together, Sweetie and I have negotiated policies that impact over 15 million animals. I am doing some of the most rewarding work I can imagine, and I feel so lucky to have Sweetie by my side to inspire me every day.

Today Sweetie is silly, sassy, and playful. It is so heartwarming to see her being outgoing at the dog park, going up to people and pawing at them to give her belly rubs. Many of our dog park friends have now become our friends in our new city. Sweetie has inspired so much good for so many four- and two-legged folks, me included.

This year, after being in a home for seven years, one of Sweetie’s puppies was returned to PAWS Atlanta. PAWS was kind enough to alert me, so we traveled across the country to Atlanta and drove Sweetie’s son, King, home with us. His gentle nature, like his mother’s, warms our hearts every day.

Sweetie has given me purpose. She has shown me true love. She has even given me a new family. I brought Sweetie out of her shell, in turn, she brought me out of mine to help animals. I will work every day to make the world a kinder place to other Sweeties out there in her honor. What more meaningful gifts in life can one be given than purpose, family, and true love? Thank you, sweet girl. I love you so.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Maral won PAWS Atlanta, Inc. in Decatur, Georgia a 2021 Love Stories award.