The Animal Rescue Gene

Something happens every time my mother sees a stray animal. She’s compelled to rescue it. She says she has the animal rescue gene. I love animals–I really do, but I don’t have the gene.

Two weeks ago my brother, Jeremy, who also has the ARG, climbed a tree and rescued a five-week-old kitten. He brought her to Mother who already had three rescued animals–two cats and a dog.

Mother’s husband gave her an ultimatum. “Me or the cat.”

You can probably guess what happened. 🙂

Jamie, my daughter, has the ARG, and so does my son’s fiance Brittany. After Sunshine got settled in, Brittany and I went to meet her.

Brittany spoke softly, moved slowly, and Sunshine seemed mesmerized.

People with the ARG are gifted this way. 

Didn’t take them long to bond.

Brittany took these pictures.

She has the incredible ability to capture the hearts of animals–

And people born with the ARG.

My all-time favorite picture of Mother. 

Such little girl joy!

If you can’t see the video below, click here.

If you have the ARG, you’ll love these.

If you can’t see video below, click here.

One more.

Sunshine finally notices me in this one. 🙂

If you can’t see it, click here.

Then Mother took us to the Athens Humane Society, a no-kill shelter, where she volunteers

She spends one-on-one time with Precious.

Brittany went straight to a puppy named Squishy.

Squishy came to the shelter with twine wrapped around her foot, requiring surgery.

“Julie, I’m in animal heaven.”

Click here for Squishy’s rescue story.

Watching Brittany love on Squishy, something dawned on me about the ARG.

 Maybe it’s sort of like the way God feels about us.

When there’s one lost sheep, He’s moved with great compassion.

He leaves the ninety-nine others and rescues the one.  (from Luke 15:4)

Do you have the ARG? 

P.S. Sunshine’s brother, Moonshine, and lots more of God’s creatures are available for adoption at The Athens Humane Society.

P.S.S. Another link about rescuing animals. 🙂







  1. marie says:

    Lovely photos! I don’t have ARG and have always looked on with a suspicious curiosity at those who do. But, I may have to rethink this as my heart just went thumpity-thump when I saw the pic of squishy. If I lived in Georgia, my family would probably have a new member!

    • I’m telling you, Marie. I’m thinking maybe Mother’s right. Maybe there IS a genetic tendency toward rescuing animals. That was her first fight with my father…they were on their honeymoon and she cried and pitched a fit over a dog on the side of the road. My father went back and got it.

      Squishy is one of eight puppies brought to the shelter. They were found under someone’s house. They had to amputate part of his foot 🙁 but he should do just fine.

      Thanks so much for reading—and letting me know you’re reading! xo

  2. I don’t want the rescue gene, but I fear I have a tad bit. We found four kittens on our road last year … we found homes for two of them, but still have the other two. We couldn’t leave them, couldn’t take them to the animal shelter because the only one available to us wasn’t a no-kill. And it’s amazing how even though we were desperate to find homes for them, we found ourselves being so picky over who could take them. Had to be a good family. We had already fallen in love with them … love at first sight. And they came running to us on that road, desperate. I’m not sure exactly how God feels about us when we come running to Him on this road, desperate for Him … the degree of His love, the sparkle in His eye … but I’m going to be meditating on that today! 🙂

    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      Shelli, those last lines touch a chord in me. I see Jesus, smiling, opening His arms, and hugging me close. And it wouldn’t matter what road – a country lane, a busy city street, our driveway. That’s the main thing, I believe, knowing no matter which road of the millions of them worldwide or the ones in our minds, Jesus will be there…waiting…watching…forgiving…loving. And sometimes, I picture Him still, urging me to come to Him; other times, oh the joy of seeing Him running towards me! Thank you for your lovely thoughts.

    • Shelli, this is beautiful. I got an image of the whole scene. Have you written it?

      And so many times Mother has said, “I know this isn’t normal. I just can’t help myself.” She’ll worry about baby birds that might fall out of their nests too early. She’ll ask me if we’re taking care of our animals while we’re going on vacation…of course we are, but she has to ask.

      Thank you, my friend! Would love to see pics of the kitties you kept.

  3. this made me cry…I do have ARG 🙂 and your mom’s heart for animals is so touching. Fell in love with Sunshine and thank you for the video of MBWA 🙂 xo

    • Ohh, Robin, I thought about you while writing this. Your heart is identical to hers!! You’ll never believe what she said last night…well, yes you will. She’d just fed Sunshine and she had her on her shoulder burping her. She said Sunshine likes to be burped.

      And Thelma the Cat… 🙂


  4. Julie, the timing of your post is funny because I just wrote (on Monday) about our decision to adopt a kitten. We think we have found our “baby” at a no-kill, special needs, animal rescue shelter. I don’t think I have the ARG, but I admire, and am thankful for, those who do, especially since I’ve learned about this special needs shelter. Love the pictures!

    • Love your thoughts, Laura. We sound so much alike. Yes! I’m so grateful for people who do. Mother would LOVE it that you found you kitty at a shelter. Hers seem to wander up to her back door. 🙂


  5. marci says:

    Oh, my, but can I relate. My family has that gene .. It showed up full force in my daughter. She has rescued many animals through the years. The stories that could be written! And my husband also has the gene. All our cats are rescue cats. We have bottle fed orphaned kittens several times, and 2 just recently. I am like you, I care a great deal for the animals, but I don’t think I have the ARG like my husband and daughter.
    Yes, like you, I have been able to look at the animals and gotten little lessons from God, how He must feel about us. We can learn a lot from the animals God places in our care.
    Thanks for sharing all the pictures and stories.
    BTW: The quilt that the kitten is on is beautiful, and I can see so much love and work went into it.

    It was a joy reading your Blog, and it hits so close to home.

    God Bless,

    • And Marci’a, your comments (and your heart!) hit so close to home for me! The quilt–I’m pretty sure it’s one of Gene’s and he wouldn’t be too happy if the kitty did something unpleasant on it.

      Yep, you and I are a lot alike. We recognize the ARG but we don’t have it. And we do appreciate those who DO have it. Isn’t it neat how God created different longings and desires in each of us? Some to care about one tiny orange kitty up in a tree. 🙂

      • marci says:

        I do understand about Gene ” wouldn’t be too happy if….” I have 2 afghans, Vintage which is “grapes”, and the other is Hospitality which is pineapples that I would not be happy if a puppy or a cat were to get either of them. I do my best to keep them out of harm’s way.
        Yes, it is wonderful that the Lord created different longings for each of us and each gift/ and desire we have serves a need.

  6. Do I have the ARG? Yes, in abundance. Found a baby Hummingbird on the walkway on Monday. Sheltered her and watched mama come around constantly, hovering, checking, feeding. On the third day, baby flew out of the nest and into new life. Hooray!

    LOVE the pictures you and Brittany took, and the ones of your mom are gorgeous. Such ARG hearts!

    • Ohhhh, yes, I KNOW you have the ARG, B.J. 🙂 🙂 Your hummingbird story? Hope you took pics!

      Mother and I were talking the other day about the ARG–we decided animals can be a common bond that brings people together no matter their differences!

  7. Cathy Mayfield says:

    ANIMALS!!! My favorite of God’s creation, after my family! And yes, I have the ARG in spades. I came by it honestly. While growing up, we think someone put a sign on our home that only other people could see: ALL unwanted dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, goats, ducks, raccoons, turtles, bunnies, and other things with 4 to 100 legs welcome here!!(My mom drew the line at those long, slippery ones w/no legs!!) I wouldn’t be able to count how many we fostered and/or kept over the years. Such love and heartbreak mixed together.

    In fact, this made me remember my first attempt at writing fiction…hmm… about 4th grade, I believe. A girl found a stray dingo (and they didn’t even live in Australia) and brought it home. Not sure how it would have turned out, though, because I think I only wrote one chapter, then fell in love with poetry. My first poem: “O’ Parakeet, O’ Parakeet,” a lament to my poor, dead, pet parakeet. Wow, I’ve come a ways from then! 🙂

    • Cathy—I can tell, you definitely have the ARG! Smiling here at “O’ Parakeet!” Love it. Sounds like there are the makings for a novel buried in your childhood–I’m thinking lots of novels. 🙂

  8. Robin Steinweg says:

    Oh my, what a beautiful piece, Julie! Thank you for sharing it and the photos. Warmed up my heart today.

  9. Shelley Elaine says:

    Ohhh my, YES, I have it-I just never knew what to call it 😉
    Definitely born with it and have often asked God why I feel this so strongly-it has often led to heartbreak but more often than not, to heart warming pleasure, too. My daughter has it too, and she introduced me to even rescuing beta fish from their miserable little cups! Ha! Ha! We have also raised/rehabilitated an orphaned baby raccoon-Julie, I knew I have always liked your mother and could relate to her writing-THANK YOU for sharing ALL those ADORABLE pics n videos…esp. Squishy❤️

    • Shelley, you’re not going to believe this. Mother rescued a litter of baby skunks once. :/ :/ She said she loves skunk-scent.

      She says she knows everyone isn’t born with the ARG and she also knows she’s different from most people. I can’t wait to show her all the comments from people who understand! She still doesn’t have a computer but is learning to use her iPhone.

      I know–Squishy was just precious!

      • marci says:

        I laughed when I read about your Mom and the baby skunks.. And here I thought only my daughter would do that– she had 2 baby skunks when she was younger that was rescued.
        She named them- Tittles and Frisky. Thankfully they never sprayed while we had them.
        You can let your mom know that she is not alone in saving skunks.
        The world / animals need such people as your mom, and my daughter and husband with these genes. I guess that is why God gave so many ARG.

  10. Patricia Martin says:

    I LOVE cats!!!!(; Your mom and the kitty look alike! So precious to see them playing together. They both have the same hair color (red) and even their expressions with each other are similar. My gram says that sometimes people choose pets that look like them. Our beautiful collie, Queenie, started to look just like my gram as they both got older. (): My gram’s grandmother was also named Queenie, and one of our pets has the same name as her paternal grandmother. (; Maddy is doing well, the doctor’s are hoping to check her back to make sure she does not have Marfan’s Syndrome. Hope y’all are chilling as summer approaches.

    • Patricia–Mother will LOVE finding out she looks like Sunshine. Actually, I thought the same thing when I saw the picture. Their expressions even look alike.

      Let me know about Maddy.

      And thank you so much for being such a faithful reader…and friend!

  11. Tricia says:

    She zipped right past my legs out the open door,scurried over the fence and dashed up the tree. It happened in less time than it took me to write these words, I swear! But last week I found myself stacking lawn chairs next to the fence , hoisting a ladder over it to get into our neighbor’s tree. That last sentence was a MUUUCH slower process than the first, I swear! Our cat, Luna, who is a rescue story in itself, decided today was the day for an adventure. I was dressed and ready to head out the door for work and my ARG gene kicked in. No way was that cat going to be left for the scary unknowns of the back yard while I was at work, hoping she’d MAYBE come down on her own. An hour of coaxing with sweet talk and kitty treats later, she came to me with the look of”OK, Mom… my adventure is done, Get me down please!”Once she and I were safely back inside, she ran and hid without so much as a ‘thanks, Mom’ and I showered, redressed and went to work,late.
    P.S. Have you ever climbed a tree with a torn Meniscus?

    • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, Tricia, sounds like maybe you have a double ARG??!!!!!

      Mother says she knows what animals are thinking. You do too!

  12. Kim says:

    Even though my 2 cats are rescues, and I love them dearly, I do not have the ARG gene! They are enough!! 🙂 My sister has it in abundance though.

    Woody, our 11 yr. old male tabby, was rescued from a wooded area (thus his name) on a bike ride to my kids school. (In Florida.) He had been dumped alongside the road. We heard soft sounds that morning, but weren’t sure what they were. (Maybe baby birds?) Well, we heard demanding pleas that afternoon! Took some effort, but we got him. And he is the best cat ever! Quiet, sweet, gentle, patient.

    I mentioned Autumn recently. (She follows me around like a puppy.) She is a 6 yr. old tabby. Both wonderful and maddening! She chews on anything! I saw her outside my sisters house and could not leave her there. She was so tiny! And would have been lost in their chaos. 6 cats, 1 dog, 1 rabbit… Found her in Nov. and sisters subdivision is called The Falls… thus her name. 🙂 Ha! How original!!!

    Anyway, I have a theory that animals have some sort of message system to let future animals searching for loving homes know where the softy animal lovers live. The ARG’s.

    • Kim, so you can clearly see the difference. Sounds like you and I are a lot a like. And I totally agree–animals have a way to communicate with each other, like, “These people are nice–come over here!”

      And Mother would say that Woody is so sweet b/c he knows he was rescued. She says they always know, and of course, she says she knows what animals are thinking.

      Autumn–wonderful name!

      Hugs to you and yours~~

  13. Jenni M says:

    What a sweet story, Julie! Yes, I do have a soft spot for animals…my heart bleeds when I see the Humane Society and ASPCA commercials that show these poor animals who have been neglected, injured, etc. There’s something in their eyes – it’s like one can see inside to their heart, which is yearning for someone to love and take care of them, or to at least be free from the horrible circumstances that they’re in.

    Watching the behaviors of my nearly fifteen-year-old kitty, and reading your message based on Luke 15, Julie, I’ve lately been thinking about how we may be like our pets: on our own we can be yearning for love and protection, needing someone to take care of our basic needs, etc. Lately my cat has been very clingy, only being satisfied when he is up on someone’s lap, when someone is rubbing him, etc. In my spiritual journey with God I find that I so often am wanting to just be hugged by him, safe in his arms. I constantly am needing reminders of his presence, and will always need him to provide for my needs. Without Him I would be just lost. I would hurt myself. The world would injure me and I would be left with just that – the injury,and no cure.

    Makes me want to give my cat an extra hug tonight. 🙂

    Hugs to Sunshine, Moonshine, Precious, and Squishy! 🙂


    • Ohhh, Jenni, what beautiful thoughts!

      And those commercials–my mother can’t watch them.

      So thankful for your words. I can sense God moving in your heart.

      Thanks for letting all of us know! xoxo

  14. Patricia Martin says:

    Hi Again Julie,
    Please keep Maddy in your prayers as she has an important doctor’s exam tomorrow!!!():
    Blessings and hugs,
    Patricia 0x

  15. Anna Haney says:

    I must have responded to your original post on FB. Re-reading, I thought of how Jesus takes us when we are at our most unlove-able and look how much He changes us just by loving us. Sometimes the mere thought of Him loving me and caring about me is way too much for me to wrap my chemo addled brain around and I can hardly believe it.

    • Julie Garmon says:

      Yes, yes yes Anna! You’re absolutely right.

      I feel the same way.

      I love you ~~

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