Orphans of the Storm volunteer Nicole Kalanavich: "My whole life is better because of Paris."

By: KDKA-TV Digital Producer Heather Lang

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — December is all about the hustle and bustle of the holidays. But this year is different. It has to be.

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This year has been different for one and all. Maybe that’s why this little dog’s story is more important than ever.

Paris is a little hound dog adopted from Orphans of the Storm in Kittanning. She faced some difficult times before she ended up there, but it might be her gentle nature and “stop and smell the roses” attitude that rings the truest in these times.

(Photo Courtesy: Orphans of the Storm)

It’s those attributes that could also earn the small Armstrong County animal rescue a much-needed boost.

When Paris was rescued, she had life-threatening Parvovirus and a pack of puppies.

“She wasn’t expected to live and spent a month at the vets. Now she has a wonderful life with one of our fantastic volunteers,” Bethany Galbraith, Orphans of the Storm manager, said.

Paris found her forever home in nearby Rural Valley with her adopter, Nicole Kalanavich.

Nicole has been so influenced by Paris that she recently submitted an essay about what makes her little pup so special to the Petco Foundation’s Holiday Wishes campaign.

Paris’s personality is far more introspective than a “run and jump into action” kind of dog. Maybe overcoming illness taught her about appreciating the simpler things in life.

Perhaps it’s an important lesson we all could learn from Paris in these times.

In her essay, Nicole says what first drew her to Paris was her ability to “stop and enjoy the peaceful moments in life.”

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As a volunteer at Orphans of the Storm, Nicole says Paris was the first dog of many to slow down on their walks in the field behind the shelter.

“I’ve been pulled around that loop along the edge of the field by more energetic and excited dogs than I can count, but Paris was the only dog that ever went to the far end of the field, stopped, looked through an opening in the trees, and noticed a creek running nearby,” Nicole writes.

As they sat in the grass and listened to the running water and watched the soothing ripples and calm current, Nicole says she realized Paris had a thing or two to teach her.

Soon after, there was no question, Paris was Nicole’s dog and Nicole was Paris’s human.

“Paris has taught me that when I slow down and am mindful of the moment, then the morning sunshine feels better, breakfast tastes better and our walks are more beautiful. My whole life is better because of Paris,” Nicole writes.

(Photo Courtesy: Orphans of the Storm)

From thousands of submissions, Nicole and Paris’s story has been chosen as one of 50 finalists. Now it’s up to the public to vote for the winner. As the top pup, their shelter gets $25,000 in prize money.

“I’m so excited that Paris’s story was selected,” Nicole said. “Orphans of the Storm does a tremendous amount of work to save countless animals in need, so it’s rewarding to be able to do something to help the shelter in return.”

You can vote for your favorite pup in the Holiday Wishes campaign until Dec. 16 at 1 p.m.

To vote for Paris, visit their submission page here. Read Nicole’s full essay here.

The Petco Foundation Holiday Wishes campaign started back in 2013, and has awarded $5 million in Holiday Wish grants to animal welfare organizations.

You can visit Orphans of the Storm’s website here. They have plenty of animals in need of loving homes!

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Stay tuned animal lovers for more Furry Tails! You can follow me on Twitter at @HeatherLang24