Kay Edson has always had pets.
As a child she was allowed to own one pet at a time but has since made up for the limitation. Edson and her husband, David, now own seven cats and dogs, all adopted from the St. Joseph Animal Shelter, where the couple has volunteered for 10 years.
"I've always loved cats and dogs," Edson says, sitting in her kitchen and petting a ginger cat with one hand and a chihuahua with the other.
The chihuahua is one-eyed Jack, "a bit of a celebrity at dog parks," according to Edson. Jack's full name is Jack Sparrow, after the pirate played by Johnny Depp in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.
"He wore an eyepatch for a long time after his eye surgery, that's how he got his name," Edson explains.
Jack was abandoned at the St. Joseph Animal Shelter with an injured eye. Staff immediately took him to the vet, who removed Jack's right eye. After going through the shelter's Puppies for Parole program and learning obedience, Jack was put up for adoption -- but that wasn't his happy ending quite yet.
"When the first couple that adopted him found out he had heartworm disease, they brought him back. They didn't want a dog with a serious disease," Edson says.
Jack survived treatment and was put up for adoption again but was returned once more because he didn't get along with the new couple's husband. That's when the Edsons knew.
"I got word from a friend of ours in the shelter that he was returned again and my husband and I looked at each other and said 'We just got to get him' and so we did," she says.
That was in 2013. While Jack is a part of the family now, he took some time to get used to his forever home.
"He didn't like David at first, but David's a very gentle and patient person and we finally worked it out," Edson says. "I think the fun thing about it is that he turned out to have a lot of personality. He's very affectionate and wants to go and do everything we do."
Jack's missing eye wasn't much of a problem although "once in a while he'd run into a chair leg or something." Now estimated to be at least 10 years old, Jack's vision is starting to fail, but Edson says his ears are almost as good as always and he manages to avoid running into furniture most of the time.
The Edsons have had other older pets, including a dog who also had heartworms.
"He didn't live very long but he had a good life while he was here," Edson says.
In general, she says, adopting an older or special-needs pet can be very rewarding for everyone involved.
"The shelter is the place to go if you really want to make a difference in another creature's life," Edson says. "They're so grateful. They really know they've hit the jackpot when you walk in your house with them."