A hometown Houston gal, Kate Smargiasso, recently took the grand prize in a national contest sponsored by Nestle Purina. The photo-essay contest celebrates how profoundly pets and people make life better together.

The “Four Plus Two: Tales for the pet lover’s heart” contest called on pet owners to share how companion animals enhance their lives. Kate shared the story of her love for her rescued Itailian Greyhound, Reznor, and how he has impacted her life as well as the abuse he endured before coming into Kate’s home.

As the contest winner, Kate receives a year’s supply of Nestle Purina dog food (which she will donate to a shelter), a donation of $6,250 to both the Houston Humane Society and Galveston County Animal and a painting by the famed C.F. Payne. Payne will travel to Houston to meet and photograph Reznor’s family and create a “family” portrait featuring Reznor and the Smargiassos. 

Here is Kate’s Winning Essay:

My sweet rescued Italian Greyhound, Reznor, came to us in the spring of 2006 as a foster kid. After only two days of being in our home I decided that I could not live without him. He was underweight and was being used as a breeding dog by a backyard breeder when IG Rescue of Houston saved him. The only home that he knew was being stuck in his small cage. He could not jump onto our couch at first since he had no leg muscles (which was a result of them not being utilized while stuck in his small crate).He now jumps higher than our kitchen countertops when it’s treat time. He is so full of love that I could not imagine how empty he felt during his “breeding” days. He’s my shadow. And I want nothing more than to show him so much love and happiness that his heart is overloaded with joy. My husband cannot believe that this is the same dog that we took in over two years ago. He was around 5 lbs. when we took him in and now I am happy to report that he just weighed in at a whopping 7.8! His teeth were in terrible shape when we originally took him on also and unfortunately he had to have many pulled. He gets regular cleanings now and has sparkly whites. I cannot express how much I love my little Reznor. I know that we both have given each other a new outlook on how great love is and how much it’s needed!