Deformed Darlings

As you all know, I am a HUGE animal lover.  Not only do I love to rescue dogs and cats (just one cat for now), but I also enjoy learning about other ways to help our furry friends.  Finding free apps on iTunes, such as Pawcard, attending animal themed charity walks, reading books and magazines; I enjoy it all.

 

More recently, I have taken a liking to help deformed/disabled “special needs” animals.  I suppose it all started when my husband and I adopted Penny, our tripod Chiweenie.  At first, I was a bit put off by her deformed front paw.  I did not think that Penny was ugly; I was simply uncomfortable at seeing something so different.  But something in my heart kept telling me that we were the only ones that could give Penny the loving home she so rightfully deserved.

 

Meeting Penny in person was all that it took.  Watching her hop around while wagging her tail brought joy to my soul.  After just two months, we stopped viewing Penny as “special needs” because she can do everything that her four-legged fur siblings can.  And then there is the amazing pet gate jumping video.  

 

If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0bVijS9JTw

 

My husband uncovered one my deep hidden secrets:  I love dachshunds!  I had always wanted one and felt that the time was right to adopt one in March of this year.  That is when I discovered Hope.  She is a gorgeous double dapple doxie that was born without eyes and is completely deaf.  And she just happened to be the product of a backyard breeder.

 

While working with Hope has been challenging, it has also been greatly rewarding.  She can now navigate through the house without bumping into walls, climb up the basement stairs and even open the closet door with her nose!  I can certainly see why they call special needs dogs “special.”

 

On one of my dog video searches on YouTube, I came across National Mill Dog Rescue.  They are a rescue group whose sole mission is to help end puppy mills all across the United States.  Their mascot is an adorable Chihuahua named Teddy.  He is a puppy mill survivor that was extremely malnourished, had eye ulcers and rotting teeth.  

 

Thankfully, he was rescued by National Mill Dog Rescue and has since been adopted into a loving home.  Teddy is now trying to help spread the word about the importance of ending the horrible practice of puppy mills.  I noticed a post from Teddy in my Facebook feed on Tuesday that he was teaming up with Harley.  Harley is a fellow puppy mill survivor that had to have one of his eyes removed due to severe infection.  Imagine my shock and outrage when I read the following:

 

“My friend Harley was told by Modern Dog Magazine that he is too old and ugly to appear on their cover.”

 

WHAT?!  “Too old” and “ugly?”  This dog is a survivor.  He has quite literally been through hell and back just to be told that he is not “good enough” to be on the cover of a magazine that is supposed to help educate others about taking care of their pets.

 

Do we tell women who have survived breast cancer due to having a mastectomy that they are “ugly?”  No, we treat them as inspirations.  Would you ever dream of telling a child who has lost his/her hair due to chemo therapy that they are “ugly?” How about people in wheelchairs or those with prosthetic limbs?  Where do they fit in on Modern Dog Magazine’s beauty scale?

 

I shutter to think about the implications of a dog being “too old.”  Does this mean that Modern Dog Magazine would have pet owners discard their dogs when they grow older?  Our humane societies are filled with animals that have been surrendered by their owners because they are “too old.”  These people then turn around and buy a puppy.  Is this how we treat humans?  Why is this practice deemed “acceptable” in a majority of minds?

 

What kind of example is Modern Dog Magazine setting?  They are only aiding in teaching our children to believe in extremely unrealistic beauty standards that simply do not exist.  And they obviously do not carry the view that a dog is a member of the family. Would you think of cutting your mother or father or grandparent out of your life because they are old? 

 

This kind of prejudice simply cannot be allowed.  ALL dogs are beautiful and deserve to have loving homes.  It is time to break the stigma that differently-abled means broken.  Penny and Hope are two of the happiest, friendliest dogs that you will ever meet.  Whenever we go to pet events, people pass by our four-legged babies and go straight to them.  They want to hear about their stories.  Many have even asked which rescue groups Hope and Penny came from because they are thinking about adopting a special needs dog as well.

 

To further prove how wrong Modern Dog Magazine is, Penny recently won first place in the 2nd Chance Animal Rescue-IL Most Photogenic Dog of 2014 photo contest.  She was also a finalist in the Share the Spotlight Contest with InstaCredit Automart.  This is why publishing Penny’s children’s book, Priceless Penny, is so important to me.  Through sharing Penny’s amazing adoption journey, we hope to show the world that different is beautiful and nothing is impawsible.  Please visit her official website at:  www.pricelesspennyp.com to learn more.

 

As animal lovers and advocates, we need to take a stand against such prejudiced beliefs.  Please, help Teddy, Harley, Penny, Hope and other dog survivors to be recognized as the wonderful creatures that they are.  Let Modern Dog Magazine know exactly how you feel by e-mailing them at:  info@moderndogmagazine.com.  Together, we can give a voice to the voiceless!

info@moderndogmagazine.com

Exasperating Expo

I had been waiting for the pet expo since December 2013. The weekend had finally arrived and I was pumped. I was also excited to debut my newest pet parent shirt that reads: “Yes…I do love my dog as much as you love your child.” 

 

My husband and I had gotten up early (which is quite the rarity for us). I just knew that the parking lot would be packed and I wanted to be assured a spot. Penny, our beautiful tripod, and Hope, our blind/deaf double dapple doxie, seemed to be excited, too. Once Penny’s harness and leash were on, she began running around the house, wagging her tail wildly.

 

We drove for 45 minutes before we finally arrived at the convention center. Little did we know that an Anime Convention was taking place the same day! Penny hopped out of the car and raced toward the building. Compliments from unique Anime characters soon followed.

 

Carefully, we wound our way through the crowd to the sign in table. My husband began to fill out the mandatory waiver form. Then, one of the volunteers said, “Vaccination records, please.”

WHAT? We had to bring our dog’s vaccination papers with us? Matt tried to reason with the volunteer and asked if their new rabies tags were proof enough. She shook her head and said, “No, we need the records.”

 

I was shocked and angry. Who carries around their pets’ medical records with them everywhere they go? Nowhere on the hosting rescue group’s website did it mention that these records were needed. The woman looked at us with a “what are you going to do” look.

 

The way I saw it, we had several options:

1. One of us could go into the expo while the other sat outside with the dogs.

2. We could go home and bring the vaccination records (and the dogs) back.

3. We could go home and drop off the dogs and come back.

 

We decided to go with option #3. On the way home, we had a very heated discussion about the ridiculousness of having to bring vet records. I know that not everyone keeps their pets’ records in a binder like we do. I just happen to be a person that is obsessed with organization. Finding the records was not the issue. The issue is that this was not listed as a requirement in order to bring your pets.

My husband and I have been to many an expo. One other event tried to require such records. Do you know how long that lasted? Not even a year. The hosting site tried it once and quickly abandoned the idea.

 

People come from all over to attend these expos. Can you imagine if someone traveled for hours with their pet just to be told they needed papers that were back at home? What about all of the gas running to and fro?  And how come the rabies tags are good enough for the county, but not for the hosting group?

 

When we arrived home, Hope had become quite anxious. She is not a fan of car rides since she cannot see or hear. I located their records and noticed that their shots would be expiring in October 2014. Something told me that this wasn’t going to be good enough for the snooty volunteer. I could just see her saying that the records were from 2013 and needed to be dated 2014. We made the decision to leave our dogs at home, much to my dismay. I was looking forward to socializing our babies (and getting more compliments).

 

Just to make sure that I wasn’t crazy, I pulled up the rescue’s website. I scrolled down to the flier about the expo and I was right! There was no mention of needing anything in order to bring your pets. I even went to their Facebook page to see if a special announcement was made. Nope! I printed off the page from their website. I wanted the group to know that we were not trying to buck the system.

 

By the time we returned to the expo, we had lost an hour. I guess it didn’t do us any good to get up early after all. The snooty volunteer whispered to another volunteer, “They came back.”

Well, it is nice to know that our support of your rescue group is appreciated! We quickly signed the waivers. My husband then pulled one of the male volunteers aside. He explained that we were greatly inconvenienced by having to go back home in order to locate the records when they were not listed as being necessary for the event. The man apologized and said that “they had been getting that a lot.” He then stated that he had put a call in to have someone from their group place it on their Facebook page ASAP.

 

What good does that do if you are already in route to the event? Or at the event like we were? And he is assuming that everyone checks their Facebook updates in the morning. You should not have to double and triple check to see if an event’s rules have changed.

 

Personally, I think that since it wasn’t listed as a requirement, we should have been let in. What kind of irresponsible pet parents would we be to bring our fur babies to a place with strange animals if they were not properly vetted? I understand why the group was requiring the records, but they have had months to get this information across to attendees. Someone dropped the ball and is making the possible adopters/rescue supporters pay the price.

 

I have to admit that we were greatly disappointed in what we saw. They had listed crafts, training and more. All we saw was a lot of adoptable animals and some tables selling junk. I think that this event probably should have been labeled as an Adopt-a-thon instead of an expo. Then only the people interested in adopting animals would have been enticed to come and we wouldn’t have wasted our time.

 

Additionally, none of the sellers took debit cards! Everything was cash only. We rarely carry cash. Now we were going to be hit with ATM fees that we had not planned on. Not to mention that all of the merchandise was outrageously expensive. Some rescue groups wanted $20 for a t-shirt! I understand that the money goes to support great causes, however, we have been to other rescue sponsored events where the items were much more reasonably priced (and I could buy a ton of stuff).

 

My advice to other future pet expo attendees would be to always keep a copy of your pets’ most recent vaccinations on hand.  Hopefully, you will not find yourself in a similar situation.  But, if you do, you will be prepared.

Priceless Penny’s Journey

This video montage chronicles the amazing adoption journey of our three-legged Chiweenie, Penny. Even though Penny has a severe overbite and deformed front paw, she doesn’t let anything stop her from living her best life! Be sure to check out Penny’s official website at: http://www.pricelesspennyp.com.

Tricky Tripods

One evening my husband began to tell me about a contest that he had heard about on the radio.  InstaCredit Automart was having a photo contest and the winner would get to be in the next InstaCredit Automart commercial!  We looked at each other and said, “Penny!”

 

She is our adorable tripod baby that was born with a deformed front paw and a severe overbite.  Aside from being the gorgeous girl that she is, Penny is also super friendly.  She loves everything and everybody.  In fact, she practically raised the cat that we rescued off of the street as a two week old kitten.

 

Young and old alike cannot seem to get enough of her.  Everyone is always surprised at the softness of her fur.  She might just be the softest dog in the world.  We had no doubt that Penny could win.

 

I uploaded a photo of Penny in her Christmas dress to the InstaCredit Automart Facebook page.  Then, I began my ruthless social media campaign.  I posted the link on my Facebook page, Penny’s Facebook page, my twitter page, Penny’s twitter page, my Instagram, Penny’s Instagram…

 

The votes began to come rolling in.  Like any good pet parent, I was checking her totals every day…sometimes twice!  As the numbers climbed higher, I felt more confident that Penny would be crowned the winner.

 

Soon, I was fantasizing about what could happen to Penny if she won.  She would be asked to be a spokes dog for Purina, get her face on bags of dog food, be the guest of honor at dog events like Bark in the Park.  After that, she would be asked to appear on the Today Show to explain her incredible adoption story.  This news would spread to the beloved Ellen DeGeneres, who would soon book us for her show.  Penny and I would get to live the dream of traveling the country spreading her message that different is beautiful and nothing is “impawsible.”

 

On June 2nd, I received a phone call from InstaCredit Automart.  Penny was a finalist!  We were invited to the Ultimate Pet Play Date where she would compete with the other finalists for the coveted commercial spot.  The weather that day was anything but supportive.  We got caught in two torrential downpours on our drive there.

 

We arrived early (as usual) and decided to sit in our car until the event official kicked off.  Naturally, we went into full-on pageant parent mode.  We silently judged Penny’s competition that began to fill the parking lot.  Honestly speaking, I thought Penny was a shoe-in.

 

We headed into InstaCredit Automart and waited for the contest to begin.  Dogs of all shapes and sizes were everywhere.  Most of the owners were in competition mode and did not really mingle with the other pet parents.  That didn’t bother Penny one bit.  Her tail never stopped wagging.

 

She happily sniffed each pooch that passed by.  She even got sniffed by Buckley Jr. and Buckley himself.  In case you aren’t familiar with these dogs, they are the “famous” InstaCredit Automart dogs.  Buckley’s handler kept bringing him past Penny.  I took this as a very good sign.

 

Before I knew it, it was time to line up to be judged.  The announcer began to tell everyone the rules.  The dogs were going to be judged on a 15 point system:  friendliness, presence on camera…and agility.  My heart dropped.  They wanted the dogs to perform tricks!

 

I was livid.  Nowhere in the rules did it mention tricks.  I frantically began to ask my husband if I should make Penny stand up at the end of the “red carpet” and make her dance for a treat.  We agreed to just let Penny be Penny and see what would happen.

 

We have not trained Penny to perform any tricks since she is a tripod dog.  The issue isn’t that she cannot perform tricks.  She jumps over our 3 foot pet gate on her own!  The issue is that we love Penny and know that her three “good” legs have to work much harder than a “normal” dogs’ in order to compensate for her “stump.”  This puts extra pressure on her joints since the weight isn’t evenly distributed.  

 

Also, she is part Dachshund and we are trying to be very careful with her back.  My friend had a doxie that slipped a disc.  The surgery cost $5,000!  While we would do anything for our fur babies, we would rather not take the chance of injuring them.

 

Penny did her very best as she strutted down the red carpet.  She even stopped to sniff the judges.  We stood by the front doors, watching and waiting.  Suddenly, a little fluff ball of a dog came running over to Penny.

 

“Oh, my gosh!  She’s a tripod, too!” squealed the dog’s owner.  The tiny long-haired Chihuahua’s name was Lena.  She had to have her front right leg amputated due to abuse from her former owner.  Lena was a smiling ball of energy.  I could see why she bonded with Penny.  And her owners were thrilled to meet another tripod pooch.  We took several pictures of Lena and Penny together.  You can check them out on Penny’s website at:  www.pricelesspennyp.com.

 

We turned our attention back to the contest just in time to see Boomer, a homely looking Boxer, come schlepping down the carpet.  That’s when the show began.  His owner dropped to her knees and proceeded to have Boomer give her a high-five, dance and do the exploding fist bump.  I knew at that moment we were toast.

 

As they began to announce the winners, I saw several of the judges look at me and Penny.  They started talking to each other and I thought that we might still have a chance.  Little Miss Lena won second place!  My husband instructed me not to scream as he figured that Penny won first place.

 

My heart was beating wildly in my chest.  I was ready to parade Penny up in front of the judges and pose for pictures. 

 

“And our first place winner is…Boomer!”

 

WHAT?!  There had to be some sort of mistake.  While I understand that every pet parent knows that his/her baby is the cutest, I can honestly say that this dog was very plain.  And I am not speaking as a sore loser.  I even told my husband that I would have been completely happy if any other dog would have won.  There was an adorable miniature Greyhound, a dazzling Yorkie, the list goes on.  Why Boomer was picked as a finalist in a photo contest, I will never understand.

 

This brings me to my major complaint:  Boomer won because of the tricks that he performed.  I do not feel that this was fair.  A dog should not be judged on what types of tricks it can do unless the contest is specifically for tricks.  This was supposed to be a photo contest.  The dog’s personality was supposed to be judged to assure that he/she would get along with the InstaCredit Automart dogs that he/she would be filming with.  But, they chose to boil it all down to tricks.

 

Penny is such an inspiration.  She doesn’t need any tricks or gimmicks to make her special or unique because she already is.  Abandoned as a stray in California, Penny has remained sweet to everyone that she meets, even though she had been tossed aside like garbage.  Being born with several deformities doesn’t stop her from doing anything that a “normal” dog can do.  She continues to amaze us daily with the power of her loving spirit.

 

We don’t need to win a contest to validate how wonderful Penny is.  We have the honor of getting to experience Penny every day.  Our lives were forever changed for the better the day that we made her a part of our furry family. 

Carless Kids

My husband and I are blessed to own our home.  We love the extremely large back yard.  And so do our wonderful fur babies.

 

Upon arriving home from work one day, I let our babies outside to do their business.  I went into the bathroom, which has a window that faces into the back yard.  I noticed that our neighbor’s dog was being followed by three young boys…all carrying sticks in their hands.

 

I watched the boys to make sure that they were not hitting the dog.  When I saw that they were not, I continued on with my cleaning.  That’s when the commotion began.

 

My dogs were barking like crazy and I noticed that they had all congregated in the back corner of the yard.  Sure enough, there stood the youngest boy, who appeared to be about three years old.  The boy was standing in the middle of the alley.

 

This made me angry.  Cars typically come flying down that alley with little regard as to who may be out and about.  I wondered where this boy’s parents were.

 

As I headed outside to bring my dogs in, the little boy kept walking closer and closer to our fence.  Why weren’t his brothers watching him?  We have three large “Beware of Dog” signs hanging up on our fence, but I knew that this boy couldn’t read.

 

“Guys, clam down.  Inside!” I shouted as I raced to get them away from the fence.  That’s when I heard the boy’s brothers.

 

“Guys, guys!” they mocked.

 

Most of my fur babies ran straight into the house.  But not Theo.  He stood rooted by the fence, barking and snarling for all he was worth.  Theo was abused by children in his previous home.  To this day, he still hates kids.  He cannot be around them, even for a second.

 

I tried to calm him down and make my point to the older brothers by saying, “I know, Theo.  You don’t like kids.”

 

I scooped Theo up and watched as the boy’s brothers came out from behind my neighbor’s house.

 

“Can we pet your dogs?” one boy had the nerve to ask.

 

“Not today.  Not all of them are friendly,” I said and promptly went inside and slammed the door.

 

 This type of behavior simply enrages me.  Why are parents teaching their children that it is acceptable to go up to dogs that they do not know and pet them?  This is truly a recipe for disaster.

 

I kept envisioning the child sticking his chubby little hand through the chain link fence and Theo biting him.  The boy would scream and start to bleed and Theo would be carted off to the pound and killed within the hour because clearly, he is “vicious.”

 

People (especially careless parents) are so quick to blame a dog for its actions instead of looking at the facts.  First, the boy was on our property and Theo knew it.  Theo is our alpha male.  He has been a part of my life for over 10 years.  He would do anything to protect me.

 

Second, we are very responsible dog owners, which is why we placed the “Beware of Dog” signs on our fence.  We actually bought them specifically for children.  I was in hopes that parents were teaching their kids that if they see a sign that looks similar to stay away.  I guess I was wrong.

 

Thirdly, you cannot know a dog’s story simply by looking at him or her.  While Theo’s physical signs of abuse have healed, his memories remain fully intact.  He makes the connection between children and harm.  This was nothing that was taught to him.  It is something that he, unfortunately, experienced first hand.  Every dog has a story and they are not always pleasant.

 

Yet, dogs continue to get a bad reputation when the ones that are to blame are the children (and their thoughtless parents).  Parents need to be held accountable for their children’s actions.  I hate hearing “He’s only a child.  He didn’t know any better.”  And who’s fault would that be?

 

So, a dog should “sense” that the child is only “playing” when it pulls on his/her tail?  What about when a child kicks a dog for “fun?”  A dog can only react to a situation based upon his/her instincts and training.  These defenseless creatures should not be expected to take abuse from anyone at any time. 

 

I try to place myself in my dogs’ paws.  If someone kicked me or poked me in the eye, I would nip at them, too!  Would we, as humans, accept this treatment from others?  Certainly not!  We would be dialing 911 and requesting police assistance immediately.

 

Dogs do not have this luxury.  If they are being abused, they have two options:  1. Take it  2. Fight back.  I do not believe that either of these choices are fair.  As dog parents, we are expected to account for every sniff and lick that our dogs make. 

 

I think that this philosophy needs to be applied to the parents of human children, too.  If your child disobeys the dog owner and gets bitten, the child is at fault.  I never take my eyes off of my dogs whenever they are around other people.  Not because I believe that they would instigate a situation, but because I know that other pet parents are not as vigilant and neither are their human counterparts.

 

As pet parents, we are our dogs’ only protection from the ignorance of others.  I am pretty sure that in the above mentioned scenario, the child’s parents would sue and win.  And a loving animal would be senselessly killed due to the stupidity of a few humans.

 

Remember to ALWAYS watch your pets, even in your own backyard.  You never know when it could turn into a battlefield.

 

 

 

Delightfully Different

From the moment that I laid eyes on Penny, I knew that she was different.  Her severe overbite is quite hard to ignore.  And her deformed front paw turns heads everywhere we go.

When my husband first met her, he told me (and I quote), “She’s ugly!”  But, I completely ignored him as I watched Penny hopping around our living room like a bunny.  It was too late.  She had me wrapped around her little “stump.”

My mom also scoffed at my newest addition.  “She just looks….different.”  That is when I realized my mom was right.

Penny is most certainly different from any other dog that I have ever met.  While she has what some would consider to be “defects,” Penny acts just like her four-legged, normal snouted fur brothers and sister.  She happily jumps on and off of the furniture when playing.  She races Cole (our 21 pound Min Pin) around the back yard and often beats him!

Her spirit is simply amazing.  She has survived being abandoned and left in a shelter to die.  She greets everyone she meets with a wag of her extra-long tail and what can only be described as a smile on her face.

Penny has taught me that being different is wonderful.  And in doing so, I have gotten to meet other fur parents who fell in love with those that are “different.”  Rosie, is the most touching example.  She was a Chihuahua that was the product of backyard breeding by an animal hoarder.  Unfortunately, she was born with almost no hair, an elongated snout and front legs whose bones had fused together, forcing her to crawl on her “elbows.”

But, Rosie was also born with the most beautiful blue eyes.  And these eyes saw nothing but goodness and hope.  Upon being rescued, she was soon adopted by a wonderful woman.  She saw saving Rosie as the perfect opportunity to show the world that looking different was a gift and nothing to be ashamed of.

Poor Rosie had her share of health problems due to her previous living conditions.  Sadly, Ms. Rosie passed away this October.  But, her memory lives on through her website:  www.everythingrosie.com.  Rosie’s mom continues to spread the word about the importance of adopting animals from shelters instead of heading to a breeder.  She also strives to teach people to report animal abuse so that others, like Ms. Rosie, can have a second chance at life.

From visiting Rosie’s site, I soon found out about Bunny, the miracle puppy.  She was born with a primary cleft palate, and without eyes!  Unfortunately, many people would have thought Bunny to be “useless” and a “mistake.”  But, Bunny’s rescuers saw a special dog that simply needed love.  Bunny now thrives at the special needs dog rescue, Pulling for Paws. Check out this fantastic pooch on her very own Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bunny-the-Miracle-Puppy/361605037279954

Yet another unique pooch is Emma, the Chihuahua.  This little cutie was born with a cleft palate. To the naked eye, it appears that she is missing part of her nose.  And since her nose is deformed, her tongue can always be seen.  Still, Emma has grown up to be one sensational pup.  She is even in the running for the Guinness Book of World Records for “World’s Smallest Dog Model.”  Check out her Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfEmmaCleftPalateChihuahua and her official web page at: http://elizabethhart.com/friendsofemma.html.

To me, Penny is just as inspirational as Rosie, Bunny and Tess.  Special needs dogs are just that:  special.  And owning one will change your life forever.

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