Need some inspiration for your Instagram feed? These five dogs with special needs are sure to add some sunshine to your day while you’re scrolling through the ‘gram. They may come from diverse backgrounds, but these amazing pups have some things in common: They don’t let their past define them, they show us that it’s okay to be different, and they can teach us a thing or two about determination, kindness, and forgiveness.
Nubby is a boxer who lives in Texas with his animal rescuer parents and adoptive doggie siblings. Born without front legs, he was only a few hours old when the vet suggested that he be put down. Because he didn’t have enough strength and his littermates kept pushing him out of the way, he couldn’t reach his mother to eat.
Fortunately, Nubby ended up going home with Lou Robinson and Mark Bowlin, who took turns waking up every hour throughout the night to feed him. The couple wasn’t sure if the little puppy was going to make it through the first night, but he did.
Not only did he pull through, but Nubby also eventually figured out how to get around on his own—he’s even learned to jump! “You’ll see him running as if he’s not even missing anything,” Mark tells The Dodo.
Today, Nubby is the ambassador of Warriors Educate About Rescue, a non-profit that advocates for differently-abled critters and animal rescue. “Nubby doesn’t give up,” says Lou. “He could, but that’s not what Nubby does.”
Freddie Mercury (@ready_freddie_)
Named after the flamboyant frontman of British rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury was found in a bag under a car when she was 10 months old. Discarded and neglected, she was riddled with problems that seemed insurmountable for a puppy her size—broken bones, malnourishment, and two rows of teeth and an overbite that made it difficult for her to eat.
But despite her diminutive and frail appearance, Freddie showed everyone that she is a fighter. After being rescued by Marley’s Mutts, she was adopted by Angela Adan, who knew right away that they were meant to be together.
“I think it’s really easy to look at Freddie and think: broken, strange, different,” Rocky Kanaka, a friend of Angela’s and Freddie’s, says in his show Dog’s Day Out. “But if you take a closer look, what you really see is a dog that has courage. That after all she’s been through, she’s willing to forgive and to love and to live in the moment and be happy.”
Picasso is a Pitbull Corgi mix who was born with a twisted snout. Rescued from the streets of Southern California, he and his brother Pablo were bred for profit and then abandoned when no one wanted them.
Liesl Wilhardt, who runs Luvable Dog Rescue in Eugene, Oregon, agreed to take the brothers from the high-kill shelter they were staying and foster them while they were waiting for their forever home. Picasso’s unusual face quickly turned him into an online celebrity—in addition to press and social media followers, Picasso received letters from people with facial deformities.
Liesl, who ended up adopting Picasso after Pablo passed away, tells The Dodo, “They really have related to Picasso and how he’s different and yet he’s happy. People love him and it’s okay to look different. It’s a beautiful thing.”
In early 2018, Picasso was awarded the Diamond Collar Hero Award by the Oregon Humane Society for his resiliency and courage.
Named for his resemblance to a young pig, Piglet is a Dachshund Chihuahua mix who was born without sight or hearing. This deaf and blind pup was rescued from a hoarding situation in Georgia together with his mother and three littermates.
Unlike his pink exterior, Piglet’s first months at his foster home in Connecticut (which later became his forever home) were not all roses. But thanks to his family’s love and patience, Piglet went from constantly screaming and suffering from severe separation anxiety to taking walks down the street, playing with his adoptive canine siblings, and accompanying his veterinarian mom to house calls.
Now a confident and well-socialized dog, Piglet has become quite the celebrity, traveling around the country and guesting at various events, including the New York Pet Fashion Show and The Body Shop’s Forever Against Animal Testing parade.
Piglet and his family have also given presentations on spaying and neutering, special needs pet adoption, and other issues. Piglet’s mission is to put a smile on faces around the world.
Maggie the wonder dog (@maggiethewonderdog)
Maggie the Wonder Dog has no eyes and only one ear. But unlike the other featured dogs who were born with their deformities, Maggie’s unusual appearance is the result of cruelty—she was shot multiple times with a pellet gun and her right ear was cut off.
Thanks to a successful online campaign, Maggie was rescued and flown from Lebanon to England, where she now lives with her mom Kasey Carlin and canine sister Mishka. Before leaving the Middle East, Maggie had to have her eyes removed and her eyelids sewn shut to prevent further damage.
Maggie may have lost her eyes and ear to abuse, but she’s still one of the friendliest pups you’ll ever meet. In fact, she is now spreading love as a therapy dog, making regular visits to the University of Sussex and nursing homes.
“She sees with her heart,” Kasey says during an appearance on This Morning.
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s October 2019 issue.