Here's a super article that I thought I would pass on...hope you find it heroic! –Kim
Dog Who Survived Against All Odds Spends His Life Helping Others
By: Maria Goodavage
January 26, 2012
Now He Could Use a Helping Paw for His Web Video Series
Today Dogster brings you the heartwarming rags-to-riches dog story of Tugg, a Bull Terrier who got off to an incredibly horrendous start in life, was rescued and nurtured and loved back from the brink of death by a very caring couple, and who now spends his life helping others, and doing so with a loving smile. His people call it "wuffing it forward," and they do it in abundance.
Tugg is now hoping to star in his own 15-episode Web series. If it gets funding, he will portray a superhero (well, he is a superhero, really), with Webisodes focusing on important issues like dog rescue, bullying, discrimination, self-esteem, proper pet care, adoption and shelter conditions.
It's a series designed to reach all audiences, from young children, who are most open to these teachable moments, to adults who are looking for something fun and different.
If you like the idea of this, you can actually be a superhero who helps make this happen. Tugg's people work as animal control officers in Fort Worth, Texas. They're not made of money. The series will cost about $8,000 to make. They want to make this so badly, but they can't bear the financial burden.
So they've created a Kickstarter project in hopes of raising the money to support the project. Anyone can donate. Any amount is greatly appreciated, and all of it will go toward the multiple expenses of making a good Web series. (If they don't reach the goal of $8k, the money does not get sent. Let's hope that does not happen!) And there are incentives as well. Check out the Kickstarter page for Tugg's project and sniff around for how you can participate. Right now they're at about $2,700, and they have until Feb. 14 to reach the goal. The clock is ticking.
What follows is a Dogster interview with Blake Ovard, one of Tugg's folks. It runs pretty long for a Web Q&A, because you'll really get to know this dog and his people, and everything they have done and continue to do for so many dogs and people.
A police officer was dispatched and the on-call animal control officer was contacted. The police officer arrived first and sat with the poor puppy for almost an hour before the animal control officer could arrive. The police officer said he could not believe what he saw – a small, male bull terrier puppy, about 4 months old, which appeared to have been badly burned. The animal control officer drove the puppy to the animal shelter, where he was given food and water and made as comfortable as possible while waiting to see the shelter vet the next morning.
The puppy was evaluated, and to the relief of many, was found to not have been burned. He had an extremely bad case of demodectic mange and a host of other ailments. His eyes were swollen shut from the infections and scabs and open sores that covered his head and upper body.
A couple of days went by, and a few of the rescues expressed an interest, but said they were full and couldn't spare the room. Another said the procedures to treat the diseases and ailments would cost too much money. A few days turned into a week, and the shelter staff did the best they could for the pup.
My wife, Kim, and I are both animal control officers. We watched this small, frail puppy and hoped a rescue would come forward to help him – but none did. So, we decided that if the weekend came – well past the 72 hours hold at the shelter – and still no rescue would help, we would take this magical puppy home and care for him ourselves. He was slated for euthanasia on Monday.
During the week, a few of the officers and the vet tech at the shelter had tried to softly wash the areas around the pup's eyes so that he could open them. By Sunday, he could open them a tiny amount. In that tiny sliver, we could see the spark within – the spark that said this dog wanted to live.
No one came forward by Sunday, so Kim scheduled an appointment at an emergency vet, and took the 4-month-old puppy to see what he needed. We did not expect what the vet told us. After the exam, the vet said she had some bad news – she felt this puppy was too far gone and should probably be put down so that he wouldn't suffer any more.
We called and set an appointment for as early as possible the next day at our normal vet. We carried in the weakened pup, and waited with bated breath while our vet did the examination. As he finished the exam our vet smiled, which is his normal demeanor, and told us that he thought the dog had a chance – maybe not much of one, but he had one. That was all we needed to hear. He said the fight would not be short, and it would not be easy. It would take a lot of time, medication, love, good nutrition, and money, but it could be done.
There was no question what we would do. This little one showed the will to live and showed that he would fight for it. We would give him a chance. Before we even got home, we knew he would not be like any of our other dogs – we also own show Briards, a Sheltie and a Border Collie – or any of our foster dogs. We knew he was coming home to stay. On the way home, we named him – Tugg, because he tugged at our heart strings.
The first few days were touch and go. He ate, drank and went out to do his business. And any time not spent doing that, he slept. Each morning we would wake up and hope he was still alive, and each afternoon when we got home we had the same hope. Every day he got better, and it wasn't long until he was showing his true personality.
In addition to bringing Tugg home when we did, I was also in the middle of training two dogs for the Extreme Mutt Makeover – an event only 15 dog trainers are invited to participate in each year, and I was the only trainer who had two. The trainer gets eight weeks with a shelter dog – in my case, two shelter dogs – and at the end of the training time, each dog competes to show what they have learned. The public gets then gets the chance to adopt the dogs. Each of the dogs I was training had their own Facebook pages as part of the program.
Since we were posting daily updates on the makeover dogs, Kim suggested I make a page for Tugg as well. Many of our friends and family asked, almost daily, how Tugg was doing, and a page of his own would tell everyone at once.
That's when Tugg got his own Facebook page.
There were only a dozen or so of our friends following Tugg's progress on his page the first days. His daily pupdates included a little about how he was doing with his treatments and a little about what he had gotten into that day, if anything. Each day was a new day for Tugg, and he saw the world through his newly opened eyes in a way that was full of wonder and amazement.
Like a child wrapped in a dog suit, he also discovered that while he was getting better in the real world, in Tugg's world, he was also a superhero. Sometimes his adventures even take on a look like being in a comic book.
Within a week, the number of followers had climbed to 100. By two weeks the number had almost doubled, and by a month Tugg's page had almost 1,000 followers from all over the world.
Tugg helps others by "wuffing it forward" while raising funds and awareness for human and animal causes in the community. His accomplishments are numerous, especially considering he has only been able to work toward them for less than two years – and most of that time he was in the process of healing himself.
I think we knew right away that Tugg was special. From the time he was in the shelter, he had that special spark. On top of that, we are reminded almost daily what a special dog he is. Because we put Tugg's e-mail address on his Facebook page, we frequently get messages from his friends. Some have become close friends to us as well.
We have had several people e-mail to tell us how Tugg has touched their lives, and how they appreciate his positive outlook. I think people can connect with his other motto of "Never give up, you are great just the way you are. And, remember to wuff it forward." We have had more than one person contact us and tell us that Tugg literally saved their lives – that they were contemplating suicide, and because of the positive message on Tugg's page every day, they gained the will to keep living.
- Tugg visits schools, not only as a certified therapy dog to help in class, sometimes by reading to the students and others just being a calming factor in class, but to teach children what responsible pet ownership is all about, and to help teach them about social issues like self esteem and antibullying and to stimulate their imagination and sense of wonder.
- Tugg created his "You are great just the way you are" program to help children understand that being different is okay, and that is what makes each and every person special. He has created handouts and worksheets for children to draw on and color and be interactive with to help them remember what they learned in class with Tugg.
- Tugg adopted two U.S. soldiers serving overseas, and sends them care packages regularly. In addition, Tugg also launched his Operation Support-a-Soldier. Through the program, Tugg's fans on Facebook can send him the name and mailing address of a soldier, sailor, or airman and Tugg will send that soldier a special "Super TOAST," a letter of encouragement thanking that soldier for his or her service and a couple of blank greeting cards with envelopes so the soldiers have something to write home on.
- Tugg organized a pet food drive for a local animal shelter and coordinated the effort with the Brotherhood of the Third Wheel, a local motorcycle organization composed of riders who drive trikes, and brought in more than 2,500 pounds of dry pet food.
- Tugg was the special celebrity dog model at the Fashion Group International's Four-Legged Fashion: Canine meets Couture event, and modeled an outfit made specially for him by the famous designer Finley. Although the totals are not completely finished, the show raised more than $12,000 for four small rescue groups by auctioning the items worn by the dog models – and organizers said this year's show will be a record year.
- He helps rehabilitate other dogs and cats who are brought to his home as fosters. To date, Tugg has helped more than a dozen dogs and puppies and nine cats and kittens learn to adjust and become suitable pets for adopters.
- Tugg was asked to give a special presentation to the mayor and city council of Fort Worth. He was also the guest of the mayor at the mayor's state of the city address. Because of Tugg's involvement with the city, more resources from the city budget have been directed to animal control, and grant money from private donors, totaling around $400,000, was given to the city to operate the first-ever public-private partnership between a shelter and Petsmart – opening the first 7-day-a-week adoption center staffed by city shelter workers.
Kim and I are both full-time animal control officers. Sometimes one of us will still be working on a case helping animals and the other will have to come home and take care of ours. We do our job because we love animals and we want to help them as much as we can. People ask us if it's like on Animal Cops, and the answer to that is yes, only many times it's worse.
I'm not really sure where we find the time for everything. I guess it's because we don't do anything else. Our world revolves around our animals, and if something falls outside of that, it pretty much falls by the wayside.
We talked about what the best way would be. Our producers, Chris Sergi and Kareem Ferguson, said the best way was probably to start with a Web series, since a lot of new and innovative material is going that way.
The live action could focus more on the real-world aspects of Tugg's adventures, and the animation could better depict his adventures when he is traveling through time and space in his time machine, or when Tugg dons his red cape and flies of to save the day because he is a superhero. Animation would also be beneficial to showcase some of his other talents, like baking and being an artist.
From dogs in other dimensions to fending off an attacking horde of stick monsters, Tugg has a grand adventure almost every day. He also has quiet moments of reflections with his elderly neighbor and sometimes picks on his BIG little brother, Ajaxx, as only a brother would.
As a dog who is also a superhero, Tugg formed a group consisting of other animal superheroes as well. That group is L.E.A.S.H. (League of Extraordinary Animal Super Heroes), and some Webisodes will feature members of L.E.A.S.H. from around the globe, fighting evil and standing for everything that is good.
There'll be a little bit of everything for all ages, and it will always be safe for everyone.
In addition, Tugg will deal with shelter conditions, overcrowding, adoptions, proper pet care and other issues directly relating to dogs and cats.
I would love to go into more detail, but we're finalizing some of those scripts and I don't want to give any spoilers!
But, don't fear, there will be plenty of time travel and other adventures too! Adventure with a cause is always better than a cause with no adventure, or an adventure with no cause.
To fund the series, we started a Kickstarter project. All of the money donated goes into producing the Web series.
Another way someone can help, is if they are in the film business, they are welcome to volunteer and work with us. We'll start filming in late February or early March. Just send us an e-mail with what you would like to do, your experience, and when you might be available. You can e-mail Tugg at: email@example.com.
I really hope we make our goal so that we can have the cool animation we are planning, but if we don't, we are still going through with the Web series – our budget will be just that much tighter. Which will probably mean that I'll be skipping a few lunches to get things paid for. It also means that we won't be doing the animation, but will have to opt for low-budget effects. That could be just as interesting, and we plan on making the series just as entertaining, but would really like to have it look the best that it can.
Source: Dog Who Survived Against All Odds
- Tugg the Bull Terrier (Blog)
- Tugg's Facebook page
- L.E.A.S.H. (League of Extraordinary Animal Super Heroes)
- Tugg's Kickstarter page (to raise funds)