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Dog Story of the week: Dubby

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A woman was out for her morning walk when she heard cries coming from the dilapidated barn.  The grunts and calls of animals frequently filled the morning air as she walked these country roads, and she normally wouldn’t have thought twice, but something about this noise was different.  It wasn’t just the sound of the world waking up… it was the sound of an animal in distress.

The cold fog was hanging low and grass was covered in dew, and as she moved towards the barn, she shivered as she felt the moisture seeping through her shoes.  She was alone and uncertain if she should continue through the yard littered with rusted tools and forgotten junk, but each time she heard the faint cries, she kept moving forward.  As she pulled her sweater tighter and slowly pulled a door open to look inside, she couldn’t believe what she saw.

This was the day Dubby was found.    

These details are largely imagined because we couldn’t speak to the person who found Dubby.  All we know is that a neighbor responded to the cries of a dog who had been left in a cold abandoned barn, and when she entered, she found a senior English bulldog who was crippled and extremely emaciated.  The neighbor took this abandoned dog to a local shelter, and after examining her, it was decided that the most humane decision would be to euthanize.

Thankfully, this day wasn’t the end for Dubby.  It was just the beginning of the rest of her life.



photo by Mighty Mutts


She weighed eighteen pounds when she was found.  To put this number in perspective, eighteen pounds is the normal weight of a Pug, Shihtzu, or Papillon.  A large English Bulldog this weight is considered extremely emaciated, and this senior girl was on the brink of starvation.  She was crippled by a back leg that had been broken in two places, and not only that, she was a senior dog who had little chance of recovery from her extremely damaged state. A @mightymutts volunteer who was is in contact with shelters in the south heard of this bulldog’s condition and immediately came to her rescue, pulling her from the shelter and transporting her to NYC for surgery, treatment, and rest.  

When she arrived in NYC, Dubby underwent surgery and was boarding outside the city at the home of @mightymutts founder.  She was safe and cared for, and she slowly began to put on weight and heal from her injuries.  She needed to be moved to manhattan so she could more easily be transported to adoption events and veterinary appointments, so the plea went out for a foster home for this girl and was met with no response.  Though Dubby had a sweet personality and was loved by everyone who met her, it was hard to place her in a foster home because she had no social skills such as potty training, leash walking, or house manners. As the weeks turned into months and Dubby was not finding a foster home, it began to sink in that though Dubby was now rescued and safe, finding a forever-home for this girl was going to be a very long road. 



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Week after week, Dubby grew stronger and more healthy, and month after month, she drove into the city with her temporary foster dad to meet people looking for a new family member. Dubby greeted everyone with a big bully smile and showered people with snorts, licks, and joy, but one after the next, people met Dubby and then walked away looking for something different. Many couldn’t commit to adopting a senior, and some wanted a dog who was housebroken. Some wanted a dog more energetic, and others wanted a dog of a different size or breed. The reasons varied, but the answer was always the same: “she’s sweet but not right for me.”

Dubby’s case was growing more hopeless as the months passed without interest, and she desperately needed to move to a foster home in the city so she could more easily attend veterinary appointments and adoption events. So, @mightymutts began a social media crusade to help Dubby. Erin from @susiesseniordogs came out to film a special on the senior girl in need of a home, and a volunteer named Michele decided to launch and manage an Instagram account just for Dubby. Everyone was falling in love with the bulldog with the crooked underbite, and as the Instagram community began to spread the word, a woman named Alex who had been watching her progress online decided to make the phone call that would change Dubby’s life forever.




It had been a long day, and Alex was getting ready for bed when she picked up her phone to see if there were any new updates on Dubby’s Instagram account.  She’d been following her progress for some time, and though she hadn’t met her yet, Alex had fallen in love with the crooked underbite and sweet personality that she saw in her photos.  That evening when she opened Instagram, she saw another urgent plea from @mightymutts for a foster home in Manhattan so Dubby could recover from surgery.  Her building allowed dogs, and she didn’t have one of her own… but could she possibly take Dubby in?  She held her phone in her lap and stared into space as she tried to imagine how this might affect her schedule, apartment, and life… sure, it would be challenging and would certainly take some adjustment, but it would allow Dubby a better chance of finding a family.  So, at 10pm on Tuesday evening, Alex picked up her phone and responded to the plea.  The @mightymutts director called her back that very evening, and two days later, after meetings and home checks, Dubby was in her new foster home on the Upper East Side.  As fate would have it, Dubby’s new foster home was just 6 blocks away from Michele, the @mightymutts volunteer who had been managing her Instagram account all along.  

Michele and Alex lived just a few minutes apart and quickly became “Team Dubby”!  Alex kept her most of the time, but Michele would take over when Alex was traveling, and as the months went on, Michele started asking to keep Dubby on weekends and holidays.  As Michele told me this story, she said, “It only took a few months for me to know that I was going to adopt Dubby.”  Surprisingly, it was Dubby’s difficulties that made Michele decide to adopt.  She told me, “Dubby was a special case.  She had broken teeth, no doubt from her abuse and starvation, she didn’t know any basic commands, she couldn’t walk well, she wasn’t housetrained, and she was very dog reactive.  These were all signs that she was never loved or socialized and needed a very patient adopter.  At that time, @mightymutts had so many adoptable dogs who would have been easy, but I decided to take the hard case.   Quite frankly, I was afraid no one would love her like I did, so I decided to make it official and adopt my Dubby.”





One year after Dubby was found in the abandoned barn, she moved to her forever-home with Michele.  Her wonderful foster mom Alex had kept her a few extra months while Michele found an apartment building that would allow a bulldog, and in March 2017, Dubby walked into Michele’s apartment, jumped up on the couch, and settled right in to her new normal.  In one year, Dubby had increased in weight from 18 pounds to 54 pounds and had developed into a happy, friendly dog.   However, Michele was realistic about the fact that she had just adopted a senior dog who still had major obstacles to overcome:  she wasn’t housebroken, didn’t understand basic commands, couldn’t walk far because of residual issues from her broken leg, wasn’t social with other dogs, and generally wasn’t used to living in a home.

Michelle started at square one: sit, stay, down.  She treated her newly-adopted senior dog as a puppy as she repeatedly took her outside and helped her learn when and where to go potty.  She believed in Dubby and gave her the chance to learn… and the girl who had been passed on by so many potential adopters responded to the training with great understanding!  When I came to visit Dubby to photograph this story, she proudly showed me all her tricks and behaved like a dog whose place had always been in a home.  I was so touched by how Michele and Dubby interacted with each other, and I am so thankful to have had the chance to witness the mutual love and respect of a girl and her new (old) dog.





@dubbybulldog’s body still bears the signs of her past abuse and neglect.  Her leg that was broken still bothers her, and she generally moves slowly.  Michele told me, “I am a very active person, so if I could haven chosen my ideal dog, it would have been one who could join me for long walks around the city… but on a good day, Dubby can barely make it around the block.”  This doesn’t get these two women down, though!  When telling me about Dubby’s physical limitations, Michele waved a hand toward the stroller and told me, “It’s OK though!  Her Fur-cedes gets us anywhere we want to go.  Dubby gets to enjoy the city just like any other dog – she just doesn’t have to do all the work!”  Michele and Dubby go on daily slow walks so she can keep those bulldog legs in shape, but on longer evenings and weekends, Michele loads Dubby in the Fur-cedes and they take off on adventures.  They recently walked all the way home from Central Park to Sunnyside!  As you can imagine, Dubby has become well-known around her neighborhood and constantly gets stopped for photos and love.  This old lady bulldog certainly doesn’t mind… after all, she’s in no rush!   

I want to end Dubby’s story by thanking all the people who came together to make her rescue possible.  First of all, @mightymutts are the heroes.  They pulled Dubby from the shelter, brought her to NYC, fostered her outside the city for 5 months, funded her medical expenses, and gained her exposure at adoption events and online.  Without rescues like @mightymutts, Dubby would not be here today.  Secondly, Dubby’s foster mom Alex saved Dubby’s life on the very day that she needed it.  She fostered her for eight months and loved her despite her lack of training or house manners.  And Michele, thank you for giving Dubby a home.  It’s obvious how loved and secure she feels in your home, and that’s the very best gift you could ever give her.  She was always meant to be with you.  


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