Quentin! DaVinci Dog! Weego! Did you know that some of our most loved canine stars were just days or hours away from being euthanized before they hit the big time? Or that others had been relinquished or abandoned before being discovered? Some owners of these canine celebs have even used the spotlight to promote awareness of shelter dogs. I’m finishing up a series of three posts, in which I’ll acquaint you with some of these stars. This post features famous dogs who have been used to promote awareness of shelter dogs.
When a St. Louis animal shelter worker opened the door of the euthanasia chamber, he couldn’t believe his eyes. After 30 minutes of breathing carbon monoxide gas, the reddish brown Basenji mix dog was alive, alert and looking straight at him over the bodies of the dead dogs all around him. The staff didn’t understand how the dog had lived through the euthanasia process but they didn’t have the heart to re-gas the survivor and he was adopted and named ‘Quentin’ by the founder of Stray Rescue of St. Louis, Randy Grim.
–Randy Grim, Five Shelter Dogs Who Became Famous
The article from which I took the above quote says that Florida is one of the twelve states that have banned the type of gas chamber that Quentin survived, with six more considering bans. Grimm uses Quentin’s story to reach thousands and raise awareness of this slow and inhumane form of euthanasia.
Grimm isn’t the only advocate using a rescued dog to raise awareness of animals in need. Advertising executive Paul Amechenko found his dog Brinks at a Florida animal shelter. As his new pet slobbered on the windows, Paul had the idea to publish a book of Brink’s ‘slobber art’. Called The DaVinci Dog, the book went on to win pet Book of the Year by Foreward Magazine and the Top Humor/Comedy/Satire award from the Independent Book Publishers Association. The pair have continued to travel the United States promoting shelter adoption. They also donate 25% of their profits to animal shelters to help other dogs like Brinks find homes.
Next, there is Weego. According to Tails Pet Magazine, Weego hit the jackpot when a dog trainer trainer brought him home one day. Weego’s natural talents helped him take the star role in a 2012 Superbowl Bud Light advertisement, where he played the part of a rescue dog. In honor of his humble beginnings, for every ‘like‘ Weego received in 2012, Bud Light donated $1 (up to $250,000) to Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation.
Last on my list, Dwane Folsom adopted Shadow an hour after she was scheduled to be euthanized at a Florida shelter. Experienced in dog training, Folsom taught Shadow basic manners and commands, enabling her to become a well-behaved and much-loved pet who remains at the side of her active owner. When Folsom went scuba diving, he noticed that Shadow would jump off the boat and try to follow him. Being an ace mechanic and amateur inventor, he built a special breathing apparatus for his canine buddy and trained her to scuba dive. A local newspaper featured Shadow in a human interest story which was picked up by the Associated Press and went international. Shadow has since been featured on over a hundred television shows, as well as magazines and newspapers. The pair promote awareness of shelter dogs.
Sixteen famous dogs have been featured in this three-part series. All the dogs came from shelters or the streets. Sadly, millions of dogs today still face euthanasia or starvation through no fault of their own. The dog you save might live a less glamorous life than the ones I’ve featured, but certainly its ability to love and be loved is just as strong. The famous dogs featured are no different from all the dogs that languish in shelters. The only difference is that someone gave them a chance. Will you offer the same to a dog in need today?
Shadow enjoyed celebrity status for many years and it all started with a mutt in her last moments on death row at an animal shelter. She was an amazing, smart, loving dog and it just goes to show that shelter dogs really are the best dogs.
–Dwane Folsom, Five Shelter Dogs Who Became Famous
FAMOUS DOGS WHO PROMOTE SHELTER ADOPTIONS