New Yorker Mary Hammett found the perfect running partner in her adopted dog, Joyce. The split-faced pup manages to be incredibly fast, despite having only two and a half legs. If it weren’t for her physical limitations, you might never know about Joyce’s early hardships in life. She has an unbridled enthusiasm and is an inspiration to everyone that she meets.
Last year the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) rescued 40 dogs from Cozumel, Mexico, who had been evicted from their home at the local garbage dump.
Mary found out about the “Dump Dogs,” as they were nicknamed, through an IFAW e-mail. She wasn't actively looking to adopt another dog, and certainly not one from thousands of miles away, but there was something special about Joyce.
As it turns out, Joyce was in dire need of veterinary care. The trauma she had experienced put her at risk for a bone infection and time was running out.
Mary and her boyfriend debated about rescuing Joyce when there were so many local animals in need. But one look at Joyce, and the huge cast on her back leg, and the decision was made.
"We cannot save them all,” explains Mary, “But Joyce, against all odds, had come to our attention from far, far away. She captured us, and truly, there was no more debate. Joyce was our dog, and the sooner we could get our arms around her, the better.”
There were many challenges during the first few months, but Joyce had an extraordinary determination. She was on a full battery of medications and went through many different wheelchairs and harnesses before Mary could find one that worked for Joyce.
But in just eight months, Joyce has made incredible progress and is nearly unrecognizable from the dog in the IFAW e-mail.
"Joyce is a rock star,” remarks Mary. “She is fierce, funny, smart, sweet, and intense. She can cruise remarkably fast on her two and a half legs and, with a little assist from me and a back-end harness, she has become my running partner. Joyce has a lot more endurance than I have!”
Joyce has also become somewhat of an ambassador for rescued pets. Mary says that people are drawn to Joyce. "It’s an incredible experience to witness the collective compassion of people that respond to her.”
One of IFAW’s founding principles is that the interests of humans and animals are not separate and that we are truly interconnected. I think that Joyce’s story really embodies that special relationship that we have with dogs and just goes to show how much we have to learn from them.