I’m a small animal house-call veterinarian. I also love dogs and have quite a few. Seven dogs provide plenty of drama, but one is extra special.
In March 2017, I agreed to foster a tiny deaf, blind double dapple doxie chihuahua mix rescued from a hoarding situation. While I have raised many puppies over the years, I had no idea what I was in store for when I picked up the screaming 1 1/2 pound puppy from a Petco dog adoption event in Milford, CT.
We named him Piglet because he looked like a baby pig, like Piglet from Winnie the Pooh. He didn’t know where he was or how to maneuver in his environment. He brought chaos into our house, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I tried desperately to find him a home. But in the end, after reviewing many adoption applications, it became clear that he had already found his home, and he was here to stay.
When we finally made the decision to formally adopt Piglet, I promised to give our tiny pink puppy a meaningful, productive life. Over time, with patience and careful accommodation, he has overcome great obstacles to become a happy, confident, active little dog. We began educating, inspiring, fundraising, and making smiles all around the world through his incredible story.
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To my surprise, Piglet gained a lot of traction online. There was something about him that gave complete strangers a feeling of connection. One stood out—an outstanding, creative third-grade teacher in Plainville, MA. She wanted to show Piglet’s videos to her students.
So, I created two educational videos on YouTube focusing on Piglet’s ability to overcome challenges using what he has and not what he is missing. She shared Piglet’s videos with her class. They discussed how Piglet’s positive mindset has helped him overcome challenges. She reported, “They decided as a class to use Piglet as a role model and face each day in a Piglet State of Mind to grow as students and individuals!” The children were so inspired by Piglet’s positive attitude towards learning, growing, and overcoming challenges that they adopted Piglet as their Growth Mindset mascot. And they coined the phrases A Piglet State of Mind and A Piglet Mindset.
The children fell in love with Piglet. Their parents reported that when difficult situations came up, the children would ask What would Piglet do? They purchased Piglet T-shirts to wear as they shared Piglet’s story with others. So, on June 7, 2018, we took a 2 1/2 hour road trip to make a surprise visit to meet the class. The kids had no idea they were going to meet Piglet in person. They were told they would be FaceTiming with us, so they were enthusiastically sitting in front of a smartboard when we walked into the classroom for the elaborate Pink Party which their parents had set up. Needless to say, the excitement in the room was palpable. Parents had iPhones pointed in every direction, and there definitely were quite a few emotional tears.
The pink party was the culmination of a year of correspondence with this inquisitive, insightful, sweet group of children and their creative, innovative, lovely teacher. We talked about Piglet and answered all of their questions. Piglet did his repertoire of tricks with his sister dogs Susie, Zoey, and Evie. We all put on our Pink Piglet ears and got into a Piglet State of Mind for a group picture. Then everyone got to meet Piglet and pet his soft pinkness. The children had pink popcorn and other pink snacks, and we gave each of them a pink Piglet flashlight and wristband. We learned about their class fundraising project, which would benefit special-needs dog rescue.
The unique and inspiring experience we had observing an exceptional third-grade teacher successfully using our deaf, blind Piglet as a teaching tool is more than I ever expected when I met the tiny screaming pink puppy.
Many elementary schools have used our videos to teach their students about kindness, tolerance, flexibility, and overcoming challenges. Now, Piglet’s videos have been translated into lesson plans and a book, Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family, to celebrate Piglet’s infectiously positive mindset.
When we decided to adopt Piglet, the only stipulation I made was that he would have a meaningful, productive life. Our inspiring experience with our third-grade friends confirmed that this pink puppy is more than meeting my hopes for him.