Operation Kindness – North Texas’ original and largest no-kill animal shelter – is celebrating the stories of shelter dogs who have touched the lives of North Texans. Nick, formerly known as Tonka, is a Rottweiler puppy that was surrendered by his owner to Operation Kindness. He had an upper respiratory infection and a deformed right front leg and paw caused by a birth defect, which prevented him from walking. With the help of the on-site medical hospital, Operation Kindness provided surgery and care for a full recovery. He was at Operation Kindness for less than two months before he attended the annual Canines, Cats and Cabernet event as a featured puppy available for adoption.
Kristina Kent works as a pastry chef at the Dallas Omni, where the annual Canines, Cats and Cabernet event is held each year. Kristina and her family had been searching for a large-breed puppy to start training as a service dog for her 13-year- old daughter Abby, who has cerebral palsy. Kristina was eagerly awaiting the annual event, where she found Nick, formerly known as Tonka. After taking a look around and playing with the other dogs, Kristina noticed that he was missing a leg. She immediately sent a picture and short video of herself playing with him to her daughter.
Abby instantly replied, saying that she wanted him and that “he is disabled just like me!”
“I asked Abby if she thought he could be a good service dog, and she said ‘if I can do it, he can!’ I adopted him on the spot and took him home that night,” says Ms. Kent. “He immediately started playing with Abby and didn’t even think twice about her wheelchair and still doesn’t to this day. He has always been such a good boy! He potty-trained very quickly and even rode on Abby’s lap in her wheelchair until he got too big to do so! He sleeps in his kennel (with the door open) in Abby’s room and loves to give her cuddles and kisses.”
Nick is fiercely protective of Abby and follows her wherever he can: if she is in the bathroom, he is laying at her feet; if she is in her room doing homework, he is right there. He is undergoing training to become a service dog and does not go everywhere with the family, but he does get to go places sometimes as a part of his training. Every morning Nick walks Abby to the bus stop. He has learned what her bus sounds like and knows when it pulls into the neighborhood – he whines and cries at the door until it’s time to go and get her off of the bus.
A month after the Kent family brought Nick home, Abby had surgery and was having a hard time recovering – he wouldn’t leave her side and provided an endless supply of love and kisses to support Abby during her recovery. He provides a constant source of comic relief to the family with the occasional leg bruise because he likes to swing his rope around to get the attention of his humans to play with him. Despite having three legs, Nick has found his favorite spot to lie is on “his” ottoman, which he drapes himself over. He has learned how to climb up onto it, no easy feat because it is about the same height as him. Nick’s favorite activities include playing rope and chase. He knows that Abby uses her feet and will put the rope in her feet, and to play gently, but most times that only lasts a few seconds before he forgets and yanks it away.
“Nick is a great dog and such a member of our family. He doesn’t let that missing leg hold him back at all! We absolutely love our little man. He is so very smart, sometimes a little too smart,” says Ms. Kent.
In celebration of Adopt a Shelter-Dog month in October, Operation Kindness is encouraging pet parents to share how their shelter dog has changed their life on Operation Kindness’ Facebook page. For potential pet parents who are thinking of adopting a dog, Operation Kindness is offering a limited time offer of a free 5-pound bag of Muenster Dog Food with each adoption made throughout the month. Adopters will also have the opportunity to receive a 30-pound bag of Muenster Dog Food by enrolling in Muenster’s auto-ship program, offering the adopter and the shelter a 30-pound bag of dog food throughout the month of October.