Meet Piglet the Deaf, Blind, and Very Pink Pup Inspiring Us All With Kindness and Acceptance
When Melissa Shapiro, DVM, of Westport, Conn. first met a deaf and blind puppy saved from a hoarding situation, she thought he would be tiny, sweet, and easy to manage because he was just 8 weeks old. Not quite.
"When I met him, he was the polar opposite of what I expected. He was very anxious, screaming, and inconsolable," she tells Daily Paws. While his rescuers were attentive to his physical health, this tiny dachshund and Chihuahua mix—only 1.5 pounds!—had a rougher start in life than most young doggies, and it showed. Still, Shapiro, owner of Visiting Vet Service, and her husband Warren were happy to foster this petal pink pup until he transitioned to a forever home.
They named the playful pint-sized pooch Piglet. He's pink because both of his parents had dapple coats (similar to colorful merle coats of dogs like Australian shepherds). While this mixed pattern is lovely on one dog, double dapple genes passed to offspring often result in a washout of color, as well as possible blindness and deafness.
"We really had no intention of keeping Piglet," Shapiro says. "We had six rescue dogs, which was way over our 'two dog max' rule." The family also included three children, two rescued house sparrows, and one parakeet with disabilities.
The Piglet Mindset
In 2017, the family added Piglet to their animal crew, but Shapiro says since she had no interest in another lapdog, she made a promise to give Piglet a meaningful and productive life.
"That initially meant that we would use Piglet and his Facebook page to educate about and advocate for rescued dogs and other pets with disabilities," she says. "I also planned to do fundraisers for rescues that focus on dogs with disabilities. This was my original plan."
She also dedicated herself to training Piglet to not only be lucky number seven in the pack, but also learn tricks and skills that any dog would love. Watch the oodles of cuteness as Shapiro teaches him to spin, sit, and wait for his yummy treat!
But the grand pink aura of Piglet was too big to contain. Shapiro says an innovative 3rd grade teacher who followed his social pages used Piglet's life to teach 'growth mindset' to her students, especially in the areas of acceptance, inclusion, empathy, and kindness—regardless of abilities, disabilities, or looks. This led to the creation of the Piglet Mindset educational outreach program.
What's the Piglet Mindset? Thousands of children share what they observe about his unique perspective, such as:
- "Creates routines to feel safe and secure."
- "Perseveres through challenges and obstacles."
- "When he fails or makes a mistake, he keeps going."
Shapiro, who's also CEO of Piglet International Inc., offers free educational materials to many different groups, from students and scout clubs to senior centers and programs for individuals with disabilities.
"I certainly never imagined that through his social media pages, my tiny pink, deaf, and blind dog would become an inspiration for adults and children around the world to face their own challenges with a positive attitude," Shapiro says. She believes animals make exceptional teaching models for children to learn about facing challenges, inclusion, and being kind. Piglet, with his three senses, is the perfect spokespup for all these qualities and more.
"Piglet is such an adorable little guy that kids immediately identify with him whether in person or during a virtual classroom visit," she says. "They feel very comfortable discussing sometimes uncomfortable topics because of Piglet and the rest of our dog pack."
What's Next for Piglet the Pink Puppy?
When asked if she thought adults have difficulty accepting pets with disabilities, Shapiro says she's not sure it's that as much as it might be they perceive some animals as needing more attention than they have to give. What she's discovered is many people are so inspired by Piglet, they're more likely to adopt a pet with disabilities.
"I frequently get messages from people who decided to adopt an older blind dog, or a three-legged cat, or a dog who's in a wheelchair," she says. "It's very nice to know that our little dog has that big of an impact on his followers."
And everyone wants more of that pink goodness! So much so, Shapiro penned Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf Blind Pink Puppy and His Family, which debuts August 3, 2021.
This wee fella has another important message to share. He's so proud! Honestly, how can we resist?