Special Needs Puppy Winnie Becomes BFFs With Piglet Wilma and Our Hearts Explode Just Looking at Them
Winnie might just be the best friend to everyone at Charlotte's Freedom Farm. Whether you're one of the 200 animals who live there or a weekend visitor, you're likely to encounter the small puppy with big wheels and an even bigger smile.
The ever-happy Winnie—proper name Winston—arrived at the farm in Ontario, Canada, over the summer. His owner, Charlotte's Freedom Farm founder Lauren Edwards, tells Daily Paws he didn't develop properly in the womb, resulting in underdeveloped front legs and an unformed sternum that doesn't connect to his ribs. So he needs help getting around, but he's adapted and plays just like any other puppy, especially with his piglet buddy Wilma.
"He's my whole world right now," Edwards says. "I love this little guy."
She found out about Winnie from *deep breath* another person in the animal sanctuary sphere, who'd spoken to a pet wheelchair designer, who'd heard about Winnie from his original owner. His siblings were all doing fine, but he was struggling to stay healthy, so Edwards decided to take him in when he was only 4 weeks old.
Soon, he became more energetic, as much as any other puppy, and his smaller, curled front legs didn't keep him from moving around. The issue was still his chest, where he has a hernia along with the undeveloped sternum that doesn't connect to his ribs. Without the protection a normal anatomy provides, an accidental step or kick to his chest could be devastating.
When Edwards found out, she sequestered Winnie from his new friends. Thankfully, it wasn't a total bummer for the pup. While awaiting a chest protector last month, he got to meet Wilma. Being so young, she would come inside at night, and she was small enough that Edwards didn't have to worry about her accidentally hurting Winnie. They started play-wrestling about two minutes after they met.
"Well that's the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life," Edwards remembers thinking.
Wilma, who's grown quite a bit, now lives outside full time, but the two buddies still see each other plenty. They run over to each other and still wrestle and roll around, Winnie seemingly passing along some dog-like habits to the piglet, Edwards says.
But she's not his only friend—because Winnie loves everyone. His dog siblings. His cat siblings. The 100 or so people who toured the farm this past weekend? Friends!
"He loves everyone," Edwards says.
He's more mobile now with his wheelchairs and chest protector. His wheels are in the front while his sister Bambi, who lost her back legs, pulls her wheelchair. Caring for a special-needs dog isn't cheap, but thankfully the WeRateDogs social media accounts used their considerable megaphones to raise more than $19,000 for Winnie's care. That will come in handy if Winnie needs surgery on his chest, which Edwards says is likely as he gets older.
But for now, he's doing great, even perfecting a system on how to get on and off the couch (basically approaching the edge of the couch and asking Edwards to hoist him up or down). There will undoubtedly be more challenges as he grows, but he and Edwards are ready for them. He's not suffering. In fact, to Edwards, he's glowing.
"It's joy and happiness all day, every day," she says.
You can follow Winnie's cute exploits on Instagram at winnie_the_roo_.