WESTPORT – “Piglet came from a hoarding situation in Georgia,” says Melissa Shapiro, noting that at just one pound, the tiny dog had quite a story. “Piglet was born both deaf and blind…he was so cute, he would fit in your hand.”
The veterinarian and her husband, Warren, agreed to foster the dachshund-chihuahua mix called Piglet.
“His hair coat is white but he has such little hair he looks pink,” explains Melissa.
He joined a family of three kids and five rescue dogs and was the toughest puppy they’d ever experienced.
“When we took him out in the backyard for the first time he was terrified, he couldn’t hear anything, he couldn’t see anything,” says Warren. “He was just scared, he was really scared.”
“We held him many hours a day and he enjoyed that, he enjoyed sleeping in our arms, in our laps, under blankets, that was a way of bonding and communicating with him that we loved him and he was safe,” says Melissa.
The little guy with big challenges was hungry for connection. So, he learned commands through touch very quickly. He uses his sense of smell when he first meets people.
“He’s very eager. Once Melissa started teaching him these tap signals he was really excited because it was real communication,” says Warren.
When it came time, the Shapiros couldn’t give Piglet up…realizing they had a very special dog.
“We, having Piglet, one of the things we’re doing is advocating for these disabled animals,” says Melissa.
They launched an online educational children’s program about the Piglet Mindset.
“He’s very happy, he’s an inspirational role model for kids,” says Melissa. “To grow as learners with optimism, perseverance, resilience, flexibility, and empathy.”
In early August, a book debuted, the culmination of Melissa’s career…much of it spent supporting rescue pets…like Piglet.
“It’s not a philosophy that Piglet espouses – he’s a dog, he doesn’t talk – but he lives it, he really does live it,” says Warren.
Now 4 and a half years old and a little more than six pounds, Piglet is still a small symbol of enormous strength.
“He’s got that magnetic charm thing going – you don’t even have to see him, you just need to hear his story, and people are smiling, you’re smiling,” says Melissa.
“He really is inspirational. He approaches his world – which was initially overwhelmingly sad and frightening – with a great sense of optimism and he’s really done wonderfully,” says Warren.
The new book is for adults but the Shapiros say a companion children’s book – about inclusion and kindness – will be on the way next year.
Click here to learn more about the book.