Best Bully Sticks recently awarded Marley’s Mutts a charitable contribution for submitting the winning photo of Hooch below in our Dogs at Play Charity Photo Contest.
“Hooch is a French Mastiff who had his tongue savagely ripped out of his mouth, his ears chopped off and his tail broken. When we rescued him, he was malnourished and forty pounds underweight. Today, Hooch is a healthy, happy and very agile guy! His favorite past times include doing ballet while playing ball, slobbering all over everything, snuggling, visiting kids with autism and other disabilities, and spreading inspiration, hope and love everywhere he goes!
About Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue
When & Why did you start?
Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue is a 501c-3 non-profit organization dedicated to saving death-row-dogs in Kern County’s high-kill animal shelters. As founder Zach Skow faced the repercussions of alcoholism in the form of life-threatening liver disease, Marley’s Mutts was the healing force that saved his life. It has since saved the lives of literally thousands of dogs that otherwise would’ve surely perished. Since its inception in 2009, Marley’s Mutts has earned a stellar reputation in Kern County and the State of California, and has even garnered worldwide attention for captivating stories of survival and redemption through individual dogs. Zach and Marley’s Mutts have been endorsed by such prestigious figures as Dr. Drew, Marie Osmond, Cesar Millan and Oprah Winfrey.
What’s different about your rescue?
Marley’s Mutts is far more than a dog rescue. We have become a force of motivation and inspiration by connecting emotionally with our nearly 1 million engaged users on Facebook. We have an exponentially growing “cult following” in the social media sphere. Bearing witness to the power of the human-canine bond in our own lives, we encourage our supporters to perceive dog rescue not as a tragic or futile pursuit, but rather an opportunity to become better human beings, and an empowering mission in which we can all share and change the world, one dog and one day at a time!
What is the greatest success story or “win” that your rescue has had?
Marley’s Mutts has had so many phenomenal, almost “otherworldly” success stories, it is virtually impossible to describe just one. But the dog whose story is probably most recognizable to the world is Hooch’s story:
Hooch is a French Mastiff with badly cropped ears, a broken tail, no tongue…and a spirit so bright as to outshine all the darkness that has befallen him.
After Hooch had languished in the Bakersfield shelter for more than a month, our friends at Kern County Animal Control informed us that we were his last hope for rescue. A mysterious case, Hooch wouldn’t eat or drink, and would instead thrash his food and water bowls around like a maniac. By the time we pulled him to freedom, he was 35 pounds underweight – starving, dehydrated and severely malnourished.
Never thinking to “check for” a missing tongue, those involved in Hooch’s case thought he might have a broken or dislocated jaw that was causing his strange behavior surrounding the ingestion of nutrients (or lack thereof.) When we took him to see our trusty cohorts at San Joaquin Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Willis sedated Hooch to ready him for x-rays, and made the gruesome discovery that Hooch’s tongue had been savagely removed at its base, likely in an attempt to prime him for the dog-fighting arena.
Hooch had a feeding tube implanted immediately in hopes that he’d gain a substantial amount of weight quickly, after which we would remove the tube and try to teach him how to eat and drink. It seemed it would be a long and arduous road to recovery, but Hooch has blown our minds at every milestone along the way. The world watched as we fed an “upright” Hooch in a Bailey Chair, then began simply placing moistened kibble in his mouth and, with a little help from gravity, down the hatch it went! Hooch has taught himself to suck up water, using his snaggle-tooth-under-bite to supplement an impressive slurping mechanism.
Even more impressive than Hooch’s physical recovery by extreme adaptability, is his complete lack of fear or resentment toward human beings. Hooch loves every person he meets. So much so, in fact, that he now works in a therapeutic capacity with special needs children. Because of his miraculous disposition and ability to inspire and delight, we have decided to keep Hooch as our own. As our signature “Miracle Mutt”, Hooch will be able to fulfill his destiny, as an ambassador for of all that is good and right in the world.
While we could let vengeance darken our hearts on Hooch’s behalf, we choose instead to honor the invaluable lessons he has taught us: To live in the moment and forgive the past, to face each day with the vulnerability born of trusting, and to enjoy the simplest of pleasures as the most profound. In spite of the evil that took his tongue, Hooch is a happy dog with nothing but love to give! He shows us by example that in spite of horrific circumstances, we can adapt, we can go on living, and we can do so with a lust for life that is unstoppable and contagious!
What’s the most rewarding thing about working at your rescue?
Marley’s Mutts is an organization that offers all who get involved the opportunity to expand and evolve and, in turn, help the organization do the same. This organization is the perfect example of a whole being greater than than the sum of its parts. Every person who joins us and lends their time, energy and love is special and unique, and we each bring something important to the table. This group’s function — and great success – very much depends on the supportive interdependence between its members. This includes volunteers, foster families, shelter workers, veterinary staff, board members, supporters and adopters. It is so rewarding to be a part of a huge, collective force for GOOD!
What can people do to help your rescue?
For those who are local to Kern County, we encourage people to fill out volunteer applications on our website: http//www.marleysmutts.com.
We can always use people’s different talents and skills for various events or projects! For those who aren’t nearby, we always appreciate monetary donations, of course, specifically because we are raising money for a new facility!
To learn more about how to donate to our building fund, people can check out our campaign on fundrazr.com: https://fundrazr.com/
Best Bully Sticks thanks Marley’s Mutts Rescue for sharing their story and all the work they do for local rescue dogs.
Stay tuned for more Rescue Spotlights in the future!