An agonisingly cute pink, deaf and blind puppy called Piglet is inspiring young students to never give up.
Melissa Shapiro, a Connecticut veterinarian, offered to foster the little guy after he was rescued and sent to a shelter.
The dachshund-Chihuahua mix was bound to be a lot of work, so Shapiro intended to look after him temporarily. But after two months, it was clear Piglet had a new home.
Piglet was born in an overcrowded Georgia home, formerly living alongside 35 other puppies.
He’s Shapiro’s seventh dog, and while he’s now living ‘like a little prince’, the transition into the family wasn’t without its challenges.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Shapiro said:
It was quite a decision to make. He is a lot of work and he is like a full-time job, taking care of a little disabled baby. But he’s so cute, and we couldn’t give him away at that point.
He was so anxious, he was screaming constantly. He would play, then go to sleep, but when he wasn’t doing either of those, he was screaming. I couldn’t leave the house the first month I had the dog here.
Shapiro has chronicled Piglet’s extraordinary journey on Instagram, where the little guy has attracted more than 116,000 followers.
From his beginnings as a cowering, panicked pup, Piglet is now a brave boy – meeting new people with plenty of excitement and sniffing confidence.
But this isn’t all. Shapiro told PEOPLE that when she decided to keep him, ‘he needs to have some bigger meaning’.
Piglet’s story made its way third-grade classroom in Massachusetts, where a teacher used the pup as an example of why you should never give up, and that sometimes our life’s struggles can lead to growth.
She called it Piglet Mindset, and we corresponded throughout the year. At the end of the year, we surprised the kids. They thought we were going to FaceTime, and we walked in with Piggy in his stroller and three of my other dogs, and everyone was crying.
Now, classrooms in Alabama, Connecticut, Japan and Australia are promoters of the Piglet Mindset Outreach program, which teaches kids how to combat problems and use what they have to their best advantage – you can download the materials for free here.
Through social media ads and merchandise, Shapiro and Piglet’s fundraising efforts have exceeded $30,000, which has all been donated to special needs dog rescues and other non-profit organisations.
One day, Shapiro even hopes to start up a non-profit herself to help give money to more rescues.
People are afraid to adopt these animals, they think that it’s going to be too much work. But people see Piglet’s page and I get so many notes from people that because of him, they just adopted.
It’s rewarding to know that people are taking the lead and being inspired by Piggy. It makes a lot of people really happy to know him.
I had to withhold tears while writing this – definitely going to go have a quiet cry in the corner now. What a precious boy.
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