She’s a tripod with an overbite and a deformed paw, who seems to always be flashing the peace sign. To some, Penny the Chiweenie is far from perfect, but to author Lauren Kramer-Theuerkauf and her husband, Matt, this physically different pup is absolutely priceless.
“Penny is an amazing dog,” explains Kramer-Theuerkauf, who underestimated her little rescue dog at first.
“We thought she was going to need extra help, but her foster mom was like, ‘Oh no, she can do anything,’ and sure enough, two weeks later she jumped over our pet gate, which is about 3 feet high. We were blown away,” she remembers.
It’s been three years since Kramer-Theuerkauf and her husband started the search that would lead them to this little dog who would change their lives.
“We had three boy dogs and one girl dog, and my husband said, ‘I think we need another female dog because our other [girl] dog just kind of seems lonely,’” she recalls.
The dedicated dog lover didn’t need her spouse to twist her arm, and was soon logged onto Petfinder, searching for the perfect addition to their pack of Chihuahuas.
“I saw Penny, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, look at that poor dog. Look at that overbite, look at that leg,’ but then I kept looking at other dogs,” says Kramer-Theuerkauf. When she couldn’t get Penny out of her mind a couple of days later, she knew that Penny was meant for her family.
Her next step was to contact Second Chance Animal Rescue of Springfield, Illinois, which is two hours north of their home in Freeburg, Illinois.
“They drove Penny down here, and we met her and fell in love with her. We adopted her right on the spot.”
It turns out the two-hour car ride to her forever home was a short journey compared to the one Penny had already been on.
“She was found as a stray in California,” explains Kramer-Theuerkauf. “She was rescued and taken to a shelter, but unfortunately it was a high-kill shelter.”
Luckily for Penny, the folks at Second Chance Animal Rescue have friends in California, who suggested the organization take Penny on. The little dog with the overbite and deformed paw was sprung from the West Coast shelter and transported all the way to Illinois, where she was matched with the Kramer-Theuerkauf family.
“She kind of amazed us,” says Kramer-Theuerkauf, who (along with her husband) thought Penny would require special help getting around because she only had three working legs.
“Literally the moment Penny got into the living room, she just jumped right up onto the couch. We just stood there with our mouths wide open.”
To her new pet parents’ surprise, Penny fit right in with her able-bodied Chihuahua siblings, Theo, Domino, Cole, and Adriel. Eventually the little Chiweenie revealed that she’s got enough love in her heart for all kinds of species.
“We were actually walking one of our other dogs around town one day, and we discovered this kitten laying literally in the middle of Main Street with cars rushing over her head, so we brought the cat home,” says Kramer-Theuerkauf, who didn’t intend to keep the kitten, as she and her husband considered themselves definite dog people.
“Penny, she took the cat and treated her like she was a puppy. She wouldn’t let any of the other dogs around her. She actually used her good front leg and would put it around the kitten. She would sleep next to her, and she refused to leave her side. It was pretty amazing.”
Thanks to Penny, the rest of the family followed her lead, and soon it was obvious that the kitten was already in her forever home.
“I decided to name her Miracle,” says Kramer-Theuerkauf. “It’s a miracle we kept her since we were dog people.”
Miracle wasn’t the only new addition to their household who found the family thanks to Penny. After witnessing how Penny handled being differently abled, the Kramer-Theuerkaufs figured they could handle other animals with special needs, and they opened their home to Hope, a blind and deaf Dachshund, as well as Olaf, a one-eyed cat.
Penny has changed her humans’ lives in many ways, and Kramer-Theuerkauf is hoping the determined dog’s inspirational story can help even more people when her children’s book based on Penny’s life comes out this December.
“I actually have to give credit to my husband,” says Kramer-Theuerkauf, who authored Priceless Penny at her spouse’s suggestion. The pair hopes the book will help differently abled kids see that they can do anything they want — just like Penny.
Priceless Penny will be available through Amazon and Barnes and Nobl. In the meantime, Penny is spreading her message through her Instagram and Facebook pages, and making all kinds of new friends in real life.
“Here she was, abandoned, left out on her own for who knows how long. She really has no reason to trust anybody, quite honestly, but she just gives her whole heart to everybody she meets,” says Kramer-Theuerkauf, who adds that she is inspired to live life with an open heart, just like her priceless Penny.
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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.