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This Disabled Dog Had A Hard Start To Life, But Now He’s Helping Kids Deal With Their Demons

Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
The paralyzed dog had experienced two kinds of human. His first owner wanted him dead, while the second didn’t seem to want him around at all. He encountered a third while he was dragging himself around the streets desperately searching for food. What harm did this one bring?
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
The dog in question is called G.I. Joe and he had likely known nothing but abuse and neglect. Most of his past is a mystery, but there are a few things that are clear. To begin with, a car struck Joe and left him with a paralyzed rear half.
Image: Adam Sherez
To be more specific, the poor dog lost virtually all feeling beyond his front shoulders. As a result, Joe’s first owner wanted to kill him with a hammer, but fortunately he was saved. A second person came along and offered to take Joe off his human’s hands.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
Although Joe’s new owner saved his life, the pooch’s living conditions were only marginally better. That’s because the Chihuahua’s injuries continued to go untreated. Furthermore, his second owner didn’t seem to care for him at all, and left the dog to wander the streets.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
Conditions are harsh enough for an able-bodied stray dog trying to survive on their own. But Joe was at even more of a disadvantage. With no other alternative, he had to drag himself along the floor on his front legs. However, during this period, someone else spotted Joe.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey via Upworthy
A good Samaritan saw a dog “walking weird,” so she took some photos and sent them to Alison Smith. As an animal rescuer, Smith and her husband Steve are no strangers to creatures in need. In fact, they run a sanctuary called the Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue (THMHR).
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey via Upworthy
When the North Dakotan sanctuary opened 11 years ago, it was intended for horses as its name implies. However, THMHR has since widened its scope significantly. Currently, in excess of 500 animals call the sanctuary their home, ranging from livestock to companion animals.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
But THMHR doesn’t just take on abandoned animals; it also houses disabled ones as well. The woman who spotted G.I. Joe no doubt contacted Smith with this in mind. The animal rescuer spoke to the local radio show Nighttime Live with Bob Harris about the events in December 2015.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
Smith described how she didn’t know what she was looking at when she saw the photos of Joe. “He was just blood and pus,” she reported. For the year and a half that Joe was with his second owner, he dragged his rear half raw. It led to the loss of his back paws.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
Smith advised the woman to contact the owner, and at first, she was scared to. But she bolstered her courage for the sake of the little dog, and approached him. He apparently didn’t want Joe anymore and gave the pooch up of his own accord.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
Once Joe was in Smith’s care, she took him to the vet who said that the dog needed a six-week healing period. However, if the infected wounds that covered his bottom half didn’t show improvement, amputation or even euthanasia would be an option. Fortunately, those were worries that never came to pass.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
Smith took Joe in and cleaned his dressings a few times a day. It was not an easy task, either; the first two days, Joe wouldn’t let Smith near her and she had to muzzle him. The little dog had been left alone so long, he was almost feral.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
However, under Smith’s care, both Joe’s physical and emotional wounds began to heal. His guard started to come down, and Joe found himself enjoying affection from the Smiths more and more. Being at the sanctuary must also have contributed to the improvement in his socialization skills.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
During his rehabilitation, Joe received hydrotherapy and even had a wheelchair donated to him. With that, the dog found he was almost as mobile as any other. Even if he does have a tendency to drag rugs and toys around with him, something that Smith finds endearing.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
Smith caught a glimpse of G.I. Joe’s true nature when THMHR took on a young, blind donkey. Joe would try to sneak under the fence to see her. “It was really wonderful because she found comfort in him,” Smith said of the dog-donkey relationship.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
As a result, Smith realized what potential Joe had for comforting those who are different. Over the years that followed, Joe’s social skills got better and better. So much so that he’s now a member of a group of disabled animals that THMHR calls the Compassion Crew.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
THMHR assembled the Compassion Crew to teach children that it’s wrong to treat others who are different badly. She told the site Upworthy as much on March 21, 2018. Smith explains to the children how the animals “all have superpowers, and they’re called empathy and compassion.”
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey via Upworthy
Among others, the Crew includes a blind cat called Mowgli, Max the one-eyed dog and a human woman as its representatives. Smith takes the Compassion Crew to local schools where children can meet the animals. She believes it’s an effective way to combat bullying.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
“If you would not want to hurt this animal,” Smith explains, “why would you want to hurt a person with the same disability?” And if the resulting letters from the kids are anything to go by, it’s working. The Compassion Crew receives a lot of fan mail.
Image: Facebook/Gi Joe’s Journey
And that’s not the only way G.I. Joe is helping, either. Smith receives lots of correspondence about how much of an inspiration he is. “It’s amazing how many people are inspired by him,” she told Nighttime Live. “One lady said G.I. Joe should stand for Great Inspiration. And that’s his journey; to inspire others on their journey, and through them, they can also help him.”

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