Julie LeRoy, a pet control officer, responded to a call about a sloppy canine in 2010, but she discovered something else. The guests had specific requests for a Hole Bull puppy that they wanted to rehome in a timely manner.
Julie had never seen anything like Cuda’s appearance. Cuda – short for tiger – was given to the canine because her chin was twisted and her teeth bellied out in an underbite. The dog appeared to be overweight, light, and in desperate need of medical help.
Julie had no idea what was wrong with Cuda, but she knew he belonged with her family.
In my head, her future began to reveal itself, and I knew I had to be her future. No bone in her body seemed to want to give her a chance.”
Because the couple previously had four pets, Julie’s husband was hesitant to bring another dog into their home. However, after some convincing, he agreed.
Cuda had a short-chine pattern, also known as baboon canine pattern, according to Julie. The doggy’s twisted chine was squeezing her organs together at the time.
Julie and her husband Scott adored Cuda regardless of her appearance, but the general public did not share their enthusiasm at first. When Julie went to the pet store for the first time, people stared, laughed, and refocused their gazes on Cuda. Julie ran out of the store as quickly as she could. Rather than giving up, Julie took advantage of Cuda’s unique characteristics. She entered the dog in the World’s Ugliest Dog competition in 2011.
Cuda didn’t win, but she became a media darling in the process. There were no more nausea-inducing aesthetics thrown her way; only kisses, love, and a desire to help special-needs pets.
” Just walking around town with Cuda attracted attention. Exchanges with some people led to new friendships; we couldn’t go anywhere without making a new friend.”
Julie started a Facebook runner for Cuda called Cuda Cares because of all the social media tools. Julie used the runner as an opportunity to emphasize the importance of good parenting and to advocate for pets with special needs.
Other people with short-spined pets contacted Julie thanks to social media. Cuda is now part of a network of 11 puppies who have picked up the pattern. Because there is so little information about the baboon canine pattern, these connections are crucial. These pawrents are now able to swap stories and learn from one another. Julie had another idea for Cuda Cares after meeting this group of like-minded individuals; she wanted to create a larger network of “specialists” to educate people about the realities of owning a special needs dog.
” I envision a global network of people suffering from specific conditions, such as dogs suffering from environmental stress and strain. When they require assistance, I am able to relate to them. If social media places a spotlight on advocating for special needs or pets in the news, I want people to have savings to help them understand that their lives will change.”
Julie has experienced firsthand what it’s like to rearrange your life to accommodate your furry stylish companion. Cuda is diabetic as well.
“Our lives changed dramatically after she was diagnosed with diabetes. We schedule our lives around her insulin needs. Her diet must be carefully monitored. We, too, have diabetes. That did not sit well with me. I didn’t have a choice but to accept it and become educated. Now I’m teaching others.”
She sees this network expanding beyond educating people about pets with special needs to becoming a commodity that educates people about specific types. Every strain has its own set of tricks. Julie wants people to be able to talk to someone about how it feels to live with a specific strain. We all know there’s a lot of love involved, but Julie believes it’s also important to discuss the time commitment for training and exercise, the financial realities, and any emotional or physical trauma that comes with dealing with certain types.
Cuda continues to bring joy to those around her while Julie expands her work. She’s now a certified therapy dog. Cuda, Julie believes, can teach people a lot about diversity.
“Perhaps when people who discriminate against others who don’t look the same realize that Cuda is no different than any other canine, their behavior with other people will change.” Cuda’s journey can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.