Piglet is a deaf, blind, pink dog. He was born into a “hoarding situation” of 37 dogs in one small Georgia apartment. He has a hero, though: Westport veterinarian Melissa Shapiro. She adopted him into her family and pack of six other dogs.
Today, Piglet is an international superstar with an educational inclusivity program for kids and an enviable Instagram following. Through him, thousands of schoolchildren are learning about overcoming differences and developing a positive “piglet mindset.” He’s also raising money for special-needs animal shelters.
Now he has his own book and we’ve included excerpts below. With a mother’s love and a strong support system, neither hoarding nor disability can keep an exceptional dog down.
Excerpt from the prologue of PIGLET: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family by Melissa Shapiro with Mim Eichler Rivas:
As the visit went on, I felt a level of pride that could not be put into words. Throughout our time in the classroom, Piglet was calm and regal, demonstrating with poise and elegance all the things he could do. The Piglet Show, as we call our performance of tap-signal tricks, was a smash hit. His three sister dogs, whom I would always prep by telling them, “You’re going to be in the show today!” (and who would really get into the scene), did exactly that.
The children stayed seated in sheer amazement, barely making a sound, so as not to miss anything. We began with the basics, demonstrating “sit”—which each dog would do, one by one. I would say, “Zoey, sit!” and she would. “Susie, sit!” and “Evie, sit!” Next, I said, “Sit, Piglet!” even though we all knew he couldn’t hear me, but at the same time I tapped him lightly on his lower back, right above his tail. Piggy responded to this familiar tap signal with an impeccable sit, lifting his head for the cookie that he knew was coming.
“Piglet can do just what the other dogs can do!” one little boy exclaimed. A chorus of agreement followed.
In those moments, I like to think this book was born a reminder to the world of how much we can accomplish by caring for our fellow beings, human and nonhuman, whether disabled or not, or simply an individual searching for a little extra consideration and kindness. There will always be too many abandoned and neglected animals in need of rescue or just overlooked and unwanted. But Piglet definitely came into our lives to teach us lessons. Just when you think you can’t open your heart any more than you already have, something can happen to help you discover that you have more to give. And what you get from being open to the unexpected in animals and in humans is the greatest gift you can ever receive.
There’s a Buddhist saying most of us have heard at one point or another that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my experiences and observations — certainly with musical training and in my educational/professional journey — that proverb has been right on the money. But with Piglet, the unexpected twist was that ours was a case of “when the teacher is ready, the student will appear.”
Piglet, the deaf blind pink puppy, was that very student who showed up with such a capacity to learn, he put me on notice.
How did it happen? How did Piglet make his way into our lives, and was now getting ready to spark a global movement? The craziest part of the story is that, statistically speaking, it’s a miracle that he even made it into our care alive.
That’s the story I decided to write that day in Plainville, about a miracle puppy who dared to live.
Copyright © 2021 by Melissa Shapiro. From PIGLET: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family by Melissa Shapiro with Mim Eichler Rivas. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
For sale August 3, 2021.