Make a Difference Wednesday: One Small Dog’s Dream!

Wednesdays can be tough days because they are right smack dab in the middle of the week!  The past weekend was so long ago, and the upcoming weekend is still so far away!  It’s a precarious day of the week, because Wednesday can make or break the balance of the work week!  It’s the one day of the week that can make a very real difference for us.

I think almost everyone wants to make a difference in the world, but we often feel like it’s not possible when we’re just one person, and the needs in the world are never ending and huge!!  Seeing even just some of the needs can be overwhelming!

One of the amazing life lessons I’ve learned from training dogs, and especially from my Rugby James, is that any progress forward, is progress in the right direction.  Even if it’s small progress, if it’s forward progress, then I should celebrate it, no matter how small it may be.

When I’m working with an especially difficult dog, I always have in my mind what the ultimate goal will be, and then I think of those baby steps that will be needed to get me to that ultimate goal.  If I focus only on how big that goal is, it can seem too big to even start the process.

I think making a difference can be a whole lot like that.  If I focus on all of the needs I see or hear about, I can feel really overwhelmed to the point of doing nothing.  I’m just one person.  How can I possibly make a difference?

Rugby’s Dream

For any fans of my little speckled and spotted Rugby James, it’s no secret at all that he is crazy about his little polka dottie piggie toys.  For the whole story of his love affair with piggies, read my post “Piggies Rule at Our House.”  He’s loved these toys since I first introduced them in the summer of 2009. pig
Rugby with his very first blue polka dottie piggie in 2009!

For fun, about a year ago on his Facebook page “Rugby James,” Rugby mused that the only thing that would be way better than a polka dottie piggie toy would be to have his very own real little mini pig that could be his very own pet.  And naturally, I said, “NO!”  Rugby’s reactive behavior and aggressive inclinations make him a good candidate for being an “only dog.”  In addition, I am not equipped in any way, shape or form to care for a real piggie of any kind!  End of subject!

My little dog just never gives up.  He is one persistent pooch!  And he’s asked Santa Paws, the Easter Bunny, the Great Pumpkin….you name it!  He’s asked and sighed over having a little piggie of his very own.  His fans started posting pictures, videos and stories of piggies on his Facebook page! My postman learned that Rugby gets mail from fans which sometimes includes a piggie of one sort or another.  He has a piggie collection in the office he shares with me, small tokens of big love given to my little piggie loving dog.  His fans have been begging and rooting for Rugby to someday get his little dream piggie!

Some of Rugby’s piggie collection

This is serious stuff at my house!

How to Make a Dream Reality…

So….the big challenge for me, was how could I possibly ever give Rugby his dream?  One of his fans sent me a message, and she suggested that I consider sponsoring a pig in a sanctuary somewhere.  That idea just resonated with me, and I was so very excited about that possibility!  I started Googling “Pig Sanctuaries,” with eagerness, hoping that I could make this great idea work.

Sadly, most of the sanctuaries who have pigs, have such a high sponsorship amounts, that this modest dog trainer couldn’t possibly afford to help Rugby’s dream come true.  It was so disappointing, and after much searching, I finally thought it was an impossible dream and put it to rest.

Several months later, another one of Rugby’s friends who knew nothing about all of this, happened to post a link on Rugby’s page of a pig sanctuary near where she lived, because she wanted Rugby to know about it.  She wanted Rugby to know that there was a place for little throw away piggies who weren’t wanted anymore….much like what had happened to Rugby before he came to live with me.  She happened to be friends with the Director, and had volunteered at the sanctuary, so she knew firsthand what a great place it really is!

To be honest, I drug my feet looking into it, because I expected the sponsorship amounts to be similar to others that I had seen, and I didn’t have a lot of hope that I would be able to afford to sponsor a piggie for Rugby, much as I wanted to do so!  Well….imagine my HUGE surprise when I discovered that the cost to sponsor a pig was right within my budget!!  The excitement inside me was overwhelming!!

Rugby’s friend arranged for me to meet the Director online and she and I began chatting about what I wanted to do:  sponsor a piggie for Rugby, and help share a wonderful animal sanctuary helping hundreds of animals every single day!  I didn’t have a lot of money to donate to them, but I had a wonderful platform with my blog and Rugby’s Facebook page, and I could help by getting the word out!

I really didn’t want to sponsor just any old piggie….silly as that seems!  It had to be just the right piggie for Rugby…one that would be as special as Rugby James!  I didn’t know how I’d know it, but somehow I just knew in my gut that when the right piggie came along, I would know it!

Last week, I was in between lessons with ten or fifteen minutes to kill, so I opened my Facebook app on my phone, and started scrolling down through my news feed.  Staring back at me was the cutest little piggie snout and deep, expressive eyes!  My heart sighed.  And then I read about how he had been just dumped at the sanctuary overnight, injured in the process of being dumped, and my heart broke for this little waif.

I just couldn’t imagine how scared he must have felt!  And really, this could have been very dangerous for him or the other pigs to have him dumped into the existing herd late at night when there was no proper introduction and integration…especially with an adolescent male who was fully intact.  Fortunately, the on site video cameras captured the faces of the people who dumped him, and that information has been forwarded to the appropriate authorities!

Introductions and a drum roll, please….

So…..start the drum roll….with great joy and delight, I’m introducing our new little family member who happens to live in a wonderful piggie sanctuary in West Virginia!  Meet Oliver Wendell Piggleton!!  He’s a little Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pig, about 15-24 months of age.  He is named after my very first dog, Oliver, who was rescued from a garbage can at six weeks of age.  Like Oliver Wendell Piggleton, my first Oliver was also unwanted and dumped.

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PIGS Animal Sanctuary is an amazing place!  Located in West Virginia, they provide haven for all sorts of animals:  Potbellied pigs, farm pigs, horses, cats, dogs, goats, and many other species of animals.  They also do adopt animals to loving, caring homes, but typically, once animals are surrendered, they live out their days in a wonderful, safe sanctuary, with good care.

PIGS Mission Statement

“PIGS, Inc., a Sanctuary is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. 

The Sanctuary is a place of refuge to abused, abandoned, neglected or unwanted animals.  The Sanctuary specializes in the care of pot-bellied and domestic pigs, but shelters other farm and domestic animals as well.

Typically, animals residing at the Sanctuary have complicated medical and/or emotional needs, a history of abuse and/or neglect, diseases or ailments related to factory farming or genetic engineering, and are often considered “un-adoptable”.

The Sanctuary seeks to find forever homes for many animals, but serves as a permanent home for up to five hundred un-adoptable animals on any given day.”

Their mission statement really resonated with this dog trainer who adopted a little speckled and spotted puppy who has complicated emotional needs, and would likely be un-adoptable from a rescue or shelter because of those issues.  The thought of my little throw away dog sponsoring a throw away piggie just makes my heart sing!  A little dog and his sponsored piggie….what could be better than that?

Ways to Sponsor…

There are so many ways to help PIGS Animal Sanctuary!  They are a full not for profit organization, and all donations are tax deductible. One time donations are possible, as are regular monthly sponsorships.  They have a posted wish list of needs, if you prefer to send them something on their wish list instead of a cash donation.  And they also accept donated items of value which can be auctioned to raise money as well.

We’ve chosen to sponsor Oliver, which is a monthly donation of $20.00.  Rugby will also be holding an auction on his Facebook page to raise funds to pay for all of Oliver’s veterinary bills and initial costs, which are estimated at $800 to date.

ALL of the sponsorship donations are honestly pretty nominal amounts, and my hope is to inspire others to get involved in helping fund this wonderful place of peace for unwanted animals who often simply got too big to stay in their homes.   Here’s their current list of animals that can be sponsored, and the monthly donation amounts.

Chicken or Turkey – $5.00 A Month

Dog or Cat – $10.00 A Month

Goat or Llama – $15.00 A Month

Pot Belly Pig – $20.00 A Month

Domestic Farm Pig – $25.00 A Month

Horse or Donkey – $30.00 A Month

I’m so very proud to be a part of what’s happening for animals just one state away at PIGS!  And I’m so happy to finally, after more than a year, offer Rugby a little piggie of his very own!!

Links for More Information about PIGS

Here’s the URL for PIGS!

They also have a Facebook page you can follow:





    • Sally says

      She did a great job of guessing Rugby's big surprise!! What a good little problem solver you have!! Yes, Rugby ended up with a Biggie Piggie, but we're in piggie love with Oliver at our house!! <3

  1. Sarah Thomas says

    BAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I'm so excited for you and lil Rugby!!!! I'm here to help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Marley and I are doing a happy dance!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3

    • Sally says

      Love your response, Sarah!! This has been a project in the making for months!! I'm so glad we finally found the perfect piggie for Rugby! We're very excited at our house too!! Thanks so much for your enthusiasm! You've made me smile a BIG MUCH!! Belly rubs to Marley!! <3 <3

  2. says

    I am so glad Rugby's piggie dreams finally came true. Oliver is truly adorable. It will be fun for you and Rugby to follow his progress at the sanctuary. I am also very happy to learn of this organization and will definitely sign up to follow them on facebook. Oliver really does have deep and soulful eyes.

    • Sally says

      It was just love at first sight for me with Oliver!! I'm so glad he's going to have a happily ever after in a wonderful, safe place where he is loved and wanted and cared for. It was many months seeing this come about, but I'm so very happy to have a part in caring for him!!

  3. says

    What a wonderful way to make Rugby's dream come true! PIGS sounds like a very worthy organization that helps quite a variety of different animals!

    • Sally says

      Thanks, Jan! I'm SO impressed with PIGS!! They have an incredible staff of committed caregivers, and we know that Oliver is receiving the very best of care!! I love the thought of my throwaway dog sponsoring a throwaway pig!! It just makes me smile!


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