A Very Special Day to Remember

Super Denby Dog. An unlikely hero in a red racer cart! Photo Credit: Denise Baker and Denby Dog

This date marks a special anniversary for us every year.  It’s the date that one of our heroes left Earth for the Rainbow Bridge.  That hero was named Denby Dog, and he’s the reason that you’re reading this blog.  I know that some of our readers are thinking, “What?  Who is Denby Dog?  He’s not the reason I’m reading this blog! I’ve never heard of him!”

When I first got acquainted with the online dog community, Corgi Nation in particular, I came across a Blog called “The Daily Corgi.”  I was new to the blog world, but hey, there were photos and stories of really cute Corgis, so I was all in!  And one day, I read about an amazing little dog named Denby Dog!  He couldn’t eat or drink or blink on his own, and he lived in this little red racer wheelchair cart.  Every. Single. Day!!  I had to know more!

Denise always found unique ways to decorate Denby’s Red Racer. He often wore custom license tags. Photo Credit: Denise Baker and Denby Dog.

He had a FaceBook page, so I started to follow him and his adventures.  Every day, I was infused with hope, with love, with a warm fuzzy, and sometimes even a laugh, as his owner, Denise Baker shared his life with her readers.  Every day for me, Denby Dog was a must read.

For various local parades, Denise and one of her talented neighbors, created unique costumes to bring smiles and warm hearts. Photo Credit: Denise Baker and Denby Dog

Even though Rugby James wasn’t a dog with the physical challenges that Denby faced every day, I related to life with a special needs dog.  The needs were just different.  Rugby is a special needs dog as well, but his needs are all emotional ones.  Rugby is a dog who is emotionally fractured, and like Humpty Dumpty, I can’t put the pieces back together.

I love the depth of Rugby’s eyes. He calls them his “sincere eyes” and they just look right into my heart…and I melt!

Oh I’ve tried.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  Over and over and over until I’m blue in the face, I’ve tried.  But like Denise discovered with Denby Dog, Rugby just can’t be fixed.  His emotions are too broken.  The pieces that are needed to fix him are missing, or don’t fit, and I can’t find the puzzle pieces that do fit and work.

For a long time, I just didn’t know what to do with Rugby.  I had never owned a dog like him.  He was such a cute little guy!  He was so smart! His heart was all in on anything and everything that we did together!  And he really did try so very hard!  But, at the end of the day, he was still a very broken little dog.

Rugby loves learning new tricks and playing games and puzzles. He’s so very smart and brain games are always a big hit at my house!

The colleagues that I knew and trusted were at a loss for help.  They were also devoid of hope.  They scratched their heads about how to fix Rugby. Their solutions all included giving up and getting a new dog.  Believe me, on bad days, there was already a little voice inside of me whispering….”He’s a no hoper.  Move on.”

But I just couldn’t bring myself to give up on him.  I couldn’t.  I couldn’t look at my physically healthy puppy….who was all of eight or nine months old when I got him…and tell him that I was giving up like his four previous owners had done.  I just couldn’t.  I couldn’t fail him.  He was so young.  He was so smart.  He deserved a life with a human who believed in him and who wouldn’t give up on him.  No matter what.  I knew that I’d never live with myself for giving up on him.  I had to try.

This is what all of us need: HOPE!! Denby Dog provided a daily dose! Photo Credit: Denise Baker and Denby Dog

I decided that I was going to be that owner who was all in, but hope was something that was elusive and hard to find.  Enter Denby Dog.  So many times when I hit the wall in working through yet another behavioral issue with Rugby, I found hope flying out the window.  I felt all alone, because no one seemed to understand why I loved my  nutty little dog.  There was no one to encourage me or who would whisper, “Don’t give up.  You got this!”

And there was Denise and Denby Dog.

Another one of Denby’s wonderful costumes….dressed as a real life hero! Little did he know how he rescued this dog trainer and Rugby from a crash and burn! Photo Credit: Denise Baker and Denby Dog

Time and again, I saw Denise hit one awful DM (degenerative myelopathy) milestone after another, as Denby continued to lose one function after another.  But instead of sadly marking those moments, Denise always found a way to approach them with courage and with hope and love!  She never focused on what Denby had lost, but she chose to focus on what Denby could still do in life.  And she was focused on giving Denby the best quality of life that she could, for as long as she could.

When Denby lost the ability to pee and poop, Denise fitted him with “Hot Pants” and found a way to make them fun! Photo Credit: Denise Baker and Denby Dog

Denise and Denby Dog were an amazing team.  The trust that they had for one another was incredible.  The fun that they had together always produced a warm fuzzy and a smile for my heart.  When I was lacking in hope on a given day, it never seemed to fail that Denby Dog provided that boost that I needed to be able to take a deep breath and try again.

Young Denby before he lost his eye and before the Red Racer Cart. Denise dealt with lots of drool, because of Denby’s inability to swallow. Photo Credit: Denise Baker and Denby Dog

That’s the reason I started Rugby’s Facebook page and ultimately this blog.  I’m a professional dog trainer.  That’s what I do.  Six days a week, I’m out in the trenches, training wonderful, but naughty dogs day in and day out.

A proud Willie Bear who learned how to get on the kitchen counters all by himself! Photo Credit: Lynn Goodman

I see all kinds of dogs with all kinds of behavior.  Believe me, I know that there are LOTS of nutty dogs just like Rugby James out there, and there are just as many wonderful owners who don’t want to give up on those dogs.  They feel just as lost as I once did, and they’ve often lost hope that anything can change or that anyone will understand their deep and crazy love for a broken dog.

The tube sticking out of Denby’s neck enabled him to eat and drink several times every day. Photo Credit: Denise Baker and Denby Dog.

Because of Rugby James, I get it.  I understand.  I can be that shoulder to cry on.  I can be the professional help that knows how to train through difficult behavior systematically, baby step by baby step.  There just are some dogs who can’t be fixed for whatever reason.  But most of the time, even for the really broken dogs, I can make things better for the dog and owner, just like I have with Rugby James.  I can teach clients how to “Corgi On….Corgi Strong” when things are hard.  I can and do dispense copious amounts of encouragement and HOPE!

“Corgi On Corgi Strong” became Denby’s battle cry because of the courage that he used to face every challenge that came his way in life! Photo Credit: Denise Baker and Denby Dog

Denby Dog and Denise will always and forever be my heroes.  Without even knowing me at the time, they provided the much needed hope, love, encouragement, and the smiles my heart needed to continue on every day with Rugby James.

The world today needs heroes.  It does.  Life is hard.  It’s not fair.  It leaves plenty of broken lives and shattered hearts in its wake.  Being a dog lover in general, and a Corgi lover in particular, it’s no surprise that this hero came to Rugby and I wearing dog fur.  We just needed to know where to look to find him.

This little dog in a red racer cart may always and forever be Denise Baker’s Denby Dog, but believe me….to Rugby James and me, Denise and Denby will always and forever be our heroes.

None of us really know what curves life will throw us. Life is not a straight path at all. But with courage and a good hero, we can find our way. Photo Credit: Denise Baker and Denby Dog.






    • Sally says

      Awww....Thank you so much, Donna!! I'm so glad you read it, and I'm even more glad that it touched your heart!! You're such a dear friend, and I love you to Mars and back three times!! <3 <3 <3

  1. Kat says

    You and Rugby mean the world to me! You never give up, just like Denby! Denby lived life to the fullest thanks to a loving Mom!

    • Sally says

      Awww.....Thank you so very much, Kat!! You hold a very special place in our hearts too!! I told Rugby I would never give up until he was ready to give up! So far, we hang in there, and live life day by day with plenty of surprises that Rugby throws in the mix!! <3


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