One quick way to not get adopted at a festival is bark at everybody. I don’t know where this barking came from. At this point, I don’t think anyone will adopt him. I went to the shelter to foster a dog, but when I got there, everyone kept telling me about this American bulldog that had just lost all hope and needed a tremendous amount of rehabilitation. And I was not ready.

I had my second baby on the way. I was already fostering other dogs. I had a special needs dog. And when I saw him in his kennel, there was just something bigger than the both of us that said, you have to do this. And I’m telling myself, I’m scared. I don’t know if I can do this. What if he goes through all of this rehabilitation and it doesn’t work? And what if I can’t get him adopted because nobody wants him. Everybody just keeps passing him by.

But because of that connection that happened in the moment, I just knew that I had to accept this mission. I dug in and I found out Winston’s backstory and it is heartbreaking. But I promise you this; this story is really happy and uplifting.

Winston’s journey has just been unbelievably amazing and especially because of all of you in the community that has come together, from the animal shelter to even Vessi shoes, the sponsor of this video, they’re going to match funds dollar for dollar on any donations that come in. I’ll tell you more about them later and why I think they’re the perfect shoe for dog lovers and why they’re my everyday shoe. Stay tuned to the end of the video for more on that.

Someone locked him in a crate for years of his life, so long, that his body actually grew wrong to the shape of the cage. When you look at his back, you can see that there’s multiple curvatures in his spine. This happened because the crate restricted his mobility. The only thing he could really do is sit or lay down.

Outside of the wounds on his bum and the back of his legs, his kneecaps are also fused to his leg because he never had to bend them. Here’s what a normal American bulldog looks like. If you were to take a line from the back of his tail to his mouth, it’s perfectly even. If you apply that same line to Winston, you can see it’s an aggressive diagonal.

Winston has his good days and his bad days. On his bad days, sometimes even just laying down is painful for him. On those days, I just do my best to comfort him. We got Winston to the vet as soon as possible. They got him on pain meds right away. We did the full workup, x-rays, ultrasound, blood work, everything, and the results came back really bad.

I had a tough decision to make. Either keep Winston on the pain pills and try to reduce his pain over the years left of his life, but he would likely always be groggy and never a hundred percent of a dog. Get him the surgeries that he needed that might work but they’re very risky and there’s no guarantee. In this moment I was truly lost and I did not know what to do.

I asked the the vet to give him back to me for 24 hours so that I could make a decision. The factors that are weighing on this decision are that it’s gonna cost a lot of money, $10,000 or more. And we also don’t know his true age, but as we got into it, we realized he was probably closer to five but had just been severely neglected so he appeared older at the time. But now, it’s trying to decide what is the best quality of life for Winston in his adult and senior years.

The only thing I could think of in that moment was to take Winston to do something that he’s never experienced before, to try and show him just how amazing life can be. So I took him to see the ocean for the first time ever.

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Okay, here we go. What do you think? Oh, Yeah. Oh my gosh, he’s so excited. He’s so excited. Come on, come on. Oh haha! He loves it! I was trying not to let Winston know but I was really struggling with what to do. Yeah! I doubted myself. I think I was looking for someone to guide me, to help me make the right decision. And then something amazing happened.

Winston looked at me and it’s almost as if he was saying, I trust you. Whichever decision you make, I believe in you. In that moment, he was the mentor, even though I was supposed to be helping him. That night as a family, we all made the decision to give Winston the chance at a pain-free life. We loaded him up for surgery, told him how much we loved him, and then just waited.

Picking him up was so emotional. I just wanted to give him the biggest hug and let him know it’s gonna be okay. The first few weeks were so challenging because the pins that were put in his bones needed to set right for all of this to work. So he had to stay in his crate. And that breaks my heart because he must have been thinking, here we go again. I’m just locked in a crate again.

And as the weeks went on, he should have progressed and we should have been able to take him for walks and let him out of his crate more and more. But it actually got worse. He started knuckle dragging. His feet, he couldn’t lift them off the ground. We figured out what was causing this problem. And it’s wild, I’m gonna show you.

It was actually the hardware that was in his leg, holding his bones together. These pins had bacteria. In a small percentage, this happens. So now we had to remove these because the things that were supposed to be helping him was actually harming him. And we just had to cross our fingers and hope that his bones would stay fused together. Waiting for the antibiotics to work, all of the healing, and then the second surgery. It’s been a seven month journey with Winston.

Removing that hardware solved the problem. The bacteria was cleared up. The vet gave us the final checkoff. And he just got to be a dog, pain-free. He got to play with his foster siblings, and as a family we were just so happy seeing Winston experience what it was like to be a dog, free from pain, from a cage for the first time ever. It’s amazing. I realized at this time that we’ve got to start getting Winston ready for his adoption.

So the first thing I did was bring in Pro Dog Photographer, Sarah DeRemer. Sarah was really able to bring out his amazing, loving, kind personality. And look at these final pictures. Winston looks so handsome. I love them.

The shelter that Winston came from, Animal Friends of the Valleys, was having their annual gala, and I thought, what a perfect opportunity to officially announce Winston is available for adoption. And I wanted to come up with a way that Winston could give back to the shelter that gave him so much. And I loved an idea that Chantel, a volunteer at the shelter, gave us to let Winston paint.

-[Kelly Kanaka] What could possibly go wrong with a bulldog, a painting bulldog, in our living room. This is gonna be great.

I should have gotten him a beret. Here, actually, we can just add one right here. Okay, go get it. He understands the assignment. Okay, let’s see our work here.

Look at this. Oh man, look at this. Not my typical rescue garb, but it’s for Winston. Look at that. I’m nervous though. Because what if someone doesn’t bid on this? And this is Winston’s full circle of him giving back to the shelter that saved him. It’ll break my heart. Like if it’s zero and everyone’s like, what is that? I think I have to go up on stage too. I’m nervous all around. But for Winston, let’s do this.

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-[Gala Host] Rocky, Rocky, you’re a wealth of knowledge and thank you very much for sharing it. So ladies and gentlemen, by a show of hands, by a show of bid cards, who’d like to start the bidding for this for $100? I’m starting low ’cause I wanna see a whole bunch of cards go up. Look at this. This is what we’re talking about. We’re gonna start at a hundred. With five, now six. 800, bid 800, and a nine, nine, nine, nine, 800, nine now, thousand. One thousand and 15. 1500 now it’s 2,000. You want it for 22? She said 22! She heard Winston, she said Yeah! Four, 24. Sold for $2200

Wow, wow, that is so amazing. I thought like, I was worried it wouldn’t even go for a hundred dollars or even have a bid. It was the highest bid item in the entire gala. Winston, you deserve this. I love you, buddy.

Okay, so we have the professional photos. We made the official announcement, but now we need to post on social media. And I’ve got just the person that can help me with that. Matt from Puppy Songs made a custom song to help with Winston’s adoption.

♪ In Southern California there’s a joyful puppy dog ♪ ♪ Oh baby ♪ ♪ He’s a couch potato ♪ ♪ Now he’s looking for a new family and forever home. ♪ ♪ Everybody meet Winston. ♪ ♪ He’s a handsome devil Winston ♪ ♪ He’s super kind and gentle. ♪ ♪ He’s a tail wagging, sweet-hearted wonderful boy ♪ ♪ And he’s ready to show you some more ♪

Play it again, that song is gonna get stuck in your head. And if you love puppies and you love dogs, make sure you’re following Puppy Songs. Thank you, Matt.

I wanna get them adopted locally. Like that’s the goal. It would be really awesome. And so one of the things to do is just go to local events, like this awesome one right here. So I don’t know, let’s go in and see if anyone wants a dog.

Okay, relax, relax. Just kinda walking through the park. Let him work it out. Get calm before we go in there ’cause there’s gonna be a lot in there. A lot of activity going on. And he’s not used to that yet. He’ll be fine, but I just wanna work out a lot of the energy before we go in there.

Do you wanna meet him? He’s, he’s friendly.

– [An Event Attendee] Hi!

– [Rocky]He’s a little overstimulated right now He’s like, I never heard this.

– [An Event Attendee] Okay.

The thing is we can work on this barking, but I didn’t even know it was a thing. Like he never does this. And one quick way to not get adopted at a festival is bark at everybody. So I’m pretty worried about this. But no better time to start training than right now.

– [An Event Attendee]But I don’t know what.

– [Rocky] Okay, yeah.

– [An Event Attendee] But he is a…

How did I not know this was coming? I am so disappointed in myself. I just don’t see any way that he’s gonna get adopted with is this nonstop barking, and I’m working on it as fast as I can in the moment, but I had no idea this was a thing. But Winston is such a good boy that with some very simple training, we were able to work through it for the very last part of the event. Now I just have my fingers crossed that one of those people will want to adopt him.

I was not expecting a call, but I cannot make this up. Someone at the event said that they wanted to adopt Winston, but they called, they said, we don’t want Winston. We just wanted to call and tell you that we have a friend who wants Winston. So we went over to their house. We did a meet and greet and here’s what happened.

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Okay bud, let’s go. It’s like you know, huh? What do you want to say to Winston before he goes.

[Kelly] Oh my gosh, we’ve been with him for nine months. Such a good boy. I’m gonna miss him so much. Such a good boy.

But definitely in this moment it’s like, I think one of the reasons he’s excited is because I’m excited. I’m nerv, I guess nervous isn’t the right, maybe a little nervous, anxious, but in a good way. Like butterflies in your stomach feeling. I just want it to go smoothly and it will. But I’m still a little nervous.

Do not hurt your leg jumping outta the car. I’m not usually returning dogs to the shelter but I thought this is a good place to meet because this is where he was saved. Okay, let’s go buddy.

Congratulations on your new family. And I dunno if you saw the fine print in the paperwork but this requires anytime visits by me.

– [Winston’s New Family]: Bye thank you.

I think the thing that I love most about all of this is how everyone came together as a family, from the shelter that saved Winston, to us being able to foster him, and all of you. Remember you helped me pick his name. It was down to Tank or Winston. Winston was definitely the right choice.

Even Vessi is going to match up to $2,000 in donations. Have you heard of the sneaker company, Vessi? They’re the sponsor of this video. But also I’ve been wearing these shoes for a long time and lemme tell you why. They could be the perfect shoe to wear at shelters. Before I was just wearing regular tennis shoes. They would get wet and my feet would get all mushy. And the water at animal shelters, when you’re doing the cleanup, it is mixed with not good things.

But Vessi’s 100% waterproof. And even if you’re not at the animal shelter, think about this. Your feet will be dry in even the wettest of weather. And after all that cleanup at the shelter, look, I got back, completely dry sock. Awesome. What was the only option before? Boots. And these are so much more comfortable. If you’ve ever had waterproof shoes before, you know in the summer they can get really hot. Now, I couldn’t figure it out at first but it turns out they make their shoes from Dyma-Tex.

Okay, check this out. It’s dual climate, knit material that keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They’re comfortable, they’re lightweight. When I’m at the shelter volunteering and I’m cleaning up, there is not a single time that I don’t get my shoes messy. But with the Vessi’s, I can just shake ’em off and be on my way. Gives me more time and comfort to spend helping dogs.

Do this for Winston. Go to vessi.com/rocky and use the code Rocky to take advantage of the holiday sale before they sell out. And if you miss the sale, still use the code because you’ll get 15% off. Let’s support the brands that are doing good in this world and then come back to the video. Donate a couple bucks because that’s gonna be doubled and you’re gonna save more dogs with me. I put the link in the description and the promo code, so click it now.

Vessi, thank you for sponsoring this video and caring about dogs and making awesome shoes. Winston, I already miss you, buddy. But here’s the good news. He’s close by. I can go see him right now.

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