Meet the little pooch with a big will to live who went on to become the mayor of a seaside town in New Jersey!
Biscotti, a Toy Yorkshire Terrier and Boston Terrier mix, was born a few weeks premature and weighed just five ounces. Tori Lattig and her partner brought home the tiny pooch and fed her through a feeding tube.
Despite terrible odds, Biscotti did more than just persevere. A few years later, she became a certified therapy dog and started volunteering with a nonprofit group that helps homebound, elderly, and frail members of the community. This year, amid heavy competition from other certified therapy dogs, Biscotti put pet politics to the test and was voted pet mayor of Toms River, New Jersey, in a contest to raise therapy dog awareness. She is the very first duly-elected pet mayor and her duties include ribbon cuttings, store openings, and the like as a "goodwill ambassador."
Here's her story of pet politics in the making:
1. How long has Biscotti been living with you?
We have had Biscotti since the minute she was born by C-section at the veterinary hospital where we were working. Her owners didn't want her, so they signed ownership over to us.
2. Can you tell us more about Biscotti?
Biscotti has an enormous personality for such a small dog! After her first night at home feeding her through a tube, we knew she had a lot of fight and strength in her. She persevered through the challenges a premature, hand-raised puppy faces, such as dehydration and infection. She kept getting stronger and showed no fear of anything.
3. What makes Biscotti so lovable?
I think what makes her so lovable is her small stature and big personality — not to mention her signature mohawk. No matter where we are, she watches her surroundings and adjusts her excitement level to match the environment. We volunteer with a branch of the Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey called Caregiver Canines Therapy Dog Program. It's an organization that visits the elderly and infirmed in their homes to offer canine companionship. Biscotti is incredibly patient with the people she visits. She always sits to be petted and spoken to, and sometimes even falls asleep during a visit because she's so comfortable. If she is invited to give a kiss, she will happily oblige.
4. How has knowing and caring for Biscotti made your life richer?
In her five years, Biscotti has brought more smiles, laughter, and pure joy to us and our community than we ever could have imagined. Fate brought us together and a dedication to making people happy through her sweet personality and cool hair-do has been her mission ever since. There is no other feeling like watching a big smile appear on the faces of the people she meets.
We realize that all the worry we felt when we thought she wouldn't make it was well worth it when we watch her interact with people and be an ambassador for the amazing work therapy dogs are doing. She has made us stronger individuals because of the obstacles she's overcome in her life.
5. Can you share a cute story about Biscotti?
One of Biscotti's Caregiver Canines recipients, MaryLou, has had nine strokes in 20 years, is blind, and has speech difficulties. Biscotti visits her once a week and is helping MaryLou become comfortable around dogs again. MaryLou and Biscotti get so excited to be together. Every time Biscotti visits, they have a wonderful connection.