Dog Born Without Nose Finds Family Who Thinks She's Perfect
"Once you get to know her you kind of get over that, and she’s just a normal dog.”
Mirabel hasn’t always known kindness and understanding. The Jack Russell terrier mix was born without her nose, which could easily have turned away some adopters.
But when Kelli Shook and her family saw Mirabel, they knew there was only one thing to do: love her.
Spotted wandering the streets of eastern Kentucky on a cold, rainy day, the senior dog couldn’t help but stand out.
A Good Samaritan reported seeing a pup with a facial injury, and when Mirabel arrived at the animal control center, workers realized that she was indeed missing her nose and upper lip — but it was not the result of an accident.
Her lack of a defined nose, vets determined, was most likely a congenital abnormality, similar to a cleft palate. It was also clear that the 8- or 9-year-old dog had either escaped or been set loose from a puppy mill or backyard breeding situation, where she had likely given birth to numerous litters.
But the little dog’s sunny disposition shined through, and Woodstock Animal Foundation took her in.
A veterinary examination revealed that years of breeding had left Mirabel with painful mammary tumors, an inguinal hernia and several costly dental issues, which plagued her constantly exposed upper teeth.
Mirabel’s heartbreaking story and unusual appearance spread over social media and local news outlets, helping to raise over $6,000 in donations — more than enough to pay for her lifesaving surgeries, as well as the surgeries of some of her fellow dogs at the rescue in need of medical treatment.
But despite all the good press, when the time came to find her forever family, Mirabel didn’t receive a single application — until Kelli Shook, a life coach and counselor in Toledo, Ohio, saw her face on the news.
“I don’t know what it was. It was just something in my heart that just knew that she seemed perfect,” Shook told The Dodo. “She was very friendly, going up to everybody, not afraid of other animals, not afraid of people. She’s great with kids — she absolutely adores children.”
When Mirabel arrived at her forever home, her mom put her to work right away. “We’re starting a youth program here in our area where we can teach kids empathy by using animals that are not considered to be traditionally huggable or lovable,” Shook said. “[Such as] animals like Mirabel, who have some sort of congenital defect or have been abused.”
Mirabel’s unique looks and sweet temperament helped her immediately connect with children — including her two new human siblings. “She’s kind of shocking to look at at first,” Shook added. “But once you get to know her you kind of get over that, and she’s just a normal dog.”
Her mom even started to notice that when Mirabel attended a therapy session, kids were far more likely to open up and talk about their lives. “She was a little star from the beginning,” Shook said.
“The kids don’t even care. They just think she’s so cute,” she said. “And nobody is afraid to pet her, even though her teeth are showing.”
Shook uses the children’s warm reactions to Mirabel to teach them about acceptance and respect. “We try to turn it into a lesson, saying, ‘See, you’re not afraid of her and you don’t care what she looks like, so let’s try and be that way with your peers,'" Shook added. “'If there is a child who looks different, let’s not treat them any differently.’”
Despite all she’s been through, Mirabel’s missing nose doesn’t affect her day-to-day life. “Her nose is, we believe, fully functioning. She’s able to smell really well, and she’s very food motivated,” Shook said. “The only issue is that she constantly seems like she has a cold; it always seems like she has a runny nose.”
Her family knows that due to Mirabel’s age and heart murmur, their time with her might be limited, so they’re doing everything to make sure she enjoys every second of it.
“We’re not quite sure how long she will be around, but we’re going to make the best of the second half of her life and have her help some other kids in the meantime,” Shook said. “Just 'cause an animal has had a bad first half of her life, that doesn’t mean she won’t make an amazing pet or therapy animal.”