Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf Blind Pink Puppy and His Family

          Melissa Shapiro could have said no when asked to foster a deaf, blind, and traumatized puppy. After all, Shapiro, a veterinarian with a busy practice already had six rescue dogs, a husband and three college-aged children in her home. She certainly didn’t have the time, energy, or room to take on a highly anxious  puppy who weighed less than two pound and whose pink color has earned him the name of Piglet.

         But Shapiro said yes to the dog. And though it initially wasn’t easy she and her family didn’t give up. She recounts Piglet’s transformation from a fearful and reclusive animal into a happy, confident pooch with his own Facebook page and Instagram account in her just released book, Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf Blind Pink Puppy and His Family.

         “I am a very routine oriented person,” says Shapiro who lives in Connecticut. “My other dogs happily integrate into my daily schedule which makes having so many relatively easy. When Piglet arrived, he literally turned things upside down. He had no idea where he was or what to expect, so he screamed and carried on for hours a day.”

         And so to help Piglet adapt, Shapiro adapted as well, changing her schedule to accommodate Piglet’s needs. It was tough at first and the family, though dedicated to doing what was best for Piglet, worried just how much attention and accommodation he would continue to need as he got older. But like the Beatle song, “All You Need is Love,” the Shapiros  found that Piglet quickly responded  to lots of hugs, a predictable daily schedule, and their friendly pack of rescued canines.

         “The other dogs were very accommodating to Piglet,” says Shapiro. “They learned to play with him  gently, and they brought him into their playtime, being careful to include him when he lost track of where they were.”

         In three months, his screams had subsided as he became more and more comfortable with his new life. Videos on Piglet’s You Tube Channel happily playing with dogs at least twice his size. And his endearing, sweet personality has made Piglet a rock star with a large social media reach including 256,000 Instagram and 181,000 Facebook followers.

         “My initial idea when adopting Piglet was to raise awareness for rescued dogs and specifically disabled dogs and other animals,” says Shapiro. “Piglet’s Facebook page and then Instagram account were effective platforms for increasing exposure and fundraising for rescue organizations. Our Piglet Mindset™ educational program began early on so we had a dual purpose for our social media accounts. As the educational outreach grew and expanded, followers were eager to support our work with donations. Creating our nonprofit organization, Piglet International Inc., was the next step in growing Piglet Mindset and continuing to educate and advocate for dogs with disabilities.”

         Like many stars, Piglet loves having an audience and laps up being the center of attention. Because he needs all that plus almost constant physical affection, the family takes him almost everywhere they go.

Though that can be somewhat limiting, Shapiro says she doesn’t mind.

“He is a happy little dog,” she says. “He brings joy to everything he does, and he has a way of making sure we all join him and pause for a smile. Piglet has turned out to be a sweet, happy, and inspiring little dog for people all around the world. I have absolutely no regrets. It’s a lot of fun to be his mom.”

To learn more about Piglet, Piglet Mindset™ educational outreach, visit PigletMindset.org. Follow Piglet on Facebook at Piglet, the deaf blind pink puppy, and Instagram- @pinkpigletpuppy

Piglet Virtual Events

What: Join Piglet and Melissa Shapiro at upcoming Zoom events. The events are free. To register, visit www.pigletthedog.com and go to the events page.

Griffin’s Heart: Working Through Loss

               It’s been ten years since actress Reagan Pasternak’s beloved cat, Griffin, died and since then, though life has been very busy with her career, marrying, and becoming a mother, she has missed the pet she calls a “soul mate.”

               To help with her grieving, Pasternak who starred in Netflix/HULU/HBO’s “Being Erica”, HBO’s “Sharp Objects”, Syfy’s “Wynonna Earp,”  and BET’s “Ms. Pat,” began journaling her feelings, incorporating not only the pain she was feeling but also tools and techniques for processing her grief. It took a decade but now Pasternak’s book, “Griffin’s Heart: Mourning Your Pet With No Apologies” (Creatures Align Press $27.99) is available through Amazon.

               Pasternak, in a phone call from her home in California, describes the book as an interactive memoir, keepsake,  and healing journal that she hopes will provide guidance for others who have lost a pet.

               “I feel that animals get so forgotten after giving us so much love,” she says. “I wanted to honor them.”

               Pasternak doesn’t consider herself a writer but says she felt compelled to write about all that she has learned while going through her own stages of grief. That includes reading about the brain and how it processes emotions and information, exploring different ways to heal such as music therapy, and taking up meditation to help with anxiety. Doing so helped with the loss of her other pets as well including another dog who just recently passed away.

               “Everything began accumulating in my psyche, and one morning my husband said that I needed to finish the book,” she says. “I had started it, put it aside, had a baby, was acting—so I was busy. Every morning when I started writing the book, I’d ask myself to whom am I writing. I wanted readers to have something, so they knew they weren’t alone and to know they could get through. Then it just all came together in a cosmic way. I met an editor who thought it was a great idea and we started working together.”

               The book contains exercises, chances to journal, and is a repository for readers to enter their own memories, melding their losses into what Pasternak sees as a keepsake.

               Since the book was published, Pasternak has been receiving notes from readers who share their own stories of losing a pet.

               “My husband and I read them and cry,” she says. “It’s so touching that these strangers are reaching out. I keep getting photos from people showing how they have placed the book next to the urn containing their pet’s ashes.”

This outreach has inspired Pasternak to stay focused on the book and the stories people share.   “I just believe I’m helping change the culture of grief,” she says.

For more information, visit www.griffinsheart.com/

Leslie Odom Jr.’s Inspiring New Book: Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning

Leslie Odom, Jr. originated the role of Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical phenomenon Hamilton. Since then, he has performed for sold-out audiences, sung for the Obamas at the White House, and won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. But before he landed the role of a lifetime in one of the biggest musicals of all time, Odom put in years of hard work as a singer and an actor.

With personal stories from his life, Odom asks the questions that will help you unlock your true potential and achieve your goals even when they seem impossible. What work did you put in today that will help you improve tomorrow? How do you surround yourself with people who will care about your dreams as much as you do? How do you know when to play it safe and when to risk it all for something bigger and better?

These stories will inspire you, motivate you, and empower you for the greatness that lies ahead, whether you’re graduating from college, starting a new job, or just looking to live each day to the fullest.

Odom was most recently seen in the blockbuster Broadway musical Hamilton, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for the role of “Aaron Burr.” He is a Grammy Award winner as a principal soloist on Hamilton’s Original Broadway Cast Recording, which won the 2015 award for Best Musical Theater Album. Odom, Jr. originated the role of “Burr” in a sold-out run at The Public Theater in 2015, earning a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical and a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical.

As a recording artist, his self-titled debut album was part-funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign which raised $40,971. The album was released in 2014 by Borderlight Entertainment, Inc. Odom has appeared on “Smash,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Gotham,” “Person of Interest,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House of Lies,” “Vanished” and “CSI: Miami.” He also starred in the feature film Murder on the Orient Express.

Leslie Odom, Jr.’s upcoming visit is part of Anderson’s Bookshops’ calendar of special author events. Anderson’s Bookshops specialize in book sales, author events, book signings, and building a sense of community, learning and fun. The store has been helping Naperville readers for six generations. Additional locations include Downers Grove, at 5112 Main Street (630)-963-2665 and La Grange, at 26 S. La Grange Rd. (708) 582-6353. A toy shop, Anderson’s Toyshop, at 111 W. Jefferson Ave., in Naperville, opened in 2016. Key to Anderson’s success has been special author events, like the March 31 program with Leslie Odom, Jr.

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