From Cruelty Victim to Helper Dog: Toefu's Inspiring Recovery

February 19, 2015

Many of you may recognize Toefu as the cover star of the ASPCA’s 2015 calendar. But while her cuteness is apparent, her heroic story deserves some of the spotlight, too. Fortunately, our friends at Reader’s Digest got the scoop.

From Cruelty Victim to Helper Dog: Toefu's Inspiring Recovery

Toefu was one of 76 dogs rescued from the home of a hoarder in Tennessee in 2010. The dogs were found living in horrific filth, with fumes of ammonia and animal waste strong enough to send one rescuer to the hospital. All of the dogs were desperate for freedom; Toefu was number 16.

After their rescue, the animals were taken to a local shelter where they were treated for a variety of issues. It was there that ASPCA Animal Behaviorist Kristen Collins first spotted Toefu. Likely inbred, Toefu had an underbite, extra toes, and had never before experienced life outside of the hoarder’s home. Kristin adopted her and spent the next year helping the sweet spaniel overcome a lifetime of anxiety, fear and neglect.

In 2013, Kristin and her dogs moved to Madison, New Jersey, where Kristin began overseeing the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center—the first and only facility dedicated to the behavioral rehabilitation of canine victims of cruelty. It was there that Toefu discovered her true calling: helper dog.

As a helper dog, Toefu spends her days assisting fearful, undersocialized dogs on their own paths to recovery. Her presence helps these dogs learn social cues while boosting their confidence, and her zest for life is contagious. Head over to Reader’s Digest to read the full story of Toefu, Kristin, and their amazing work at the Rehab Center.