When Picasso the dog was born with a twisted jaw, the odds seemed stacked against him. Overlooked by adopters and abandoned by his breeder, he was scheduled to be put down at a California shelter. But then, a kind stranger fell in love with his freakish face.
Picasso and his brother Pablo were born in California. They didn’t have the easiest start in life. Not only were they bred by backyard breeders, but Picasso also had to live with a severe facial deformity.
In fact, the poor animal had a twisted jaw. This caused his nose to veer off to the right of his face. It also meant some of his bottom teeth dug into the roof of his mouth. Others stuck out of his lips entirely, giving him a unique, crooked smile.
It was Picasso’s abstract looks that earned him his moniker. He is, of course, named after the artist Pablo Picasso, who was known for his surreal, Cubist portraits. And while his face might have been out of the ordinary, the dog’s health was as well as could be expected.
However, perhaps because of his looks, no one wanted Picasso. All the pup could do was watch on as his four brothers and sisters, including Pablo, found their forever homes. Then, after all attempts to sell him off failed, Picasso’s breeder abandoned him at a local animal shelter.
From there, Picasso’s luck didn’t improve. Staff at the Porterville Animal Shelter placed him on the termination list. And, when the recent new owners of Pablo decided to give him up too, he was brought to the same shelter. Like Picasso, he was also scheduled to die.
So, it looked like the desperate doggies’ numbers were up. However, as their euthanasia dates grew ever closer, Liesl Wilhardt intervened. Wilhardt is one of the head honchos at Luvable Dog Rescue. The organization rescue dogs from high-kill shelters before finding them families.
Wilhardt knew one of the volunteers at Porterville, so she approached them to see if she could help. “I asked her if she had any dogs with special needs, because I felt we could take some on,” she told The Huffington Post in March 2017. And that’s when Wilhardt learned about Picasso.
Without a second’s thought, Wilhardt knew she had to rescue both Picasso and Pablo. She transported them back to Luvable Dog Rescue in Oregon. There, staff gave them the best medical treatment they could and prepared the pups for their forever homes.
Recalling the moment she first set eyes on Picasso, in February 2017 Wilhardt told The Dodo, “He was curled in a dog bed and looked very sad. His twisted face was startling, but he had soft and gentle eyes. For me it was love at first sight.”
Vets concluded that Picasso would need surgery to remove the teeth that were digging into his upper jaw. But, luckily, his problems could be easily fixed. “His jaw is fine, the deformity is in the top part of his nose,” Wilhardt told The Huffington Post.
“The jaw hinge is not deformed. He can open it normally,” she added. “He can eat sideways, but he’s a very messy eater.” But, for Wilhardt, Picasso’s imperfections just made him all the more endearing. So, she started posting images of him and Pablo on social media.
And, Picasso and Pablo proved popular online. Thousands of people liked their images on Instagram, and Picasso was even featured on the popular Dogs of Instagram account. That particular post clocked up more than 123,000 likes.
“Someone please adopt this deserving pup. Picasso was born this way and despite his funny looks he is happy and healthy,” read the accompanying caption. As a result, hundreds of people contacted Luvable Dog Rescue to ask about Picasso and Pablo.
Soon, Pablo had completed his time in quarantine and was reunited with his brother. And the pair’s amazing bond was clear for all to see. “They are very attached,” Wilhardt explained to The Huffington Post. “The term ‘bonded’ is over-used with dogs, but these two have come to rely on each other for security comfort and support.”
“Picasso and Pablo seem to be the best of friends and are really upset when separated from each other,” she added in an interview with The Dodo. “After watching them together for a couple of weeks now at Luvable, we think it’s in their best interest to be adopted to a home together.”
Interestingly, Picasso is friendly, inquisitive and lively, while Pablo is more timid. So, with that in mind, the dogs’ ideal family would be energetic with no small children. “They’re really nice dogs, not just adorable, but wonderful dogs,” Wilhardt gushed in an interview with TODAY.
Once Picasso has recovered from his surgery, shelter staff will get to work matching the pair with the perfect family. But, for now, the brothers are just happy in each other’s company. With so many adoption offers already on the table, it won’t be long until they find a home.
But, when that day comes around, Wilhardt has admitted she’ll find it hard to hand them over. “We love them,” she told The Dodo. “I wish we could keep them but they really are awesome dogs and deserve a home and family of their own.”
It’s hard to believe that if it wasn’t for Wilhardt, both Picasso and Pablo may have been put down already. Back at the high-kill shelter, no one cared how much love they had to give. However, both dogs now look likely to find forever homes, where their imperfections will be celebrated.