Matching Tattoos: Sending a Message of Solidarity for Puppy Mill Survivors
Vanessa Marie Rose never expected that a small gesture she made for her beloved dog, Tobias Funke, would get her the kind of attention she’s gained recently. Who would have though a matching tatoo would inspire so many- but she’s truly touched.
‘I am honestly overwhelmed by the amount of support for Toby. I wish I could tell him somehow how happy he makes everyone he meets and everyone that hears about him.’
Vanessa rescued Toby in September 2016. Now, 6 months in, this is the longest that he’s ever had a real home since he was rescued from a puppy mill where he spent the first 6 years of his life. Vanessa says she might have made a mistake in researching the specific mill that Toby was rescued from after she got him.
‘ Over 300 dogs were rescued from the mill, all abused with teeth issues and in poor health. He was rarely let out, only to breed, and had to do everything within his cage.’
Little Tobias Funke, unfortunately, was rescued from a horrible situation and then put into a shelter in Ohio with a very high kill rate. Vanessa tells us some shelters in Ohio are reported to have euthanization rates as high as 80%.
‘It’s such an alarming number. I knew I had to adopt or rescue a dog as there are so many in need that deserve to be given a chance.’
Vanessa got Toby from Snookie’s Society, a volunteer run rescue that specializes in small breed dogs and stepped in to help.
Vanessa says that she has a few tattoos and the moment that she saw Tobias Funke’s, she just burst out crying. The tattoo in Toby’s ear was put there when he was at the mill and marked him forever as “Number 05 of the male Westie Breeds”.
‘He may have 05 on his ear but he is 01 to me. Branding any animal is just morally wrong. They cannot speak for themselves.’
So, Vanessa made the decision to get a tattoo behind her ear to match. She says she wanted to get the tattoo as a permanent sign of solidarity and an acknowledgment of the years of pain and neglect that Toby went through before he came to her and his forever home.
What Finding Your Forever Home Really Means
The most heartwarming part of Vanessa and Tobias Funke’s relationship, though, isn’t their matching tattoos but rather the mutual support that these symbols now represent. When Vanessa adopted Toby, they were both in a fragile spot. Vanessa told us that she suffers from depression and anxiety. She explained how the general stresses of life, her job, a recent breakup and an overall fear of death had really set her back and she needed to make a change. Toby was so scared and timid that he wouldn’t come near her or even sleep on her bed at first.
‘I was having quite a hard time and having no luck breaking my lull. I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t get out of the house, and it was like one thing after another. Thankfully, I had just adopted Toby about a month earlier. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed. He made me get up every day because I knew he relied on me to take care of him. He got me out of the house and into the sunshine. I will forever be grateful for him. I threw my whole heart and soul into taking care of him and he ended up helping to heal me in return.’
Toby has had a quick learning curve settling into his new life.
‘As much as his foster was there for him, you could still tell he’d been through the ringer and needed someone personally invested in him daily. Patience continues to pay off as he has done a complete 180 since. He sniffs everyone and will walk right up to them. He has started licking people and he lets them pet him now! Because of his past, I knew I had a lot of work to do in building his confidence and training. He now knows basic commands and has started to go to the park off leash! He came to me at a time when I had just broken up with my partner, didn’t really want to see many friends, and was quite distant, so I threw everything I had into him.’
Toby has now even started going to work with Vanessa. All her colleagues just can’t get enough of him!
Like us here at Talent Hounds, Vanessa is a strong believer in the invaluable comfort our pets offer us and the comfort we offer them back. Sometimes, you rescue a dog and they end up rescuing you. Toby has served as a sort of emotional support animal for her since he came into her life.
Vanessa left us with a beautiful sentiment about that saying simply: “They make your life, they really do”.
For more information on why we all need to fight to end puppy mills and what you can do to help, check out our past article in tribute to the brave mill survivor, hero and advocate Harley .