Picasso. Photo by Sophie Gamand.

One-of-a-Kind Dogs

Luvable Dog Rescue offers a second chance for dogs with disabilities

In Liesl Wilhardt’s home, how your snout looks isn’t really that big of a deal. Wilhardt’s two dogs, Picasso and Wacku, have gained fame around the world for their distinctive features. And this isn’t the first time Wildhardt and her rescues have made it big — in 2009 El Diablo, a supposedly incorrigible dog, was in National Geographic’s The Dog Whisperer episode of “Chihuahuas from Hell.”

In 2018, Picasso, a pitbull-Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix, went viral for his face deformity — even winning the Oregon Humane Society Diamond Collar Hero Award for overcoming the odds. Wacku came to Luvable Dog Rescue after his upper jaw was hacked off by a machete in 2012. After he was maimed, Wacku was instrumental to reforming animal cruelty laws in the Phillipines and was even presented at a hearing in that county’s House of Representatives. 

While Picasso and Wacku have found a permanent home with Wilhardt, there are many more dogs at Luvable Dog Rescue that are still looking for their permanent home. 

Wilhardt first started the nonprofit Luvable Dog Rescue in 1999 and has saved thousands of dogs from death row. Wilhardt brings the dogs to her 55-acre property outside of Eugene where she and other volunteers work to rehab the often neglected and abused dogs.

“We’ve always taken what I guess would be defined as special needs dogs,” Wilhardt says. “We’ve always felt they are highly adoptable with just some training and learning how to communicate with them and the senses they have. They are incredibly adaptable and resilient.”

Lumahai is a Staffordshire bull terrier that was born unable to walk and is currently up for adoption at Luvable Dog Rescue. Wilhardt says that when they first got Lumahai, doctors had no idea what her life expectancy would be. One doctor even suggested that she be euthanized. But extensive testing revealed that she was in no pain and was healthy, Wilhardt says that she decided to take on the challenge. 

“She’s so happy and able to live a fulfilling life still,” Wilhardt says. “Lucky for me she only grew to 13 pounds, which is tiny for a Staffordshire bull terrier. It enables me to carry her around everywhere. It’s like nature said to her, ‘I’m not going to let you walk, but I’m going to make you tiny so you can be carried everywhere.’”

Jacqueline McClure decided to adopt from Luvable Dog Rescue after following the recovery of Theo, a partially paralyzed pitbull, on Luvable’s instagram account. Months of rehab at both Luvable and McClure’s home have helped Theo return to full strength after doctors had previously said he would never use his back legs again. 

“Going through Luvable is an awesome experience because they are really supportive and they are there to help,” McClure says.

For anyone that is interested in adopting a dog from Luvable Dog Rescue or is interested in donating, you can go to LuvableDogRescue.org. Follow their instagram @LuvableDogRescue and follow Picasso @PicassoTheWonkyAndWacku

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