Tigger is getting his surgery thanks to the generosity of Statesman Journal readers, viewers and dog lovers everywhere.
The 55 pounds of bull-terrier mix, who some swear is actually smiling at them, captured the hearts of Oregonians and residents throughout the nation less than three weeks ago. Now he awaits an appointment with his surgical teams at Oregon State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, and a chance at a therapy-dog lifetime of helping others.
His corrective surgery was not easily predicted however.
OSU's Dr. Jennifer Warnock told Tigger's foster family that they would need to come up with at least half, or about $7,500, of the surgical costs before it could be scheduled. The small-animal hospital does, after all, need to keep its lights on and the staff paid.
But his foster folks were not deterred by the dollar amount. They were determined to help the dog with a bib of bright white fur across his chest overcome the obstacles of having been born with a condition called ectrodactyly, also known as split hand or lobster claw.
Eve Good and Troy Riggs, who live on acreage near Albany, started knocking on doors in August, and only stopped when they got the Statesman Journal's attention. After a story ran online and in print in the Statesman Journal on Aug. 22, the couple's crowdfunding site jumped from $150 to more than $2,500 in less than 24 hours.
After the Statesman Journal's parent company, the USA Today Network and its affiliate Humankind, and the Huffington Post picked up the story, the fund grew exponentially. KGW in Portland picked up the story Wednesday.
And the fund for the surgery now stands at more than $15,000, Good said.
"It's overwhelming," Good said. "From the Academy of Hair Design, who donated $350 to an anonymous donor who just this week contributed $2,500 along with a note that said something to the effect 'to put you over the top,' people have just been so generous. I am just so grateful to everyone who has donated."
Bonnie Graham, who runs Savin' Juice Medical Dog Rescue and was the one who took Tigger in when his original owner could no longer care for him, and held onto him for more than a year before tapping Good to foster him, said she's amazed at the outpouring of support.
"It's fabulous; Eve told me what she wanted to do, and I wished her luck. But she totally took this thing and ran with it. I'm a bit speechless actually."
Good said they'll take Tigger to his first pre-operative appointment next Friday, and meet with the two surgical teams that will operate on him: the soft-tissue team and the orthopedic team. It's expected the surgery will date will be set some time in the coming weeks.
Tigger's front paws are a good six inches shorter than his hind ones, and they end at the joint of what humans would anthropomorphically call a knee. He has paws that are turned in and gnarled into burly nubs. What few pads he has are stripped raw and there are gaping maws in the middle of the knots.
The surgeries will take about 12 hours, and Tigger will always be a special needs dog. But he should come out of surgery with greatly expanded function and be out of pain, Warnock said.
She then expects he will make an excellent therapy dog, and spend his life helping others overcome what some see as limitations, but Tigger's foster folks now see as opportunities.
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To contribute to Tigger's surgical fund:
Go to the Facebook page (Tigger The Dog) or http://facebook.com/Paws.For.Tigger/. There is a link to make a donation.