The following is a story by Courtney Dasher, the owner of a sweet and special Chiweenie named Tuna who the world has grown to love. Tuna initially became an international sensation after he was featured on Reddit.com and Instagram’s personal account as a part of their #weeklyfluff. Then Mashable covered the story, referring to him as “Instagram’s Cutest Dog With An Overbite,” and from there, Tuna’s Instagram account (@tunameltsmyheart)—which is dedicated to featuring only photos of the pup—blew up and now boasts over 116,000 adoring followers. More than a social media success, though, Tuna’s story is one of friendship, redemption, and love. Read on to learn more about how Tuna and Courtney met and how his presence in her life has taught her about what really matters.
Two years ago my life changed because I fell in love with a dog. That may sound absurd if you’re not a dog lover, but he’s not your average dog. In fact, he is a dog that most people wouldn’t want because the general public would deem him to be unattractive. He has funny teeth that stick out, moles around his mouth, a crumpled chin and a neck that looks like it’s been soaking in a bathtub for days! I believe that he was discarded by his original owner because of his irregularities. I don’t think that they saw the beauty in him, so as a result, he was rejected. Fortunately for him (and me), his rescuer saw his potential and gave him a second chance at living.
That’s where I come in.
I met my dog at a local Farmer’s Market where he was being shown for adoption. Though my intentions that day were to only foster a puppy, there was something about this 4-month old pup that drew me to him. His rescuer said that he was thrown out and found on the side of a road near San Diego, which evidently traumatized him, because he would squirm on his belly when he attempted to walk. She called him Wormy as a result, which was probably great for his already high self-esteem (insert sarcasm). After he became mine, I changed his name to Mr. Burns since he and the Simpsons character shared a similar resemblance; an aggressive overbite and a shortened lower jawline dysfunction. His cartoonish looks warranted him the nickname Tooney and then that morphed into Tuna, which is now his official name.
After spending a week with Tuna, I made the decision to adopt him because I inherently knew that he was special. He was not only different physically, but his personality was so lovely and endearing. I had fallen in love with him and I wanted him to know how much he would be loved by me. Since he had such an impact on my life, I was confident that he would have a great effect on people. I knew that he would capture hearts and that it would be his purpose, but I also knew that he unfortunately would be ridiculed because of his congenial features. The common responses that I initially received about Tuna—and still get today—are that he’s “ugly.” That’s usually the first thing most people feel the need to say about him because they judge him by his looks, but if they knew his heart, they would find him to be so beautiful.
I believe that is true for most people, but unfortunately there are countless individuals who are wounded by hurtful words and harsh opinions because they are judged by their looks, and not by their hearts. I attribute this ridicule to society’s unrealistic emphasis on beauty. If you’re not “beautiful” by the world’s standards or have the perfect features or figure, then you are considered to be ugly. We have been programmed to believe these ridiculous lies about what beauty is, and consequentially, we project those false standards onto others, and even onto ourselves. When we feel the need to express our unwarranted opinions we are hurting people and it grieves me to think of the irreversible damage that it does. I can only imagine how many children, teenagers, young adults and adults alike are suffering because they feel undesirable, unwanted, unaccepted, disqualified, and alone.
If those are the results of rejection, then what can be done to restore those wounded hearts?
I charge you to start loving the seemingly unlovable by being mindful with your words and intentional with your actions. Make an effort to love others with greatness because it is more gratifying to honor someone than to tear them down.
People around the world are showing me what that looks like by the way they love Tuna through his Instagram account. I’ve been posting a daily picture of him for a year, and in that time he has garnered a following that adores him for his differences! I am overwhelmed by the impact that he is having on so many people. It appears that he is restoring hearts again by melting them, and when I read the comments that are uplifting, edifying and encouraging, my heart melts too!
I would never have imagined that a little unwanted dog could have this much of an impression on people, by bringing them so much joy and laughter; but then again, he is not your average dog.
Follow Tuna on Instagram at @tunameltsmyheart or on the web at www.tunameltsmyheart.com. If you have any drawings of Tuna, or any impersonations of him, please hashtag #tunameltsmyheart when you share it.