ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- They are baseball-sized eyes still squeezed tightly shut, piled one on top of another in the corner of their bed. At four days old, these half dozen puppies already have a destiny, a purpose. They will grow up to be service dogs for Canine Assistants.
RELATED | Photos of Pirelli
These highly trained, huge-hearted canines help physically and emotionally, enabling the disabled to have independence, confidence, happiness.
So imagine when one of these puppies, perfectly suited for a life of service, is born less than perfect.
"He was born without a foot," said Doctor Kent Bruner, Canine Assistants veterinarian and wife of founder Jennifer Arnold. "What we think happened is the umbilical cord got wrapped around his foot and caused that foot to not have a normal blood supply."
Pirelli is turning three months old, and yes, he's named for the tires because, "He needs a retread," says Bruner.
Pirelli is excruciatingly cute and missing a foot, so at a place that's all about overcoming disabilities, he's going to get one.
Jennifer Arnold says, "If we were to say 'no, we reject this puppy based on a physical issue,' we would be horrible hypocrites."
Doctor Bruner says Pirelli will be seven months old before he gets his new foot.
RELATED | How to help Pirelli
For now, a cushioned boot protects Pirelli's tender limb. He may have a bit further to go than his brothers and sisters, but his destiny remains unchanged. He will be a service dog who travels to schools.
Arnold says, "I think the fact that he has a disability of his own is going to be incredible in teaching people that it's irrelevant, that life is not about what your body can do. It's about who you are on the inside not the outside. I want Pirelli to go into schools and say when you judge whether or not you want someone to be your friend, don't look at their bodies. That's not where you need to look."
What Pirelli is lacking physically does not take away from who he is and what he will do. The same can be said for every person who receives a dog from Canine Assistants.
"Just because you're born with a disability, you can't see, you can't hear, you need a chair to get from place to place doesn't mean you can't change the world."