Hooch is a French Mastiff with badly cropped ears, a broken tail, no tongue…and a spirit so bright as to outshine all the darkness that has befallen him.

After Hooch had languished in the Bakersfield shelter for more than a month, our friends at Kern County Animal Control informed us that we were his last hope for rescue. A mysterious case, Hooch wouldn’t eat or drink, and would instead thrash his food and water bowls around like a maniac. By the time we pulled him to freedom, he was 35 pounds underweight – starving, dehydrated and severely malnourished.

Never thinking to “check for” a missing tongue, those involved in Hooch’s case thought he might have a broken or dislocated jaw that was causing his strange behavior surrounding the ingestion of nutrients (or lack thereof.) When we took him to see our trusty cohorts at San Joaquin Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Willis sedated Hooch to ready him for x-rays, and made the gruesome discovery that Hooch’s tongue had been savagely removed at its base, likely in an attempt to prime him for the dog-fighting arena.

Hooch had a feeding tube implanted immediately in hopes that he’d gain a substantial amount of weight quickly, after which we would remove the tube and try to teach him how to eat and drink. It seemed it would be a long and arduous road to recovery, but Hooch has blown our minds at every milestone along the way. The world watched as we fed an “upright” Hooch in a Bailey Chair, then began simply placing moistened kibble in his mouth and, with a little help from gravity, down the hatch it went! Hooch has taught himself to suck up water, using his snaggle-tooth-under-bite to supplement an impressive slurping mechanism.

Even more impressive than Hooch’s physical recovery by extreme adaptability, is his complete lack of fear or resentment toward human beings. Hooch loves every person he meets. So much so, in fact, that he now works in a therapeutic capacity with special needs children. Because of his miraculous disposition and ability to inspire and delight, we have decided to keep Hooch as our own. As our signature “Miracle Mutt”, Hooch will be able to fulfill his destiny, as an ambassador for of all that is good and right in the world.

While we could let vengeance darken our hearts on Hooch’s behalf, we choose instead to honor the invaluable lessons he has taught us: To live in the moment and forgive the past, to face each day with the vulnerability born of trusting, and to enjoy the simplest of pleasures as the most profound. In spite of the evil that took his tongue, Hooch is a happy dog with nothing but love to give! He shows us by example that in spite of horrific circumstances, we can adapt, we can go on living, and we can do so with a lust for life that is unstoppable and contagious!


In keeping with honoring Hooch’s One Year Anniversary as a Marley’s Mutt, I thought we’d post our first interview together. I have done them before,Hooch had not, but I’d say he stole my thunder!
We cover a few topics in the interview and one is “dog fighting”. Some may find it controversial that I DO NOT believe that dog fighting is epidemic in Kern County but I want to qualify that statement. Dog Fighting should not happen PERIOD–ever– and any amount canines being used to fight one another for entertainment is too much. Folks have a tendency to jump the gun and view any dog with scars or cropped ears as a byproduct of dog fighting,or a bait dog, and thats really not the case. Dogs like Hooch are not and never have been associated with dog fighting; the reality is much worse. They are the product of families everywhere who believe its ok to mutilate, degrade and exploit our dogs as an extension of something they are missing inside, or have a desire to portray, using there dog as advertisement. We have had dozens of dogs like Hooch whom are the personification  (per-dog-ification) of their owners insecurities and twisted morality. These people, this bravado, is what needs to be challenged and struck down as ridiculous, cowardly and small-minded. I think we are making excellent head way in this fight and Hooch is helping lead the way!