By Jess Winans
From tragedy to ‘Happiest Dog on Earth’
With more than 60,000 followers on Instagram under the username @super_scooty, Scooty the dog is quite the internet sensation.
“Honestly I take an embarrassing amount of pictures of her, so the Instagram is a justification to make me feel less crazy,” said Erica Loring, who adopted Scooty with Alicia Palomino six years ago. “She was all over my personal one so we felt she needed her own.”
Not only is she Instagram famous, but she was recently named the “Happiest Dog on Earth” this year by Solid Gold Pet.
But Scooty’s life hasn’t always been fun and games.
Six years ago, Loring and Palomino were surfing the web in their North Park home when they stumbled upon a big, doe-eyed dog listed for adoption under the name Special Needs Diana.
Special Needs Diana was badly injured after a car accident and found by Baja Dog Rescue, a nonprofit in Baja California that rescues and rehabilitates neglected, abandoned or unwanted dogs. She had crushed hips, a broken back, broken ribs, a broken tail and gaping wounds. She also contracted distemper and was left with a bad infection and unable to walk properly without the help of a wheelchair.
“Her face was so precious and I knew I wanted to do more than simply give funds, she needed round-the-clock care and love at first and she wasn’t getting that there,” Loring said.
So the two adopted her under a new name, Scooty.
“At first I wanted something creative but meaningful and strong,” Loring said. “I came up with Tatra, which was one of the first rear-wheeled powered cars developed, but she seemed more goofy than that and it didn’t work. We kept asking her: ‘Where you scootin’ to?’ So then we called her Scoots and Scoots McGoots, which I think Scooty just came out naturally when we were excited or greeting her. It’s a little silly, but so is she, so it works.”
Since the accident, Scooty has been living an active and healthy life with her owners and can be seen scooting around In-N-Out Burger, Belching Beaver, Tiger Tiger and Home Depot.
She rarely uses her wheelchair anymore and is featured in photos and videos on her Instagram account kayaking with her owners, going for walks on the beach and playing with other dogs.
“I love how much she brightens up my day and life, in general. She is so happy and goofy, it’s impossible not to smile when you see her,” Loring said.
Loring and Palomino are currently fostering another disabled dog, Eva, and are working on raising money to donate wheelchairs to other dogs in need. So far they have donated five wheelchairs to paralyzed dogs from all over the world.
“We are also working on finding homes for special-needs dogs, donating food and simply raising awareness about how special-needs dogs can live a happy, full quality of life,” Loring said.
Scooty’s owners and supporters are also selling clothing as a way to raise money to purchase wheelchairs for other disabled dogs.
–Jess Winans is an intern with San Diego Community News Network. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.