During the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, things were slow at Lost Fantasy Rescue, a non profit located in Ceres, Virg., dedicated to rescuing animals and finding them homes through adoption. Then, one social media post got the attention of the staff, according to volunteer Amanda Keerbs.
Scruffy’s makeover was actually so drastic it earned him first place in the 2020 Dirty Dogs Contest, a national competition organized by charitable organization Greater Good Charities, along with grooming business Wahl. The contest seeks dogs who have undergone dramatic makeovers to promote adoptions of rescue dogs — even those who may not make the best first impression.
Thousands of dogs from around the county entered the contest, but Scruffy’s makeover was so extreme, he took home the grand prize. (Second place prize went to a pit bull puppy with awful mange, while a cocker spaniel mix got third prize after he had a matted muzzle due to a broken jaw.)
“People will often overlook a matted dog because they don’t have the same appeal as a neat and clean animal,” Sarah Dutton, Founder and Program Executor of Lost Fantasy Rescue, says in a statement about rescue dogs. “But once groomed, these dogs shine.”
As for Scruffy getting the top prize, meaning $5,000 was donated to Lost Fantasy Rescue, the organization was thrilled. “We were ecstatic that Scruffy won; we know there were so many other rescue dogs from all over who entered but we’re honored,” Keerbs says. “It couldn’t have been for a better little dog — he’s such a cute, precious little guy.”
While a bit of a bittersweet win, as no dog should be this neglected, fortunately for Scruffy, it led to a second chance.
While Keerbs was his foster mom for the crucial first three weeks, it was retired teacher Allyn Mitchell, who welcomed him into her home forever. Soon Scruffy became Teddy.
“When the little man was found, they named him Scruffy because it matched his appearance — he was a mess!” Mitchell says. “His hair was so matted that it had pulled away from many parts of his body and formed a helmet around his back end.”
She adds, “Once he was shaved down, he was a completely different dog and needed a different name. I’m not sure why I chose the name Teddy, except it’s a cute name, and he’s an extra cute dog.”
While Mitchell rescued Teddy, the pint-sized pup has done the same thing for her by helping her cope with the loneliness so many are feeling during the pandemic.
“He is my constant companion; something for me to focus on beside myself in this crazy time. He’s happy to see everyone; he’s such a happy, social dog,” she says. “The multiple walks we take each day are good for both of us, and because of his friendliness I have met quite a few animal lovers in the neighborhood,” she says, adding his nickname is “Mr. Meet and Greet.”
Besides a blossoming personality, Mitchell says his physical wounds are also healing. “Thankfully, Teddy is very healthy and happy; he’s had a visit with his vet who found no problems,” she says. Though, he will need to have additional dental work in the near future.
Mitchell said she feels lucky to have found Teddy and is grateful to the staff at Lost Fantasy. “I was just in the right place at the right time,” she says.
Mitchell said the publicity and Dirty Dogs Contest is a great way to bring awareness to adopting rescue dogs. “All of my pets have been rescues, and they have all made wonderful companions,” she says. “While you can find every age dog, the older dog is the best in my opinion, since it has so much love to give. There are so many wonderful potential companions looking for love and a good home.”