Going Viral – The World Learns About Ken

By Leslie Gallagher

My silver bullet had failed to find its mark. Dr. L, as awesome as he was, was not going to work out for Ken.

We had absolutely no other good options on the horizon for the perfect home for Kenny. We were keeping Kenny far away from Monty and Kashmir while letting him out to run around with the girls and Lou at every opportunity. Kashmir, the young dobie was massively stressed out. And since Ken had bitten Monty, the normally calm, cool and collected German Shepherd Monty was a tad stressed as well (even though he tried not to let it show). Monty was the house fun-police, after all. Since Ken was all bent out of shape over the boys, there was no more fun-policing to be had. Wrestling and wrestlemania had been curtailed. Everyone was tiptoeing around on their best behavior, which was killing the puppy. This was NOT a good way to live. Where on earth was I going to find that great home???
SAP DAY Flyer JPEGBy chance, a few months earlier we had  hosted an event at our facility for national “Specially Abled Pets Day.” Only in America do we have a day to celebrate our four-legged friends with disabilities. A great rescuer friend of ours, Annie, ran the Bill Foundation at the time and often had a tearjerker story of a dog that she needed to place, as well. On this day Annie brought a specially abled dog named Tessa who was blind and struggled to walk from an unusual condition called hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Kenny was still paralyzed at this point and when Annie met him she said that she immediately recognized that look of defeat in his eyes from his inability to walk. Although Kenny had been the de-facto MC of the event, she knew he was discouraged.

Kenny and TessaFast forward a few months. Tessa had actually been adopted by a client of ours and was doing fantastically well. She and Kenny had become the best of friends and Annie had returned to our facility to visit with Tess, who was here for an acupuncture appointment. Kenny was walking by this time so Annie started shooting video of Kenny trying to play with Tess. Annie was blown away by Ken’s story and his amazing progress and was inspired to make a video of him. If there is one thing she is genius with, its videotaping and promoting dogs. Annie is one of the original dog whisperers. She is the kind of person that will sit all night alone, in an incredibly dangerous neighborhood, with a piece of rope, a cage and a few hamburgers to try to catch some horribly abused, neglected and starving dog. And she’s never gone home empty handed, even if it means coming back night after night, week after week to catch that animal. She is truly one of my heroes.

Annie showed us a rough cut of the video and it was really impressive. In it, Ken was flying around the office, full of love and joy. I suggested she incorporate some of our footage and photos to really help tell the story of what he had been through and the struggles we had trying to get him to walk again. Annie posted the video on You Tube and Vimeo and it went viral within 24 hours. It was insane. Within a few days we had several THOUSAND views! We started getting calls and emails from England, Hawaii, Mexico, Australia, Nigeria (though we weren’t too sure about that one) and Germany…… People posted and reposted Kenny’s story. Kenny Screen ShotBy the end of the first week it hit 25,000! Soon the press started calling. Can we interview you? His story made the Huffington Post, the Daily Mail, Dogster, Adopt a Pet, Animal Planet! I was absolutely flabbergasted at the amount of press Kenny was receiving. By the end of the month it was up to 100,000!! OMG. The whole world was seeing the Ken that we loved, learning his story, falling in love with him, too. Offers to adopt poured in from Europe, Canada and all over the U.S. The only problem was Kenny had to stay local. There was NO WAY I was going to fly him somewhere where we’d never see him again, to an unknown person who’d been inspired by his video. Waaayy too risky. Not for my Ken!

Even more amazing? Within a week there were 14 “dislikes” of Kenny’s video. How could anybody possibly dislike the idea that a paralyzed dog learned to walk again? What kind of cold-hearted human beings are these people? They probably wouldn’t be happy to hear a child was cured of cancer, either. I was absolutely astonished that anyone could “dislike” Kenny’s story. Soon after the 14 “dislikes”, however, my childhood hero Wynonna Judd tweeted about Kenny. HOW COOL WAS THAT?!!!! Wynonna loved the Ken, too!!! My other career aspiration has always been to be one of Wynonna’s backup singers so here was the perfect opportunity! She could meet Ken and then I could start singing in her band in all my spare time! Genius.

In order to reach the Spanish speaking market, as well, I translated Kenny’s video into Spanish and sent it to my friends at Univision, Mundo Fox and Telemundo. It was so easy to translate and I thought it would be a good educational tool for the Latin American community, to see that rehab exists and that it helps. But a Spanish-language show about rehab is a story for another day. My immediate problem, despite all the publicity, support and best wishes was that I still did not have a local forever home for my beloved Ken.

And there was nothing on the horizon…

 

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