September 16, 2011 marked the largest puppy mill seizure in Canadian history. 527 dogs were rescued. France Turcotte of Valley Mastiff Rescue remembers this time, not only for a monumental victory, but a few days later, a special pooch named Nina and her four siblings were born.

Valley Mastiff Rescue welcomed Nina and her Great Dane family to their sanctuary when the pups were only six days old. After they were settled into the nursery, France and other volunteers noticed something different with Nina’s right hind leg. “It was deformed, small, twisted, and only had three toes,” France recalled. “We were in complete shock.”  Despite their initial alarm, France decided never to treat Nina any differently from her siblings.

Many people told France to euthanize her. “I wanted to hear nothing of that because I knew her strength and her heart,” said France. Then, Nina started to amaze volunteers. When she was three weeks old, Nina was standing strong and learning to balance herself with her tail (which she still does). At two months old, Nina’s leg was amputated.

“She returned home and we challenged her everyday,” France recalled. “Nina didn’t even know she was different.” Amazingly, Nina adjusted quite well. She learned to go up and down stairs and to run in a field. After a little practice, she was running faster than the other dogs. Nothing could stop her. She had France’s love and support.

In June 2012, Valley Mastiff Rescue received a phone call from a woman. She had just laid to rest her special needs dog and had heard of Nina’s story. France knew this was the perfect home for Nina. Shortly thereafter, the woman and Nina met. It was love at first sight!

Nina recently celebrated her second birthday. She is happy, has her own RV, enjoys camping, and barbecue chicken. Thinking of Nina, France states, “I think it is the case for every rescuer - we forever hold a special place in our hearts for every animal we rescue. Nina taught me about heart, courage, and to never live down to other people’s expectations.  Nina is my forever hero.”