Kirsten Mende, CEO and co-founder of Stamford’s Lucky Dog Refuge, is no stranger to adopting animals. Having rescued a number of dogs herself, Kristen and her mother, Maria Mende, who is the co-founder and president of the organization, have a soft spot for animals. Maria is personally a fan of Husky mixes, and when the opportunity came to adopt Twinkle, a Husky-Australian Cattle Dog-German Shepherd-Alaskan Malamute mix, the family couldn’t pass it up.
Twinkle is a rescue dog that came from a run-down shelter in Mississippi. Twinkle’s older sister was rescued first and required immediate medical attention. Then, fosters went back to rescue the mother, who surprised them by giving birth to a litter of puppies.
According to Mende, all of the puppies contracted Parvo, a contagious virus that claimed the lives of two of them. Twinkle and her sister, Lunette, survived and were taken up to Connecticut once they healed.
“She integrated seamlessly into our family,” Mende said.
Twinkle regained full health and was even chosen to compete this year in Animals Planet’s Puppy Bowl, which will air on Sunday, Feb. 12 before the Super Bowl. The event, which spotlights local shelters and rescuers, will feature 122 puppies this year with nine coming from Connecticut. Twinkle is the only puppy to come from Lucky Dog Refuge.
“We were just beyond thrilled and excited to have a chance to be in the Puppy Bowl, and the fact that we adopted her and that she’s our puppy in the Puppy Bowl makes it even that much more exciting,” Mende said.
Since her adoption, Mende said that Twinkle, who is now named Emma, has been confident yet playful with her fellow dogs at home, even urging the older ones to play with her.
Emma’s sister, Lunette, was also adopted locally in Stamford and her mother and older sister, were adopted by a family in Brookfield. Mende said that she is trying to coordinate some "family reunions" in the future.
To celebrate Emma’s appearance on the Puppy Bowl as a member of Team Fluff, the Mende family is hosting a party at Sign of the Whale in Stamford to watch the Puppy Bowl. Emma will make an appearance at the party.
“To have her be able to come to the watch party with us, as part of our family and as part of the rescue, [made it become] a very special story for us,” Mende said.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct location of Lucky Dog Refuge.
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