Wendy Wickersham wasn’t even looking for a new dog when she first saw a picture of Gordon, a Shiba Inu with a tragic backstory, on Facebook. Yet the moment she saw his face, she couldn’t stop thinking of him.
Gordon is originally from Taiwan. He’d been hit by a car and left for dead, but a kind person picked him up and took him to a shelter. Unable to use his hind legs, the shelter started searching for an appropriate home in the United States where he could spend the rest of his life in peace.
In spite of all of the hardships he’d encountered, it was Gordon’s giant smile that stuck in Wendy’s mind. A few days later, she saw another post about the disabled pup, and this time she knew she had to have him!
“I’m reading this sad story, and then there was a picture of him, and he’s got the biggest, goofiest smile,” she told PEOPLE.
Wendy and her husband, Jim Larson, connected with California-based rescue Love and Second Chances to prepare for Gordon’s arrival. They hired a dog trainer, rearranged their Bella Vista, Arkansas home so that it suited Gordon’s wheelchair, and learned as much as they could about taking care of a paralyzed dog.
Months later, in November 2015, Wendy and Jim met Gordon at the airport when he arrived from Taiwan.
Gordon was incredibly shy and afraid when he first arrived, but it didn’t take long before his natural exuberance to began to shine. Once he began to trust his new humans, Gordon’s personality really lit up their home!
“It was about letting him see that he was safe and that this is your home,” Wendy explained.
Now, Gordon is as happy and well-adjusted as can be. He lives for cookies, and he spends most of his time “cruising along in his cart.”
“He will jump over rocks, tumble over logs, jump in the creek and chase the leaves,” Wendy explained.
Gordon is so active, they had to replace his first wheelchair with something more durable! His playful nature and perma-smile are two big reasons that Gordon was recently named the winner of the 2022 PEOPLE’s World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Presented by the PEDIGREE brand!
Gordon beat out over 9,000 other adorable rescue dogs to earn this title. The 11-year-old dog won a year’s supply of dog food, a $1,000 donation to an animal rescue of Wendy’s choice, and of course, bragging (barking?) rights!
The moment we’ve all been waiting for! The winner of the @people World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest has been selected. The winner is… GORDON🏆— The Talk (@TheTalkCBS) October 12, 2022
“Of course I think he’s the cutest dog in the world, but it’s just amazing to see that other people think he’s cute too!” pic.twitter.com/GJMm3OzaZi
Now that he’s the World’s Cutest Rescue Dog, Wendy hopes to use his newfound fame to show others that “different isn’t a bad thing,” and disabilities don’t “have to keep us from enjoying life to the fullest.”
“He exudes joy, and he’s playful,” she said.
Wendy also echoed the thoughts of so many other adoptive pet parents: “We thought we were adopting him to help him, and really he has given us so much joy and laughter that I feel like we could never repay that to him.”
Wendy urges other pet parents to do their research before adopting a special needs animal, but says doing so can give owners “a bond that’s kind of unlike any other.”
Congratulations, Gordon! Share this story to tell everyone about this very special guy.
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