Like most Chihuahuas, Irwin likes to lie in the sun.
He loves ice cream, asparagus and chicken legs and is fiercely protective of his owners.
He’s feels safe when he burrows under a soft blanket.
Unlike most dogs, Irwin was born without front legs.
His three littermates were perfectly formed. Only Irwin inherited the birth defect.
His owners, Donna and Tim Day have loved and taken care of Irwin for eight years. They said Irwin’s story isn’t a tale of suffering or sadness, and they don’t believe their decision to raise him was particularly noble. For Donna Day, giving Irwin a chance to live was an act of decency and kindness.
“When he was born my mom called me crying,” Donna Day said. “My dad wanted to euthanize him and I said, ‘Put Dad on the phone.’”
Like the character Fern in the classic children’s book “Charlotte’s Web,” Donna pleaded Irwin’s case.
She said she would raise him, help him adapt, love him no matter what. Her father relented but even Donna wasn’t sure she was making the right decision.
“We didn’t know what kind of quality of life he would have,” she said.
Still, she and her husband Tim took the puppy home.
They got up at night with him, caring for him as if he were an infant.
They named the little dog Irwin for Steve Irwin the late Animal Planet personality who died after an encounter with a sting ray.
“We thought Irwin would be a good name for him,” Donna Day said. “Steve Irwin loved animals so much.”
Things are difficult for Irwin but he’s devised methods for getting around. He walks on his hind legs, a kind of toddling gait that gets him where he wants to go.
Tim Day said he decided against making a prosthetic device such as a wheeled cart to give Irwin more mobility.
“I was afraid it would put stress on his hip and cause him pain,” he said. “Chihuahuas have problems with their hips going out of place anyway.”
Like many small dogs, Irwin’s spirit belies his diminutive size.
“If chickens or the neighbor dog comes up on the porch he chases them away,” Donna Day said.
When someone he doesn’t know walks into the Day’s home, Irwin barks a little and watches the visitor. He’s wary of strangers but devoted to Tim and Donna.
His disability isn’t much of an issue but there are things he can’t do. Stairs are difficult for Irwin.
“He fell down the back porch steps when he was real little and now he won’t try that anymore,” Tim Day said. “He can go up them but he won’t go down.”
Difficulties aside, Irwin has lived a good life, Donna Day pointed out.
“He’s been deer hunting and goes fishing every year,” she said. “On Halloween he gets dressed up. He’s just like any other dog. He doesn’t know he has a disability.”
In addition to Irwin, the Day’s Woodbine home has become a haven for various animals.
The couple raises Boston terriers and are also caregivers to disabled pets including Candy, an elderly, blind Chihuahua with hip problems.
The couple rescued another family pet — Molly — after the Chihuahua spent the first part of her life confined to a closet.
“The first day we got her she took off,” Donna Day said. “It was a while before she warmed up to us.”
The couple also gave sanctuary to a one-legged pigeon and a rabbit born without legs.
Donna Day said she’s surprised when someone asks her why she chose to raise Irwin.
“You would be amazed at the people who say ‘You should’ve put him down,’” she said. “But he’s brought us so much joy.”
Resting in Tim Day’s arms, Irwin snuggles — his eyes half closed in the morning sunlight. His expression is one animal lovers know well — a mixture of love and unmistakable gratitude.
Like most Chihuahuas, Irwin likes to lie in the sun.
- Local News
Gainesville Middle School principal Ted Beal led GISD teachers in thanking the GISD board at the Monday meeting for the extra duty pay given out this month.
GISD teachers thank school board at meeting
Gainesville Independent School District (GISD) teachers rallied at the Monday school board meeting to thank the board for the recent GISD district extra duty pay given out at the first of December.
- NCTC honors graduates at commencement ceremonies
- Additional candidates file before deadline
- Icy weather forces changes during NCTC finals week
- Chamber guests donate food for VISTO
- GISD teachers thank school board at meeting
- Local Sports
Fleitman's love for game shown in record breaking season
It all started like any other morning for Lindsay junior volleyball player Nicole Fleitman.
- Leopards notch first home win of season against Iowa Park
- Area teams gear up for annual Holiday Classic at NCTC
- Leopards drop opening games of Aubrey Tournament
- Muenster's playoff run concludes with tight loss to Albany
- Fleitman's love for game shown in record breaking season
Cooke County United Way staff member Nadine Creswell, United Way Vice President Rhonda Beam, United Way Executive Director Angie Hare, United Way President Brent Reed and United Way Treasurer Lois Essenberg stand outside the organization’s new home at 114 East Main St. in Gainesville.
Cooke County United Way purchases Colton building
The board of directors of Cooke County United Way announced Tuesday the purchase of the former Gerald Colton building located at 114 East Main Street in downtown Gainesville.
- Gainesville Fire-Rescue goes Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- Era plans National 4-H Week activities
- Depot Days event a highlight of National 4-H Week festivities
- Acclaimed granite sculptor to teach workshop
- Cooke County United Way purchases Colton building
- Gainesville Pride
In the photo above, Dr. Matthew Bayne and his staff stand outside Family Dental Care of Gainesville.
Family Dental Care of Gainesville patients maintain healthy smiles
When he was a boy in Vancouver, Wash., Gainesville’s Dr. Matthew Bayne, DDS actually enjoyed going to his own childhood dentist who eventually influenced him to pursue his own career in Dentistry.
“Even though I originally had a dream of becoming an astronaut, Dr. Stryker was always happy and seemed to have the best job ever,” Dr. Bayne said.
- Bezner Insurance focuses on community
- Dr. White, of Gainesville Clinic, strives to meet community medical needs
- DEF Recycling serves city as part of growing industry
- TSO a dominant force in local optometry
- Family Dental Care of Gainesville patients maintain healthy smiles