Born with Misshapen Front Legs, Thumbelina the Dog Is Ready for a Home After Relearning to Walk

Thumbelina is a husky/German shepherd mix that is looking for the perfect forever family to help her cruise through life in her custom hot pink wheelchair.

Thumbelina is a princess searching for her castle.

The rescue dog is on the hunt for the perfect forever family after an eventful journey from Texas to New York City. Her story starts outside Dallas, where Heart and Bones — a foster-based rescue group operating out of Texas and New York City — took in the canine after she was surrendered to Stone Creek Vet, a veterinary office in a rural area outside Dallas.

“They quickly observed, she couldn’t really use her front legs because they’re deformed. They’re very short. She has paws, but she can’t really use them the way a dog normally could use their front paws,” Allison Seelig of Hearts and Bones tells PEOPLE of what the vet noticed after first meeting Thumbelina. “So they suspected that the reason she’s like that is probably irresponsible breeding practices, and her legs must have been some sort of genetic defect that she was just born with.”

While Thumbelina’s former owner isn’t in a place to care for the dog, Heart and Bones knows there is someone out there looking for a companion just like this “super” special needs pup. Estimated to be around one year old, Thumbelina had some time to explore the world before meeting Hearts and Bones. During that time, the husky/German shepherd mix learned how to get around with her shorter front legs by walking on the backs of her paws. Unfortunately, a visit to the veterinarian revealed that Thumbelina’s self-taught way of walking could lead to painful health issues in the future.

“She had been getting around basically just using her back legs and crawling on her front legs for a whole year and had gotten quite good at that. She’ll sit on her back legs, like a meerkat,” Seelig explains.

“She was fine moving around that way. But our vet partner was concerned that all of that wear and tear on her front arms over time could lead to injuries because she’s not walking on paw-pads. She’s walking on fur. And then also, it pitches her down at a strange angle so that she’s putting a lot of pressure on her front body, and they were worried that over time that might lead to spinal issues for her,” the animal rescuer adds.

So in spring, after Hearts and Bones took in Thumbelina, the rescue raised the money needed to get the pup her own hot pink wheelchair that safely supports her as she uses her back legs to get around. Thumbelina moved into the Dallas home of Heart and Bones’ founder for a crash course in how to walk with a wheelchair.

With this support, Thumbelina quickly mastered her new wheels and befriended several neighborhood dogs in the process. In early August, once the rescue’s founder felt confident that Thumbelina could navigate the world with her wheelchair, Hearts and Bones drove the pup from Texas — where many shelters are overwhelmed and overcrowded — to New York City to prepare for adoption.

Upon arriving in NYC, Thumbelina moved in with pet foster Megan Penney —who believes that Thumbelina is her 200th foster pooch. Penney is currently caring for the dog and has nothing but sweet things to say about the pup, who has made even further strides in mastering her wheelchair and socializing with other canines, including Penney’s own pooches.

Thumbelina has been to the beach, the park, the streets of NYC and has charmed everyone she has met. Now she is waiting to meet her forever family.Meet the 10 Pups Competing For the Title of World’s Cutest Rescue Dog — and Vote for Your Pick

“I think she’d do great in any home as long as someone’s willing to be patient,” Seeling says, adding that Thumbelina’s adopters should be prepared for the dog to be a bit shy at first.

Penney, who understands what’s needed to care for Thumbelina, adds that having a special needs pet is not as daunting as some think. Thumbelina’s adopters should be able to lift 42 pounds — since the canine needs help to get in and out of her wheelchair — and should have a home accessible by an elevator, ramp, or flat surface. Penney says caring for Thumbelina is similar to looking after a dog with fully formed front legs outside of these considerations.

To prepare for her future home, Thumbelina recently took a special trip to NYC’s Squeaky Clean Dog Grooming. Pride + Groom, a pet care company, covered her spa day and also provided the products for the pet’s makeover. Among the products used was Pride + Groom’s The One Fur All conditioning shampoo, which was designed to be donated to animal rescues and shelters.

Thumbelina is now fully ready to start the next chapter of her life with her forever family. Animal lovers who think Thumbelina is the pup princess they’ve been waiting for can apply to adopt her through the Hearts and Bones website.

The rescue hopes that those not in the place to adopt an animal right now will consider fostering a pet.

“Even if you can foster for two to three weeks, you can literally save a dog’s life. Because the shelters don’t have enough space to care for all the dogs that need homes right now. And the more people who sign up to foster, the fewer dogs we have to have in shelters,” Seeling says. “And it gives them a better chance of finding a forever home because they are used to living in a home at that point, and it’s really great to relieve pressure on the shelters.”

“You just have to remember, even your studio apartment is much nicer than a concrete kennel in an animal shelter,” Penney adds.

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