Noah the cockapoo was born without eyes and with deformed hind legs, but that doesn’t slow him down in his mission to spread the word on anti-bullying and acceptance of disabilities.
The 3-year-old pup, that was named the 2018 ASPCA Dog of the Year thanks to his service, spends his days traveling to different schools in a wheelchair, where he and his owner Lisa Edge of Mineral Point, Wisconsin, teach young students about tolerance.
“He's a great example and a great visual for when I take him to see kids at school that just because he's different doesn't mean he's any less of a dog,” Edge told InsideEdition.com.
She explained Noah doesn’t have eyeballs in his sockets and has back feet that resemble flippers – disabilities that may never be corrected, even with the help of surgery.
Edge came across Noah three years ago, at rescue Saving K-9 Lives, and was determined to adopt him.
“I was just drawn, I said, ‘I think you need me, and I think I need you,'” she explained. “This guy's got something special. I don't know what it is.”
Edge and Noah were eventually invited to visit a local school, and students had mixed reactions.
“Some of them are hurt, some of them are touched, some of them are disgusted. You just never know how kids are going to react when you see something that's so different,” she said.
But, overwhelmingly, students asked if Noah had ever been bullied, which made the duo want to concentrate their mission on acceptance.
“Just because you look different, doesn’t mean you’re any less,” Edge said.
She explained the most touching moments included a student with autism who was excited to interact with Noah, despite not normally participating in school activities. In another instance, students began making their drawings to feature characters with disabilities after meeting Noah.
“I could go in and talk to all these kids and say, ‘Shouldn't bully.’ They're not going to listen to me, they're going to yawn. I make a little lesson out of it, bring a dog in who looks like he could be bullied, and we have magic,” she said. “He's a living, breathing, soft, fuzzy, cute visual. That makes all the difference in the world.”
And even though Noah may not know exactly the impact he’s making on young lives, Edge said it’s clear he enjoys every minute of it.
“He has really no idea about anything other than having fun,” she said. “He’s got the best life.”