Hooch, a kind-hearted French mastiff, is a far cry from the average shelter dog.
When the dog was brought into the shelter to be fed, the veterinarians couldn’t believe their eyes – Hooch’s tongue and ears had been brutally chopped off his body.
“He came in like any other dog,” Zach Skow, founder of Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue, told InsideEdition.com. “We were trying to be careful with how to handle him.”
In addition to his missing ears and tongue, Hooch suffered from a horrible case of pneumonia and struggled to eat solid foods.
According to Skow, the canine was fed by a feeding tube. Eventually, the rescuers figured the best way to keep Hooch nourished was to pour warm water over his dry dog food and hand feed him.
Tongues are essential for dogs to keep cool which has become a significant challenge in Hooch’s health.
However, his biggest challenges involved his fear of those around him — and excessive drooling.
“Hooch was afraid of a lot of things and anyone that came near him,” said Skow. “He quickly grew out of it and inspires me every day.”
Now with a new meaning and purpose for life, Hooch spends his days at local organizations where he comforts children with autism and the homeless.
Although Hooch is not yet a certified therapy dog, the gentle giant’s inspiring story and his commitment to helping others have earned him the prestigious Emerging Heroes Award from the American Humane Association where he has earned a distinction as the ‘mascot for bravery’.
“He’s just a great big orange bear,” said Skow. “Hooch is an educator and a lover of life.”