Profile in Rescue - Pawty of Five
Does your dog have a social media account? Have you fallen in love with dogs on Instagram? One of my favorite accounts is @jackson_the_dalmatian.
Eye-catching photos of cute dogs and conversational captions first attracted me to Jackson and his fur-brothers’ account. You’ll find wonderful photos and videos, humorous anecdotes and day in the life stories, and you'll find SO MUCH MORE.
WHO IS @JACKSON_THE_DALMATIAN?
The account stories the life of a Dalmatian named Jackson (six years old) and his four dog brothers, Heath the Weimaraner (eight), and Dalmatians Bennett, Timmy and Fletcher (five, almost three, and one, respectively). They are part of the Keck family, whose humans are Julie and Andrew. Julie is the thumbs behind the feed.
The Instagram account started as a way simply to capture images and stories of a puppy and share them with family and friends. Julie recognized new potential as the fanbase of Jackson’s account grew.
As for the pups that now number five, Jackson and Heath became brothers when their humans married. Bennett joined the family next. Heath, Jackson and Bennett came from breeders.
Julie had always been involved with rescue fundraising and volunteer work. Locally, she became involved with Hot Mess Pooches Rescue & Sanctuary, a rescue focusing on Dalmatians, special needs and senior dogs. She’s quick to sing the praises of its founder, Natalie Freshour, an animal behaviorist specialist and dog trainer. Natalie’s special passion for Dalmatians, dedication to helping special pups and her tireless energy attracted the Kecks to work more with Hot Mess Pooches. It also brought the two newest additions to Julie and Andrew's family.
I found the Keck story incredibly relatable. I first had Holly, a Brittany from a responsible breeder, we then added Fenny to our family. As we came to know more in the Brittany community, we learned about Brittany breed rescues. This brought us our first Brittany rescue, Tibby, and we later enlisted Brittany rescue support when we learned of Rayna who had been found in our area. She came to our home as a foster and joined our family.
PEOPLE + PUPS + PURPOSE
Wanting to become more involved, the Kecks looked to Hot Mess Pooches for their first dalmatian foster. Jackson’s Instagram became the perfect place to share their experience and increase awareness of these special pups. “I have always wanted to make Jackson's IG page more than just cute dog photos, so helping bring awareness to Hot Mess Pooches was important to us,” she said.
First came Timmy
In December 2019, the Kecks took in Timmy, an 8-month old, liver spotted dalmatian.
Timmy came from a backyard breeder in North Carolina. As a very young puppy, Timmy had severely broken his leg, didn’t receive veterinary care, and it healed incorrectly. He couldn’t use it. When Natalie of HMPRS got him, a vet advised amputation because of the severity of the break.
Timmy’s recovery from surgery was amazing, and he became the Kecks’ first foster. Timmy quickly went from foster pup to a family member after just two months with the Kecks. As Julie tells it, her husband immediately knew Timmy had found his forever home.
A bit to their surprise, Timmy as a three-legged puppy wasn’t much different than other dogs they had. Being a tripod didn’t stop him!
Julie and Andrew are conscious there are some ways things are different. For example, dogs carry most of their total body weight on their front legs so it’s important to consider the weight now borne by Timmy’s single front leg. Regular massage sessions are one thing the Kecks do to help keep his front end, back and hips healthy.
Other things that help ensure a tri paw pup thrives include: (Whole Dog Journal, 2/22/21)
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Remaining active and getting exercise – just remember to be watchful as dogs don’t always think about the consequences of their frivolity. Running, jumping and playing is great fun when done safely.
- Non-slippery floor surfaces.
He’s been a joyous addition to the Keck clan!
A few Timmy fun facts:
- Namesake – He is named for Tiny Tim (who had a maimed leg) in the story, A Christmas Carol.
- Timmy always has his ears flipped backwards. They end up that way because he hops when he walks and runs. The Kecks affectionately call them "ear kabooms" or "party ears."
- Timmy is a daddy’s boy. He even gets carried to bed every night. He can do it on his own, but it started as a way to show him he’s special. Timmy waits on the couch for Andrew to come over, then climbs up on the arm of the couch and jumps in his arms. Now it’s tradition, and he won’t go to bed unless Andrew carries him!
- He’s the Keck’s Chief of Fence Patrol. Always inquisitive, Timmy love to be outside greeting neighbors and seeing what everyone’s doing. On sunny days when he’s not patrolling, you’re likely to find him sunbathing.
And those glorious liver spots? An additional fun fact for the dog nerds among us, liver spots pop up only when each parent carries two copies of a specific recessive gene. The lighter colors and pigments also extend to their noses, eye color and other features.
Then came Fletcher
Fletcher came to Hot Mess Pooches in 2020. A backyard breeder listed a deaf Dalmatian puppy for sale on craigslist. Natalie was immediately on top of getting him into her rescue, knowing all too often deaf Dalmatian puppies end up dumped because people think they are untrainable.
The rescue was overflowing at the time Fletcher arrived. With the pandemic, Julie and her husband were working from home. It seemed like a good time to foster again, HMPRS was in need, and so the Kecks took in eight-week-old Fletcher.
Fletcher had not been socialized. He also didn’t like to be touched or handled. His beginnings with the Kecks were complicated when he was diagnosed with ringworm. This demanded an aggressive treatment plan as this fungus is highly contagious to dogs and humans. As part of the plan, he had to be quarantined and special care given to handling him. The treatment was successful, which meant it was time for training to begin.
Thankfully, Natalie of HMPRS is a Certified Canine Training and Behavioral Specialist, specializing in hearing impaired and vision impaired dogs. One thing you’ll frequently hear Natalie say is that deaf dogs are like any other dogs. Each dog is an individual with his or her own personality and some train more quickly than others. (HMPRS).
All of us who have trained a dog realized quickly that training is as much about the new owners as the puppy. Julie will be the first to say Natalie’s training wasn’t just for Fletcher! She and Andrew learned how to approach, communicate and handle a deaf puppy. They learned hand signals for basic commands such as "good job," "sit," "roll over," and "outside".
One thing to remember, says Natalie, is that humans rely a lot on verbal communication, but “dogs typically pay more attention to your facial expressions and body postures than to what we are actually saying”. (HMPRS) Visual cues are extremely effective and make communicating with and training deaf dogs possible.
Because Fletcher is deaf, his other senses are heightened. He is alert to EVERYTHING, vibrations (ex. doors shutting, footsteps). It isn’t uncommon for deaf pups to be more sensitive to vibrations or noises at certain high frequencies.
Hard work and patience paid off. This bright blue-eyed pup has flourished. He’s become a boy who cuddles, loves and wants to be held at all times.
Fletcher fun facts:
- Fletcher can usually be found lying across Julie’s lap as she works from her desk from her home office.
- Fletcher loves seeing himself in the mirror, barking at that doggy in the mirror.
- Fletcher’s BFF is Heath, his 80 lb. Weimaraner brother.
- Favorite treat – Peanut Butter! The best way to enjoy it is frozen in a Kong, he’d tell you.
- Favorite toy – his stuffed “heartbeat” puppy. He sleeps with it every night.
- He is a mama's boy!
As you might have guessed from the beginning reference to Fletcher as Jackson’s BROTHER (not foster brother), Fletcher officially found his forever home with the Kecks!
IN THE END
The Kecks didn't dream they would have five dogs, but couldn't be happier. or more sure it's what was meant to be. A few moments scrolling their social media account (though I dare you to try spending only a few minutes), and I expect you'll feel the love and passion.
Julie’s heart is big and her passion’s contagious. Woven throughout the Instagram posts you’ll see a love of her own dogs, desire to share her own experiences to help educate others, and compassion.
Social media is a great tool in helping bring awareness and understanding. Whether highlighting rescue or educating through posts about Timmy and Fletcher, this account about Jackson and his brothers does just this. The takeaways are about dogs, and the people who love them. So be sure to check out the Jackson Five of Houston, Texas.
* All images courtesy of @jackson_the_dalmatian.
* "Tri Paws Do it All" and "I'm Deaf" dog bandanas are part of our own Awareness Dog Bandana Collection.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Stay tuned for more on Timmy, Jackson and the efforts of Hot Mess Pooches Rescue & Sanctuary. We will be working on a fundraiser to assist this amazing organization.