Janet and Bruce Buttermore weren’t having much luck finding a dog. They went to many places to check out adoption events and look in shelters. They were looking for a small dog–though they’d always had big ones–mellow, and that didn’t shed.

One Sunday Janet got an urgent phone call from a friend out shopping at the Scripps Ranch Marketplace. "Get up here quickly!" she said. "I have your dog for you!" She had come upon a group of cute animals on the sidewalk in front of Unleashed. They were offered for adoption by the Animal Rescue Resource Foundation. "She’s so sweet and has lots of personality. I’ve played with her and walked with her, and she’s the dog you’ve been looking for!"

Janet and Bruce dashed up there, and it was love at first sight! Abby, a 3-year-old poodle-Marquis-Maltese mix, liked them too! That she only had three legs didn’t deter them, and her story only made them love her more. She had been found on the street near a shelter, her leg dangling, probably a result of being hit by a car. Amputation seemed the only way to fix her bad leg. When she recovered, she was put into a foster home.

The Buttermore home seemed enriched by the new arrival. It took a while longer for their visiting son, David, to warm up to Abby. He didn’t want to take her for a walk because she was so small. "I’d be embarrassed for people to see me with such a small dog," he said. But Abby soon won him over, and now he looks forward to their outings, as does his sister, Kristen, when she visits. The family is programmed for caring and respecting special needs. Janet is a pediatric physical therapist, and Bruce is director of hospital oncology units.

Is Abby hindered by having only three legs? "No. She walks with the other dogs on the street and runs up the hill in the backyard," Janet says. The street, one block long ending in a cul-de-sac, provides a safe environment for Abby and other pets. At block parties, even at dinner parties, pets are always welcome.

Fate must have played a part. The Buttermores’ next-door neighbors also have a dog with three legs! Susan and Richard Okuno adopted their dog, Rosy, in front of Petco through the Baja Animal Sanctuary in Mexico. Like other adopted dogs, Rosy had her shots and was neutered, but she also had a passport!

Rosy, a 6-year-old terrier mix, is also a working pet, a therapy dog that brings a smile to many faces. Susan, a retired social worker, takes her to visit hospitals and schools four times a week. Originally, Susan wasn’t sure she wanted a dog with only three legs, but Rosy’s circumstance makes her an inspiration. The elderly and infirm empathize with her, and Rosy is happy to make new friends.

While Abby nestles comfortably next to Susan in a chair in the Buttermores’ yard, Rosy scampers through the bushes. Susan observes, "There’s just something about a three-legged dog!" Her children, Scott and Adam Wojtczak, think so too. "Dogs are great companions and are always glad to see you," both families agree. They feel good about the adoptions. "And it’s the right thing to do," according to Janet.

Her husband is even more enthusiastic, she says. It’s evident he and Abby are great pals. After undergoing surgery recently, Janet says, "Our wonder dog has been by his side throughout the ordeal, sleeping with him at night, sitting right next to him during the day when Bruce is reading or napping, and lying on her back next to Bruce when he is doing his physical therapy. Abby is right there to greet him with a smile or a kiss. If Bruce does not feel up to walking around much, Abby just takes that in stride and sits right next to Bruce…all day! She is a wonderfully loving little dog, and I can’t imagine our lives without her now."

Adoption events are held some Sundays at Unleashed on Scripps Poway Parkway. Call the store for details.

Elinor Reiss