Yin and yang. Balance in the universe. Doesn't it make sense that if you have one dog with only one hind leg, who balances on his front legs when he eats, that you should have a dog born without front legs, just to even things up?

Our good friend and Northeast Ohio neighbor, Pat Holcomb, thinks so. And those two are only part of her pack.

Pat loves the old and the disabled. When she retired in 2007, she started looking for some dogs who might not find homes if not for people with big hearts. Pat had taken in special needs dogs before – one-eyed dogs, cancer-ridden dogs – but with her newly acquired free time, she decided she could do even more.

It started with Butch, whom she adopted from Dona Show of Dachshund Rescue of North America – another good friend, whom you've encountered on this site many times before – back in 2008. Butch, a tweenie cart dog, has, under Pat's tutelage, turned into a champion cart racer, with victories up and down the eastern part of the nation from Florida to Ohio. Long-haired black Butch loves wheeling up and down the beach at nearby Lake Erie.

So meet the rest of Pat's family:

Adrienne and Rocky are ten-year-old red dachshunds. They're littermates, but Rocky is a longhair and Adrienne is a smooth. Rocky was the put-upon runt of the litter, and Adrienne was his big sister and designated defender. To this day, Adrienne's main job is making sure that no one picks on her brother.

Lao Tzu, also known as Shooey, is a Xolocuintle, better known as a Mexican hairless. Because his hairless skin is sensitive, we've made him special lined harness that prevents him from being irritated. Or, more precisely, prevents his skin from being irritated. He's a little guy with a big attitude, and he would boss around the rest of his family if they let him get away with it.

Beatrice is a dachshund/beagle mix. Because why settle for one intractable breed of dog if you can combine two of them in one body?

But back to the yin and yang that we started this story with.

Roo and Chance both came from the same shelter in Florida. Yes, Pat made all the arrangements and paid all the expense to bring them north.

Born without front legs, Roo was abandoned in the streets of Tampa when he was less than six months old. Understandably terrified by almost everything at first, he has settled in to his new home now and is calmly awaiting his second birthday this summer. He has a cart, but sometimes he would rather hop than roll. Pat has to be careful to monitor him, because sometimes she can hear his joints pop.

At 15, Chance is the grand old man of the family. He came from an abusive home and needed to have one of his hind legs removed, but it's scarcely stopped him from ruling his household. When he wants to sit down, he will back up to one of the other dogs and plop his bony little rump down. And they all stay there and support him. He may not have any teeth in his mouth, but he scarcely meets the traditional definition of "toothless." Oh, yes, about that stunt of standing on his front legs to eat. It's purely his own idea. No one knows why he does it. Maybe it adds to his enjoyment of his food.

We sometimes tease Pat and call her unconventional collection of canines The Freak Show. But she knows that we love them like she does. And she really, really loves them.

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