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One-Eyed Rescue Golden Retriever Crowned World's Cutest Dog

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We can learn a lot from dogs. Our loyal pups tend to take life’s misfortunes in stride and move forward the best way they know how.

Pain, past abuse, even disfigurement — often, none of these things are enough to keep a canine’s tail from wagging eagerly.  Most of us can glean some powerful lessons from their resilient example.

Speaking of resilience, meet Penny. This gentle golden retriever started out as an abandoned stray on the streets of Turkey.

It was there that Penny suffered some truly mind-numbing mistreatment. At one point, she actually had her eye jabbed out with a rod.

Then Penny was rescued and whisked over to the United States. She eventually found herself at Kyra’s Rescue in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit organization that specializes in saving golden retrievers and other breeds.

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Enter Anne Noel Occhialino of Silver Springs, Maryland. The civil rights attorney reached out to Kyra’s Rescue when her family decided to adopt a new pooch.

They were introduced to Penny, and it was a match made in heaven. They welcomed this lucky pup home on Occhialino’s 45th birthday.

“She was the best birthday present I have ever received,” Occhialino told People magazine. But Penny’s adventures were just getting started.

The Occhialino family recently entered their four-year-old furry friend in People magazine’s World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest presented by Pedigree. And incredibly, this one-eyed wonder rose through the ranks of more than 10,000 deserving dogs to become the triumphant winner.

Penny claimed the coveted “Cutest” crown after making it through several rigorous voting and judging phases. Panelists included actress Olivia Munn, singer LeAnn Rimes, and representatives from both People magazine and Pedigree.

Now Penny is a celebrated social media starlet who can boast her very own “Today” show guest appearance. As part of her prize package, she also gets a one-year supply of Pedigree dog food, plus a $1,000 honorary donation to Kyra’s Rescue.

Penny and her proud human pack are certainly thrilled about all these accolades. But they’re most enthusiastic about telling others how terrific it is to give rescued pets a brand new lease on life.

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“I am in awe of Kyra’s Rescue and all the rescues who put in the work to bring us these animals,” Occhialino told People magazine. She also described her rescue dog owner experience as “enormously rewarding.”

Occhialino has also credited Penny with teaching her two pre-teen daughters about the vital role of compassion and empathy. “She has made our family closer and happier,” the grateful mom noted.

In a joint statement, Munn and Rimes offered high praise for rescue pups everywhere. “All of these beautiful animals and their owners deserve the utmost respect,” they said.

This dog-loving duo dubbed all the rescue canine contestants “champions of love who have overcome so much, and still have so much love to give.”

So whenever you’re feeling unhappy or insufficient in any way, remember Penny’s spirited life perspective. “She had this terrible thing happen to her, but she is still joyful,” Occhialino said.

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Mary Bittel is a professional writer, marketer, and published author. She's produced content for several respected media organizations, and dozens of major industries including education, animal welfare, healthcare, finance, non-profit, technology, and entertainment. As an accomplished musician, she's also worked in a therapeutic teaching capacity with developmentally disabled children.
Mary Bittel is a professional writer, marketer, and published author. She's produced content for several respected media organizations, and dozens of major industries including education, animal welfare, healthcare, finance, non-profit, technology, and entertainment. As an accomplished musician, she's also worked in a therapeutic teaching capacity with developmentally disabled children. Additionally, she's an avid animal lover who has spent much of her life rehabilitating abused rescue canines.
Books Written
"The Hidden Treasury: Stories of Wonders and Wanderings"
Location
Illinois
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Music, Marketing, Nutrition, Fitness, Pet Care/Behavior, Cooking, Entertainment




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