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Behind the Scenes of "On The Fly" - Week Three, Joey's Journey

Explorer C
Last November, our Social Media Team noticed a post on our Facebook page from Joey the Two-Legged Chihuahua" that said, "Hey Southwest, I was rescued from euthanasia and I am going to Denver in December to get a new life and a mobility device from Ortho Pets. I need all the help I can get."  This post, plus the picture below, got our immediate attention. 

Joey is a 9-month-old Chihuahua from Davis, California who, at the time, was being fostered from a rescue program by Ashley Dunleavy, who fosters animals with medical needs.  Joey is a happy, playful, healthy puppy who happened to be born without her two front legs.

Through Dunleavy’s blog, “Rescue Bows,” (, money was raised for Joey’s medical needs.  This blog features rescue animals with medical issues like Joey and sells items such as bows and collars.  

It wasn’t long before people started hearing Joey’s story, and wanted to help her out.  Support started pouring in when Joey’s story was featured in the Sacramento news and on Yolo County SPCA’s website, where Joey was designated as the “Angel Fund” animal.  When Ortho Pets in Denver heard about Joey, they chose to give her a whole rehabilitation process, which includes a cart that she can use as a mobility device.  Ortho Pets selects one animal per year to receive treatment and go through rehabilitation.  With this cart, Joey can finally learn to put her weight on her back legs, instead of hopping. 

When Dunleavy and Joey started planning for the trip to Denver, they reached out to Southwest Airlines for help covering the $75 pet fee.  Southwest’s Social Media Team’s heart was captured by this tiny miracle, and we pulled together to donate the money to cover Joey’s pet fee.  We couldn’t resist her story, or miss out on an opportunity to help. 

On December 15, Joey, her foster mother Ashley Dunleavy, and friends, Stacy Beckley, and Jenn Doll Vogel, flew Southwest Airlines from Sacramento to Denver.  Joey became an instant celebrity in the airport and on the flight.  By pure coincidence, the Pilot on Joey’s flight flies rescue animals in his spare time.  Joey LUVed the attention and special treatment she received from the Southwest Employees in Sacramento and the Flight Crew and Passengers onboard her flight. It was hard for Dunleavy to say goodbye to Joey in Denver, but she knew she was leaving Joey in good hands. “I want to see her run, that’s my goal,” Dunleavy said after she took Joey to Ortho Pets.  She hoped that Joey would be a therapy animal for children with special needs; there is so much children and adults alike can learn from her and her story.

“Joey really is as cute as she looks,” Dunleavy said, “and she can’t tell you, but she really appreciates everything.”  

Joey Mobility Device

Since her trip to Denver and celebrity appearance on “On the Fly,” Joey, who’s name is now Giada, has been adopted by Maria, a rehabilitation specialist at Ortho Pets. She now comes to work with Maria every day to play with the other dogs (and is quite popular).  She is adapting to her “hoppy vest,” her new mobility device, and is working on becoming more active in the vest and a mobility device with wheels. 

Joey even got to attend an event called “The People to Know,” put on by the Chanda Plan Foundation.  This foundation helps people with disabilities live better lives, and Joey brought smiles and hope to many people at the event.

She’s still the same dog with two legs, one tail, and a heart full of LUV! 

Joey, we wish you the best of luck – you have stolen my heart, and the hearts of many!

Explorer C
Simply Beautiful.
Explorer C
Awesome and touching story!!!
Explorer C
So Sweet.............
New Arrival
This story demonstrates how Southwest is one-of-a-kind to "Share The Spirit" in the markets they serve. While 'Share The Spirit" is perhaps defined within the circles of Southwest to show how Southwest Employees Volunteer their time to give back to the communities they live in, Southwest was able to "Share The Spirit" in a uniquely different way that many would not likely see from other airlines. In this case, as I interpret Verity Kugelmann's writing, Southwest stepped in to assist in covering a fee that normally is the responsibility of the flyer. I fly Southwest wherever I fly, but I recognize in Sacramento that not all major destinations serve Sacramento with Southwest Flights, especially those that are close to Sacramento like Reno, Oakland, Fresno, San Francisco, and Oakland to name five. This is a big reason I "Share The Spirit" and volunteer over 100 Hours a Year at the Sacramento Valley (Amtrak) Station. I do receive, in return for my duties, a complimentary roundtrip ticket anywhere in California that Amtrak travels to. Back now to Joey to close this post. Thank you for such a great story that touched so many people throughout the "Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto" Media Market and now to people throughout the United States watching #OnTheFly on the TLC Network. I make sure that I am home every Thursday by 9:00 P.M. no matter what I am doing so that I can be glued to the television to be surprised as to what's next week-after-week. Thank you for having a camera crew in Sacramento to cover this "cute" story. I'm looking forward to more. Sincerely, Mike Barnbaum, Registered Community Blogger & Rapid Rewards Member in Sacramento, California
Explorer C
Love this dog and this story! Way to go Southwest! Thanks!
Explorer C
Thank you Southwest for bringing Joeys story to the nation. The positive response from people has been amazing. Working in animal rescue, especially in todays economy, can be frustrating, and at times depressing, but stories like this are what give us the energy to keep rescuing. I appreciate all yours support. Ashley, Joeys foster mom