People with autism often have things they really connect with. Whether it's a movie character, a color, or an animal, they have something that means the world to them.
For 14-year-old Andrew, that thing is pugs. Andrew didn't have a lot of friends growing up, so he created his own circle of imaginary companions...all of whom happened to be pugs! His family has always lived in places where animals aren't welcome, so Andrew's dream of having a pet pug hasn't happened.
For his upcoming birthday, Andrew's sister McKenna wanted to make sure her brother had a party to remember.
“I was speaking to a neighbor a few weeks ago and the subject came up about my brother always getting excited when he bumps into her while she is walking her dog Ziggy,” McKenna said. “At the time, I was thinking about what I should do for his birthday since it was two weeks away, and I thought, ‘I'm going to have a pug party!’ I was just planning on seeing if one of my friends had one and could show up to a little BBQ that my mom and I were going to have at the park on the day of his birthday.”
But it turned into something much bigger. McKenna made a Facebook event about Andrew's birthday party, hoping a couple people might show up. It was three days before his party and no one had RSVP'd and McKenna was getting worried. Then something amazing happened.
Pug Nation Rescue of Los Angeles heard about Andrew's party and shared it to their Facebook page. Within hours, more than 50 people had RSVP'd with their pugs.
“I was in such shock,” Little said. “I was at work sitting at my desk and tears were just flowing down my face because I was amazed by the amount of compassion these pug owners shared. People from all over the world were asking me for my mailing information to mail him gifts and birthday cards as well as his email to send him a happy birthday message. It was so heartwarming.”
Over the course of the day, more than 80 pugs made their way to Andrew's party and he could not have been happier.
“He was in shock,” Little said. “He kept asking ‘Is that a pug?!’ to each dog because he just couldn't believe his eyes. As if he didn't believe it was real life. I was so emotional. Everyone there was crying.”
“He told me it was the best birthday he has ever had and that he wants to do this every year,” Little said.