All dogs deserve love and happiness, no matter what they look like. But sadly, some dogs have disfigurements or disabilities that make the world turn away and give up on them.
That was the case for one dog whose face was taken up by an untreatable illness — but just when hope seemed lost, some people realized this dog still had plenty of life in her.
Serenity is a husky with a massive, invasive tumor, which spread from her nasal cavity to her eye sockets and skull.
“It’s basically taken away the bones of her face,” Patti Dawson, president of Dallas Dog Rescue Rehab Reform, told WFAA.
The tumor was able to grow to that size because it was untreated for so long: Serenity was a street dog with no one to care for her.
That is, until she was rescued by Patti Dawson and her non-profit. Serenity was just the kind of dog they look out for: “The unwanted. The ones that are more difficult,” Patti explained. “Those are kind of what our forte is.”
Still, with a tumor of that size, Serenity was an extreme case. It would be natural to assume she was a lost cause… but after one meeting, Patti knew this dog’s story wasn’t over.
“She gets up, leans in with this huge tumor and does this bump to me, like dogs do the bump, and kissed my face,” she told WFAA.
“At that point, I knew we were going to fight to the death to do what we could to save her because she had the life left in her.”
After picking her up from the shelter in San Antonio, Patti took Serenity to an oncologist. She got the unfortunate news that nothing could be done about the dog’s tumor.
However, despite the appearance, it doesn’t have that much impact on Serenity’s quality of life: she can still see, breathe and eat.
“She is so sweet and has so much life inside her,” Patti said. “We didn’t get the news we wanted, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop loving her and giving her the life she deserves.”
She needed to find a way to make the world see Serenity’s inner beauty… so she contacted photographer Renee Dowhaniuk to take photos of the dog.
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In contrast to the many “sad” photos of dogs in need, Renee’s photos captured how happy and loving Serenity was.
“I don’t believe you should take a sad picture,” Renee told WFAA. “I believe you should take a picture of the full potential and do everything you can to capture the spirit of the animal.”
“As soon as we lifted her out of Patti’s vehicle and set her down, that nose was working and the tail was wagging.”
The plan worked: the beautiful portraits went viral, and hundreds of people reached out to Patti with words of support for Serenity. Many sent in care packages with toys and treats.
Patti is currently taking care of Serenity as her foster mom, and says she will continue to make her life as special as possible as long as she can.
“With a little bit of care, these dogs can come back to life,” Patti said. “She’s still in amazing spirits.”

We think Serenity is beautiful the way she is. We hope she will enjoy the rest of her days in her new foster home!
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