Mork, adorable and lovable though he is, is a lesson in bad breeding practices. He was rescued from a meat truck in China, where he likely ended up after being abandoned by a breeder due to his health conditions. Luckily, Mork has been able to get good medical care and a second chance at life in the U.S., but his rescuers want to spread the word that nobody should be purposely breeding dogs like Mork.
Nikki Carvey, the founder of Roadogs Rescue in southern California, first saw Mork in a picture sent to her in late 2019 by Harbin SHS, the group that rescued Mork from the meat truck. Carvey focuses primarily on bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds – dogs whose short snouts often result in breathing issues – so she knew she was well-positioned to help Mork cope with his health problems.
“They just happened to send me a picture of Mork when they pulled him from a meat truck, and they were like, ‘Do you want him?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.’ I just thought he was a funny-looking little guy, and I just immediately knew that his name would be Mork after Mork from Mork and Mindy, because he was like a little alien. So that’s how he first came to be.”
Of course, life for Mork wasn’t all sugarplums and roses after he was rescued from the meat truck. “He was very sick when he was rescued. He actually nearly died,” Carvey recalls. “We weren’t sure if he was gonna make it at all, but he pulled through, thanks to good care from the vets there.”
Mork has been one of the most expensive dogs that Roadogs has ever cared for. He has IBD, skin issues, a small heart, eye problems, splayed feet, and trouble breathing. He follows a special diet to keep his health in check, and Carvey says it often seems like it’s impossible for all his health conditions to be under control at the same time. He’s also at high risk of aspirating if he were to undergo surgery, so he won’t be having the brachiocephalic palate surgery a lot of Carvey’s dogs get to help with their breathing problems.
“He’s a noisy little guy because he’s, you know, got a whole bunch of issues, breathing issues, skin issues…you name it, he’s got it,” she says. “Any kind of brachycephalic dog is gonna have issues, and who knows what they were messing with over there. So yeah, he’s a bit of a mess.”
All the same, Carvey fell in love with Mork and decided to adopt him rather than trying to find him a home. His numerous health complications make him a difficult dog to find a good home for, but he’s in good hands with Carvey.
“I have dealt with a lot before, but I’ve never dealt with so many things in one dog. All these different things are encapsulated in one dog, and it’s just stressful,” she explains. “You’re constantly on sort of like tenterhooks, and then it’s like, ‘Who do I trust to take care of him if I wanna go away for a minute?’ So it’s not easy, but it’s worth it because, obviously, I love the fact that he brings joy to so many people.”
Carvey has also found a way to make people’s lives better through the Instagram page she created for Mork and by bringing him to visit people who need to be cheered up.
“I love to take him in to visit old people or kids dealing with stuff, because he’s very chill, and that’s why we do meet-and-greets and things like that with him,” says Carvey. “I’ve done them in New York, and people have come from other states just to meet Mork because he helps them with their anxiety or he helps them with their depression. We had one woman who who was going through a rare brain treatment, and she would watch Mork’s videos when she was getting her spinal taps. And she came to meet him. You don’t realize how much joy a little cat video or a little dog video can bring to somebody.”
Not only is Mork able to bring joy and comfort to his followers’ lives, he’s also a constant reminder that we should all love ourselves and one another regardless of our differences.
“Mork’s message is also about embracing yourself,” says Carvey. “So many of us have issues with the way that we look or our bodies and stuff like that. And yet, we’re so accepting of animals that look funny or have quirks or whatever. And so, to me, Mork is also about that; everybody loves his little chubby chibby chops, and so it’s like, well, you know, let’s love our own chubby chibby chops too.”
Carvey isn’t exactly sure what mix of breeds might have been combined to create a “Baby Yoda” or “alien” dog like Mork, but she also refuses to find out. She doesn’t want to take the risk that unscrupulous breeders might try to replicate Mork, likely creating more dogs with severe and expensive health issues.
Mork, who is now about four or five years old, will continue to live out the remainder of his life in Carvey’s care, along with whatever special needs foster dogs come and go during that time. Carvey believes that, despite his health issues, he’s likely to live a good long life of 12-14 years like most dogs of similar breeds can.
“He’ll never be an athletic dog. He’s not keen on walks, probably because of his feet,” Carvey says. “Kind of like me, he likes to hang out at home, eat some good food, watch a movie, and that’s about it.”
But hey, that sounds like a good life to us! Carvey hopes that Mork’s story encourages people to give dogs with special needs a chance while still being responsible by picking a dog whose needs they are able to handle.
“I would encourage people to rescue the dogs that are different and that have issues and that may not be on the surface the perfect dog, but they will bring you so much more than you can ever imagine,” she says. “I think that you get back more than you give and that they can teach you, and I really do believe that these animals are here to teach us kindness and compassion and patience and so many wonderful virtues if we let them. Take a chance on it, because you just don’t know what they will bring into your life.”