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Aladdin and his Legacy of Love

A new children’s book tells the story of an abused dog who pays it forward with superhero powers of kindness and compassion after he is saved from certain death.

While it may sound like the summary of a movie, it is the true story of an extraordinary dog.

His name was Aladdin.

Aladdin was found on the side of the road in 2013 starving, with broken legs, a broken tail, 12 missing teeth, and open wounds. The animal shelter that took Aladdin in reached out to a local volunteer, Michele Shaffer, who had taken on emaciated foster dogs in the past. She agreed to take Aladdin but didn’t hold much hope for his survival. Aladdin’s spirit thought differently and with the love of Michele and her family, he came back from the brink of death.

Aladdin became a therapy and certified crisis response dog. He became an animal ambassador and therapy dog for several companies, a member of the Purina National Therapy Dog Ambassador team and was named Therapy Dog of the Year in the 2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards. Aladdin was also the unofficial mascot of Philadelphia sports teams. It wasn't unusual to see Aladdin paired up with stars from national sports teams, celebrities, and rock stars. 

These are all amazing accomplishments but what Aladdin excelled at was forgiveness and love. The trauma of abuse that started Aladdin’s life should have made him wary but Aladdin was always different. He had an instinct to find the one person in a crowd of people who needed his attention. He loved everyone but knew who needed some special “Laddy Love”. He would walk up to a stranger with his wobbled gait, sit on that persons’ foot or lap, and just lean his body in. All his weight would be pressed against that person to show his trust. That was Aladdin. 

Aladdin and State Farm

It wasn’t long after meeting Aladdin that State Farm knew he was the perfect ambassador. He became the State Farm Ambassador of Kindness for the Kindness is Powerful program, a joint effort with celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell to visit schools and teach children about being kind to animals and dog bite prevention. He visited schools all over the country. His message was simple – don’t be a bully, show kindness to people and animals, and be responsible around all dogs.

Aladdin was also the first pit bull in history to be on stage at an insurance conference. He joined State Farm on stage at the 2019 Property Insurance Report Conference during a presentation about dog breed restrictions and responsible pet ownership. It created quite a buzz but Aladdin didn’t notice because he was too busy networking aka sitting on laps.

On a personal note, I am lucky to have Michele, Aladdin, and her family in my life. My work at State Farm has allowed me to connect with phenomenal people like her. Michele gave the world a gift when she saved Aladdin and shared him with everyone, including me. When I traveled to events with Michele and Aladdin, I always requested that Laddy sleep with me for at least a few nights. Waking up in a hotel room with him under the covers or sleeping in my arms, his horrible breath blowing on my face was a true joy. The little dog with a broken body but healthy spirit could do more to teach about love and respect than any human could.

On Tuesday, March 8, 2022, Aladdin passed away. His legacy will live on in a book called Aladdin the Superhero by Arin Greenwood. His legacy will hopefully help teach people the value of not judging others based on looks and showing love and kindness to everyone…a message that we need now more than ever. I will miss him but have a spot in my heart forever etched with “Aladdin lives here”.

State Farm does not ask what breed of dog is owned when writing homeowner or renters insurance. Just like humans, dogs are individuals. Every dog has a unique personality. While a dogs’ breed may dictate what the dog looks like, how a dog reacts to people or situations isn’t guaranteed by breed or type.

You may also want to consider the importance of your dog having insurance of their own. State Farm is working with Trupanion, a leader in high-quality insurance for cats and dogs, to help protect your pet from new and unexpected illnesses and injuries. Discover how a pet insurance policy can be there for your pet during their lifetime. Talk to a State Farm agent or get a free, no-obligation quote online today.

2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards - Therapy Dog Category - Aladdin

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