Hank The Hellion

Hi. You may have seen me in the news; I’m known as either “Houston Woman,” or “Foul-Mouthed Foster Mom,” depending on which headline you read.

To summarize: several months ago, I found a stray dog and fostered him. I quickly started to realize that finding this dog a permanent home would be one of the biggest challenges yet, so I knew I had to be creative and get Hank’s name out there.

I’d seen several stories go viral about Prancer the Chihuahua and Quilty the Cat, and decided to approach Hank’s marketing in a similar manner – just with my own spin.

With my background in digital marketing, I decided to build a website, so I secured the domain and hosting, and started to craft a winning website that would attract potential adopters. Having laid out the basics, I realized that – while his bio might be amusing – the site needed more spiciness.

So I dropped the f-bombs. A lot of them. A fuck-ton of them.

I thought I could capture the attention of my local Houston network; Houston pet groups, NextDoor, etc. I knew the spicier the site was, the more likely the site would be shared. As I’ve repeatedly stated, the language I used on the site was intentional. I was going for the shock-factor, the amusement, and (to my knowledge) nobody has ever tried to write a dog biography using so many curse words before. It worked. The first shares and comments started coming in, all using the f-word. “Fucking adopt Hank!” they said. “Fuck, this is funny!”

One of the first public social media shares of Hank’s website

It’s important to me to mention that I created this plan without the permission of the rescue organization, Friends For Life. I was nervous about the reaction from the shelter, but figured if I could keep the website up for a day or two before they found out about it, then I’d have at least reached a couple hundred people in Houston before I had to nuke the website. Then the Executive Director of Friends For Life shared the website with the words, “Fucking Adopt Hank.” I had received the golden blessing from the top-of-the-top.

Suddenly, Hank’s website was featured everywhere – first HuffPost picked it up, then People. After that, Hank was featured on Today, Yahoo, MSN, and the New York Post.

Hank’s Twin Sister, Maya

I made no effort to hide my identity, so the emails started rolling in. One said she was reporting me to both the ASPCA and the FTC. While I was waiting for that knock on the door from those organizations, I read hundreds of other emails thanking me for my “brutal honesty,” Many shared their own stories, pictures, and videos of their foster dogs or challenging rescues. I even got a message from the owner of a dog who could be Hank’s actual twin sister.

Most of the messages were uplifting and positive. A few of the messages were filled with vitriol, which I fully expected. I calmly replied to those with the same message: if you’re easily upset by words, then perhaps rescuing a challenging dog like Hank isn’t the best match. I don’t expect Hank’s future owner to love the cursing or even curse at him, but I do expect they need a thick skin and a sense of humor. Hank makes us laugh every day with his shenanigans; I want Hank’s family to get just as much enjoyment out of him as we are.

After the news headlines, a few more opinion pieces were written from experienced rescue organizations and volunteers. To me, this was the icing on top of the cake: not only was Hank mentioned and featured, but my idea was recognized and celebrated. As a digital marketer, it’s exciting to receive high praise from your peers. Thank you for that.

Anyway, if you’re in the market for a ridiculously happy-go-lucky giant goofball of a dog, Hank is still available for adoption as of the writing of this post. For pete’s sake, adopt #HankTheHellion and save us, his very exhausted foster family. Thank you.

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