Rescue Crew Feature: @Tonkas_journey

February 02, 2023 6 min read 1 Comment

From love at first sight, to long walks together, to lessons on how eating your favorite shoes is NOT acceptable, every rescue pup has their own inspiring story to tell and we want to hear and share every last bit! 

Today, we are spilling the treats with one of our Rescue Crew Ambassadors, Tonka, to learn more about his story (with some help from her rescue human). 


Instagram: @tonkas_journey 49,500

TikTok:@tonkas.journey 206

Facebook: Tonka’s Journey

Age: 5

Breed: American Bully

Gotcha Day: August 21, 2017


Digging Deeper

How did you meet/find your human?

So Tonka was born on November 15, 2016 in Texas. She was a product of an inexperienced (backyard) breeder, so she didn’t come out like a “normal” doggo. Her first name was “Ghost”. Her owners at the time found out that she was born with skeletal deformities called ‘Congenital Bilateral Elbow Luxation” in her front limbs.

They knew they wouldn’t be able to take care of her the way that she needed, so they surrendered Tonka to a local rescue to give her the best chance to live her best life. She first ended up with a nice foster lady named Topsanna. She took great care of Tonka until she was sent to live in Connecticut with another rescue group called Project Precious Rescue.

This is where Tonka met her new foster moms, Cindy and Jill. There was another lady, Maria and her husband Frank, who also helped take care of her during this transformative period. Tonka was about 4-5 months old at this time. Her new foster family took the best care of her. They even found an amazing doctor to do a surgery on her that would change her life forever.

The surgery gave Tonka the ability to stand up on her front legs and now walk like the other dogs. She stayed with her foster family through the surgery and rehab. That’s where Tonka met her forever mom for the first time- while she was still in rehab. Tonka’s mom came to see her at Maria’s house to do some swim therapy in the pool.

The moment she held Tonka for the first time, they fell in love!

What are Tonka’s favorite activities?

Riding in the car with momma, riding in the quad with momma, and Netflix and cuddles!

What’s your morning routine?

A perfect day starts with cuddles in bed with momma. Then, while Mom enjoys her Grounds & Hounds Coffee, she makes my breakfast appetizer. This includes raw cow milk kefir & adds my super pup supplements to make a yummy smoothie.

After, I lay in the backyard while my tummy settles before my actual breakfast.

What challenges have you overcome with your medical condition? How does it affect your day to day routine?

I have overcome so much since my surgery. I can do things no one ever thought I would be able to do. The doctors never thought I could do stairs. But now I can go up AND down. Hiking was not seen in my future. But this is a hobby that I love to do with my family!

Doing things might take a little longer. My mom has to make sure I have my booties/leg brace on before we go out walking. Make sure my chariot is ready to go too. At bedtime, I have to go out to do my last potty and that takes longer. Usually by the end of the day, I don’t want to move much. Everything I do takes a lot out of me so I’m exhausted and the last potty of the day is A LOT.

So mom sometimes has to carry me. But I really don’t have to miss out on much- we just have to do it the Tonka Way!

What’s it like being an instagram star? Have you ever been recognized in real life?

Living this instagram life is crazy! There’s a lot of people out there that show me sooo much love everyday! And I appreciate all of it! My favorites are when my mom reads me the comments and dm’s. Especially when people tell me how much seeing me push through with my disabilities and not letting anything hold me back helps THEM push through too.

This goes for other humans that have disabilities and ones that don’t. It really makes me feel good that I’m able to help people. I have been recognized and it’s a really cool feeling! I get super happy and make my tush wiggle.

What’s your next big adventure?

I really want my mom to get me a sidecar so I can go on motorcycle rides with her and dad. I hate being left at home when they go on rides. But if that’s not happening for a while, I want to go on vacation somewhere with my parents. Maybe just a little east coast tour.

What are some of your favorite toys, treats, activities?

Rolling around in my chariot is the best no matter where we go. I love to sing. Mom started my own playlist of my favorite songs to sing along with. I love doing dishes with mom.

She lets me rinse the plates before they go in the big water box under the counter. My favorite treat is the deer leg that mom bought for me one day. And Kong’s!

What is your favorite Grounds & Hounds Treat? What are your humans?

I gotta say, I love the Grounds & Hounds Blankies. They are sooo soft. My human loves the Soul Pup Coffee Blend. She gets so excited when her subscription arrives each month.

What made you choose to partner with Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co?

We love that you guys give back to rescues! We also love how much you supper Bully Breeds like me. That's HUGE!


How did you hear about the rescue/find your pup?

I first saw Tonk on a friend’s fb page in the spring of 2017. My best friend knew the women that were fostering him so I was already acquainted with them and we were all connected as FB friends. I had seen him a few times on their pages and at the time I had a senior pup (Tripp) who was in the last chapter of his life after an osteosarcoma diagnosis in DEC 2016.  I found Tonk to be cute as I would scroll through FB but didn’t think anything of it.

Ater Tripp passed away in May 2017, I inquired about meeting Tonka with his foster moms. Not to adopt, but just to cheer me up after the loss of my best friend. We met in the beginning of June 2017. I got to swim with him and play in the grass. It was heaven. He wasn’t ready to be adopted at this point nor was I ready for a new pup. So we did as dogs have taught us to do and just lived in the moment.

We enjoyed the day. But the little guy stole my heart that day and I couldn’t get him out of my heart/mind. He finished his rehab in August 2017. The rest is history.

Tell us about how your pup has impacted/changed your life?

Tonka has made a huge impact on my life. He’s really a special dog. Tonk and I have been together since August 2017. The patience, compassion and adaptability I learned  in that first year of caring for Tonk helped to prepare me for challenges that would arise in my life after my bf (whom I met in May 2018) lost his leg in a motorcycle accident in July 2018.

What advice do you have for people who want to make their pup a social media star?

Don’t try too hard. Don’t force ANYTHING. Let it be natural. Organic. Honest.  Have fun with it and let the love you have for your pup shine through.

Favorite G&H Coffee or merchandise?

SOUL PUP is my fave blend, love the caramels and any merchandise with a bully breed. So many great mugs (home and travel)! 

What advice do you have for people who want to adopt a pup with a medical condition?

Make sure you talk to someone first who has experience with a special needs pet. Research the condition/ailment. Make sure you have the time to dedicate to them. A special needs pet WILL require more from you. Be prepared that doing normal tasks take a lot longer with a disabled pup. You must be patient and make sure you have that extra time everyday.

Educate yourself on nutrition. This is the foundation of health and having this knowledge will help prepare you to make the best decisions possible. What they eat everyday is something that YOU have control of on a daily basis. Relying on others to decide what is best will only handicap you in the long run.

You must be their advocate. Be a problem solver. Be creative. As the parent of a special needs dog, I always look for ways to help Tonka live his best life and to experience all the things every dog should. Our paths to these things are just a bit different.

Know that there will be tough times. Our social media page shows mostly the good times and all the fun we have. But there are lots of tough days too. And those can be really hard. We don't want sympathy for Tonk on our page but we rather showcase his achievements and daily fun.


1 Response


March 01, 2023

Tonka and his people totally rock. Thanks for taking the time to share this story!

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