Bobby Humphreys never saw himself as a small dog kind of person. Over the course of 17 years, the competitive bodybuilder and his wife had only ever owned Rottweilers in their Maryland home.
“It’s very well known that while I’ve always loved all animals and even had small dogs in the house growing up from my grandmother from time to time that I was a big dog guy,” he told Bored Panda. “Rottweilers were my companions, guardians, 120-pound lapdogs.”
Humphreys took his aversion to smaller breeds even so far as to jeer friends who might have one at home.
“I’d actually make fun of close friends whose girlfriends had tiny dogs when I saw them walking around carrying them for their girls,” he said. “Looking back, that was very immature of me.”
Humphreys experienced a drastic change of heart when, on New Year’s Eve 2016, his wife left. Just a few days later, a shoulder injury sidelined his work at the gym.
“I’m a very sensitive person and she was my world,” he said. “I was lost. I started drinking for a purpose instead of just socially.”
He fell into a deep depression, with no apparent way out, until a friend asked a small favor. Constance Rogers asked Humphreys if he would watch her dog, Lady, a Chihuahua.
At first, the recovering bodybuilder scoffed at the ask. He wasn’t about to beset in public, canoodling with a tiny dog. Still, Rogers had been a good friend, so Humphreys agreed to help.
During his days at work, Humphreys had been putting Lady in a kennel, until one day he returned home to find her looking forlorn. The dog was missing her freedom, and her friend. Humphreys knew that look well, and decided, small or not, no dog should have to sit alone in a kennel on his watch.
Shortly after, Rogers showed up at Humphreys’ house to check on her dog. Lady was doing fine, nestled in Humphreys’ lap.
“Lady did not just transform my opinion, she transformed my life,” Humphreys said. “What didn’t she do? She gave me my self-respect and dignity back. After everything I’ve been through; humiliation shaming, abandonment, and everything else, she gave me the reassurance that I wasn’t such a bad person after all.”
Lady was never known for being the kindest. She snarled at people and bait those who came close. In fact, according to Humpreys, “This dog hated absolutely everybody.”
But the big man was able to break through that veneer.
“Within an hour and a half of being together, she and I had been inseparable ever since,” he said. “I often look around the house at what we’ve created, especially if there’s a little bit of a mess or I’m stressed and I turn to Lady and tell her, ‘You know this is all your fault, right?’”
Depression is a dehabilitating condition, no matter your size. For Humphreys, some days were so bad that he had trouble even getting out of bed to go to work.
“It was pathetic. The only thing keeping me going was spending time with her. It’s weird, it’s sad but she healed me,” he said. “There were times when my friend would come check on her dog at 11 in the morning only to find both of us still upstairs in bed. She would then become the drill instructor and make me go to work. That’s not the part that fixed me though, it was all the attention and love from Lady.”
Lady eventually had to return home. Humphreys was understandably sad to see her go, but understood that there were many other small dogs in desperate need of rescue. One such pup was Kira, who was just a year old and already exhibiting aggressive tendencies from a rough upbringing.
“I saw her living conditions,” Humphreys said. “I saw how easy it is for people to sell dogs on Craigslist and how little they really care about where the dog goes.”
Humphreys loved Kira so much, he decided she needed some friends.
Harley and her sister Quinn were the next to arrive.
“[When] I found a Harley, [she was] only six weeks old,” Humphreys said. “Harley reminded me so much of Lady, I had to have her.”
There were some strings attached to this pair of pups, however. Being inbred by a breeder, the dogs suffered from physical deformities, and could have just as well had behavioral issues to match.
It didn’t matter to Humphreys.
“My actual thoughts were these dogs are so ugly that nobody is going to buy them or they are going to get cast aside, as one of the horror stories you read on Facebook,” he said. “I had to have them.”
No longer would these dogs be overlooked. Humphreys made it his personal mission to love them as they deserved to be loved.
“I had it fresh in my mind, the way my past relationship and family in France and society had treated me and cast me aside,” he said. “I swore to myself that I would show these dogs something that society refused to show them and refused to show me.”
Before long, Humphreys had made a name for himself as the man who took in tiny dogs. And make no bones about it, Humphreys loves his dogs, but the circumstances they come have diminished his respect for humanity.
“A hoarding case here, a shut-in there. A bait dog. A dog found on the side of the road. A dog with an extension cord tied around his neck. The more this progressed, the more I loathed society,” he said. “I made a promise to each and every one of them that they would never have to experience abuse, neglect, abandonment or the pain of loving someone that would not give you love in return no matter how much you tried.”
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Full video in Facebook group. Just a quick update and request for those in the group. Not too much is on the front from the Facebook side of things but we are still trying. Thank you everybody has come up with such wonderful ideas on how to petition Facebook!!! I really hope it works #myislandofmisfits #sanctuarysquad #bigguylittlesworld #area51chihuahua #princesspronouncedpinches #skylasthelimit #staygoldenponiegirl #rooroorocket #bigguylittlesworldsanctuary
Eventually, Humphrey turned his newfound passion into a new career. He now runs a sanctuary for little dogs that have been pushed aside by humans who haven’t the heart to care for them. Officially, it’s called Big Guy, Littles World, but Humphreys calls it his “island of misfit toys.”
“Starting with myself, we are all the rejects,” Humphreys said. “The ones nobody wants. The ones that don’t look perfect. The ones that don’t fit. So, if you hear us refer to this place as the island, now you know why.”
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It’ doesn’t matter what’s going on this video or what it’s about, the only thing that’s important is that look on her face. This look literally stops me in my tracks every time. ❤️❤️❤️ makes me feel like all things considered, I must be doing something right in this world. #forevermybuggy #myislandofmisfits #sanctuarysquad #bigguylittlesworld #bigguylittlesworldsanctuary
The dogs that come to Humphreys sanctuary are treated with more love and care than they have ever experienced in their lives. And, he makes sure that those that are adopted are taken by families who have the capacity to love them even more.
“The rest will happily stay here regardless of their conditions or their differences. Or their oddities. They will be celebrated for how beautiful and unique they are and once again never have to worry about anything again.”
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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