When Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy and his boyfriend Matt Wilkas toured a dog meat farm in South Korea, they fell in love with a furry bundle of joy they named Beemo. The puppy’s two dads started documenting her life to raise awareness about the serious issues surrounding both the dog meat trade and animal welfare in general. With her fluffy face and sassy personality, the little rescue pup soon stole the hearts of thousands. Beemo went from a scared puppy crammed into a wire cage to a funny and inspirational internet celebrity.
Thanks to her Instagram, Beemo’s fans watched her grow and learn with her two supportive dads by her side. In May, however, Beemo’s health started to decline. Kenworthy wrote on Facebook that the puppy started refusing her food. After several vet visits and a full body scan, it was finally determined that the rescue dog suffered from a congenital birth defect that made her heart too large for her body and weakened her lungs. The vet said she was living on “borrowed time,” and shortly after her diagnosis, Beemo passed away.
Even if Kenworthy had known about Beemo’s condition earlier, there was still nothing that could have been done for the puppy that survived the dog meat trade. Kenworthy wrote a touching tribute to his dog on social media and said,
“Beemo was truly the best thing that ever happened to me and I feel so fortunate for our borrowed time together. I’ve never loved anything or anyone in the way that I loved that dog and she is and will always be deeply missed.”
Beemo will always hold a special place in her dad’s heart, and her short life made an important impact. She inspired Kenworthy and Wilkas to continue the fight to end cruelty to animals. They decided that the best way to honor Beemo’s memory was to move forward and save another life. They thought of the day they first met Beemo at the meat farm and remembered how they witnessed the birth of a litter of puppies. The puppies came into the world at the exact right time when Humane Society International was filming Kenworthy’s visit. If Kenworthy wasn’t there, the puppies most likely would have gone unnoticed and died in the freezing elements.
After Beemo died, Kenworthy contacted HSI to inquire about the litter of pups. It turned out that while the puppies missed the plane that carried the other 90 dogs from the camp to the U.S., they were now old enough to make the trip. Kenworthy waited while a flight was organized to bring the puppies to the States, and he vowed to be a rescue dog dad once again.
After a long trip and a few days spent in D.C., one of the puppies finally got to meet her new dads. Kenworthy named the five-month-old Jindo/Lab mix Birdie because sweet Beemo loved watching birds. He said on Facebook,
“Nothing in the world could ever replace Beemo or the love that we felt and still feel for her but Birdie has already stolen a new place in our hearts and we’re excited to be dog dads again.”