The frisky, tail-wagging puppy greeted me at the front door of his home. The first thing I noticed is that Dudley, a 7-month-old golden retriever, is happy, friendly and affectionate. The second thing I noticed was his odd "hopping" gait caused by back legs that are straight and rigid.
No one should feel sorry for Dudley.
His owner, Marcy Kronz of the West End, says he "touches all who meet him." He has "the heart of a lion" and "has never given up hope or gotten the least bit depressed."
Dudley has come a long way since late last October when all four legs were completely paralyzed for reasons that are still a medical mystery. Despite his handicap, Dudley can now run and play with his mother, Mimi, and he can go up and down stairs of his home. His quality of life is excellent, thanks to an owner who refused to give up on him, an Ohio veterinarian and a massage therapist who continues to work with the puppy.
Looking for a way get something positive out of Dudley's experience, Mrs. Kronz has decided to train him as a therapy dog. She thinks he would be especially inspiring for children who have mobility problems of their own. It's a noble goal and not everyone can do that. But Mrs. Kronz has been a professional trainer for 20 years, operating A+ Dog Training, and she has put many obedience and agility degrees on dogs over the years.
Dudley and eight littermates were born in the Kronz house on Aug. 14. All were healthy. But at 101/2 weeks Dudley became lethargic and "wobbly." Several days later he could not walk at all.
Multiple veterinarians, including specialists at Ohio State University, could not figure out what was wrong and at least one suggested he should be euthanized. Mrs. Kronz said Dudley had a bite on his belly with a red ring around it, which she thinks came from a tick. The test for Lyme disease was negative, but puppies usually get a "false negative" on that test, she said.
A friend recommended Randy Hutchinson, a vet at Animal Clinic Northview in Cleveland. He surgically removed tissue from the bite site, "and Dudley immediately started improving," but his back legs were too stiff and weak to support him.
Susan Clair, a physical therapist at Northview, put him on a water treadmill and taught him to walk again. When he came home a week later, he could stand but was too weak to run or play.
Mrs. Kronz added twice-monthly sessions with massage therapist Marie Duthie of Annasage in Medina, Ohio. Massage softens his muscles, loosens ligaments and improves circulation, which has steadily improved Dudley's flexibility and mobility. He's getting stronger every day. Just this week he got up on the couch for the first time.
Other conditions that bring canine clients to Ms. Duthie include arthritis, back injuries, and post-surgical rehab for knee and hip replacements. Regular clients include dogs that compete in agility and obedience competitions. Owners need to get permission from a veterinarian to see a massage therapist.
Dudley's bills from multiple vets were thousands of dollars, and massage therapy is $1 a minute. Friends donated more than $1,500 for Dudley's care.
"This golden boy has changed me forever," Mrs. Kronz says. "I have learned to hope when it seems like there is none. I have learned to believe in something that doesn't seem possible, even when most everyone else has given up. I was inspired to do this all from this one special little puppy who never gave up."
You can see more pictures and video on the Facebook page, Dudley the Golden Retriever.
What do macaws, conures, cockatoos, parakeets, cockatiels, lories and lovebirds have in common? They're all parrots, and each has different nutritional needs and temperaments. If you're thinking about adopting a parrot, do your research with the Pittsburgh affiliate of Parrot Education & Adoption Center.
The next class is at 12:30 p.m. Sunday in the Brentwood Library. Cost is $5. Go to www.pitpeac.org for further information.
The Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel is celebrating the third birthday of its white boxer-mix ambassador dog, Edie, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the lobby. In lieu of presents, Edie is asking guests to bring donations for Animal Friends. Adoptable dogs from the Ohio Township shelter will attend. There'll be cake, cookies, prizes and give-aways.
The Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association Inc., is holding its annual dog shows next Saturday and March 31 at the Monroeville Convention Center. Doors open at 7 a.m., and judging starts at 9 a.m. each day. The top dog is picked at the end of the show in the Best in Show judging, generally between 3 and 5 p.m.
The show is sanctioned by the American Kennel Club, which registers purebred dogs. Learn about breeds by talking with owners and handlers, but don't ask them when they're getting ready to enter the ring. Better yet, look for the "Meet the Breeds" booths where you can even pet dogs.
Never pet a dog without asking for the owner's permission. Don't even think about touching the coat of a long-haired dog that has undergone five hours of bathing, blow drying, trimming and fluffing. Go to www.wpka-inc.org after Monday to find out when your favorite breed will be judged.
Admission is $9 for adults, $3 for children 5-10 years old, and no charge for children age 4 and under. Part of proceeds benefit animal charities.
Animal Friends volunteers will sell home-baked Easter goodies next Saturday from 9:30 a.m to 4 p.m. at the Ohio Township shelter, 562 Camp Horne Road, 15237.
Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3064. Got a pet health question? Email it to email@example.com. It may be answered in an upcoming Pet Points column by veterinarians at the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic First Published March 23, 2013 4:00 AM