This will be the third and final story in the True Dog series, Disregarded Dogs, Rising Above. I wrote this series to share the inspirational stories of three wonderful True Dogs and follow their journeys from abuse and neglect, to rescue, and life in their new homes. My hope is that this series just might spark action, from you the reader, to do your part in ending animal abuse and neglect.
You can refer to the following links to read about Chico and Hockey's stories. In Chico's story Part 1 and Hockey's story Part 2.
This is the story of Duke. The dog named "Duke" is publicly known for the tragedy and cruelty he experienced, but more fitting, the story of Duke, and his owner, should be a story of strength, courage, and love. This is less a story about tragedy and more a story about the triumphs found in compassion, resilience, patience, and the lasting bond that will be forever shared between Duke and his owner.
On January 27, 2011, two photographers where out taking pictures of bald eagles along the frigid waters of the Des Moines River in Des Moines, IA when they spotted a large dog struggling to get out of the icy waters. The women approached the dog and pulled him from the frigid water. The photographers covered the Mastiff mix with their coats and called animal control. Unfortunately, the dog was near death when they pulled him from the water.
Animal control officers arrived and quickly took the dog to the ARL Animal Rescue League (ARL) where veterinarians assessed him. Veterinarians found this dog had a small wound in his back. After further examination it was discovered that the injury was a .22 caliber bullet lodged in the dog's spinal cord.
It's believed the this dog was intentionally shot and dumped in the Des Moines river where he was left to die. Shortly after arriving at the ARL, the care of the dog was transferred to Iowa State University Veterinarian Clinic. As quickly as the dog was transported to ISU, his story hit the media. The story of the shot dog disgusted and outraged thousands. The media, ARL workers, and police, found out that this dog's name was Duke as stated by the local residents who knew the dog. The residents also noted that Duke was a nice dog that they had become accustomed to seeing in their neighborhood.
Emergency surgery was performed to remove the .22 caliber bullet. Tragically, the bullet had damaged Duke's spinal cord. The bullet caused permanent lower body paralysis.
Although faced with several disappointing hurdles Duke had thousands of new friends and fans cheering him through his recovery. A very special company, HandicappedPets.com, heard about Duke's paralysis and donated his Walkin Wheels. The donation allowed Duke the ability to stay active and speed his recovery.
Duke in his Walkin Wheels
The off leash dog episode was shocking for both Susan and Duke. After the encounter, Susan has had to take pause when considering their daily walks and runs. This is unfortunate. Dogs and their owners shouldn't have to doubt being able to leave their house at the risk of an off leash dog. If there are leash laws, please abide by them. Some dogs aren't always comfortable being approached by other dogs whether they are on or off leash. These dogs are referred to as DINOS (Dogs In Need of Space.) It doesn't mean the dog is aggressive or unfit. It just means that some dogs needs more space than others. Read more about DINOS here. If you are considering approaching any dog, whether you have a dog with you or not, please ask the owner's permission before approaching.
The famous and handsome Duke sporting his leash!
True to Duke's nature, the encounter with the off leash dog wasn't going to put a stop to his ability to rise above adversity. Susan and Duke are determined to work through Duke's anxiety and fear of other dogs. Duke is a wonderfully True Dog. With continued support of friends who have worked through similar issues with their dogs, and with the support of fans, several thousands of them as a matter of fact, along with some conditioning, desensitizing, and positive training the possibilities are endless for Duke and Susan. Will he improve? Absolutely! Will it take time? Yes. But I'll never doubt the possibilities of the boisterous, outgoing, loving, friendly dog on two wheels.
Initially, there was a reward of $6,500 for information leading to the arrest of the individual(s) who shot Duke and dumped him in the river. As this was written, there have been no leads and no arrests in Duke's case. In 2011 Duke's case was closed due to lack of evidence.
True Dogs Chico, Hockey, and Duke all have lives that are now filled with joy and positive experiences. Dogs like Chico, Hockey, and Duke show us that life is best lived in the present, each day is a gift, and that love is stronger than fear and anger. If our hope is to someday end animal abuse, knowledge and action will be the key factors. Together we can all speak out against animal abuse and neglect. We will rise above.
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