Meet Dexter, an amazing dog who just walks like a human

Can an elderly dog be taught new tricks? Animal enthusiasts describe what it’s like to care for a gifted animal.

“I stood there in awe as he bounced up the stairs,” says Dexter, the dog that walks on two legs.
Dexter was purchased as a puppy. He was a pure-bred Brittany Spaniel, a beautiful bundle of activity. My husband, two children, and I instantly fell in love with him. We’d lost an elderly dog the year before and rescued another, whom we sadly had to put down. It was devastating for us. So we poured our hearts out to Dexter.

We reside in a little mountain town in Colorado called Ouray, and he rapidly became a part of the community. Youngsters stop in our yard on their way to school to pet him. He was named after a nearby brook.

Dexter was about a year old when he was involved in a horrific accident in March 2016. He fled from our yard after catching the scent of a deer track. He dashed in front of a car about a mile from our house.

My husband, Tim, discovered him with severe injuries to both of his front legs. Tim was unconcerned about the situation because he volunteers as a mountain rescue first responder. He summoned me immediately. As I got in the car, I was shocked to see my baby. That was far worse than I had anticipated, and Dexter was in a lot of agony. There was no question that we needed to get him to the vet, but there was no time to waste because the nearest one was an hour away.

Dexter clearly wanted to live. I sat in the rear of the car with him, and he placed his head on my lap, attempting to console me. The vet was waiting for us when we arrived, and when he saw Dexter, he turned green. He stated that he needed to locate the senior vet. We didn’t know if Dexter had brain damage or internal bleeding at the time. The vet proceeded quickly and concluded that we would need to amputate his right front paw but that the left may be preserved, albeit not completely functionally. I knew we’d go to any length to save Dexter.

Dexter returned home three days later. He’d undergone a lot of surgery, but the vet was certain he’d be able to live a normal life. It took him a long time to heal, and I worked hard on his rehabilitation—increasing muscular tone and mobility. Dexter had to wear a cone for a year, and we had a custom-commissioned wheelchair created that went around his tummy and had wheels at the front so he could walk on three legs. He was still a puppy, full of activity, and emanated happiness.

I’d take him down the porch stairs without his wheelchair every morning to go out in the yard. I left him at the bottom one day when I went inside to grab my coffee. Dexter was at the top of the stairs when I returned a few seconds later. I looked around, perplexed. How had he arrived?

I put him back at the bottom and waited. He leaped up on his two rear legs and hopped up the steps as if he’d been doing it his entire life. It was impossible for me to believe. Dexter hasn’t stopped walking on two legs since. He occasionally balances on his front left leg, sniffing about on three legs, but when he wants to go fast, he leaps up on his two rear legs.

I consulted with the vet, who was concerned about the strain on his hips. We encouraged him to continue using his wheelchair, but he would just stand up with it still attached, perhaps causing further injury. We never trained Dexter to walk like this; it was entirely his own idea. He now sees a chiropractor on a regular basis, and the doctor says his back is strong and his hips are pure muscle.

Dexter is now seven years old. He has altered the laws of what it means to be physically disabled. Nothing stops him, and he’s the happiest dog—persistent and tenacious. I’m quite proud of him. People in difficult situations write to me from all over the world, saying, “If Dexter can do it, so can I.” He went viral after a stranger’s video of him wound up on primetime television in the United States. He’s ecstatic with all the attention and rewards. However, at the end of the day, he’s still our family pet, a dog who enjoys chasing balls, fetching sticks, and running around the park. The vet indicated after the accident that he must have had a strong will to survive, and Dexter certainly does.

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