When Dexter’s family adopted him in June 2015, they were so excited to add such a happy, positive dog to their family and very quickly couldn’t imagine life without him. Nine months later, though, they almost lost him.
“An owner’s WORST nightmare, a freak accident,” Kentee Pasek, Dexter’s mom, told The Dodo. “Dexter escaped from the yard, and we were on search as soon as it happened, but he is fast. My husband Tim … found him running alongside the road. Dexter crossed the road right in front of a moving van. I got a call from Tim that ‘Dexter kinda hurt his front legs.’ When I arrived on the scene, it was WAY worse than I imagined possible. We live in the middle of the mountains and had to drive almost an hour for emergency veterinarian care. We were not sure he would make the trip, but he did, and his outstanding vet, Dr. Franklin, at the San Juan Vet Clinic saved Dexter’s life. Dr. Franklin credits Dexter’s determination to live.”
While Dexter managed to survive his ordeal, his recovery process was long. He lost one of his front legs and the other one was pinned at the elbow. He had to wear a cone for almost a full year and, of course, had to relearn how to walk and get around. It was a lot to handle, but somehow, through it all, Dexter remained the dog his family had always known.
“He was super happy just being alive,” Pasek said. “He was smiling, happy and positive. There were many days his attitude was infectious for the rest of us. He was happy just to be. One day I placed him outside in his kennel in the sun, and he was so happy to be outside, even as injured as he was. He just loved to be with us.”
As Dexter healed, he managed to learn to get around with what his mom calls his “tripod peg leg hop walk.” Dexter is a dog that loves to go fast and explore, though, and he quickly realized he was going to need more.
So, he taught himself to walk upright on his two back legs, just like a human, and the first time his mom saw him do it, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
“One morning I had Dexter in the front yard for his morning routine, and he was so happy, I went back in to get my coffee,” Pasek said. “When I came back outside, he was up on the front porch. I was shocked, a bit upset because he … had just had another surgery. I knew he was not putting any weight on his front leg, so I had no clue how he climbed those stairs. I carried him off the stairs and back to the yard and took out my phone to record his actions because I needed proof for myself and for everyone else in our household. He turned around and did it again. I caught him walking upright up the front stairs … I was shocked and scared he would hurt himself again. I remember feeling both amazement and apprehension over this determined dog.”
And the rest is history. He soon perfected the art of walking just like the rest of his family does, and Dexter now gets around mostly by walking upright. It’s absolutely amazing just how fast he can go. Of course, a dog walking just like a human is not something seen every day, so Dexter quickly became a bit of a local celebrity. Everyone knows and loves him, but his celebrity status hasn’t changed Dexter at all. He’s still the same happy, determined, down-to-earth dog he’s always been, and his family truly couldn’t be more proud of him.
“If Dexter wants something, Dexter will get or do anything he wants,” Pasek said. “We slow him down.”
Not only is Dexter a local celebrity, but he’s now a bit of an online star too, so the whole world gets to see and be obsessed with Dexter and his perfect stride. A lot of people have a hard time believing that Dexter and his walk are actually real, a feeling his family can absolutely relate to.
“You can imagine what happens when a dog walking upright passes you and you have never seen that before … we really shock people,” Pasek said.
While it’s absolutely adorable and incredible the way Dexter walks, his journey to get to where he is now wasn’t easy. Through it all, Dexter never gave up, and he’s a beautiful example of just how resilient dogs can be.
“Dexter’s story is about adapting, changing and embracing a new normal,” Pasek said. “If we can remember how Dexter changed his life, I think we can too … This has shown me that even in our darkest, hardest times, we can overcome.”