I was not prepared for what I saw on the day Marshall and I met in October 2010.
The Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Cruelty Task Force had just returned to St. Louis with 53 dogs rescued from an animal hoarder. Marshall was among the first to be carried from the van, a distinction reserved for the most critically injured. As we lifted him ever so gingerly to the exam table, I stared in disbelief at the gaping wounds on his face. How could any human being have ignored the sight and stench of the mangled flesh, or the twisted front leg that dangled lifelessly from his side? And how could anyone have neglected his sad brown eyes’ plea for help? Marshall was finally where he belonged, but even the most well-intentioned veterinary team was unlikely to save him now. And yet we owed it to Marshall and to ourselves to do everything in our power to give him a chance.
Marshall was dehydrated and dangerously thin. He had infections in the shattered bones of his foreleg and throughout his blood stream. We treated him intensively with fluids, with antibiotics and with medicine for his pain. During the multiple surgeries required to address his injuries, his heart stopped on the operating table on more than one occasion. It became clear throughout his phenomenal recovery that Marshall had not read the same books as his doctors and nurses. We stood proudly in his corner as he survived the unsurvivable. And in the process, he lifted the spirits of all who worked so hard to save him.
Marshall’s remarkable story inspired his adopter, Cyndi Willenbrock, to write Marshall the Miracle Dog, a picture book chronicling his spirit and resiliency. Marshall and Cyndi regularly visit schools to spread their message of acceptance, tolerance and kindness. In addition, they reach out to detention centers throughout the St. Louis area where Marshall serves as a therapy dog helping kids talk about their issues with bullying, self-esteem and disabilities.
Marshall continues to make a huge difference in the lives of many children, parents, teachers, and animals. The Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri have recently authorized a Marshall Movement Patch to help children recognize, prevent and speak up when experiencing or witnessing tough social issues, such as bullying, peer pressure, abuse or animal cruelty. On September 10, 2013, Marshall was honored by the St. Louis Cardinals during “Bully Prevention Night” when he “threw out” the first pitch at Busch Stadium. Marshall’s Miracle, an award-winning feature length motion picture detailing Marshall’s story, opened in theaters across the country on August 28, 2015.
Learn more about Marshall at http://www.marshallthemiracledog.com or visit him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marshall-the-Miracle-Dog/313141885399186