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Published April 05 2012

Disabled poodle gains mobility, new family

WAHPETON, N.D. – Last week, a handful of lucky Americans won the record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot.

This week, one lucky couple in southeastern North Dakota took home the Mega Millie jackpot.

Millie, the disabled poodle who was surrendered by her owner to a Wahpeton animal shelter in February, will go home with a new adoptive family this week.

The canine has become so well-known that staffers at Dakota Veterinary Hospital are guarding the identity of the adoptive owners as if they are actual lottery winners.

“We want to keep them a little bit anonymous so they don’t have to keep getting phone calls,” says Maureen Lynott, the hospital’s kennel manager. “But we want people to know she did go to a good home.”

Millie’s new owners will be a husband and wife who live in the Wahpeton-Breckenridge area, says Lynott, who first spearheaded the fundraiser to pay for Millie’s care.

They are dog lovers whose last dog died several years ago, Lynott says. The wife works at home, so she will be able to spend ample time with the 6-year-old toy poodle.

“As soon as she (Millie’s new owner) walked in the building, we knew we didn’t need to take any more applications,” Lynott says. “She’s a wonderful lady, and she’s got time for her. She visits her all the time, and Millie sits on her lap.”

After undergoing two surgeries in the past month, Millie now walks and runs easily on three legs. Her latest operation was just last week, so she isn’t using that leg much yet, Lynott says.

But overall, she is doing well. “She’s ready to play and be held and to walk outside and say ‘hi’ to everyone,” Lynott says.

Forum readers first learned about Millie’s story in early March. A man surrendered the dog to the Humane Society of Richland and Wilkin counties.

The canine had a congenital knee deformity that left her back legs useless. Veterinarian Tim Matz of Dakota Veterinary offered to donate his fee to fix her knees and to perform spay surgery.

The little dog’s story unleashed a flood of good will and donations from Forum readers.

Nancy O’Hearn, secretary of the Wahpeton-based humane society, says people from all over the eastern half of the state wanted to adopt her. Some drove from as far away as Grand Forks to visit her.

“There are going to be some very disappointed people when they find out that they aren’t going to get her,” O’Hearn says. “Hopefully, they can find another pet to rescue.”

The pooch’s story also prompted donations totaling more than $5,000 from all over the country. That includes $467 that was raised by kindergarten students at Zimmerman Elementary in Wahpeton, Lynott says.

The money will help offset Millie’s boarding and hospital costs. Any leftover funds will be used to help other shelter animals, O’Hearn says.

Some of the money already has gone to treat another homeless puppy, Melody, for the potentially fatal parvo virus.

“You could say Millie is quite the little lifesaver,” O’Hearn says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525

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