Injured rescue dog turned therapy dog dies

Dobie, a much-loved rescue dog turned therapy dog, has died.

Dobie, the black Labrador found after being thrown as a puppy from a four-story parking lot and later trained to be a therapy dog, died in early June. Dobie is pictured with his owner Richard Bartel. File photo by Elyse Kaner

Dobie, the black Labrador found after being thrown as a puppy from a four-story parking lot and later trained to be a therapy dog, died in early June. Dobie is pictured with his owner Richard Bartel. File photo by Elyse Kaner

The black Labrador, who as a puppy in 2005 was thrown from a four-story parking lot in St. Louis Park, was saved just hours before being euthanized thanks to Duane Hodges who found him and owner Richard Bartel of St. Anthony who adopted him.

Dobie had suffered crushed hip sockets in the fall.

When news of Dobie’s plight broke after the incident, the public rallied to his aid, donating about $5,000 for his medical care. Spring Lake Park resident Jill Kaspszak, in particular, headed funding efforts to pay for his care.

Dobie’s path to health was laden with trials.

He first underwent a seven-hour surgical procedure to remove bone fragments. He later spent nine months undergoing underwater hydrotherapy treatments on a treadmill.

After a lengthy convalescent period, the only sign of Dobie’s trauma was a slight limp.

He logged 500 visits

When he was strong enough and old enough, Bartel enrolled Dobie in classes to become a certified therapy dog.

Starting at the age of 2, Dobie, along with his faithful friend Bartel, spent many hours volunteering as a therapy dog team throughout the Twin Cities.

Locally, they visited clients at the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center and kids served by the Anoka County-based Alexandra House, a shelter for battered women and children.

About one week before his death, June 6, Dobie had logged 500 therapy dog visits to Twin Cities area institutions, the highest therapy level recognized by Therapy Dogs International, according to Bartel.

He called on the elderly at nursing homes, on children at the Minnesota Children’s Museum and on people with special needs. He provided stress release for students at William Mitchell College of Law during finals week.

“Not many dogs make the 500th visit,” Bartel said.

Last year, Dobie was selected to appear as a pin-up dog for a popular Rescue Dog to Therapy Dog calendar. Dobie was the March pin-up, which featured his photo and history.

Dobie was 8 years old. The cause of his death was undetermined.

He was named after the “Dobie Gillis” 1960s sitcom character.

He and Bartel were members of Therapy Dogs International Local Chapter 125, Pals for Paws. In 2011, the friendly pooch was inducted into the state Veterinarian Medical Association’s Hall of Fame in the Professional Category.

In addition to Bartel and Hodges, Dobie leaves behind an adopted sister Zelda, a 4-year-old golden lab that is also a rescue and certified therapy dog. Bartel recently adopted an 8-year-old chocolate lab rescue.

Dobie and Zelda got along so splendidly, “I would joke with people that I had one dog with eight legs,” Bartel said.

A celebration of Dobie’s life will take place at a future time, yet to be determined.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com

  • Bonnie S

    Thank-you, Dobie, for making our lives so much better. You were our friend. Thank-you to Rich and Duane for sharing Dobie with us. From all of us at PAI-Linden Ave.

  • Nancy L.

    Thanks for sharing Dobie and Zelda with us!! We will miss Dobie alot, he was a wonderful therapy dog, but will live on through Zelda!!

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