Professor Helps Teach Dog To Walk, Now They're Best Buddies

After spending five years trapped in a cage at a puppy mill, it's safe to assume Dorée, a golden retriever, didn't expect to be loved any time soon. But when the authorities stepped in, Iowa State veterinary professor Dr. Rod Bagley helped teach her to walk. Now, Dr. Bagley takes care of her full-time and the two are best friends.

Dorée was rescued in November from a breeder in Seymour, Iowa. Authorities say Daniel Gingerich violated the Animal Welfare Act over 120 times since March 2001. Gingerich owned a total of 514 dogs across several different properties—including Dorée, KCCI-TV reported. In March, Gingerich pleaded guilty to two counts of animal neglect in a plea agreement, and has been sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Bagley told the outlet that she was one of the dogs that had been the worst off, being stuck in a cage her entire life. In video taken immediately after the rescue, Dorée couldn't even stand; instead, she crawled.

"She just was emotionally so timid, that she just would not move," Bagley told KCCI. "She wouldn't get up and go. And as a neurologist, I've dealt with a lot of animals through my career that aren't able to walk, but she was different."

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Doree was rescued from a puppy mill where she was kept in a cage for the first part of her life, and couldn't walk. But now she's happy and healthy. Courtesy of Dr. Rod Bagley

He told the outlet that he thought Dorée's issue was that she didn't know how to walk or even stand. Working with his students, Dorée was put into a swimming pool in order to teach her how to stand upright and walk. The water in the pool supported her body while the resistance strengthened her legs.

Bagley made sure to mention that he didn't help Dorée on his own. From the initial rescuers, Joe Stafford and his team, to rehab technician Joanna Hildreth, the critical care clinicians who first checked Dorée in and the fourth-year vet students who were on her rehabilitation rotation schedule, he told Newsweek that it was very much a team effort.

"I think the common saying is 'it takes a village,' which was definitely true for Dorée. And, most important, she did (and had to do) most of the work herself, when given a chance. She is a great dog and just needed some 'space' to 'grow," Bagley told Newsweek.

He also credits the vet students on her rehabilitation rotation schedule for giving Dorée her name, using the French word for "golden."

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Thanks to the efforts of many people, Doree can walk unassisted now. Courtesy of Dr. Rod Bagley

Though it took months, now that she can walk, Bagley told Newsweek her favorite thing to do is "galloping outside and then rolling in the grass (or mud if that be the case)."

"She has a tendency to get very animated when we go outside and then 'nose-dive' into the ground followed by rolling on her back (typical dog stuff). Of course, she is very vocal when she believes it is her mealtime as well," he said.

And what's more, Bagley adopted her, giving her all the love and friendship she could ever want. Dorée isn't the only former patient Bagley's adopted.

"We (my family including my grown children) have always adopted, primarily from shelters or those that needed a home that have come to the veterinary hospitals I have worked at," Bagley told Newsweek.

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Cooper (left), Dr. Rod Bagley and Doree pose together. Cooper taught Doree "normal dog stuff," and is also a rescue dog through the Iowa State veterinary program. Courtesy of Dr. Rod Bagley

Dorée shares the house with Cooper, who taught her how to do "dog stuff," Bagley added. But of course it wasn't just Bagley's decision to invite Dorée into the home.

"I had to make sure adopting Dorée was OK with [Cooper], as he is a great dog as well, maybe the best dog ever. Luckily, he said 'OK,'" Bagley added.

He also said that Cooper acts as Dorée's "service dog," and jokes that he's her "service human."

"She needed less sophisticated medical care as much as she needed love, support (literally and figuratively) and hope. She needed to know that life could be different compared to what her life was previously," Bagley said.

If there's one thing Bagley wants people to learn from Dorée's journey, it's this:

"We need to be our best humans to take care of all of the animals in the world. This is our obligation as people."

Update 4/22/2022, 5:10 p.m.: This article has been updated to include an interview with Dr. Rod Bagley.