09/23/04 — Two-legged dog gets warm reception

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Two-legged dog gets warm reception

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on September 23, 2004 2:00 PM

Most other pups without legs would be put to sleep, but not GI Joe.

He was born Tuesday into the Henning family of Saulston.

Marjorie and Rich Henning named him GI Joe because they had seen a puppy on television a couple weeks ago that had been born without front legs. That one had been outfitted with little boots.

GI Joe dog

"GI Joe"

"We call him GI Joe because he wears combat boots," said Mrs. Henning. "To get them, we had to buy the GI Joe" doll.

GI Joe's mother, Baby, had birth complications and underwent a Caesarian section and hysterectomy. GI Joe was the first to come out, then two sisters.

Their umbilical cords were cut, and they were announced as healthy puppies. Each was handed to the veterinarian's assistant, cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket.

"They said keep them wrapped to stay warm," said Mrs. Henning. "The assistant got a box and put a towel in it. ... I call home. My little ones are excited. They wouldn't go to bed."

The pups arrive at home. The children see the brown spot on his backside and say, "He looks like his mama."

The sisters are solid white.

Mrs. Henning says, "You ought to see his face. He looks like his daddy, Tigger."

She picks him up, and the children notice something's wrong.

One of the children says, "Mom, he doesn't have front legs. He's just like the dog on TV."

The vet told them the pup should be put to sleep, but the Hennings refused.

The Hennings have eight children. Their two biological children, Margie and Gilbert, were born with medical problems.

Margie, 3, was born with a right aortic arch. The artery from her heart had wrapped around her esophagus and trachea. She almost died and underwent surgery.

Gilbert, 18, was born without a flap at the top of his stomach and could not hold milk. It kept going into his lungs. He, too, had emergency surgery. He also had a tumor on his face removed at age 1.

"We all have something wrong with us," said Mrs. Henning, who is diabetic. Her husband has Lupus.

"... Gilbert was crying. He had told me that night, 'Mama me and Margie were born with problems, and you still loved us. You took care of us, and you're still taking care of us. ... Mama, we've got to give him a chance.'"

The argument at the veterinarian office was that he would not be able to run like other dogs. "What would be his quality of life?"

Quality of life is being loved and taken care of, said Mrs. Henning this morning. "It's love and care, no matter what the responsibility is."

GI Joe can crawl all the way across the play pen to get to his mother. "How do you explain having to put a puppy to sleep because he has no legs?" she asked.