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STLMag.com – Marshall the Miracle Dog Becomes a Movie Star

Posted on Nov 12, 2014

Photography by Mike Bizelli

Photography by Mike Bizelli

From a horrid life with an animal hoarder, this sweet three-legged dog has made a remarkable journey. Marshall was rescued, nursed back to health, adopted, and made the subject of a book called Marshall the Miracle Dog, written by his new owner, Cyndi Willenbrock. Then Hollywood came calling…

How was Marshall found? You can watch the episode on Animal Planet, on the show Confessions: Animal Hoarding, from 2010. This hoarder had 82 dogs, and at least 60 of those—including Marshall—were on an abandoned property. One dog was caught in a fence for so long that he was severely dehydrated and had to be put down. Marshall was in the worst shape of all the dogs that survived. He had a broken leg and a huge hole in the side of his face from fighting… During the amputation operation, his heart stopped beating—that’s how sick he was—but he refused to die.

How does Marshall run on three legs? Very fast. It’s amazing. He actually runs better than he walks. When he runs, you don’t even notice a gait change, but when he walks, it’s obvious he’s disabled.

Given his violent upbringing, does he get along with other dogs? He does, in part because I started taking him to puppy training classes. He’s like an old man that goes back for his high-school diploma. He was surrounded by 12-week-old puppies. The fact that he loves other dogs and humans is a testament to the fighting spirit. You can come back from anything.

Before Marshall the Miracle Dog was a movie, it was a book. The book originally came to me because Marshall was having another nightmare. I knew he was agitated in his sleep, because he remembered being attacked by the other dogs. I wrote the story because I thought getting it out there would help me forgive the animal hoarder. But then I shared it with somebody, and we talked about kids and bullying. Marshall was being bullied by those other dogs. He’s one of the more timid, gentler, loving dogs who would never fight back, so he was a target. The small, sweet one who doesn’t fight back attracts the bully. That became the basis of the book.

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