OCALA, FLA. — A WHS graduate’s adoption of a special dog has touched many hearts.
Kindel Carpenter, a 2009 Wilmington graduate who currently lives in Ocala, Florida, and her pit bull Edna were featured in a post published by The Dodo. The Facebook version of the story, posted in March, has received nearly 40 million views.
Carpenter first heard of the now one-year-old puppy at the rescue shelter where volunteers called VOCAL — Voices of Change Animal League.
“A woman reached out to (VOCAL) saying she had a puppy that couldn’t walk right,” said Carpenter. “Her options were running out and she asked if VOCAL could take her.”
The shelter shared a video with all the foster parents asking if anyone would foster her. Carpenter volunteered and took her to a neurologist specialist at the University of Florida veterinary school to look at her.
“We discovered (Edna) essentially had no cerebellum, which is the cause of her wobbliness,” she said.
Edna was diagnosed with a Cerebellar Hypoplasia — usually meaning the cerebellum is deformed, misshapen or missing a small portion. But the specialist had never seen an animal where it was completely missing.
Once diagnosed, intense physical therapy three to five times a week was suggested.
“I knew there were not many people who would be willing to take on a special needs dog who was estimated to reach anywhere from 60 to 90 pounds,” Carpenter said about the now 60-pound pup.
She said there was a possibility that Edna would never walk and she’d have to take Edna to UF multiple times a week for appointments. But that didn’t deter her, and she grew more attached to Edna.
“In some ways, she was like a regular dog, but she needed a lot of help at first,” she said. “As she progressed she needed less and less help, as she’s quite independent now.”
When Carpenter first had Edna, she had to carry her everywhere. Edna would only be able to play on grass or a cushioned rug due to constantly falling. If Carpenter took Edna to work, she’d have her in a large storage tote with a dog bed in it so she could play in it and wouldn’t get hurt if she fell.
Carpenter gives credit to another four-legged friend for helping Edna — her shepherd mix, Gertrude.
“Gertrude was hands down Edna’s motivation,” she said. “Gert is extremely playful; we call her the foster mom because in the past with the puppies we fostered she always took to them and would play and teach them things, so it was no surprise she took to Edna and would play with her.
“In the yard, Gerty would kneel down and play some then take off and Edna would want to try and run after her, so I truly believe Gertrude gave Edna that drive of ‘I’m going to run after Gertrude’.”
Edna started taking her first steps on her own about a month and a half after she was adopted.
“I was overjoyed and just elated,” said Carpenter. “I had a lot of people, especially vets, question if she would ever be able to walk at all, and so to see that she would try over and over again and that she wasn’t giving up, it really encouraged me to help encourage her.”
Edna’s journey was discovered by the Dodo after an Instagram account Carpenter made dedicated to her journey — ednasjourney — was discovered by them. A video about Edna was published in March on the Dodo’s Facebook and has since garnered over 39 million views.
“I was shocked honestly that a video of my puppy who just turned one had that many people who had seen and heard her story,” said Carpenter.
One thing she’s hoping is that people are inspired by the video and helps them overcome their own issues.
“I’ve had so many people leave comments or message me saying how her videos have inspired them or helped with depression; it’s given them hope,” she said. “I never imagined she would have that big of an impact on a complete stranger.”
She also hopes it inspires people who are looking for a pet first to adopt one instead of buying and they don’t overlook the special needs ones.
“They can do things and overcomes so much more than people think or expect,” she said. “The last thing I want people to do is to feel sorry for her because she is literally the happiest dog I’ve ever seen.”
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574