Never tell Duncan Lou Who the odds.
Duncan was born with his hind legs fused together, and when he was just 3 months old, his owners decided they would rather amputate the deformed limbs than put their dog to sleep.
Duncan was walking on his front legs within an hour of the operation.
His heart has stopped twice, and both times he was brought back to life by CPR — something that, according to the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society, less than 6 percent of dogs and cats survive. And then there was the time that Duncan’s family got in a car crash last year; the hardy boxer was thrown from the vehicle, and was found after a 16-hour search, having run three miles from the crash site. On two legs.
He wasn’t expected to live beyond a year. And yet, Duncan celebrated his fifth one earlier this month.
“None of our veterinary team had foreseen this coming,” said Amanda Giese, founder and president of Panda Paws Rescue and one of Duncan’s owners. “This is a huge milestone.”
Duncan’s viral fame began in March 2014, when Giese and her fiance, Gary Walters, took the then-8-month-old puppy to Rockaway Beach, Ore., for the first time. Giese uploaded a two-minute video of Duncan running on the beach to YouTube, not expecting it to go viral. The video racked up more than 3 million views in less than two weeks; as of publication, the video is nearing 7 million views.
“It just took off like wildfire,” Giese said.
The video’s viral success has helped make people more aware of the needs of “differently abled, special needs animals,” Giese said. She also said that veterans and special needs children are “blown away and inspired by” Duncan’s story.
“He’s a great educational piece that we’re all different, whether you’re special needs, different-abled — no matter what, every single individual is different, and every life deserves a chance to be loved and to be happy,” Giese said.
Giese added that Duncan’s fame has been “a real blessing” and “a win for our rescue,” drawing attention to the work that she does for differently abled and special needs animals at Panda Paws. It also caught the attention of Animal Planet, which is getting ready to air a TV series about Giese in the fall (see accompanying story).
Despite the series of events that led her pack from YouTube to Animal Planet, Giese said it was never her intention to make money off of Duncan or groom him to be a “celebrity pet.” (The money that the video did make went back into Panda Paws.)
“If there’s an opportunity for him to show up somewhere and encourage someone or be present at a meet-and-greet, then we always try to make it happen for the public,” Giese said. “But Duncan isn’t about money to us. At the end of the day, Duncan is our dog.”
Coming soon to TV’s Animal Planet: ‘Amanda to the Rescue’Duncan Lou Who, the two-legged boxer, won't be the only celebrity in his family for much longer. This fall, one of his owners, Amanda Giese, will be the subject of a new Animal Planet show, "Amanda to the Rescue." The show will follow the daily workings of Panda Paws Rescue, the Washougal-based animal shelter that Giese runs with her fiance, Gary Walters. Viewers will get to watch Giese work with animals that are differently abled, need hospice care or have suffered severe injuries, and guide them through the rehabilitation process. Though "Amanda to the Rescue" will be centered around Giese and the pets at the shelter, Walters, Duncan and the rest of the family -- be they human or animal -- will appear on the show. In addition to the day-to-day operation of Panda Paws, "Amanda to the Rescue" will feature informational segments on a variety of pet-related topics. There will also be episodes in which Giese travels to California and Puerto Rico, seeking to help animals that have been displaced by last year's respective wildfires and hurricanes. "Amanda to the Rescue" comes to Animal Planet this fall. -- Jacob Nierenberg
Giese, Walters, and their family took Duncan back to Rockaway Beach for a birthday party on July 14. Giese called it his “happy place … [where] he can get the sand between his toes and the salty air through his fur.” And it’s where, four years ago, a video of a two-legged puppy running on a beach stole the hearts of millions.
“The world grew to love and know Duncan because of that video,” Giese said.