Dog With Prosthetic Leg Inspires Many

Golden retriever training to become therapy dog

By Christine Lee
|  Thursday, Jun 7, 2012  |  Updated 9:48 PM CDT
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Golden retriever Hopalong Cassidy IV has a prosthetic leg and as a therapy dog inspires others including people with special needs.

Christine Lee, NBC 5 Grand Prairie Reporter

Golden retriever Hopalong Cassidy IV has a prosthetic leg and as a therapy dog inspires others including people with special needs.

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A dog born born without his front right paw is now inspiring everyone he meets.

Bernie Ponzio adopted the golden retriever from a small animal clinic at Texas A&M and named him Hopalong Cassidy IV.

"When the breeder saw him, she called him worthless because she couldn't get any money for him and said she wanted him put down," Ponzio said.

Ponzio was the first of nine people who wanted to adopt the disabled puppy. With her love and support, Cassidy grew up to be a happy dog, spreading joy wherever he goes.

Gage Oakley, who just finished his junior year at South Grand Prairie High and uses a prosthetic, said seeing man's best friend deal with a similar struggle means a lot.

"He could offer like support, comfort -- like I know I'm not the only one out there like that," said Oakley, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma last year and lost his left leg.

Cassidy, who turns 2 years old next month, recently mastered the art of walking up and down the stairs using his prosthetic leg.

Ponzio plans to take Cassidy to more schools next year and inspire as many students as possible.

Teacher April Roberts said it is a great idea.

"As a teacher, I have students with special needs, and I have students with disabilities who are in wheelchairs, so I think every day that they can do whatever they want, as long as they put their mind to it -- same thing that he did," Roberts said.

Ponzio said Cassidy is also training to become a therapy dog.

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