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Meet the Sweet Two-Legged Dogs Who Give Hope to Hospital Patients

On National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, the inspiring story of how pups without all their legs create connections with humans who could use a smile

Video: These Two-Legged Dogs Comfort Hospital Patients

Domenick Scudera, 59, made rescuing dogs with missing legs his passion project. Then he trained his dogs to help others.

It started with a three-legged dog named Festus. Scudera, a professor in the Philadelphia suburb of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, saw a post online about the pup who was looking for a home and he instantly thought, “That’s my dog.”

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Because of the struggles Festus had to go through with only three legs, Scudera thought people who were struggling with their own physical limitations might be able to connect to Festus. He began to train him as a therapy dog.

With Festus, “I just intuitively felt like this dog could be inspiring to people.… I researched it and did all the training, and Festus was a very successful therapy dog,” Scudera says.  

After Festus died, Scudera continued his mission — adopting and training three two-legged dogs to be therapy dogs. He says some dogs are just naturals at inspiring and connecting with humans: “The best therapy dogs are ones that innately have a calm, sweet disposition and that are easily trainable.”

Scudera visits a nearby rehabilitation hospital with one of his dogs each week, and they have helped countless people, including Jim Leitz, 55, who has a spinal cord injury.

Leitz says spending a few minutes with one of Scudera’s dogs during what will be a long road to recovery “lifts your spirits” and “gives you hope.”

“Because my dogs have experienced challenges themselves, patients see a visible symbol of overcoming difficulty," Scudera says.

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