Dexter, a dog from Ouray – and a bona “fido” (ugh!) superstar – can take himself for a walk, thank you very much.
The 7-year-old Brittany spaniel began walking upright after an accident when he was just turning a year old, said his mom, Kentee Pasek. He escaped from his yard while sniffing a deer trail scent and his front legs were run over by a car. Pasek and her husband brought Dexter to a vet in Montrose where, while everything was fine with him internally, his legs were in pretty rough shape. One was amputated, and the other was a little trickier.
“We thought, ‘Oh, he could get a prosthetic, and at this point, he’s a year-old puppy chewing on everything. And I was like, ‘No, I’m not buying a prosthetic,’” Pasek said.
The vet stitched up Dexter’s remaining front leg and while it seemed OK, the elbow wasn’t.
“The vet sent Dexter home to us in like three days because he knew that we could handle rehab – we brought the dog in just totally chill about it,” she said. “But he wasn’t putting weight on that tripod leg, he should have almost immediately become a tripod, just running around. And he wouldn’t – he’d kind of gingerly put it down and pop up. And so we ended up having to pin it.”
And Dexter, being a boisterous puppy, wasn’t having it – he broke the first set of pins, and later attempts weren’t any more successful.
“We had like five or six surgeries by the time this was done,” Pasek said. “And it finally took a year to finally get him out of the cone of shame.”
Dexter’s accident happened in March, and it was in May when she first saw him walking upright.
“We had to take him down the front stairs to go to the bathroom. So I had my coffee made all ready to do this, took him down, came in to grab my coffee, came back out and he was at the front stairs sitting on the porch and he wasn’t putting any weight on that front arm, and I was like, ‘how did you do this?’ And then I thought, ‘I’ve spent so much money, I don’t know if I want to know,’” she said, laughing. “I checked my phone because I didn’t think anybody would believe me – I wasn’t sure I was going to believe what I was going to see, and I put him back in the yard, took the phone and I have video of him going upright up the front stairs. He doesn’t walk upright at the front stairs now, but I had that. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what are you doing?’”
After this, the Paseks had a custom wheelchair made for Dexter.
“He was walking around and it really did help that front arm gain more muscle mass,” Pasek said. “It was awesome – for about a month.”
Dexter was determined to move around his way, and the world came to know about it when a woman traveling through Ouray happened to catch Pasek’s mother walking Dexter in his way. She posted a video of the two to her TikTok account and it blew up. Pasek ended up making an account of her own for Dexter to tell his story, and the rest is history.
Dexter had a pretty significant social media presence before his accident – Pasek’s daughter had him on Instagram and he was fairly popular on a Brittany spaniel page – but his numbers now are huge: He has 909,400 followers on TikTok, 155,000 followers on Instagram and 44,000 on Facebook. And he has his own website. He’s been on Jimmy Fallon. And in commercials and countless TV news broadcasts. Oh, and he did a show in LA that hasn’t been released yet, so Pasek can’t talk about it.
What: Meet and greet with Dexter.
When: Immediately after the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering motorless parade, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 1.
Where: Buckley Park, 1250 Main Ave.
Note: For more about the Cowboy Gathering, check out The Durango Herald’s Sept. 30 A&E section.
Now he’s coming to Durango, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get my hands on him! He’ll be walking in the Cowboy Gathering Parade on Oct. 1, and if that’s not cool enough, after the parade he’ll be holding court at Buckley Park for a meet and greet, so be sure to bring your cameras.
Pasek said Dexter is the consummate showman.
“Thank goodness he’s a dog and not a child or a human. No, I mean, he is so chill. But he’s a showman. He knows,” she said. “The parades are hilarious. Two years ago, I did not want to do the Fourth of July parade. I’d been in isolation. (This was during the COVID-19 pandemic.) My dad was like, ‘You have to just do the parade with the dog.”
And Dexter worked it, she said. “He’s like, ‘Hello, welcome to my town.’”
Pasek said she doesn’t think Dexter’s story would have exploded as it did had we not been in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic and isolated.
“I was bored out of my mind and did all of his social media because I had nothing else to do,” she said, adding that she had been laid off from her job. “Do you remember that feeling of like, What the heck is going to happen to us? Are we going to be in these houses forever? That’s where you’ve got to remember where humanity was at that point.
“And then you throw in this dog who was like, it doesn’t matter that you think, dogs are supposed to be four-legged, and I’m two. I’m gonna walk upright. And I’ll show you how to keep a good attitude, how to keep a smile on your face. Dexter was even more relatable in, well, if he can make it, I can make it ... he just hit everything.”