Angela Hill / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- If dogs had nine lives, Cole would have been through a few.
Cole was hit by a car in Hawaii and left to die. He was saved but his leg was amputated, and through the kindness of strangers, he was brought to New Orleans.
For months he struggled with his other back leg, also badly damaged, and ultimately chewed it off. Vets suggested euthanizing Cole. His caregivers at Dag's House, a rehabilitation facility on the West Bank, said no.
His second leg was amputated, and through sheer love and will, Cole learned to walk on two legs.
The people at Dag's House not only saved Cole, but also other dogs that needed rehabilitation or even a wheelchair. The good news is that Dag's House has expanded to Uptown to what was the Old Methodist Home, so dogs like Cole can get even more rehabilitation.
Cole is not alone in swim therapy. Some dogs have orthopedic problems, others have weight issues. But to Dag's House Founder Kim Dudek, the goal is all about the animal getting healthier and feeling better.
“It gives the dog so much confidence. You can see when they get out, they're almost smiling,” Dudek said.
The Uptown Dag's House rehabilitation center is an entire wing of a 29,000 square foot building, which for a half century housed neglected children.
Today is it is Belladoggie, a resort spa for dogs and a 10-year dream of Kim Dudek.
The second floor offers three different types of boarding – private runs, multi dog kennels, and private suites.
“We purposely put the platforms in so they could look out the windows,” Dudek said. “So you can request a pool view.”
For rainy day daycare fun, there is a complete gym. But Dudek sees the potential for many other uses.
“Friday night movies with your dog, programs like yoga with your dog, personal training with your dog, and training for your dog,” Dudek said.
And there are spa services, complete with special oils. For dogs who might have lost their luster, there is a hair rejuvenation system. Downstairs there is a store that offers anything you can think of for dogs and for the people who love them.
But it is the Dag's House rehab wing that is the heart of Belladoggie.
Shotsy is rehabbing from her ACL surgery, working her legs in the underwater treadmill. Dane is in another therapy room being measured for his physical assessment.
“He was from Gulfport when he was hit by the car. His family couldn’t afford the vet bill, and they said to put him down,” Dudek said.
But Doberman rescuer Susan Cass saved him. Now he'll start his rehab to increase his muscle mass.
Those who have been helped by Dag's House also play with those in Belladoggie's doggie day care. These dogs don’t care about anyone's limitations. It’s really all about enjoying life, like Cole.
“(Cole) has brought so much to all our lives,” Dudek said. “Sometimes when you are having a bad day and you see Cole, and you’re like, OK. What is so bad about my life?”
That's the message this little guy sends us all. It’s not what you don’t have, it's finding the joy in what you do.