Posted on: March 27, 2022 Posted by: Petsynse Comments: 0

Jeanie the three-legged dog turns 15 today, March 27. She is the oldest therapy dog in the Lake Area, and perhaps the most celebrated.

She was flown to Hollywood after she won a national pet therapy award in 2019. She’s been on TV in commercials, on the Hallmark Channel and Access Hollywood shows, and on the “Today Show.” “People,” “Woman’s World” and animal magazines have featured Jeanie. She made the cover of the Dogs On Instagram calendar and was in a Petco calendar. She played Sandy in a local production of the Broadway play “Annie” and local artist Candace Alexander included Jeanie on the mural on the southside exterior brick wall of her Ryan Street studio.

“She actually got invited to the governor’s mansion at the request of the First Lady Donna Edwards,” said her human, Lydia Crochet, who will also celebrate her birthday on March 27 and did not disclose her human years. “She got to meet the first dog and she was served baked dog cookies that smelled so good, I think some of the staff actually ate a few. There is a beautiful rose garden at the mansion and Jeannie fertilized it. She peed when she was on the “Today Show,” though not on Hoda. She loved every second of that hug and I’m sure the feeling was mutual. She’s had quite the little life.”

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Since her adoption, Jeanie has been a source of inspiration, comfort and joy to fellow amputees, veterans, victims of sexual abuse, the elderly in nursing homes, the young who wished they had a dog at home and the ailing in hospitals.

“At the library, children read to Jeanie and the other pet therapy dogs, and the dogs seem genuinely interested,” Crochet said with a chuckle.

Jeanie is the main character in two children’s books: “Jeanie the Three-Legged Dog” and “Jeanie, the Three-Legged Dog: I Don’t Need Four Feet.” Proceeds are donated to help local rescue operations.

When the governor mandated the COVID stay-at-home order, Jeanie’s therapy visits came to a halt. Later that same year, Jeanie was diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Martha Briley, her vet, sent her to an oncologist. Since Jeanie was “of an advanced age,” the specialist told Crochet the surgery posed a significant risk.

“She survived the surgery,” Crochet said. “She beat cancer.”

In the fall of 2021, Jeanie’s only front leg went out on her. Because of her age, she had developed arthritis. Plus, because she had only three legs and had to compensate, movement wise, several vertebrae discs were in bad shape. Crochet was told by specialists that Jeanie may never walk again.

“I carried her around like a hot, new handbag,” she said.

Crochet’s house was set up to accommodate a handicapped Jeanie.

“After three months of rehabilitation, she is walking,” Crochet said.

Though semi-retired and usually in her stroller when she is out and about, Jeanie continues to practice her role as therapy dog. The most recent challenges have only made her story of surviving and thriving against the odds even more compelling.

“Jeanie is part of Dr. Dogs, a group here in Lake Charles,” Crochet said. “There are many dogs in the group. All are volunteers.”

“About this time 15 years ago she was running around in the Bell City, Hayes area with a pack of strays,” Crochet said. “An employee with Dr. Stark’s office had seen her a few times and was finally able to catch her and bring her into the vet’s office.”

Jeannie was examined and found to be about five months old. Her deformed and crippled leg was amputated, and she was listed online for adoption. Crochet was not in the market to adopt a rescue. The family already had two dogs. Her husband reiterated: no new pets. Under the pretense of helping a friend find a rescue, Crochet met Jeanie.

“I knew immediately that I had to have this dog,” she said. “I adopted her on the spot. When I got to my car, I turned on the radio. Elton John was singing Jeanie. Jean is my middle name and my birthday was only a month away, March 27. That’s also my mom’s birthday, and since I’m Jeanie’s mom ….”

Crochet’s husband was as taken with Jeanie as his wife.

“He was sitting in a recliner about 15 or 20 feet from the front door,” she said. “She went straight to him, hopping on three legs. I remember he said, ‘What the hell?’ ”

Crochet responded, “That’s Jeanie.”

Crochet is happy to report that Jeanie’s popularity has not gone to her head.

“She is the most humble, patient and grateful little soul. She understands what me and my family say to her, and in typical celebrity fashion, she doesn’t care what others say about her. If she could talk, she would direct you to consult her Momager with compliments, rumors or idle gossip.

“She would probably asked Hoda Kotb to hold her a little longer. She loved every second of that hug, and I’m sure the feeling was mutual. And she would have asked Maria Shriver what kind of shampoo she used, as it smelled amazing.

“She would probably have asked the Governor for a no-kill shelter in every major city of Louisiana, and maybe apologized to the governor and first lady for fertilizing the rose garden at the Governor’s Mansion without permission, although they did not seem to mind.”