Article and photo by Elean Gersack; inset photo courtesy of Cyndi Willenbrock
If you haven’t heard of Marshall yet, just wait – you will. He is a miracle and a huge celebrity in his home state of Missouri. Children at Buffalo Ridge Elementary School had the chance to meet Marshall and his owner Cyndi Willenbrock in October. The students were mesmerized by this dynamic duo and many in the crowd were brought to tears during the special gathering.
In 2010, Marshall was found living on an abandoned property with more than 60 other animals. The TV show Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hording discovered the animals and rescued them from dire conditions. With no food, water or human interaction, it was a devastating scene for all. Marshall had been badly injured with attacks from other dogs and ultimately required amputation of his left front leg due to the extent of his injuries and resulting infection. He also sustained wounds to his face resulting in a large scar across his left cheek area.
An amazing surgeon and veterinary team at the Missouri Humane Society saved him, named him, and gave him a new lease on life. Soon after, Willenbrock met Marshall and immediately knew they were meant for each other. She gave Marshall unconditional love, a safe home, and a sweet and welcoming four-legged friend named Mooshy.
As a child, Willenbrock found that writing in her diary helped her work through disagreements with her sister, overcome scary situations and helped her to remember fun times she had on vacations. So, when Marshall experienced nightmares after she adopted him, she wondered, “what if I wrote Marshall’s story for him … maybe he wouldn’t be so scared anymore.” So, it began. Willenbrock helped pen Marshall’s story.
In the years since his rescue, recovery and story, Marshall has become a certified therapy dog and Marshall and Cyndi have traveled to hundreds of schools to share his story of perseverance, courage, strength, and kindness. “Even though he is missing a leg and has a scar on his face, he is perfect. It only matters what is inside,” Cyndi shared with BRE students.
The book and Marshall’s message of kindness has been so inspiring that the next stop is Hollywood. Filming for the movie just finished in Montana. On their way back to St. Louis from the film shoot, the pair stopped in Denver and students at BRE were fortunate to have the chance to meet them both. “He is just so nice, I can’t stand it,” shared first grader Addison about Marshall.
Kindness is definitely contagious and Marshall and Cyndi have made it their passion to share that message with children (and grown-ups) everywhere. The Marshall Movement is definitely here.
For more information about Marshall the miracle dog, visit http://www.marshallthemiracledog.com or find him on Facebook.