VANCOUVER, Wash. — Duncan Lou Who may be missing half of his legs, but he has no shortage of spirit — or fans.
The 9-month-old boxer visited the beach for the first time two weeks ago. His humans, Amanda Giese and Gary Walters of Felida, filmed Duncan as he raced across the sand, chased sticks and explored the waves rolling up on the beach.
That two-minute video of little Duncan Lou Who has garnered 3.2 million views, and counting, since it was posted on YouTube on March 22. The video has made headlines across the U.S. — he was on the CNN website homepage Thursday and is scheduled to appear on the "Today" show Friday morning — and beyond, including Spain, Australia and the U.K.
Panda Paws Rescue is a Vancouver-based nonprofit rescue specializing in major medical, special needs and hospice care for dogs. For more on Duncan, the rescue's work and its animals, check out the website, and Facebook page.
Giese and Walters run a nonprofit animal rescue, Panda Paws Rescue, out of their home. They regularly post photos and videos of their dogs and the visiting animals on the rescue's Facebook and YouTube pages. Another video of Duncan playing in his yard garnered 1.5 million views in November.
But nothing has compared to the frenzy around the video of the blissful puppy on the beach.
"This one went crazy," Giese said.
It all started with a spur-of-the-moment trip to Rockaway Beach on the Oregon Coast.
Giese and Walters decided that, after six years without a vacation, they would leave the kids at home and head to the beach. They took the dogs, though, because Duncan had never been.
Giese was a little apprehensive about setting Duncan down in the sand; she didn't know if the sand would be too hard or too soft, too wet or too dry, for him to stay balanced.
"His feet hit the sand," she said, "and he tore through it all."
In the video, he races alongside Walters as he runs on the beach, plays with the other dogs in the family's pack, jumps at the camera lens, chases a stick Giese drags in the sand and finishes with a handstand, hoisting his rear end into the air to avoid the ocean waves.
The video has melted hearts across the country. Giese has received emails from people who recently lost a loved one and others who are fighting depression. Their spirits were lifted by seeing the carefree Duncan run on the beach.
Giese also got an email from a woman who recently gave birth to a daughter who is missing limbs. The uncertainty of what her daughter's life will look like was eased by the images of a happy two-legged dog enjoying his life, Giese said.
"He's an inspirational little guy," she said.
Duncan wasn't given much of a chance. He was born with severely deformed rear legs. They had fused into a rock-hard "X'' shape. His pelvis wasn't properly formed either, and the dead weight he was carrying from his rear legs was further contorting his pelvis, Giese said.
Giese and Walters agreed to take in the then-3-month-old puppy. The veterinarian gave them two choices: amputate the back legs or humanely euthanize him.
"We decided to amputate and give him a chance," Giese said.
After the surgeries, they had a couple different wheelchairs specially made for Duncan. He hated them all.
"He doesn't know any better," Giese said. "He knows he can do it without it."
So, they let him.
His thin frame — he weighs just 18 pounds — makes it easier for him to carry his weight on two legs. He stopped growing at about 4 months old, but his organs continue to grow normally. His body appears to be aging more rapidly than other dogs', but despite eating as much as a normal 9-month-old boxer, including big spoonfuls of peanut butter, Duncan doesn't gain weight.
"His life is probably going to be cut short," Giese said. "We don't know how short, so we just let him live life to the fullest for as long as he can."
And he'll live that life out with Giese and Walters. They fell in love with the pup as soon as they brought him home and adopted him.
While Duncan and other special needs animals often generate hundreds of adoption requests after so much media attention, there are hundreds of other happy, healthy animals who are in shelters waiting to be adopted, Giese said. She hopes people who see Duncan's story and are inspired to get their own four-legged (or two-legged) friend will adopt those animals in his honor.
In return, Giese and Walters will continue to do all they can to let Duncan Lou Who live his life to the fullest.
"We're well aware we may be met with a short life with him," Giese said.
"But it's going to be awesome for as long as he's alive," Walters added.