Euthanasia-surviving 'miracle dog' enjoying spotlight, national

Saturday, August 9, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- The story of Quentin, the "miracle dog" spared after somehow surviving the animal pound's gas chamber, appears to have taken on a life of its own.

"He's on the news like every 30 minutes," including on CNN, said an exasperated Randy Grim, who spent much of Thursday fielding hundreds of calls and e-mails nationwide from would-be adopters of the dog he's now tending.

"They just haven't stopped. They're coming in so fast," Grim said of well-wishes and adoption applications that poured in, three days after Quentin's brush with death. "It's really been a whirlwind for us. We've never had this type of reaction to any dog. I'm like wow."

Or bow-wow, if the roughly year-old basenji mix -- a nonbarking breed -- could talk about what it's been like since Monday, when Quentin was cast into a city gas chamber to be euthanized with a half-dozen or so other unwanted or unclaimed dogs.

When the lethal carbon monoxide cleared and the death chamber's door swung open, there was 30-pound Quentin -- a bit groggy but very much alive -- in a Houdini-like performance.

The dog was standing amid the carcasses of the dogs that didn't survive. His tail and tongue wagged.

Animal-control supervisor Rosemary Ficken had never seen a dog survive such a thing, and she didn't have the nerve to slam the door shut and repeat the process in the chamber a little larger than a washing machine. So she offered Quentin to Grim and his Stray Rescue of St. Louis, the charitable shelter that took in the dog before taking the animal's story public.

Beating the odds

Hours after the dog's beating the odds was detailed in a national story Thursday by The Associated Press, telephones at Grim's shelter began ringing relentlessly from would-be players in this dog lottery, of sorts. Grim's voicemail box -- and the shelter's -- spent much of the day jammed with bids.

By e-mail, some thanked Grim for Quentin's second chance. Some wrote of wanting the dog and shared their own near-death experiences, convinced they share something special with the four-legged marvel.

Offers poured in from Arizona to Minnesota, California to Iowa and points in between.

"It hasn't stopped," Grim said, sounding harried. "We've gotten a lot of nice e-mails, saying they believe it's a miracle, that they believe God didn't want him to die."

To Grim, Quentin is a "miracle dog" that survived for an unearthly reason, perhaps due to divine intervention or to serve a higher purpose.

"For the story to go national and for people to be embracing Quentin's plight, he lives to tell a story -- that dogs all over the country die every day, and that we all have to be responsible owners," he said.

Grim said he expects to find a home perhaps sometime next week for the dog Grim's shelter named after California's forbidding San Quentin State Prison, home of its own death row and execution chamber.

"We feel like he beat the odds and escaped," Grim said.

Now, Grim said, efforts are afoot to find the right home where Quentin's would-be caretakers would be more interested in the dog than in the animal's celebrity, sure to wane.

"He'll always be a conversation piece."


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