ALBANY, Minn. - River is Albany's best known canine. Up more driveways than a meter reader, River never misses an opportunity to interact with humans while out on his frequent walks with Herby and Carol Mader.
"River touches everybody's heart," says LuAnn Jopp after meeting up with River on a downtown sidewalk. "Everybody has to come by and pet the dog."
River is a four-legged friend – who also happens to have been dealt a bad hand. River was out for a walk with Carol, when two larger unleashed dogs pounced.
"I wasn't really scared or anything, until they started attacking," said Carol.
The dogs bit deeply, several times, into River's back, possibly exacerbating an earlier injury suffered when River was hit by an ATV.
"He has no use of the back legs at all," says Herby.
The dog known around Albany for his frequent walks now does so on two front legs and two back wheels. Watch the video above to see River rolling through town.
"Probably a lot of dogs would give up, you know, where he's not," say Herby.
River's veterinarian Dr. Wendy Womack calls River "a regular icon in Albany." She says River's overall health is good for an 11-year-old dog and gives the Maders credit for their caring approach to his injuries.
"They're very devoted," she says, noting many pet owners would opt to put a dog like River down.
Instead the Maders took over most of River's care. Among the adaptations they've made to accommodate River: a ramp built on their deck allowing River access to their home's back door. They also take River on his long walks through Albany four to five times per day.
"He knows when I'm coming, he comes. I always see him every day, twice a day, three times." says Ron Koczur, who greets River from his wheel chair. Ron lost a leg to diabetes.
"Even though he's lost of a couple limbs he's, still happy and proud," smiles Ron.
Carol says River seems more concerned about the people around him since his injury, "and he pulls out the people, I think, that are hurting. It's just like he senses they need attention."
Every town should be so blessed to have a River roll through it.
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