Brought back to life three times on the operating table, a dog named Marshall lives to help Missouri 4-H’ers teach others about bullying.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, said University of Missouri Extension 4-H youth development specialist in St. Louis County Amanda Meek. This month, MU Extension employees across the state are training on a new 4-H youth mentoring program about bullying that Meek wants to expand to other areas of the state.
The Marshall Mentor program was inspired by Marshall and his story of resilience and trust. Marshall was one of 60 dogs the Missouri Humane Society rescued in 2010 from an abandoned property in Marshall, Missouri. Near death at the time of his rescue, his front leg was amputated before St. Louis resident Cyndi Willenbrock adopted him.
Willenbrock began writing a new chapter in Marshall’s life through a children’s picture book, “Marshall the Miracle Dog.” She turned the page on a life of neglect and abuse by an animal hoarder. Marshall responded with love and affection, and was willing to trust and love despite his past. Stories emerged of tolerance and acceptance.
“I think that there’s a place in all of us…a place of inadequacy, of feeling different, of maybe looking different, and that awkwardness of growing up that children feel a natural connection to Marshall,” says Willenbrock. She says Marshall knows he has a job to do—“to reassure children and adults that we all matter. We all have a light that wants and needs to shine, and that there is a hero in all of us. Marshall is a reminder to not give up five minutes before the miracle.”
She said Marshall carries his scars on the outside, but bullied youth carry their scars on the inside, often for a lifetime.