Quasimodo, the hero of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was cast off by Parisian society, who could not stand the sight of his deformed body. He resigned himself to a life as an unloved freak, and tried not to leave the bell tower.
Quasi, an Eden Prairie dog named for that story's hero, is getting a different reaction from people. Though Quasi, too, was born with a physical disability, people aren't afraid, or sickened by his look. They can't get enough.
Quasi arrived at Secondhand Hounds shelter in suburban Minnesota last Monday. The shelter staff set up a Facebook page for "Quasi the Great," and started filling the page with photos that alternated between his shortened, hunched body, and his full-size and unmistakably happy German Shepherd face.
A week later, Quasi was approaching 40,000 fans and counting. His story has been covered by Good Morning America and CNN, and the simplest update about Quasi's life — that he has fallen asleep, for example — is generating thousands of responses.
Quasi was born with Short Spine Syndrome, an exceedingly rare condition that's only thought to affect about another dozen dogs in the world. (Two of the others have also been named Quasi.) He was found as a stray and nursed back to health in Kentucky, before being shipped to Eden Prairie for a longer-term stay. He's not eligible for adoption at the moment, as caretakers have said he still has health issues related to his time as a stray.
Today, Quasi's scheduled for a visit with a veterinarian to look into a flesh wound on his neck stemming from an embedded collar, and he'll also be neutered. (Sorry if you're just learning this now, Quasi.) There is no surgical fix for the missing vertebrae in Quasi's back, but don't worry: Aside from his neck wound, Quasi isn't showing any sign that he's in pain.
"Quasi is able to run and walk, just like other dogs," reads the latest post from his handlers. "He just does it in his own way."
Secondhand Hounds is trying to leverage Quasi's definitely not-quasi-celebrity status to help its other charges. Again, this guy's not up for adoption just yet. (Apparently, many people are very interested in taking him home.) But some 200 other dogs at Secondhand Hounds there are. Quasi sure is great, yes, but so are many of those other dogs, and they're eligible for new homes now.
We encourage you to adopt one of those dogs. Then you can ask it what's on everyone's mind: So, what's Quasi really like?
Is it possible he's even greater than he seems?