updated 12/29/2004 1:15:31 PM ET 2004-12-29T18:15:31

Around this time last year, Josie the dog had a broken back, a dislocated hip and internal injuries. A veterinarian suggested putting her to sleep. Instead, the Twedt family decided to skip Christmas presents and use the money to pay Josie’s medical bills.

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But an outpouring of gifts from around the world soon following, enabling the Twedt kids to get Christmas presents and Josie to receive multiple operations, twice-a-day whirlpool therapy, and convalescence in a private room with a TV tuned to the Animal Planet channel.

“She’s a four-legged pooch again,” said Stella Twedt of North Mankato.

Josie, an Australian cattle dog, was hit by a truck near the Twedt home Dec. 5, 2003. Her operations eventually surpassed $7,000. So Doug and Stella Twedt and Stella’s three children decided to go without Christmas gifts.

More than $10,000 in donations
When their story got out, hundreds of pet lovers from Los Angeles to Jamaica to Britain sent the Twedts money, Christmas gifts, cards, pictures of their pets and — of course — dog treats for Josie. They sent more than $10,000 and hundreds of gifts.

“We went from trying to explain to a 6-year-old that Santa’s going to be lighter this year because a truck ran over her puppy dog to being completely overwhelmed,” Doug Twedt said.

Josie recovered in comfort for about six weeks at PineRidge Pet Care in Andover, with weekend visits home. After extensive rehabilitation, Josie, now 6 years old, learned to walk again and is mostly back to her normal self.

Stella Twedt said she could not live without Josie after the dog helped her recover from the stroke she suffered in 2001. The woman, who recently gave birth to a fourth child, got Josie from an animal shelter in 1999 and considers her “my fifth child.”

The Twedts said they are keeping this Christmas low-key. The family donated the extra money — about $1,000 — to the University of Minnesota for pet owners with severely injured pets and gave dozens of extra toys to charity.

When they finish sending out thank-you notes, they will compile a scrapbook so the kids can remember a year when “the world stopped to take care of their puppy dog,” Doug Twedt said.

“It was a powerful lesson in how many wonderful people there are out there,” he said.

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