Jordan Kratz kneels on the floor of his
stiflingly hot attic apartment in Portland, gently strapping a small
corgi dog to a two-wheeled cart.
One strap goes around the dog's chest. Another
loops around her belly. Two smaller straps support her disabled hind
||Jordan Kratz walks his dog Sadie. The
11-year-old corgi suffers from hip dysplasia and uses a
wheelchair to support the back end of her body. "I think she
understands that she has to use her cart for the rest of her
life," says Kratz. |
At 32 pounds, she looks like a fat brown fox
hooked to a chariot.
"Sadie's wheelchair," Kratz says quietly,
talking more to his dog than to those watching his usually private
Then Kratz lifts his dog in both arms, cradling
the animal and metal cart as he walks down three flights of stairs
leading to a tree-covered walk on Emery Street.
Sadie the dog, 11 years and 7 months old, her
elderly face fixed in a dog smile, suddenly turns active. Her front
legs give her momentum. Wheels that replace her useless rear legs
Kratz, 45, holds her leash while walking
happily behind his dog.
A familiar presence in the city's West End,
where he lives alone, and in the Old Port, where he works as stock
manager and shipper for Videoport, Jordan Bruce Kratz and his
32-pound dog on wheels are an odd couple.
There's the brown-and-white corgi pausing to
bark at pigeons or chase other dogs. And there's Kratz, a slightly
built man of 115 pounds who usually dresses in black basketball
sneakers and tattered black shorts or jeans. He dyes his
Einstein-like massive curly hair pinkish-red.
His interests and creative projects are as
unusual as his appearance. And like his elderly corgi, Kratz bounces
back from disaster.
The worst took place in 1987, when he was
arrested in Portland on a charge of trafficking in cocaine. That
charge resulted in a year at Lewisburg Penitentiary in Pennsylvania,
and six years of supervised relief.
Except for marijuana use, Kratz says he has
been clean since leaving prison.
Today he's the leader of a longtime punk rock
band called Big Meat Hammer. He maintains an approximately
800-volume personal library of science fiction and horror stories
dating back to the 1930s. He's a self-taught videographer and
Kratz's most ambitious creative work is
completion of a 5 1/2-hour documentary of the Jewish population who
lived in Carpathia (a part of Romania) before and after the
Holocaust. Among those interviewed is his father, a survivor of four
People familiar with Kratz's videogaphy and
recording talents call him very skilled.
"I admire Jordan," says Fraser Jones, owner of
Independent Audio, a recording studio that hires Kratz to do
professional audio restoration.
"Jordan is a tremendously loyal and genuine
friend," says Jones. "He supports the arts. He's always trying to
Kratz's devotion to his corgi began in 1998,
shortly after he met Jennifer Lunden of Portland, a 33-year-old
social worker and master's degree candidate at the University of New
Sadie was Lunden's dog, adopted 10 years ago
from the Cleo Fund. The dog had no physical problems at the
Kratz and Lunden became a couple and, during
the year and a half they were together, Kratz took a lot of interest
in the personable corgi. He helped feed and care for her. He posted
pictures of the dog on his Web Site (See Sadie's
"Jordan absolutely adores Sadie," says Lunden.
"She's a feisty little thing. I think Jordan identifies with her
because he's small and feisty."
Even after they split up as a couple, Kratz and
Lunden continued as friends. Sadie was the subject of a custody
agreement that gave Lunden the dog for half the week. Kratz had
Sadie the rest of the time.
By late 1999, Sadie showed signs of old age
disability. Her hind legs gave out unexpectedly. Sometimes she would
drag her rear end.
According to Kratz, a veterinarian diagnosed
the problem as hip dysplasia and degenerative arthritis. Sadie had
to be carried up stairs and lifted into the car. By January 2001 she
had practically lost mobility.
"We talked about this," says Lunden. "I was
ready at that point to let her die. I feel that sometimes people
hang on to dogs for their own needs. Sometimes it's best to let a
Kratz disagreed. He told Lunden he would build
Sadie a wheelchair with help from his lead guitarist, Bob "Skummy
But before they got far with the project,
Lunden spotted an ad for a canine wheel chair in a dog breed
magazine. Its $300-plus price tag was a problem.
Kratz had no significant savings. He asked the
owner of Videoport, William P. Duggan, if he could put a collection
jar for Sadie on the counter.
"He told me not to worry," says Kratz.
"Videoport would pay for Sadie's wheelchair."
According to Kratz, the dog quickly adjusted to
her new device.
"I think she understands," says Kratz, "that
she has to use her cart for the rest of her life; at least when
she's out on the street."
As she changed from a four-legged dog to a
two-legged, two-wheeled dog, Sadie's custodial status also changed.
Today, Kratz has primary care of Sadie, which is fine with
"Jordan is a great doggy daddy," she says.
"He's able to give her the attention she needs as a disabled doggy.
I know Sadie is happy, and I know Jordan made the right decision
about the wheelchair."
Kratz and his dog have their daily
Mornings and evenings, Kratz walks Sadie along
tree-lined West End streets. Then he takes her by van to Videoport,
where she sleeps on a dog bed.
During Kratz's breaks at work, Sadie walks with
him to Bagel Works, where she is the only non-service dog allowed in
Why go through such trouble for an old
Rusty might have had something to do with
That was the name of a mixed-breed dog Kratz
doted upon when he was a kid growing up in Lynn, Mass., the son of
an immigrant traveling salesman who sold clothes in northern New
"I still have Rusty's dog tags," says
The year Kratz spent in a federal prison,
following years on the street in Boston and Portland, may have
influenced the way he cares for his dog.
At the very least, it taught him something
about endurance, and not slipping up.
"People are people in or out of prison," he
Regardless of his background, Kratz has been
good luck to a 32-pound brown corgi.
"She has a smiley face," he says. "I think
these dogs smile to the end."