A year ago, Greg Manteufel experienced the unthinkable when he was forced to have his legs and hands amputated after he contracted a rare blood infection from a dog’s lick.
While his life has changed significantly since then (he also lost part of his face), Manteufel harbors no ill will towards his pit bull, Ellie — even though she may have caused him to get sick.
In fact, Manteufel revealed he loves her just the same.
“We love her like she’s our daughter,” Manteufel said of the pit bull to Time.
To this day, Ellie remains by Manteufel’s side, cuddling with him in the bed and sitting by his feet at the dinner table.
“She loves kids. She loves puppies. Other dogs,” Manteufel told Time.
Manteufel even admitted that Ellie has even licked him again since his amputation and he’s been fine.
Manteufel, a painter from West Bend, Wisconsin, was rushed to the hospital on June 26, 2018 when he experienced a fever and weakness in his limbs.
Doctors discovered Manteufel had contracted a blood infection caused by capnocytophaga, a bacteria found in the mouths of dogs and cats, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Manteufel and his family decided not to get Ellie tested for the capnocytophaga germ. The dog lover also was around a number of other dogs before he got sick so Ellie may not be the dog whose saliva caused his infection, the painter previously told PEOPLE.
“We weren’t going to get rid of her if it was her that caused it anyway,” Manteufel told Time. “We just love her to death.”
He is, however, being tested to see if he is suspectable to getting infected again and also in the hope that doctors can pinpoint why he got infected so to help others avoid going through what he went through.
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While the capnocytophaga bacteria doesn’t make animals sick, if it’s spread to humans through saliva — which is extremely rare, the CDC notes — it can cause fevers, diarrhea, headaches and vomiting. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the infection can also lead to “severe sepsis and fatal septic shock, gangrene of the digits or extremities.”
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Manteufel underwent numerous amputations while in the hospital to save his life, which left him without his forearms, legs and parts of his nose. But during the life-changing ordeal, Manteufel longed to return home to see Ellie, he told FOX 6.
“I couldn’t wait to see her when I got out of the hospital,” Manteufel told the news station while accompanied by his wife, Dawn. “We don’t want people to be scared of their dogs because of what happened to me.”
Despite the circumstances, Manteufel previously told PEOPLE that he understands what happened to him is rare so will always be a dog lover.
“I’ve been around dogs my whole life, having them lick at me in my face and hands and everywhere,” he explained. “The doctors told me I could have probably hit the lottery five times that day before I should have got what I got that day from a dog.”
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Today, Manteufel is adjusting to life with prosthetics, he told Time. He shared he has the kind with metal moveable hooks at the end.
They allow him to use forks and he can even open doorknobs, cut vegetables and use a TV remote.
Manteufel is also scheduled to undergo surgery again to “perfect” his nose, he told Time.