Paraplegic Dogs - Perfectly Imperfect
My name is Mitch and I have two paraplegic dogs. This is where it started…
My children had moved out and I lost my 15-year-old Dalmatian. I was totally devastated and I’m sure lots of you will be able to relate to that.
Showing the world how perfectly imperfect we wheelie are
Miraculously I stumbled across a little 7-month-old paraplegic dog looking for her forever home on social media. She had been left discarded like rubbish at the side of the road with a broken spine. I just had to have her. My family thought I was even more crazy than usual. I did some research to make sure I would be able to provide the care that she needed.
From the moment I picked her up, I was in love yet again. With the help and advice from Broken Biscuits, a disabled dog charity, I learned how to care for Pippa Pipsqueak so that she could live the best life possible.
5 weeks in I was invited to join some other disabled dogs on a photoshoot in London that was to be displayed in a London gallery. The minute we put Pippa in her wheels for the first time I was hooked. Driving down south and negotiating the tube with a disabled dog in a buggy was hilarious.
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A few months later I adopted Trooper, well what can I say……
This poor little fella also had been hit by a car, his spine was crushed and so he is a paraplegic pup too. Whilst he still has slight feeling and can move his legs a little he is unable to stand or walk. He also has what’s known as ‘Shaky dog syndrome’. It is similar to fits although he is aware of what’s happening. It’s not nice to witness but we have learnt what to do in such a situation - a quiet, dark, calm room. Timing and videoing the episodes was an important step for the vet’s diagnosis. Trooper is on a small dosage of steroids that control his episodes and now he hardly has them anymore.
Pippa & Trooper love going out on their wheels, showing people how happy and very capable they are. Beaches, tree roots, curbs and hills are no problem for them. We often get asked what happened to them and questions like … “are they on their wheels all the time?” The answer is no.
They do what I like to call ‘bum zoomies’ or ‘bum shuffles’. They actually can go so fast that they drift around corners, especially at doggie dinner time. I feel super proud of my differently-abled doggies and their attitude to life. Pippa and Trooper definitely change people's mindsets on disabilities. Just to see people smile when they see us is an amazing feeling. We even get thumbs up when people drive past us.
In the last two and half years, I have become more involved with Broken Biscuits, joining in anything like Halloween fancy dress to actually representing them via social media. Early on I did a live interview explaining what Broken Biscuits do. It was my first ever interview and I still laugh about how northern my accent is!
I am now a fully-fledged team member and am involved in everything. I do media awareness, recently I was filmed for a new TV show where I fitted a dog into her wheels for the very first time. The media work is about supporting families that have no idea what to do or where to turn when their beloved pet becomes paralysed.
It lead to being tagged in a girl’s social media post, her dog had had an accident and was now paralysed. She was heartbroken and totally lost about what to do. I reached out to her and offered her support. She had no idea where to turn, unfortunately, her vet was not very helpful. I made sure she knew there were options other than euthanasia. I reassured her that life can roll on for her baby who could live a pain-free life on wheels quite happily.
A few days later I visited her and her dog. I gave support and advice on care and gave them all the information they needed for getting a set of wheels. Pippa has modelled her wheels in a video where we explain how to fit your doggie wheels correctly. This video helps people to understand and not be daunted by the future. The family are now adapting to a different but totally positive life together. We’re still in touch and I hope all our wheelie dogs will meet up soon.
Being able to make a difference and hopefully save dog's lives is very rewarding and quite simply the best feeling ever. Disabled dogs of all types deserve the right to life. They prove to everyone that life wheelie does roll on.
As I like to say…..
Challenges in life are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes it meaningful.
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