Greeley woman builds wheelchair for rescue dog
March 10, 2017
When Bonnie Thomas brought Peanut home, the little dachshund's legs were paralyzed. Thomas thought she'd foster the little dog out, like she had with many other animals, but Peanut grew on her. She has a heart for the tough cases.
Thomas has had Peanut for more than a year now. She brought him to Greeley with her when she and her husband moved about four months ago.
He's recovered more than the vets thought possible. But Thomas helps him out.
Thomas built Peanut his own custom wheelchair using the training wheels from kids' bikes. She's always tweaking it: Sometimes she posts on Facebook looking for used parts. She decided to give building it a try when she saw the price tag on ready-made chairs. She didn't want to pay $500.
Peanut took to it almost immediately. Thomas had to give him a little push to show him he could move, but he figured out the rest.
"He goes a 100 miles an hour with it on," Thomas said. "As soon as I get it clipped, he's gone."
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When Thomas first met Peanut, she'd gotten a call saying a dog needed to be picked up for rescue. His owners claimed they couldn't afford to take him to the vet.
Peanut had been sitting in his own feces for two weeks and had a large gash near his back leg that had been there for too long.
Thomas took Peanut to the vet right after she picked him up. The gash on his leg was infected. The vet cleaned out the wound but didn't think Peanut would ever be able to walk again.
He's doing better than the vet thought. He's regained some function, but he needs the chair.
"He still doesn't have complete motor skill," Thomas said. "He might get it back, he might not."
Thomas lined her house with rugs to make it easier for Peanut to maneuver the chair inside. He struggles with the slick floor.
She works with him to rebuild the strength in his back legs with physical therapy. She'll hold him up in a bucket of water and have him paddle his back legs to build muscle. It might help him walk normally again someday.
When she builds Peanut's next chair, she hopes to design it to help him use his back legs a little more.
"They're relatively easy to make," Thomas said. "You just have to get the right measurements."
For now, Peanut often plays with a cat Thomas rescued. Someone ran over his two front legs when he was a kitten. One of his legs didn't heal well and sticks out like a hockey stick. Neither can move very well by themselves, but they're on equal ground when they play together.