I love when pet parents reach out to share their stories about life with their wheelchair bound dog. Kacey started following us in 2015 when Penny, her Pug, suddenly became paralyzed.
She wrote to say that she had “zero information” about caring for a disabled dog and that she didn’t know anyone with experience. The Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog community became her go to source.
Today Kacey and Penny have turned the obstacles they faced into an incredible life. Here’s their story and what Kacey learned about her dog’s resilience and zest for life.
Kacey and little Penny
I adopted Penny Halloween 2013. She had been left at a shelter overnight, so they had no history. But her injuries implied she was likely hit by a car. She had a rib that stuck out, and deep wounds that were sewn up by someone who clearly had no medical experience.
I had her 1.5 years before she became acutely paralyzed.
At 4:00am the Emergency Vet gave me the news she had a herniated disc, with a large hemorrhage. Likely an old injury sustained from her previous trauma, that had been slowly progressing, but presented zero symptoms.
I was told they needed a quick decision, euthanasia, or $4000 surgery. I was also told that even with surgery, because of the area and progression of her injury, she would never walk again.
My 3-year-old dog, that loved nothing more than to run, would never walk again.
I was assured that she would live with no pain and could have good quality of life. So, with that assurance, the only choice I could make, was surgery.
I wouldn’t let my dog die, simply because she couldn’t walk.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t go through a period, where I mourned the dog she once was. Yes, she was alive, but I mourned the part of her that was gone. I mourned what she could once do, what she loved to do.
But she didn’t.
Penny went back to living life as if nothing had happened. It’s as if she had no idea her legs didn’t work. She acclimated to her new life instantly. The dog that could get into cabinets and drag the contents down the hall and maneuver things far out of her reach; still could do all of these things.
Penny likes her cart for walks, but she loves to drag herself in the grass, and when she sees a dog, she wants to meet them. I’ve watched my Dad, run full speed and not be able to catch her. The dog that once, loved nothing more than to run, still does. Just in a different way.
Penny doesn’t notice her disability. Her personality did not change. Not walking doesn’t get her down and it doesn’t stop her from getting into the same mischief. Animals really do adapt so much better than humans do.
When I tell people I have a paralyzed dog, many responses are, “that’s so sad”. I hate that. Because it isn’t. Penny certainly isn’t sad. Quite the opposite. She is genuinely happy, all of the time.
I live in a condo on the 2nd & 3rd floors. There are Rescues in my city, that would never adopt to me. No fenced in yard. Not an able-bodied dog, let alone a paralyzed one. Which is really sad to me.
Because I’ve cared for a paralyzed dog for 5 years now. And it’s not really that difficult. It’s just normal life to us. I think more Rescues need to open up their criteria, especially for special needs dogs, that are already difficult to adopt out.
I’ve walked Penny in her wheelchair and heard more than one person tell me “I’m a saint”. And I’m not. I didn’t adopt her paralyzed. But despite the money and heartache, I’m glad it happened the way it did. Because if she was paralyzed before adoption, she probably wouldn’t be mine.
Dogs teach us lessons
Penny really has made me a better person. When I feel sorry for myself, I just look at her. With all she has been through. Being hit by a car, injuries sewn up with no anesthesia, left tied up outside a shelter, the pain she endured with a herniated disc, and now living life paralyzed. She has never once felt sorry for herself, or expressed any ounce of sadness over the hand she was dealt.
Our dogs teach us many things and Penny has certainly taught me a lot. I’m a fierce animal and dog lover, but I didn’t adopt a paralyzed dog. I got one. And my outlook has definitely changed, in every way.
I want people to know that paralyzed dogs can lead amazing lives. And that their care and dealing with a wheelchair can seem overwhelming, but it really isn’t.
If I could go back, adopting my able-bodied, spunky, dog, and know what the future held, I would absolutely 100% do it. Open your heart to a paralyzed dog. I can promise, you will not regret it. I cannot imagine my life without Penny.