The posh annual NYC Pet Fashion Show made history with Effie the paralyzed Pit bull. For the first time ever, there were 2 dogs in wheelchairs who made their debut strutting down the runway.
I had the opportunity to interview Monica Brown, who is foster mom to Effie, one of the wheelie entrants.
The event takes place in February every year as the kickoff to Fashion Week and the Westminster Dog Show. It highlights pet rescue and adoption and benefits the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s homeless animals.
Effie and her foster mom
My introduction to Monica was by accident when she reached out for information about traveling with a paralyzed dog. She explained how she was driving with Effie from Texas to NYC to be part of the fashion show. I gave her some travel tips and Monica sent me adorable photos of Effie in the show.
Monica is the Special Needs Coordinator for Apollo Support & Rescue (ASR) in Justin, TX. She told me how Effie was found living in a plastic box in a garage. She was paralyzed and had urine burns on her body. X-rays showed that her spine had been crushed.
The rescue group asked Monica if she would foster Effie and she agreed without hesitation. She said her immediate response was completely out of character, but somehow she knew she could do this. Effie and her foster mom have been together since May 2018. At the time Effie was about 6 months old. She wasn’t able to move the lower half of her body or hold herself up when she was in a standing position.
But with Monica’s dedication, the dog slowly began to heal. She can now take a few steps on her own. And just before Christmas she began to wag her tail.
If you’re the pet parent of a paralyzed dog, you know this is a miraculous sign for potential recovery.
How Walkin’ Wheels and Gunnar’s Wheels came to the rescue
As Effie’s advocate, Monica reached out to Jason at Gunnar’s Wheels, one of the leading nonprofit groups that donates dog wheelchairs to pet families in need. Jason worked closely with Handicapped Pets to get a Walkin’ Wheels cart gifted to Effie. Jason also promised to keep the dog in a wheelchair as she grows up.
And when Effie was accepted to take part in the fashion show to represent disabled pets everywhere, Handicapped Pets agreed to sponsor the trip.
The road trip from Texas to NYC
Monica and Effie traveled with other volunteers from ASR in a 26-hour road trip. They also transported 4 dogs with them. Three were placed with a rescue group in Staten Island and Monica’s long time foster who is blind and deaf was met by a rescue group from Massachusetts.
What Effie wore on the runway
The theme of the fashion show was the Royal Wedding, so all of the gowns and costumes reflected the British nuptials between “Meghan Barkle and Harry of Tails.” Effie’s designer gown was that of a royal bridesmaid (pictured above).
The second half of the event was an International Masquerade party. Effie wore a beautifully designed Flamenco dress and mask.
Monica said her biggest fear for Effie, during the show, was her ability to walk in her wheelchair down the narrow runway. The two spent a lot of time practicing.
Luckily, their rehearsals paid off and Effie’s debut as a fashion model went perfectly. The duo had a wonderful time. Maybe we’ll see them again next year.
Click here to read about more amazing paralyzed pets: Teaching Pet Owners That Spina Bifida Dogs Can Lead Quality Lives.