Fun version: My dog was bitten by a radioactive wheelchair and now he has morphed into a cyborg wheeldog with lasers!
Boring version: Hanzo had a combination of tibial torsion and luxating patella, which caused him to fracture his tibial crests. He had several surgeries to make his legs strong enough to walk and run. We always knew he would wear out his cartilage faster than other dogs. He’s only seven, but his knees are more like the condition they would be if he was twice his age.
Here’s a photo of him standing–this is a few years old, but you can see how he hyperextends his hind legs. He’s on tiptoes, like a ballerina. A ballerina covered in mud and pirouetting it all over the floor:
Lately, it’s been obvious his knees are bothering him, so we figured it was time to get him some assistance. Our veterinarian recommended K9 Carts. They do business world-wide (they’re owned by a veterinarian, and she started making these 55 years ago), but they just happen to be within driving distance. We drove out there last Wednesday and they gave him a custom fitting. He wasn’t really into it, with five humans staring at him and his buddy Briar inexplicably left at home.
When we got home, he still wasn’t into it. Over the last couple weeks, he’s been raising his left hind leg off the ground to walk, and he’d formed a habit. Unfortunately, that habit meant his back end was hopping, and when he hopped, he rocked the cart, which made it feel unstable. He hated us, but we dutifully put him in it each time we went on a walk. He said “Et tu, Brutus?” in dog language like a lot.
One time he ate this poppy i’d saved to draw out of pure spite (above, in pieces), because i took Briar for a walk before i took him. After we put him in the wheelcart, he would have eaten a whole bouquet of poppies i wanted to draw plus every art supply i planned to draw them with, all out of cart-hating spite.
Today, it snowed, and the family i live with was going to walk with all the kids and one of the neighbor kids to Hanzo’s favorite store in the world. He loves walking in big posses like that, and he loves the farmer’s co-op, so i put him in his cart.
He was reluctant and continued to hop until he got too scared, then stop, and watch desperately as everyone started to leave him behind. It was really heartbreaking, but each time he would rush ahead to try and catch up with the kids… and one of those times, he stopped hopping in order to run faster.
Instantly, the cart had his weight so he was running using his hips, not his knees. After that one magic realization, he was so excited he zoomed all over. He flat-out refused to go home, so i took him on the longest walk he’s been on in months, including on a nature trail that usually only Briar gets to go on. He went up and down off of curbs, through drifts of snow, over fallen branches in the woods… He had the least painful #2 he’s done in a long time because even though he gets pain pills almost every day, the strain he puts on his knees to poop is difficult. His cart held his weight so all he had to do was scoot his legs forward. He even figured out how to back up when he caught the wheel on a signpost!
Here’s a quick clip of his triumph:
Thank you to everyone who bought my art recently–that’s the only way i was able to afford this for him. Thank you to K9carts, who have been performing this same magic for hundreds of other animals worldwide. Thank you to my partner, who drove us out there and split the cost with me. This dog is totally excited to go on long walks again, and he couldn’t have that without you.
Even if the rest of 2016 was a big reeking trash fire, this is my holiday magic. ❥