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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Meet Sam, the dog on wheels


THE words hit Michelle Wilson like a sledgehammer when the vet told her that her beloved pet dog Samantha may have to be put down.

But she simply refused to accept that life was over for the 11-year-old German Shepherd after her hind legs became paralysed.

With help from her family, the 30-year-old designed a special trolley to help Sam get around.

Now the Wilson family's treasured pet is able to go on long walks, dragging her rear legs on a wheeled cart.

The trolley, which has two wheels, straps to Sam's body with the use of a baby harness, and allows her to walk along using her front legs only.

Sam gradually lost the use of her hind legs due to Canine Hip Dysplasia, a common condition that often affects German Shepherds in old age.

Her condition became so severe that she had been finding it difficult to walk around. It got to the point where the vet told Michelle that Sam might have to be put to sleep if her condition continued to deteriorate.

Hope Marie and Samantha

A ROLL IN THE PARK: Hope Marie Wilson
has fun trying to keep up as pet pooch Samantha
puts on a spurt. Picture: TOBY WILLIAMS

Michelle, of North Junction Street, Leith, said her pet had been given a new lease of life.

"She's like a different dog," said Michelle. "She stands there by the door, desperate to go out for a walk and sometimes I can't even keep up with her - she just runs along in front of me."

The family had been devastated when the vet had suggested Sam should be put down. "She was staying at my mum's house in Wester Hailes, because it was too difficult for her in my flat, but she was just getting to be too much for my mum to look after," Michelle said.

"When the vet told her we should consider having her put down soon, we couldn't believe it. We had to find some way to make her life easier.

"She's a real family pet. I've had her for seven years, but everyone - my mum Gitta and my sister Diane - loves her. My daughter, Hope Marie, who is only three, is also very attached to her.

"We just didn't feel it was the right time for her to be put down. She still has plenty of life in her."

Michelle said the family designed the cart after finding nothing suitable on the market that did not cost hundreds of pounds.

"It took us a total of four designs before we got it exactly right, but it has worked so well," she said.

"She looked a bit wary when we first strapped her into it, but within a few minutes, she took her first steps and has just gone on from there. It's fantastic."

Doreen Graham, of the Scottish SPCA, said the cart was ideal for a dog like Sam.

She said: "Anything that adds to an animal's quality of life is only a good thing.

"Anyone making a cart like this should be careful of pressure sores from where it straps on, but generally, it can completely transform a dog's life."

German Shepherd Gifts


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