Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MJ the Paralyzed Puppy Making Great Strides with Walkin' Wheels and Physical Therapy

We have been following MJ's progress since September 2009 when we first learned that there was an abandoned 7-month old German shepherd puppy in the Los Angeles area in need of a dog wheelchair that would help her walk and accommodate her growing needs. had just the right solution available to assist a growing puppy – a fully adjustable Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair, and there was one already located in California waiting to be donated to a dog in need.

More than five years ago, began working closely with Kathy Barton, a fourth grade teacher in Velma, Oklahoma who was teaching lessons with her handicapped dog Hope in the classroom. Hope proved to be a wonderful assistant with teaching the children about the importance of compassion and accepting differences in both animals and people. The “How do you teach compassion?” program that Ms. Barton and her students created is now an annual part of the fourth grade curriculum at Velma-Alma Elementary School and is available as a resource to other educators. Part of the program each year involves a fundraising drive to purchase wheelchairs for pets in need.

In 2009, one of the pets that received a wheelchair thanks to the fundraising efforts of these children was a three-legged dog named Sierra who lived in California. Sierra was so happy to receive her Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair, and she enjoyed being able to venture outside again to playfully chase the neighbor’s cat from her yard. Unfortunately, just a few short weeks after receiving her Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair, Sierra’s health declined rapidly, and she passed away suddenly.

Sierra’s owner Melody wanted her Walkin’ Wheels to be donated to another dog in need especially since the children had worked so hard to raise the money to purchase it. assured Melody that we would seek out another special dog and coordinate transferring Sierra’ s Walkin’ Wheels.

As soon as we read MJ’s story, saw her pictures and realized that she too resided in California, we knew that we had found the perfect dog for Sierra’s wheelchair. Since the Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair is fully adjustable in length, width and height, it can be easily re-sized to accommodate a growing puppy like MJ.

It has been a long road for MJ thus far. Shortly after her rehabilitation began in October 2009, she was diagnosed with distemper and had to spend the next three months in isolation prior to resuming her rehabilitation. Lately, MJ has begun making great strides and is using her Walkin' Wheels as a therapy tool to help regain her mobility!

Click here to view a video of MJ using her Walkin' Wheels, and be sure to stay tuned for more updates from Dr. Heather Oxford who is treating MJ at California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) and reporting on her progress on the blog L.A. Unleashed.

On behalf of Kathy Barton and her wonderful students, Sierra, Melody and our community of caretakers at, we hope that MJ will live a long, happy, healthy life and continue to make progress in her Walkin' Wheels. We are extremely grateful to the Jason Heigl Foundation for their support of MJ and her rescue effort and for providing her with the appropriate veterinary and rehabilitative care to ensure that she finds the perfect forever home.

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