Her bark is getting weaker and her back legs no longer work, but Jade is carrying on like any other dog, thanks to a chariot-like wheelchair.
A nine-year-old Rottweiler/Doberman mix, Jade was a rescue dog from Woss in the north Island, one of five pups abandoned with their mother.
“She has dog ALS,” her owner Kevin Weatherall said. “She’s been a great dog. It seems more and more people make positive comments when they see her. They get their day brightened up.”
A favourite walking spot is the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds, where Jade likes to chase rabbits at the horse barn.
One passerby told Weatherall that Jade makes him think of his paraplegic son, who broke his neck at 19 after jumping into a lake. Another person was reminded of an uncle who passed away from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“She makes people happy.”
Weatherall has owned dogs his entire life. His devotion to his “best friend” is indicative of people’s efforts to improve the quality of life for their pets.
Though dog wheelchairs are costly, he managed to purchase one locally. Jade’s back legs fit into a harness that is clipped to the frame in sling-like fashion, while her front legs support her weight.
“Within five minutes of putting the wheelchair on, my dog’s face turned to, ‘Wow, I’m standing’,” Weatherall said. “I’ve had to adapt with the wheelchair. She’s still happy and wants to live. She doesn’t have that ‘I’m finished’ look on her face at all.”