With his muscular front legs and big rear wheels, Ollie is a hit wherever he goes.
The partially paralyzed dachshund uses a special cart to roll through his Palo Alto neighborhood with owners Sarah and Craig Stuppi. But that doesn't stop him from chasing squirrels, barking at dogs or sniffing bushes like any other dog.
``It's clearly the highlight of his day,'' Sarah Stuppi said. ``Ollie lives for those walks. He loves seeing the squirrels along the way, and he loves having people stop to pet him.''
As soon as the Stuppis get out his leash in the morning, Ollie gets excited. Since he can't jump up and down, ``he kind of bobs until we get him into his cart,'' Stuppi said.
The neighbors have gotten used to Ollie zooming down the sidewalk in his custom-made cart, which is known, of course, as Ollie's trolley, but many people seeing him for the first time can't resist asking about the little dachshund.
``When we first moved in, we were quite the talk, but everybody in the neighborhood knows us so well now,'' Stuppi said. ``People come up to us all the time. Most people haven't seen a dog in a cart or a trolley before, and they're very interested in what happened to him.''
Like many dachshunds, with their short legs and long backs, Ollie was predisposed to throwing out a disc in his back.
``They have spinal-cord compression and get paralyzed,'' said Dr. Sheila Chen, one of Ollie's veterinarians at the Palo Alto Pet Hospital. ``In many cases, where it just happened, surgery can correct the problem. When we started seeing Ollie eight months ago, he was already paralyzed.''
That he's still here is an animal rescue success.
``Somebody found him on the side of the road in Orange County,'' Stuppi said. ``He was brought to a shelter and was scheduled to be euthanized because no one wanted him.''
Ollie, who is 6 or 7 years old, was saved by Beagles & Buddies, a rescue group in El Monte. The group had Ollie fitted for a cart made by Doggon' Wheels for about $400. The Livingston, Mont., company specializes in products for paralyzed animals to help pets ``enjoy his or her favorite activities.''
The Stuppis have two other dogs, Lucy, a mini dachshund, and Buck, a beagle. ``Ollie always has to be up front with the other two,'' Stuppi said. ``Ollie is very proud. He can't always keep up with them, but he tries.''
Buck and Lucy ``figured out quickly he was different,'' she said. ``Lucy kept going over and trying to nudge Ollie's back legs. She was trying to help him get up. She did that for a couple of months.''
The Stuppis were living in Long Beach when they heard about Ollie. A friend of Sarah's saw him on the Beagles & Buddies Web site and showed his photo to her.
``I immediately fell in love with his picture,'' she said. ``Because we already had two dogs, I was concerned about adopting him, so I started volunteering at Beagles & Buddies every Saturday so I could keep my eye on Ollie.''
On Feb. 14, Craig Stuppi told his wife that Ollie was his Valentine's Day gift.
``We brought Ollie and his trolley home, and he has been such a joy in our lives,'' Sarah Stuppi said.
The Stuppis, both attorneys at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton in San Francisco, have never regretted their decision, though he requires more care. ``He's so grateful,'' Craig Stuppi said. ``He just lies at our feet all the time. When we're cooking dinner, he's right here.''
``He lives to be loved,'' Sarah Stuppi said as Ollie went limp in her arms and burrowed his head into her neck. ``His favorite thing is to be held.''
``Dogs are members of the family just like kids,'' said Maggie Turner, vice president of Beagles & Buddies. ``Some people have the mindset that a disabled dog has to be put down, but that's like saying we shouldn't keep this child because he's blind.''
When Ollie isn't in his cart, he scoots around by dragging his rear legs. To help avoid abrasions, the Stuppis wrap his rear feet twice a week.
``When we come home at night, Ollie loves to go outside and roll in the mud puddles from the sprinklers, especially if he has new bandages on,'' Sarah Stuppi said. ``He's all boy.''
Source: Mercury News http://www.bayarea.com/mld/bayarea/news/3438115.htm