Mountain or molehill? Using a specially designed wheelchair, one enthusiastic dog proved she can tackle either, turning the highest peak in the Northeast into just another day's climb.
Lucy, a 4-year old mixed breed, was paralyzed four years ago in a car accident in Puerto Rico. On Wednesday, August 18, she climbed to the top of Mt. Washington, becoming the first paralyzed dog ever to scale the 6,288-foot peak.
"I think many people underestimate handicapped pets and don't realize just how much they can do given proper care and training," explained owner Courtney Dunning of Peterborough, New Hampshire.
Wednesday’s six-hour journey to the summit of Mt. Washington was no easy feat for Lucy, including several breaks for food and water (as well as one diaper change). Accompanying Lucy on the climb to provide supplies and to document the adventure were a total of five people and one other dog -- Lucy's canine companion Topper, a Chihuahua mix who was rescued from Puerto Rico.
Lucy was saved from the streets of Puerto Rico herself, after being paralyzed in an auto collision. The high energy dog has been using a Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair for two years, developed by Handicapped Pets of Nashua, New Hampshire.
Lucy and her owner Dunning prepared for their climb up the Mt. Washington Auto Road with several weeks of training, which included gradual increases in both mileage and altitude as well as a test trek up the first two miles of the auto road in mid-July.
Upon reaching the summit, Dunning said how proud she was of Lucy, and acknowledged the Mt. Washington Auto Road and its employees for their support of the effort, which included providing advice for the two-mile test trek in July, opening the gates at 5:00 a.m., and offering an extremely comfortable ride back to the base of the mountain.
"She's such a go-getter," Dunning told the Union Leader. "Nothing stops her, she'll try anything. She goes up steps, she jumps off steps. She goes for walks, she goes for runs. Even at a full-out sprint, she far outdoes me."
Mark C. Robinson, President of HandicappedPets.com and inventor of the Walkin' Wheels, was equally amazed and proud of Lucy.
"Lucy demonstrates how handicapped pets can continue to lead happy, healthy active lives. The Walkin' Wheels dog wheelchair allows dogs to do more than simply survive injuries that were once considered life ending, Robinson said.
"With appropriate veterinary care and physical training, dogs in wheelchairs can thrive and even reach levels of athletic achievement," he added.