SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After years of hiking, backpacking, camping and even snowshoeing with her furry friend, Greenhaven resident Rachel Voss says she noticed her chocolate Labrador Retriever Duke getting slower.
"We noticed his back legs getting weaker and so we took him to see a vet," said Voss. "They told us he probably had a spinal cord disease called (degenerative myelopathy) — one of those bad sounding conditions."
Faced with thousands of dollars of uncertain treatment and medical appointments for her aging pup, her top priority for Duke was getting him out and about again.
She brainstormed treatments and therapies for Duke, soon realizing his back legs were more functional in the family swimming pool. He started playing fetch in the pool, but he was meant for more than just backyard playtime.
"I was devastated at the idea I couldn't take him out anymore. He was my little traveling buddy," said Voss. "We were in a tough spot."
That's when friend and Land Park resident Madeline Ng decided to ask her community if anyone had wheels for a dog they'd be willing to donate. Before long, neighbors donated not just wheels, but reusable diapers, leg braces and harnesses.
"You know, I was really surprised someone had actually donated wheels because I wasn't sure anyone would have them, that's why I also asked for leads and advice," said Ng. "It's so expensive to take care of a pet sometimes. Duke is such a good boy, I would watch him and he's still as happy as ever."
The chocolate lab is now outfitted with a pair of red wheels held up by a wraparound harness.
"He's excited to be out again — at times he almost runs," said Voss.