Dolly the rabbit may be hop-less, but far from hapless
Dolly the rabbit was adopted back in November 2010; her back problems started soon after
Dolly the disabled rabbit from Newfoundland was not always disabled.
And depending on who you ask today, disabled may not even be the word.
Brad Coffin and Renee Thompson adopted Dolly the rabbit back in November 2010.
At the time they both selected Dolly as a mate for their other rabbit, Mr. Toes.
Fast forward to January 2013 and that's when Thompson says Dolly's medical issues started.
"Dolly has three fused discs, spondylosis, scoliosis and mild arthritis all in her back," Thompson told the CBC's Leah Balass.
Thompson said many of the conditions that Dolly lives with are birth defects, and at first she was not sure how things were going to turn out for the rabbit that quickly lost its ability to hop.
"At first it was hard because we didn't know how Dolly was going to make out, with her issues," said Thompson.
"Once we made the [wheelchair] and realized that she was going to be OK it gave us some hope," she said.
"Dolly is very happy."
The engineer behind the wheelchair
Coffin created Dolly's rabbit wheelchair using things around the house.
Some sheep skin and wool, and a little PVC pipe.
When it came to the wheels, Coffin thought a toddler's Fisher-Price car from Value Village would do the trick.
"I tried that out and of course she used to tip over, so I added two back wheels with a little counterweight," said Coffin.
"Now she is just very stable. Dolly just acts like a normal rabbit, just with wheels."
Coffin and Thompson explain that the back half of Dolly is entirely shaved, in part because she wears diapers. That, combined with her mobility issues and being half-shaved, helps keep her clean.
They explain that in addition to her mobility issues and wheelchair, their rabbit also takes daily medications and needs her diapers changed about four times every day.
"You have to let her out [of her cage] a lot and change her diaper every so often. So yeah, depending on the person [Dolly] could not be here," said Thompson, suggesting that someone less patient than her would have put Dolly down by now.
"She is like a child except she is furry," Coffin said.
A Facebook page for Dolly created in January has attracted more than 5,700 likes, with gifts and well-wishes pouring in from places like Germany, the U.K., the U.S., and across Canada, including Newfoundland & Labrador.
They also received gifts of rabbit comfort items, food and more.
"The love that Dolly shows for us is just amazing," Thompson said.
"For an animal that doesn't have the use of its back legs, she always gives you kisses, she is always happy."
The message that jumps out
"Don't give up on disabled animals," said Thompson.
"We wanted to let everyone know that disabled animals can live a happy life. They don't need to be put to sleep just because the are disabled, and Dolly can show that really well."
"If your animal becomes disabled, don't just assume that this is it. Give them a chance, try ideas like we did and you might just be able to give them a second chance at life," she said.