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Winnipeg dog gets around in homemade wheelchair

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 Lexus, 8, of Winnipeg in the makeshift doggy chair created by her owners after an operation left the dog without use of her back legs. (Betty Lamoureux)

Updated Friday, July 13: After reading about Lexus on CBCnews.ca, a U.S. company that specializes in products for special needs pets contacted us to be put in touch with the dog's family.

"Thank you so very much for making this story public! It has exploded all over the internet and handicappedpets.com has donated a new walkin' wheels doggie wheelchair!" wrote Keely McIlwain to us by email. "We will have to send you some videos and pictures of her new wheels as soon as we get it!"

We look forward to seeing Lexus in her new chair and thank the entire CBC community for sharing this story on the soon-to-be free wheeling dog's behalf!

Original story: It's been a tough year for Lexus the dog - not only did she lose her best friend to cancer; she lost the use of her back legs after having a massive tumor removed last September.

The once-joyous 8-year-old pooch was a shadow of her former self without the ability to run or play, according to her owners -- that is until they put the wag back in little Lexus' tail with a makeshift doggy wheelchair.

"The first time they put Lexus in that chair, her face just lit up like a Christmas tree - she just bolted," said CBC Community member Betty Lamoureux, whose nephew Trevor Milner put the chair together. "To see Lexus walking again, she's just so happy."



Lamoureux, a 56-year-old hairdresser from Winnipeg, recently uploaded a photo of her nephew's resilient dog to the CBC YourNews Community along with this story:

"Last fall Lexus had a tumor removed from her backside and has been unable to walk since. My nephew, who owns the dog, had just lost their other dog due to illness and is now trying to get Lexis up and walking again. They cannot afford a chair. They are far too much money, so he has made this crude chair - but it works ....Lexis absolutely loves the chair. Her eyes light up and she gets in it and runs... she does slide out and I'm worried her legs will entangle in the wheels. Maybe someone out there has a chair they are no longer using for her. She loves her walks and my nephew and niece are doing the best they can."

The CBC Community team was so touched that we decided to follow up with a call to the dog's innovative owners, who sent us a few photos and videos of Lexus in her chair.

 Lexus plays with a toy in this photo, taken before she lost the ability to walk. (Keely McIlwain)

Milner and his girlfriend Keely McIlwain, who got their Pressa Canario / Labrador retriever cross when she was only 10 weeks old, told us that Lexus is "the greatest dog in the world."

"She's a super happy dog, a real family dog," said Milner to CBC News by phone, noting that she loves to cuddle with his 10-year-old daughter.

"She's been through lots, but she's a struggler. Before our other dog passed away, they were best friends. Lexus has been sad ever since, but she keeps on moving along."

 Lexus and her friend in healthier times before either dog was struck by cancer. (Keely McIlwain)

Determined to help her keep moving along after losing the ability to walk, Milner and McIlwain decided to find a wheelchair for their beloved pet.

Unfortunately, the price of a new dog chair - as much as $1000 for a dog Lexus' size -- was way out of the young couple's budget, especially after they'd already dropped so much money on expensive veterinary bills.

So, they decided to make one themselves.

"We looked at some online videos and pictures," said Milner. "I saw one dog that looked just like her, and he was sitting in a human wheelchair and I thought 'That's it.'"

The couple managed to find an old human wheelchair,  which they modified for Lexus, who is approximately 100 lbs.

"We took the back off and used some leashes and a scarf to lift her back legs so they dont drag," McIlwain explained. "We're hoping by winter we will have enough saved up for a real doggy chair."

"It definitely needs work, but I don't have a welder or lots of tools," Milner added, noting that Lexus does slip out of the chair sometimes.

"Our house isn't big enough for the human chair so scoots around without it when she's inside."



And while Lexus' chair is less than ideal, the couple said that their invention has improved her life dramatically.

"She wags her tail now," said Milner. "She hasn't sniffed a certain tree in about a year and when we put her in that chair, she ran around sniffing all of the trees, just so happy. It was a joy to see."

Thank you to Betty, Trevor and Keely for sharing your story.

If you've got a story to share with the CBC News community, or would like to contact us about this one, join the CBC Your News Community here or email us at yournews@cbc.ca.

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