Paralyzed dog heals on wheels
Athletic young dog in Quebec City ready for adventure - on wheels or on skis
Garmin is a curious, enthusiastic four-year-old dog, using his senses to sniff out hidden treasures buried underneath the snow. But Garmin is not like every other German Shorthaired Pointer out there.
His hind legs are completely paralyzed.
He gets around thanks to the use of a customized wheelchair.
During the winter months, the same frame can be used with skis instead of wheels.
Restaurant owner and competitive stair climber, Napoleon Woo, proudly describes himself as "being owned" by Garmin.
"I'm his human," Woo says smiling.
The pet was a gift from his daughter, Jamie-Kate, who wanted to find the right breed to accompany Napoleon on his daily runs, in addition to assisting him on duck hunting trips in the Beauce region.
The dog was leading an active, healthy life in Quebec City until one day everything changed.
"Just happened like that — overnight. Poof. Took him out to walk and he just fell."
The family whisked their beloved dog to their local vet, and ended up taking him on a 90-minute drive to a specialized animal hospital in Ste-Hyacinthe. The diagnosis was dire.
"They never knew, she (the vet) said there's thousands of viruses that could have been the cause."
1 per cent chance to live
At first, Garmin's body was completely paralyzed.
One doctor suggested putting the dog down, or, alternately, a risky and expensive surgery.
But after veterinarians made their diagnosis, and he returned to the car for the drive home, Garmin surprised everyone by sitting up in the back seat unassisted.
"She (the vet) looked at him and she was like, 'OK, we'll see.'"
Adapting to a new – and improved – Garmin
The family's mission began to find the right kind of customized mobility tool to help him get around. Napoleon tried to build his own wheelchair for Garmin.
The first attempt was a major #fail.
"He wore it out so fast, it fell to pieces," Napoleon says.
That's where YouTube tutorials and online pet communities came to the rescue.
"I made two of them for him, I got the plans off the internet, but he was walking so much he was wearing them out. I decided to buy a commercial one."
Today, Garmin is outfitted with a Walking Wheels wheelchair frame.
Garmin turns a lot of heads on the streets of the downtown Saint-Roch neighbourhood of Quebec City, and his contraption does spark a lot of curiosity.
"A lot of people tell me, 'Oh I wish I had known these things existed, I wouldn't have put my dog down.'"
The family has had to make some adjustments since Garmin lost of the use of his hind legs, but never regretted their decision to keep their dog.
Jamie-Kate describes him as her furry, brown-faced little brother, who remains active despite his condition.
"Nothing can stop him."