Wheels Are Wonderful!

Posted on by Mary Shafer

The Mollinator in healthier times

This post is in memory of Molly, our next-door neighbor, who lost her struggle with old age and a host of worsening ailments last Thursday. She was a beautiful soul and a Lab from nose to tail. I adored her.

We moved into our current home more than ten years ago, and Molly came to our neighbors not long before. So when she had to leave it was strange, because she had been in our lives as long as we had been here. She was as much a part of our lives here as her parents, her Weimie brother Clyde, or any of our other neighbors. She frequently came over to visit us as long as she was able.

Then, when her back end failed last year, her dad, Alan, built her a cart out of PVC pipe and painted it bright, fire engine red. He made little pockets hooked to bungie cords to suspend her feet so they wouldn’t drag on the ground and get hurt, because she couldn’t feel them anymore. What a beautiful sight she was with that flash of red against her smooth, golden coat. How she whizzed along again in that lovingly built set of wheels!

And what dear parents hers are, who arranged the last few years completely around the schedule they needed to properly care for her. They even did “the wheelbarrow,” holding ol’ Moll’s useless back legs while she would motor along on her still-able front paws down the steep slope to our place, which her cart couldn’t negotiate…powered, always, by her still-willing heart. God, that dog had heart. Even though the back legs no longer moved, the tail beat back and forth with as much enthusiasm as ever, and Molly never ceased to bring joy anywhere she went.

Bless your hearts, Al and Jeanette, for sharing your girl with us, and for giving her the love and care and dignity she so richly deserved until her very last moment. You are special, special people we’ll always be proud to call friends.

And Molly, you will always be my big, yella dawg. I’ll miss you forever.


Rollin’ With Soul

One of the best things I ever did as a publisher was choose the photo of irrepressible Ruby for the front of our book, Almost Perfect. Every one of the critters profiled in the essays inside is worthy of recognition for his or her own specialness. But that image of Vicki Tiernan‘s Ruby cruising happily along in her cart with that impossibly large “stick” (okay, BRANCH is more like it) in her mouth just has that certain, unnameable something that embodies the inspiring, uplifting spirit we tried to capture in our stories.

And so I chose that shot, careful to make sure our great cover designer, Laura Pritchard, ran the length of that stick around the spine and onto the back cover as a visual metaphor for these creatures’ outsized hearts and spirits. And it wasn’t lost on most folks. I’ve received many comments, even emails about that image. So, from a publishing perspective, it does all the things an ideal cover is supposed to do…especially making people reach out to pick up the book.

But it also does something else.

That picture of Ruby brings to the fore the thought that dog carts/squealy-wheels/rump skates or whatever else you want to call them are not an object of pity, but a symbol of new-found freedom for previously trapped creatures who needed only a little help in becoming mobile to regain the joy in their lives. And this is something very, very cool.

Frankie knows wheels are kewl. (Frankie the Walk ‘n Roll Dog)


  • Because–like removing the stigma of wheelchairs for people–this attitudinal shift allows people to get past the wheels and see them as just another facet of the wonderful, vital pet rolling along on them.
  • Because it reinforces the idea that, with just a little imagination and some money, we can restore to a previously active pet that which brings them the most happiness: freedom.
  • Because it helps make people aware that pets who have lost some natural mobility can still enjoy a full, happy life alongside those who love them.
  • And mostly, because it highlights the inventiveness shown by the companies who now manufacture these mobility devices for our sweet, furry and feathered friends. What heroes they are to these animals and to the people who love them!
Wheels: They’re not just for dogs any more. (Lemon the Duck)

So, it is in this vein that I share with you a slightly dated but still interesting and relevant article from the Orange County Register from last March. I hope you enjoy it, and that you’ll check out some of the wheel makers in the article and listed in our blogroll at bottom right. You never know when you or someone you know may need their services and products.

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