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Chillicothe News - Chillicothe, MO
  • Labrador on wheels: Handicap dog uses special wheelchair

  • When Eric and Jennifer Reeter first got Sadie, they didn't anticipate having a dog that would later become handicapped.
    “She was supposed to be my hunting dog,” Eric said.
    Instead, Sadie cannot use her two hind legs.
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  • When Eric and Jennifer Reeter first got Sadie, they didn't anticipate having a dog that would later become handicapped.
    “She was supposed to be my hunting dog,” Eric said.
    Instead, Sadie cannot use her two hind legs.
    Eric and Jennifer bought Sadie from someone in a nearby town who had registered Labrador Retriever puppies. The couple wanted a registered Lab, and Eric said he had specifically wanted a yellow Lab, so the couple stopped by to look.
    “She was supposed to be the pick of the litter,” Jennifer laughed. “Eric wanted a yellow dog, and she was the yellow one, so that's what he decided.”
    When she was around 11 months old, Eric said Sadie began to carry one of her hind legs when she walked. He had been getting ready to go on a week-long hunting trip, so he took her to the veterinarian. He was advised to leave Sadie at home to rest her leg, so he did. When he returned home, however, she took off running through the yard and hurt her other leg.
    After taking Sadie to the veterinarian again, they discovered she had two Cranial Cruciate Ligament tears, one in each knee of her hind legs.
    “You hear of football players having ACL injuries; this is the same thing for dogs,” Eric explained. He added that after doing some research he discovered that this type of injury was fairly common in Labs, and that typically, when the Cruciate Ligament is torn in one leg, the other Cruciate Ligament will also tear.
    The Reeter's decided they would opt for surgery to repair the tears. This involved placing two devices around Sadie's knees so that she could use her hind legs again. After surgery, however, Sadie contracted MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus areus), an aggressive infection. She was placed on high-dose antibiotics, but Sadie's body rejected the antibiotics and she became anemic. Once again, Sadie underwent surgery, this time to remove the devices from her legs.
    “The only way to correct it was to remove the devices they used to repair it,” Eric said.
    After recovering from surgery, Sadie learned how to walk using just her two front legs to support her whole body. Since she was still a young puppy, around one year old, she was able to learn how to do it, Eric explained.
    Though the couple discussed the possibility of euthanizing Sadie to ease her pain, they spoke with their veterinarian who said that because Sadie has adapted to using her front legs, she would be just fine. The veterinarian also said that as long as Sadie's behavior indicated that she was a happy, loving puppy, then she was just fine. If Sadie were to become reclusive, change her behavior and not want to be around people, however, then it could indicate she was in pain.
    Page 2 of 2 - Eric and Jennifer said that Sadie has not changed her behavior at all. In fact, she has been just as friendly as ever.
    “I think being sick has made her more loving,” Jennifer said.
    Though Sadie cannot use her hind legs, that does not stop her from enjoying the outdoors; she spends a lot of time with the Reeter's other pet, Harley-Jack, a Shih Tzu. Sadie also enjoys swimming in the Reeter's pool in the summertime, where she is able to use her hind legs because it does not require her to use any of her body weight. Jennifer also recently bought Sadie a wheelchair that allows Sadie to walk around while a harness supports the weight in her rear. She found the “Walkin' Wheels” wheelchair online from a handicapped pets website. Jennifer said she wanted to get Sadie a wheelchair to make it more comfortable for her to navigate outside so that they could go on walks together.
    “The first time I saw someone with a dog like that, I thought, ‘Why would you do that to a dog?’ and now I know,” Jennifer said.
    Jennifer added that the first time Sadie tried out the wheelchair, she walked nearly a mile in the park. Though she is handicapped, Eric said that having her as a pet is no different than having a dog without a handicap.
    “Other than not being able to throw a ball and play catch with her, it's no different,” Eric said. The only thing that is a bit of a hassle, he said, is when they have to go on vacation. Sadie cannot be kenneled, so the Reeters must hire someone to dog sit for them.
    Altogether the couple has spent around $2,500 on Sadie's surgeries and medication. To them, however, this isn't something that bothers them.
    “Pets are like a member of your family,” Eric said.

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