Paralyzed dog’s past still a mystery, but there is hope for his future

Wyatt is learning how to walk with his wheelchair

Wyatt, who was partially paralyzed in January in Juniata County, is learning how to walk with a wheelchair. He is able to use his front right leg to move.
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Wyatt, who was partially paralyzed in January in Juniata County, is learning how to walk with a wheelchair. He is able to use his front right leg to move.

There was always hope Wyatt would walk again, but it won’t happen under his own power.

The black Labrador, Great Dane mix puppy — weighing in at about 60 pounds — uses a dog wheelchair to get around, exclusively using his front right leg to move. He might be able to use his front left leg for stability, but that is if physical therapy at Metzger Animal Hospital is successful. It’s unlikely he will ever be able to move his rear legs, which dangle a few inches off the ground in his wheelchair and don’t receive signals from his brain to move.

How Wyatt’s spine was crushed in early January when he was about four months old in Juaniata County is unknown, but his caretakers at One Dog at a Time, a humane rescue group, know at least one thing about his future. Wyatt is inoperable — surgery will not make a difference in his mobility.

“It was a weight lifted off of our shoulders,” One Dog at a Time founder Kari Coble said. “We went to Ohio State last week, and everyone has said no (to surgery). At this point we’ve come to the conclusion that this is our boy, that this is who he is going to be.”

What he is, is a normal dog in a constantly precarious position.

Wyatt loves typical things such as going outside, hearing the voices of people he knows and playing with other dogs.

“It’s interesting, because every other dog he meets knows there’s something going on with him,” Coble said. “They catch on and aren’t always quite sure, but they end up playing on the floor with him.”

Wyatt scoots on the floor to move without anyone’s help, though his rigid movements seem to mystify other dogs. He lets out a deep whine when he wants something, maybe help for a drink of water or just attention. He is also easy to take care of, Coble said, if you make time for him.

“It’s really not hard,” she said. “It’s just about having a schedule and knowing what his cues are. You have to fit him into your schedule.”

There may be a day when he will be ready for adoption, though there is no timetable.

“A lot of people say they would love to adopt him when he’s better,” Coble said. “He’s probably not going to get better. This is as good as it gets. So, he can’t move his hind legs and requires a little more attention than other dogs. But he has a huge spirit. His personality is so phenomenal.”

He would have to be adopted by someone who would be able to care for a dog with special needs, such as expressing his bladder a few times a day. There will also always be medical expenses due to his need for physical therapy to maintain his mobility and muscle mass. Coble said he would be best suited in a home with wide door openings and another dog to keep him company.

Some people have asked Coble if euthanasia is an option.

It’s not.

“There are plenty of dogs who have lived their lives out in a wheelchair and have been happy,” Coble said. “You can see he’s happy.”