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Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER -

CHRIS Grin­nell has been help­ing dis­abled an­i­mals since she was 3 years old.

That’s when she do­nated the wheels from her toy wagon to the wheel­chair her fa­ther, Ed, was mak­ing for their dog, Bud­dha. The Dober­man pin­scher had lost the use of her back legs and could no longer walk.

Ed worked as a me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer, which means that he re­searched, de­signed and built tools and ma­chines.

He fig­ured out how to make a cart that sup­ported Bud­dha’s back legs.

Even though she was very young, Chris re­mem­bers think­ing that “it was pretty cool that my dog could still go on walks with me”.

Now, Chris is 28 years old, and she makes these carts, too.

In fact, as she grew, so did the fam­ily busi­ness, called Ed­die’s Wheels for Pets.

To­day, the com­pany makes 2 000 carts a year for an­i­mals all over the world.

Like peo­ple, an­i­mals might lose the use of their legs or feet be­cause of an ac­ci­dent or age­ing. Oth­ers are born with­out legs or parts of limbs.

Ed’s carts are made from light alu­minum, with spe­cial pad­ding, and built ac­cord­ing to the size and needs of each an­i­mal.

They al­low the an­i­mal to sit, walk and move around again. Ed, Chris and their staff have cre­ated carts for all kinds of dogs, from pugs to English mas­tiffs, and for cats, goats and rab­bits.

Bud­dha’s cart was the first one that Ed made, and he thought it would be his only one. But when Bud­dha’s vet­eri­nar­ian treated other dis­abled an­i­mals, she would sug­gest that the own­ers con­tact Ed.

Word spread, and soon Ed was re­ceiv­ing many re­quests from hope­ful own­ers. Ed­die and his wife, Les­lie, be­gan build­ing the carts in their free time in the base­ment of their home in Mas­sachusetts, in the US.

As a kid, Chris loved to help. She glued the pad­ding and kept track of sewing sup­plies, said Les­lie, who now han­dles sales and mar­ket­ing for the com­pany. Chris liked meet­ing the an­i­mals and help­ing with fit­tings, to make sure the new carts were com­fort­able.

Soon the com­pany was re­ceiv­ing so many or­ders that it needed to move to a larger build­ing.

All three Grin­nells work there full time, along with a staff of 17.

Chris is a fore­man, which means that she de­signs and builds carts, man­ages other work­ers and or­ders sup­plies. This re­quires skills in maths, busi­ness and en­gi­neer­ing or design. You can take classes in these sub­jects in school and col­lege, but Chris got most of her train­ing on the job.

“My par­ents and co- work­ers taught me ev­ery­thing,” she said. She also learnt a lot from the eight dis­abled pets that she helped care for as a kid. Their dog Willa was born with­out front legs. Chris re­called “be­ing blown away” by how much Willa could do in her cart. The dog would “run through the woods, lift her wheels over fallen branches and even wade in the river.”

“She could lead a nor­mal dog life,” Chris said.

Ed­die’s Wheels for Pets is look­ing for bet­ter ways to help an­i­mals like Willa. They re­search new ma­te­ri­als and de­signs. Chris en­joys these chal­lenges and new ideas. And she re­ally likes another perk of her job: She can bring her lit­tle dog, Mar­i­lyn Fang, to work with her. – Wash­ing­ton Post

● Qu­at­tle­baum is a chil­dren’s au­thor.

PERK: Chris can take her dog, Mar­i­lyn Fang, to work ev­ery day.

HELP­ING HAND: Chris Grin­nell has been help­ing with the fam­ily busi­ness – mak­ing carts for dis­abled dogs – since she was a child. Chris’s fa­ther, a me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer, built a cart for the fam­ily dog 25 years ago, and other pet own­ers started seek­ing him out. The wheels help an­i­mals that can’t use their legs con­tinue to get around.

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