Walkies on wheels!
Our limping pooch was struggling to get around – until we hit on a wheelie good idea!
My heart flipped as I looked down at the basket full of tiny balls of wriggling fur.
It was March 2013, and I was visiting a litter of newborn beagle puppies.
My husband James, 48, and our kids Ellie, 15, Max, 13, and Freddy, 10, were dog mad, just like me.
And we reckoned it was high time our 5-year-old beagle, Reggie had a little friend.
So when I’d heard from a friend about a litter of pups she’d seen, one with an injured leg, I’d come along to meet him myself.
The tiniest puppy was hopping, one of his front legs tucked up in front of him.
‘He was born without bones in his front left leg,’ the breeder explained to us.
The poor little chap would never walk properly. He’d probably end up in a dogs’ home.
‘Heartbreaking,’ I murmured, picking him up.
He nuzzled into the crook of my arm and let out a sigh. Adorable! Back home, I couldn’t stop thinking about his big eyes and soft fur.
‘I hate the thought of him not having a proper home,’ I said.
‘The poor little chap,’ James agreed.
So, together with the kids, we made a decision.
The puppy was coming home with us.
It would be a challenge, but we’d do whatever it took.
Five weeks later, we went to collect the newest member of our family.
‘Hello, Hector,’ I smiled, holding him gently.
We’d named him after a Greek prince, known for being brave and strong.
It was just right for our plucky little pup.
At home, Reggie took Hector
under his paw, bedding down with him for snuggles in his basket.
Wherever Reggie went, a tiny shadow hopped after him.
Hector did everything that Reggie did, chasing balls and dashing around the garden on three legs.
But he tired easily, couldn’t manage long distances.
When we took Reggie for walks, I’d carry Hector under my arm.
I didn’t mind – but, in time, he grew rather heavy.
‘Why don’t you sit in this, Hector?’ I announced in April 2014, hauling an old pushchair out of the garage.
He climbed in but wouldn’t sit still.
We got some funny looks as I was pushing him to the park, too!
Realising Hector needed something different, I searched online for help.
I found a company in the US making custom wheelchairs for dogs with front-leg problems.
It agreed to help, so I e-mailed all of Hector’s measurements across.
Weeks later, that June, a package arrived.
The kids helped me to unpack and slot it all together.
Reggie and Hector sniffed around, wagging their tails.
But, when I fitted the harness around Hector’s belly, he just stood there, wagging his tail.
For weeks, he refused to walk in it.
Is he confused?
Then I had a brilliant idea.
I cooked some sausages, then clipped Hector into his harness. I returned with a handful of sausage bites.
I lay down a trail from Hector’s nose to the end of the kitchen.
He sniffed the sausage pieces and his mouth watered.
Snapping up the first treat, he took one step, then wolfed another… His first steps on wheels! ‘Well done!’ I beamed. Hector did seem a bit confused but, when he realised he could push off with his back legs, he raced around the room.
Before long, he was dashing about every which way on his brand-new wheels.
He was so fast, he could even keep up on long walks, racing off into bushes and across fields.
In fact, Hector used his new-found freedom to get into all sorts of mischief – got his wheels stuck in mud after dashing through the woods.
One time, he and Reggie ran onto a level crossing, and only narrowly avoided getting hit by a train.
My heart was in my mouth as I chased after them.
On another walk, I had to leap into a freezing-cold river to rescue Hector because he couldn’t swim.
‘Please stay on dry land next time!’ I shivered afterwards.
He looked at me with his big brown eyes, as if to say, ‘Sorry, Mum!’
Luckily, other dog walkers often stepped in to lend a hand.
Everybody was curious about our pup on wheels. In fact, he became something of a local celebrity.
Every Christmas, he’d get admiring glances when he scampered around in his festive jumper.
Our amazing, brave boy has even tried skateboarding!
Now we’ve written a book about Hector’s adventures.
We hope his story proves that all dogs can lead a full, happy life, whether they’re on four legs or three.
Before long, he was dashing about every which way
Hector’s on a roll… OK Mum, let’s go!