Walkies on wheels!

Our limp­ing pooch was strug­gling to get around – un­til we hit on a wheelie good idea!

Chat - - Contents - Vic­to­ria Had­don, 52, Nor­wich Hec­tor’s Wheels, pub­lished by Mata­dor, is avail­able on­line and in book shops.

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.

Per­fect!

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!

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