She came to me as a little ball of fur. Celia, from our JBAR rescue facility, had a family that dropped her off. They didn’t want her anymore because she was “broken.” This precious little ball of fur could barely move. She could pull herself around a little with her front paws. Her back legs were stiff. The knees and ankles did not bend.
“Broken?” I said. “Well, we will see about that.” The previous family called her “Foco” which means seal. Because when she moved, using only her front legs, she looked like a seal. My friend Bob was with me, we looked at each other and I asked him what should we call her? Bob looked at me and said, “she looks like a little muffin.” Muffin would be her new name from that moment on. We took the puppy with two other dogs that needed treatment to Dr. Francisco Aguilar in Puerto Vallarta. He explained that it was a congenital problem and that her back legs would always be stiff.
So I combined my educational background and a suggestion from my friend Jeanie to look up “handicapped dogs” on Google. I got PVC pipe, some velcro and strapping, bought a little toy truck for its wheels, and created Muffin’s chariot. It was built so her hind quarters could be held up in the air allowing her toes to touch the ground. The harness around her chest and shoulders allowed for the pull action. I even made it adjustable for her growth.
Once Muffin learned not to fight the chariot and learned that she could pull herself around much easier to where she wanted to go, she started to make improvements.
Short sessions of learning started. She soon learned to push with her hind legs. Then even bigger improvements started to happen. She learned that she could poop and pee easily from her chariot and she stayed very clean. It was fun to watch her as up would come her stiff legs and business was done. She would look at me with great success shining from her eyes, and get so much love and encouragement from me. Hooray! She was house broken!
My next goal was that she would one day make it the full length of the sidewalk; 40 meters. I would carry her out the door and put her in her chariot. I then built a ramp so she could go out of the house and down onto the grass. It took her about 1 minute to figure out how to go down… up came soon after.
Muffin had many other doggies around to encourage her and she wanted to play with them too. So down the sidewalk we went. In a matter of minutes she was galloping. Soon she was pushing with her hind legs. Going real fast! Before I knew it a wheel went flying off and Muffin was galloping along with the chariot swinging behind. I was thrilled. I put her chariot back together… but she didn’t need it anymore! She had learned how to lift her back legs up into position and away she would gallop. Now she had a whole new world of grass and bushes to explore. And she did! Soon she could run as fast as all the other doggies. She was so happy, but even from the start she had never known anything was wrong with her.
At this point Bob and Peter, who had been very active in her rehabilitation, decided to adopt her. How wonderful for Muffin to get a forever home. But, where they lived had stairs. Next lesson… steps. Muffin was bigger and stronger now and with help, she mastered up. The going down part was really frightening for her and for very obvious reasons. So she was carried down the stairs for a long time.
One day while Bob and Peter were on vacation I was again looking after “Muffin the Miracle.” I thought we would once again work on going down the stairs. We literally took it one step at a time. She was very brave as I sat at each step below her ready to catch her if needed as she began. Being super intelligent, she gained her balance in no time. Now, going down stairs was no longer a problem. When Bob and Peter came home she gladly came down the stairs to greet them.
Peter takes Muffin and their adopted kitty, “Ms. Kitty,” for a walk every morning. Peter and Bob absolutely adore Muffin. And she adores them.
If you enjoyed reading this rescue story, please consider making a donation to Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue (JBAR) to help pay for food, medication and vet care for the animals they rescue and care for throughout the year.