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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

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"Pawdicapped," disabled, mobility challenged; whatever term you apply to a person or pet lacking the normal ability to physically ambulate doesn't really matter. More important is the practice of respect applied to these special individuals and the recognition of the lessons they teach in leading by example.

I am always struck by the amazing perseverance and ingenuity that pet owners display in caring for their dogs or cats, and in encouraging their pets’ unique methods of navigating our mutual environment. As my veterinary clinical practice focuses on hospice care and pain management, I frequently treat patients who need assistance with a sling, harness or wheel based apparatus.

Despite my familiarity with mobility compromised pets, I was stunned by the sight of a very good natured dog making her way down a Los Angeles sidewalk on a unique pair of front limb supporting wheels. Upon seeing Binky roll up to meet my pooch (Cardiff) and interact with him just as "normal" dog would (as though she had all four of her limbs), I felt compelled to meet her and share her remarkable story with pet lovers worldwide.

Binky is a six-year-old, mixed breed, spayed female Chihuahua who was rescued from a south central Los Angeles animal shelter. Born with incompletely formed right and left front limbs, Binky has dysmelia. Although Binky lacks normal anatomy, her shoulder blades help her to scoot around when she’s not in wheel-enhanced mode. Additionally, her shoulders move as though her entire front limbs are intact and touching the ground when she walks. In her wheels, Binky gracefully propels herself forward using her hind limbs.

Binky got her first set of wheels at three and a half years of age and took just a few weeks to adjust. Like a bicycle, Binky’s wheels are used for urban trekking on sidewalks, streets, and hiking trails. At home, she goes au naturale or wears her "tube top" (a shirt sleeve with holes cut out for her shoulders).

Bathroom habits occur exclusively wheel-free, as Binky gets herself out of her wheels and then postures to urinate and defecate. Binky’s owner then helps her to re-situate herself back in the wheels to move onto their next destination.

Binky is currently on her fourth generation of wheels, which her owner’s husband developed. The latest model is a high tech carbon fiber frame with a swivel function that permits ease of maneuverability. Sheep skin and yoga mats provide cushioning to reduce skin abrasions and pressure sores on her undercarriage.

Binky is quite the YouTube sensation, as her adventures in life are well documented. Additionally, Cesar Milan featured Binky on The Dog Whisperer and facilitated her adjustment to an earlier model of wheels.

Binky’s owner, Sylvie Forrest, doesn’t feel that Binky is handicapped or disabled, but instead is just "very special." Despite Binky’s physical limitations, she’s quite the world traveler. Italy is one of her preferred places for relaxation, but for the cobblestone streets, which cause an additional challenge for her wheels to roll smoothly.

Italy provides a healing environment far from the stresses of Los Angeles for both Forrest and Binky. Their recent trip was part of Forrest’s recovery process from breast and brain cancer.  Forrest’s insightful blog, WTFCancer, is an inspiring literary and visual smorgasbord providing inspiration for those seeking health advice or for those who wish to take a peek at Binky’s duties as Forrest’s emotional support pooch.

I see Binky as an excellent role model for people and pets all over the world. Despite her anatomic challenges, Binky navigates life with a positive attitude and keeps on moving with enthusiasm. Additionally, Binky teaches pet owners of the mobility enhancing options available to assist dogs having lost limbs or their use. Both Binky and Forrest's stories of overcoming adversity provide valuable perspective capable of motivating others to make the most of one’s circumstances in life.

 

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

 

Images: Binky the handi-able dog

Comments  4

Leave Comment
  • Inspiring
    05/01/2012 07:20am

    What an inspiring story!

    To know that the Forrests adopted Binky knowing the challenges ahead and have provided her a great life starts my day with a huge smile.

    The Forrests and Binky are lucky to have each other.

  • 05/04/2012 02:36am

    YES!
    The Sylvie Forrest and her husband are true saints for adopting Ms Binky.
    I'm so pleased to see how Binky is teaching the world about hand-abled pets with her personally, good looks, and charm!
    Thank you for your comments.
    Dr PM

  • Binky La Rue
    05/01/2012 06:56pm

    What compassionate people Sylvie & Jon are to take in this sweet adorable pooch with 2 legs and work with her and design these awesome wheels. I wish everyone would have a heart and rescue special needs dogs & cats or just rescue from your local animal shelter. ADOPT DON'T SHOP!

  • 05/04/2012 02:38am

    Yes, Binky's parents got quite the prize when they adopted Binky.
    There are many valuable lessons that we can learn from taking care of those having a physical disability. It makes us appreciate that which we often take for granted.
    Thank your for your comments.
    Dr PM

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