By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The 10-year-old, 32-pound Pembroke Welsh corgi has lost the use of its back legs and uses a wheelchair cart to get around.
Sammy happily trots alongside owners Linda and Tim Crowley, nearly oblivious to the cart that carries its hind end as it explores.
Sammy began dragging a back leg about two years ago and was diagnosed with degenerative myclopathy, a congenital condition seen in long-bodied dogs such as corgis, dachshunds and German shepherds, said Linda Crowley, who has owned the buff and white dog since it was a puppy.
The disease causes the nerves to stop sending messages to the animal's muscles, beginning near the tail, and gradually working toward the dog's front end.
As soon as Sammy was diagnosed, the Crowlesy looked for ways to make their dog's life easier, and discovered K9 Carts, which designs and builds carts for dogs, cats and other animals, at their factory in Langley.
“They need to use them the sooner the better. If you start using one at the first signs of the disease, it slows the progression,” Tim Crowley said.
The cart cost about $500, but used and refurbished carts can be purchased for less if one is available in the right size, he said.
Early in the disease, the carts can be used with just the back wheels, and the dog can use their back legs, receiving support and exercise.
Except for his inability to use his hind legs, Sammy is still otherwise healthy and isn't in any pain, Linda said.
Sammy and the Crowley's other corgi, 5-year-old, 22-pound Lucy, used to race back and forth along the back fence whenever a dog walked in the alley behind their home, and for a while, Sammy was able to keep up with Lucy, thanks to the cart, Linda said.
Sammy was so active, it sometimes turned over the cart, and dragged it behind to finish pursuing whatever was on the other side of the fence, she said.
In the last two years, Sammy's myclopathy has progressed so that the cart's front wheels are now needed along with a sling that holds its long, low-slung body off the ground.
Sammy can still go on walks on paved areas, but the cart doesn't handle gravel or grass very well.
“Lucy tries to get him to play. He used to love to play ball. Now he really can't,” Tim said.
Linda added that there is some concern about what may happen if another dog attacks Sammy, so they are careful to avoid other dogs.
“I can pick up Lucy and run, but I can't pick up Sammy in his cart,” Linda said.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.