SOUTHINGTON — Peggy Cameron was worried about how to care for her aging Cocker Spaniel — Rocky — after he lost the use of his left back paw. With the help of a wheelchair built by her son, Cameron said her dog is now able to get around and draws plenty of attention when he goes out.
“He’s kind of a rock star when he goes to the store,” Cameron said. “Everybody stops to look at him.”
The 35-pound dog can wheel himself around the yard, house and even in the snow, according to Cameron. He now knows getting strapped into his wheelchair means a walk, she said.
“He just goes around, barks at everything, chases birds,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”
Cameron said the 12-year old dog started losing the use of his back paw and was having more and more trouble getting around. The leg is now mostly paralyzed.
For a while, Cameron and her daughter Kellie Cameron would help Rocky walk by holding him up with a scarf. That wasn’t easy for either of them and they feared they might have to euthanize him.
“We just love him so much. When he first got disabled, we thought — ‘What do we do with him?’ ‘Do we have to put him down?’” Peggy Cameron said.
She saw dog wheelchairs for sale but they cost about $400. She saw plans for wheelchairs using PVC pipe and asked her son, Chris Cameron, if he could build one.
Chris Cameron, who has worked in the drafting and design field, took on the project.
Modifying the design to fit Rocky took several trips back and forth to his mother’s house in Southington but he finally got it finished.
“The challenge was that because every dog is different, the original design that I had for him was off a little bit,” he said.
Kellie Cameron, a doctoral student who lives with her mother, said they got the dog in 2015.
“Rocky is the love of our lives and a gift from the Lord,” she said.
The dog has gotten more vocal since losing mobility and she now recognizes his requests based on his barks and yips.
Kellie Cameron was relieved the wheelchair was able to extend Rocky’s life. She hopes others in a similar situation can use a similar solution.
“We want to give hope to other people who have animals who are disabled. You don’t have to put the dog down,” she said.