Samantha originally took on Mollie temporarily, fostering her from the Galway SPCA sanctuary when she was a fluffy young puppy. The plan was just to look after her until a permanent home was found elsewhere, but Mollie was such an adorable pup that Samantha found that she couldn’t give her back when she was asked to do so.
Mollie grew into a beautiful Border Collie with the best attributes of the breed: she’s intelligent, sociable and exceptionally good natured. Even before her accident, she was the type of dog that everyone loved: people would ask if they could play with her, or take photos of her. Mollie has always been friendly to everyone, loving to meet new people and other dogs.
When she was three years old, she had six beautiful puppies: Samantha decided to keep Mollie’s favourite one, Maddie. Mother and daughter have continued to be the best of friends.
A few months after having the puppies, Mollie was hit by a car, suffering a spinal fracture. Her hind legs were paralysed, and there was no prospect of her ever walking again. The specialist vet felt that the best advice was to put her down, but Samantha couldn’t do it. Mollie looked up at her with sparkling, bright eyes, and Samantha could tell that she wanted to live. So she took her home and began researching paralyzed dogs on the internet, the only place where she could find people in similar situations. She soon discovered that life can carry on for many paralysed dogs, as long as an owner is prepared to make the effort and investment needed to help.
The main challenge is mobility: Molly’s front legs are fully functional, but her back legs are completely paralysed. Without wheels, she would drag her back legs behind her on the ground. With wheels to support her hind quarters, she’s able to move around easily. To start with, a friend made a wheelchair from a child’s buggy. Molly took to it immediately, flying around in it as if she had been born on wheels. After a year, the wheels started falling off, and Samantha had to look at different options.
When out with Molly one day, Samantha happened to meet a lovely American lady who offered to buy her the best dog wheelchair in the world. An American website – www.eddieswheels.com – makes custom-designed dog wheelchairs. Samantha sent off Molly’s measurements, and soon after, a state-of-the-art wheelchair arrived from America. Mollie now has air-filled tyres like a mountain bike, and she’s able to run around off road, as well as just on tarmac.
There are practical challenges with a paralysed dog. The wheelchair harness needs to be monitored carefully to make sure that pressure sores don’t develop. Toiletting can be complicated: Samantha needs to squeeze Mollie’s abdomen several times a day, to keep her bladder emptied, and Mollie doesn’t have normal control of her poops either. But with care and planning, Samantha is able to manage the situation.
Mollie is an unusual dog in Ireland, and she draws attention from old and young people alike. Often a crowd forms around her, with people queuing up to meet Mollie and to talk to Samantha. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, and they’re amazed at her ability to rush around on wheels as if there was nothing wrong with her.
Mollie has even become an international celebrity. She has her own Facebook page, with hundreds of online fans from around the world, and last year she won World Animal Week’s Best Loved Dog Competition.
When you meet Mollie, it’s obvious that she’s an exceptionally happy dog, despite her disability. She loves life, and she never fails to bring a smile to the faces of those many people that she meets
Wheelchairs can allow some paralysed dogs to have full, active lives
You can find Mollie on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mollietrolleycollie