January 17, 2008
CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Crusita and Ramon Sena’s Chihuahua, Tuddy, was paralyzed two years ago after rupturing a disk in his spine by jumping into an SUV. The Senas decided to create a wheelchair-type vehicle so their pet could run around.
A bent, aluminum “For Sale” sign, a few steel rods, a cushioned harness and two white plastic wheels make his world complete.
Racing to the gate to greet visitors, he rolls down the handicap ramps on the porch and tears across the yard, his wheels spinning and clanging against his metal cart.
Tuddy doesn’t know he’s paralyzed.
In fact, the vivacious little 4-year-old Chihuahua hasn’t missed a beat since the day he lost use of his hind legs.
His chest and strong, muscular front legs are a stark contrast to his withered hindquarters, the product of a ruptured disc in his spine.
Two years ago, Ramon and Crusita Sena said Tuddy tried to jump into the family vehicle to go for a ride, but his jump fell short, and he hit the running board.
By the next day, the energetic canine was reduced to dragging himself around by his front legs, the Senas said.
After talking with their veterinarian, Crusita Sena said they decided they would find a way to work with Tuddy rather than put him to sleep.
“We thought he was too young,” she said. “If he had been older and in pain that would have been an option. ... But we just take the time.”
And they have never regretted their choice, Sena said, explaining her husband began tinkering with designs to make Tuddy a cart so he could get around.
When they tried the cart for the first time it was a natural fit, she said.
“(He took to it) like he knew what he was doing,” She said. “We put him on there and he just took off.”
The cart had to be lightweight but comfortable and sturdy, Ramon Sena said. The aluminum sign base, which forms a platform, gives Tuddy a place to rest his limp appendages.
The wheels are bent outward to reduce tipping, Ramon Sena said, and a harness that once went across Tuddy’s chest was removed so he can pull himself out in case the cart gets stuck or capsizes.
“Sometimes he hits something, (but) he can get out and not get hurt,” he said.
But usually he gets where he’s going just fine, the Senas said, describing Tuddy, cart-in-tow, chasing rabbits, jumping landscaping timbers and running down the gravel road in front of their house to see his “girlfriend” Lassie, who lives nearby.
With the cart, he is virtually unstoppable, they said
“He just whooms. He’ll go anywhere he wants,” Crusita Sena said. “He’s just real normal outside of what happened to him. The way he is, he’s just really cool.”