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Eddie's Wheels gives dogs a new 'leash' on life

Feb 21, 2011 9:37pm
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(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Shelburne Falls, Mass.) - As dogs' lives go, Fenway, the black lab, is an all-star, but he almost never made it to his sixth birthday.

Fenway had a stroke and was paralyzed from the waist back, leaving his owner faced with the heart-wrenching decision of whether to put him down.

Fenway's owner Susan Boreri said, "I did a lot of hiking, if I fell off the trail and hurt my back, he wouldn't say, you know mom, you're really nice, but you're a lot of work, you have a broken back, so he would do the same for me."

So Boreri turned to Eddie's Wheels in western Massachusetts to help her best friend walk again.

The Shelburne Falls company has been helping thousands of animals like Fenway since owners Ed & Leslie Grinnell had to make a cart for their own dog Buddha back in 1989.

Leslie said, "She's ten-years-old and one morning she wakes up paralyzed."

"I called the only cart company that made carts back then, they said we don't make carts for 80 pound dobermans so I made one," Ed said.

It was made out of plumbing insulation, pieces of steel, and their daughter's radio flier wagon.

Ed said, "The average vet will say well if I can't fix it surgically, put it down, you're being cruel, and we disagree with that."

Eddie and Leslie not only built this company from scratch, but they have four dogs of their own who use these carts.

Leslie said, "I think they're really inspiring, I think taking care of these dogs is fun and makes everybody's life a little richer."

"For years and years, I was a highly paid engineer, well-respected on several continents and, I have to say nobody ever said thank you," said Ed, "Today, right now, everyday starts with somebody saying thank you."

The basement shop has grown into the largest company in Shelburne Falls, employing 16 people.

The carts generally cost anywhere from $300 to $600 dollars - a fraction of the bill for most animal surgeries.

And now Eddie makes carts for big dogs, small dogs, even other animals like alpacas and lambs, like this little lady named Spin.

Spin's owner Deb Jones Bachrach said, "When Spin was born, when we would try to get her upright, she literally would just spin in a circle."

Spin was born with severe scoliosis, leaving her shaped like a 'C'.

So Deb and Alan Bachrach visit often to have her cart "tweaked," as she continues to grow into a full-sized sheep.

"I'll be the first to admit, it's unusual to have a lamb in a cart for a pet, but Spin has a really, really important role and that's as a therapy animal," said Bachrach.

Spin primarily works with children - helping them cope with the stigma of being confined to a wheelchair.

Bachrach said, "With kids we'll talk about the fact that Spin is in a wheelchair too and Spin does fine in her wheelchair."

And it's inspiring stories like that that keep new customers coming to this little shop in this little town in western Massachusetts.

While Eddie doesn't make the carts himself anymore, he still does the fittings for many of his customers like this aging great dane Yampa whose owner drove all the way from Kentucky.

Owner Ranji Singh said, "Sometimes I think he just gets a little depressed because he still has the urge to go do stuff, but his body is just not listening to him anymore."

Singh gets emotional when she thinks about what this will mean for Yampa's future.

"I can't imagine how it would feel if I wasn't able to do that for him," said Singh as she teared up.

And that is why the Grinnells have dedicated their lives to Eddie's Wheels.

Leslie said, "It's always a thrill to see their lives come back."

Ed said, "We're not getting rich but it's great to see the smile on the animals' faces and the people."

For more information on Eddie's Wheels, you can visit its website EddiesWheels.com
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