Animal-lover fundraises for special wheelchair for elderly ex-hunting dog

A kind-hearted photographer who rescued two former hunting dogs she fell in love with during a family holiday to Crete has been raising money for state-of-the-art wheels to give one of them a turbo-charged retirement. Jo Cope smashed her £800 target for the special canine wheels within hours of launching a GoFundMe page, as aged pooch Jack, 13, captured the hearts of hundreds. With well over £2,000 raised so far, Jo plans to give her Greek mixed breed dogs all the medical treatment they need, as well as a happy home with her and her children, Kade, Acacia, and Dakota, and their three-year-old Goldendoodle, Waffle.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Dogs that have been spayed or neutered live longer than dogs who are intact.

‘It was actually Louis, the other former hunting dog we brought home, who first caught our eye when he and Acacia fell in love at a rescue, we visited during our Greek Island holiday in August,’ says Jo, who is from Essex.

‘He’s quite an old boy, too – we reckon between eight and 10. He’d been at the rescue for four years.

‘He had such a sad story, as he had just been abandoned in a forest and left chained to a tree.

Dakota and Acacia with Louis (rawpawsphotography/PA Real Life)
Dakota and Acacia with Louis (Picture: PA Real Life/rawpawsphotography)
‘There were hundreds of dogs to see, but he lay down with Acacia and let her tickle his tummy and pet him. She stayed with him for the whole time we were there and insisted she was having him.’

This is a copycat version of the kind made by Greenies.

While bringing one old dog home from Crete would have been too much of a challenge for most people, soon the 35-year-old found herself agreeing to rescue two.

‘I spotted Jack on the rescue’s Facebook site and saw that he was disabled and started looking into bringing them both home,’ she says.

‘The rest is history.’

While Louis won her daughter’s heart, Jack won Jo’s as she read how the poor pooch had been hit by a car – breaking his jaw, damaging his spine and leaving him with paralysed back legs, while he also had arthritis in his front legs.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Nearly 80 million U.S. households have a pet, and 42 percent of those households have more than one, according to a 2015-2016 survey by the APPA. There are 77.8 million pet dogs in the U.S. and 85.8 million pet cats.

Dakota and Jack in Greece (rawpawsphotography/PA Real Life)
Dakota and Jack in Greece (Picture: PA Real Life/rawpawsphotography)
‘I sat there at the rescue Googling flights to see how I could get the dogs home,’ she says. ‘We had cheap tickets and I couldn’t change them, but alternative tickets for us all were too expensive, and Greece doesn’t allow dogs to be flown out unaccompanied, so it looked like the most cost-effective way would be to go home and come back again by myself to bring them back to England.’ Eventually, in October, Jo returned to Crete with Dakota and spent £415 bringing both dogs home – driving to Paris and back to catch the flights.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: One survey found that 81 percent of cat owners let their felines sleep on the bed, compared to 73 percent of dog owners.

Jack, who had been sent to Athens for surgery to help with his injuries during his time at the shelter, was also given wheels by his carers there, to hold up his back legs and help him move around.

Before they knew it, Jack and Louis were settled and happy as part of a devoted new family.

Jo and Jack (rawpawsphotography/PA Real Life)
Jack was left paralysed when he was hit by a car (Picture: PA Real Life/rawpawsphotography)
‘It’s quite difficult sometimes to settle in older dogs, especially when they’ve had a horrible time, but they are lovely and get on really well with Waffle,’ adds Jo.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: The United States has the highest pet dog population in the world. Approximately 75.8 million in fact.

Keen to do all she could to ease Jack’s painful arthritis in his front legs, Jo paid for him to have hydrotherapy and laser therapy, designed to stimulate the nerves,

She was horrified when the experts working with the dog told her that his wheels were hurting, rather than helping him and that they needed to be replaced urgently.

She was recommended a specialist wheel-cart, available from a firm in the USA, which would cost around £800.

Jack on a walk (rawpawsphotography/PA Real Life)
Jack’s original wheelchair is actually making his legs worse (Picture: PA Real Life/rawpawsphotography)

Unable to afford it as well as paying for his treatment, she launched a GoFundMe page, hoping Jack would melt the hearts of kind strangers, just as he had melted hers.

Celebrate Your Pet at Every Age. Everyone loves a new puppy or kitten, says Dr. Becker. “They’re wildly kinetic, and humorous. An older pet is thinner, bonier. Their coats aren’t as soft, they might have bad breath.” But, like people, a pet’s needs change with age. They may be less active, preferring a leisurely stroll to a rollicking tug-of-war. “Our old retriever, who’s blind, still wants to retrieve.” Adapting to their changing needs will ensure your old friend remains a healthy and happy member of your family.

‘I couldn’t believe it as, within two hours, we’d smashed the target and had £1,000,’ she says.

‘Now we have well over £2,000 and will spend the additional money on giving him all the treatment he needs and ensuring both dogs have the best old age ever.

‘I was working extra hours to try and pay for treatment, but I couldn’t really keep up, so this is amazing.

‘Without these wheels, he’s going to lose his independence, which would be so sad, as he’s really happy living with us.

Dakota and Acacia with Jack (rawpawsphotography/PA Real Life)
‘I’m not surprised he’s cast a spell over everyone’ (Picture: PA Real Life/rawpawsphotography)

A carabiner is a quick and easy way to leash your dog.

‘He loves going to the forest with the wheels he’s got, but they are harming his legs and making everything worse, not better, so they have to go.

‘Now I can afford to buy him dog shoes, to make him more stable and his wheels will mean he can run around like a puppy again.’

The animal loving family are hoping to get the wheels in time for Christmas.

‘I am overwhelmed by people’s generosity,’ says Jo.

‘But Jack is such a big, soppy pup – as is Louis – I’m not surprised he’s cast a spell over everyone. They’ve both worked their magic.’

A Wagging Tail Does Not Always Equal a Happy Dog. Don’t approach a strange dog just because it’s wagging it’s tail. Tail wagging isn’t always the universal sign of happiness – it can also indicate fear or insecurity. Be sure to teach your children about the basics of dog bite prevention.

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