Pit Bull in a Wheelchair Inspires and Comforts Kids with Disabilities
This Salt Lake City pit bull is melting hearts, busting stereotypes, and proving that a disability doesn't have to slow you down.
Piggy, a pit-bull/boxer mix, can walk with only her front legs. Her hind legs were paralyzed three years ago in a hit-and-run car accident that shattered most of her spine. No one specifically said the dog should be put to sleep, "but that was the implied recommendation," her owner, attorney April Hollingsworth, told KSL-TV.
Yet Hollingsworth kept her dog alive, and now Piggy has a new purpose. Secured to a cart with wheels to help her get around, Piggy volunteers as a trained therapy dog at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Salt Lake City, which provides free surgeries to children with spinal cord injuries, orthopedic disorders and other similar conditions. Every couple of weeks, Piggy calls on children who are recovering from surgery or waiting to be fitted for casts or wheelchairs.
Piggy is amazingly gentle, Hollingsworth says. The dog can be relied on to nuzzle a baby's nose or calmly lick a treat out of a child's hand. Sometimes, children get so excited to see Piggy that they have to be reminded to stay in their beds. She is one of four dogs that volunteer at the hospital through Intermountain Therapy Animals, a nonprofit organization that tests and trains all of its therapy dogs to make sure they work well with children and hospital patients.
"The kids love the dogs," Shriners recreation therapist Laura Lewis told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I've witnessed moments where a child hasn't talked to anyone else, but the second that the dog comes in the room, they will just sit down and tell a dog how they're feeling and what scares them."
Piggy attends regular therapy sessions to strengthen her back legs. In the meantime, she will continue putting smiles on the faces of everyone she meets.
"If we're lucky, we have something to give the world to make people happy," Hollingsworth told KSL-TV. "Some people can sing and that's their gift, and some people have money where they can start foundations and that's their gift. I have this great dog who spread happiness wherever she goes."