By Charlie Di Pietro, F269192
Like many FMCA members, my wife, Bev, and I began taking our small dog with us on every trip we took in our motorhome, a 2002 40-foot Fleetwood American Eagle. On one trip, to Reno, Nev., in August 2002, our 12-pound poodle named Bogey developed a problem.
Although he was only 5-1/2 years old and always healthy, he blew a disc in his back. The complete rear half of his body became paralyzed. We took immediate action by taking him to a qualified animal clinic in Carson City, Nev. After many examinations and discussions, Bogey underwent spinal surgery.
After a few weeks of recovery time, it became apparent that Bogey would never walk again. We were devastated, but did not want to think about having to put him down.
We searched the Web and found Dewey's Wheelchairs for Dogs in Bend, Ore. We drove from Carson City to meet Dewey Springer. He assessed and measured Bogey on one afternoon and had his new wheelchair chariot ready the next day. It's made of aluminum tubing and lightweight plastic, and has a pneumatic wheel.
When Bogey was first placed in the wheelchair, there wasn't even a moment's hesitation. He took off around the yard as fast as his front legs could go. From that day until now, Bogey has been with us as we travel full-time throughout the western United States.
Almost without fail, he will create a stir in an RV park when he makes his first trip around. People often come out of their motor coaches to see him up close and to meet him. He is willing to stop his march for only a moment to say hello to these nice folks. Then he begins to chew and pull on his leash as if to say, "Let's go."
Many fellow RVers will commend my wife for choosing this path for Bogey's life and for taking such complete care of him. Because of his disability, he does depend on her for assistance with his bodily functions. My wife in turn thanks bogey for not having to take him outside to do his business whenever it is raining.
Because many of the people visiting with Bogey are of retirement age, they also suffer from various maladies and injuries. After seeing Bogey's very positive attitude, they will state that they will henceforth be less ready to complain about being a bit stiff and sore when taking their walks.
Bogey now has the endurance and willingness to go for longer periods of time on his walks. Often, he covers distances of up to two miles. His front end has become extremely strong and dominates his now 8-pound frame.
While inside our motorhome, Bogey manages to get around quite well without his chariot. He scoots along especially well on the smooth tile flooring, but we have to lift him up to his favorite spot on the couch. However, we still cannot break him of his desire to jump off the couch when he wants to get down.
We don't feel that our chosen path is the right one for everyone. But it is working well for us. Bogey brings much joy and hope to us and everyone who meets him. We look forward to many more trips and visits with him.