N.B. woman gives disabled Boxer dogs new lease on life
HALIFAX -- A New Brunswick woman is behind a global movement helping Boxer dogs deal with a debilitating disease that causes gradual paralysis. By providing canines with wheelchairs, the group of dedicated dog lovers is giving pets around the world a new lease on life.
It was in 2005 that Denise Stewart of Pennfield, N.B., began her love for Boxer dogs with the birth of her dog named Tyson. Now, with a 10-year-old dog adoptee named Macie – the fourth addition to her family's boxer dogs – Stewart reminisces about the past while reflecting on the present.
"Once I got Tyson and I seen their personalities and how goofy they can be," says Stewart. "They're very devoted to whoever has them."
Unfortunately, Tyson would eventually be diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy – a disease that causes paralysis in dogs. Luckily, Stewart received a wheelchair from a man in the United States who helped identify the cause of her dog's problems online – a gift she says gave her family their dog back.
"He [Tyson] was happy. My dog, Winston, would play with him and just kind of get him back running again, and we would play some of Tyson's favourite games like outside chasing bubbles, or outside chasing Frisbees," says Stewart. "He just learned to live again."
In 2018, Tyson passed away at the age of 13. However, his experience using a wheelchair set the wheels in motion for the creation of the group Tyson Wonder Wheels 4 Boxers – a group based in Canada and the U.S., which raises funds to provide wheelchairs to boxers in need.
"We said 'we have to be a voice for these dogs, we have to help these families out that can't afford to do it – we're going to help them out,'" says Tyson Wonder Wheels 4 Boxers group member Michelle Herb, from Phoenix, Arizona. "That's how we got started."
When the group began, its goal was to help 100 dogs by Christmas; however, it's already surpassed that figure – helping nearly 150 dogs in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Additionally, the group's GoFundMe page, which was established in late June, has raised over $15,000 for the cause.
"When we see a dog get a wheelchair, it melts our heart," says Herb. "It makes us want to work even harder to save the next dog – it's just touching."
Meanwhile, Stewart is happy to see Tyson's legacy live on while helping other dogs just like him.
"To think that Tyson has reached out to so many dogs that just needed that extra push," says Stewart. "It just melts my heart, every dog that I see."