Disabled Dog Helps Kids Understand: “Different” is OK

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A disabled Pug named Molly, who walks with her front legs and rolls with her back legs in a wheelchair, is making an incomparable impact on the lives of children in her community and around the country by helping them understand disabilities and learn that people (and animals) with handicaps can still enjoy active, fulfilling lives.

A disabled Pug named Molly, who walks with her front legs and rolls with her back legs in a wheelchair, is making an incomparable impact on the lives of children in her community and around the country by helping them understand disabilities and learn that people (and animals) with handicaps can still enjoy active, fulfilling lives.

When Mandy Evans of Santa Barbara bought Molly four years ago from a breeder, she just wanted a dog for all the reasons everyone does: fun and companionship. Just weeks after bringing the puppy home Evans noticed Molly was having trouble with her hind legs, and after a visit with her veterinarian she was diagnosed with a twisted spine. Molly was then placed in a specially-made wheelchair, and Evans quickly adapted to a life of constant vet visits and diaper changes. But it did not take long for Evans to realize that what she had in Molly was the inspiration to change her life and others.

Now Evans, 30, a corporate event planner, spends her free time taking Molly on volunteer appearances at elementary schools to help educate children on coping with physical challenges, and finding all of the joy life still offers those who face these kinds of difficulties.

By utilizing Molly, children are more open to asking questions they might be too shy to ask a disabled person – such as how the dog gets around with two paralyzed back legs, how she goes to the bathroom, and how her diapers have to be changed. According to Evans, “When Molly demonstrates how she copes, the kids can see she’s really not that different from any other dog.”

“At the start of the class, the kids are cautious about asking questions,” Evans added. “But they adapt quickly and it’s my hope that the next time one of the children meets a physically challenged person they will not turn away, but remember Molly and treat them like anyone else they would meet.”

The school and community appearances with Molly are a part of a greater mission Evans has begun with Kevin Roberson, to assist those who need a community of support, encouragement and compassion. The two have collaborated and launched a Web site specifically designed special dogs: http://www.myspecialdog.com. The site features sections on Health, Style, a group forum and Ask the Vet.

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