Puppy Power

Hotwheels gets carried in his wheelchair by Thais Eisenbrown, a veterinary technician, after running around the Humane Society of Marion County on Thursday. The dog was brought into the Humane Society with a broken back on March 30. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]
Hotwheels has no speed limit.

The moment the pooch is strapped into his wheelchair, he’s off to the races – bumping into and running over anything in his path.

But it was a different story when the six-month-old Labrador retriever mix first arrived at the Marion County Humane Society on March 30.

“He was found on the side of the road with a blanket on him,” said Joyce Trzaska, the lead veterinary technician with the Humane Society. “He had Demodex, and it looks like someone hit him the way his back is broken.”

Demodex, a type of mange caused by an infestation of mites, was the least of Hotwheels’ worries. Instead, he had fractures between his tenth and twelfth vertebrae that left his hind legs paralyzed.

Veterinarians and other staff members speculate he was struck with a baseball bat or other similar object.

A week after arriving, Hotwheels was introduced to the wheelchair. And he quickly took to his ticket to freedom.

“As many dogs we’ve had in a wheelchair, he took to it the quickest,” said Eddie Leedy, executive director of the Humane Society.

Leedy said Hotwheels quickly became accustomed to the width of the wheelchair and learned how to navigate tighter spaces.

But he still likes to go fast.

Hotwheels was originally named “little Angus,” paying homage to his tendencies to bump and ram into things – especially other dogs. But he grew into the name Hotwheels.

“We said, ‘This is so fitting for him.’,” Trzaska said. “Especially that he goes like a demon.”

While Hotwheels quickly took to the wheelchair, the goal is to get him out.

Shelter veterinarian Jami McGregor said it’s too early to tell if that will happen.

But Trzaska and Leedy said the dog is improving daily. Recently, he started to pull his back legs away from the constraints of the wheelchair.

Eventually, Hotwheels will go up for adoption. While it will still take a while before the dog is ready, many have already inquired about the charming dog whose story was featured on the Humane Society’s Facebook page.

“I mean a dog like him wouldn’t be good for a younger couple that works all the time,” Leedy said. “He wouldn’t have to have constant care, but somebody would need to be there with him.”

But until he’s adopted, Hotwheels has the Humane Society’s staff to swoon over him. He’s kept comfortable in a Publix shopping cart filled with blankets and enjoys his trips outside, where he rips through the parking lot and into the garden.

“He doesn’t even know his back is broken,” Trzaska said. “He doesn’t know.”

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