Last month we reported the triumph of the three American amputee veterans who ascended Mount Kilimanjaro to get the message out that “no matter what disability you have you can be active.” Less than a week after we reported their story, another disabled adventurer set out to inspire a similar message and made history doing it.
At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States. All around New Hampshire, where the peak is located, bumper stickers, t-shirts and all manner of memorabilia tout the feat, “This (car/hiker) climbed Mt. Washington,” and on August 18, 2010 at 11:30 AM, an active Chihuahua/Dachshund mix-breed pup named Lucy earned the right to make that claim, too. The only difference is that Lucy also became the first and only dog to be able to claim, This canine in a wheelchair climbed Mt. Washington!”
“In fact, she’s the first to even attempt it,” said Ryan Triffitt, marketing director for Mount Washington, who told the Union Leader last month. “Mount Washington has always been a proving ground . . . Last summer, we had a camel. This summer, a dog in a wheelchair.”
Lucy’s rear legs have been paralyzed since she was just a few months old, when she was hit by a car in Puerto Rico and left to die. A local animal shelter took her in and got her back to health, but she never regained the use of her back legs. She lived at the shelter for two years, before Courtney Dunning visited and fell in love with her boundless personality, adopting her and immediately shipping her back to New Hampshire so they could start adjusting to their new life together.
Although there was an adjustment period, Dunning soon learned that Lucy was just like any other dog. “I think many people underestimate handicapped pets and do not realize just how much they can do given proper care and training,” Dunning said in an interview with HandicappedPets.com, the Nashua, NH company that provided Lucy’s specially fitted wheelchair.
Over this past summer, Dunning, a runner herself, slowly built up the 4-year-old pooch’s endurance by taking her on longer and tougher hikes and Lucy, the go-getter, was always ready for any challenges. Even during her record-breaking hike, Lucy was raring to go at every milestone and managed to sense when the top was near, which gave her a second wind when everyone else was growing weary.
Lucy made the journey to the top in six hours, including several pit stops for snacks, water, and one diaper change. Accompanying Lucy on the trek were her canine companion and fellow Chihuahua-mix, Topper, owner Dunning and four other human companions to carry supplies and document the journey.
“She was very determined,” said Dunning. “It blew my mind. I had no idea she had it in her.” Many people my feel sorry for handicapped dogs, as they do with handicapped humans, but Lucy is just one more example that being disabled does not mean “unable,” but merely “differently-abled.”
As Dunning told the Union Leader, “I think a piece of her knows she has to work a little harder to do things, but she finds a way to do them.”
Lucy now has her own fan page on Facebook along with some wonderful videos of her journey on YouTube.