MUNCIE, Ind. — The owner of a dog care business didn't know that a call she received about a couple of puppies that were dumped at a friend's house would turn into her being the owner of a special needs dog.
Kelley Stewart, owner of Sit-Stay-Play in Muncie, Ind., took care of the two puppy Chihuahuas that were born with no front legs. She posted on Facebook that the two-legged pups needed homes, and Jalen Duncan quickly called dibs on one of them. Before long, Stewart realized she couldn't part with the other one, and named him Sonny.
"I was concerned about my other two dogs," Stewart said of her pit bulls. "They are big babies, but they are so much bigger than Sonny. My cats are bigger than the Chihuahuas."
Still, the cute factor on Sonny was so high that Stewart couldn't turn him away, and her passion for dogs drew her to Sonny's need for love and help.
Duncan has Sonny's sister, Maddie. The two pups, now 5 months old, have both pretty well mastered the ability to move like kangaroos, hopping around on their hind legs and bouncing right back up after a tumble. But Stewart and Duncan want to enhance their mobility with wheelchair devices. Stewart is currently raising money to pay for Sonny's wheels; Duncan has the funds for Maddie's, thanks to Alicia Hodges.
"She saw a picture of Maddie I posted on Facebook, and she asked if I was getting a wheelchair for her," Duncan explained. "I said, 'Yeah, eventually.' And she just said she had the money and would pay for it. I was shocked."
Hodges said that Duncan has helped her out with some questions in the past regarding a new dog, and she wanted to return the favor.
"We were just talking, IMing, on Facebook, and I didn't have to think long about it," Hodges said. "She's a single mom, and I just want the best possible care for her dog."
Duncan said the walking device costs $400. Parker Veterinary Clinic has agreed to place a can for donations at their office to help Stewart raise funds.
Stewart learned through a friend that the pups were two of six in a litter, and four were born with leg deformities. She is not sure of the location or condition of the others, and said it was probably a case of irresponsible breeding.
Stewart said she has plans to use Sonny in her business as a way to educate the public about the dangers of improper breeding.
"He's OK on grass now, but I worry about him hurting himself when he's out on concrete and such," Stewart said.