On the all-important cuteness spectrum, disabled animals who courageously beat the odds rival cross-species friends and baby humans cuddling puppies for the title of Most Adorable Thing Ever. Really, little animals in wheelchairs are irresistible, and their bionic existence is evidence of the unique bond between humans and pets. Here, seven adorable animals who were able walk again on all fours thanks to a few dedicated humans.
Flipper was born with a twisted spine, leaving her hind legs so badly crooked that she could only drag them behind her. She was going to be put down — until a group of high school students learned about her disability. The Blitz Robotic Club of Conifer High School, Colo., designed an ingenious wheeled harness to help Flipper walk. Against all odds, the kitten is on the mend — and no longer at risk of termination. "There's been significant improvement," said veterinarian H.C. Gurney. "And that supposedly doesn't happen."
The little snorting piglet was born without the use of his hind legs. But his clever owner, Len Lucero, designed a miniature wheelchair, and now the little nugget can run around on his own. It wasn't easy at first, as the six-minute YouTube video that turned Chris into a sensation shows. But soon enough, he got the hang of it. Indeed, Chris eventually outgrew his first set of wheels and got outfitted for a snazzy new ride.
There are numerous companies — Walkin' Wheels, K9 Carts, Best Friend Mobility — that try to make mobility easier on our disabled furry friends. One such business, Eddie's Wheels, is run by mechanical engineer Eddie Grinnell, who has spent some two decades outfitting disabled dogs with custom designed wheels that match the pet's breed, size, and abilities. (Facebook.com/Eddiesdogwheelchairs)
Eddie was so successful at outfitting canines with mechanical legs that he has done the same for a number of other animals, including BamBam the sheep. This little guy's back legs were injured by a car, but with the help of this personalized contraption, BamBam can stand and walk again. (Facebook.com/Eddiesdogwheelchairs)
Butterscotch is a sweet white-and-tan goat that lives at Kindred Spirits Sanctuary — a home for abused, neglected, and needy farm animals. Butterscotch can't use her legs properly, so Eddie built the little goat a quad car that comes with a detachable handle to get her out of any tight spots she may find. (Facebook.com/Kindred Spirits Sanctuary)
Joe was found abandoned in the backyard of the O'Rourke family home in Arizona. It quickly became apparent that Joe was born a paraplegic and couldn't hop. Instead, he would scoot around, dragging his hind legs. The youngest O'Rourke, Liam, wanted to make life easier for Joe, and designed the All Terrain Bunny support system. The wheelbarrow-like contraption consists of two wheels and a little red container that the bunny's hind legs were strapped into. While it took some getting used to, little Joe soon grew more confident, padding around the concrete deck with ease.
Goldie had a buoyancy problem. She would just sit at the bottom of the tank instead of swimming around like all the other goldfish. Thankfully, a helpful human created what we can only assume is the world's first goldfish "wheelchair." A life-preserver-like harness now allows Goldie to float and move about the tank with the use of her front fins. And while the tank is still a fish-eat-fish world with the bigger underwater scavengers getting to the food long before Goldie could, the little disabled fish gets a little help from her owners with hand-fed nibbles.