INDIANAPOLIS - A disabled Chihuahua named "Turbo" is gaining ground in his quest to be mobile.
An Indianapolis couple surrendered the puppy to the staff at The Downtown Veterinarian on East 11th Street earlier this month. They explained the dog's front legs hadn't developed and, although his mother was feeding him those first few weeks, as soon as he was weaned, the other dogs weren't letting him near any food.
The couple said they had driven to several other veterinary offices seeking help for the one-month-old puppy, who only weighed 10 ounces.
Practice Manager Amy Birk said she wouldn't even consider euthanizing the dog.
"A small dog can do well with a cart. So, unless he had another medical condition, there was no way we were putting him to sleep," Birk said.
The veterinarians checked him out and he was otherwise OK. They decided he would spend his days at the practice and go home every night with veterinary technician Ashley Looper.
Staff members threw out names and settled on "Turbo," but sometimes call him "Roo" because of his striking resemblance to a kangaroo.
Soon after he started eating regularly, they got to work figuring out how to make Turbo walk. Since dogs can't be fitted for regular carts until they're about six months old, they knew they would have to improvise.
They found and dismantled a Fisher Price helicopter on wheels and used a ferret harness and pipes from a toy welding kit to make the rest.
They do physical therapy with Turbo every day to strengthen his back legs. The staff said he mostly goes in circles on his cart, but he is getting better at using it every day.
"He's very much a typical Chihuahua. He's rowdy and loves to play and will attack your shoe," Birk said.
As much as Birk, Looper and the rest of the staff already love Turbo, they know he is better off in a permanent home.
Several people have expressed interest in adopting him, even with the understanding they will have to buy him a new cart or several as he grows.
Now weighing in at a solid pound, the staff has already modified his makeshift cart three times. He probably won't need too many more adjustments throughout his lifetime since he's probably going to top out at less than three pounds.
He's what breeders call a "teacup" and in his case, he comes with his own saucer.