It's not about the wheelchair, I know that, so why was I taken by surprise? I've seen many pictures of dogs in wheelchairs, I've loved them and even used them as a banner for my Facebook page. And what I liked about the pictures, besides the dog of course, was the wheelchair. The wheelchair is what made the picture special. The wheelchair is why those dogs' pictures go viral. The wheelchair is why they are talked about and fawned over. Me, I was part of the majority who saw the dog, nice I love dogs, in a WHEELCHAIR ISN'T THAT AWESOME. And, as I should have known I got it all wrong.
So, yes, I've seen many pictures of dogs in wheelchairs but I've never actually seen one. Not until driving home yesterday. The dog and her (I couldn't tell gender so I'm just going to 'she' her) owner crossed over in front of us as we sat at a red light. She wore a blue wrap around her waist that attached somehow to the wheelchair that allowed her to move. Even though she was a dog, and even though she was cute as hell, we all know that cuteness doesn't remove barriers. At the end of the crosswalk, the curb was blocked as whoever had ploughed the sidewalk, didn't plough the curb cut.
The dog had to pick her way carefully over the snow. That's when I noticed that the woman with her dog was holding two leads. One was attached to the collar and one was attached to a loop on the wheelchair. The dog tried a couple times, then looked over to her companion, at that point when the dog tried again the woman pulled on the back lead helping the wheelchair get over the small snowbank. Then they were on their way.
What was interesting to see as the walked by us, was that after the little assist at the curb cut, the dog and her companion just sailed on as normal. The wheelchair was doing what it was designed to do, make mobility possible for the disabled dog. The dog paid it no mind, it was just a tool. Her companion paid it no mind, it was just how her dog got around.
And then, right beside us, the dog bumped her head into the woman's calf and came to a stop. The woman laughed, I heard her say, "Alright," and then she bent down and nuzzled the dog laughing and the dogs tail was flapping wildly. They were happy in that moment.
The wheelchair was here, bouncing a bid from the movement of the tail. It made the moment possible but it wasn't a part of that moment. Anyone seeing it might have seen a WHEELCHAIR dog and missed a dog who was loved and who was capable of making her companion laugh until she cried.