WHOEVER said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks certainly hasn’t met this inspirational hound.
Twelve-year-old Cairn Jack Russell cross, Chester has become some what of a celebrity in Littlehampton and Rustington.
The pet suffered a serious spinal deformation last year which forced it to undergo major surgery to save its life.
Since the procedure, in April, the four-legged dynamo has been unable to use its hind legs – but that has not deterred the determined dog from getting about, admitted owner Stuart Bellis, of Sea Road, Rustington.
Chester can regularly be seen riding around Mewsbrook Park in his custom-fit ‘wheelchair’.
“He has been amazing really,” said 40-year-old Stuart, a content manager for a web design company. “He has been so resilient, he just gets on with it.”
Chester needed to have an operation to remove a slipped disk which was in danger of sliding into his spinal cord, severing it.
None of the vets could give a definitive answer for the cause of damage, with one suggesting it was trauma-related and another claiming it was a long-running injury which had worsened over time.
“It was a horrible time,” recounted Stuart. “Within 24 hours we went from having a normal dog, doing normal dog things, to one that needed to have a major operation with the chance he might never walk again.
“At one point the vet told us to put Chester down.”
It was ‘touch-and-go’ for a period after the operation with Stuart and his wife, Karen, admitting they were unsure whether or not to put Chester to sleep.
“For a few months we were a bit worried that we were going to have to do ‘the deed’ and put him down,” Simon said.
However, after Chester was fitted with the new contraption, about six months ago, the pet has been granted a new lease of life.
The hoist system connects to the Cairn Jack Russell cross’s rear and elevates Chester’s back legs up.
It allows the pooch to run around using its front legs.
Stuart said he had been stunned by the turnaround
He added: “It’s been a bit of a struggle as my wife has been looking after him
“But he seems happy now.
“It took him quite a long time to get used to it – he didn’t really get it. But once he understood that he could go out for walks using it, he has been a changed dog.
“He hops down the walkway quite happily now.”
Chester has managed to generate quite a following of fans who greet the pet on its regular strolls around Mewsbrook Park.
The lucky hound is even proving to be an inspiration to others, Stuart revealed.
“My wife was talking to one lady in the convalescent home who said Chester was an inspiration.
“She was struggling to walk but when she saw Chester she said she was inspired to keep walking.”