Originally created 07/04/97

Daredevil dog gets wheelchair until broken legs mend



LEXINGTON, Ga. - A flying leap from a second-story roof and a couple of broken legs are not about to slow down Pokey the puppy.

The daredevil doggie from Lexington is getting around just fine thanks to a little ingenuity by his owner, Danny Fullerton.

Mr. Fullerton built a mechanized wheelchair-like contraption that allows the mixed-breed pup to continue with a full schedule of sniffing, exploring and lolling around in the grass.

Pokey still plays catch and greets visitors, although he's prone to rolling over their toes.

"He pretty much took right to it," Mr. Fullerton said. "He's a regular Mario Andretti on the thing."

The contraption was built from remote control airplane wheels, brackets, picture frame molding and other "stuff that was handy around the workshop," Mr. Fullerton said.

There was also the addition of an "aerodynamic Pokey shield" - a cardboard nameplate taped to the front of the rolling device.

Nearly two weeks ago, the 4-month-old pooch chewed through some chicken wire covering the small, second-floor deck of the Fullerton's home and picture framing business. With his owner away from the scene, Pokey then made it to the roof where, in his quest to bark at every car that drove by, he slipped and fell two stories.

The accident shattered his front legs, leaving him in two casts from paw to shoulder.

Luckily, Pokey lives next door to Oglethorpe Animal Clinic where his injuries received immediate attention.

"The prognosis is still unsure but so far the little dog has done great," veterinarian Ed Rowan said.

Later this month the casts will come off and Pokey's injuries will be reevaluated to see if they have healed and if the joints are moveable.

There are two possible outcomes: The fractures heal but leave Pokey stiff-legged for life or, in the worst possible scenario, the joints won't heal and Pokey will be put to sleep, Mr. Rowan said.

"But that's very unlikely," he said. "I'm more worried about his mobility."

Mr. Rowan said that while he has seen similar equipment for dogs nursing hind-leg injuries, Mr. Fullerton's invention is a first for front-leg injuries.

"It's a fantastic idea. I want to get videos of it to show to other people," Mr. Rowan said.