For Harold the Wheeling Dog, It's All Attitude

By Tanya Sheckley, Up Academy

This is Harold on Wheels. He is a Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, Scottish Deerhound and some other stuff. He's pure mutt, which we know because we had his DNA tested. Harold shows people everywhere that all we really need is love and acceptance to thrive.

I first saw Harold when he was shared on Facebook by Magical Bridge Playground when he was looking for a forever home. I took one look at his photo, his expressive ears, and I knew he could help so many people, just by being him.

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Miniature Mutt with Disabilities Teaches Giant Lessons

Harold is paralyzed in his rear legs from a congenital spinal issue, he uses a wheelchair or drag bag to get around. He doesn't have time for pity or sadness (who does?) and is the happiest dog around. He enjoys all the things dogs do: treats, walks, pets, scratches behind the ears. In fact, he might enjoy these more than other dogs because he can't do it himself. He is just a dog. And when we take him to the park, he runs and plays and sniffs butts, just like any dog.

The lesson he is teaching is that he has disabilities, but he is a dog first. And as a dog, he needs love, affection and acceptance just as much as any dog.

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What has been most interesting, and has given us the most opportunity to talk with others, is how fascinated people are in Harold. My daughter has cerebral palsy and often when we would go to the park, others wouldn't ask to play with her. They would move to other parts of the park, parents would look and watch with curiosity over their phones to see how she moved and how we played, but no one asked. When you have a dog with disabilities, everyone asks. Everyone wants to know what happened, if they can pet him and how he feels. It opens up a different conversation. He makes everyone smile, while talking about disability.

Harold uses this skill, and the ability to be like others, in the school where he works. He is in the process of becoming a therapy dog and is the Canine Ambassador for UP Academy, where he helps kids with their reading, regulation and fun. He also helps them to feel accepted and loved, like him. When kids with disabilities see a dog who is also in a wheelchair, they light up. It ignites the sense of belonging and of someone, or in this case, something being "like me." Harold gives parents an opportunity to ask questions about something that isn't scary; you can't say the wrong thing when you talk to a dog.

It allows him to teach his lesson: kids may have disabilities, but they are kids first. Kids just see kids, but adults need some reminding that kids are kids first and need love and acceptance just as much as any kid.

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Harold sparks conversation, he spreads understanding and affirmation and, most of all, he is able to show us all how to love. Harold demonstrates that, no matter the species, so many things are possible if you have the right attitude.

And when he runs full speed toward you with a big smile on his face, ears up, wheels rolling…it's pure joy.

Follow Harold's adventures on Instagram @haroldonwheels.

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