(WRIC/ABC) — Lucky wouldn’t likely be the first word that comes to mind when you see Scooter the pooch.
The dog is missing her hind legs, her spine was broken and fused together in a snail-like shape and she’s incontinent, after all.
But in many other ways, Scooter is lucky. She was initially rescued in Thailand by a group called SOI Dog. They refused to give up on her. She was then adopted by a woman named Willow Sullivan in New York. Her flight — which cost $1,200 — was paid for by donations. Then, a man in the U.K. named Jason Below, who neither Scooter nor Willow has ever met, paid for a cart that a top-notch doctor at Cornell fit her with.
“It’s amazing how one dog has brought a world of people together,” Sullivan told ABC News. Sullivan, who rescues elderly and disabled animals “the animals nobody wants,” she said, through her nonprofit Willow’s Wings.
Sullivan had adopted through SOI Dog once before, and saw Scooter on the organization’s Facebook page. She immediately reached out, and despite all the obstacles in her way — including Scooter being denied exit from Thailand because of numerous open sores on her behind — Sullivan and the SOI Dog organization continued to persist. They spent a month clearing Scooter of all her wounds except one — but that was enough to let her out of the country and on a flight to JFK Airport.
It wasn’t the knowledge of Scooter’s complex medical history that scared Sullivan, but rather what happened at their first meeting at JFK: Scooter bit her.
“What have I gotten myself into,” Sullivan recalled asking herself.
But on the four-hour drive from the airport to Sullivan’s home and rescue in Maine, New York, Scooter began to trust. By the time they arrived, Scooter got comfortable on Sullivan’s lap, she said.
Scooter’s sore could never properly heal because she was constantly dragging her bottom to get around. She was often also sitting in her own urine or feces, too, leading to swelling and more sores. Sullivan took her to Cornell, where Dr. Chris Frye examined her and told Sullivan “he had never seen anything like it in all his life,” she said. They also learned that Scooter was worse off than they originally though: she had fractured ribs, a fractured femur, neck fractures and a huge spinal fracture.
Plus, the amputation of her hind legs appeared to be a hack job, Sullivan said, noting “the bones were not cut clean, and not in the same place.”
Frye fitted Scooter for a chair, and after some trial and error, plus additional ordering of parts, they finally got the right fit.
“At first she just stood there and stood there. Then she took three steps back,” Sullivan said. “I called for her, and all of a sudden she walked toward me. Then she wanted out of the exam room. She walked out of the hospital and to the lawn. She strutted like she had been walking forever.”
Scooter took some time to get used to her chair. At first, she only spent 10 minutes in it three times per day. Now, just weeks later, she is up to two or three hours at a time, Sullivan said.
“It’s a lot of work, cleaning up after her [because of the incontinence],” Sullivan said. “But she has the most beautiful face and the most beautiful eyes. When she looks at you, you just melt.”
Scooter and Sullivan have developed a nightly routine: when the cart comes off, Scooter rests in the living room. When she starts to whimper, Sullivan said, she comes downstairs and Scooter scoots over and throws herself on the floor next to her. Then Sullivan does for Scooter what her missing back legs cannot — she scratches behind her ears and neck.