Donkey with Crippling Spinal Condition Regains Strength and Walks Again with Custom Wheelchair

Saved once by his owner Heidi, Norman the donkey has been rescued again, this time by a custom wheelchair.

Norman, who Heidi rescued 20 years ago, seemed to be in relatively good health until one recent morning, where his owner found the donkey injured and lying on the ground. Unsure what caused the injury, Heidi rushed Norman from her Ohio farm to the veterinarians at Ohio State University (OSU).

OSU vets, led by Dr. Tomiko, diagnosed Norman with a spinal condition called IVDD which left him with decreased motor function in his back left leg, which likely led to his injury. To get Norman back on his hooves, vets used laser therapy treatments and physical therapy.

Norman, slightly overweight at 340 pounds, responded well to the treatments but needed to start walking again to fully heal and lose weight. In an effort to get the donkey moving, Heidi reached out to Walkin' Pets by HandicappedPets.com, a pet mobility company based in New Hampshire, about creating a wheelchair for Norman.

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Walkin' Pets, which has a long history of making custom wheelchairs for animals in need, decided to take on the project, their largest custom wheelchair build to date. They were able to create a donkey-friendly wheelchair for Norman, which features "special fixed knuckles and a reinforced frame rugged enough to support Norman’s weight," according to a release from Walkin' Pets.

Norman easily acclimated to the wheelchair and was able to start walking again with the support. Over the first two weeks with his wheelchair, Norman lost 38 pounds. He has now regained most of the strength he had prior to his injury and is able to stand on his own unsupported. Based on this amazing progress, Norman was released from OSU's care last week and returned home to Heidi's farm.

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