A four-year-old rescue dog who has had severe spinal injuries is now driven around in a pram so that he can enjoy life despite having difficulty being able to walk.
Rio and his owner Emma walk around Wirral with the adorable pup sitting in a pram.
However, there is hope for Rio, as has already had three life-changing spine operations in the hope he will be able to walk again and live a normal life.
Believed to be a Terrier/Frenchie crossbreed, Rio was found abandoned in Spain on top of a mountain in lots of pain. The hard-working Rochdale women at Paws on Hearts who found him did not know how he got his injuries.
When he moved to the UK two years ago, Rio was showing some kind of walking difficulty.
Emma Walsh, 31, from Wirral was following the animal charity on social media when she came across a picture of Rio on Facebook.
She says she "instantly fell in love with his little face" and that the pup has been a fighter since battling with his spinal disability.
Emma said: “I took him to a specialist who said he’s got two smashed discs in his spine. They were surprised he was even walking with the agony he must have been in. He had spinal surgery for the first time to fix the two discs, but within eight months another spinal disc was causing him issues.”
Poor Rio had to undergo another major operation by the same surgeon. After this, he lost the ability to walk and lost feeling in his bladder and his bowels. Emma decided to buy him a pram so he could still go on his walks until he could stand again.
She said: “We worked really hard and did physio every day which got him walking again. It was like when a baby takes their first steps. He was a little bit disjointed but still walking.”
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Everything was looking up for the family until four weeks ago when Rio started showing signs of struggle again.
Emma was told he needed yet another operation as he now had five smashed discs in his spine.
She told TeamDogs: “Rio’s spine was so weak, but the surgeon recommended a third operation to keep him alive. The insurance was maxed out so we had to pay £6,000 for the last operation. Luckily he’s now in recovery.”
The family was due a holiday to Center Parcs and by this time Rio was desperate to get out of his crate. So Rio tagged along in his pram for a much-needed holiday.
Emma said: “He loved being in the fresh air and visiting all the restaurants. It was really good for his mental health.
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“The idea is to continue pram walks as it could happen at any time. It’s a balance of living a normal life for as long as he can or limit his life being in a crate, which is just cruel.
“If it happens again, they’ll consider giving him a full metal spine.”
While Rio isn’t having spinal surgery, he’s a loving business dog in Emma’s family-run education recruitment business Milk Education.
She said: “He’s part of our wellness team, as a little wellness coordinator but at the moment he’s a little bit broken. Hopefully, we’ll get him back to being a business dog soon whether that’s with the pram or not. He loves his job in the office. He wanders around and gives people cuddles.”
What Rio has experienced is horrifically painful and is incredibly rare. Everyone knows the pup is a warrior with lots of life still in him. So rare, his surgeon used Rio as a case study. He has been a surgeon for 30 years but has never had a dog with a spine in such a horrific way, needing three surgeries in the space of a year.
Emma said: “He just wanted to show that the advice should not be to just put them down after two or three surgeries because they can keep going. He said a lot of people would have put him down by now.
“So many people think it’s better to put the dog down but it’s not. If they’ve got a strong mind and you know that they can do it then they’ll recover.
“It’s been a scary process but I’ve grown resilience from it. I’m not going to put him down, I’m not choosing that choice. I’m hoping this is third time lucky and we can get him through.”
Emma has rescued three dogs from Spain and documents all of their adventures on Instagram with adorable pictures.
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