Peg leg pooch inspires children with disabilities

2013-07-16 00:00

FOUR-MONTH-OLD Jack Russell that was left with a broken paw next to a Cape highway, now takes part in motivational talks at school, walking proudly on a prosthetic leg that was specially made for him.

Boston Riley was only a puppy of a few weeks old when he was found next to the M5, near Tokai in the Western Cape. Sharyn McNeil and her husband, Lance, from Hillcrest, Durban, decided to take him home because they already had two other Jack Russell dogs.

Lance said after the broken paw had been amputated, the puppy struggled to walk and they pushed him around in a doll’s pram.

One of Sharyn’s friends then suggested a prosthetic leg and Brian McKibbin, who makes prosthetic limbs for humans, offered to make a leg for Boston Riley.

It took about two months for the leg to be fitted and during this time Boston Riley tried his best to start walking on his own.

It was the dog’s determination to walk that inspired Lance to take Boston Riley to schools in KwaZulu-Natal, to inspire children, especially ones with disabilities.

Lance said the dog now walks without his prosthetic and climbs stairs, showing children that disability is not a stumbling block.

“The children are crazy about him. He inspires children with physical and mental disabilities. Even children with learning problems can learn a lot from him.”

Boston Riley has visited eight schools in the past month and Lance said he gets lots of letters from the children. In one of the letters, Ethan wrote that Riley had encouraged him to help animals when he grows up.

Boston Riley got his name because he was found a week after the bomb explosions at the Boston marathon. Lance said a lot of people had also lost limbs in the explosions.

Sharyn said they decided on the “Riley” part because it sounded like “Ryan”, her late son’s name. She said Riley also meant “brave” and “heroic”, which perfectly described her dog.

The dog is an ambassador for animal welfare at Pet Rescue Pinetown. The McNeils have started the Boston Riley Pays It Forward Facebook page, where animal lovers can adopt animals and share information.

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