Owner: samantha morrissey, from whitegate, co clare
Animals: two border collies
Background: mollie has paralysed back legs after being hit by a car
Samantha originally took on Mollie temporarily, fostering her from the Galway SPCA sanctuary when she was a puppy. But Mollie was such an adorable pup that Samantha found that she couldn't give her back when she was asked to do so.
Mollie grew into a beautiful Border collie with the best attributes of the breed: she's intelligent, sociable and exceptionally good natured. She has always been friendly, loving to meet new people and other dogs.
When she was three years old, she had six puppies: Samantha decided to keep Mollie's favourite, Maddie. Mother and daughter have continued to be the best of friends.
A few months after having the puppies, Mollie was hit by a car, suffering a spinal fracture. Her hind legs were paralysed and there was no prospect of her ever walking again. The specialist vet felt that the best advice was to put her down, but Samantha couldn't do it. Mollie looked up at her with sparkling, bright eyes, and Samantha could tell that she wanted to live.
Samantha took her home and began researching paralysed dogs on the internet. She soon discovered that life can carry on for many paralysed dogs, as long as an owner is prepared to make the effort and investment needed to help.
Molly's front legs are fully functional, but her back legs are completely paralysed. Without wheels, she would drag her back legs behind her on the ground. With wheels to support her hind quarters, she's now able to move around easily.
To start with, a friend made a wheelchair from a child's buggy. Molly took to it immediately but, after a year, the wheels started falling off, and Samantha had to look at different options.
When out with Molly one day, Samantha happened to meet an American lady who offered to buy her the best dog wheelchair in the world. An American company (see www.eddieswheels.com) makes custom-designed dog wheelchairs. Samantha sent off Mollie's measurements, and soon after, a state-of-the-art wheelchair arrived from America. Mollie now has air-filled tyres, and she's able to run around off road, as well as on tarmac.
There are practical challenges with a paralysed dog. The wheelchair harness needs to be monitored carefully to make sure that pressure sores don't develop. Toiletting can be complicated: Samantha needs to squeeze Mollie's abdomen several times a day, to keep her bladder emptied, and Mollie doesn't have normal control of her poops either. But with care and planning, Samantha is able to manage the situation.
Mollie is an unusual dog in Ireland and she draws attention; often a crowd forms around her, with people queuing up to meet her and to talk to Samantha. Mollie has even become an international celebrity. She has her own Facebook page, with hundreds of online fans from around the world. Last year, she won World Animal Week's Best Loved Dog Competition.
When you meet Mollie, it's obvious that she's an exceptionally happy dog, despite her disability. She loves life and she never fails to bring a smile to the faces of those many people that she meets