Roo, our “kangaroo” dog


Written by Natalie Kotzé

Professional photography by Xany Jansen Van Vuuren and From The Heart Photography

Roo was born without front legs, and although he was a cheerful, otherwise healthy puppy, the people in the neighborhood started teasing him. Rural Thaba Nchu wasn’t a safe place for a disabled dog. His owner contacted New Beginnings mid-March 2018 asking for help.

A happy little puppy

New Beginnings raised funds and set out for the impoverished rural area the following Monday. Cara Labuschagne couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw this happy little brown puppy worming his way to her when she called him. Aside from his disability, he was so happy and healthy. We simply had to help him.

We began networking for wheels to get him mobile. And that’s when angels came upon our path. Judy Jooste from Vesper On Wheels (https://www.facebook.com/groups/541284616007198/) and her friends Natasha Lotter and Clarissa Gouws immediately made a plan and donated awesome wheels for Roo. He was at the rescue centre for a few weeks when I decided to foster and rehab him in his wheels. 

My husband, Bernard, was excited to see this “kangaroo dog” walk with his wheels. Having our own business allows us extra time for his rehab, so he immediately became our “shop” dog who stole many hearts.

Roo on wheels

Roo has fitted right into our family (we have five dogs and five cats – all rescues). Everyone loves him and he built up a special friendship with our Pit Bull Terrier, Maximus, who was also rescued from a rural area. Every day, Roo travels with us to work and back.

Teaching Roo to use his wheels was quite a task, as he’d never stood or walked like a normal dog before so we had to teach him from scratch to do this in his Rover. After long hours of research about disabled dogs, joining support groups, adjusting his wheels on a weekly basis, and emails to America where the wheels were manufactured, Roo has learnt to use his wheels beautifully. And he goes FAST!

We do six sessions of rehab with him in his wheels every day, and he loves it.

I want to educate people and make them aware that where there’s a will there is a way. Roo wants to go to schools and businesses to help educate the people about basic pet care, and he wants to show others that, even though he’s a special disabled boy, he lives a normal life like any other dog.

He’s the missing puzzle piece and HE rescued us. 

Watch speedy Roo in action on YouTube (https://youtu.be/BsCgVjBNl9E)

How Roo got his wheels

By Judy Jooste, founder of Vesper on Wheels

One day, out of the blue, I was contacted by Natasha Lotter of HolisticPet, Animal Dynamix in KZN who offered me wheels. The wheels arrived and – lo and behold – there was a pair of front wheels from Eddie’s Wheels for Pets in the USA. At that stage, I’d already been tagged about Roo’s story and offered to try to find or build some wheels for him.

I believe the wheels will come when the dog needs them. And the wheels came. 

Roo was so small and young; we all hoped he’d grow into them. We talked it through and everyone waited to see if Roo would grow into the wheels, or if we’d have to make another plan. On a leap of faith, I decided to send the wheels in any case and asked Clarissa Gouws of Craft-Worx, who has generously sponsored all the couriering of the wheels over the last year, to send them. 

As it turned out, we had nothing to worry about as Roo grew into using the wheels perfectly and, today, is running like a champ. An extra bonus is that now, through Roo and Natalie, there’ll be advice on how to help a front-leg disabled dog.

So, that is how Roo got his wheels from the Vesper on Wheels Project. Through two people who really cared enough to donate a pair of wheels and send them to where they were needed. It takes a village, and luckily my group has awesome villagers who are always prepared to help.

Thanks for running Roo’s story. This little dog has a very special place in my heart.

New Beginnings

This wonderful animal welfare organisation focuses on impoverished areas around Bloemfontein, Vryburg and Christiana. Their primary objective is to BE the change they want to see in their community, and, in 2014, they started a rescue centre of their own. Find out more about New Beginnings by reading our New Beginnings article (http://happytailsmagazine.co.za/news-articles/new-beginnings/)

Vesper on Wheels

The incredible Vesper on Wheels Project started when Judy Jooste adopted a paraplegic Dachshund named Vesper. Judy researched everything she could possibly find about helping dogs like Vesper and became a “go-to” person for people needing help with their own dogs. When it became obvious that there was a real need for wheels for paralysed dogs, Judy founded Vesper on Wheels. Read the whole story here: Vesper on Wheels (http://happytailsmagazine.co.za/articles/features/vesper-on-wheels/)