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JoAnna Lou
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Wheelchair for a Tiny Pup
Bollman Tech students help a Chihuahua to run

Last July a Chihuahua named BeeBee was born without any shoulder blades, making it difficult to walk. This caused BeeBee to get picked on by other dogs at home, so Denise Steininger brought the puppy with her to work at a local nursing home. BeeBee may have been there for her own good, but the Chihuahua was soon bringing joy and inspiration to all the residents at the Life at Alpine Living Center in Thornton, Colorado.

One resident said, "if [BeeBee] can get through what she’s going through, I know I can."

BeeBee had a bubbly personality, but was still having trouble walking around the nursing home. A co-worker suggested that Denise speak with the Bollman Technical Education Center, where her son was an engineering student, about a possible solution. It turns out the instructors thought BeeBee’s dilemma would be a great project for their students.

Hunter Freed, Justin Erickson, and Kyle Cary immediately volunteered to take on the challenge as a community service project. The three students filmed BeeBee to study how she walked and then worked together to design a wheelchair for the tiny pup.

It only took a half hour for BeeBee to learn to move in their creation. With the wheelchair, BeeBee can now run around with remarkable speed.

Denise plans to get BeeBee certified as a therapy dog so she can officially “work” at the nursing home.

It’s amazing how much mobility BeeBee has with her wheelchair. All thanks to three students who now have an impressive project under their belt!  

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
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