Pittsburg There's something a little different about Duke, a dachshund who resides with the Linville family.
Maybe it's the wheels strapped to his rear end.
"He jumped down off my bed, and I think the disc was totally blown," said Laura Linville, an occupational therapist who works in Joplin. "He had steroids to take down the swelling in his spine, and he seemed fine. Then, four months later, he was acting weird."
Duke's hindquarters became paralyzed, and he also lost control of his bowels and bladder. He was hospitalized and even underwent a few acupuncture treatments from Dr. Mary Sue Painter, who is certified in veterinary acupuncture.
"But she felt that it wasn't going to be beneficial," said Linville.
She had a decision to make - how could Duke still have a good quality of life?
"I did think briefly about putting him down," Linville said, "but he's not in pain, and he still seemed happy. Then Dr. Micky Painter suggested a wheelchair, and I spent a lot of time researching them."
She settled on Dogon Wheels, which can be customized to the animal.
"We had to measure Duke, then e-mail the measurements," Linville said.
Duke got his wheels the week before Christmas.
"It came with instructions on how to help the dog slowly get used to it, but he got accustomed to it very quickly," Linville said. "He did have to learn how to maneuver around furniture and door jambs. At first he'd get stuck, but then he realized that he had to back up and move out a little more."
She said Duke's front legs do get tired after pulling himself around, so his time on wheels is limited.
"On weekdays, he's in the wheels from 3:30 to around 7 p.m. or so, and more hours on weekends," Linville said.
He enjoys playing with the four other dogs in the family and even chases Thunder, the Devon Rex cat. He also likes to spend time with Linville, her husband, Rex, and their children Mallory and Jeff, both Pittsburg High School students.
Linville has worked with Duke, doing range-of-motion exercises and hydrotherapy in the bathtub. This may be doing some good, because he has recently started moving his right leg.
"I'm hoping that someday Duke won't need the wheels any longer," Linville said. "But if he does, that's all right. I really want people to know that animals don't necessarily need to be put down after an injury like this, and they can possibly continue to have a good quality of life."