BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Howie is a two month old beagle who was recently rescued by the Brunswick County Animal Protective Services.
The little puppy has no feeling in his back legs due to a spinal injury that left him dragging his back legs.
"Lt. Talley, the staff and the volunteers, they saw something in Howie and gave him a chance," said Josie Highsmith, who is helping to foster Howie. "They didn't discard him because he was a little bit broken or a little bit different, or felt that he might be difficult to adopt out. They are actually the ones that named him Howie with an Owie."
Highsmith said she and and her husband are fostering Howie while he gets his health and performance back up to par.
"It's been amazing the first couple weeks you just sort of adapt and adjust, and your house is a little messier," she said with a laugh. "I wash a lot of towels that is for sure!"
The Highsmith's took Howie to get an evaluation by a veterinarian to see the extent of his injury. The vets believe that Howie suffered a spinal injury either at birth, or was accidentally stepped on by his mother or another pup in the litter. They don't believe Howie will ever walk correctly, however with physical therapy they are hopeful he will be able to do a spinal walk.
So, five days a week Howie goes to Eastern Carolina Veterinary Referral in Wilmington.
"He's just got a great personality," smiled Stacie Williams, a certified rehabilitation coordinator at the animal emergency and trauma center.
"You put him in those wheels and he just cruises from hand to hand, with or without food," laughed Highsmith. "He's very food motivated!"
Williams said Howie's routine consists of doing some wheelchair exercises in the morning, followed by a nap. Next, Howie heads to the underwater treadmill to work on some water resistance, trunk control, and muscular endurance. Then, Howie takes his second nap of the day and finishes up with some weight baring exercises.
Williams said she hopes Howie's story will bring to light the rehab options for animal that have a disability.
"Maybe they have a pet that had an injury, and then they can see there are things that might be able to done to help their pet lead a better quality of life."
The Highsmith's and Brunswick County Animal Protective Services are covering the costs of Howie's medical bills.
However, they have received some help from the community, including Brunswick County Clerk of Courts Office.
Howie has also become popular on the internet.
His How's Howie Facebook page was originally created to help the staff and volunteers at the Brunswick County Animal Shelter keep up with his progress, but it turns out a lot of people are wanting to keep up with Howie.
"You know I thought maybe I would get 100 likes, and were over 600!" Highsmith said in a surprised voice. "It's really cool to see how Howie has impacted people and hopefully bringing awareness to little disabled dogs, who are great!"