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Carts Give Mobility
To Disabled Dogs



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
-- Measurement
--Our Bodies
--Life Sciences
Social Studies
--Current Events


Grades 2-up

News Content

Thanks to special two-wheeled carts, three Chihuahuas born without legs now have front-wheel drive.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading this weeks News for Kids article, share with students this picture. (You might project the image from the Web or print out several copies of the picture to pass around.) Ask students to identify what they think the picture shows. They might identify a dog (they might even identify the dog as a Chihuahua); some kind of contraption with wheels; etc. Write down on the board or a sheet of chart paper the things that students identify.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: disability, mobility, prevent, comfortable, Chihuahua, and equipped. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Grandfather has not had much _____ since he fell and broke his hip. (mobility)
  • The Andersons new car is _____ with GPS, a sunroof, and a back-seat video screen. (equipped)
  • If you want to own a small dog, you might consider buying or adopting a _____ . (Chihuahua)
  • Pedro doesnt let his speech _____ stop him from performing in school plays. (disability)
  • A firefighter visited our school to talk about ways we could help _____ fires from starting at home. (prevent)
  • The hotel bed was so _____ that I fell asleep as soon as I hit the mattress. (comfortable)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Carts Give Mobility to Disabled Dogs.

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

  • Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

  • Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

  • Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

  • Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

  • More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • A genetic defect is the apparent cause for the birth of three Chihuahua puppies without front legs. The North Shore Animal League (NSAL) of Port Washington, New York, rescued the dogs from a Virginia animal shelter where they had been living since soon after birth. [See video of the dogs soon after their arrival at the NSAL.] Officials at the NSAL say the birth defects were probably the result of irresponsible over-breeding, also known as backyard breeding, that takes place at many puppy mills.

  • Early in their lives, the puppies underwent extensive physical therapy. The therapy was aimed at improving their muscle tone and leg strength so they might someday walk on their hind legs. A tiny harness on a runner held the pups in place as they learned to walk on their hind legs. [See video of the dogs physical therapy.] But walking like that might permanently harm the dogs backs and posture. Thats why shelter workers hatched a plan to give the dogs wheels.

  • The dogs also received "water therapy," which encouraged them to use their hind legs while in a supported, buoyant environment.

  • Last November, the dogs were measured for their carts. Workers at NSAL waited until then because they did not want to measure the dogs before they were fully grown. The carts arrived in December.

  • Workers at NSAL say the puppies are adjusting well to the carts. They seem unaware that they have any disability at all; and they seem normal in every other way. They have accepted the challenge of learning to get around with the carts in much the same way they took on the challenge to learning to balance themselves on their back legs. [See video of the dogs getting around on their wheels.]

  • The carts were designed by Eddie's Wheels, a Shelburne, Massachusetts, company. Company owner Eddie Grinnell produced his first cart in 1989 for his own dog, a Doberman named Buddah. After word got out about Buddahs success on wheels, Eddie began to receive other requests and his business grew. Once Eddies Web site went live in 1999, the requests started coming in from all over the world. Eddie has sent carts to Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Israel, Greenland, Turkey, Ecuador, and many other places.

  • Most of the carts shown in the picture gallery on Eddies Web site show dogs (and a few cats) with carts on their hind quarters. But Eddie has fit other dogs with front-wheeled carts, like the dogs in these pictures. You might want to share with students Eddies story of How Our Lives Went to the Dogs.

  • Deborah Turner has written a book, How Willy Got His Wheels, about her own Chihuahua on wheels. Today, Willy has become a symbol of hope and Deborah and Willy visit hospitals, schools, and convalescent homes to bring cheer and hope where it is needed. Willy even led a group of young people with spinal cord injuries in the Los Angeles Marathon.

  • K-9 Carts is another company that offers carts for disabled animals.

    Comprehension Check

    Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to respond again to the picture that was presented. Ask students to review their earlier perceptions of the picture and share how those perceptions have changed since reading the News for Kids article. Then you might share this video, which retells the story of the three Chihuahuas and introduces students to Donna Imhof, the League worker who has given the dogs their forever home.

    You might follow-up that activity by asking some of these questions:

    Recalling Detail

  • What are the names of the three Chihuahua puppies? (Venus, Carmen, and Pablo)
  • How are the puppies different from most others? (They were born with no front legs.)
  • Why were the dogs fitted with carts? (to help them move around; to give them a rest from walking on their hind legs, too much of which could lead to back troubles)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about how the saying Necessity is the mother of invention relates to this weeks news story.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Science -- inventions. Invite students to talk about other inventions that were born of necessity. Students might work in small groups to complete this activity. Which inventions did students include on their lists?

    Language arts. Discuss the meanings of some other expressions. You might choose appropriate ones from the list below and have each pair of students discuss a different expression. Ask students to share what the expression means and how it relates to their lives.

  • A chain is as strong as its weakest link.
  • A tree is known best by its fruit.
  • Experience is the best teacher.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • Clothes don't make the man.
  • Failure may be the stepping stone to success.
  • Count your blessings, not your problems.
  • Friends are the flowers in the garden of life.
  • Don't criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.
  • Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.
  • Don't play with fire and you won't get burned.
  • Half a loaf is better than none.
  • Education is capital invested for the future.
  • I cried because I had no shoes until I saw the man who had no feet.

    Math measurement, careers. Talk about ways in which Eddie Grinnell must use math as he builds carts for disabled dogs. Why is it so important for Eddie to take accurate measurements of the dogs for whom he builds carts?


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.5 Science and Technology
    NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.5 Science and Technology
    NS.5-8.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.5 Science and Technology
    NS.9-12.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

    GRADES K - 12
    NT.K-12.6 Technology Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Tools

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2008 Education World