This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2007) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Died||December 22, 2009 (aged 17–18)|
|Known for||raising awareness for disabilities|
Wheely Willy (1991–2009) was a paraplegic chihuahua from Long Beach, California who became a celebrity as the subject of two bestselling children's books. He made frequent public appearances promoting mutual understanding among those with and without physical disability. Following appearances on the Animal Planet television network, he was popularly dubbed Wheely Willy.
Willy was found abandoned in a cardboard box with spinal injuries and a cut throat. Taken in by a veterinary hospital and treated, Willy stayed there for a year unadopted. Learning that the dog would be euthanised if not adopted, pet groomer Deborah Turner decided to bring him home.
Initially, the two pound (one kilogram) Willy needed to be carried everywhere, but Turner made several attempts to allow the dog to move autonomously. She tried attaching large helium-filled balloons to the dog's hindquarters and then placing him on a skateboard, with little success. Ultimately, an advertisement for K-9 Carts, a type of wheelchair designed for canine applications, came to her attention. Willy adapted to this mode of transportation in short order; curiosity from Turner's customers and acquaintances led to local news coverage and steadily increased to international notability.
Willy made visits internationally, most often to hospitals, but he also participated in such events as the Cystic Fibrosis Fun Walk and the Los Angeles Marathon. He made several appearances on television talk shows and news programs.
The dog's tenacity and good nature are frequently cited as an inspiration by people who have encountered him.
Wheely Willy died on December 22, 2009. He and his owner had both sustained injuries when the owner slipped on a porch made wet and slick from a rainstorm. Willy was unable to recover from his injuries.
- Deborah Turner, Diana Mohler, authors; Rhonda McHugh, illustrator (1998). How Willy got his Wheels. ISBN 0-944875-54-8
- Deborah Turner, Diana Mohler, authors; Sue Ehrends, illustrator (2003). How Willy Got His Wings: The Further Adventures of Wheely Willy. ISBN 0-944875-88-2
- Colleen Needles, Kit Carlson, Kim Levin (2000). Working Dogs: Tales from Animal Planet's K-9 to 5 World. ISBN 1-56331-843-1
- Basheda, Lori (January 7, 2010). "Wheely Willy, superstar Chihuahua, dies". The Orange County Register. Retrieved March 8, 2012.