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2023 Top Stories

Unleashing Noodle's Possibilities

My career and passion is to help humans realize, then achieve, their full capacities in the face of old or new disabilities. And because of our dog Noodle, "Unleashing Possibilities" is, in a way, a work and home life motto for me.

Unleashing Noodle's Possibilities

A friend sent us Noodle’s story: She was a 2-month-old puppy left at Everett Animal Shelter with a spinal cord injury. Why did it never cross my mind that a dog could sustain and survive a spinal cord injury just like the humans I’ve worked with in the past?

Immediately we applied to be the family that adopted Noodle.

We wrote a letter explaining why we'd be a good fit. I don’t think I have that letter from 5 years ago anymore, but I wish I did. I remember writing about not just the love we would give her, but also that we'd do all we could to adapt her lifestyle allowing her to achieve all things that dogs love.

Woman kneeling next to dog in a mobility scooter

Unleashing Unstoppable Possibilities

Noodle initially would mobilize just by the pure strength of her front legs. There are videos of her “scooting” around as a puppy and even now as a full grown, 50 plus pound dog.

What really changed though, is when the community of Everett, Washington donated to the shelter so Noodle could have her first scooter immediately. She ran through the halls of the shelter like the holy terror that every puppy is, even biting and dragging away the camera equipment from King 5 News as they filmed a small piece on her.

Dog in a mobility scooter chewing on a stick being held buy a person

Unleashing Outdoor Possibilities

We were able to bring her home around 4 months old with her first scooter. While my husband and I, as physical therapists, have worked with various people with neurologic injuries, we still needed support and help from people who were living with dogs with disabilities.

Enter Tanya Diable from Joey’s Paw (nonprofit organization, check out @JoeysPaw).

Tanya has made it her life mission to not only rescue her own special needs animals, but to also provide mobility equipment to others nationwide who need mobility equipment. She helped us in finding the right “full grown” scooter for Noodle’s high energy.

With Noodle's new scooter and cambered wheels, we hit the trails out here in Washington.

Dog in a mobility scooter running on a dirt trail

Unleashing Adaptive Possibilities

A hike we did with Noodle when she was a little over a year old surprised me to no end. She hiked over 7 miles over all kinds of terrain, including some flooding that she had to swim through (luckily, we had her Ruffwear Float Coat™ in our pack).

Two dogs playing in the water on a shore

She is determined. The scooter allows her to kick sideways on a single wheel while navigating narrow trails without tipping, run fast after her frisbee, and ski on snowy days (literally – we have ski attachments for her scooter).

By adapting as much as we could for Noodle, she has shown us how to unleash possibilities. She reminds us daily that pure grit, willfulness, happiness, and a lil' extra support goes a long way in life. 

Dog in a mobility scooter with skis fitted instead of wheels for snow exploring.

Unleashing All Possibilities

Noodle is now 5 years old, and while her endurance for longer hikes waxes and wanes, her zest for the outdoors remains steadfast.

We have several hiking trails right from our home that are “Noodle friendly” in width, length, and elevation. For those who may be interested in accessible trails in the PNW please check out the nonprofit @disabledhikers and their Falcon Guides book “The Disabled Hiker’s Guide to Western Washington and Oregon”

Dog in a mobility scooter standing in grassy meadow

“Unleashing Possibilities” can mean various things to so many. And it morphs into various definitions during our lifetime. Our family is reminded by Noodle that "Unleashing Possibilities" is all about adapting.