By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - One of the friendliest individuals at the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County is short, furry, curious and has four legs and two wheels.
Kody is an 8-year-old dappled dachshund that speeds around the corners and down the corridors of the animal shelter, never once letting his paralyzed legs slow him down.
A bright-red, two-wheeled cart, or doggy wheelchair, straps right onto his backside and allows him to explore and meet people - and chase the occasional cat - just like any other dog.
Sue Kelly, an adoption counselor at the animal shelter, said Kody's back was broken and left him paralyzed. Back injuries are something owners of dogs with long backs have to be diligent about, she said.
"He navigates in his cart very well. He backs up, he'll park it somewhere. He doesn't know he has a disability," Ms. Kelly said.
When he is tired, he rests on his belly with his front paws tucked underneath his chin. His backside is propped up slightly by the cart, which looks like an elegant and graceful gentleman bowing.
He came to the shelter in early July and has been capturing the hearts of staff and volunteers, and even some local residents, but so far, he hasn't found his forever home, said Janet Winikoff, education director at the Humane Society.
"He's just so cute. He needs someone who is retired or who works from home or who spends a lot of time at home," Ms. Winikoff said.
Kody does need more attention on a daily basis because of his disability, but that's not the only reason.
"He's an attention hound!" Ms. Winikoff said with a laugh.
"He's very social and wants to be with people and wants to be the center of attention. He flourishes when doted on," she said.
It was obvious that the canine cruiser was well loved by his previous family, because of the time and care put into making a makeshift cart Kody came to the shelter wearing, Ms. Winikoff said.
A generous donor gave Kody his new "red racer," which normally costs $400.
"We know he's special needs, so we want to find the very best for him. With the exception of the obvious medical issues, he's fine," Ms. Winikoff said.
"He has a great quality of life, a great spirit and he hasn't lost his joy of life," she said.
Kody doesn't get along with cats, but he does have a good rapport with other dogs.
Individuals interested in meeting Kody for a possible adoption can come and visit him at the animal shelter and fill out an application to start the interview process, Ms. Kelly said.
For more information about the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, call (772) 388-3331 or visit www.hsvb.org.