On their way to the local park, Gail Milligan and her two rescue dogs are used to getting some pretty strange looks. Daily walkies is quite a spectacle when your beloved hounds are disabled and have to rely on special trolleys to romp around chasing new adventures.
Never one to give up on the sick and abandoned animals nobody else wants, Gail (41), from Dalkeith, near Edinburgh, has learned to ignore the stares and odd rude comment. She’s just happy in the knowledge that her girls Rina, a Schnauzer cross, and Princess Sasha, a Corgi cross, are still alive and so active.
“We know we’re having fun and that’s all that matters!” says the big-hearted animal lover, who brought the dogs to Scotland after they’d been run over by cars and left with serious spinal injuries in Transylvania and Romania. As these special pictures show, there’s no doubt of the fun they all have on their regular walkies-cum-wheelies.
A few years ago though, it was a very different story. Gail, who lives with her equally animal-mad mum Rae (71) in a semi-detached house with a large garden, first heard about Princess Sasha’s plight after one of her three Scottish dogs – mongrel Lucy – fell ill with a degenerative neurological condition.
“It was a bit like Motor Neurone Disease in humans; she became very wobbly on her legs. I started looking at special animal wheelchairs on the internet for her to get around in,” she recalls.
Happily, Gail’s vet found steroids that Lucy responded to and she didn’t need a cart in the end, but it was while talking to a man who makes them in Kent that she heard about his work rescuing dogs left to die after road accidents abroad.
Even though she had two other dogs as well – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rex and Labrador Collie cross Tink – Gail agreed to provide a home for Princess Sasha who was brought over to live with her in January 2012. Car-boot sales paid for the £230 transport costs. “I’ve always been an animal lover and always taken in the ones nobody else would want because they had problems,” she says.
Soon feisty Princess Sasha was fitted with a £240 made-to-measure trolley cart. Her paralysed back legs were slotted through a saddle and two wheels replaced their use. She was fit to roll!
Then quieter Rina joined them from Romania for the same TLC. Though initially only meant to be fostered, she ended up staying with Gail and her mum after she became best friends with Princess Sasha. Now the dynamic wheeled duo even have their own Facebook page.
‘They have an amazing attitude and zest for life’
“They’re absolutely inseparable – they love each other so much,” says Gail who also has a paralysed cat, Angel, with a cart. “Once they get used to using wheels for legs, they don’t even think about it! They can go down steps and plough straight through mud. After everything they’ve been through, they just want to live and experience everything. It’s lovely to see the difference."
Photographs © Patrick Boyd Photography