Willow the Wheelchair Dog

The little pup that could, Willow Costello proves she’s capable of anything with love from her family, and a little help from her wheelchair


For one lucky St. John’s family, a little extra hope and love was all it took to make their house a home. Stephanie Costello and her family; including husband Jerry, daughter Aria and son Dain; have always been animal lovers. Costello worked as a groomer up until having children, and along with her husband, she’s a proud fur baby parent.

Currently four months old, Willow is their white one-quarter Newfoundland and three-quarters Belgian Malinois puppy. Costello also owns both the mother, Moon, and father, Jésus. So, what makes Willow so special? She turned out to be the little pup that could, with the help of her wheelchair, of course.

Perfectly Perfect 

Willow was born with full use of her hind legs. By the young age of only six weeks old, she began to show signs of losing function.

“She was a little bit wobbly and favouring one side. We took her to the vet, and they suspected it was a weak ligament. They suggested I do some exercises with her and that it should strengthen as she grows, but it didn’t, it got worse,” Costello shared in a sit-down with The Newfoundland Herald. 

“Eventually, she just couldn’t walk at all. She was a little bit confused, she would drag herself around. We started with a vet here in St. John’s, and then went to my regular vet out in Bay Roberts. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong, they suspect that the nerves aren’t communicating with the spine and this is why it’s only happening at the back. It’s similar to ALS, but for dogs.”

Putting her down wasn’t an option for the Costello’s, seeing as Willow was perfectly healthy in all other aspects, and full of life. “She’s perfectly healthy, she just can’t walk by herself,” Costello said. 

Gunnar’s Wheels 

“My husband and I built her current wheelchair. We used copper because it’s light weight and it’s easy to work with. It’s not perfect, but it enables her to get up off the floor and get moving, and keep her strength up and keep muscle mass.”

Willow is currently four months old, and still has a lot of growing to do. The Costello’s predict she will be approximately 80 pounds soon enough, meaning she will go through quite a few wheelchairs during the growing process.

“I reached out to this group, they’re called Gunnar’s Wheels. They’re a foundation out of the United States who offer loner wheelchairs to dogs, and they also donate. I reached out to them just for a loner wheelchair, because she’s still small. You take the wheelchair for however long you need it, and then you donate it back to them. I figured that would probably be the best route to go for now, until she’s fully grown and then we’ll look into other options. This was only two days ago I reached out to them, they called me last night and told me that they loved her story, and they’re gonna purchase a wheelchair for her and have it sent directly to me,” she shared with excitement.

“It’s incredible. If anybody out there wants to donate, this would be a great organization to donate to. They do work all over the world.”

CBD Saves the Day 

Willow is a little, adorable ball of energy. During our interview, she was constantly looking for belly rubs and loved playing with her mom and dad. You’d never even guess that Willow knew she had any sort of disadvantage.

“When she first became partially paralyzed, she was having trouble with her mobility. Getting up off the floor, rolling over, sitting up, I thought; what am I gonna do about this?” Costello explained.

“I did some research and I found a local lady that sells CBD oil. About three days later, she was able to sit up and roll over, get herself moving. She doesn’t have a great appetite, probably where she isn’t super mobile.

“When I gave her that, her appetite came back. She sees the other dogs playing and she can’t do it, and knowing she has a disadvantage, you know she has to feel some anxiety and stress. This stuff is really good for anxiety, and as you can tell, she’s very happy. She’s eating well, she’s able to get up and sit up, roll over, she plays quite a bit. She’s got lots of energy. A lot of that is thanks to the CBD oil. I have noticed the difference in her, from before I started giving it to her, and after.”

For more information on Gunnar’s Wheels or to donate, visit their Facebook page “Gunnar’s wheels”.

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