Citizen Canine

Enzo is the fastest Chestnut Hill dog on two wheels

by Barbara Gaines Winkelman
Posted 8/6/21

He can be found in Pastorius Park, chasing after his ball, or on a two-mile hike in the Wissahickon. Paralysis in his two back legs has not slowed him at all.

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Citizen Canine

Enzo is the fastest Chestnut Hill dog on two wheels

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(“Citizen Canine” is a column that will honor a local dog in each article. If you know of a dog we should spotlight, contact ctzncanine@gmail.com.)

Meet Enzo, named for Enzo Ferrari, a toy poodle who is the fastest dog on two wheels.

He can be found in Pastorius Park, chasing after his ball, or on a two-mile hike in the Wissahickon. Paralysis in his two back legs has not slowed him at all. His owner, Chestnut Hill resident Claire Etheredge, rescued him from China.

It has been an odyssey for Enzo. He was born in September of 2018 and was rescued from a dog slaughterhouse by monks from the Garden of Life Temple in Guangzhou, central China. Since Enzo had special needs, the monks sent him to a dog shelter on an old pig farm 400 miles north, in Changsha, where he could get better care.

The Philadelphia connection comes in here. Home At Last is a dog rescue organization in nearby North Wales that contacted the shelter in China and arranged for Enzo to fly to New York. In February of 2019, Etheredge picked up Enzo at JFK International Airport. Her plan was to foster Enzo until Home At Last could find a “forever home” for him.

Most rescued dogs travel in crates in the luggage compartment under the plane. Enzo, all of 7 pounds, with a severed spinal cord and two paralyzed legs, was put in a canvas bag under the seat in front of a volunteer. When Etheredge got him home, she realized she needed more than diapers to help Enzo. She figured out he wasn’t able to relieve himself and Googled how to empty his bladder and bowels. Enzo wears re-usable diapers with a disposable wrap when he is home. He also had an ulcer on one leg that had to be treated at a veterinarian’s office every couple days. Luckily, no amputation was needed.

“It did not take me long to fall in love with him,” said Claire. “After a couple months, I couldn’t picture life without him. I also worried that someone may adopt him and keep him in a crate and not let him live his best life!”

Claire soon bought a cart for Enzo, who proved so agile that larger wheels were soon necessary. He also has a second cart to take on the rocky terrain of the Wissahickon. “Enzo adapted really easily. He absolutely loves toys. He always has to have something in his mouth that belongs to him,” said Etheredge. (Enzo had a “ratty old toy” in the shelter.)

Under Claire’s care, Enzo has thrived. He is now over 10 pounds, very independent and funny. “He’s got so much life in him. I don’t think there’s a day that I don’t just laugh … He has little antics. He likes to chase my mother around the dining room in her retirement community, and he loves to try to untie her shoelaces.”

Like a human with special needs, Enzo is sometimes treated with prejudice. Groomers have refused to groom him, and it can be a struggle to find a dog walker to take him out while Etheredge, a licensed social worker, is at work.

This rescue story neither starts nor stops with Enzo. Claire had rescued Rico, a miniature poodle, seven years before Enzo came to her. Rico had been used as bait in pitbull dog fights. He was found at a pitbull fight site in Northwest Philly. Recently Claire also fostered five kittens and their mother for four weeks.

Sadly, Enzo’s story is not unique. Humane Society International claims that “millions of dogs and cats across Asia are brutally killed for meat every year … Most Chinese people do not eat dog meat and do support an end to the dog meat trade.” However, dog traders are trying to propagate the belief that dog meat can be medicinal. It gets worse. There is the tale that the more a dog suffers, the more tasty and healing its meat. Organizations like Humane Society International are trying to stop the meat trade in Asia by working with local advocacy groups.

Right now, advocacy and funding for food in local shelters is all we can do in the U.S. Unfortunately, last month the Center for Disease Control issued a temporary suspension for dogs imported from “high-risk countries for dog rabies.” There are 113 countries on the list. China is one of them.

Citizen Canine

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