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Winning on Wheels

Disability didn't keep Ozzie from rally competition.

Rally Linda May McKinnon and Ozzie disabled dog article hps

Linda May McKinnon of Berwick, Maine, owned, trained and competed with Pembroke Welsh Corgis for more than 40 years and bred them for 10. Her last homebred litter was born in October 2005, including the Corgi who would join her pack at home: Wynnmoor’s Wizard of Oz (“Ozzie”). As he grew, Linda and Ozzie started to compete in obedience, rally and agility together. They earned four titles by Ozzie’s fourth birthday, before a ruptured disc in his spine left him paralyzed in his hind end that year. 

Because his prognosis for recovery was poor, the vet suggested Ozzie be euthanized, and Linda brought him home to evaluate his behavior before making any decisions. “He happily scooted along the wooden floors of my house, and he even scooted outside to do his business and, of course, retrieve his favorite balls. He wasn’t in pain and seemed quite happy,” she said. 

After some research, Linda purchased Ozzie a custom wheelchair from the K9 Cart company in Washington. “Once it was on, he took off running,” Linda said. “He could go as fast as any of my other Corgis when he was in his wheels. In fact, every once in a while he would take a corner so fast he would tip himself over.”

An agility and obedience instructor and Psychiatric Service Dog judge, Linda was introduced to World Cynosport® Rally Limited (WCRL) in 2011and decided to give it a try with Ozzie, who earned his first title in February 2011. He went on to win a total of 67 titles after his injury, with only four signs (sit, sit to stand, down, and jump) modified to accommodate his disability. 

“Rally rules provide accommodations for dogs with disabilities, as many of these dogs need to be active just like able-bodied dogs,” said WCRL President Ken Tatsch. “WCRL rules provide for a review of individual cases to determine whether a situation may present a health risk or cause pain, such as a dog recovering from surgery. We recommend owners consult with their veterinarian to decide if a dog is able to participate in events safely.”

Rally Ozzie - Linda May McKinnon - disabled dog article“The WCRL community, from the trial hosts to competitors and judges, are some of the nicest people you could meet,” Linda said. “Everyone helps each other, roots for one another, and is genuinely happy when a team succeeds.”

Ozzie also competed in nose work with no rule changes and accompanied Linda and her other Corgi, Kenzie, to trials even if he wasn’t competing. He earned his last title two weeks before his 13th birthday. 

“Having a wheeled Corgi is not for the faint of heart, but I would do it all over again,” Linda said, adding that Ozzie taught her about living life to its fullest and never giving up. “Dogs don’t think of themselves as disabled. They just live life as it’s dealt to them, with no regrets. I would wholeheartedly recommend giving a disabled dog a chance. You never know where it may take you.” 

Read more about WCRL's modifications for dogs with disabilities.


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