Dallas Rehab Dogs Are ‘Inspiration On Wheels’

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – They are inspiration on wheels. Two handicapped recruits to a Dallas rehabilitation program are providing the kind of hope and encouragement nobody else can. They do that without saying a single word.

They’re four-legged therapists on two wheels.  Arlo is an extroverted, male dachshund. Chili is a female, pit bull with a constant grin.

“They light up the room. They make everyone happy when they get here,” said Austin Woolsey.

Both dogs, permanently disabled, provide the kind of therapy at the Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation no human can.

“It just reaches an inner part of us that’s hard to reach,” said Debra Stegman.

Stegman, from Weatherford, just had scoliosis surgery.

“And, we can relate. That little Arlo and I have the same problem. So, we became fast friends at one point,”
said Deborah Harrison.

Harrison is another rehab patient, trying to regain the use of her leg.

Chili is an abused dog. When she was 8 weeks old someone threw her onto the concrete, breaking her back. Arlo has a degenerative disc disease. Both would’ve been euthanized.

“Arlo was found just dragging himself on the side of the road,” said Bettye Baker.

Bettye and Jim Baker, who own the Oak Hill Animal Rescue shelter, adopted Chili and Arlo four years ago.

They only joined the Baylor Therapy Dog program, a year ago, when a nurse told them something they’d never even thought of before.

“These dogs have to be therapy dogs because people have to see that if a dog’s in a wheelchair, and they’re in a wheelchair, they can do okay,” remembers Baker.

That’s something Austin Woolsey, from Keller, has already noticed. He’s been confined to a wheelchair because of a diving accident two months ago.

“Yeah, they don’t have a problem with it at all,” said Woolsey.

“A gift from God. Truly it is. We rescued these guys from being euthanized and what they’ve brought to so many people!” said Jim Baker.

People like the Reverend Billy Clifton Freeman. “I had a stroke on the right side,” Freeman said.

Freeman had surgery five days ago and had not been able to use his right hand until Chili waddled over for visit a few moments ago.

“Without thinking, I reached out with the right hand and this is the bad hand which is going to be the good hand now!” Freeman said.

Jim Baker was visibly moved by what had just happened.

“Aside from crying or wanting to cry, doesn’t that make you want to…it just has that tremendous emotional feel,” Baker said.

Helping patients feel better is what the dog therapy program is all about. Linda Marler is the program director.

“It helps to decrease their need for pain medication, lowers their heart rate, lowers their blood pressure.
So, it does a lot,” Marler said.

For some of these rehab patients, Chili and Arlo are the best medicine they’ve ever had. At least, that’s how the Reverend Freeman sees it.  “It was good for me and the dog!” he said.

Jim and Bettye Baker have been rescuing dogs and cats for years. They have more than 60 animals currently in their shelter who are looking to be adopted.

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  • dave

    00.39 sec my dad and mom love yall

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  • Jo-Dee Lyn Brown

    who makes those little carts?, I have a cat that is paralysed on her hind end. I’d like to investigate this.

    • Bettye Baker

      Joe-Dee, these wheelchairs are made by Eddie’s Wheels in Massachusetts. Go to eddieswheels.com They also make chairs for cats and Alpacas! They are by far the best engineered than any others we’ve found.

  • Laura

    Contact Tabby’s Place at tabbysplace.org to find out about cat carts. We have a cat there in a cart and can give you the info on where it came from.

  • Wyatt Earp

    No sound in the video. Why would you waste my time with a video where people who I can’t hear are talking? Whomever is responsible is a complete and total moron.

    • Bettye Baker

      I’m sorry you had a bad experience with the sound, it’s poor on my computer too. But others have told us they can hear if fine. The important thing is to read and see Chili and Arlo….they say alot just by being here.

    • Bettye Baker

      I think the sound depends your speakers to some degree. I can barely here it either, but others have said they can hear it fine. Sorry for your disappointment.

    • dave

      come on an its for the dogs and for the people in rehab no need to be harsh. im sure you wernt forced to watch it. lets see how you react when the shoes on the other foot and its you in the rehab or say your mom,dad,brother,sister or one of your kids grow up get a life the world isnt made just for you my friend

    • Brad

      the sound works fine on my computer. maybe the problem is your computer….., in which case I will agree with your last sentence…

  • Lorelei Walker

    Isn’t this just the greatest? Certainly made my day. Jim and Bettye help the dogs that ultimately help the humans. Bless them both – or rather should I say bless all four!

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