Three Chihuahuas came to New York's North Shore Animal League in April so badly deformed they resembled pint-sized kangaroos.
These three pups, born without front legs, quickly learned to hop on their back paws. But it was a short-term solution. And now they've got what they really need -- a set of wheels.
"Chihuahuas aren't meant to hope around. Long term, it would lead to spine and hip injuries," Animal League spokesman Devora Lynn told About.com.
Lynn suspects that the dogs fell victim to human misbehavior. "Celebrities have made Chihuahuas a hot commodity, and some breeders are not acting responsibly."
Front-Wheel Drive New for Canine Drivers
Now the three 11-month-olds -- Venus, Carmen and Pablo -- are learning to steer Chihuahua-sized aluminum wagons, small and light enough for them to push, that will let them lead normal lives.
It's not uncommon to see dogs with hip injuries use wagons for their rear haunches, but front wheels are a novelty, especially when two-and-a-half-pound pups are driving.
"They're so cute. You should watch them go," Lyn says. "They've gone to a very happy home."
The three-wheeled wagons were custom built for $1,000 -- and they may soon bring relief to other animals.
In another doggie innovation, Hungarian scientists are working on computer software analyzing dog barks that could allow people to better recognize dogs' basic emotions. The result could be "a device for dog-human communication."
I can't wait to ask my favorite pooch why toilet water tastes so good.