Dog, injured by collision, gets skis

If cats can have nine lives, then Chelsea deserves a second chance.

The 10-year-old dog, injured when she was hit by a vehicle two years ago, has geared up for the winter season with all the other powder hounds.

Chelsea received her skis last week.

The 2-foot-long planks are attachments to a custom-made wheelchair wagon the dog started using in July. The cart allows for the dog's mobility, despite her paralyzed hind legs, said Renee Hill, Chelsea's owner.

The skis were fitted to the cart by Scott Budnik, a slot mechanic at Harveys who works with Hill. Thursday, he said he made the skis because Hill is a friend, and he likes to be creative.

Budnik also helped Hill, a casino dealer for 28 years, find a Web site based in Bend, Ore., where she could order a simple wagon for Chelsea made up of aluminum tubing, lightweight plastic and custom measurements. The skis are attached to the wheels with slingshot rubber tubing.

"You should have seen her face when she discovered she could run," Hill said of Chelsea. "Her ears were flapping."

Hill wanted to give her dog a chance to run around like she did before the accident. Chelsea spent time with Hill on skiing jaunts, walks and chasing Frisbees.

But on Sept. 12, 2000, Chelsea chased a cat onto Tahoe Island Drive and was hit by a car.

"The cat made it. The dog didn't," Hill said.

As Chelsea slipped in and out of consciousness, she under went surgery for spinal injuries that night and stayed in the hospital for eight days. Recovery involved sessions in a hyperbaric chamber.

"Then they gave me back my crippled dog," Hill said.

But Chelsea still needed physical therapy, so Hill signed her up for five weeks at a Reno clinic that specializes in working with dogs. Chelsea worked on a big exercise ball.

"Every dog will have its hard-luck story," she said.

Either way, Hill was pushing for Chelsea to recover. She took her in as a puppy when she spotted her at the Raley's near the "Y."

Many people can't help but notice a dog in a sling pulling a wagon.

Chelsea mowed over rocks and brush Thursday at Heavenly ski resort with the ease of many four-legged dogs.

"I get a lot of thumbs up. People pull down their sunglasses to get a good look. But kids have the greatest reactions," Hill said.

"These things give animals a second chance at life," she said.


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