It’s always nice to see a dog wagging their tail — it’s usually their way of showing that they’re happy and content. But when a dog named Ward wagged his tail recently, it was a truly miraculous sign of just how far he’s come.
In February, the McKamey Animal Center, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, announced that they had taken in a 6-year-old dog who had been found laying under an abandoned vehicle. The poor dog was paralyzed from the waist down, and it was evident that he had been hit by a car and left fighting for his life.
McKamey Animal Center named the dog Ward. They wrote that he could not move his legs, go to the bathroom on his own or even wag his tail. But despite everything, they were moved by the sweet dog’s resilience.
“His sweet demeanor and lovable smooches to our staff have shown us how lovely of a pup he really is!” the shelter wrote on Facebook. “Ward has already made incredible improvements in his short time here. While we don’t know what his final diagnosis will be just yet, we are confident he is a resilient fighter!”
Ward was fitted for a custom wheelchair. While it was unclear if he would ever walk again, the team noticed him use his back legs for the first time while trying to run, and he was provided physical therapy to see if his condition could improve.
“It was like he was trying to run with his back legs, even though they were suspended in the chair,” Lauren Mann, the shelter’s director of advancement, told the Washington Post. “He was getting stronger despite his paralysis.”
Ward received free hydrotherapy sessions provided by a local veterinary clinic. He ran on a treadmill in a tank filled with glass water.
In a follow-up post, the shelter said that after many physical therapy sessions Ward was able to move his legs. They wrote that the dog “defined resilience and hope.”
And there was more good news: six months after he arrived in the shelter, Ward was adopted! While Ward was passed over for over 180 days because many people did not want a paralyzed dog, Kellyn Murphy and her husband Matt Murphy knew Ward was the dog for them.
“As soon as I saw him, it became my goal to get him moving and standing,” Kellyn, a physical therapy assistant, told the Post. “I spend my days helping people do these things, and I thought I could also help Ward.”
After the Murphys took Ward home, Kellyn continued Ward’s physical therapy and gave him therapeutic daily stretching sessions. According to the Washington Post, she modified a walker she bought at a thrift store to help him practice standing up.
Then, less than two weeks after Ward arrived in his new home, something miraculous happened: he wagged his tail for the first time!
“It was a small wag, and it was only one wag, but it was definitely a wag,” Kellyn told the Post, saying she believes he wagged his tail out of happiness. “He’s wagged his tail at least five or six times since then, and I’m hopeful it will continue to keep happening as he gets stronger.”
Ward continues to make improvements every day, and Kellyn says she hopes to eventually train him as a therapy dog for people struggling with mobility issues.