A personal tragedy for 38 year-old Anthony Smith from Nottingham has inadvertently created what is predicted to be this year’s top selling Christmas gift – a full-scale, remote-control dog.
Anthony’s 7 year old Jack Russell Terrier, Paul, was hit by a car 3 years ago and tragically, his back legs couldn’t be saved. But Paul is a plucky pup, and vets were impressed at how quickly he adapted to life wearing a special cradle fitted with wheels. In fact, Paul adapted a little too well and quickly mastered J-turns, burn-outs and an ability to lick his own genitals while travelling at speed. But Paul didn’t know when to heel, and a drive-by shitting led to a high-speed chase involving three police dogs. The inevitable happened, Paul collided with a Rottweiler, and he was left without the use of his front legs.
Rather than see his beloved pet put down, Anthony pleaded with authorities to let him rehabilitate Paul, and he fitted his faithful friend with front wheels, a powerful electric motor and a remote control.
‘Paul obviously doesn’t have quite the same freedom that he used to enjoy, but boy, is he a whole heap faster. I still take him for walks, we play fetch in the park, he’s just like his old self. Of course, I have to throw the stick and then operate the remote control to get him close enough to pick it up, but he loves it and I find it less boring too. Reversing at speed makes him a bit nervous, but not as nervous as the local cats are when he’s hot on their tails.’
Paul has proved to be such a hit with local children that Anthony hires him out for charity for £10 a time. 'We’ve set up an agility course and depending on the skill of the driver, Paul can actually beat able-bodied dogs, even when he’s asleep. I knew this would be popular with other owners of disabled pets, so we’ve opened a workshop where we can convert up to three animals a week.'
Not all pets are suitable for the high-speed mobility scheme, and Anthony has now given up working with fish. 'I’ve just completed fitting an arthritic tortoise with the tracks from a Tamiya Tiger Tank, and he’s surprisingly manoeuvrable. When we took him over the playground see-saw the little chap really came out of his shell, so I’ve put some glue in his leg holes to stop it happening again. But most of our work is with dogs, they just love rolling around on the grass.'
Animal rights activists are horrified by the trend, claiming it’s responsible for unscrupulous owners attempting to modify perfectly healthy pets. Anthony dismissed the claims as scare-mongering, 'this is a legitimate aid to pets in their hour of need, and a brilliant new sport. The welfare of these animals is always our focus, and that’s why we’re in favour of bringing back dog licences.'
A team entry from Vertically Challenged Giant (Driver) and Waylandsmithy (Navigator)