Special needs dogs already have it pretty ‘ruff.’
Thankfully we have little earth angels likе Emmett Rychner to lend a helping hand.
When he saw that his 5th-grade teacher’s dog was having some problems getting around, he decided to build the pup a wheelchair.
You may remember Emmett from a few years back. He went viral as a 3-year-old when he became friends with his 89-year-old neighbor, a WWII vet named Erling Kindem. They bonded over tomatoes in the garden and then deepened their budding friendship while doing the fast and furious thing with John Deere tractors.
Eight years have passed since Emmett first came onto our collective radar. Now that he’s expanded his friendship to include snuggly animals, everyone is falling in love with him all over again! And it’s all because of what he did for a sweet doggy named Leonard, which happens to be the teacher’s pet.
Dana Holden, Emmett’s 5th-grade teacher, often showed pictures of her pooch to the entire class. “When I would project it for the class, they just thought he was really funny,” Dana told 11 Alive. The scooching may look cute, but Emmett could tell there was something more to this doggy’s story.
It turns out the 9-year-old Dachshund has a tumor pushing on his spine, so his back legs just don’t work anymore. Emmett knew there had to be a better way for the dog to get around, so it made it his mission to help Leonard move around more easily. When all these great ideas started popping into his head, it set the “wheels” in motion for his next big project.
Whereas some kids goof around and act likе the class clown, Emmett is known as the class problem-solver. At only 11 years old, the prolific inventor has already designed drinking fountains for dogs and air-conditioned backpacks to keep lunches cool. So designing a custom-made wheelchair for the teacher’s lovable puppers was actually right up his alley.
But likе many inventions tend to do, Emmett’s first trial run, which was done in front of the whole classroom, ended in disappointment. The wheelchair he built wasn’t big or long enough, and Leonard’s back legs couldn’t slide all the way down into the harness. That didn’t stop the pre-teen from pressing forward. Since giving up was simply not an option, Emmett made the necessary adjustments to wheelchair 2.0, and it was a total win!
Dana was actually impressed with Emmett’s ability to follow through on his goal of making a wheelchair for her dog. “I think he has just an empathy, and whether that’s from Elring, or just who he is, he’s got that in him already.” That level of dedication and persistence is not something she often sees in her fifth graders.