When seven-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Scamp, was hit by a car three years ago and lost all his legs, most owners would have had him put down. But not Anthony Smith from Nottingham. He had his beloved dog fitted with front and rear wheels, a powerful electric motor and a remote control.
‘Scamp has never looked back since,’ said Anthony, ‘but that’s because he can’t. You can see from the look in his eyes when I’m making him do J-turns, burn-outs and wheelies that he loves every moment of it. Admittedly he’s had problems getting on with other dogs and there’s been one or two drive-by shittings, but it’s all been worth it to be able to ‘walk’ him without leaving my chair by the window.’
Although Scamp doesn’t enjoy the same freedom that he used to before his operation, his owner insists he’s a whole heap faster. ‘When 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 it’s much less boring for me. I’ve also set up an agility course for him – he can actually beat able-bodied dogs, even when he’s asleep.’
Since pimping his pooch, Anthony has discovered a market for motorised animals and has gone into business. ‘Almost all pets are suitable for our high-speed mobility scheme, though I’ve given up working with fish,’ he said. ‘In fact I’ve just finished fitting an arthritic tortoise with the tracks from a Tamiya Tiger Tank. He’s surprisingly manoeuvrable. When we took him for a test drive over a 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.’
However, animal rights campaigners are horrified by the trend for souped-up spaniels, claiming that some unscrupulous owners are modifying perfectly healthy pets for cosmetic reasons. ‘There’s no doubt the look of any animal can be improved by a set of off-road tyres and an aerial,’ said Anthony, ‘but this is about helping pets in their hour of need, and a brilliant new sport. We always promote safe and responsible driving, and that’s why we’re in favour of bringing back dog licences.’