PARAPLEGIC CHIHUAHUA WILLY MAKES HIS WAY THROUGH JAPANESE SCHOOLCHILDREN IN TOKYO
Eriko Sugita  /  Reuters
Wheely Willy, a paraplegic Chihuahua from Long Beach, Calif., makes his way through a group of children with his special wheelchair during a visit to a Tokyo elementary school June 30.
updated 7/2/2004 5:01:30 PM ET 2004-07-02T21:01:30

A tiny paraplegic dog named Wheely Willy is warming hearts in Japan. At least one man in a wheelchair was moved to tears Friday when Willy visited elderly patients at a Tokyo hospital. Others smiled and called the little dog an inspiration.

It’s the first trip out of the United States for Willy, a Chihuahua rescued from a California freeway 15 years ago.

When passers-by found him, Willy’s spinal cord was so badly damaged he lost the use of his hind legs. His throat was also injured, leaving him unable to bark.

Former pet shop owner Deborah Turner took him in. She gave Willy a frame with wheels so that he could walk on his two front legs, and started taking him on visits to schools and hospitals. She says he’s brought joy to many lives.

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