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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Nashua company helps disabled piggy get on the move

His name is Bacon.

It’s Chris P. Bacon, to be exact and he’s one cute, if not exactly mobile, pig. ...

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His name is Bacon.

It’s Chris P. Bacon, to be exact and he’s one cute, if not exactly mobile, pig.

Chris P. is a 3-week-old pig of uncertain origin born with a stunted, nonfunctioning set of back legs. He became something of an Internet sensation this week, and a Nashua company had a hand in some of his fame – but more important, in an improved quality of life.

The story of Chris P.’s newfound mobility began in Orlando, Fla., last week at the North American Veterinary Conference. Bacon’s owner, Dr. Len Lucero, met Lisa-
Marie Mulkern, director of marketing and communications at Handicappedpets.com,
a Nashua company that makes the world’s only fully adjustable pet wheelchairs.

It was a match made in piggy heaven.

Mark Robinson, the owner of Handicappedpets.com, launched Walkin’ Wheels in 2008 and has been helping animals walk ever since. Besides the usual cats and dogs, the wheelchairs have helped a miniature horse, goats, two deer and now a pig.

Lucero said he saw an advertisement for the wheelchairs at the Orlando show and headed to the Nashua company’s booth to buy a wheelchair for his newest and unexpected pet. He showed Mulkern a video and photos he shot of Chris P. in his makeshift wheelchair created from his son’s K’Nex toys.

A video posted on Chris P.’s very own YouTube channel had been viewed more than 40,000 times by Friday, the vast majority of those clicks coming in the last three days.

“We were so impressed with the story of his second chance that we donated a Walkin’ Wheels mini-dog wheelchair to him,” Mulkern said. “He should be using it soon. He probably needs to gain just a couple more pounds.”

Lucero works at a small and exotic animal veterinary practice in Sumterville, Fla. A woman called and made an appointment for a pig, which in his office usually means a guinea pig. To his surprise, she brought him a tiny piglet.

“When she pulled him out, he was a day old,” Lucero said. “She wasn’t sure if he had drank any colostrum or if he was going to make it or what kind of life he was going to have. So she opted for euthanasia, but you know she didn’t want to; she was really upset about it.”

Chris P. was born without the use of his two hind legs. This is when Lucero stepped outside his normal role as a veterinarian and offered to take care of the baby pig and offer it the best quality of life he could.

“When I went home, I told my family, ‘Guess what, guys, I have to find a home for this pig,’ and my wife looks at me and said, ‘You found one,’ ” Lucero said, laughing.

The veterinarian spent several sleepless nights getting up every two hours to bottle-feed Chris P. to ensure he would be as healthy as he could be. Lucero said he busted out his son’s unused K’Nex toys and made a makeshift cart for Chris P. to see if he could use it to get around. The pig can use the mini-wheelchair to scoot around on the carpet, but has problems with the tiled floor.

Lucero said he shot the video of Chris P. trying to use his new mode of transportation and uploaded it on YouTube to share his new pet with his friends and family. Since then, Chris’ popularity has exploded on social media networks and he now has his own page on Facebook and a Twitter account.

Things have only gotten better for Chris in the last 20 days.

“He has been awesome,” Lucero said. “He is such a funny pig. He’s just been a treat. I bring him to work with me every day. … He’s been a blessing. He’s got so much personality, it’s unbelievable.”

Mulkern said Handicappedpets.com is also sending Chris one of its “drag bags,” which are used by many of the company’s canine customers. It’s a bag to cover the animal’s limbs when they aren’t in the chair so they can scoot around without getting any scrapes.

“I was going to purchase one for him,” Lucero said about the Walkin’ Wheels. “And they donated and I said, ‘Wow, that was nice of you.’ ”

Erin Place can be reached at 594-6589 or eplace@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Place on Twitter (@Telegraph_ ErinP).