Dog now gets around on skis |

Dog now gets around on skis

If cats can have nine lives, then Chelsea deserves a second chance.

The 10-year-old dog, which was injured when she was hit by a vehicle two years ago, has geared up for the winter season along with all the other powder hounds.

Chelsea received her skis last week.

The 2-foot-long planks are attachments to a custom made wheelchair wagon the dog started using in July. The cart allows for the dog’s mobility, despite her paralyzed hind legs, explained Renee Hill, Chelsea’s owner.

The skis were fitted to the cart by Scott Budnik, a slot mechanic at Harveys who works with Hill. He said Thursday he made the effort because Hill is a friend, and he likes to be creative.

Budnik also helped Hill, a casino dealer for 28 years, find a Web site based in Bend, Ore., where she could order a wagon made up of a simple assembly of aluminum tubing, lightweight plastic and custom measurements. The skis are attached to the wheels with slingshot rubber tubing.

“You should have seen her face when she discovered she could run,” Hill said of Chelsea. “Her ears were flapping.”

Hill wanted to give her active dog a chance to run around like she used to before the accident. Chelsea has spent time with Hill on skiing jaunts, walks and chasing a Frisbee.

But on Sept. 12, 2000, Chelsea chased a cat onto Tahoe Island Drive and was hit by a car on the driver’s side.

“The cat made it. The dog didn’t,” Hill said, adding she was devastated.

As Chelsea slipped in and out of consciousness, she underwent surgery for spinal injuries that night and stayed in the hospital for eight days. Recovery also involved sessions in a hyperbaric chamber.

“Then, they gave me back my crippled dog,” she said.

But the canine still needed physical therapy, so Hill signed Chelsea up at a Reno clinic that specializes in working with dogs for five weeks. Chelsea worked on a big exercise ball.

“Every dog will have its hard luck story,” she said.

Either way, Hill was invested in her dog’s recovery. She took in Chelsea as a puppy when she spotted her at the Raley’s near the “Y.”

Many people can’t help but notice a dog in a sling pulling a wagon.

Chelsea mowed over rocks and brush Thursday at Heavenly Ski Resort with the ease of many four-legged dogs.

“I get a lot of thumbs up. People pull down their sunglasses to get a good look. But kids have the greatest reactions,” Hill said.

“These things give animals a second chance at life,” she added.

Hill had undergone her own life-altering experience nine months ago.

“I made a vow if Chelsea survived the experience, I promised I would find God,” she said. “Every day I’m reminded of how great God’s graces can be.”

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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