Smart 11-year-old builds custom wheelchair for his teacher’s dog

Some animals have special needs and struggle with mobility issues. These animals need a little human kindness to help them out, allowing them to live their best lives.

That was the case recently, after one crafty teen went out of his way to make a wheelchair for his teacher’s dog.

Dana Holden, a fifth grade teacher from Minnesota, is the owner of a 9-year-old Dachshund mix named Leonard, who she rescued from a shelter. But sadly, her beloved dog has been struggling with mobility due to medical issues.


“They believe some sort of tumor is growing, pushing on his spine,” Dana Holden told KARE 11. “His leg is just not getting the signals.”

It can be hard caring for a special needs dog like that: it’s difficult to watch your dog struggling to get around, but getting a pet a wheelchair can be complicated and expensive.

But this teacher got some miraculous help from an unexpected place: one of her 11-year-old students.

Dana brought Leonard to her class one day, and the dog made a big impression on student Emmett Rychner, who became determined to help the dog with his mobility problems.

“He was just the sweetest dog ever and I thought I’ve got to do something to help him,” Emmett told KARE 11.


According to the outlet, Emmett is quite the inventor: he’s previously made a drinking fountain for dogs and an air-conditioned backpack. So, he decided to set out to make Leonard his very own wheelchair.

However, it was no easy task: building the wheelchair took months of work, and his first attempt resulted in disappointment, as the wheelchair turned out to be not big or long enough for the dog’s body.


Still, Emmett didn’t give up. He built a new, sturdier model with bigger wheels. Recently, months after initially setting out on the project, Emmett was ready for another test run.

He and his teacher strapped Leonard into the new-and-improved, homemade wheelchair — and it worked perfectly: Leonard took off and started moving effortlessly around the room.


“It feels amazing,” Emmett told KARE 11. “I just love finally seeing him walk.”

This isn’t the first time Emmett has made the news: eight years ago, when he was only three years old, the story of his close friendship with his elderly WWII veteran neighbor Erling Kindem went viral.

Dana said she is happy her student has grown up into such a kind and determined individual.

“A lot of kids will say that they can do something, but to actually have that follow-through and persistence,” Dana told KARE 11. “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.”

What a heartwarming story. Thank you to Emmett for going the extra mile to help this dog!

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