Wheelchair-bound dog ‘Tuddy’ remembered for perseverance

CNJ file photo Tuddy’s family found him dead on Oct. 4 at around 10 p.m. He had gone out for his normal evening walk about 30 minutes before, and Ramon Sena said his son drove up and found the Chihuahua dead on the driveway.

By Kevin Wilson:CNJ staff writer

When they adopted Stud the Chihuahua from a family friend, Crusita and Ramon Sena had a really easy decision when it came to changing his name.

“I wasn’t going to stand at the door and call out, ‘Hey, come here, Stud,’” Crusita Sena said, laughing.

The decisions got harder when it came to little Tuddy. But four years later the family is glad they made the choice to let his life roll on after a paralyzing accident.

Tuddy, who drew nationwide attention for how he persevered with the family’s homemade dog wheelchair, was found dead in the Sena’s front yard on Oct. 4.

“To him, he wasn’t crippled,” Ramon Sena said. “He wasn’t hurt as far as he was concerned.”

Tuddy’s crippling injury happened four years ago when he didn’t quite make a jump into the family’s vehicle during a trip. He landed awkwardly and got up fine. But the injury developed that evening and Tuddy woke up the next morning without the use of his hind legs.

With Tuddy being just 1 year old, Crusita Sena said it didn’t seem fair to end his life.

“We couldn’t put him to sleep, he was too young,” she said. “Maybe if he was an older dog with health problems.”

So the family adjusted, and Ramon figured out ways to help Tuddy move with only his front legs — he said Tuddy was doing damage to his body dragging his hind legs outside.

The solution was a cart for Tuddy’s back legs, with straps to hold Tuddy’s body and plastic wheels more commonly seen on television carts to help him move.

“They were light,” Ramon Sena said, “and I wanted to make it as light as I could for him.”

The first cart was made out of some steel rod, wheels and a “For Sale” sign, but the next three carts each added something.

Tuddy’s final cart included an aluminum base and a steel rod bent to house everything else — foam padding for Tuddy’s back legs, and a large dog collar that served as a harness for Tuddy’s body.

The cart, which he would wear for 30 to 45 minutes at a time, drew attention whenever the family took Tuddy roadtripping across New Mexico, and Tuddy drew national attention when the News-Journal told the family’s story

Sadly, the family found Tuddy Oct. 4 at around 10 p.m. He had gone out for his normal evening walk about 30 minutes before, and Ramon Sena said his son drove up and found the Chihuahua dead on the driveway.

Ramon Sena said the family has no way to tell what happened to Tuddy, whether it was a heart attack or a stroke, or if he was kicked by a startled neighbor or neighborhood horse.

The cart helped Tuddy spend his last four years as a normal dog, the Senas said. He sought out a warm heating vent inside, loved to go for runs outside, got excited around children and knew how to communicate with his owners.

“He had me trained,” Ramon Sena said. “He let me know when he wanted to go out, when he wanted to eat and when he wanted water.”