Little Levi a mascot-on-wheels for Paws for Serendipity


A crippled pup has been given a chance at life, thanks to a special wheeled cart and the kindness of humans.

“Levi, a four-and-a-half-month-old German Shepherd, was born with a single disc deformity, causing his back legs to be immobile, and with very little feeling,” said Shannon Costello, who operates non-profit animal rescue Paws for Serendipity southeast of Killarney. 

“He was bred here in Manitoba, but his breeder thought he deserved a chance,” she said. “I was made aware of him by a rescue group friend, and offered to give him a chance, at least while he remains pain free. We took him in a few months ago.” 

Costello said that she then began to look for support for the dog, which included finding a way for Levi to move around without power in his back legs.

“We had asked for help on Facebook for someone to help build something until he was fully grown, or maybe so a wheelchair could be bought,” she said. “We had a few offers of help, but nothing for sure.” 

Then Tari Conrad, a close friend of Costello’s, heard about Levi’s predicament, and, got in touch with local creative handyman Reg Sawatzky, to see if he could put his genius to work and craft something himself for the pup.

“I met Levi, and I would have taken him home instantly,” said Sawatzky. “He’s incredibly intelligent. I loved him right away. But I don’t think Shannon would give him up.”

After doing some research, and considering his substantial store of used bicycle wheels, he decided it would be too difficult to build something that could be adjusted as the dog grew, said Sawatzky. 

Then kindness, and cash, kicked in.

“I looked around online, and eventually we found a wheelchair for dogs that would work,” said Sawatzky.

He and his wife Jill decided to purchase the chair themselves, he said, and Tari and Barry Conrad then chipped in to cover the shipping costs. 

Costello was delighted with their incredible generosity, and Levi is now using his wheelchair to move around the farmhouse. Plus he has an eye for small fry – if he can catch one – and likes to guard the house.

“Levi is still getting used to his wheels, and he tends to be pretty independent, so it’s been slow going,” she said. “He does not have bladder or bowel control, and it varies with how tired he is. But Levi has a lot of spunk, and lots of energy, despite his handicap. He loves to chase cats, and torment the little dogs here, as well as guard the house from livestock.” 

Levi will continue to have trouble with his back legs, which will never be functional, she added.

“In the future he may need amputation on those hind limbs, as they twist his back when he drags them,” said Costello. “He also gets pressure/rub wounds on his legs and hips. We will be fundraising in the future for more X-rays, and possibly the amputation surgery.”

But for the present, Levi is preparing for a special role in the community.

“He will now become the Paws for Serendipity mascot,” said Costello. “And he will, of course, continue to live with us.” 

 Reg Sawatzky was thrilled with the news.

“I’d love to see him in the parade, with his little wheelchair, and a banner saying Paws for Serendipity,” he said. “He will make a terrific mascot.”

Want to donate? The Grind (on Broadway) is a local drop-off location for donations for Paws for Serendipity animal rescue. Top donations include puppy food, used blankets, towels, and sheets. 

Cash donations for rescue animal’s veterinary costs can be made to an account set up for Paws for Serendipity, a registered non-profit organization, at the Killarney Vet Clinic.Since February, some 26 rescue dogs have been placed into new homes, said Shannon Costello. operator of Paws for Serendipity.

LEVI GETS HIS WHEELS – Rescue dog Levi, a German Shepherd pup, is pictured here in his doggie wheelchair, which supports his crippled hind legs. Reg Sawatzky (right), along with his wife Jill, paid for the specially designed wheelchair, in order to help Paws for Serendipity animal rescue give the lovable Levi a chance at a more active life.