What makes going on adventures so much better is experiencing them with your best friend. Donny Marchuk of Calgary, Canada, knows this to be true. In fact, he has been doing exactly that for over 14 years with his constant sidekick: his Golden Retriever, Sully.
Be it outdoor hikes, snowshoe treks, and climbs, Donny has taken his loyal pooch with him on every adventure. But when Sully’s age—and the pains and illnesses associated with it—slowly started creeping upon him, his owner had to make sure he can still keep up.
Aside from the usual aches that come with a dog’s golden years, Sully also suffers from laryngeal paralysis, a condition that makes it difficult for him to breathe. Despite what he’s feeling, the dog is still ready to go up and about to accompany his dad on adventures.
Sadly, his current physical state prevents him from doing just that.
“As soon as I leave the house, he wants to come. He just kind of lights up when he gets to go,” Donny said. “When he was younger and we were hiking and trail running in Yoho and Kananaskis… any hike I go on, Sully was up for it, and he misses that.”
After thinking of ways to help his Golden Retriever enjoy more outdoor escapades, Donny borrowed an old three-wheeled stroller from a friend and fashioned it into a “chariot.” Thankfully, the makeshift wagon worked perfectly!
Now, he can take Sully just about everywhere with him. So far, the duo has gone on many walks and mountain adventures this winter, all thanks to this nifty invention.
“A few years ago I would have been dead set against pulling my elderly dog in a stroller. But here’s where I’m now at: I want more time with Sully. And I’ll do anything. Anything. To have that. I’ve done a complete 180 and I’m sure glad I have!” Donny wrote.
Depending on the terrain they’d go on, Donny would sometimes add ski or snowshoeing attachments to the chariot. No matter what day or place they’d visit, Sully just lights up whenever he sees his wagon being taken out.
“Even if it’s around the neighborhood, just for a walk, he’s been sitting up like he’s the happiest person in the world,” Donny, a physical education consultant, said.
Besides seeing how happy his best friend is, another great thing about the chariot is watching other people’s reactions upon seeing Sully in it. Donny said it has been his “favorite thing as of late.”
“Rarely does a person go by without stopping and wanting to talk and smiling,” the proud dog owner said. “And it kind of warms our hearts knowing that we put a smile on their face as well.”
Donny said the elderly dog has gotten him through the toughest moment in his life. Once it was over, they began going on adventure after adventure. It started as a distraction, but now, it became so much more.
Building this chariot was a way for him to thank Sully for all he has done. The dog was there for him when he badly needed someone, and Donny has promised to do everything he can for the senior Golden Retriever now that he’s the one who needs the extra care and attention.
“He’s given so much to me that it’s only fair that every second I get now I can give that back to him,” said Donny.
He said they will continue going on adventures as long as Sully’s strength and health permit it.
“Having a dog in my life is everything,” he said. “Every minute I can give him a chance to spend more time and do the things he loves to do, I’ll do it.”
Indeed, dog owners will do anything for their faithful companions. Here’s to wishing that Sully enjoys more adventures with his dad in the years to come!