Doctor Lincoln Parkes has worked as an orange picker, skiing teacher, solider, vet neurosurgeon and is now too a creator of the first dog wheelchair.
After serving in WW II, Parkes took on a career in veterinary medicine with a specialty in neurosurgery and orthopedics. In the 1950s and 60s, Parkes guesses annually he would see roughly 96,000 animals at the University of Pennsylvania. During that period, dogs and other animals were normally euthanized when they had spinal problems that made it impossible to utilize their legs to walk. “Animals, because they can’t walk, should not be put to sleep,” Parkes said. “I felt there must be a way. And it became obvious – make something for them and try it!” Parkes hit the streets to collect an assortment of items including wheels from children’s carriages and wagons, and wood planks.
“I put something together and the dog ran out the door and I said, ‘Uh oh. I’m in trouble.’ And that started the K-9 Cart Company back in 1961,” stated Parkes. From scavenging on the streets to a thriving business, Parkes invented the first wheelchair for animals including dogs, birds, hamsters, cats and more. Today, he has spent approx 60 years making and designing wheelchairs for animals. If you name a creature, Parkes said he has potentially crafted a wheelchair for it. “Dogs, cats, snakes, anything. People fall in love with them. There’s no replacement. They fill a chunk of life that no other being can,” Parkes expressed. “[It became obvious] that there was a big need for supporting disabled animals.”
Parkes still runs his K-9 Cart Company even as he persists into his 90s. One of his most loyal customers, Amy Deisher, claims he has changed her and her pooches’ lives. Two of her corgis, Lear and Austin, have degenerative myelopathy, a disease that advances up their spinal cord. Initially the disease causes their hind legs to not function, but regrettably it becomes fatal eventually as it journeys up to the brain. Thanks to Parkes’ invention Deisher is able to let her darling corgis live out the rest of their lives as painless as possible. “The moment [Lear] got in [the cart], off he went running. And he never stopped. The carts make such a big difference in their lives,” Deisher explained. “It’s worth every single moment to be able to see them do what they used to do.”