RALEIGH — Tobi is just as energetic and scrappy as any other cocker spaniel mix eager to play with his owner.
But Tobi, who suffered a herniated disc that paralyzed him, is now confined to a cart that is the doggy equivalent of a wheelchair.
It wasn't slowing him down.
As Tobi and other similarly paralyzed dogs showed during Saturday's 19th annual N.C. State University Dog Olympics and Paralympics, they can still lead healthy lives with the help of caring owners.
"We wanted to show people that dogs with spinal cord injuries can lead normal lives," said Beverly Tucker of Thomasville, Tobi's owner.
The Paralympics was the newest part of the Dog Olympics, which drew hundreds of people and their dogs to Moore Square in downtown Raleigh.
A large crowd gathered to watch the dogs race and navigate through an obstacle during the Paralympics. Buddy, an active dachshund whose SPD DEMON vanity plate on his cart summed up his character, was a crowd favorite.
"Dogs don't realize they have a disability," said Donna Webb of Raleigh, who had adopted an injured Buddy last year. "They keep working through it."
Dogs competed in a variety of other events on Saturday, including catching Frisbees and hot dogs, high jumping, rolling over and performing tricks.
"It looked like it would be something fun to do," said Michele Creech of Kenly, who brought Brooke, a standard poodle, to the competitions.
The event keeps getting more popular each time it's held, according to Laura Greene, president of the N.C. State student chapter of the American Animal Hospital Association, which sponsors the Dog Olympics.
Greene, a third-year student at NCSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, said many dog owners come out to socialize with like-minded people and spend time with their pets.
"They're part of the family," Greene said.
The close proximity of the Dog Olympics to the BugFest at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and the Hopscotch Music Festival also stoked the crowds. .
"Anywhere there is a good group of people, there's going to be a good time," said Vic Giardina of North Raleigh, who came with his wife, Nikki, and 3-year-old son, Valentino, to the various downtown activities.
But amid the fun and games, the Dog Olympics also served as a way for rescue groups to get publicity and to raise money.
Groups that work to save dogs lined "Rescue Row" in Moore Square with some canines looking for a permanent home.
Betsy Dunnavant, dog foster coordinator for 2PawsUp, a group that works to save animals in high kill shelters, was hoping to place at least two of the dogs they brought Saturday.
"The way I look at is two dogs adopted means two lives saved," Dunnavant said.
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