Meet the adorable Insta-famous dog on wheels

Move over Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus, there’s a new girl in town making tails wag all over the world. Her name is Lilo and she’s out to send a very serious message – in a seriously cute kind of way. 

The first time I laid eyes on little dachshund Lilo’s Instagram account, my heart melted a little. Big innocent eyes, long floppy ears, crazy little outfits and a whole lotta attitude.

The fact that she wears a nappy and scoots around on wheels makes her all the more adorable.

But Lilo doesn’t wear the nappy just to look cute, and she doesn’t use her wheels just to gain speed and beat her buddies around the block. She’s paralysed. But we’ll get to that later. 

Lilo is Insta-famous. Yep. This perky little pooch has a lazy 46 thousand followers, watching her every move. And when you see some of what she gets up to, you start to understand why!

There are birthday parties, complete with hilarious hair-dos and snazzy spectacles...

lilo dog on wheels dressed as a grandma
Work out sessions – what’s the point of working out if it doesn’t end up on Instagram, right?
Lilo wheelie dog with work out gear
A shark outfit, just because it’s awesome...
Lilo dog on wheels dressed up as a shark
And every other crazy combination you could ever possibly think of. 

Lilo started out just like every other sausage-dog, adored by her human mum April Natesiri and slotting nicely into her role as youngest child, slash, queen of the family. 
 
“Lilo is a sassy little sweetheart,” April says. “She may greet you with a catty little bark but she’ll follow it up with a sweet gentle kiss. She’s a hilarious little one and always keeps us entertained.”
 
But one day Lilo let out a screech. April quickly realised her pup was no longer using her back legs. April had done a lot of research into dachshunds before welcoming Lilo into the family, but she had never heard of this foreign and scary term IVDD – or intervertebral disk disease.
 
A disk had slipped in Lilo’s spine damaging the spinal cord. Lilo was rushed into surgery that afternoon. In the months that followed she underwent acupuncture, laser treatment and hydrotherapy. On top of the physical and emotional trauma came a hefty vet bill of around $8000. But unfortunately the injury to Lilo’s spine was so severe, the paralysis couldn’t be reversed. 
 
Three months after surgery she received her first set of wheels.
 
“Lilo took to her new wheels instantly and hasn’t slowed down since! It’s like she knew the wheels would become her best friend for many years to come, she can zoom for hours without breaking a sweat!”
 
On a side note, did you know Bupa now offers pet insurance? 
 
April recognised the value in sharing Lilo’s story with others facing similar challenges, so she started up an Instagram page. 
 
“Our goal was to share her life on wheels in the hope that it could bring awareness to the disease and perhaps even shed light on those who didn’t recover from it," says April. 
 
Lilo very quickly became an Instagram hit, attracting tens of thousands of followers. 
Lilo dog on wheels in costume
“Lilo has her own room for her photo props and clothes! I am constantly looking for fun and creative ways to keep our followers entertained and happy. But most importantly Lilo isn’t bothered by any of it, she happily accepts yummy treats and kisses after every photo shoot!”
 
This month Lilo has an even bigger role, helping to promote Wheelie Day. 
 
“Wheelie Day is a celebration of handicapable dogs in wheelchairs. Just like humans,” Says Doxies Down Under founder Karan White. “Dogs can live a happy and fulfilling life, even if they are confined to a wheel chair. Wheelie Day is typically celebrated late in September but our community prefers to use the entire month of September as an opportunity to demonstrate how wonderful life can be for wheelie dogs.”
 
The campaign also raises money for volunteer organisations who support families affected, like Dachshund IVDD Support Australia. 
 
The crazy concept of Facebook and Instagram “famous” dogs is taking off right around the world, with some dogs like Tuna Melts My Heart, entertaining a massive 1.8 million followers, or Grumpy Cat, with an impressive 1.7 million followers. 
 
“It’s undeniable, pets generate genuine feelings of joy and happiness," Karen says. They have the capacity to evoke these feelings in us, whether we are snuggling with a dog on a couch or watching them online. So it’s no surprise that dog related hashtags are some of the most popular on social media,” she says.
 
Brands are now tapping into the potential to reach such a huge audience, and in July Australia’s first Talent Agency for pets was launched – paving the way for celebrity pets to keep growing in popularity, well into the future. 
 
If you want to help out Lilo’s cause and support Wheelie Day, here are three ways you can help:
  • Purchase a customised ID tag for your dog or use it as a charm, key tag holder or gift it to a friend. Tags can be purchased from IDPet who have donated their time and resources to the campaign.
  • Help create awareness by posting on Instagram with your message of supPAWt using #weensonwheels.
  • Contact bark@doxiesdownunder.com if you or your organisation can make a financial donation or donation of goods or services to our beneficiaries.

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