When I heard that Phoenix had got his wheels, I'm afraid my imagination got the better of me. I pictured him perched on a stack of telephone books in the driver's seat of a gleaming, red '59 Cadillac convertible, blowing through stop signs and forgetting to use his turn signals. We Frenchies are, without exception, notoriously terrible drivers. Fortunately, it turned out that Phoenix's wheels were of a considerably more practical sort, and, I dare say, less likely to result in heavy fines.
Phoenix has hemivertebrae, a congenital defect of the spine. It can be seen as too much of a good thing. Frenchies -- like our English, Puggish, and Boston Terrier-ish bretheren -- have delightful, twisty screw tails, the result of the malformation of the little vertebrae in our hindmost appendage. That is all well and good, but sometimes a puppy is born with malformed vertebrae extending farther up his spine and compressing his spinal cord. In many cases, there is little cause for concern. The dog is unaffected by the condition, and does not require treatment.
In other cases, symptoms are mild, and can be treated with anti-inflammatories and limited activity. Occasionally, though, as with young Phoenix, the pressure on the spinal cord is significant. As he grew, Phoenix slowly lost mobility in his hind end until, at the tender age of one, he was having difficulty getting around.