With the help of a compassionate vet and a caring owner, Bandera, an 8-year-old German shepherd, has a new lease on life.

Bandera uses a cart for her back legs because she is paralyzed by a condition called degenerative myelopathy. It’s an autoimmune disease that attacks the spinal cord, and is similar to multiple sclerosis in people.

“It’s not a painful thing for the dog like hip dysplasia or arthritis would be. It’s just an unawareness of where their feet are,” said veterinarian Dr. Steve Rapp.

When it became clear Bandera couldn’t get around on her own, Carrie Cunningham ordered a 2.5-pound doggie wheelchair with all-terrain tires. The dog took to it immediately.

“The cart has been a lifesaver for her … She’s always had a great spirit. She eats great and all of that, but being able to keep up with the other dogs has been wonderful,” Cunningham said.

Bandera’s daily routine includes a host of supplements, mostly anti-oxidants to help boost her immune system. While there is no cure for this disease, veterinarians say there is a genetic component, which helps doctors test for it. Although the disease may shorten Bandera’s life, her vet is amazed at her adaptation. Cunningham wants to spread the word about Bandera.

“I would just like to be able to get her to hospitals or somewhere where she could show off and show how happy she is,” Cunningham said. “I just think that she’s just so wonderful to watch and so inspirational for everybody.”

Degenerative myelopathy was first described in the 1970s. It attacks several different breeds like Labrador golden retrievers, but it’s most common in German shepherds.