“Diva Dog: Pit Bull on Wheels” is the story of Coral, a dog who was left paralyzed by a hit-and-run driver and now uses a wheelchair for mobility. Her never-ending drive and endless well of love inspire all who meet her. Moon in Leo Productions is currently in post-production on this documentary. Produced and hosted by Coral’s daddy, Chris Cory.”
Coral, the originale Miss Diva Dog, was born in East Orange, NJ on July 23, 1995 – the birthday of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie (important trivia to know). For the first year-and-a-half of her young life, she lived in a very abusive household where she was kept in a tiny closet and subjected to savagely brutal beatings.
On December 3, 1997 she was taken from that Hellish existence and given a new lease on life. Chris Cory, certified animal lover – notorious for picking up strays and making them part of the zoo called his “family” – became her new dad. She was promptly taken to the Keys for some much needed rest and relaxation.
She spent her first Christmas with her new family running free and splashing in the surf (well, not exactly. She was kinda afraid of water, but whatever. She got to frolic and play, which was unknown territory to the beautiful young lady). It is there she was bestowed with her name – Coral – partially for the color of her fur, also as a reminder of where they were.
Since then, Coral has traveled up and down the Eastern Seaboard and across the country more than once with Chris and her brother, Corbin the chocolate lab (he was picked up in Tennessee, where he was sitting in the pouring rain with an old hound dog named Travis). Coral and Corbin have been more places than most humans, running wild and free in such breathtakingly beautiful places as Cape Hatteras, NC; Great Smoky Mountains, TN; Big Bend, TX and all along the Rio Grande; Bisbee, AZ; Native American reservations; and Big Sur, CA.
On June 1, 1999 Chris, Coral and Corbin landed in Beverly Hills, where they lived in the “slums” on North Arnaz Drive for two years. Over that time, they traversed many a canyon together, and Coral particularly loved her some Malibu (told you she was a diva). Wonder where she gets it from.
On April 15, 2001 (Easter Sunday AND also the birthday of Chris’s dear friend, Diana) Chris brought the pups for a big day out in Malibu. After hiking throughout the afternoon, they stopped down on Broad Beach about an hour before the sunset, to see the water. They only spent about twenty minutes. All they had to do was cross directly across the vacant street from the beach entrance to his car. A distance of, oh twenty feet or so. Coral and Corbin were within a few feet of Chris, and two of his friends were with them.
Chris noticed a car approaching from way down the road. The only car in sight. He thought nothing of it. After all, there were signs posted everywhere alerting drivers to “Children and Pets at Play.” And there were three people with two dogs crossing the street, so of course anyone would slow down. Right? Unfortunately, logic did not serve us that fateful day. Within the short time it took to walk twenty or so feet, the car that looked so far away started to look increasingly closer. It became clear to Chris they were going a little too fast for comfort.
His first reaction was to grab hold of Corbin, because he is a tire-chaser. By the time he looked back to gauge where everyone was, the car was already there – barreling past them. In the blink of an eye, he saw Coral directly in the vehicle’s path, and they made eye contact.
Then, like a wrecking ball smashing your dreams into a million bits and pieces, he watched Coral disappear underneath the car and the rising dust. You could hear the impact. Chris let out a blood-curdling scream. It was a sound he had never heard from his own mouth.
He was already assimilating what was happening. His dog was dead. He knew it. He was never going to see his baby Coral again. How could this happen after he rescued her from her horrible suffering? He thought she had been blessed. Why did she have to die?
As soon as the dust settled, Chris could hardly look. Before anything, he tried to get the license plate, but the car was already too far away. What bastards! There is no way they didn’t know they hit something. Coral is about fifty-five pounds. It’s like hitting a child.
Chris turned to the place where he knew Coral would be laying dead or dying, and to his astonishment, she dragged herself out of the street and into the nearest driveway. Her back legs were completely limp. She looked like a seal. She was pretty scraped up, and her head had cuts all over it. But, she was completely alert and looking really confused. He ran over to hold her, and she laid her head in his lap. She calmed down immediately as he pet her, and he didn’t know what he was supposed to do next.
After confirming that she was definitely conscious and aware of her surroundings, he put Corbin in the car and got his cell phone. No service. Coral didn’t even cry. He rang the doorbells of the gated mansions, but nobody answered. He was doing everything in his power to stay focused on finding a solution. Coral was being very strong and stoic. She didn’t yelp, didn’t whine, didn’t whimper.
After several minutes, an SUV appeared in the distance. As they approached, Chris flagged them down. Luckily, these were locals and they were a Godsend. The woman gave them her baby’s blanket and water. The man helped Chris lift Coral into the car. They told him about the closest emergency vet (thirty miles away in W. LA), and they called them from their home to prepare them for our arrival.
The whole thirty mile drive down PCH, then the 10 freeway to Sepulveda and Santa Monica, Coral was calm, cool and collected. She remained alert and never complained once or let on she was in any pain. Chris’s head was whirling. They got to the animal hospital. Chris had no choice but to leave Coral there while he dropped off his friends and brought Corbin home. He called Diana to tell her of this horrible news on her birthday. He tried repeatedly to reach his parents, but they had turned off the phone for the night.
Chris returned to the hospital a couple hours after leaving Coral there, terrified of what he was going to hear. The doctor sat him down and explained exactly what Coral was facing. The impact of the car had separated her spine. When the vertebrae snapped back together, two of them crunched into each other. At that point, she was experiencing complete paralysis in the rear half of her body.
It was unclear whether or not she had sustained internal injuries, and we would have no definitive answers on that until she had been under observation for at least 48 hours. Chris was in shock. Coral was in good spirits. By now, she was clearly uncomfortable and experiencing severe pain from the actual knocking around. Plus, she had a concussion. There was nothing else to be said or done. Only time would tell.
Chris went home and cried his eyes out. So many questions swirled through his head. WHY did this happen? What did Coral ever do to deserve such karma? What good could EVER come from this? And, most importantly, IS SHE GOING TO LIVE? Chris prayed and prayed for an answer.
In an ironic twist of fate, Chris had seen a dog in a wheelchair about a week before. He was driving not far from his apartment, when he noticed a man running down the street with a dog in a wheelchair! The dog’s back legs were in slings. He had never seen such a thing! But, the dog looked really happy. Chris had thought at the time that the dog must have gotten hit by a car or something.
Well, a week later, and here he was. He slept on it, and the next day he got to searching the internet for information. His neighbors began to give him any bit of information they came across. His mom would e-mail any and all facts she found about handicapped pets. Within days, Chris had more information on living with a handicapped animal than he cared to know.
There were many, many sites on the subject. He had no idea this was such a common thing. The real coup was his discovery of a Yahoo Group called “Abledogs.” This was an entire e-group dedicated to people with disabled pets! Mostly there were dogs and cats. But, some people had rabbits and even a goat! And, they had wheelchairs! Chris was speechless. When he joined the group and told his story, he was greeted by an outpouring of guidance. Any question he could ever have was answered, usually by multiple people. He found sites on every kind of handicapped pet product you could imagine. He found pictures and videos of dogs running free in their wheelchairs. He could not believe his eyes! And they all looked very, very happy!
Chris knew what he had to do. He prayed hard and asked God to show him the way. Did God want Chris to take care of a disabled dog now? What other tricks did the old maker have up his sleeve? Talk about a sudden turn of events. Chris didn’t know what lay ahead, but he decided then and there that if Coral survived this, he was going to take care of her.
For the next six days, Chris visited Coral in the hospital. He would lay down on the floor with her and ask her, “Do you want to live?” He told her that if she was in pain, it was OK to go. He wanted her to know she didn’t have to stay alive for him. If holding on was too hard, he would understand.
He also told her that if she wanted to live, and she was willing to fight, then he would always be her daddy. He promised he would never let her down.
By the end of that week, it was clear that she had not sustained internal damage. Talk about a miracle. How can a car mow her down at high speed, nailing her and completely dragging her underneath it from front to back, and there was no internal injury? Damn, that girl must have a hard head! Chris knew she was a diva, but she was a diva of much more strength and character than he could ever have imagined.
After six days, Coral was allowed to come home. Chris had to learn how to express her bladder, since she could not go by herself. The doctors said she had a two percent chance of regaining any feeling in her rear. Chris and Coral had a long journey ahead of them – one that would bond them in ways neither had expected. And poor Corbin just didn’t know what to do, so he kept to himself.
When it rains and pours. Within the following six weeks, Chris had to find them a new place to live on top of everything else. His apartment building in Beverly Hills was slated for demolition, so they could build condos, and time was running out. Finding a place that would take him with two big dogs was a task he would wish upon no one. The situation was looking hopeless when the eleventh hour did its thing. Chris found himself a place in Los Feliz, all the way on the other side of town. He packed his little family up and set about learning how to adjust his life around an animal that was completely dependent on him for mobility and her health.
Shortly after their arrival in Los Feliz (in June, 2001), Coral got her wheelchair from eddieswheels.com. Chris had researched all the wheelchair companies ad nauseam, and he was convinced Eddie’s Wheels was the best. He was right. Turns out Eddie’s had been voted “Best” on handicappedpets.com. The manager of that site had conducted his own independent survey and found that Eddie’s had a 99.999% satisfaction rate.
When Chris very first put her in the thing, she didn’t quite know what to do. But, once she grasped the concept that this contraption helped her to walk again, she never looked back. Within weeks, she was walking all over town, going on small hikes and becoming the center of attention wherever she went. Superstardom definitely agreed with her, and Coral happily took her place in the spotlight.
Nowadays, Coral hikes in the mountains, runs on the beach and tools it down Sunset in her classy wheels. She is always ready to greet her adoring public. And her spirits have never been higher. She’s in great health, and still full of energy. And, believe it or not, she still thinks she runs things! It is her way or the highway. Ain’t no dogs better be steppin’ up to this diva, or they will get told!
The only real inconvenience is her incontinence. Expressing her bladder has become second nature, but she does tend to get chronic urinary infections. Unfortunately, this comes with the territory and is kept at bay with regular antibiotics and other treats such as cranberry juice and non-fat yogurt. Life could definitely be worse.
Coral is very content, and her life is complete and full of joy. She exercises regularly (more than most able-bodied dogs), she gets to be the center of everyone’s attention, and she has love! As strange as it seems, her life is better now than it was when Chris first took her in. The most poignant lesson, though, is one that words cannot explain. Chris and Coral have developed a relationship where they really have to work together. Coral needs Chris for basic functions, and she can’t do a whole lot without his assistance in one way or another. But, when they work together, they have found that most anything is possible.
This is a fact that has not been lost on either one of them, and there is an unspoken bond between this man and his best friend that provides continuing inspiration and a source of faith to all the endeavors that Chris pursues. Chris’s experience with Coral prepared him for the untimely death of his mother and grandmother the following year and gave him the strength to rise to the challenge and be there for his family in ways he never knew he had within him.
It also gave him the added motivation and stamina he needed to tackle the biggest project of his life – his first movie DIAMOND AND SPHINX, which he wrote, directed, produced, starred in and did the music for. Chris’s life has changed utterly and completely since that Easter. But, what he has learned is immeasurable. And that you CAN take with you.
Coral is living proof that it is NOT what happens TO you, but HOW you deal with what happens to you that makes all the difference. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone around us and all that we touch.
Please remember to never give up. And always find the good in any tragedy, no matter how long it takes you to get there. Life is a gift. It can be taken at any moment. And, it is the moments we have that we must cherish while we have them. Anyone can be a teacher, even a pit bull from the ghetto. And anyone can learn the lesson, even a spoiled white boy from Montclair, NJ. Thank you, Coral, for all you have given me and God bless.