The dogs at their favourite place- the dog beach.


In the sun-kissed seaside city of Huntington Beach, CA, a special Instagram account has been making waves. This account isn’t run by a celebrity or traction-gaining influencer. Instead, what you’ll find is the incredible journey of six rescued, disabled dogs.

Run by their dedicated caretaker Debbie Pearl, The Unstoppable Dogs account (@theunstoppabledogs), has amassed over 107K followers, making these dogs their own kind of celebrity. 

The stars of this digital show—Peedy, Zeek, Eddie, Pop, Elliot, and Sydney—are all “handicapable” dogs. Each has a physical disability that requires some sort of aid, whether a custom wheelchair or leg prosthetics. But don’t worry, that doesn’t slow them down. The irrepressible joy these dogs exude as they race along the beach has the power to turn around even the worst day. 

Before the Unstoppable Dogs, Pearl had a career in dog training, readying dogs for film and TV with her company Paws for Effect. She also started a non-profit, Dream Fetchers, which brings dogs into communities to provide Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).

Her life took an unexpected turn when she encountered her first disabled dog, Eddie, a terrier-mix with severe spinal trauma causing paralysis of his back legs. He was found injured, dragging himself through the streets, before being picked up by animal control. “He was at the shelter for about a month,” explains Debbie. “They were going to put him to sleep, and one of the shelter volunteers reached out to one of my rescuers and said, ‘Is there any way you can take this dog? He’s just so full of life.’” 


Unstoppable dog Elliot inspires children at a fundraiser for prosthetic limbs.


Debbie and the Unstoppable Dogs en route to the beach.


The newest Unstoppable Dog, Super Stevie.


Dream Fetchers answered the call and took in Eddie. Pearl immediately embarked on a quest to find him a forever home. It proved more challenging than anticipated, however, with potential adopters daunted by the responsibility of caring for a “Wheelie” dog, as Pearl affectionately calls pups in need of a wheelchair. It was then she had an idea. 

With Dream Fetchers, Pearl was already visiting children’s hospitals, nursing homes, and veteran centers to provide Animal Assisted Therapy. She considered the impact a disabled dog could have on disabled people. “I thought to myself ‘Maybe I should take Eddie,’” says Pearl. “He could be so inspiring to so many people that I work with.”

“That was my first go-around with a handicapped dog, and the first two weeks I thought ‘I don’t know if I can do this,’” Pearl admits. However, as the next few weeks passed, her hesitation transformed into determination as she fell in love with his spirit and heart. 

Five more handicapable dogs followed, growing the Unstoppable family to a total of six pups, all with ranging abilities and in need of different accommodations. “It was never saying ‘how many dogs can I adopt,’ it just ended up that way. If I was out there looking, I would have a hundred dogs right now.”


“I think what people see is their absolute joy for life.”


Although most of the dogs suffered heart wrenching abuse and neglect resulting in their injuries, you would never know it. Their joie de vivre is palpable. They now spend their days playing, providing comfort to people with similar conditions, and visiting their “happy place,” Huntington beach. This is where you can frequently find the dogs, frolicking in the sand and surf while wearing their wheelchairs or prosthetics. As soon as they pull up to the beach, they’re unleashed, free to explore as they please. “It’s hard to keep them out of the water! It’s like they don’t even know they’re in wheelchairs, running through the waves,” says Pearl. “They get a lot of looks and attention there, of course, but it’s all good attention. I think what people see is their absolute joy for life.”

They bring this same joy to their therapy sessions. Dream Fetchers now focuses on taking the six dogs and matching them with people with similar challenges, traveling to any program that requests their assistance. The dogs, trained to provide Animal Assisted Therapy, visit nursing homes, hospitals, rehab centers, charity events, and schools, providing therapy and of course, puppy love.

Thanks to Pearl’s dedication to showcasing her dogs’ love for life, undampened by their circumstances, she’s inspiring others to believe in the potential of every dog—and themselves. 

“It was always about the human animal bond and helping others,” says Pearl. “Now, it’s more about how we can help others by inspiring and giving hope—we just want to give hope.”


This article originally appeared in the award-winning Modern Dog magazine. Subscribe today!