DOGS ON WHEELS
By Freddi Hetler
The first sign of trouble Bubba, our Cardigan Welsh corgi, had occurred about two years ago with shaky hind legs after a long walk or a vigorous romp. Bubba’s vet shook his head over the x-ray and muttered about active, long-backed dogs, spinal degeneration, and damaged disks. The unthinkable had occurred. Bubba was now a senior citizen paying the price for his active life-style and over-bred long back. I was told that his condition would most likely steadily degenerate until he could no longer walk. We discussed surgery. Since Bubba was almost 12 years of age, I declined surgery and opted for steroids, acupuncture, and acupressure.
What do people do when their otherwise healthy dogs and cats no longer can move in a normal fashion, whether it is due to age, injury, or a temporary condition such as surgery? I searched the Internet and was amazed at the trove of information and products available to help.
When Bubba had trouble lifting himself up with his hind legs, I found a special leash, the Bottoms Up Leash, that allowed his hindquarters to be lifted to a standing position. Once up, Bubba could walk. Several companies make similar slings for the purpose of lifting the dog’s hind end up, but the Bottoms Up Leash seemed the least difficult to get the dog into. Ease and speed were important considerations, especially in the middle of the night, as Bubba needs help standing to relieve himself. The leash was also useful for long walks, when Bubba would tire before we got back. It easily tucks into a pocket or purse.
As of the last six months, Bubba can no longer stand by himself. Since his mobility now depends upon his being lifted by his leash, he can’t walk without someone walking with him. This is a dignified and very active corgi. He is in no pain and, other than deafness, has no other medical problem. Seeing him just sit, hour after hour, or drag himself from one end of the house to another was very depressing. It was time to get the dog some wheels.
There are several companies that make wheelchairs, or carts, for dogs (and other animals). I checked out three on the Internet: K-9 Carts, Doggon’ Wheels, and Wheel Chairs for Dogs. I looked at the pictures, I read the testimonials, and I called and spoke with company representatives. All of these companies offer devices for every imaginable mobility and related problem, and for just about any type of animal needing help. The prices were comparable, each had advantages and disadvantages, and all offered help once the cart arrived. I decided that Doggon’ Wheels was the best choice for Bubba. My initial query was via their website. A company representative called me on a Tuesday, gathered additional information about Bubba’s needs, and promised my custom-made cart would be sent to me via express mail in three days. The cart arrived, as promised. Help was offered if Bubba balked at using it, something I hadn’t considered.
My husband put the cart together using the easy-to-understand, step-by-step diagram. We strapped Bubba into the cart. Adjusting the straps and learning how to put them on the dog was, to me, the hardest part. It took two tries and I had it. Now, would the dog use the cart? I tossed a tennis ball for Bubba and he took off, never looking back!
He actually looks forward to being in his cart. He runs and chases things just like before. He is able to relieve himself with dignity. He gets his exercise. Doggon’ Wheels recommends that the dog always be supervised while in the cart. The cart’s wheels can catch on hoses, water dishes, furniture, and can overturn things onto the dog. Bubba, while playing ball, once caught a wheel on the leg of the patio table and tore the leg off the table in his haste to get the ball before his corgi brother, Dexter, did. The table and umbrella crashed down. Fortunately Bubba was long gone.
Website addresses for the products mentioned here are: www.doggon.com, www.k9carts.com, www.wheelchairsfordogs.com, and www.bottomsupleash.com. All of these websites are very user- friendly and offer links to other, related sites, and a wealth of information for people with animals needing this kind of help.
Doggon’ Wheels and the Bottoms Up Leash have given Bubba his life and his dignity back. His condition is not getting better, but with these products, he can have fun and be independent in the time he has left.
Freddi Hetler is a writer who lives in Eldorado with her husband and family zoo.
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