Thursday, October 01, 2009

Teaching an Old Dog, New Wheels - Walkin' Wheels

By: Mark C.

Throughout the summer, the normally exuberant, but elderly German Shepherd dog, Butch, appeared to be dragging his toes on his right hind leg. Concerned, owner Carol Sweet kept her eye on it, and, sure enough, over the next few days his hind end appeared to be weakening.

Butch and Carol were an item in the nearby town of Watson Falls. They went everywhere together, the beach, the post office, we even walked down to the local diner a few times each week in the summertime for breakfast on the patio. But his favorite, paws-down, was the beach. Chasing seagulls, barking at the waves, and digging, oh the digging!

Carol researched hip dysplasia and degenerative myelopathy in pets, but had decided it was probably a simple muscle or back injury, possibly osteoarthritis. She had also seen, in her searches, the adjustable Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair for Handicapped Pets, although she never ever imagines she would need a dog wheelchair. She consulted over the phone with our veterinarian. She agreed that the right course of action, for now, was simple observation, as well as supplementation with glucosamine chondroitin for dogs.

The weakening, however, continued.

Soon, Butch couldn't really pull his hind legs underneath him. He wobbled on his hind legs, and he began to appear unbalanced. It was getting hard for him to just be a dog. They were still going to the beach, and the post office, but they no longer walked downtown, as he just couldn't walk that far anymore. It was starting to become difficult to get Butch to get into the truck - it was just too high up for him, and Carol had trouble getting his hind end up and in. He had lost weight - from 95 to 75 pounds, but he was still too heavy for Carol to lift in by herself.

It was obvious Butch wasn't suffering from a simple muscle pull, or even a back injury. Carol came to the very sad realization that even though Butch appeared healthy in every other way - eating, drinking, even asking for his treats, his quality of life had gone precipitously downhill. He was basically a disabled dog.

Butch's demeanor had also dramatically changed. After more testing, the veterinarian diagnosed degenerative myelopathy. Butch was a handicapped dog. They veterinarian explained that the disease was degenerative -- Butch would not be getting better. Sadly, she said, many dogs were put to sleep at this point.
"NO!" Said Carol, as she looked at the life in Butch’s eyes. "This is a happy, healthy dog that simply can’t walk. She went back to her research notes and found the link to and the Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair for Handicapped Pets.

The Walkin' Wheels is designed especially for dogs that had trouble with their hind ends. Not a Wheelchair in the traditional sense -- the dog doesn’t sit in it and get pushed around -- the lightweight aluminum device replaces the functionality of the dog’s back legs with wheels. The pet moves around; runs and plays in fact, propelling himself with his still-strong front legs.
Carol was skeptical. She had been using a lift to help Butch get around in the house and when he needed to go to the bathroom. She had seen several of the other K9 carts for handicapped or disabled dogs, and they seemed cumbersome and klunky. Walkin’ Wheels was different. The website was very informative, with videos on fitting the cart and helpful and wonderful forums filled with other folks with dogs (and other animals) that were using these wheelchairs. The pet wheelchairs seemed to help so much with their mobility. And the dogs looked happy! Carol was most intrigued with the fact that the Walkin' Wheels dog cart was designed to fold up and be packed into a vehicle, and it was actually adjustable! Suddenly it seemed possible that Butch could chase those pesky seagulls again, even walk downtown?

Carol ordered the pet wheelchair and it arrived the next day. She fitted the adjustable cart to him using the video on the Handicapped Pets website. Butch, who wasn't too sure in the beginning what his mom was asking him to do, needed a little coaxing with treats but as soon as he discovered he could walk again though, it was amazing. Butch very quickly learned how to get around with the wheelchair, and it really seemed as if he enjoyed using it. It was small enough to fit easily in the house, as well as rugged enough for the great outdoors.
"My sweet dog started barking at squirrels again, and yes, chasing the seagulls on the beach and digging in the sand!"

Butch is quite the celebrity now at the local diner - they walk the mile or so downtown now with no problems and sit with friends and enjoy the sunshine. It's hard to miss the big black happy German Shepherd and his bright blue dog wheelchair!

The only ones not too pleased are the seagulls...

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Article From DiD Articles

1 comment:

Pets lover from Philippines said...

Thanks for the inspiring post. It used to be uncommon for a pet owner to go the extra mile in getting a disable dog a wheelchair, but the options available today, and with the increased awareness on pets' special needs, more people are going the right way. This story of Carol's fight for Butch and the dog's recovery is indeed very inspiring.