In the midst of all the other activities around here, we have been arranging for our older dog, Ariel, to have more independent mobility.
She was abandoned as a tiny puppy, so we know her age but not her ancestry. Her behavior and appearance have, throughout her life, suggested a strong Border collie component with spaniel-influenced ears and coat. She looks enough like a Border collie to be considered one by the American Kennel Club (with what's called an ILP listing) and allowed to compete in obedience trials, which she did until the onset of arthritis about nine years ago. She earned her CD, the Companion Dog title that is the first full level of obedience competition. She couldn't continue further with obedience or with agility because of the arthritis.
Anyway, she is still a dog who needs activity, even though she has become increasingly lame, despite all we have been able to do for her. At 15, she is one hundred percent engaged in life and with us. She chases her Buster Cube around the house. She may not hear as well as she used to (she doesn't always wake up immediately when we come home), but she can tell when someone might be about to drop a crumb on the floor, and will gnaw through anything (even multiple layers of cardboard) to get at a potential food source.
She does NOT like to be left home when anyone else is going for a walk or a ride in the car.
Her knees, however, can't keep up with her.
For a couple of years, we've been using a harness, which gives her a handle we can use to help her with steps, getting in and out of the car, and, more often lately, to keep her from some of the falling-over on the twice-daily walks she refuses to quit going on. The falling-over does not, amazingly, distress or frustrate her. She just waits until she can get herself up again, or until we give her a boost. We've also needed to use boots to protect her back feet because she can't lift them high enough to clear the pavement, although we take the boots off her when she gets to the grass at the park.
(When Ariel was young, only half of her muzzle was white. Her expressive eyebrows also were not highlighted, as they are now.)
Needing to come up with a new answer, we started learning about devices to help handicapped dogs. There are quite an amazing number of options, and fortunately we have several local resource people to help us figure out what to try for Ariel—Deanna Rogers, Jill Reynolds, and Connie Fredman.
So, after much research, soul-searching, and measuring, we located a refurbished set of wheels of the correct size for Ariel. They arrived from Montana a couple of weeks ago, and we have been sending photos back and forth to the manufacturer while we fine-tune the fitting. On Saturday, we actually used them for the first time.
Ari could sniff around on her own without one of us hovering to rescue her from the too-frequent cave-in of the back legs.
The wheels are set up in rehab
mode, so she has to use all four limbs to move but she doesn't fall over. Our house is too small for her to have the wheels inside, but she can enjoy far more comfortable walks twice a day and we think she will be better able to
maintain the strength in her legs because she's not wasting so much
energy trying to stabilize the joints (or working to get back up).
On Sunday, Jill and her pup Skid, who is training to be a Search and Rescue dog, came by to see how the wheels worked. Ari showed us she was starting to get the hang of them.
By the end of the walk, Ari had figured out what wheels are good for.
Thanks to Doggon' Wheels for thoughtful design (these are 4WD wheels: rocks and hills no problem), great customer service, and making refurbished wheels available to dogs who just need a little lift.
And, while we're on the topic of "may all beings be happy," here's a wonderful business in Africa called Shonaquip. . . .