Roller dog

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.

Ari-food_1713

She does NOT like to be left home when anyone else is going for a walk or a ride in the car.

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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.

Ari-step_3168

(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.

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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.

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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.

Ariel_3360
(Daughter; Tussah—who is only about 12, as far as we know; Ari; Jill; and Skid, just over 1 year and doing fantastically with his S&R exercises and tests.)

By the end of the walk, Ari had figured out what wheels are good for.

Ariel_3367

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.

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And, while we're on the topic of "may all beings be happy," here's a wonderful business in Africa called Shonaquip. . . .

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20 Responses

  1. Janice in GA

    That last happy dog picture has to make it all worthwhile.

    My Bouncer is 13, mostly deaf, but still getting around reasonably well in spite of bad hips.

  2. Dina

    How wonderful for you both! Ari is lucky to have her person try so hard to find a solution. (This makes me remember a friends dog – her parents just didn’t try that hard to find the dog help. Not a happy ending as you can imagine.)

    She sure looks happy in that last picture. Hurray!

  3. Helen

    Oh this is marvelous!
    I will be forwarding your blog post to my parents, who have two glorious but aging dogs.

  4. Deb Robson

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    Terrific. . . . We learned a lot. I'm happy to share whatever I know.

  5. Deb Robson

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    We're trusting our guts a lot on the decisions here. And doing research. And then taking a few gambles. We ordered this sight-unseen (after the research).

  6. Cathy

    I’ll share this with a friend with a collie… such a splendid idea!

    And, of course, I love the info on the rare sheep. Thank you.

  7. LynnH

    I have known a few dogs with wheels. How wonderful that Ariel can be less dependent on you, and not need to be left at home when it’s walk time for Tussah.

  8. Ellen Bloomfield

    OH MY GOSH! Patches never got to the point where a set of wheels would have helped her. But I have 3 10+ yo shelties who would not be happy not being able to get around. I’ll seriously consider a set if one of them needs it.

  9. Deb Robson

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    Yes, this blew my mind. I feel fortunate that (1) Ariel has no major health problems other than the arthritis and (2) we are plugged into the right networks to know about these tools and to help us get this in place! I've still never seen another dog using a set of wheels, *but* I have talked with people in town who have used them and know one of the dogs who is using a set (we used to do obedience training with him, years ago).

  10. Deb Robson

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    Tussah would prefer to be left at home when it's walk time for Ariel {grin}. Actually, Tussah has learned to like walks, maybe even look forward to them. And she takes an extra, faster walk with my daughter every day. But she would be okay with staying home. Ariel would NOT.

  11. Deb Robson

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    We made some more adjustments today and took her for a short hike by the river: pretty rugged terrain, and she was ecstatic.

  12. Joanne

    Hurray! I love a big doggie smile like that. 🙂 Good for you-your love and devotion to her health and wellbeing shines through those photos!

    And–I can again see all the posts now–wow, they add a lot to blog commenting…

  13. Deb Robson

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    I'm glad we got the comments back, Joanne! We had to disable the system that was previously in place. Apparently a better commenting system is about to be rolled out, which is causing some of the flakiness.

  14. Lindy

    I’m going to file the information for future referrence. Both our dogs are rescues – Daisy Mae was found by my husband shortly after being hit by a car. She had a broken pelvis – Doug took her to our vet. We adopted her and she has now been with us almost 4 years. As she ages her hips bother her and we know she will have more and more trouble. We do not want to put her on any meds.if we can help it. These wheels just might be the perfect thing for her.

    Thanks so much for sharing. That pic. of Ari smiling with her new wheels makes all the effort worth it – you know she is happy again.

    Lindy in AZ

  15. Deb Robson

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    Lindy, both of our dogs are rescues, too. Ariel was found half-frozen, with two male siblings, in a hole in a field in December. Best guess (pretty good at that age) was 7 weeks, so we've had her since she was little (unusual for us: if I'm remembering right, I've only had two puppies in my adult life). Tussah was five or six when she came to us, and we are her third home that we know about.

    Ariel is also on some maintenance meds that have worked well so for. We monitor carefully.

    I also had a cat who was hit by a car and only had one undamaged leg afterward–it was in front; one had to be removed completely (the other front one); one rear leg was missing a foot, and the other, which had been dislocated, was always kind of skinny. He was able to get around amazingly well for the 13.5 years he lived beyond the accident. He was a WONDERFUL! ! ! cat. He had a lot of names, but the one he used most was Wow.

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