Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Wheel Chair

Several months ago I started thinking about building a dog wheel chair for our neighbor's lab across the street.  He had very weak hind legs that were making it hard for him to walk.  I really wanted to help this dog to go on a walk again.  I was hoping to build him a wheel chair out of recycled materials and a baby jogging stroller seemed to have all the right pieces.

This was our 1.0 model.  I found a stroller on craigslist and stripped it of all of the fabric.  Then took away all supports that would be in the way of the dog's feet.  I had the help of my husband and a good friend with an awesome shop.  We found that it was too unstable and that the material was not going to be strong enough, but the wheels were perfect!  I was really happy to start the project by reusing the jogging stroller, but in the end we had to start from scratch.

On model 2.0 we started with light weight aluminum square tubing.  It was the perfect material, super light and super strong.  Every hole, screw, axle, and bracket was made just for this wheelchair.

During this build our neighbor's dog became unable to breathe very well and was diagnosed with fluid in his lungs and told that he should not become too excited, or get much exercise.  So, we had a cart with out a dog and I was very sad that we were unable to help, so we stopped working on the wheel chair.

About two months after that I did an educational talk at Prana and met a wonderful Boxer named Otis.  Otis has trouble with the nerve function in both of his back legs, but other than that is completely healthy, happy, and very active.  I decided to ask his parents if they would like to have our 2.0 dog wheel chair, and they happily said yes!  So we started building again.

Our friend's shop was invaluable to the successful build of the wheel chair.                     

This is the final construction of the dog wheel chair.  It is incredibly sturdy and strong, and fits Otis well.  We did a few fittings to get it to be just right.
This is a video of Otis's first short walk using the wheel chair.  Normally he walks very very slowly and his hind legs criss-cross as he walks and sometimes he falls over, or his legs end up in awkward positions underneath him.   This wheel chair prevents his hind legs from moving out of a normal position and allows him to move without having to support the weight of his hind end.  I can't wait to see how Otis progresses using the cart.  His first time using it was wonderful.
We are so excited that Otis has this new wheel chair to help him stay an active happy dog!