A fellow pet parent contacted me recently and asked if I could recommend a product that had a flat surface and wheels so her paralyzed dog could lie on top of it. She wanted to be able to easily move her dog from one to room to another in their home. Both of us pictured a device that looked like the dolly a mechanic uses while working underneath a car.
I couldn’t come up with any ideas other than buying an actual mechanic’s dolly, but I thought the woman’s idea was pretty clever. Someone should invent a padded version of a mechanic’s dolly for large paralyzed dogs.
The question brought back a flood of memories about Sophie and made me remember an important lesson that I haven’t shared. “Owners of paralyzed dogs should be prepared to do everything twice.”
Here is lesson 18 in caring for your paralyzed dog
Sophie spent most of her time indoors lying on the soft bed with a satin underside that is pictured above. The satin bottom made it easy for me to pull her into a new room and the concave shape stopped her from falling out. The bed was a lifesaver. It allowed us to change locations all day long without hoisting up Sophie’s 50lb. frame with our lifting harness. But while I loved the ease of moving her in the bed, it wasn’t a timesaving technique.
You see, Sophie wanted to be by my side wherever I went in the house. That meant I had to grab hold of her bed with one hand while we changed locations and collect the household items I needed to take with me in the other hand. I often had to leave items behind and make a second trip back to the room to get them. My other alternative was to carry the objects into the new room while leaving Sophie behind for the second trip.
Let me give you a clear picture
If this description doesn’t make sense, picture the buzzer of your dryer going off while you’re sitting at your desk working. Of course Sophie would be at the desk with me. I would walk into the laundry room, remove the clothes and carry them into my bedroom for folding. Unfortunately that left Sophie still lying by my desk. My alternative was to gather part of my laundry with one hand while pulling Sophie’s bed with the other.
I repeatedly tried to reason with her that I was only walking to the next room, but she would whine at the thought of being alone. As Sophie’s condition went downhill, she lost her confidence in being on her own. So every task called for doing it twice.
This scene played out at our house countless times a day. It happened when I unpacked groceries, prepared meals, carried work papers to my desk, brought a snack to watch TV and as I gathered my belongings to take into the bedroom at night. You’d be surprised at the amount of steps you take every day while doing the most mundane tasks.
That’s why I understood the brilliant question asked by my fellow pet parent. She explained that as soon as she sat down and settled herself comfortably to watch TV at night, her dog would decide she wanted to move to another part of the room. Like Sophie this dog didn’t have enough strength to drag her body along the floor. Her human mom had to do it for her. The poor woman was exhausted.
We never solved the problem
I loved Sophie with my whole heart and feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to take care of her for 5 years. But we never solved the problem of having to do tasks two times instead of one. It was a challenge for me and a lesson I still struggle with today.
If you are the pet parent of a disabled dog, especially a big dog, be prepared for this test.
And if you know a creative person who could design a fluffy, lightweight mechanic’s dolly for paralyzed dogs, please let me know, because there are a bunch of us who would be forever grateful.
I invite you to read more of The Lessons I learned from Sophie. She was a great teacher who forever changed my life. “The Lessons” is a part of this website that doesn’t get much attention, but it is my personal story of what I learned while taking care of my paralyzed dog.