“The best part of having a paralyzed dog is that you always know where she is.”
I’ve heard about dogs that are paralyzed, but continue to be mobile by using their upper body strength to pull themselves across the floor so they can move around their houses as they please. Sophie wasn’t that type of dog and maybe it was because of her advanced age. At 11 years-old she pretty much stayed in whatever room where I left her. Her immobility posed a problem because it meant that she couldn’t reach food or water by herself and it kept her isolated from the rest of the family. Ken and I knew this type of arrangement wasn’t what we wanted for our dog, so we set out to find an easy mode of transporting Sophie inside our house.
While we had our wonderful rear harness to help transport Sophie, using it all day long as we moved around the house meant that one of us had to bend down and lift her 50lb. body to a standing position each time we wanted to walk her into another room. Once you do that backbreaking task for a few weeks, you know you need to find a better way.
My first thought was to put Sophie on her big fluffy pillow style doggie bed and drag it from room to room. The problem with a pillow bed was that half way through pulling her into a new part of the house she would lose her balance and fall off.
So I went to the store and bought a flatter, orthopedic bed that I was sure would be comfy and easy to pull. While the bed was very cozy for Sophie, it didn’t offer me much of an excess area to tug on and it had a non-skid bottom that made it hard to move.
At this time too, we realized that Sophie had become incontinent with her bowels. I mention this now because it meant that the bed had to be washed quite often. Although we placed towels on the bed to catch her mess, Sophie inevitably would have rolled around just enough to move the towel out of place when she pooped. Both the pillow style bed and the orthopedic one couldn’t just be tossed into the washer because of their size. We had to unzip the cover from the cushion, wash it and then put the bed back inside the cover. It was too much work and the covers soon shrunk and didn’t fit well around the beds. We went back to the drawing board.
I started looking for a dog bed that was lightweight, concave, had a slick underside, could be tossed into the washer AND was comfortable for my dog. It was a tall order, but after much research I finally found the perfect bed for a paralyzed dog.
The search led to an insert that was meant to be used inside a dog kennel rather than a standalone bed, but it met all of our needs. From that point forward, we had at least two of these beds in our house at all times. And they were replaced often when their soft fluffy pads had been washed too many times.
The new concave bed allowed me to easily pull Sophie from room to room without the fear of her falling out. The bed became a little safe haven for her and it enabled her to spend her days in one of her favorite places lying peacefully (along with her water bowl) at the foot of my desk while I did my job writing news stories about dogs and cats that needed help.
Lesson 2: A bed is more than where you lay your head at night.