Pet owners of disabled animals never cease to amaze me with their resourcefulness and dedication to their fur kids. When Jonathan Arbel wrote to me about the custom motorized dog cart he had a company build for his paralyzed pup, Riley, I knew I had to share the story. If you take your dog on vacation or go on adventures around town, you’re going to want to read about Riley’s wheels.
How Riley got her custom motorized dog cart
Riley was only 4 months old when Jonathan and Jennifer adopted her from a local rescue group. The puppy grew up enjoying her owners’ active lifestyle. Jonathan and Jennifer love to travel, hike and spend time at the beach. Riley went on all of their journeys.
Then in 2016, Riley began to show the early signs of Degenerative Myelopathy. Over the next 6 months her hind legs slowly became paralyzed. DM is a progressive disease of the spinal cord that paralyzes a dog’s hind limbs, then travels to the front limbs and ultimately attacks major organs.
“Watching her lose her ability to walk was heartbreaking, depressing and difficult,” said Jonathan. “It was one of the hardest things we ever had to watch. Once she stopped walking, we had to make the decision to continue her life or end it.
We always said when she’s done walking we have to put her down. Then a YouTube video changed our mind. We chose to keep fighting, her mind and upper body were normal. We learned how to express her bladder. We got Riley a dog wheelchair that she reluctantly uses 2 times a day for exercise. What happened next changed our lives.”
Meeting Joe the cart maker
Jonathan explained that one day he randomly met Joe, the cart maker. Joe lives in LA and owns Electricbeachwagons.com. His electric cart, called the Sandhopper, is typically purchased by people who live near the beach or need a motorized cart for hauling around a ranch. When Joe heard that Jonathan wanted one for Riley, he jumped at the chance to get the paralyzed dog mobile again.
Joe outfitted Riley’s cart with an extra-battery so it can travel 5-miles without needing a recharge. He installed a spot light for nighttime walks and added features to keep Riley safe on all terrains. The cart hooks up to any trailer hitch.
“She instantly loved it,” said Jonathan. “Now life for all of us is pretty normal. We go on daily cart walks and take special trips on the weekend. Riley is physically pretty healthy. The cart ensures her mental happiness and ours. Being cooped up in the house is not fun for anyone.
Riley goes to the beach, hiking and anywhere we go. This cart has given us all our freedom.”
How much a custom cart costs
Jonathan admits that Riley’s cart is pretty pricey. It cost the family more than $2,000 to have it built with all the features and stability to carry a 90lb dog. But Jonathan is positive the money was spent wisely.
“The way I see it there’s no treatment for DM, so the money we used was just like what we would have paid for an operation or treatment,” said Jonathan.
He also sees Riley’s cart as a way to educate people about DM. The trio is routinely stopped by people who are curious about the dog’s condition.
To date, Jonathan, Jennifer and Riley have wheeled down the Las Vegas Strip, around Portland, Oregon, and to lots of beaches along the West Coast. They see the cart as a legacy Riley that will one day be passed along to another paralyzed dog.
Jonathan shared this video of Riley enjoying her travels.