Friday, May 1, 2009

Doggon Wheels

I had emailed Sugar's mom (Sugar the 2-legged dog, not Sugar the dog I once fostered and was adopted by Crazy Lady) a few weeks ago with some questions and she replied today. Sugar is doing fantastic and is suffering no health ailments from her amputation or paralysis. Check out the latest videos. Is this dog a love or what! The whole pet pack in that household are adorable together.

Sugar was amputated at the hips and is still able to use her cart just fine, according to her mom. You can see her running full speed in the first video above. In fact, it looks like her cart is working out a lot better for her than Popeye's is for him. Sugar's cart was made by Doggon Wheels and I am tempted to order one for Popeye.

Of course Popeye has not used his cart since the surgery (he's still recuperating), but I would be surprised if the tipping problem changes. Also, the weight of that shoulder yoke still bothers me. Although we converted the cart to "neutral balance" by moving the wheels forward, which is supposed to take off all the weight from his shoulders, I don't think it really does in Popeye's case.

The reason is this: The height positioning of the shoulder yoke as well as the adjoining front chest strap is based on Popeye's posture when he is standing straight and looking up. But that's not how he walks. He walks with his head down, neck forward and shoulders hunched up, as if he is pulling something (which of course he is--his cart!). When his shoulders hunch up, the front chest strap and yoke of the cart tighten and so there is more pressure on his shoulders. This is especially true when he's sniffing something on the ground, which he does all the time.

However, I can't just loosen the chest strap and/or the shoulder yoke too much, because then during the times when he walks with his head more elevated, the cart swings side to side quite a bit and bangs against his shoulders. If Popeye just walked in a consistent manner, it wouldn't be a problem. But he doesn't.

The Doggon Wheels does not utilize a shoulder yoke, so I don't believe there would be that weight problem on the shoulder. You can see a video here of a dog in a Doggon cart bending over to pick up tennis balls, and the shift in posture does not seem to make any noticeable difference to the cart.

With an Eddie's Wheels, all equipment is attached to the cart. You simply put the dog's legs through the leg straddle, secure the front chest strap, and place the yoke over the shoulder. (Of course, Popeye's long, unbending back legs made the process a HUGE pain in the ass but that shouldn't be a problem anymore.)

With a Doggon, you first put a chest harness as well as a rear harness on the dog, then clip the harnesses to the cart. The use of harnesses allows for a soft supporting system, whereas the Eddie's Wheels has a hard support for both the rear as well as the shoulder.

I am sure all carts have their pros and cons. Having attempted several adjustments now, I just don't think the Eddie's Wheels is the ideal cart for a dog with Popeye's particular build and habits. I don't think this is something anybody could have foreseen because it is so specific to Popeye (the cart seems to work great for many many dogs out there), but now that I have experienced it on him, I am increasingly recognizing the limitations. It's all right for going on a stroll, which is a lot more than many handicapped dogs can do on their own. But I want Popeye to be able to run like the little devil he is, and I don't want to worry about excess weight on his body.