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Wheelchairs for Dogs Part 3: The success stories!

Posted in Client Service @ May 21st 2015 - By Gillian Shippen, Nurse Manager, Director at Pets Need A Life Too!

Now it's time for the fun stuff - watching dogs get mobile again with the help of their carts

In Part 1 of the series (Wheelchairs for dogs: Helping dogs with disabilities get a new lease on life)  we discussed how my own pets had inspired my interest in helping dogs become mobile once more.  In Part 2 (Wheelchairs for Dogs: Which conditions & patients make the best candidates?) we discussed the best conditions and candidates to use the carts.

Here are some of my patients....

Gadget (on the right)

When I visited 12 year old Gadget at his home to fit him in his cart, he could barely stand by himself let alone walk. He had spinal degeneration – check out the video below link to see how well he went on his first walk in the cart.


Poppy was a 14 year old Jack Russell Terrier who also had spinal degeneration. She zoomed around my back yard the minute we put her in the cart and her owners went for a walk in the neighbourhood straight away.


Now this is Murphy the three legged Bull Terrier. He was adopted by his family from a shelter already three legged and his new family have spent quite a bit on further corrective surgery on his remaining hind leg. At only 6 years of age Murphy can get around very well on his three legs but his owners got him a cart to take off some of the strain and to help him remain mobile for much longer. Murphy had a great attitude and appeared to be so taken by me after I fitted him that he took off across the lawn after I left him to get my phone to take this video……and well you can see the result of that - tiiiimberrrrrr! Click on the video below to watch Murphy.


Pat the Border Collie has a severe cerebral imbalance and when his owners first contacted me they only ordered the rear cart as he was able to drag himself around reasonably well inside the house albeit somewhat wonky so they felt that was all he needed. As soon as I saw him I realised a rear cart alone was not going to be of benefit to him because although he was able to pull himself around ok, he did not have adequate strength or co-ordination to remain standing, so I returned the next day with a full quad cart. He was able to walk a small distance before becoming quite tired and considering he had not been able to go for a walk for 2 years (and he was quite overweight as a result) we all felt he did remarkably well. Click on the video below to watch his first walk.


14 year old Anika the Golden Retriever has proven to be a great ambassador to my carts after I fitted her. Again another spinal degeneration case, she has been seen around her local hills town by many and those in need have asked where they can get the cart from. I have got at least 3 referrals because of Anika. Click on the video below to watch her first walk.


7 year old Boxer, Phoebe is one of those referrals from Anika. Owned by a vet, she has been diagnosed with DISH syndrome. This syndrome largely occurs in Boxers and is often mistaken for spinal degeneration or disc protrusion (which has a much poorer prognosis). Phoebe’s quality of life had deteriorated remarkably in the 6 months prior to her cart fitting. She could barely walk, her owners were considering euthanasia and it was heartbreaking to see her struggle but once she was fitted she became a different girl. If you look carefully you can see her right hind paw knuckling under. I received an email from her family the next day saying how delighted they were with the cart….Phoebe had literally been galloping around the local oval that night full again with the love of life!


14 year old Kaylee here was carried into the clinic I work at for her cart fitting and once fitted ran out the clinic to the car in her cart! You can clearly see in the video below she has some spinal problems with her hunched spine but boy did she take to that cart like a pro.


Frankie came to me as a referral from a dog food shop. He is a typical standard dachy with the usual spinal issues. This dog had attitude and he made sure we knew that he was not happy with being fussed over. He decided he didn’t like this contraption strapped to him and he stubbornly refused to move …..but wait, hang on, that’s my favourite food bowl….zoooooom, over he went to eat from his favourite bowl and he quickly realised he could move freely. Click on the video to watch his first walk. in the cart.


Harri was only 6 years old when he was struck down with Coonhound Paralysis. Now this condition was initially thought to affect Coonhounds that hunted Racoons and it was thought the saliva in raccoons caused the paralysis. However it was eventually recognised that dogs could get the problem without any contact with racoons and any breed of dog could get it. The symptoms start out with a vague lameness which gradually progresses over the whole body and can affect the dogs breathing. In most cases the dog makes an uneventful recovery but about 5% do not.

Harri became completely paralysed but he did regain bladder control, eating and drinking reflex and was able to wag his tail and bark but that was as far as his recovery went. With the suggestion from a Veterinary Specialist who said “it can’t hurt but to try” we placed Harri in the full quad cart to see if this would kick start his nerves and senses to do what they were supposed to do. Harri’s cart was leased over a 6 week period, but unfortunately his owner did come to the agonising decisions to euthanase him after a 4 week trial. She did say to me though she felt that she was able to provide him with a better quality of life with the cart because it gave him a better perspective than just lying down on his side all the time and she was able to get him outside in the sunshine – RIP dear Harri.




7 year old Ciccia was one of my first cart sales. This one I did not fit personally as he was interstate but I kept in constant contact with his owner to assist with the fitting. A mini dachy, he would have the regular dachy back issues – he does not need to be in the cart all the time, just when he is having a crisis.

I have had many carts sent interstate and overseas. One of my carts made the local Tasmanian newspaper! I have sent carts to New Zealand, the Philippines and Vietnam as well as all states in Australia!


Certainly not finally, this is 8 year old Boxer Wilson – this dog just had a pure 'joi de vivre'. I cannot remember what his problem is but since meeting Phoebe, I am wondering if he too has DISH syndrome. He wandered around my garage in a very awkward drunken way but none the less he loved life as any good Boxer should. He was a natural in the cart and I remember wondering how long it would last as he very quickly learnt that to turn around all he had to do was body slam it around! This video (see below) was the very first outing in my yard and you can see we headed straight to the grass so he would not hurt his dragging hind paws. The owners had special booties for his paws but we could also put his hind paws in the stirrups to keep them out of the way when walking. 


Mason, a German Shepherd was only interested in biting hubby and myself during the fitting process due to his frustration of not being able to move around as well as he used too but fortunately his owner was awesome at holding him and we managed to fit the cart well. About 6 months later I received a call  with a warrantee question and we met the owner at my husband’s workshop to see what the problem was. Turned out it was just a simple maintenance issue requiring some screw tightening and replacing. You see the dog went for a walk every single day on the bitumen road and the screws had come loose, and one went missing in the process. The owner was so happy because in his mind the cart had definately not only given mason a better quality of life and made him much happier being aso extended his life as the owner was better able to manage the disability.

“It is not ‘cruel’ to put a dog in a wheelchair, - it’s actually cruel to deny them a better quality of life and reduction in pain if we have the means to do it.” (Michelle Monk – Dogs In Motion)

Part 1 - Wheelchairs for dogs: helping dogs with disabilities get a new lease on life

Part 3 - Wheelchairs for dogs: Which conditions & patients make the best candidates?

Gillian Shippen is not only a Nurse Manager, but has also written a book: 'Pets Need a Life Too - A Guide to Enriching the Life of Your Pet - Series One: Dogs' AND she runs her online website 'Pets Need a Life Too!' where she sells a range of enrichment toys for pets including wheelchairs for dogs.

Click here to visit: Pet's Need A Life Too! Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory


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