I have been looking for a way to kick off this blog, thinking that all the things I would write would have to be about my dogs. Wrong.
Well, that’s not true, because in a way the article below (copied from Facebook) is about my dogs. We had a wheelchair for my dog Reuben, but it just didn’t work for him. It was well-built but he had a huge hard growth under his left armpit and it was in such a place that he couldn’t fit his front legs comfortably in the chair. (This was in the late 90s and much improvement has been made to dog-wheelchairs.) Anyway, I now have another dog, Boris, who is 14 and his hind legs are failing him. He could probably benefit from some wheels too, because, aside from a little heart problem, being almost totally deaf, having some trouble seeing, and having some separation anxiety issues, he’s the picture of health. Except for those weak back legs. Vet says it’s arthritis in his spine as well as his hips. If I could find the right chair, or learn how to build the right chair …
So, this is where this guy in Fort Worth comes in. His name is Jerry West and he designs and makes wheelchairs for dogs. And he’d like to teach people how to do this for themselves and their dogs. I think it’s a great idea. Custom-made chairs for dogs. Unlike humans, who are (for the most part) built pretty much the same way, dogs are built in a variety of sizes and shapes and could really benefit from chairs custom-made to their own particular needs. You can plunk most humans into a wheelchair and they will fit pretty much the same way. Sure, we have designed all kinds of wheelchairs for people with special needs, big people, tiny people, etc. But the underlying design is the same. Sit and roll. Dogs, on the other hand, come in such a variety they really could benefit from hand-crafted wheels. After all, they have two extra legs to accommodate. And this guy wants to teach people how to build chairs and encourages them to donate the wheels they make to dogs in need.
So, I thought I’d spread the word about Mr. West, in Fort Worth, and see if we could help him. Here’s a photo of him and here’s what he writes on Facebook:
I live in Ft. Worth, Texas and I build and donate these dog wheelchairs. I got into this when my dog became paralyzed from cancer a little over a year ago then I started donating them to anyone who needed them. I then adopted one of my clients who is a 6 month old GSD born with birth defect that does not allow her to walk on her own. So now I have two dogs in chair and would like to spread some of the things I’ve learned. What I’m looking to do is to teach people that are interested in learning how to build them so they can donate them to needy animals. I just sent one to a rescue in California this week and it really got me to thinking that other people (especially those involved in rescue) should know how to do this. These chairs can mean the difference in getting a dog adopted that has special needs and money could possibly be spent in other areas besides purchasing a expensive wheelchair. I build and donate these and I’m not rich enough to provide everyone who needs one so if i can get people around the country involved we can help a bunch of dogs without going broke. If you have any mechanically inclined people in your group and they have interest contact me whenever you can. I have a good solid design but people can see different things and working together we could one fine little product.