Showing posts with label disabled dog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disabled dog. Show all posts

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Paws and Pals Dog Ramp Review

Finn's New Dog Ramp
As I approach the second anniversary of bringing Finn, my special needs/strengths dog, home from the animal shelter, I find myself reflecting on his extraordinary capacity for achieving things he wasn't supposed to be able to do.  Finn has grown well beyond the initial confines of his physical disability, which compels me to provide him with more and more opportunities to do as much as possible through his own initiative and power.  Yesterday, I bought Finn a portable dog ramp that will provide him with more freedom to access his world.  This review shares our first impressions and experiences with the Paws and Pals ramp.

Finn, like all of us, has his own way of approaching new challenges.  I've gotten better at understanding his learning style and anticipating Finn's insecurities (before they kick in), which helps me to be a more effective trainer.  A good starting point today was to take Finn to his favorite park for the first lesson in using a ramp.  I wanted Finn to be relaxed, and for him to associate good things with the pet ramp.

Step One - Explore the Ramp Flat on the Grass
First, to allow Finn to discover the scent, texture, and sound of being on the ramp, I laid it flat on the grass.  This was a very nonthreatening way for him to check it out.  I brought a high-value treat to reward Finn's every success (cheese works magic).  By strategically placing three cubes of cheese on the ramp, it was very easy to entice Finn to take his first steps up onto and across the ramp.  From his second crossing on, I could tell by reading Finn's body language that he was already feeling confident, and even enthusiastic, about this new game.  After the third ramp crossing, I didn't even have to offer a treat.


Having mastered the low-risk, no fear element of ramp exploration, I decided Finn was ready to take it to the next level.  I found a broad tree stump with a height a few inches above ground level.  Because I thought the surface of the plastic ramp might be a little slippery when elevated, and because Finn is very sensitive about his footing, I covered the ramp with some inexpensive rubberized shelf liner.  The new ramps come with sheets of grip tape, but the gently used model I bought did not have that option.  My solution worked perfectly.  Finn climbed the gentle slope with no hesitation.

Nonslip Liner on Ramp
Since Finn appeared to be having fun with our lesson, was having complete success, and didn't appear mentally or physically fatigued, we forged on.  Had that not been the case, I would have spread these ramp lessons over several sessions on different days.

Next, I used a park bench to elevate one end of the ramp about 14 inches off the ground.  We were now approaching the level Finn would need to master to use the ramp for getting into a low vehicle, or for getting up on furniture.  One great thing about this dog ramp is that it can be used indoors or outdoors.

Park Bench Height Ramp Elevation
I lured Finn up the elevated ramp by leading him with a piece of cheese.  It was important to keep him on a short leash and to walk alongside him on this first climb up a steeper angle.  I didn't want Finn to be tempted to jump off the side of the ramp.  We took it slow and he had no problems making it up onto the bench.  At that point, I felt Finn had done enough for day one.  As always, Finn accomplished even more than I had planned for him, and he laid to rest any concerns I had about whether or not a dog with only partial use of his rear legs could balance on, and ascend, a fairly narrow elevated ramp (it's thirteen and a half inches wide between the rims).

Finn will mostly use his Paws and Pals ramp inside the house.  My vehicle is not really conducive to having Finn load himself, although I won't rule it out until I let him give it a try.  He's sure to surprise me.  A car, van, or hatchback vehicle would be more ideal for the use of this ramp (nothing requiring too steep an incline).  I mainly want Finn to be able to get up and down off the bed for starters.  From there, we'll work on graduating to ever greater challenges worthy of Finn's capabilities.

Light, Compact, Easy to Carry and Store
Given such fast success with the ramp, especially for a cautious dog, Finn and I are giving it a Four Paws Up rating.  I really like all of the main features:

  • Folds up compact for storage (15.5" wide x 10" long x 16.5" high).
  • Lightweight (just eight pounds).
  • Made of a durable, easy to clean plastic.
  • Easy to carry with the attached handle.
  • Simple to use (no assembly required).
  • Long enough for typical uses without being too bulky to handle (60" when fully extended).
  • Strength rated for up to a 110-lb. dog.
  • Multiple applications for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Good value and quality for the price (least expensive ramp I found).
Who could benefit from a pet ramp?  Senior dogs, puppies, injured dogs, disabled dogs, small dogs, convalescing pets, and any weak dog or cat.  It is also a major help to those who care for animals (especially those who are physically unable to carry or load a large, heavy dog).  Even totally healthy animals enjoy using ramps.  It's good, stimulating exercise for a pet to try new ways of balancing and climbing.  

We'll keep you posted and continue to add photos as Finn becomes the master of his domain.  I'm sure he will continue to push the boundaries and to constantly redefine what it means to be a special strengths dog who just happens to have been born with legs that work differently.  Finn acts as though he has no limitations.  I feel it is my responsibility to give him as much rein as possible and to not do for Finn the things he can do for himself.  We're learning together how to be the best versions of ourselves in ways that elevate one another.



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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Quality of Life Reviewed

How Finn and I View Quality of Life
I have been thinking a lot lately about quality of life—in particular, how you help others live it a few moments at a time.  When you are training a therapy dog for this work, it's natural to reflect on what makes a life more joyous and pleasurable.

I care about both sides of the equation—what brings light into the lives of those whom we visit and what switches it on for the light-bearers.  I am deeply committed to keeping Finn's light shining brightly in ways that take into consideration his overall health, happiness, and well-being.

These days, I find myself spending differently.  It may seem to those who see Finn being carted around in a new dog stroller or trailer that he is being coddled.  In fact, strangers who cross our path often remark that my dog is spoiled.

Finn Teaches Me To Pay Attention To Everything
Isn't that a funny word—spoiled—especially when applied to an animal who previously had almost nothing and who experienced so few, if any, of a dog's normal pleasures?  Those who know Finn, and the way we are forging a life together where his disabilities do not define or limit him, would never use the word spoiled to describe him.  After all, this is a dog who willingly engages in a ministry of caring that requires so much of him.

The things I provide for Finn are not what they seem.  Outwardly, they are mobility devices: things that allow for transport from Point A to Point B.  Far beyond that, his stroller, K9 Cart (wheelchair), and bicycle trailer are really transformers.

When we seek to lift up the voiceless, whether it be a stroke victim, or a rescue animal, perhaps the best we can do is pay deep attention to the nuances, to the glimmers of how they show us what brings them even temporary pleasure.  Mary Oliver, in her typical eloquence, expressed that attention is the beginning of devotion.

As for Finn, he demonstrates to me on a daily basis that his quality of life is wrapped up in mine.  Wherever I am, that is where he wants to be.  I feel the same way.  I hate to be separated from Finn for even an hour of the day.  Without the devices that minimize his physical limitations, and that maximize his strengths, we would have to be apart far more than either of us desires.

Living Large Along the Rio Grande
Our togetherness—our connectedness—is greatly enhanced by the things that allow our energies to be focused on living fully.  As we rode together along the Rio Grande yesterday, Finn and I were totally immersed in living undivided (ala Parker Palmer).  We were being for ourselves what we intend to be for others.

When I first purchased Finn's bicycle trailer, I promised to share more after we had had the opportunity to take it for a spin.  Here is the link to that initial post: 2-in-1 Dog Trailer.  I realize this is not a typical follow-up review.  I'm not trying to convince anyone to buy anything.

As I started writing today's post, and let my heart lead the way, what moved me were the intangibles.  In essence, this trailer represents more than the sum of its parts (or any features I might choose to extol).  It is freedom, it is exhilaration, it is movement in the direction of our dreams.

How we choose to spend our time and money is deeply personal.  Perhaps the most important thing is how we use what we have to offer up a simple, pure devotion.  We don't have to buy anything to do that, but sometimes there is great pleasure to be known in acquiring that which has the capacity to transform the moments that make another's life worth living.

Quality of life is different for each of us.  We can't define what that is for someone else, but we can divine what that is through our deep presence and the cultivation of a listening heart and spirit.  For Finn and I, immersing ourselves in nature is the way we cultivate a spirit of healing.  The beauty is that that spirit can spill over from one life to another.

It is always about beginning and becoming.  As we roll together along new pathways, this therapy dog team is discovering what it means to live and love wholeheartedly.  And, for us, that is true quality of life.








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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Review of Outward Hound Dog Life Jacket

Finn's new Outward Hound life jacket.
When I recently adopted a disabled dog, I made a promise to Finn that I would do everything in my power to help him thrive.  Because his back legs do not function normally, and he cannot walk or run, I knew that swimming could provide Finn with a freedom of movement he had never before experienced.  I immediately went online and ordered an Outward Hound Fun Fish Life Jacket so Finn could dive into some water fun.  This is one of the best purchases I have ever made for one of my beloved animal companions.

I looked at a lot of life jackets for dogs before selecting this particular model.  Because Finn has limited use of his back legs, it was important to find a life jacket that would stabilize him in the water.  The neckband floatation bib on this life jacket was just what Finn needed to keep him from rolling over onto his side.

My little "Nemo's" first swimming lesson.
The two handle straps on the back of the life jacket have been essential during Finn’s initial swimming lessons.  They make it easy for me to build his confidence as I hold on and slowly move him through the water.  He feels safe, which is the most important thing when introducing a dog to water activities.  For anyone who takes a dog boating, this feature could mean the difference in saving an animal that has fallen overboard.  The straps can be easily hooked with a pole or paddle handle.

I also appreciate the design and construction of this life jacket. The Velcro closures and adjustable nylon straps make it easy for me to snug up Finn’s life jacket in a way that is secure and yet comfortable for him.   And then there is the cuteness factor.  Everyone who has seen my Finn in his new swimming gear thinks he looks like an adorable little Nemo.  I do think it’s one of the cutest life jackets on the market.   

Finn goes kayaking.
Who should own a dog life jacket?  Anyone who has a backyard pool, or who takes a dog boating, or who lives in hurricane country, or who has a weakened or elderly dog, or who is teaching a young pup to swim, or who wants to offer water therapy to a dog in recovery.  A life jacket is a great confidence booster for a fearful, reluctant, or struggling canine swimmer.  It can be the key to helping your dog discover, or retain, the joys of water play.

In terms of value, the Outward Hound Fun Fish Life Jacket is hard to beat.  I got a great price, along with all of the features I need to keep my precious pup safe.   After testing this dog life vest, I can say without hesitation that I would buy it again.  I highly recommend it, as do a few thousand other dog-lovers.  You can check out all of the reviews when you click through any of the links on this page.

Has your dog ever used a life jacket?  Please share your thoughts or experiences.  Thanks!




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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

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