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Dogsey Junior
jaimelicious is offline  
Location: Oldham, UK
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 25
10-11-2015, 02:03 AM

Dog ownership as a wheelchair user?

Hi, my name is Jaime and I'm new here.

I've been waiting a long time to have the right conditions in my life to have a dog. I think it's finally as close to perfect as it's likely to get.

Stable rented home, tenancy allows dogs, got a mediumish garden (about 10m x 3m), enough income, I work part time (3 hours a day) so wouldn't be leaving a dog alone all day.

However, I'm severely disabled - I have a genetic condition (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome / EDS) that affects my joints and connective tissue; it causes severe chronic pain and fatigue and I get injured easily - I average about eight joint dislocations per day. This is actually a vast improvement for me - at the start of the year, I was averaging well over twenty, plus a shoulder on my dominant side which basically didn't function at all. A lot of very hard work during and after a rehab hospital admission means I'm now functioning relatively well, but I use a power wheelchair outside the house and Smart crutches inside. I'd use my chair all the time, but it's an upstairs flat with a stairlift so I can't - it's fairly small so I get away with crutches or crawling.

Anyway, my husband and I are looking at getting a dog. It's proven quite hard to find any information about being a wheelchair using dog owner! I would be the one doing most of the care for a doggie, as my husband works irregular, sometimes long hours. Both sets of parents are more than happy to help out on the odd occasion I'm too ill and hubby's in work (he usually arranges to be home when I'm very bad) and in fact I strongly suspect my dad is already planning his first dog-napping!

Particular things I've been wondering about include
  1. How do I pick up poo? I can't reach the floor from my powerchair without falling out. Are any of the scooping contraptions any good?
  2. I was thinking that I'd manage a 30-45min walk in the morning, about 0730, another one when I get home late-lunchtimeish, and another before bed, as well as additional toilet trips to the garden. I can throw a ball, stick etc and have three parks in wheeling distance, plus we're about 20mins from countryside here when hubs is available to drive. Does that sound like enough exercise?
  3. We'd both like to adopt a dog from a rescue; we're not fussy about breed, but I've always wanted a Staffy. We were thinking maybe a dog about 7-9 would be good for us, does this sound OK?
  4. I'm wondering about holding onto a lead. My joints aren't brilliant, but I don't know if it's safe to attach my end of the lead to the chair - it weighs over 170kg, so a dog is not going to pull it over, but are there other issues to think of?

There are probably *loads* of things I've not thought of, but those are the ones currently bugging me.

It's probably worth saying that while I desperately want a doggie companion, I'm determined to do it right. I want to be as informed and prepared as possible and I am aware that it may turn out I can't care for a dog in my current position - if that's the case, then it sucks, but I wouldn't get a dog if I wasn't reasonably certain I could look after one.

Any advice at all will be gratefully received!

Thanks for reading.
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Dogsey Junior
jaimelicious is offline  
Location: Oldham, UK
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 25
10-11-2015, 02:12 AM
For a little more information, this is the wheelchair I currently have and use. It's crash-tested, with the appropriate sturdy anchor points, it's got an incredible range (I've used it for 8hrs at 4mph without running the battery into the red!) - the manual says about 20 miles, I think - and is very heavy at 160kg + seating + backrest + headrest + power lift/tilt-in-space. It probably weighs more than twice what I do and I'm no pixie.

As it's mid-wheel drive with both front and back castors, it's very stable and copes well with uneven surfaces and even light mud; it's only in heavy rain and ice I'm confined to the paths really.

I was wondering about attaching the lead to my chair - I've seen a couple of ways of doing it, but was thinking of the anchor point just outside my knee, on the opposite side to my controller. It'd be hard for it to get tangled in the wheels from there.

What do you think?
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Dogsey Veteran
Nippy is offline  
Location: South Devon
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 22,393
10-11-2015, 09:12 AM
I'm not sure that I can offer any constructive advice, just want to say good luck.
I'm sure a doggy in your life will make a huge difference to you and think of the difference you are going to make to a poor little rescue
You are obviously giving this a lot of thought so I hope it all works out well for you
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Sue L
Dogsey Veteran
Sue L is offline  
Location: East Sussex
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 4,234
10-11-2015, 09:30 AM
Hi and welcome

There are plenty of people in wheel chairs who have dogs. Would you qualify for having a trained dog for the disabled? As for picking up behind it there are long handled poop scoopers for that.

Good luck in your search and hope you can find a dog suitable for your needs.
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tawneywolf is offline  
Location: Bolton
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,075
Female  Gold Supporter 
10-11-2015, 10:34 AM
There's a lady who comes to our training club with a Great Dane, she is on a mobility scooter rather than in a chair, but its a top of the range one and is like a small car really. She doesn't do the classes, she has a friend who comes with her to do that, but it does show it is possible.
She used to 'lurk' for want of a better word, every Sunday she would be there with her dog watching us, eventually she appeared in the car park and then on the field and then decided she would like to give it a try and brought her friend along. She has obviously done a lot of work with her dog as he is so good with walking alongside her etc. I think contacting a rescue like Dogs Trust or Manchester Dogs Home and explaining your needs would be a good first step, they could well have the ideal dog for you already. So many older dogs are in rescue and are overlooked for puppies and youngsters, and as you have already realised an older steady dog is going to be best in your circumstances. A few meetings with potential dogs to see how they get along with you and your needs will help.
I see lots of dogs walking with people on mobility scooters, I think once they are familiarised with it all they soon take it in their stride.
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Dogsey Junior
jaimelicious is offline  
Location: Oldham, UK
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 25
10-11-2015, 11:48 AM
Thank you all for the replies it's lovely and friendly here, isn't it?

Tawneywolf, we've been looking at Manchester/Cheshire Dogs Homes as MDH is pretty near to us - a friend has recently adopted a beautiful adolescent Akita crossbreed with bright blue eyes, called Sky.

When we go to have a look round, I'll be in my chair anyway, so part of the visit will be to see how the dogs react and it'll be part of how we make the choice. I've noticed that dogs I come across when out and about are rarely fazed by the chair - they mostly seem to regard it as, 'ooh, you're low enough to sniff all over, and this thing has interesting smells too!', so I'm hoping it won't be too big an issue.

I know I couldn't cope with a puppy! And as this is the first time I've had a dog since I was a kid, I thought it would be a good idea if the dog had a clue - one of us probably should. Plus, I know what you mean about the older ones being overlooked, it breaks my heart.

Sue L, I probably would qualify for an assistance dog, and I may apply in the future; I've enquired about it in the past but want a friend more than anything at this point. I've seen long-handled poop scoopers but wasn't sure how well they'd work! Although I guess a less-than-perfect job is still better than none at all.

Nippy, thank you for the welcome and kind words the dog our family had when I was a child was a rescue of sorts - my parents (before I was born) were running a newsagents, and a kid came in one day to take down an advert for puppies that had been in the window. My dad said, 'oh, have they all gone then?' and the kid told him 'no, but me mam's going to drown the runt' and was promptly informed that no, she bloody well wasn't, hand the pup over!

He took her home in his jacket pocket, and Mom used to take her on the bus in a shopping bag Dixie was an amazing dog; apparently she just adopted me as soon as she met me and she was very protective of 'her' baby. Plus, I'm not bothered about breed or pedigree, so it seems daft to buy from a breeder when there are plenty of wonderful dogs needing a new home.
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Dogsey Senior
LMost is offline  
Location: US
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 471
10-11-2015, 11:55 AM
As Tawneywolf stated many wheelchair users have dogs.

My wife recently had a stroke and when she comes home will be in a wheelchair, we have a English Mastiff. I have been taking him to visit every other day to get used to the wheelchair and people using walkers.

My advise would be not to get a puppy, but a adult that is a calmer breed and a lower shedder.

Size would not be a huge factor past if you want it on your lap, then the large and giant breeds would not be advised.
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Dogsey Junior
jaimelicious is offline  
Location: Oldham, UK
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 25
10-11-2015, 12:56 PM
LMost, I'm sorry to hear about your wife. My mom and a good friend have both had multiple strokes and have recovered well over time; it's amazing just how far people can recover.

I saw the thread with the picture of your English Mastiff; he looks like such a sweetie, and sounds like he'll make a great assistant/protector for your wife when she's home. Don't larger dogs need a lot more exercise, though? Would it be a problem keeping a large dog in a small house, if we made sure the doggie got plenty of exercise?
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Dogsey Veteran
Chris is offline  
Location: Lincolnshire
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 7,688
10-11-2015, 01:01 PM
Talk to the rescue centre and let them know all your worries and concerns. Many older dogs in rescue are there because elderly owners can no longer care for them (going into nursing homes, dying etc) and are already trained to the less active handler. Somewhere there is the perfect dog for you and the more time and patience you have now in finding that perfect dog, the happier you will both be when s/he comes home with you.

Good luck in your search xx
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Fondly Remembered
Losos is offline  
Location: Suffolk, England
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 10,529
Male  Silver Supporter 
10-11-2015, 01:21 PM
Originally Posted by jaimelicious View Post
It's probably worth saying that while I desperately want a doggie companion, I'm determined to do it right.
Well that makes for good rerading, you would be amazed how many people get into dogs without a clue and of course there's all those cruel and nasty people who try to make money out of them.

We used to have a member who was in a wheelchair and her dog was also epileptic, she managed.

Also I see one other wheelchair user who has replied to you.

Will you be able to have a little fund to help with vet bills Some of us put something aside each month, there is pet insurance but it's a bit of a minefield, I think I'm right in saying that any 'pre-existing' conditions are never covered (Regardless of what the salesman on the telephone might say)

Sorry can't be more help but admire you for thinking of a rescue and for researching this properly.
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