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Discussion Starter #1
I did read the Tips for Seniors (including equipment) sticky and I have been posting about my senior GSD in another thread:

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/2912146-post34.html

I live in the city with about five steps down to the sidewalk and I have a backyard. Cowboy prefers to go out the front though, because the stairs are not as steep as the steps in the back. We have gone from weakness in his hind end last spring to him tripping over himself and leaning on his own legs while standing to wobbly, to sort of tiptoeing, or his feet seeming to try to step but his nervous system just isn't quite connecting anymore. For awhile, the webmaster harness helped him walk, but now he is to the point that he's not really walking. Case in point:

January 9 video chasing squirrel along fence in backyard:
VIDEO0043 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

February 4 video, chasing snow I'm kicking:
VIDEO0047 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Today, February 11. Here is the extent of our walks now. People slow down their cars and point and stare nowadays :(:

VIDEO0048 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Wheelchair or rear lift? Or do I need to face the fact that this is almost over for us in this lifetime? If you don't want to be open about your opinion, feel free to PM me privately instead. Hopefully I can take it. I wish I could do a poll so people could be more anonymous. I used to be a vet tech and assisted many during these transitions and never thought I would find this decision so difficult, myself. And if you do feel that a wheelchair or rear lift is a happy option, which have you used and liked or disliked? I am interested in what you have had experience with, not just links to equipment to consider. I'm hoping to get your personal experience. I did read the sticky in this forum, but I not only have a sort of quality of life question, but specific equipment questions too. Thank you so much. This is a very hard thing to have to even talk about.
 

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I think it's possible that people on this forum, who are currently posting, have not used either and don't feel comfortable commenting. I have not used a wheelchair - and don't know if the rear lift looks comfortable enough (to use as a person) but maybe a combo of them. When my Nina got sick with GI Lymphoma, the webmaster stopped working when her hind legs did - it just wasn't enough.

Handicapped Pets has a web forum - I am not sure how busy it is.

You are probably in an area where a rehab type vet could help a great deal for this. Is it DM? Because there is also that website.

I always remember a beautiful website that had photographs of this dog in his wheelchair, and then on a garden cart, getting pulled around the beach, big happy face, no pain from DM. I don't know how they did other stuff, but those pictures were great.
 

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I saw your post and thought of this picture



I've no experience I'm sorry but I wanted to support you whatever you choose to do. I've a gsd in my area that uses a wheelchair. If I see them and can approach I will ask about it. I wish you all the best. Seriously though, I think a wheelchair is worth it although it may be heartbreaking to see them fall sideways when running :'c. Your pup is in my prayers.
 

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Suka,

I so feel for you! My last dog started having similar mobility issues when he turned 14. We used harness that had a rear support to assist with walking. For some reason, I can't remember the name off hand. I will look it up.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks - yep I just wanted some of my forum friends to have a chance to sound in. It's totally possible that the experience is very rare. I totally appreciate your personal experience input (I just wanted to bump it up a bit) :)
 

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The wheelchair thing always sounds like a great idea, but really it isn't. Some things to consider:

1. The dog has to be supervised EVERY MINUTE they are in the wheels. This isn't something you can put them in and let them go wander around. BUT I did have good experiences with using wheels for travel, for getting my old dog in and out of flyball tournament sites. But that's pretty much the only thing we used the wheels for.

2. The wheels tip over pretty easily, and depending on the mobility of the dog they might not be able to get back up without assistance.

3. They are EXTREMELY expensive. I was lucky that a friend loaned us her cart for Tori's last year.

4. With a large dog, a cart is completely useless in the house. Gets caught on furniture and doorways.

5. The dog has to remain standing or walking the entire time they are in the cart, they can't lie down. Think about it, how much does your dog want to stand?

6. Moving a large dog in and out of a cart is hard on your back.

The cart had it's uses, but for everyday life we found it pretty impractical.

 

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My lab lost function of his back legs for a prolonged period. Our vet recommended not using the wheelchair because she was concerned he would lose even more function by not using his rear legs. Instead I just used a towel and helped him carry his back half. I always meant to buy a better rear-lifter but got so used to the towel that we never did. I thought things went well for us, but he only had two steps to go up and down.

Getting him in and out of the car was difficult, and he was going to the vet and to the local university frequently so that was an issue. He and I learned for me to lift his front legs onto the seat, then I would lift his rear legs up as he walked forward with the front. Getting him out of the car was far scarier because one time I opened the back door and he tried to leap out and landed on his face on the concrete. Thankfully we both learned from that and it never happened again.

Overall, as far as was it a happy experience I would say it was at that time for us a better option than the alternative. He did end up going blind but he still had some happiness in life and we became very bonded because of the intense care he needed. He did end up regaining enough function in his back to be able to walk again without help. He had to stay on his gabapentin and tramadol for pain, but he seemed pretty content and comfortable. He did end up dying, but I wouldn't trade the time I had with him that last difficult year.
 

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My last German Shepherd "Genesis" had DM. Diagnosed at age 10. Within 6 months he needed a wheel chair. I bought it from Dewey's wheel chairs for dogs. Also had a lift/harness. Also would hold him up support his rear end with my hands (not by his tail) and walk him around the yard. Seems like there are more makers of them these days. There is a great site handicapped pets.com. They have all kinds of helpful products....

As long as your dog doesn't have DM it shouldn't be over until he naturally passes. I was actually surprised how well my GS did adjusting to his problem. It was just really sad seeing him like that. You just have to get over that. My current GS Kaos is 9 and a half. He's got bad hips. When the time comes I won't hesitate to use products that will help me get him around....

I liked the harness/lifts better because they were easier to use real quick. But the chair is good if you want him in it a while......
 

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(edit) Should add it might not even be over even with that horror DM. Some dogs the progression is slower then others. With mine it was fast. At 11 and 7 months I had to have him put to rest because of something he did to himself.....

I belong to the Best Friends Animal sanctuary/society in Utah. When my Genesis was first diagnosed I contacted them since I never heard of DM. One of their vets called and talked to me about the disease. When Genesis was prescribed Amicar I was concerned about that since the pharmacist was worried telling me it was a human drug to stop bleeding in the brain (or something like that). The vet assured me it's used for DM (in 2001 I didn't know anything about DM or treatments). Also that I wasn't being selfish keeping him around as long as possible etc etc. They have seen and treated every ailment known to animals. You could contact them if you have any questions....
 

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For the life of me I cannot find the harness I used for Lucky online! Maybe they don't make it anymore. In any event, it was a full body harness that had handles and D-rings in the front and rear. Even though my dog, like yours, only had problems with his rear legs, I found this to be MUCH more effective than the harnesses that were designed only for rear support.
 

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I got a cart for the late barker the elder. I waited too long so it was difficult to use. I got it on Ebay from the manufacturer (it was a refurbrished cart.) and it wasn't all that expensive. I bought it based on reviews where on a board if I remember right, someone had posted a video of their dog using one. DogGone Wheels (or doggone cart) - the one manufactured in Montana was the one I selected. It was a pretty neat gizmo. But better to get one earlier than later. It came with a rear sling which was pretty slick too.
I sold the cart to someone on one of the boards. She used it and loved it. When her dog passed, she sold it to another person.

Barker the elder loved going to the barn to see the horse until the end. In retrospect, I wish I had purchased one of the dog strollers for her. She'd have loved going around the neighborhod with that! (The big ones will hold one or two GSDs.)
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Just an update - Cowboy has no use of his backlegs anymore and he has had a few incontinent episodes in the house, but only about three in the past couple of months, but that's easy enough to control monitoring his diet, water and going out every three or four hours. It has been horrible dealing with this in the winter time, let me tell ya but now it's nearly spring and I'm looking forward to hanging out a lot on the deck with him. I have the Ruffwear webmaster harness with the handle on top, but that didn't support his rear end at all when he finally lost it, but just when things were looking the worst, and I was about to cave in and buy the Help Em Up harness (which are very nice) we found a cheapo rear lift sling in a thrift store and it's attachable to his harness and he is trucking again! Beats my flannel home made sling by a long mile. People still slow down to point and stare and stop on the sidewalk to cluck their sympathies, but he doesn't pay any attention and just keeps on moving. Come on summertime! What a relief this is. Beats crying every time I take him out.

Moved his eating station into another room so he has a nice no-slip rug and the parrot has taken to hanging out at mealtimes :eek:

VIDEO0087 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
 

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Thanks for the update. I'm so glad you got the harnesses you needed when you needed them. You might want to consider one of the large strollers if the walks start to be hard on either of you. Obviously the Cowboy still enjoys his life so just keep it up!
 

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I had both for my Zeke I used the bottoms up leash to bring him out in the morning and at night and I'd put him in his cart when I got home from work so he could have some time to play and walk around by himself without me being right over him crowding him. We did install a ramp at the front door without that I don't think we could have kept him going like this for a year that we did. It takes a big comittment to take care of a dog that can't walk anymore, but I'd do it again in a second.
He let us know when it was time and he didn't want to play anymore. I think we may have been a little selfish and kept him around longer than what we should have. We miss him so much its been 3 months now. Good Luck......
 

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Looking for used cart/chair for 13 year old GSD

I have a 13 year old white GSD with likely DM, losing use of her back legs and her bark is turning into a whisper. She's a little on the small side, about 53 lbs but long legged.
I'm trying to see if I might get lucky finding someone who has a chair they are no longer using. New ones are pretty expensive and I don't see needing it for more than 6 months. I would be willing to pay for shipping and promise to either return it to the owner or pass it on to another needy dog.

Would appreciate hearing from anyone with any ideas!
Thanks,
Cassy (and Zoe)
 
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