The videos are embedded below and also listed in our youtube playlist called GP’s K9 Cart. Playlist will be updates if/when I upload more videos.
First, a video of the cart itself:
Day 1 her rear legs were not much help, she wasn’t used to lifting them, her rear paws knuckled under *frequently* and her steps were weak, short and choppy. Not only was she learning to move in the cart but also to simply stand in balance. She rolled backwards a few times but I was watching like a hawk and kept her from falling. (Before ordering and while awaiting our cart, I read the K9 Carts website and info several times and was ready for all possible trouble-shooting.)
Day 2 Consultation with Barbara, owner of K9 Carts, assured me the fit of the cart was proper and GP’s movements were par for course given her mobility issues and compensation all these months. She said to give GP’s body time to adjust to the cart and being back in balance. As recommended, I kept the initial cart sessions very short. Even now, two weeks in, I keep the sessions short as we strengthen muscles and build up her endurance.
By her 5th-6th sessions, I saw big improvement in GP’s movements in her cart. This was a big relief! Up to that time I wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to use the cart at all, or if she needed Full Support or…. Also, we had a 2 day “delay” in our cart sessions due to a grand mal seizure and a longer than usual post-ictal phase. She is now taking much smoother steps, knuckling under of rear paws is significantly reduced, she stands solid and still without rolling, she is moving for longer distances and showing more endurance. She also trots in her cart – so cute!
So far, she does best on the smooth cement flooring of SMART DOGS Training Center, our back patio, and the short grass of our yard. We’ve taken short treks in the Training Field where we stay on a walking path mowed with the riding mower. The slightly uneven terrain and thick field grass are more of a workout for her so we keep those treks short and sweet with breaks as needed. That said, she needs far fewer breaks on these field treks in her cart than she does without her cart. I’m looking forward to the energy boost from cooler temps of autumn and winter.
We’ve begun to include a few Obedience and Rally exercises in our cart sessions. About Turns, U-Turns, Schutzhund Turns, 360’s, brief Pace Changes, Leave Dog Call to Front and/or Heel, Front and Finishes – we’ll need to widen our Finishes so her cart clears my feet and legs 😉 . We’ve also done a few Serpentines/Weaves with our cones. Perhaps if her strength and endurance continue to improve, we might return to Level 1 CRO and enjoy a few courses. That’s all for another day and not at all a priority. The single most important thing is GP being able to exercise her body and mind and feel safe and confident.
I have to look out for the rest of the Posse while GP is in her cart. It’s super smooth and quiet and they are not at all bothered by it. In fact, they stand, stop, hang out, and walk *very* close (too close?!) to GP just as they always have. Rocky, Piglet and Penelope have each been bumped by the cart though it didn’t rattle or hurt them, they just moved out of the way. I’m especially careful with little Chibi, he has not been bumped and I intend to keep it that way. Here is a cute blooper from early on of GP bumping into Rocky, then Penelope, while I was busy holding the camera and leashes and walking and filming and not doing traffic control. Oops, sorry Rocky and Penelope!
Out of her cart, GP still has periods where she is completely unable to stand and walk. Other times she does ok as shown here. I’ve not shown GP at her worst, preferring to keep those difficult times private. I’ve added runners and area rugs to cover more of our smooth (slippery) flooring, and she sometimes wears her traction socks and might soon have boots. In addition to mobility, GP is battling other health issues. Rocky, too. With 4 of the 5 Posse dogs between the ages of 12 and 14.5, this is a bittersweet and difficult time for us, emphasis past 6 months. As always, we take life one day at a time, in the moment, and appreciating all we have. And on this day, in this moment, in her cart, GP is enjoying exercise and fresh air – and she’s happy.