When a dog has disabilities in three out of his four legs, it’s a challenge to figure out what kind of cart would be the best design.
Master, a 10 year old Giant Schnauzer, came to see us on the advice of his neuro-surgeon, Dr. Dominic Faissler at , who had recently performed successful spinal surgery on him. Master has been a patient at Tufts Veterinary School. He had had limb-sparing surgery for osteosarcoma in one front leg. Unfortunately, that implant was coming loose, causing pain and instability in his right front leg. Then a tumor in his spine was discovered, causing neurologic deficits in his rear limbs. Though the surgery to remove the tumor was a success, he was weak in his hind limbs when his owner brought him here for an evaluation for a mobility aid.
We keep a quad cart here for just such evaluations. I put Master in the quad cart to see how he would react to being totally supported in all four legs. Since it was difficult for him to maintain a stance with his weak rear legs, he liked the quad cart. My initial thought was to rent him a quad cart for a few weeks until he was stronger in his rear legs, and then build him a front wheel cart – since we know that his affected front leg should be spared any weight-bearing and would not improve. However, when we took Master out of the quad cart, he showed increased strength and control over his rear legs, being able to sit square for the first time since his spinal surgery. In light of that, we decided to build him a front wheel cart with detachable outrigger wheels in the rear. A soft yoke on the cart would minimize stress on his hips and weak rear legs. A wider tip strap would act like a sling and the outrigger would keep him standing when he started to falter.
Once Master’s regained strength and stability in his rear legs, the cart can be used without the rear outrigger wheels.
When Master came for his fitting, it was obvious that he really liked the cart. His tail wagged and he relaxed into the cart without any stress. After walking around the yard for awhile, we took this video – one tired, happy dog.
Master left here to go to his first rehab consultation with Erika McElwey (www.changeyourrange.com). We expect that once he’s regained full strength in his rear legs, he’ll dispense with the outrigger wheels and use the front wheel cart to preserve the functionality of his front legs.