Dr. Annie Seefeldt, D.C. , CVSMT (check out her website) paid us a two day visit last month on an assignment from a dog named Ray. Ray was weimaraner patient of hers who had multipled disc surgeries and whose family ordered a wheelchair from us. When he passed on, they bequeathed his cart to her and Annie came to see us to investigate what kinds of rehabilitation effects Eddie’s Wheels carts offer dogs.
We had a great time showing her our entire range of products, introducing her to our in-house research and development team (Willa, Webster and Beau, all dogs for whom we are caregivers and who test all our equipment), and having her participate in two particularly busy days here where we saw over half a dozen dogs for fittings and tryouts. Here’s what she had to say about her time with us:
In May 2013 I had the good fortune to spend two magical days with the folks of Eddie’s Wheels. Eddie’s Wheels is a company in Massachusetts that builds wheelchairs and other therapy devices for animals. Each wheelchair that Eddie’s sells is custom-created for the particular animal in need. Construction of the cart takes into account the animal’s size, weight and specific physical challenge.
I used to think of wheelchairs for animals as palliative care devices… stop-gaps in an attempt to extend the time until euthanasia was undeniably the only humane alternative. Boy did I have a lot to learn.
Pepper was all smiles when he regained independence and mobility with his cart. Pepper, like so many pugs, had Degenerative myelopathy.
And the people and animals of Eddie’s Wheels certainly took me to school!!!
The wheelchairs created by Eddie’s Wheels are THERAPEUTIC devices. They help animals, even those with degenerative myelopathy, feel and function BETTER! This is because the carts made at Eddie’s are properly fitted to the individual animal, and the style of cart is chosen based on the animal’s specific physical challenge.
What did I see during my visit? The animals placed in the wheelchairs took a few seconds (yes, I said SECONDS) to figure out their new situation. Once they realized that they could once again move on their own, their roached-backs relaxed into beautiful, elongated, healthy-looking toplines. As a chiropractor trained in the functional neurology of animals, I can tell you that this makes a world of difference for the animal patient! Relaxed, flattened toplines mean less muscle spasm (which is pain-producing when present,) improved nutrient absorption and waste-removal at the disc, and gentle self-induced spinal traction. (No one who has ever experienced back pain can deny how nurturing gentle spinal traction can be!) What does the improved posture mean most deeply? Facilitated healing within the central nervous system and the periphery in situations where healing would have profoundly hindered before.
I saw dogs with degenerative myelopathy move their “useless” rear limbs as they walked along with their front limbs. How can this be? At the level of the spinal cord, there are tracts that create the gait pattern of limbs in relation to one another. When two limbs are moving properly, signal will be sent to the other two limbs to move, also. This is often called “spinal walking.” It may not mean that the animal will once again to be able to walk without support, but it does mean that joints and muscles that had been immobile are moving again. The body is built to move! Immobility by itself can be pain-generating – pain which restored motion can help dampen.
I watched a non-ambulatory pug zip across the floor to every corner of the room sniffing and exploring as soon as she was placed in her wheelchair for the first time. Dogs have a large portion of their brain dedicated to olfactory sense, a.k.a. the sense of smell. Stimulation to the brain is necessary to avoid a “depressed” affect in a dog. A dog that can get out and explore the world and sniff again will be a far happier dog!
I saw a 15-year-old Doberman with a painful condition in the hock, a roach-backed posture and fatiguing / tremoring postural muscles in the rear limbs walk easily alongside its owner, able to REST on the saddle of the cart when they stopped to look around.
In short and most importantly, I saw dogs get happy again!
Eddie's Wheels is a family owned and run company. They have been refining their product since the day they opened their doors (14 years ago.) They continue to make improvements as they meet new dogs with new needs. Why? Because they really care that much!
Out of this deep care for animals grew the concept of their new therapy stand which can be used on its own or placed over a treadmill. This stand allows a practitioner to work with non-ambulatory animals in a natural, standing position when this would otherwise not be possible. From the standpoint of functional neurology, this increases our ability to help these animals immensely. How much? We’ll have to let the dogs show us!”
Thanks, Dr. Annie, for all your kind words. We sent her back to Minnesota as a fully trained Eddie’s Wheels techie – able to evaluate and measure animals for wheelchairs, and adjust and fine tune carts for fittings. Annie Seefeldt practices in the Twin Cities. It was an honor and pleasure to have her join us for training. We welcome all veterinary professionals who are interested to visit us for free trainings at their convenience.