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Devotion to pets

By Kim O’Hare

If you’ve ever had a close relationship with a pet, you’ll understand this story - otherwise, you’ll think it’s a bit bizarre…

A growing number of pet owners are turning to custom-built wheelchairs to restore mobility to furry friends whose legs, hips or backs don’t work. The owners’ goals are simple: to reward their pets’ unconditional love with whatever it takes for the animals to live normally. pictureDonna Blain’s seven-year-old Maltese named Gizmo hopped and hobbled on his deformed front legs before she adopted him a year ago. She ordered his cart after learning the odd gait had damaged his spine and would have required surgery. Now he wheels himself around for hours on sidewalks, in parks and anywhere he can find treats and praise.

Most dog carts start around $250 US and can exceed $500 based on the size of the dog, while the cost of wheelchairs for other animals can vary.  The two-wheel carts support the dog’s midsection with a padded saddle, and are secured with a shoulder yoke and chest strap. Most dogs have rear-wheel carts to compensate for lame hind legs, though a growing number of front-wheel carts are being ordered for animals with front-leg problems.

Eddie and Leslie Grinnell, founders of Eddie’s Wheels, built their first pet wheelchair in 1989 when their 10-year-old Doberman, Buddha, lost the use of her rear legs because of disc disease and spinal problems. Word spread and in 1998, they started their own business. Now there are several such businesses in America.

Since launching the business, Eddie’s Wheels has shipped carts worldwide, the largest to a 100-kilogram Saint Bernard in Great Britain.  They’ve made wheelchairs for several cats, a ferret, alpacas, goats, sheep, a rabbit and a possum. They even keep a supply of tiny wheels on hand for a gerbil or hamster.

See for more information.

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