I have always been an animal lover. I especially love dogs. After I had my spinal cord injury, one of the highlights was coming home from rehab and seeing my dog. I remember how she was so excited to see me. She didn’t let my wheelchair stop her from getting up in my lap and giving me some love by laying her head against my shoulder. Her name was Gracie. She was a shar-pai mix. She really was therapeutic for me while learning to adapt to living with a spinal cord injury.
Another reason I love dogs so much is because they are loyal and love you unconditionally. Even if you get onto them for doing something bad, two seconds later they are over it. If only we as humans could do that. Wow! What a difference it would make in this world!
I’ve had a lot of dogs over the last 36 years. My wife and I have four dogs now. It can be challenging at times, especially if we go out of town or on vacation. Thankfully, we have a friend that doesn’t mind coming to the house to dog sit for us when we leave town. However, we feel the challenges are worth it because the dogs are so loving and behave well most of the time.
We have a Chihuahua named Daisy that someone gave us when she was 3 months old. Daisy is super hyper and thinks that she owns Jena and me. Daisy is by all means a lap dog. Most of the day she is in my lap being wheeled around everywhere.
We also have a Norwich Terrier named Pixie. We got her from our sweet vet tech who graciously offered her to us for free after we lost one of our dogs to renal failure. Pixie is the sweetest and smartest of all our dogs. She enjoys playing outside all day and snuggling on the couch with us in the evenings.
The next dog on the list is Lulu. She is a Norwich Terrier/Dachshund mix and is Pixie's baby. She is a little over a year old now. She is super hyper and loves to chew on everything. Lulu enjoys being outside and at night curls up on the couch to sleep. She doesn’t like to be disturbed while sleeping. If you get too close and move her, she will groan.
Our final dog is Bell. She is a Mountain Kurr dog. They are bred for hunting hogs, bears and mountain lions. Obviously we don’t use her for that. Bell wants to be a lap dog so bad, but is just too big to be able to sit on my lap. However, that doesn’t stop her from trying over and over. She, too, is very loving and is super smart.
We truly enjoy having dogs around for their companionship and for their ability to watch over our home. They always let us know when we have a visitor!
Here are a few tips I want to share that I do while caring for my dogs in a wheelchair.
- Four dogs eat a lot! We purchase the 55 lb. bags of dog food, but picking that up can be a challenge. I place a board across my lap and put their bowls on top of it. I scoop food out of the bag and then I can transport it to where I put their bowls down. I do the same thing with water.
- Bath time. My next tip is for when I bathe them. I have a shower with a bench, but if you have a roll-in shower, just roll in. I transfer to the bench and use my hand held shower nozzle and start scrubbing. For the most part they actually seem to enjoy it. Just remember that you will end up as wet as they are!
I know not everyone loves dogs, but there are other animals that need good homes and love. Pets can provide you with fun and laughter, as well as companionship. This is very therapeutic after having a spinal cord injury. If you are looking for a dog or a cat, be sure to visit your local animal shelter or Humane Society. They have plenty to choose from who needs good homes!
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/0618/0673