Meet Stump. I adopted him almost three years ago, along with his colleague Teddy. There are some other photos of Stump (and of Ted) in the My Pets section of this blog. Stump had a hard life — an unknown life — prior to his rescue as a middle-aged dog. He was almost bald from flea allergies when he was found as a stray, and he had a big tumor on his hip. When I adopted him, I thought that if the tumor proved to be malignant, at least he’d had a few months of the proverbial Life of Riley, which is now all the animals in my household live! But that’s another story….
Stump and Teddy walk with me twice a day. This is what a typical day looks like from my end of the leashes. Neither seems to care that he is attached to a girlie pink leash once used for my much-loved dog Patti.
But Stump is enjoying his walks less these days. He has arthritis in his lower back and hips, along with scar tissue from an ACL repair, and he can’t take pain-relief tablets because they give him a very upset tummy. I’m trying some other options, but in the meantime, walks have gotten slower and slower, and Ted gets very annoyed because he is likes to trot along at a good pace — unless he needs to leave some pee-mail, which can lead to sudden, dramatic halts. In any case, Ted and I haven’t been getting enough exercise in our designated walk time — what to do?
So a while ago, I saw a little old dog in stroller in New York City, and I was inspired to some online shopping. This arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago.
Success! Stump sat in the stroller and, as we negotiated curb cuts and bumpy sidewalks, he got sleepy in the morning sun.
When did dog strollers become part of the expanding equipage of enlightened pet ownership, you ask? The answer seem to be in the year 2003, when a company called Dutch Dog Design introduced the “Doggyride” line of products. According to their website, the company began with dog trailers for bicyclists, which makes sense given the Dutch commitment to bicycle transportation. They branched out to strollers when they realized the number of dog owners whose pets were too old or lame to go for walks. Here is a brochure for the company’s dog travel products; they now also make luxury orthopedic dog beds and other accessories. The Doggyride™ stroller looks like the bike trailer that begat it; there is a handle on the back and a single wheel in the front.
Stump’s stroller is a cheap model, and it looks like a baby carriage for a doll except that it has a screen attached to the rain hood that can be zipped to prevent escapes (or insects, I guess). (It also has two cup holders.) I chose the blue plaid model because it did indeed remind me of my doll carriage, which was a favorite sleeping spot for Scotchie, a family cat, around 1960. Bundled up in an old baby blanket, she would allow herself to be pushed along until the ride got too bumpy.
I venture that some small dog owners improvised with baby carriages before now, but purpose-built dog strollers are part of a new genre of prosthetic material culture for pets, including the wheeled carts designed for cats and dogs unable to use their hind legs and a variety of braces and prosthetic limbs. I’ll be looking into these more for a future post, so stay tuned. And I would love to have a photo to share of your pet using one of these prostheses or mobility aids.