Friday, February 13, 2015

A wheelchair friendly dog.

Many dogs are not used to a wheelchair.  And it's something that pet owners easily forget or don't realize. Since it's something they've never seen before they either find it scary or intriguing. I noticed  most react in one of three ways, and each one has the owner embarrassed and apologetic if their pet passes me on the sidewalk or even sees me from a far. Some freeze, panic and refuse to move. The man sitting in this thing with big squeaky wheels must be a terrifying  encounter The owner calls the dogs name, then yells it, then pulls on the dog's leash. Then he ends up having to pick it up if it's a tiny animal or somehow move it, because all it sees and all it's focused on is the chair. Then, there's the protector. How do I know my neighbor from the building across is walking the dog? I hear it as soon as I go outside my door. It's barking loudly, all it has to do is see me and it must be really confused when its owner is trying to get it to be quiet. It's being such a brave dog after all, defending its owner from the strange wheeled machine. And I guess don't really understand how brave dog is and how strange the chair must be, because it doesn't give up or look away, or get quiet. This when you get your typical "I don't know why he/she does that, he she usually loves people. To most dogs I'm not people. I'm a sitting down hybrid with big wheels. And then there's of course the type that considers everything that rolls and turns a play thing. Throwing itself at the wheels of a bike or a wheelchair, pounce as if it was a big toy. My good friend has a dog who had known me and my wheelchair for as long as it can remember. This resulted in it having no self protective instinct as it sees the wheelchair rolling its way. The puppy would get on the wheels risking me hitting it or rolling over it's paws as it would get dangerously close to stick its head everywhere. You never know with dogs.

 So imagine my hesitation when my former neighbor invited me over to his new apartment to work on some copy for the Foundation's website. I knew he recently picked up a dog from the pound. The one he had before liked me or at least tolerated me, while it wasn't as fond of the people I brought along. I have never met this one, though. My neighbor had the good sense of  taking it for a walk to my apartment as I was getting ready. That way his puppy got to meet me in a neutral setting. Wow. Is that the friendliest dog I have ever met. Between all the licking, leaning on my lap and running he wouldn't leave me alone. As we were working the puppy wouldn't come down for a minute. My neighbor explained that he was looking for a less outgoing dog and in the pound this candidate looked more reserved. Boy, was he wrong. His dog got so excited that he had a guest that he had get put away in his crate, just to let us work. And then wouldn't stop crying. It's worth nothing though that medium to large sized dogs are usually more calm with wheelchairs and the small ones in my experience make a lot of noise.


  1. This is a great posting. I was only yesterday discussing how so many of our child-clients who are independent walkers, and adult stroke-clients are terrified when a dog comes anywhere near them. Just a strong breath of wind is enough to put them off balance so a dog would send them flying. It is no wonder they are afraid, but more afraid of the falling than of the dog itself.

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