Zack, our beloved Pyrenean, is getting to be an old man now. We noticed that he had been unable to negotiate a low step recently even though he tried hard to do it. Thus, it was a visit to the vet for him. Daisy, the vet, felt all around the affected leg and said that she could not find anything untoward except for the usual symptoms of old age. He did have a sore spot of arthritis on the right side of his rump, but other than that, he had begun to walk ‘normally’ again i.e. what is normal for him. However, Daisy did say that she was afraid that Zack might shatter the bones of his front legs if he were to continue jumping in and out of our 4×4. Moreover, the stresses of the jumps weren’t doing his arthritis any favours and might exacerbate it.
About a year ago, we had already begun introducing Zack to a ramp in the hope that it would help. I don’t think that Zack can walk in a straight line. He seems to weave when he walks unless he is on a mission, in which case, he makes a beeline toward the object. Moreover, due to his weakening hind legs, he waddles rather than walks, which means that he moves in a rather untidy fashion. Our Pyr has always been clumsy – see my previous posts about him. Trying to get him to walk the ramp worked abysmally: he kept slipping off, and, in fact, knocked his legs a few times doing so.
The vet suggested that he should not jump. We knew a separate ramp would not work. We put on our thinking caps. What about steps? What about a different vehicle with a lower threshold to the ground? So, Hubby began to look online for ramped vehicles and vehicles which are low to the ground, but with no lips to their boots. He found three potential vehicles – hence our business day out with the dog.
First, we checked out the three vehicles he had found: a Toyota Yaris Verso; a Fiat Doblo; and a Citroen Berlingo. Of the three cars, the Yaris had the lowest floor to ground clearance. Zack got in and out of the boot with no problems once the rear seats had been folded into the floor space. Unfortunately, when we took it out for a test drive, I felt very nauseous indeed. I think that the Verso has now been discounted from our list, although we might consider one with an automatic gearbox if it were to give a less bumpy ride.
Next, we took Zack to a merchant selling horse-related products. We were thinking of a mounting step. There were two different models to try out. One was a round one where its top essentially formed the step. The other was a two-step job. Our Rescue contact had told us that dogs recognise steps and would likely use steps, so we had high hopes. Unfortunately, we had no joy. Zack did not like the steps. When we tried to cajole him into putting his foot on it, he made a face (if a dog could frown, then he did) and curled his foot up so that it would not touch the top of the bottom step. Worse, once he had jumped into the boot of our 4×4, he would not go down the steps but instead jumped over the two-step mounting block.
We had one more option to try. Nearby was a place that could potentially manufacture a ramp/step which would slide under the vehicle. Cost? £350. The question arises: would Zack use the facility once it had been set up? The idea was to make a ramp wide enough to encompass most of the rear exit which would fold downwards onto a small step. Ideally, there would be no way that the dog could jump out far enough beyond the ramp. We are pondering the idea.
If anyone has any ideas for suitable vehicles or the means of getting a large and elderly dog to get in and out of a car safely, please do let me know. It would so much appreciated!
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