Bamboo is a venerable dog at 17 years old but with the help of a wheelchair, he’s able to walk around like a dog half his age. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Bamboo is a venerable dog at 17 years old but with the help of a wheelchair, he’s able to walk around like a dog half his age. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

New wheelchair for dogs aims to increase the length and quality of senior dogs’ lives

‘Just like in the human world where we have walkers, wheelchairs and diapers’

Caring for the seniors of our communities is an important part of what makes us human and it’s a calling people like Ann-Marie Fleming seeks to extend to man’s best friend, dogs.

Fleming owns and operates the business Dog Quality which focuses on improving the quality of life for senior dogs of advanced age. As she herself owns several senior dogs, the work she does through her business is especially meaningful to her.

“Just like in the human world where we have walkers, wheelchairs and diapers that make our lives a little bit more manageable and have a bit more dignity, we do that for the dogs,” Fleming said.

Much like humans as dogs live to an advanced age they can suffer from arthritis, incontinence, general mobility issues and health concerns that, while not fully debilitating, makes life difficult for both the dog and their owners. While Fleming herself admits that, before she had senior dogs of her own, the idea of dogs in a wheelchair or a diaper would have made her laugh she now knows that such products can substantially increase a dog’s quality and length of life.

She saw this especially with her french bulldog Churchill who while full of spirit too often had his body betray him but when she went looking for ways to assist him, found nothing available. It was this that led her to begin developing her own devices for senior dogs that would make their lives easier.

This was why the 100 Mile Free Press found her on Friday testing a prototype for one of Dog Quality’s newest products, a dog version of a wheelchair. Helping to test it was Fleming’s own chihuahua/poodle/pomeranian-hybrid Bamboo a venerable rescue dog of 17 years of age. With the contraption, the little dog could scamper around like a dog half his age without the risk of falling and being unable to get up.

Typically Fleming said the mental image we have of a dog wheelchair is a two-wheel device at the back that wraps around the chest. What most people don’t think of is that those wheelchairs rely on dogs having a strong upper body strength to use which senior dogs often lack.

“The idea of this is to have something that was specialized to the seniors’ needs where it is almost the equivalent of if you were to wrap your hands around the body of your dog and help them walk,” Fleming explained.

Through consultation with BCIT and veterinarians, they’ve developed a light carbon fibre frame with four wheels, two on the front two on the back, a chest plate with adjustable straps in the middle and on their legs that will either support the dog or loosen it should it be strong enough to take its own weight. While it supports them she said the goal is to keep the dogs moving and exercising allowing them to do more without getting tired or hurting themselves.

“To give them a bit of independence and let them move around freely and safely without falling or straining is pretty incredible and we’re excited to give that gift to their families,” Fleming said.

The work of close to three years, Fleming hopes to have it ready for production sometime in the winter with an extra small, small, medium and large versions of the wheelchair available.

Much like humans, again, dogs are living longer across the board with most dogs considered seniors by age seven, though their youthful spirit often never fades even as their body declines, Fleming said. She hopes that one day dogs will be able to live into their 20s and still enjoy a great quality of life.

“It’s to try to keep seniors active longer because it’s this crazy cycle that they go through they start to have mobility issues, so they do less, less, less and the minute they stop doing it is when they decline rapidly,” Fleming said. “So if we can just keep them moving, keep those muscles happy, cardiovascular health will be better, mental health will be better and they’ll be a lot more limber and flexible which I think is an amazing thing to be able to provide for them.”


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Bamboo is a venerable dog at 17 years old but with the help of a wheelchair, he’s able to walk around like a dog half his age. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Bamboo is a venerable dog at 17 years old but with the help of a wheelchair, he’s able to walk around like a dog half his age. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Bamboo is a venerable dog at 17 years old but with the help of a wheelchair designed by his owner Ann-Marie Fleming’s company Dog Quality he’s able to walk around like a dog half his age. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Bamboo is a venerable dog at 17 years old but with the help of a wheelchair designed by his owner Ann-Marie Fleming’s company Dog Quality he’s able to walk around like a dog half his age. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Lily is a 15-year-old pug who enjoys testing new products at Dog Quality including strollers, wheelchairs and diapers. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Lily is a 15-year-old pug who enjoys testing new products at Dog Quality including strollers, wheelchairs and diapers. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Lily is a 15-year-old pug who enjoys testing new products at Dog Quality including strollers, wheelchairs and diapers. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Lily is a 15-year-old pug who enjoys testing new products at Dog Quality including strollers, wheelchairs and diapers. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Bamboo is a venerable dog at 17 years old but with the help of a wheelchair, he’s able to walk around like a dog half his age. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Bamboo is a venerable dog at 17 years old but with the help of a wheelchair, he’s able to walk around like a dog half his age. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Lily is a 15-year-old pug who enjoys testing new products at Dog Quality including strollers, wheelchairs and diapers. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Lily is a 15-year-old pug who enjoys testing new products at Dog Quality including strollers, wheelchairs and diapers. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
RCMP investigating suspicious trailer found abandoned in Cache Creek

Hazardous materials believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs were found

Grade 5 student Liam Ouellette and Grade 4 student Trigg Jansen read together in Horse Lake Elementary School’s reading room. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Reading, literacy opens doors to learning

Students at Horse Lake Elementary School seek out challenging reads.

100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press).
100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press).
100 Mile mayor calls on residents to ‘work together’ during pandemic

Mitch Campsall also urges residents to follow the health orders.

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

Most Read