Disability comes in many forms. No matter what the form is it very difficult to see the dog you love struggling so much. With the right help, they can still be very happy for whatever time they have.
In 2020, Quincy started becoming disabled with DM (similar to ALS). We did all kinds of rehab in 2020, but nothing really works against this awful disease. The vets told me to expect a gradual decline in his ability to walk. They kept telling me trying to put him in a cart before it was time would make things worse as he would not try as much. They really did not understand Quin.
All dogs are different. Quin did not do a gradual decline. He did a crash. He went from needing a little help walking to not able to walk at all when we had the big snow storm in December 2020. I had started looking, but I hadn't made a decision yet on his wheel chair. Most of the ones I found were custom, expensive, and took a long time to arrive. Quin suddenly started losing control of other functions as well and he was at times starting to feel ready to give up. He lost that spark in his eyes. When it happened I was not sure he would still be around by the time the cart came if it was going to take weeks to months to arrive. I asked the vets for guidance on carts, but they had no ideas.
I needed one quick and I finally found one that was more adjustable and would arrive quick. It completely changed his life. Quin was an active search and competition dog most of his life before DM. He is independent and loves to play. He had lost everything as he had lost the ability to walk. The AKC does not allow dogs with health issues to compete even on the video trials. With DM he had an odd gait so even though he was healthy and not in pain, we could not set things up and try to finish off the titles he had pending. He could not physically go running in the woods or on a rubble pile anymore. Even worse, in the yard we could not do much. Having to be limited by where I was willing to go and how fast I could go was part of the problem for him. He was stuck to just hanging out.
That spark in the eyes is back. He is happy again. Every morning he now asks for tummy rubs just like before the disease took hold. He is gaining control of his ability to go outside again. Instead of waiting for me to get the sling and move him, he is dragging himself all over the house now. Even better the vet has extended the amount of time they think he has. The cart has literally extended his life.
I never would have predicated my active search dog would become disabled. Our relationship is very different now. He depends on me for a lot of things. He can not go be that independent working dog. However, our relationship is evolving. Disabled or well, he is still my best friend. That does not change. He is still the same dog I have come to know and love. We celebrate different victories now, but the relationship we forged over the years is still just as good. I am very thankful for the extra time the cart has given him.