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Trey’s Adventures with his Tripawd Wheelchair

Most canine amputees get along well without a Tripawd wheelchair. But for those with mobility issues and also giant breed dogs, a set of wheels can boost their quality of life.

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For instance, check out how Trey (aka Wildest Dream Trés Spécial) is doing with his new front-leg Tripawd wheelchair.

This young pup is a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog who came into this world as a “natural born Tripawd.” He’s officially still a puppy, but this handsome boy will probably grow to a weight of anywhere from 120 to 155 pounds (54 to 70 kg)!

Tripawd dog wheelchair

Throughout the course of his lifetime Trey’s carpal (wrist) joint, shoulders and spine will face tremendous impact. As we’ve seen with giant breed Tripawds like Cemil, he’ll need extra TLC to live a pain-free life. Trey’s mom Karen is super knowledgeable about animal biomechanics and rehabilitation therapy and as a parent to other Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs for over 20 years, she understands his breed and what to expect.

In her Forum post “Trey’s Doing Wheelies” she wrote about her experience getting a front-leg Tripawd wheelchair for Trey:

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Trey Gets a Tripawd Wheelchair

“Trey has been growing like a weed. He’s now almost the same height as my 9 1/2 year old female! The downside to this, has been severe stress on his lone shoulder and wrist. Less than ideal to grow so rapidly with growing joints. So, to take some of the stress off his shoulder, and let him run and play outside with the pack, he got wheels!

After the initial adjustment period ( I’m just going to sit here – I can’t possibly move with this thing ) he has become a speed demon.”

Karen knew better than to attempt a DIY dog wheelchair. She made the smart choice to contact Eddie’s Wheels, the only dog wheelchair manufacturer to make custom front-leg carts for dogs. The company’s extensive experience fabricating canine wheelchairs is known worldwide.

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“We live in Pennsylvania, six hours away and were very fortunate to find a pet prosthesis maker only an hour from home. My Pet’s Brace in Morgantown works directly with Eddie’s. They spent several hours taking pictures and measuring Trey before they ordered his wheels. They understood my desire for adjust-ability for my rapidly growing pup.”

Trey’s body wasn’t the only thing that Eddie’s Wheels had to consider. They also had to think about how a wheelchair would fit in his home. “We live in a 1740’s farmhouse, and several of the doorways are less than 30” wide,” explains Karen. “With the cant of the wheels, and width of the dog, we wanted to try to get wheels that would fit through all the doorways.”

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Trey isn’t done growing just yet, so Eddie’s Wheels will see him again in the future. “Trey will need a larger set of wheels as an adult, and he uses his wheels outside 98% of the time,” says Karen. “He can’t jump on the couch in his wheels!”

Wheelchair Training Time for Trey

We asked Karen how Trey adapted to his new cart. She says that he wasn’t exactly a natural at using his wheels, but with a deep connection to Trey’s psyche, Karen knew how to ease his apprehension.

“Trey begged to differ when he was first put in his wheels at My Pet’s Brace. No real fear, but no desire to move at all. We slowed down the introduction at home. Trey is a deep thinker, and needed to figure things out at his own pace. The wheels needed to be associated only with good things.

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I started by treating him every time he went over to explore the wheels on his own. That progressed to treating only for positioning himself between the shafts. When that was comfortable, my husband and I carefully lifted him into the wheels, treating and telling him how wonderful he was the entire time.

We made sure he was in a wide open, flat space with no snags and let him think for a while. We wandered around the drive and eventually he wanted to come see what we were doing. Huge praise for his few faltering steps and he was done for the day.

His first few weeks in the wheels, his sessions were 20 minutes or less. First he learned to walk forward. Next he learned to turn and maneuver. Finally, he learned to run and navigate hills.

My other dogs have been well socialized and exposed to many odd things, so none of them reacted to the wheels at all. When Trey discovered he could run with the pack in his wheels, my mission was accomplished!

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He now gets excited when his wheels are pulled out and trusts them to support his front end. He even coasts a few steps downhill, or when running, by holding his front paw up and rolling. We are currently working on loose leash rolling and learning to match his speed to that of the person with him – his heeling equivalent!

Since he started wheeling, his shoulder strength and stability have increased, and his topline has gone from humpbacked to almost level.”

Trey’s Living the Good Life

In addition to regular veterinary care, Trey gets acupuncture and cold laser treatments. “The therapies are staggered two weeks apart, and help ensure Trey has no soreness or inflammation,” says Karen. “I check him daily for problems, but it’s good to have another set of eyes/hands assess him on a regular basis.”

Trey’s weight is also something she’s conscientious about. “Trey is already 96.6 lbs. at 11 months of age. With all of the orthopedic challenges a fast growing, giant Tripawd faces, we keep Trey slim. You can readily feel his vertebrae and ribs.”

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As part of a pack that includes three adult Swissies, three barn cats, two horses, and a parrot, Trey is surrounded by great company. He even has an older packmate Xena, who is an honorary Tripawd because of a botched shoulder surgery as a youngster. “She is the reason when the breeder was looking for a suitable home for Trey, my name came up again and again. Xena is large and in charge, even on three legs. She and Trey seem to have a special friendship, maybe it’s because they both snore like lumberjacks!”

Karen says she would like Trey to become a therapy dog if he enjoys it. As someone who recuperated from a severe brain injury, she wants to thank those who helped her by ‘paying it forward’ and helping others through tough times. Karen says “Wouldn’t that smiling, happy face be an inspiration to children afraid of being different, or orthopedic patients stressing over using mobility devices?”

We couldn’t agree more!

More About Tripawd Wheelchairs

When and How a Dog Wheelchair Can Help a Tripawd
Tripawd Tips for Using Wheelchairs and Carts

7 Responses to “Trey’s Adventures with his Tripawd Wheelchair”

  1. Jerry, Thanks for the information. I have a certified rehab vet, but they have never dealt with these particular types of carts. They actually recommended against using Eddie’s bc of difficulties they have had with proper fits with other carts in the past.

    Every time I make adjustments to the cart, it literally takes me an hour or more; only to get Victoria in it and see that it is still not right. I cannot even put into words the level of frustration I am feeling. The process of getting the cart, making modifications and making adjustments has been going on since July 2016. Over this long period of time, I have watched Victoria’s mobility in her front leg progressively go downhill. I am now at the point of having to use treats to even get her to take a few steps. I feel as though I have been a horrible owner bc things have ended up this way.

    • Molly you are not a horrible owner. Come to the Forums and let everyone know what’s going on. There are lots of folks waiting to help you and your pup and ready to share ideas about this situation.

  2. Molly Messer & Victoria the Wonderdal December 15, 2016 at 7:30 am

    I am interested in the construction of Trey’s cart. I purchased a cart from Eddie’s Wheels for my dog, Victoria, and have non-stop adjustment issues with it since I got it. I have been in contact with Eddie’s Wheels on many occasions and have found them less than helpful.

    I noticed on Trey’s cart that there is no lower crossbar between the wheels. This has been an issue for Victoria as her’s has a crossbar that actually hinders her from taking a full stride. I feel as though I am in a catch 22 because Eddies has told me that they cannot evaluate whether the fit is correct unless they have a 1 minute video of her using the cart. However, the cross bar prevents her from moving her back legs more than in tiny steps, otherwise she hits the bar.

    The other issue I have had is that when she runs, she uses both hind legs at once to push off. Her push off is more vertical than straight and as a result, she has flipped over head first in the cart. Also, when she sits, she falls backwards. The normal position of her “sit” is almost vertical, so when she sits the wheels come off the floor. Her knees also hit the lower crossbar which combine to cause her to tip and fall backwards. I am at a total loss for how to adjust her cart, or even know if the fit is correct; let alone get her to use it.

    I am very upset and frustrated with it all, which of course doesn’t help when I am trying to train her. Short of making a trip with her from Miami, FL to Eddie’s location in Massachusetts, I don’t know what else to do. Shipping the cart back and forth costs me $100 every time.

    In the meantime, Victoria is getting weaker and weaker in her front leg because she cannot put much weight on it. Do you have any words of wisdom?

  3. victoriadowning July 6, 2016 at 5:28 am

    What does a typical day look like? Do they take Trey in and out of his wheels throughout the day? Does he hop around on his one foreleg while inside? What if he wants to lay down? I’m trying to get a feel for the care my possible-soon-to-be-Tri will need. I can see using wheels for walks but my dog is 12 and naps alot so I’m thinking in the wheels for walks and possibly for feeding, but out of the wheels for naps, laying around? What about bathroom runs? In the cart? Ours goes right outside, off of a porch now. then back in. I’m thinking carrying him down the porch and letting him potty on one leg? Then back in for more napping? Or does Trey stay in his wheels for much longer?

    • Victoria, I’m sorry that your dog may need to lose a leg. You’ll find lots of support in our Discussion Forums so please do hop over and introduce yourself. Meanwhile, please have your dog evaluated by a certified rehab vet before deciding he needs a wheel chair. Most Tripawds, even senior ones, don’t need them. There are exceptions but the only way to know if you’ll be doing more harm than good by putting him in one is to have a professional evaluate him. This article about wheelchairs and Tripawds shares more insight.

  4. Yes indeedy! That “smiking happy face” is an inspiration to ALL of us! And her humans are spectacularly inspirational too!!

    I had seen some of Trey’s ear@ier ppst and was soooo impressed with him, with all his pack! But to know even more backstory znd the incredible connection and understanding that Trey’s pawrents have of him is so touching. They know who Trey is and handled everything they did with his personality in mind. It was so interesting reading how they introduced him to the wheels and all its advantages in such a positive and patient way.

    Something that really stood out to me…and sooooo much stood out to me…..when mentioning Trey as a Therapy Dog, the next phrase was, “if he enjoys it”! That speaks volumes, as does this whole post, about the unconditional love shown Trey by his humans.

    Thank yiu so much for sharing this lovely story. We look forward to following Trey well into his senior years!

    Love and hugs to all the pack, and Tripawd Xena too!

    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

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