Top 10 Ways Everyday Life Changed With A Disabled Dog
Sometimes it's hard to remember what it's like to have a dog without any disabilities. Life with Stan is so routine these days that I forget all the things that we do differently with him because of his previous spinal cord injuries and intervertebral disc disease.
Here are the top 10 ways Stan's disability has changed every day life for us, logistically:
1. No stairs, no furniture, lots of being carried. No hangin' on the furniture unattended. We had to train him NOT to attempt the stairs or jumping up on anything. We have to make sure we always keep the doors to our second floor apartment closed so he doesn't try to sneak out and follow one of us down the stairs. We have to watch him on walks so he doesn't try to jump up a neighbors steps or jump off a high curb. I mean, we couldn't take our eyes of him for awhile there. Lots of babysitting. And he gets tired more easily on walks so we end up carrying him home sometimes.
2. Limited off-leash time. We don't let Stan wander around the yard or the park unleased for a few reasons. First, sprinting and running around is actually bad for his back and bad for his little disabled legs. Second, at the park we can't risk him getting stepped on or rough housed by another dog.
3. No unsupervised play with other dogs. Especially puppies. Stan's first herniated disc and subsequent paralysis occurred during playtime with his buddy Logan, a 7lb Chihuahua. We still let him play with other dogs, but we're always on the floor so we can protect him from being jumped on or rough housed.
4. Crate sleep training. It was not easy to train Stan to sleep in his crate after years of nightly freedom and cuddling in the bed. That's a whole other, profanity laced, blog post. It's safer for him in the crate. We don't have to worry about him falling off the bed, or wandering around the apartment getting into trouble.
5. Rugs everywhere. We have rugs all over this apartment. None of them match and it drives me kind of nuts. But, Stan doesn't do well on slippery floors and needs the rugs to keep his footing. So, rugs it is!
6. Haircuts at home. Stan gets his haircuts at home, from me. They do not, by any means, look good but we feel safer cutting his hair at home rather than leaving him at a busy groomer's office all day long. Not bad, right?
We know how to handle him safely, taking full consideration of his injuries and bad back.And he likes to lay down while we groom him.
7. Finding a pet sitter is tough. We leave Stan with Scott's parents and that's it. They know all his restrctions and limitations and they have a very mellow dog, Shelby, who Stan adores. We can't leave him with friends who have dogs or super active households because he'll get lost in the shuffle and maybe injured. We've also found a few boarding facilities that we're hopeful could handle Stan's disability, but we haven't explored those options yet. We like to take Stan with us on vacation!
8. Incontinence. Following his first two surgeries it was hard to take him anywhere without worrying he was going to drop a poop somewhere along the way (true story). Or poop on someone (also a true story). He very rarely has any accidents anymore, which I think has to do with his body getting stronger and healing more.
9. Pedicures and toenail maintenance. Stan scuffs his toes when he walks due to permanent neurological deficits from his prior spinal cord injuries. So, we have had to find ways to protect his feet and toenails. We've tried boots and more recently plastic toe caps which seem to be working out pretty well. You can see the worn down toenail and cap:
10. Patience. Above all, we've had to become more patient, thoughtful and tuned into our dog. He walks slower, requires more supervision, and much more planning. It's made us better pet parents.
We had to re-train Stan and re-train ourselves to navigate the logistics of everyday life with a disabled dog, but now it's second nature. We run a tight ship, but it's only made us better humans.