We all need extra help as we get older. Dogs are no different.
My dachshund Justin is almost 12 — although he swears he doesn’t look a day over 7. And even though on most days he’s as rambunctious and randy as ever, occasionally he tweaks his back or his neck. I know exactly how he feels. I threw my shoulder out the other day simply trying to set a 20′ tall tree upright after a windstorm. Okay, who was it who said we get wiser with age?
My doxies have used a ramp to the get into the window seat I had built for them a decade ago. They also have a set of ramps leading outside and one up to my bed (despite the fact that it is on the floor). Let’s face it, when your legs are only 3″, if you can attain a vertical leap of twice that, you’re still not going to get up on the furniture.
I’ve had a step stool in front of the sofa to give them a leg up. I avoided a ramp there because occasionally I have people over and they also enjoy using furniture. People are funny that way. A stool is easier to slide to the side than a ramp and it is less likely to lead to an accident that my liability insurance would probably not cover. “Plaintiff tripped over a 5″ ramp in the middle of the living room? I’m sorry, that’s a pre-existing condition!”
But after two trips to the doggy chiropractor (who, by the way, is amazing), I decided it was time to bring in ramp #4, guests be damned.
Off to the upholstery store I went, where I purchased $135 worth of upholstery foam (yes, it’s expensive, but take it from someone who knows, the good foam holds up much better than the cheap stuff). I had it cut into a ramp that just reached the top of the seat of the sofa so no jumping would be required for small dogs to find their favorite spots.
So how did Justin and his sister Penny respond? By looking perplexed and refusing to have anything to do with the new ramp. I even tried putting cookies at the top to encourage their using it — to no avail. Penny came halfway up, then walked quickly backwards toward the other end. Justin took one look at it, proclaimed it too steep a slope, and ran up the other ramp to the window seat.
Fortunately, the upholstery story was willing to cut the ramps down for free, which was good because after spending all my money on doggy chiropractors and the cushions, I need to save some dough for kibble and doggy spa treatments.
The less steep ramp has only been “installed” (meaning “placed in front of the sofa with a bath towel on top for traction) for the past hour and so far both dogs have used it once, but only to get to the cookies I placed at the top. Penny still has a quizzical look on her face and Justin is standing by the step stool, which is now sitting in the middle of the living room because I haven’t had time to move it to the garage.
Apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks. You just have to have lots of cookies in the jar. And very few friends.