My expectation with these pages is to provide insight and experience as to what we have found works in our particular situation, dealing with a GSD that "has" DM (Degenerative Myelopathy), with the hopes that it may provide help forthose of you having to explore ways to fulfill long lives and enjoyment with your afflicted dogs. I also say "has" because DM is a diagnosis by process of elimination, and sometimes the process of elimination is more invasive and uncomfortable than dealing with possible DM head-on. That said, I will provide images, links, and directions to help you in your support of your companion.
We decided to build Cora's Cart ourselves, as we have been blessed of God to have innovative minds and develop unique uses for items, materials, and purposes not often associated. Cora's Cart was no exception.
We worked out our own design based upon PVC, in this case the heavier 1-1/4 inch stuff. Also, 8 inch wheels with bearings, which roll very freely, all materials, the cost came to almost exactly $100. And we had it built in less than a week. It has room for adustment in the body placement, as Cora's needs change. And we have found that we desire to change certain aspects after watching her adapt.
For instance, after observing how much her belly is suspended freely while harnessed, we have added additional support straps to hold her belly up, take the pressure off the back and belly ligaments, and hopefully keep her more comfortable. We also will address the additional padding needed for the hips and shoulders. For now, we depended upon towels to fill that need.
She has urinated freely while in the cart, but defecation has not been a situation yet, as she is usually emptied out fairly early in the morning.
We may look at building another cart for her out of much smaller schedule PVC, to make it lighter and less bulky, but for now this one definitely supplies our needs.
We found that we could adapt the cart to the Helpemup Harness she wears, and there is quite a bit of flexibility on how to attach and where. We attached the cart with larger caribiners through an eyebolt attached to the cart by an internal expander, making the eyebolt adjustable also. We're still determining the best setting for her, as we can affect the balance of the cart by how far we suspend her torso weight forward or behind the axle.
Her lower torso is suspended by wide webbing with velcro attachments, placed in an interlinking "X" pattern, and sleeved with pipe insulation. Due to the belly drop, I have added additional straps and foam cushion to support her, but these are still being modified for best fit.
We also found soft, stretchy velcro straps at Lowe's Hardware to use to create stirrups to support her hind legs.
Using detachable clip pins, we are able to remove the top yoke, and the axle/wheel units, so that the cart can be better transported. I will post separate pictures of the cart by itself in a bit, and expanded, to see how it is able to be disassembled.
All together, we spent approximately $100 at Home Depot collecting the various pieces. The stretchy velcro was found at Lowe's.