The New Normal

It’s been a month since Kiera got hit with Vestibular Disease. As most dogs resolve on their own within two weeks, it’s looking as though Kiera has probably improved as much as she’s going to. Which means she’s permanently left with the head tilt and unsteady gait. Which means no more stairs. Which means we now live with ramps everywhere inside and out.

Which gives me a new business to start. Because the ramps that are available for sale are… what shall I say… worthless for older dogs. Aside from being overpriced, they’re way too narrow and rickety.

Because Kiera is pretty wobbly when she walks, she needs an extra-wide ramp so as not to topple off the sides. And it needs to feel very sturdy underfoot with no give so that she doesn’t panic when she walks on it. And because she’s also nearly blind, I needed to add the reflective paint in patterns to help her peripheral vision be able to pick up where the edges are.

Welcome to our new normal.

If you’re interested in building a ramp for your dog, I used a sheet of 3/4″ composite plywood that’s used for roofing. I had it cut to 6×6, which gives a gradual enough angle for 2 deck stairs. Then I covered it with an indoor/outdoor carpet. For side bumpers, I used a sheet of plastic privacy screening and cut it in half.

10 thoughts on “The New Normal”

  1. Sounds like it! BTW I just received my 1st foster dog! Shes about 10 months old. The animal control deemed her food aggressive cause she nipped a rubber hand when tested. She was due to be put down today. A rescue stepped up and payed to have her spayed and all her shots. Since she has been here I have hand fed her twice and put my hand in her food bowl with no reaction. She is very skinny. Going to start training her next week! What have I gotten myself into? LOL

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    • I was never brave enough to foster because I worried when it was time to give them up I wouldn’t be able to, and then I’d wind up on that animal hording show because I’d have 50 dogs. LOL! Sounds like you’re doing great!

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  2. Karen, I finished your book in 1 day, I could not put it down. I cried a few times. I really relate to Magic as he so reminds me of my Jordy. He has a few bites under his belt. He too was a rescue. The book was a fantastic read. Thank you so very much for sharing your life!

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  3. Your talk of the “new normal” reminded me so much of having senior dogs (I lost my Kyah at 16 earlier this year). All the little changes over the months or years: the adjustments and accommodations for your dog’s well-being seem easy to do when you are in love with your dog. I just re-read the excerpt from Dogs of Dreamtime you have posted, and it does give me some hope that Kyah will find her way back to me in physical form. I know she’s still around, but I miss having a physical form to see and touch.

    Ramps are hard to design for the mass market. A lot of people want portable ones to help get the dog in and out of the car. That portability means lighter weight and narrower width with shorter (or adjustable) length are important, often sacrificing stability…. I was fortunate when Kyah had her stroke and then later when she lost strength in her oldest years that she only weighed about 40 lbs. I just picked her up a lot. She didn’t really like being picked up, but she really, really liked car rides :-) and almost always wanted to go with me, even in her last days. I also kept a table runner handy to use as a sling when she was feeling independent about being picked up. Sure, I looked a little odd walking in the neighborhood with a table runner ’round my shoulders, but she was worth it.

    If the carpeting ages too rapidly on the ramp, another idea is the rubber and epoxy mix they use on agility contact equipment for traction. Essentially you put a layer of epoxy on the board and then sprinkle and press in rubber granules on top of it. I have it on some equipment I use for TTouch workshops and really like the traction.

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    • Judi, yes, the adjustments are small when we love our dogs; because we want to make their lives as good as we can while we still have them. I guess that’s the definition of love… Thanks for the rubber/epoxy idea! I’ve already switched the carpet for astro-turf grass, thinking the carpet would turn to a sheet of ice once the snow flies. At least with 2 inch turf, she’ll have something to grab onto. I’m thinking Spring would be a good time to try the rubber/epoxy.

      I hope people found your walks with Kyah slung together by a table runner heartwarming. I know I do. I’m so happy for you that you got to have her for as long as you did. And so sad for your recent loss of her…

      Kiera has lived the longest of any dogs I’ve had, so this is the first time I’m experiencing a dog gradually declining. (Cancer got my other dogs usually by age 11.) I don’t know which I think is easier–having to let a dog go quickly or slowly… I guess there just is no easy way to let go of a being who means so much to you.

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  4. It really bothers me when people are so quick to judge what we do with our family members . I have a Sheltie/Border Collie mix named Jordy. I got him out of a not so great rescue in Ohio. It was more hoarding. He was in a barn in a horse stall with a heating lamp, cot, and pea gravel. He was there for 9 months before we got him. Some people may have put him down as he is very territorial and I have to hold him when people come into my house till he calms down some. But I don’t know what happened to him in his early years and for the last part of his years he is loved and cared for. If one of my guys developed a problem, as long as they are not in pain, the are staying right here with me. God Bless both of you and your special dogs!

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    • Dawn, how lucky for Jordy that you crossed his path! I believe if we take the time to really listen to our animals, they will tell us what we need to do to help bring out the best in them. It sounds like you’re a very good listener. : ) And thanks so much for buying my book. While not an entirely easy emotional read, I hope you find it insightful.

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  5. Sounds like you have a great idea for a new business!! My 13year old dog is also nearly blind and most people don´t understand why she´s still around…I always tells them that as long as she´s having a good, happy dog life nothing in the world would make me think of any other option. It makes me happy to read about someone with a similar mindset! Kiera is one lucky girl <3

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    • That’s how I feel exactly, Maria! As long as Kiera is still happy and able to eat, she’ll be with us. As soon as that changes, I won’t hang on… I also love her enough to let her go when she tells me she’s ready. Thankfully, she’s not ready yet. : )

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