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January 31, 2013

Service dog gets new set of wheels Equipment aids dog with spinal cord degeneration By Tom Munds

tmunds@ourcoloradonews.com It was a red-letter day Jan. 24 when Shenandoah, a 90-pound Great Pyrenees, was fitted with wheeled support so she can continue her duties as a service dog for Thornton resident Constance Hein. The cart was fitted by the staff of Rocky Mountain Veterinary Neurology, located in the Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado in Englewood. “The dog has progressive spinal cord degeneration so, while she can do some functions, she doesn’t do well traveling long distances,” said Dr. Stephen Lane, the veterinary neurologist specialist. “This dog cart has four wheels to provide support to the dog’s body, which will help the dog rebuild leg strength and stamina.” The doctor said it is sad to watch the 3-year-old dog struggle with the degenerative spinal disease. However, he wanted to say a special thank you to Doggon’ Wheels, the manufacturer, for donating the cart. He said the cart will ease the pressure on the spine and limbs, and will help Shenandoah by improving the quality of life for the dog and help her continue to be a service dog for her owner. Hein said she is pleased Lane was able to provide the cart to help Shenandoah. “I am in a wheelchair most of the time and depend on Shenandoah’s natural skills as a guard dog and the skills she has learned as a service dog,” Hein said. “She is able to still do many things like pick up things for me. But, if we go on a long trip like going to the zoo, she really struggles.” Hein got Shenandoah when she was 3 months old. “Great Pyrenees are guard dogs by nature and Shenandoah is always right there beside me so I know I am safe anywhere I go,” she said. “I also trained her to do things to help me. She learned to pick up things I might drop and, when I was out of the wheelchair, she was beside me to help me maintain my balance.” Hein said the dog did anything she would ask but, if they walked a lot on an outing, Shenandoah was in a lot of pain the next day because her muscles were not as strong as they should be.

Constance Hein helps her dog, Shenandoah, get used to the new cart. The equipment, fitted at the Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado in Englewood, is designed to help the dog that has a spinal disease. Photos by Tom Munds “When Dr. Lane explained the benefits of the cart to me, I felt like it was a new lease on life for both Shenandoah and I,” she said. “The cart will make it easier for her to go with me if we want to go somewhere on a trip or for a long walk. It also means she won’t be in pain the next day and I won’t feel guilty about taking her with me.” Doggon’ Wheels makes a wide variety of carts and products for animals of all sizes. The company donated the cart that was customized for Shenandoah. “We have been putting the carts to a number of uses for a while now,” Lori Fuehrer, one of Dr. Lane’s veterinary technicians, said as she made adjustments to customize the cart for Shenandoah. “We use them to help dogs going through rehabilitation and for animals missing limbs.” She said the cart is designed so adjustments can be made if there are changes in the type of support the animal needs.

Constance Hein and her dog, Shenandoah, who suffers from progressive spinal cord degeneration.

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