Have dog and still can travel

Advancing age can cause problems with agility and getting around

Our dogs have never been trained to ride along; their job is to stay home and keep an eye on our property. So taking them to the vet has always been an event and become more so as I’ve gotten older.

So long as we owned small dogs, already trained when we adopted them, or if they were physically able to jump up into the truckbox, the occasional vet trip was never a physical hassle for me or for the dog. Today … I wish my truck was built low to the ground like 1950 Chevs that scarcely skimmed puddles.

When we bought our pickup nine years ago we chose one that would serve as a car but also do light hauling – fetching firewood, taking garbage to the dump, bringing home lumber or other supplies.

We didn’t consider ferrying dogs to a vet especially dogs the size of ponies with limited mobility. Nor did we factor in how advancing age would lessen my agility.

I’ve watched German Shepherds bigger and maybe years older than this mutt leap into the box of a Ford F350 or Dodge Ram. But they probably have been doing that since they were weaned. They look forward to another ride, ears blowing back in the wind.

They also know what footing they will land on. My dog sees shiny metal and instinct tells her that’s not secure footing for a sensible dog. She balks.

Just to climb up into the truckbox, if the tailgate is down, I must use a 13” high box constructed of 2x6s. Weathered to a dark grey, it looks and is sturdy.

This pup never unduly resisted climbing in using this box until she developed sore knees, the reason for her latest vet follow-up.

To compensate for her sore knees, I added two more steps so she never had to rise more than seven inches at a time.

But this created a totally unfamiliar and therefore suspicious pyramid to the scene. She would retrieve cat food from as high as the tailgate, which she could reach while standing on the ground. But she wouldn’t step up.

About then I was looking through Christy Clark’s Accessibility 2024 plan of how she intends on improving accessibility for all B.C. citizens. Page 10 shows a photo of a BC Transit bus with its drop-level-to-the-ground ramp.

I phoned Terrace Transit. Would they accept me and my hound as passengers?

“Does the dog fit in a carrier?” she asked.

“No,” I admitted. “She’s 90 pounds.”

The lady sighed. “Sorry.”

The bus ramp photo started me searching for readymade dog ramps.

Petland has steps, but too small for my needs. Walmart and Amazon advertise a telescoping fold-up ramp six feet long priced $213 or more.

With fond memory I think back to our visit in early January following successive heavy snows.

I was able to back the truck up to the snowplow ridge on one side of the vet’s parking lot, let down the tailgate which was then level with the top of the drift, and walk the dog out of the truck as though we were on an afternoon walk.

Nothing could have been more convenient or safer for both of us.

The night before our latest vet visit I stayed awake pondering how to load the dog by myself when our visit was over. As it happened, I needn’t have worried.

After the dog’s exam the vet led her out to my truck, scooped her up, and set her down gently in the truckbox. No fuss.

He even climbed in to snap her collar securely to the cross chain at the front of the box.

His was a bonus service I didn’t expect but surely appreciated.

Claudette Sandecki keeps very mobile with her dog at her Thornhill, B.C. residence.