It is heartbreaking when your beloved canine loses control of its legs. For most owners, it is the beginning of the end. Rather than put their dog through the misery of having to drag their rear end on the floor for the rest of their lives, many owners choose to put them to sleep. Only pet owners recognize the pain that it entails.
Dog lover and designer Nir Shalom recognized the emotions that dog-owners go through in such cases. And he was determined that no dogs should have to be put to sleep merely because their hind legs had stopped functioning. So he decided to develop a special wheelchair that would present the gift of mobility to these dogs. Shalom’s Amigo is a lightweight and hardy walking aid that allows affected dogs to move around again, without help from their owners. Existing walking aids are largely flimsy and difficult to use for dogs and their owners. In a world where there are vodka dispensing wheelchairs, this is hardly a bizarre innovation.
Shalom himself owns three dogs, so his interest is warranted. However, as he set about building this contraption, he needed a test subject. His own dogs were perfectly healthy, so he extended his search to his friend circle. He met Amy during this search. Amy was a friend’s dog who had lost use of her hind legs following a herniated disc when she was only three months old. Moving around and controlling feces was a real problem; until Shalom decided to custom-create a dog wheelchair for her.
As Shalom started working on the prototype for Amy, he knew that he would have to mimic the dog’s anatomy. He met vets, dog physiotherapists and did research on the various conditions that can lead to loss of mobility in the legs. Next, Shalom set about creating a molded plastic and aluminum cradle to support Amy’s rear body, without obstructing the movement of her pelvis along a central axis. Meanwhile, a pair of rubber wheels ensured that Amy’s legs remained off the ground. Shalom built a Velcro platform to provide further support to her legs and ensure a natural position.
Following the initial building, Shalom kept making modifications to his unique contraption. The Amigo prototype had been built specifically to suit Amy’s size and weight. And now, the stress was on ensuring that the Amigo fit perfectly, so that Amy was fully comfortable. Shalom kept up with the refinements until one day Amy started running. Eventually, she was doing everything on her own, running, jumping, climbing staircases and making the transition between running, walking, sitting or lying down. The wonderful thing is that since the Amigo mimics the natural bone structure of the dog, it is an intuitive device. The four-legged user does not require special training to make use of it.
Fortunately, Amigo will not remain a concept piece for long. Shalom has already tied up with product development company Nekuda DM to effect mass-market production of the dog walking aid. All that remains now is to find an investor who would provide the funds to help bring the Amigo to the pet market. That would be a great blessing for the owners of disabled dogs.
Via: Yanko Design