When Your Dog Needs a Little Help
Aging Takes A Toll
Dolly was fourteen years old when she collapsed in the yard and couldn't get up on her own. We found out that she had a malignant tumor on her spleen. The vet told us it was doubtful surgery would help and she would likely not survive the procedure at her advanced age.
After a few days at the vet hospital, she returned home and fought hard to get back on her feet. We were delighted that one day she stood up to eat her dinner. Still, she was unstable and tended to fall down whenever she went outside to take care of business in the grass. As time went on, her condition worsened and her instability increased.
Even with the handicap ramp that reached from the deck to the grass, our senior dog needed help staying on her feet when it came time to go outdoors. We had tried wrapping a towel or a pillowcase around her middle and holding onto the ends. But it was too short and hard to hang onto as we walked around with her in the yard.
We decided to make our own support sling out of the stretchy fabric of a t-shirt. Adding handles to the length of material made it less likely that we'd drop the support and easier on our backs, too.
Cookie Needed Help a Few Years Later
At fourteen, when Cookie became ill, she also needed a little help when it came to going for a walk. We kept a dog support sling hanging on the back door waiting. Lifting her physically up, then, reaching under her middle with one end of the sling and joining the handles above her back became the new routine. It was amazing how quickly she adapted to the procedure.
Best Friends for Years
Making the sling took under two hours to cut, assemble and sew the support which can be made from an old T shirt. Instructions for making a sling are explained below.
Cookie Going for a Walk
Items You'll Need
Start with an old T-Shirt, preferably a size large. From the fabric store, you'll need about a yard of cotton twill. This is inexpensive and sold by the yard. Ask the clerk where to locate the twill if you have trouble finding it. You can also use fabric handles from a discarded item like an old canvas bag.
You'll want a good pair of scissors and a marking pencil, a ruler, white thread. A steam iron helps when folding the fabric but isn't essential.
Put your basic sewing skills to use on that old sewing machine to create this simple project.
- A Size Large T Shirt
- 1 yard of cotton twill
- Marking Pencil
- Sewing machine
- Steam Iron
Using an Old T-Shirt
Place an old T shirt flat on a work surface. Using a ruler and a marking pen, lightly draw a guideline across the shirt under the armpits.
Cut across the guideline through both layers of the shirt to separate the arm section from the body.
Cut off the bottom hem of the shirt. This leaves a tubular section of fabric about sixteen inches (16") long.
Cut along the outer edge of the fabric tube.
Making a Hem
Cut along the side fold of the section to create a long narrow piece of fabric. Using a basting stitch, sew along the long edge of the fabric about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the edge. It doesn't have to be perfect.
Fold the edge along the stitching under using a steam iron. Ironing the fold makes it easier to sew.
Fabric from Old T-shirt
Stitch on the long edge along the fold. Turn the edge under again and sew close to the edge to form a hem.
Repeat this step to form a hem on the other cut edge of the fabric.
Stitch Along the Long Edge of the Fabric
Turn the Edge Under Twice
Fold the Fabric Lengthwise
Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and iron along the fold. Fold each half again lengthwise along either side of the original fold creating a fan shape.
Stitch across the folded end of the fabric and trim across the edge to make it even.
Cut two pieces of cotton twill about eighteen (18) inches long. You'll get two pieces out of one yard of twill.
Place the ends of one piece of twill across one end of the folded fabric creating a loop and stitch securely to the fabric.
Stitch Across the Ends
Trim Off the Excess
Sew the Handles to the Fabric
The Finished Support Sling
Using the Support Sling
With the aid of the dog sling, we comfortably stabilized Dolly so she could take care of business without falling down. She quickly adjusted to the process where we slipped one end of the support under her middle section and pulled the handles together above her back.
This machine washable sling is easy to make and requires only basic sewing skills. You'll spend less than two dollars on the cotton twill and thread. The reward for your time will be your dog's unfailing gratitude.
This device works best for a female dog.
Tip: Always be gentle when using the sling. Don't try to lift the dog with the support. Instead, place it under the dog's hind end once they are standing.
Caution: Never leave your pet in the sling without direct supervision.
Cookie and her Friend Tony
Cookie, Tony and the Cicadas
Fourteen year-old Cookie and Tony formed a lasting bond over the past five years since Tony was adopted. Years ago, Cookie was Dolly's nursemaid. Now, Tony keeps watch over her.
Cookie has Cushing's disease caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland. Although her strength is waning, we have experienced good results with a product available online from Pet Wellbeing called Adrenal Harmony Gold. The homeopathic remedy, in the form of liquid drops, is not a cure but it has proven helpful as she struggles with excessive thirst and frequent urination.
Adding the product to her food has helped to reduce her need to go outside up to five times an hour. Now, she can wait a few hours between times. Her level of anxiety is also reduced and her hair has started growing back in places where huge patches of fur had fallen out.
She's a Trooper
The time will come when she can no longer support herself, but for now, she has taken to this change in her routine with her usual optimism and good spirit. And for her, every day is a special day.
"Dog and Butterfly" - Heart
© 2015 Peg Cole
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