When Your Dog Needs a Little Help

Dolly needed a bit of stabilizing to get down the ramp.
Dolly needed a bit of stabilizing to get down the ramp.

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.

Dolly Joe recovering on the back porch with her watcher, Cookie.
Dolly Joe recovering on the back porch with her watcher, Cookie.

Falling Down

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 watched over her friend as she recuperated.
Cookie watched over her friend as she recuperated.

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

These two were part of the family for over a dozen years.
These two were part of the family for over a dozen years.

The Project

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

Our other dog, Cookie, also needed some help when it came to going outside.
Our other dog, Cookie, also needed some help when it came to going outside. | Source

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
  • Scissors
  • Marking Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Steam Iron

Using an Old T-Shirt

Draw a line between the armpits and cut along the line
Draw a line between the armpits and cut along the line

Sewing Instructions

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.

Cut along the fold on the outer edge of the tube.
Cut along the fold on the outer edge of the 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

Create a long strip of t-shirt fabric by cutting open the side fold.
Create a long strip of t-shirt fabric by cutting open the side fold.

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

Stitch along the long edge of the fabric and turn it under. Using a steam iron helps make the fold.
Stitch along the long edge of the fabric and turn it under. Using a steam iron helps make the fold.

Turn the Edge Under Twice

Turn the facing under again to form a hem and stitch it in place along the long edge of the fabric.
Turn the facing under again to form a hem and stitch it in place along the long edge of the fabric.

Fold the Fabric Lengthwise

Fold the hemmed fabric lengthwise like a fan.
Fold the hemmed fabric lengthwise like a fan.

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

Stitch across the folded end of the fabric
Stitch across the folded end of the fabric

Trim Off the Excess

Trim off the excess fabric at the ends after stitching.
Trim off the excess fabric at the ends after stitching.

Sew the Handles to the Fabric

Securely stitch the twill handle to the ends of the folded fabric.
Securely stitch the twill handle to the ends of the folded fabric.

The Finished Support Sling

The dog sling is machine washable and can be bleached for cleanliness.
The dog sling is machine washable and can be bleached for cleanliness.

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 and Tony in 2011
Cookie and Tony in 2011 | Source

Cookie, Tony and the Cicadas

Aging Dogs

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

Blessed relief.
Blessed relief.

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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Comments 47 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

Very interesting and useful. I've never seen one, but I'll remember it if I ever need one. Thanks, Peg!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thanks Billybuc. Unfortunately, neither had I so it was time to improvise. Nice to see you today.


DJ Anderson 21 months ago

Peg, this is so sweet.

I am a dog lover as you are.

When our mixed breed border collie started having

urinary incontinence, we could not find anything on

the market. Now, this was 15-17 years ago. His incontinence

happened only at night, as he slept.

I found a device that was meant to be used on a man's upper thigh.

It had a pocket where one could insert a pad that could be heated or

put in the freezer for cooling relief. I found that it was the perfect size

to insert a sanitary napkin.

It fastened with Velcro and was stretchy and comfortable and he never seemed to mind wearing it. As he grew older and the problem increased in volume, the size of the napkin increased in size. He lived to be 18 years old, which is quite old for a dog his size.

Manufactures have come to realize that dogs live longer and owners will go to great lengths to enhance their lives. There are products for male dog's incontinence these days. My method was much cheaper and I needed only two as I would throw out the napkin and rinse out the wrap.

Your instructions seem easy to follow. And, you can make it for the

perfect height of the dog.

Your dogs are beautiful.

I had never listened to the words of the song by Heart, until today.

I have heard it many times but never truly listened until today.

May you still have meadows to explore with you beautiful friends.

DJ.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 21 months ago from Southern Illinois

Peg, a heart so big. I loved this. My sis Bea could've used this. Her dog, Dinkey died when he was fourteen. She loved him so much. He could hardly move. Thank's for sharing..The video is beautiful.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 21 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Peg. What a great idea. So sad that we go through this, but your solution to the problem is very creative and I am sure will be copied over and over. Bravo. Voted up and shared.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 21 months ago from Central Florida

Peg, you've come up with a wonderful and economical solution for dogs who need a helping hand from a friend. Have you thought about marketing it? I think it would give doggy parents hope and the doggies some social freedom.

I love Dog and Butterfly. I love the video. I saw (or heard) the lyrics in a whole new light. Beautiful accompaniment to this awesome hub.


heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

Since we've always had goldens and many of them have had hip dysplasia, we've often had to come up with solutions to getting them up and down stairs. We've used some of the commercially available slings, but some of them are such contraptions to put on. Will remember this when our 8-year old with hip problems gets to where she'll need this assistance. Voted up and useful!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello DJ, What a beautiful comment and story about your innovative solution for his incontinence. Eighteen is really a long life for these guys whose lives are always much too short.

I recently met a new friend who invented a solution for male dogs that sounds similar to what you described. Her company is called Wiki Wags Disposables. She does a tremendous mail order business with it.

Thank you very much for stopping by today and for your thoughtfulness.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Always, I can understand how much your sister loved her doggie. Isn't it funny that Cookie's nickname (they always have a few) is Dinky. Dogs really become like one of the family. We've had an ongoing series of dogs since I was four years old. I remember each of them.

Thank you so much for the visit and thoughtful comment.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 21 months ago from South Africa

Thanks for this wonderful idea and pattern, Peg! One of our four dogs definitely needs a sling. I am sharing this with my daughter.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Mike, Thanks for dropping in today and for checking out this dog idea. Yes, the time comes all too quickly when they need a boost. Hope you're having a great weekend. It's always good to hear from you.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 21 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Super idea, and excellent, illustrated instructions. I just hope I never need one.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Bravewarrior, Thanks so much for the compliments. No, I hadn't considered marketing this idea. It's just so easy it seems anyone could do it if they have a sewing machine. Perhaps I'll tell my friend at Wiki Wags and see what she thinks. You're right about dog owners needing a bit of hope when this situation arises.

I love that song, too, Shauna. It makes me tear up every time I hear it.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Heidi, Golden Retrievers are such beautiful dogs. My friend in Florida has adopted a number of them going years back. I didn't know they were susceptible to hip dysplasia. We are thinking about adopting a Golden pup to keep Tony busy and active. He's really slowing down with Cookie.

I hope you never need one of these support slings, but if you do, they serve the purpose. We had to relocate our master bedroom downstairs since Cookie can no longer make the trip up the stairs. It makes it easier when she needs out anyway.

Thank you for the kind remarks and visit today.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Martie, darling, I'm sorry to hear one of yours needs this sort of thing. Hopefully, your daughter can make you one. It makes the task a whole lot easier and less taxing on the back. Wishing you all the best with your pups. Thanks for the visit and sweet comment.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello WillStarr, I never expected to see you on this your very special day. Hope you're having a great one with celebrations planned. I'm hoping for you that you never need one of these slings. Your critters are a lot smaller than mine. Anyhow, thanks for the kind remarks.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 21 months ago from USA

You've got a kind heart to help your doggy like this. Your creation shows a lot of initiative, and I think it'd be easy repeatable following your directions. Great steps and photos.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thank you, Flourish. I've made several of these so I can use one while another is in the wash. So glad you stopped in to read this. I appreciate your comment.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 21 months ago from southern USA

What a great idea, Peg! You should patent this one. I wish we had this back when our black lab had hip dysplasia. You have such a big heart of love to even think of such and then make one!

Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and will try to share. HP share button has not been working .

God bless you.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Faith, Sorry to hear that your black Lab had dysplasia. Tony is huge for a Lab mix at a hundred pounds. I worry that he will have difficulty one day. Our flat coated retriever who was over eighty pounds suffered from that as well but fortunately, she lived to be sixteen.

Thanks for the kind remarks about patenting this. That is really sweet. I appreciate you so much and all the nice things that you say and do.

May God bless you, Faith.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 21 months ago from The Caribbean

Lucky dogs--all of them with compassionate owners like you, Peg. The sling is such a professional-looking item. Look what love can do. Thank you for sharing.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Ms. Dora, Thank you for the compassionate comment about the item. You are so thoughtful. My pups tug at my heart. Glad you enjoyed this.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 21 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a wonderful and very useful project, Peg. Thank you very much for sharing the instructions. A sling would be a huge help for some dogs.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

AlicaC, Nice of you to stop in and check this out. I hope you never need one of these slings but if you do they're easy to make.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 21 months ago from Shelton

hey pegcole, I hope I never have to make one, but if I do this comes in very handy.. thank you :)


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Me too, Frank. Hoping you are well and thanks for the visit.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 21 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Sounds like a wonderful idea that has a lot going for it. Senior pets need a little help, and for all the joy that they have given us, they truly deserve it.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Deb, Thanks for stopping in and for sharing about the joy of senior pets. They really do deserve our respect even if they become disabled.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 21 months ago from Sunny Florida

That is such a good idea. I never thought of it before. Great pattern.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thank you, KoffeeKlatch. I appreciate your nice comment.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

The photos of your dogs are lovely Peg. Your dog support sling is such a good idea for those who might need such a thing. Thanks for the clear instructions and accompanying photos. Pinning this to my dogs board and will tweet and share.


mary615 profile image

mary615 18 months ago from Florida

What a wonderful idea! I can see how a Tshirt would be good to use as it has "give". Your love for your dogs is just so real and sweet.

My 8 yr. old Min. Schnauzer is going blind, and there is nothing that can be done for her. She has a condition called S.A.R.D. it is a sudden loss of sight. It is breaking my heart. I am thinking of getting another dog ; the new one just may help guide her around!

I hope you have many more years to enjoy your sweet dog.

Voted UP, shared here and pinned to my dog board.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 18 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Mary615, Sorry to hear about your Schnauzer. That is heartbreaking. You know, they are really adaptive to whatever situation they come across. Perhaps it would be a good idea to find her a friend to help her adjust. They also impart the wisdom of what they've learned as well as ease the transition when they eventually cross the Rainbow Bridge. All the best to you and your lovely dog.


mary615 profile image

mary615 18 months ago from Florida

This blindness is just SO sudden. She still has some sight in one eye, but it is getting worse by the day. I'm glad you agree a new friend for her would be good....my landlady might allow that.

I have taken her to three Vets, one is an Ophthalmologist, and he agrees there is nothing that can be done. Min. Schnauzers are sort of prone to SARDs.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 18 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Poor little thing. I know just how attached you are to her. What a shame that there is no remedy. We lost one suddenly to Ehrlichiosis from a tick bite. She was only five at the time. It was right after we lost my oldest dog at sixteen. The remaining dog was devastated and we had to find him a companion immediately. The Humane Society had just the right puppy that he immediately bonded with. It was Dolly.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 18 months ago from New York

What a fabulous invention! We had a dog who couldn't do stairs any more and had trouble walking after a seizure. She was 12. Wish I knew about this then, but I will certainly pass it on.

The video was beautiful too. We love our four legged friends and need to give them all the care and help we can.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 18 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Mary, Thanks so much sharing your dog story. Times like that are so hard to bear. I've used these slings for a couple of elderly dogs now and they've saved a lot of back aches trying to keep them stable on their walks. I'm about to make another one so that I can always have a clean one ready.

Thank you for the visit and votes, too.


Brenda maire 6 months ago

What a great idea, thanks for sharing.


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 6 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

I loved your story. I could so relate. I had an female golden cocker spaniel who had a breast tumor when she was 16 years old and we needed to carry her to the pond at the end because that was a best past time, swimming. She just loved water.The last time we took her was on the morning of the day when the vet would come around later to put her to sleep. She went peacefully on my lap.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Nadine, I'm so sorry about your loss. It sounds like her last days were blessed with a few remaining pleasures, like swimming. I know she appreciated your kindness.

It's difficult to believe that Cookie has been gone nearly a year now. They tell you when it's time and she did, when she stopped eating and could no longer stand at all. Her friend, Tony, misses her even now. We've adopted a new companion who has become his best friend and he truly enjoys his new brother's company.


SandyMertens profile image

SandyMertens 6 months ago from Frozen Tundra

Thanks for the information on how to make a support sling. Our dog Buddy is having problems. Looks easy enough to make.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Sandy, So sorry your Buddy is having problems. That is always a difficult thing. I hope this sling will give you some help with his daily needs.


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 5 months ago from Wisconsin, USA

Thanks for your concern. Buddy has his good and bad days, just like us. (Writing back from one of my other profiles.)


revmjm profile image

revmjm 4 months ago from Richmond, VA

What a fantastic idea for the support sling. I'm sure people with dogs will use the creative idea.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Revmjm, I appreciate your kind words and visit to this article. Thank you.


SusanDeppner profile image

SusanDeppner 8 weeks ago from Arkansas USA

We could have used a sling with our Maggie years ago when she was arthritic and had a hard time getting down and back up just a couple of porch steps. Many times I lifted her up and down (she was a Golden Retriever, so a good-sized dog). Your information and pattern will be very helpful for many and for us if we eventually need something to keep Daisy mobile. Thank you for sharing. Your dogs are/were all beautiful!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 8 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Susan, Sorry to hear that your Maggie had trouble. They all seem to need a boost when they grow older. (Don't we all?) Yes, lifting a Golden Retriever is a tough and back-breaking job. I wish I could have sent you one of these slings. Thanks for checking this out and for the great comment.

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