We all know dogs age much faster than humans do, but that doesn’t make it easier for dog parents to watch. When my late pup turned 11 and lost his eyesight, I remember honestly wishing I could donate my own eyes to him just so he could see again.
Two dog parents from Nebraska clearly relate to that feeling of wanting to do everything to make their older dog feel better. Ash, an 11-year-old Corgi, has been a member of the Blacksher family since he was just a puppy. All that time, he’s been exploring the outdoors with his parents.
Aging always comes with consequences, and the now senior Ash started to slow down in 2020. Todd Blacksher told People they went to a professional for answers.
“About a year ago, we took Ash to Iowa State for an MRI and found out that he has Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). He started to lose strength in his rear legs in early 2020.”
Once his condition became apparent, the Blackshers took Ash to a specialist. There they learned some disappointing news about their pup. DM is like ALS for dogs, Todd Blacksher says.
“It was at this time that we started looking into canine wheelchairs. We read that it is better to start using a wheelchair before they really need it.”
Wheelchairs And Snowy Runs Don’t Mix
Ash received a wheelchair from someone who had recently lost their own Corgi to DM. Dogs, ever-positive, can adjust easily to carts and wheels. Ash is no exception.
Still, before his diagnosis, Ash used to love dashing through the snow like a squat little reindeer. The wheelchair made that favorite activity difficult for him.
“We quickly found out that his wheelchair did not work very well in the snow. We thought about pulling him around in a sled, but he really wants to run through the snow. I figured that there had to be a way for us to adapt his wheelchair to work in the snow.”
A Loving Feat Of Engineering
As it turns out, Todd Blacksher is an engineer with 30 years of experience making things work. He had both the know-how and the passion to find a creative solution to Ash’s snow problem.
A friend who heard what the Blackshers were attempting to do for Ash donated a pair of cross-country skis. Todd then used his engineering brilliance and a 3D printer to turn the skis and wheelchair into a cool new transportation device.
“With the ever-changing weather in Nebraska, I knew that I wanted the skis to be easily removable. Once I had the design roughed out, I printed some parts on our 3D printer. This allowed me to check form/fit/function and do some testing. It worked great, so I made a few minor tweaks to the design and printed the parts that he now uses.”
Sure, he makes it sound easy. I couldn’t do something like this, but how sweet is the result?
With this new device, Ash’s wheels don’t get stuck in the snow. He can now happily bound through it despite his condition!
When You’d Do Anything For Your Dog
Ash may not realize what his dad did for him, but Todd didn’t do it for the credit. He just wants his best friend to be happy. As Todd put it:
“Ash has brought us so much joy; we are just doing what we can to keep him active and happy!”
This winter will hopefully feel just like previous ones for this senior Corgi. He may not be doing diamond runs with his skis, but he can live the life he wants to. Todd added:
“We can tell that he is anxiously awaiting the first snowfall — He has a lot of fun running around in his wheelchair, but he absolutely loves bounding through the snow.”
Check out the video to see how happy this boy is when in action:
Action Shot! pic.twitter.com/4ONwgNDhEo
— Todd Blacksher (@tahhhd) January 15, 2021