26 January 2011

Winter in the Pacific NW as a Wheelchair Guide Team

Dealing with Oregon winter as a wheelchair guide team has its exasperation points. I hate that my dog gets so muddy every time we head out. If you could only experience what poor Thane has to go through when we get home each time we go out. I can't imagine what it would be like without his rain coat. His legs and groin area are soaked in mud mostly from the throw off of the drive wheels of my chair.

With the progression of my eye disease, I truly needed to switch to the American style harness but to board the bus I had to be able to hook it up British style as the passageway is too narrow and the ramp too long for both the handle length and the firmer connection points with American style.

Thane's harnesses all have four handle connection D rings on them- two American position, two British position. Its just how I designed them to incorporate various styles of attachments and packs for ice during summer.

Thane's raincoats unfortunately only had access to the British D rings. Though I could make shift the coat for walks in town, to board the bus I had to practically remove his coat to change the handle connection. After doing this for just one trip, I knew we could not do this until the weather dries up in late spring. Putting his harness on the outside, just wasn't feasible
with how muddy he gets.

My MCS is a big hassle at times. I know that there was a formulation change on the coating of cordura which led to my inability to get it to effectively detox for years. I make Thane's coats from packcloth and worried that it too could have changed formulation. I chose to order with a company I have had really good service from in the past as well as really low toxicity for supplies. I was overjoyed when the materials arrived! Either it was old stock, or packcloth has not had a formulation change. The materials only laid out for a couple days which is unheard of. Normal minimums are about a week, but typical is more like a month or two. I set to work re-designing the *wheel* so to speak. After about four re-designs I came up with a two flap system that would allow me to release his handle easily from American D rings and connect it to the British ones. Its basically designed like an ID band (small rectangular cape) over the American style D rings and loops and has the main flap like before as well.

I worked as much as I could on it in between playing and training with Thane- mostly on rainy days earlier this month.

Yesterday, Thane and I headed out to Winco for our first trip on the bus using the new coat. Wow! What a difference having appropriate gear makes. Because it'd been dry a few days, he also did not match his dark brown martingale strap when we got back home- that was a treat.

When it is wet again, his mud bath legs and groin and his martingale will match! LOL

In case your wondering, yes I chose the color to hide the mud and not show staining as bad. It also, however, matches his new harness. Thus far no stores have complained about his condition on rainy days, but for me, its just hard because I pride myself in keeping my dog clean as a good ambassador for owner trained teams. Of course it gets quite old to Thane as well to have to constantly be cleaned up from the mud.

Some power chairs are beginning to put fenders and/ or mud flaps on their mid-wheel drive designs and you better bet if I get another mid-wheel drive chair, its going to be something I consider in making my choice.
Is it summer yet?

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