Alternatives to beagle-carrying
February 4, 2015 1:48 PM   Subscribe

My dog Milo (obligatory pics 1 2 3) is starting to have trouble with stairs. My apartment is a second-floor walk-up. My roommate, who is usually home with him during the work day, currently has health issues that mean toting around a 20+ lb dog is a no-go, especially while navigating stairs. Are there other options for her to get him outside and back when I'm not home?

Milo has a (probable) partial tear of his cruciate ligament in one of his rear knees. He's currently on pain meds and is off stairs completely for a few days, but even aside from that, my poor baby is 16 years old and stairs are definitely becoming more of a challenge. And he used to be able to manage fine without bathroom breaks while we are at work, but, well, he's 16. He usually needs to go out at least once and often 2-3 times between his morning and late-afternoon walks.

The stairs are actually only a partial flight, because the first floor is half below-ground in the front of the building -- I think seven steps inside, and then three (wider, more easily navigable) steps outside.

I don't know if a ramp would work, because there may not be enough space between the bottom of the stairs and the door to make the ramp sufficiently not-steep. Maybe fairly steep is okay if it is carpet-covered to provide enough grip? But it also would have to be light and maneuverable enough that my roommate could place and remove it on her own, since the stairs are the only access point for all tenants on the second and third floors.

Another possibility is a support sling/lift harness. Do they work with smaller dogs? (I've mostly seen them for dogs that are too big for the average person to carry.) How much of the dog's weight does the person end up supporting?

Should we just acknowledge that this is going to be too difficult and hire a dog-walker to come by a couple times a day? (Or put Milo in doggie diapers, though I've resisted that idea.) Are there other practical options that I haven't thought of? I'd love to set up a basket-and-pulley system in the stairwell, but I don't think the other tenants or the property owner would be so keen...
posted by alyxstarr to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about a porch potty? Since both roommate and pup are nursing injuries, it might just be easier to let the dog pee in the house.

Doggy in the City with fresh grass every couple of weeks.

How about Doggie Day care temporarily (or as a thing, he may really dig it!)

Although having an option for indoor peeing might be great especially in inclement weather.

Cute Pup!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:57 PM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

As a person owned by a beagle-basset mix, I feel you. My dog tore both last year. (She had to guard our house from an evil UPS driver that RANG THE DOORBELL!)

We have her on anti-inflammatories and pain medicine as needed.

My husband built a ramp for the stairs from the main level to the outside, and she never used them. We tried to train her, but she found them weird and wouldn't do it. Until she had some scar tissue built up in her knees, we just had to pick her up and carry her.

I would recommend a doggie daycare for a while.
posted by heathrowga at 2:01 PM on February 4, 2015

Man I feel you. For the last few months of my elderly Corgi's life she wasn't able to manage stairs, and we lived on the second floor. I carried her 35 pounds of dead weight (which was not good considering I had a neck injury!).

I would strongly consider an indoor/porch option for Milo, or a dog walker.
posted by radioamy at 2:29 PM on February 4, 2015

We did the ramp thing for our daschund and her back issues and she adapted to it, but i dont think you are going to find one that will stay put during use AND is easily removable and less cumbersome than just carrying the dog in the first place. Ours is an ugly monster that is permanently attached to the back porch and it still wobbles around a little.

The indoor pee things are an interesting option.
posted by domino at 2:37 PM on February 4, 2015

I bet you could DIY a doggy dumbwaiter, mybe usigng a crate so he doesn't get scared. If there's not room inside the building I bet you could set something up out your window that you could keep inside when not in use, with pulleys and winches.
posted by bq at 3:56 PM on February 4, 2015

A friend uses Piddle Pads, which are basically a disposable diaper that's rug shaped. They're cheaper than daycare, but not by much.
posted by Jesse the K at 6:44 PM on February 4, 2015

There are different brands of puppy pads. The cheapest on amazon are something like 200 for $50 which is way cheaper than doggy daycare. However, don't imagine it will be easy to retrain a dog to use puppy pads after it's used to going outside. Also, since you have a male, you'll probably want a dog potty with either sides or some sort of vertical attraction.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:40 PM on February 4, 2015

I really think your best and safest alternative is to work on an indoor option. My first thought was a doggie litter box (make sure you use dog litter, not cat litter) but I don't know how easy it is to find one that would be the right size for a beagle (as opposed to one of the toy breeds). I imagine it might also be a challenge finding one with low enough sides that he can get in and out comfortably while still minimizing risk of a mess outside the box.

Those grass pads are a neat idea as well! Any of these options are cheaper and easier than doggie day care or hiring a dog walker, which would probably be your only other options.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:54 PM on February 4, 2015

I would like to advise against most doggie daycares. They tend to be set up on the idea of "let's give these dogs a lot of time to play and wear each other out!" even when they're well supervised (which in my experience is not always guaranteed). I've never seen one that would be an awesome option for a 16 year old beagle.

I'm in a third floor walkup, and I cannot imagine having to deal with a ramp system that isn't permanent--and I can't see how I'd put in a permanent one when I share my stairwell, either. The slings in my experience are best for taller dogs that don't require you to bend as you support some of their weight. I think you wind up supporting about half the dog's weight for most of them, but I also can't imagine having mobility problems myself and trying to bend over and hold up the sling for a beagle to get up and down once a day.

I'm with the people saying "maybe an indoor pee-only option for emergencies?" I've seen grass systems that in theory filter pee down into a puppy-pad system so that it can be removed easily with no hassle. If you have a patio or "outdoor" area he has any access to, that might be a good place to put it so you don't have pee smell in the house, and it might work better with his opinion of housetraining.

FWIW, I prefer "indoor pee area" for a situation like this rather than dog diapers because I think it would be less uncomfortable for the dog to learn to pee in a designated, clean area he has access to than it would be to sit in a soiled diaper until someone notices it needs to be fixed. I also find that dogs don't really like the sensation of the diapers. In my experience, dog diapers are either for female dogs in heat or dogs who cannot be trusted to eliminate appropriately in the house. If you do take this option, though, since you have a male dog and this is a urine-only problem, look into belly bands. They'll impede his movement less and be a bit more comfortable than a full diaper.
posted by sciatrix at 8:12 AM on February 5, 2015

Awww Milo is adorable :)

The ramp really sounds cumbersome and like it would be more trouble than just carrying the dog. I agree with everyone else that said indoor pee pads / potty patch might be the best option. This will probably come in handy as he ages and maybe can no longer hold it long enough to get outside either.

The only other (ridiculous?) option I can even think of is to get him into something wheeled (stroller or some sort of wheeled carrier, maybe?) and then wheel him outside. No lifting for your roommate, but getting Milo into it in the first place might be difficult given his injury.
posted by geeky at 12:25 PM on February 5, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks all for the suggestions and insights!

We're going to try an indoor potty (I went with the Piddle Place) and see how it goes. It'll probably take a little while to train him (old dog new tricks etc.) but it does look like the best option at the moment.

(I know some dogs who love doggie day care, but I think it is probably not for Milo. He likes socializing with other dogs when we are out on our walks, but when he is in "home" mode, he'd rather be around people and soft comfy furniture and can be a little "get off my lawn"-ish toward other dogs.)

I'll come back later to mark some best answers, but every single comment so far has been helpful. I will keep checking too, so if you haven't answered yet, don't let my response stop you!
posted by alyxstarr at 12:51 PM on February 5, 2015

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