Ohio is an amazing location for dog owners who are wheelchair users: with accessible walks, plenty of activities for both you and your companion.
(Please note, this article considers regular canine companions for wheelchair users, not assistance or service dogs. If you are looking for more information on working with an assistance dogs, learn more here.)
Owning a dog has numerous physical and mental benefits with owners enjoying regular exercise, time outdoors, and constant companionship.
However, the extra challenges that using a wheelchair present make owning a dog not as straight forward.
In this blog, we discuss all aspects of owning a dog as a wheelchair user, including whether or not it's right to get a dog, helpful modifications and the best places to walk in Ohio.
Making the choice
While there are so many benefits to owning a dog, it's also worth considering your personal circumstances and whether you're able to make the huge commitment that is looking after another living being.
Some considerations you need to make include:
Can you look after yourself independently?
Does your specific condition require frequent hospitalization?
Do you work in an office, how long are you away from home for?
Do you live alone?
Even if you decide that owning a pet is not right for you this doesn't mean you can't get regular access to dogs! Websites like BorrowMyDoggy match up owners with anyone who is looking for occasional companionship.
Of course, not all dogs are made the same!
Working dogs like Border Collies which require massive amounts of exercise may not be suitable for a wheelchair user, while Labradors and Golden Retrievers - often used as assistance dogs - make for excellent companions with calm, warm temperaments.
However, larger dogs often require more exercise and, especially as they age, may need their own physical support. Smaller breeds such as Cockapoos - which share similar temperaments to labradors - need less exercise, are easier to travel with, and don't get in the way as often!
Remember: If you purchase a dog in Ohio, you'll need to make sure you register a license. Rules vary by county.
Should you rescue a dog?
Whilst a fantastic move for any dog lover, rescuing a pet might also have another benefit to wheelchair users: you may be able to adopt a dog which has already been through its troublesome puppy years and received training.
This means you can enjoy the company of a calmer, better-behaved dog and give them a home at the same time.
Check out some of the dogs available to adopt at Columbus Humane.
If you're able to take your dog out for regular exercise, there are a number of modifications you can make to your wheelchair to help.
Wheelchair hook - These hands-free wheelchair attachments connect directly to the wheelchair and leave your hands free to propel or control your wheelchair
EzyDog Handy Leash - This particular leash is excellent if you suffer from weak grip or limited mobility in your hands
Portable Pet Pooper Scooper - It's a tough job, and someone's got to do it: this extended pet scooper allows you to retrieve and safely bag your dog's droppings from your wheelchair
Hiring a professional walker
If you struggle to get out for regular exercise, or even if you don't have as much time as you would like to dedicate to going out with your dog, you may wish to hire a professional dog walker.
Speak to your friends, family and neighbors to see if anyone has a good recommendation of someone locally. There are also a number of businesses which provide guaranteed services from trusted providers - such as DogDays in Columbus, Ohio.
Dog walks in Ohio
Ohio is full of wheelchair accessible - and stunning - dog walks such as Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We featured this on our list of the Best Ohio Wheelchair Accessible Activities.
Some of the accessible paths in the national park include:
Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail
The Canal Exploration Center
Everett Covered Bridge
The Heronry along Bath Road
The National Park Service states that dogs must restrained on a leash that is six feet or shorter in length on all park lands at all times.
The Alum Creek Trail also offers up to 25 miles of paved paths.