Occasionally an industry is entirely changed buy an invention or a new technology. Examples include the transportation industry when the automobile began to replace the horse and buggy, the entertainment industry when the television began competing with the movie theater, and the communications industry when the cell phone began replacing the land-line. These are called “disruptive technologies” and they are fascinating to watch.
A few years ago, the dog wheelchair industry was completely transformed by the invention of the adjustable Pet wheels (called Walkin’ Wheels).
Previously, all of the canine carts were custom made. Dog owners would take sometimes more than a dozen measurements and send them to the manufacturer, hoping they were accurate, and wait days or weeks for the device to arrive, often paying a non-refundable deposit. Companies like Eddies Wheels, k9 Carts, HandicappedPets.com, and Doggon Wheels were examples of companies that custom-made these carts.
They were wonderful devices, allowing handicapped dogs to walk again, but they had some serious drawbacks:
- They were designed to fit only one dog and could not be adjusted to fit other dogs, or adjusted if the dog grew or his health changed.
- They were large and bulky. They often could not fit into the backseat or trunk of a car. Shipping costs were oppressive.
- Because they were custom made, they could not be returned without excessive restocking charges.
- If the measurements were wrong, they would need to be send back to the manufacturer.
- They were unsightly, often made of clamps and metal tubing.
- They were rigid, not flexible like the natural skeleton of a dog.
- They were difficult to re-sell because they only fit one dog.
The change came when the adjustable Walkin’ Wheels was invented by Mark Robinson, founder of HandicappedPets.com and the non-profit Handicapped Pets Foundation. With this new invention, all of these problems were solved. One universal frame with snap-in wheels made it suitable for any size dog. Easy, snap-lock adjustment made it simple to change the size of the cart to fit any dog. It could fold flat for easy storage and shipping, has a reasonable return policy, and was so simple to use. The only measurement that was needed was an estimate of the dog’s height so the correct wheel could be chosen.
Because it was so adjustable, veterinarians began carrying the product so that people who needed it could walk out with their dogs. It can be found, now, in most veterinary hospitals, many rehab clinics, and large pet-health establishments. Because it was easy to ship, it was adopted in countries around the world.
Almost immediately, the Walkin’ Wheels became a best-selling wheelchair. It received accolades from veterinarians, animal rehabilitation specialists, and professionals everywhere.
Whenever a disruptive technology shows up, the existing players react. Of course, some of the other dog wheelchair companies were not so happy. Walkin’ Wheels raised-the-bar for the entire industry and the custom manufacturers were called on to improve their products and policies. Some did. Others, though, responded with venom – trying to convince customers that the new technology was inferior. They used deceptive videos and sometimes fabricated customer testimonials to try and demean the product (in fact, only demeaning themselves). One video shows someone trying to put the Walkin’ Wheels harness on a dog – which is incredibly simple – but the person is having so much trouble and so obviously trying so hard to make it look difficult. Another one demonstrates the flexibility that was designed into the Walkin’ Wheels and calls it “wobbly.”
In fact, this new adjustable technology has allowed thousands of dogs to live happy healthy lives that otherwise would be unable to survive. The technology is so rock-solid that one dog climbed the famous Mt. Washington is a Walkin’ Wheels – a feat that has never been accomplished by a dog in any other wheelchair. A recent video gone viral from Field and Stream shows a hunting dog in a wheelchair retrieving. He dashes out into the field, finds the duck, and runs back to the hunter.. all in a Walkin’ Wheels.
Dog Climbs Mt. Washington in Walkin' Wheels Dog Wheelchair
Field & Stream Article with Video