Friday, July 15, 2011

Dog Wheelchair Center Carts - Another Cheap Cart made in China

One has to wonder about a company that would use a photograph of another company's product on their masthead. For at least a year, Dog Wheelchairs Center, AKA Best Friends Mobility,  was using a photo of a dog in an Eddie's Wheels cart on its masthead;  now it has been replaced by a  photo of a dog in a Doggon -style cart.

  Sylvan Enterprises, which owns Best Friends Mobility, is a search engine optimization internet marketing company that sells derma-brasion kits, body armor, metal detectors and dog wheelchairs - all made in China.   Their high rankings in the organic search for dog wheelchairs is based on the number of blogs they write to drive people to their dog wheelchairs site.   Google has no way of knowing how legitimate any company is, but the position on the search engine lists is determined by how often Google's robots come across links to a particular site.
A recent customer of Eddie's Wheels found out the hard way that fast and cheap is not best.  This is a photo of a cart she purchased from this company on E-bay.  It is a knock-off of  several different styles of cart - with a soft vinyl rear harness suspended over a bent steel tubing frame.  Wheels are rollerblade wheels, mounted on non-stainless, rusty nuts and bolts, with a sharp edge that could easily tear up a paralyzed dog's legs.  The top of the cart is held together with hose clamps, with sharp metal edges to keep the harnesses from sliding around.    This cart weighs 2 lbs. 6 oz, for a dog that weighs that 6 lbs., while the Eddie's Wheels cart built for the same dog is a full pound lighter. 

                                          A rusty, sharp bolt holds a roller blade wheel to the steel frame.

Dog Wheelchairs Center (aka Best Friends Mobility) is on the left, Eddie's Wheels on the right. Eddie's Wheels cart is made of lightweight 1/4" diameter aluminum round stock with machined fittings, stainless steel set screws and closed cell foam padding.

It is disheartening, as a manufacturer of a high quality product made in the USA, that we have to  compete with marketing companies whose only interest is in sales and profits.  The consumer needs to take the time to do research and find out exactly what they will receive as product. 
  • Call the customer service line and insist on speaking with a person knowledgable about the dog wheelchair. 
  • Ask questions about weight, adjustability, manufacturing defects (the cart in this photo has a safety pin in the front harness, and crimp marks on the bent metal ).  
  • Is there someone at Best Friends Mobility who can assist you if you need advice about how to adjust the cart for your dog? 
  • What if your pet rejects the cart?  What is your recourse?  This company has already engendered a Facebook page called Refund Please.  Don't be fooled by Google rankings !

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Exploiting one dog's tragedy - How WalkinWheels tried to trash Eddie's Wheels reputation

Lots of people have heard the story of  Lucky Feeney, the disabled dog whose Eddie's Wheels dog wheelchair was stolen from in front of his house in Roxbury.
  The news hit the media and immediately Mark Robinson, from Handicapped Pets saw an opportunity he could exploit to make himself a hero and donated a WalkinWheels cart to Lucky.  Since these made-in-China, comes in a box, one size fits all, wheelchairs required no information, engineering or assembly, he was right there the next day with a cart for Lucky.  His PR department made sure there was media there, but even then David Feeney and Lucky did not want the WalkinWheels.
Unfortunately for Mark Robinson and Lucky, the cart didn't work for Lucky, because Lucky is weak in the forelimbs and his disabilities were not addressed by the WalkinWheels.   David Feeney tried to return the WalkinWheels, but they refused to take it back.  A representative offered to put front wheels on the cart, but David, who teaches physics, told him that their design could not and would not work.  He was unwilling to put Lucky through any suffering to help them figure out how to engineer a cart for him.

In the meantime, Eddie's Wheels was already building Lucky a new cart at no expense to David Feeney.  Unfortunately the media got this one wrong.  Lucky's  custom counterbalanced Eddie's Wheel cart was sent to him and he's back to wheeling around the streets of Roxbury.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fully Adjustable Walkin Wheels Fails where Eddie's Wheels succeeds

Bailey, a 5 year cocker paralyzed from disc disease, never gave up

When Kim Pevey called us to make an appointment for an evaluation for Bailey, she had almost come to believe that Bailey would never be able to use a dog wheelchair.  They had purchased a Walkin Wheels from Handicapped Pets and Bailey had been unable to move in it.  They had even visited Handicapped Pets office in the hopes that they would be able to adjust the cart somehow to make it acceptable for Bailey.   But nothing they did, including the addition of front wheels, worked for Bailey.  He just kept falling down or rolling backwards.
But the Peveys did not give up on Bailey just because they gave up on the Walkin Wheels.  Both their vet and the hydro-therapy practitioner told them to call Eddie’s Wheels.  When they arrived Bailey was a squirmy energetic little cocker, full of life and energy, but not alot of strength.  He had apparently had multiple disc compressions that had affected both his front and rear legs.  We were able, however, to try him out in one of our used carts, and with me holding the yoke off his shoulders, he took right off wheeling around the showroom.  We decided to build him a counterbalanced cart.  That would compensate for his weakness in the front legs and allow him to rebuild his strength and muscle mass in his front legs and shoulders.
Two weeks later, Bailey and the Peveys came back for his custom cart fitting.   In the meantime, Kim has been doing acupuncture and massage, putting his little body through passive range of motion exercises at home.  He had actually gotten longer since the time we measured him – a phenomenon we see very often (which is why we build several inches of length and height adjustment into each cart).  Bailey had gotten so much longer that we made frame extensions on the spot for him.  See his fitting here:

The combination of Bailey’s spirit and his family’s faith in his ability to heal is very inspiring.  We’re so glad that we were able to help him and look forward to hearing  of his progress now that he’s mobile once again.

Dogs and their owners prefer Eddie's to Walkin Wheels

I am very overdue at reporting in on Katie and her Eddie’s wheels…sorry!  The quick answer is that she LOVES them!!!  Katie’s whole face lights up and body starts wiggling “big time” when she sees her wheels as she knows she’s about to go for a spin.  I guess the hospital even used Katie to encourage other dogs to use their wheels and soon she had them racing the halls with her!  Yay Katie…nothing gets her down for long and she brings out the best in everyone…  :-)
My husband and I (both architects) are very impressed at how incredibly well made/designed and light Katie’s Eddie’s wheels are compared to the Walking Wheels.  I am thrilled because it is much easier to get Katie in and out.  :-)  At this point she can stay in them for about 2 hours at a stretch depending on what we are doing.  Now Joseph (our son) and I want to invent a cushion so she can lay down while she’s in her wheels and then be able to stay in them for longer.  We may need to invest in booties as well as the sidewalks/streets are getting hot with the season changes.
We had a gorgeous Spring day on Palm Sunday so we went for a family walk  on a local walking/biking trail.  I brought my camera and took a couple short videos which I’ve put together into one video and posted it on the Katie’s Flickr set. This time my handsome assistant is my husband, Gary as Joseph was happily flying ahead on his scooter.  We met all sorts of people and their pups and I have to say I was very impressed as most dogs weren’t phased by Katie’s wheels.  The owners were a bit more hesitant and even apologetic with their curiosity.  We spoke with one couple at length as the woman said she had just seen something on TV about carts for animals and was fascinated to see one in person.  She was amazed at how natural and happy Katie appeared. :-)   This past Saturday we took Katie to Petsmart were she continued to be a great ambassador for “paw challenged” dogs.  We love spreading the word about Eddie’s Wheels!
The McKees