January 06, 2011

Dazzle on his new wheel

Dazzle has a new form of exercise for nasty weather days!  If you've been following the blog, you know that he broke the automatic ball thrower.  So I went looking for a way to create an exercise wheel from the big wheel my dad had made as a muscle building and balance tool for Dazzle.  He enjoyed rolling the wheel all over the basement, but speed was limited by me because I had to be able to keep up with it to prevent him from running it into a wall! 

I found a place that had some rollers in stock and Tom at CBT was nice enough to donate them to my project.  I then went to Home Depot to brain storm a way to build the frame and attach the rollers.  I spoke with several helpful employees who were so intrigued by the challenge, they offered to pick-up the wheel, build the base and then bring it all back to my house!  I LOVE HOME DEPOT!  I took Dazzle in the store to try out the first design, but it needed a bit of "tweaking".  The finished design was completed and delivered just a few hours before I left for an out of town trip over the holidays. 

It was tempting me to rush back home, but a cold and sinus infection delayed my trip home.  We finially got back home a few days ago and I have been doing practice sessions with Dazzle and tweaking what works best.  I orginally had him on top using his balance and body weight to get the wheel to spin on the base.  But the "window" of balance is really narrow and it was hard for him to maintain the momentum and balance.  So I decided to create an attachment point, similar to ones I had seen on dog powered treadmills on-line.  The first time with this new set-up and he was "off to the races" without any problem!

The attachment point allows him to put his body past the center point and dig in with his feet to get the wheel moving. Once it's moving, it's easy for him to maintain his balance against the harness.  If he wants to stop, he simply slows his feet and shifts his weight back toward the center of the wheel and it stops pretty quick.  I have him stop in the video so you can see it.  I had to encourage him to stop by aplying pressure with my foot, but you'll have to trust me that he can and does stop on his own if he chooses. :-)

I use my foot on the inside edge of the wheel to keep him from going too fast, which he wants to do.  As he and I get more comfortable with it, I'm sure he'll be flying along up there without the resistance from my foot :-)

And now, the much awaited video: