Public Health England currently allows one dog walk a day as long as owners keep two metres apart from people who do not live in their household; two disabled dog owners are able to get out and exercise their dogs thanks to their mobility scooters, which they describe as a “lifeline”.
Lisa Vesty, from Enderby near Leicester, was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome aged 30. Ehlers Danlos is a condition which affects connective tissues and commonly results in mobility challenges and regular dislocation of joints.
Once a very active teen, Lisa now has limited walking abilities and requires a mobility scooter or wheelchair to remain mobile. Luckily, she is still able to go out and about with her cocker spaniels Tyler and Maya.
Lisa says, “Getting out for our one daily exercise with Tyler and Maya is as much a necessity for them being very active cocker spaniels as it is for me, especially during these very strange times. For me getting outside in nature is a huge part of my pain management, mental health and wellbeing strategy. I feel so lucky that I own a TGA Vita S as I am able to do something to change my experience.”
Lisa adds, “We now go out every morning and enjoy the more rural and isolated public footpaths across fields and bridal ways. This means we all get to enjoy our walk whilst maintaining the best social distancing as the only person I see is an occasional farmer. Absolute bliss, a little bit of stress and anxiety free head space which is so important right now.
“Enjoying the outdoors is a little slice of normality in what at the minute is a very crazy world indeed.”
Mick Waters, from Brockham, is another disabled dog owner who be unable to walk his dog in the Surrey countryside without a mobility scooter. Mick, who has Multiple Sclerosis, was able to get his TGA Breeze S4 right before lockdown, and has described it as a “lifeline”.
During the current Coronavirus outbreak the ability to take a dog out, whilst social distancing, is vital to Mick and his border collie, Sasha.
Mick says, “I am so appreciative that TGA managed to deliver my scooter during these difficult times. My Breeze allows me to go out on my own so I don’t need any help from my wife who is also my carer. Just Sasha, my scooter and I. Sasha needs lots of exercise so I drive around the local trails every morning and rarely see another soul, we’re lucky we live in such a leafy part of Surrey. I always follow social distancing advice if I see anyone though.”
Mick adds, “I could drive to the shops with my Breeze however with my condition my wife goes or we try and get a home delivery. Being in the fresh air and enjoying the sunshine on a dog walk is such a tonic. Without my scooter, life would be awful, I’d be stuck at home. Having a scooter makes such a difference, especially during these times of isolation.”
Some disabled dog owners found they could use mobility scooters for more than just walking their dog: Trixie Gillard, a dog agility veteran, is still going strong competing and training dogs on her mobility scooter.
She said, “I compete all year with able-bodied competitors and they have got used to seeing me on the Supersport. There are several of us in the UK using scooters or wheelchairs and we have shown we can hold our own in this very competitive sport.”
Images courtesy of TGA Mobility Limited