The Lincoln, Nebraska Blackshers always want their beloved dog Ash by their side. The 11-year-old corgi joined the family as a puppy to celebrate a special occasion.
“My wife Jade and I made it a goal to pay off our debts, and our reward was going to be having a dog. Ash was that dog,” Ash’s beloved dog father Todd Blacksher told PEOPLE.
After a decade of outdoor exploration with his family, Ash began to slow down, so the Blackshers turned to professionals for answers.
“About a year ago, we took Ash to Iowa state for an MRI and found he had degenerative myelopathy (DM). early 2020, ”Blacksher said.
“Due to COVID, we were unable to bring him to the state of Iowa to see a specialist until September 2020. It was at this point that he was determined to be suffering from DM, which is basically ALS for dogs. That’s when we started studying canine wheelchairs. We read that it’s best to start using a wheelchair before they do. really need it, ”adds the owner of his dog’s healthy course.
A corgi owner who recently lost his dog to DM gave his late dog’s wheelchair to Ash.
“It didn’t take him very long to get used to the wheelchair – we take him for daily walks and he adjusted very quickly,” says Blacksher of Ash’s early days in the wheelchair, that the owner has adjusted to comfortably fit the dog.
Although Ash adapted well to wheelchair trips, there were some activities that were difficult for him, such as loading in deep snow. Prior to Ash’s diagnosis of DM, the dog liked to run “full speed through the snow”.
“Ash loves snow more than any other dog we’ve ever seen. It all started when he was a little puppy,” says Blacksher.
“We quickly found out that his wheelchair didn’t work very well in the snow. We thought we’d be pulling him in a sled, but he really wants to run in the snow,” adds the animal’s parent. “I thought there must be a way for us to adapt his wheelchair to work in the snow.”
Blacksher, an engineer, used his 30 years of design skills and 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS for Creators – a design platform that allows enthusiasts to bring their ideas to life – to create a ski accessory for Ash’s wheelchair.
“I took a few measurements of her wheelchair and started working on concept pieces. We told a friend what we were doing, and she donated a pair of cross-country skis. Always changing weather in Nebraska, I knew I wanted the skis to be easily removable, ”says Blacksher of his process for creating dog skis.“ Once the design was rough, I printed some parts on our 3D printer. This allowed me to check form / fit / function and do some testing. It worked really well, so I made some minor design changes and printed the parts he uses now. “
Now Ash plays in the snow with puppy-like ease and energy and never misses the chance to soar in a fluffy drift. Blacksher hopes his animal project will inspire others to create things to improve the lives of their furry friends.
“Ash brought us so much joy; we’re just doing what we can to keep him active and happy! Blacksher said.
As the weather cools, Ash’s favorite time of year is just around the corner.
“You can tell he is looking forward to the first snowfall. He has a lot of fun running in his wheelchair, but he loves bouncing in the snow,” he adds.