Wheelchair Dog Walker

 

Designers: Alicia Li, Victoria Li, Adam Nolte, Jessica Ordax

Client Coordinator: Nancy Curtis

Supervising Professor: Larry Bohs

Figure 1. Wheelchair Dog Walker.

Figure 1. Wheelchair Dog Walker.

INTRODUCTION

People who use wheelchairs often have trouble walking their dogs. The goal of this project was to create an easily removable wheelchair attachment to facilitate dog walking. In particular, our client has two dogs, and an assistant that pushes his manual chair.  The Wheelchair Dog Walker (WDW) device consists of two hinged, Rigid Dog Guides that extend from metal pipes mounted underneath the wheelchair’s armrests. Leashes thread through these guides and run alongside the chair, terminating at Leash Locks attached near the wheelchair’s handles.  The Leash Locks provide large pushbuttons that allow the assistant to quickly and easily lock or release the leashes.  The WDW restricts the dogs’ movements to the sides of the wheelchair. The device allows wheelchair users to walk two dogs without holding the leashes, and prevents the dogs from tangling with each other or getting in the way of the wheelchair.

SUMMARY OF IMPACT

The Wheelchair Dog Walker allows our client to easily maintain control of and walk his two dogs. The dogs can walk alongside the chair and the client without crossing in front of the chair or tangling the leashes. The device is being used on a daily basis. According to our client’s assistant, “We used to have to stop every four seconds to untangle, but now I can guide the dogs by steering the chair.”

TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION

The Wheelchair Dog Walker (Fig. 1) comprises two each of Leash Locks, Leash Clamps,  Rigid Dog Guides, Hinges, and Connector Pipes. The 6.5x 4.9x 3” laser-cut HDPE Leash Locks clamp around a Flexi-durabelt (Flexi USA) mid-size retractable leash. Four 3/8” bolts with nylon nuts clamp the two sides of the Leash Lock together, and Dycem rubber lining on the inner walls of the Leash Locks prevent the leash from slipping. A locking button, fashioned from a commercial E-stop switch (Telemecanique ZB2-BS54) mounts to the 3x 6” top panel of the Leash Lock.  When the button is depressed, the leash locks; when twisted, the leash releases and automatically retracts.  In this way, the assistant can easily release individual dogs as needed.  An 1” diameter, 3” long aluminum tube is mounted to the side of each Leash Lock, allowing it to attach quickly and securely to a mating post on the 2.75×2.6×0.5” custom aluminum Leash Clamp.  The other side of the Leash Clamp features a two-part fixture that bolts permanently over an attachment point on the wheelchair tubing, using a rubber liner to prevent rotation. A thumb screw on the Leash Lock easily secures the connection with the Leash Clamp.

The leash threads from the Leash Lock to the Rigid Dog Guide, constructed from 19” long thin-walled aluminum tubing.  The Dog Guide is welded to a custom aluminum Hinge that rotates 70º, limited by a Delrin plastic stop wedge.  This combination creates an area for the dogs to roam alongside the chair without crossing the wheelchair’s path. The tubing at the other end of the hinge telescopes into a  0.7” diameter aluminum Connector Pipe, permanently mounted under the wheelchair armrest.  The Connector Pipe clamps around attachment points with aluminum clamps similar to the Leash Clamps. Holes in the end of the hinge tubing align with connector pipe holes, allowing the assembly to be secured in position and rotation with a quick-release Stabilization Pin.

Figure 2 shows the client using the Wheelchair Dog Walker. Cost of components for the device is $360.

Figure 2. Client using the Wheelchair Dog Walker.

Figure 2. Client using the Wheelchair Dog Walker.

 

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