updated 04/13/2009 AT 6:00 PM ET
•originally published 04/14/2009 AT 7:45 AM ET
Just a few years ago I would have thought the idea of a stroller for my dog, Jolly, was absurd. Now I am the proud owner of what I call a Jollymobile – really a $130 Schwinn Instep trailer/stroller. And I’m not alone. As pets become more ingrained in our lives and live longer (though become frail), more of us buy strollers. I got a basic model technically made for kids, but there are plenty of far more expensive and stylish options out there designed just for dogs.
Why would I risk looking like a living cartoon of someone who dotes on their dog like a child substitute? Because it’s great for Jolly. He’s a 15-year-old, 65-pound shepherd mix with arthritis. After he got canine vestibular syndrome – a scary inner-ear balance disorder – he couldn’t go further than a couple blocks. He’d take 45 minutes to get to the dog run, only to lie down, exhausted. The stroller gets us there in 10 minutes and he spends an hour getting kisses from his many girlfriends and sniffing out the latest gossip.
People get strollers because their dogs can’t keep up with them, either because the dogs are tiny, old or sick, says Angie Lloyd, regional sales manager for PetEgo, which makes a stylized, ultra-light model that runs up to $500 (not counting the $140 stroller kit). Because a lot of dog people first shun dog strollers, PetEgo staff explains it’s like using a wheelchair or stroller to get a kid to a playground. “They put their children in a bike trailer or stroller and once they get to the beach, the park or any other safe area they play with them and give them the proper physical activity that they need,” Lloyd says.
How does Jolly like it? Much better than I expected. He smiles and looks out, happy to visit his dog friends and get all the extra attention from humans on the street. And whenever there’s an insult or negative comment – some people act like they’ve never seen a dog in a stroller before – we can make a much quicker get away.