The HandicappedPets Story

I was inspired to start by my Keeshond, Mercedes who, at a veterinarian’s advice, was put to sleep before her time due to a mild case of Canine Epilepsy. I started the website mostly as a message board. It was intended to be the resource that I would have needed to make a better decision. I was awed by the response.

I hadn’t realized that people all over the world who were taking care of disabled animals felt they had nowhere to go. Their friends and neighbors would scorn them, “Put the poor thing out of it’s misery!” not understanding that these animals were perfectly happy, living a quality life with a little extra care.

It reminded me a little of past time I had read about in one of my favorite books, To Kill A Mockingbird, where disabled people were thought to be unfit to live. These pet caretakers had no one to talk to, nowhere to go for advice. Then they found my website.

I promoted my website by sending out over a million “spam” emails. Yes, I know that’s horrible, but back then, around the turn of the century (1998-1999) the internet was the Wild West and this was not uncommon. I also handed out postcards on the street in Boston and New York, sent tee shirts to late night talk show hosts, called every radio station and newspaper I could, and tried to get producers interested in making a TV show. Somehow, the combination worked.

Within a few months, I had over a thousand postings on my message board. My site became the gathering place for pet caretakers around the country and around the world. They asked questions about ‘expressing’ pets (making them go to the bathroom), diseases and treatments, and simple stuff like how to cut a tail-hole in a Pampers without the stuffing coming out. If the site had been live when Mercedes was sick, I would have quickly learned that there were lots of people caring for pets with canine epilepsy. All it takes is a little extra work and a little extra care.

The site also started getting expensive. Hosting charges were increasing because of increased traffic. I needed to purchase software for a more robust message board, and I had to put in hours every day answering emails and removing the less-compassionate (to put it nicely) messages from the forum. So I put a few products on the site. I started with pet ramps and rear lifting harnesses. When I got an order, I would simply forward the order to the manufacturer.

Within a few months, I started getting a LOT of orders. Sometimes two or three a day! So I cleaned out my upstairs closet and started stocking the harnesses. It wasn’t long before I realized I need help and enlisted one of my neighbors to call in credit card numbers and pack envelopes.

One of the biggest areas of discussion at the time was wheelchairs for dogs.

At the time, there were three or four companies custom-making these for dogs. Caretakers would take more than a dozen measurements and send them, with a hefty (often non-refundable) deposit and wait several weeks for their wheelchair to arrive. When it arrived, people were often thrilled. Their dog could walk, run, and play again. It was like they had a new life. It was beautiful to hear about and watch through photos and videos.

I wrote extensively on the website about these wheelchairs so people could make informed choices. I also made arrangements with several of the manufacturers to get a 10% commission when I sold them. quickly became the worlds foremost source of information about dog wheelchairs.

But there were some serious problems!

If they took a wrong measurement or their dog’s dimensions had changed due to health changes, the chair wouldn’t fit and had to be shipped back to the builder. If their dog passed, there was nothing they could do with the chair because it was designed to fit just one dog. It couldn’t be used by any other dog unless they were very close in size and shape.

For medium and large dogs, the chairs were big! People complained that their car door would not open wide enough for them to get the chair in the back seat. They would have to strap the wheelchair to the roof of their car.

The dog wheelchairs of the time were usually made of tubing and radiator pipe clamps. They looked like torture devices and caretakers, walking their dog down the street, needed to become immune to the odd stares and comments (“why are your torturing the poor thing — put it to sleep!”) they were getting.

I put some thought into it. All three of these problems could be solved. All I had to do was make the wheelchair adjustable like crutches, fold flat like a baby carriage, and look nice. Turns out it was not as easy as it sounds. I needed an engineering company, patent attorney, injection molding company, aluminum extrusion company, and more. And I needed money.

The first production wheelchair arrived at my office on July of 2008. I had taken a 2nd mortgage out on my house, emptied my savings, maxed out several credit cards, and borrowed from friends and relatives. I remember my hands shaking as I opened the box. There were dozens of things that could have gone wrong in the production process. Voila! It was a masterpiece!

The key here was that I was already selling dozens of wheelchairs for other companies through the website. I was top of the search engines and known as the best place on the ‘net to get information. I knew that the day I switched the other wheelchairs on the website to mine, it would begin selling. And it did.

The wheelchair quickly became the most popular dog wheelchair in the world. The fully-adjustable, folds-flat Walkin’ Wheels starting helping ageing, injured, and disabled pets live happy healthy lives. As of 2019, the Walkin’ Wheels has helped over 100,000 dogs, cats, goats, rabbits, a few chickens, a duck, and a turtle walk again. Every year, caretakers from around the world send us their photos and compete for a place on our Annual calendar, the proceeds from which are donated to the Handicapped Pets Foundation at

As the wheelchairs have grown, our line of other products have expanded, too, with dozens of innovative lifting harnesses (Walkin’ Lift), shoulder and back braces (Hip-EEEZ, and VertabraVe), our new adjustable splints (Walkin’ Fit), boots, and so much more.

As of 2022, almost 50 people currently work in our 15,000 sq’ facility in Amherst NH. We work together to make life better for dogs and their caretakers. See us at

We believe that pets are family and deserve to live happy, healthy lives.