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Amos has been getting a little slower moving around, partly because he’s an 11 year old black lab, and partly because his arthritis is kicking in. He used to jump into the SUV with boundless energy, but nowadays, he just puts his front paws up on the floorboard and looks back as if to ask “please pick up my back legs… since they can’t lift my butt up into the car”. Ok, so he’s not really saying that, but you can imagine that he knows he now needs a little help to get in. I obliged at first, since I didn’t give him too many rides, maybe once a week. But this can’t be a permanent solution… I can’t keep picking up his hind legs everytime he wants to go for a ride.
I looked around the Internet for a solution, but everything seemed to be ramp-designs and the cheapest being $69.99. $70 to get a dog from the ground into a car? Goodness… Not that Amos isn’t worth it, but c’mon, there has to be a better way. So being the handyman that I am, I figured I could create something on my own for less $$ (and hopefully a better quality product). I started with a foldable ramp design that would collapse and take up very little space when stored in the car. After making it an easy slope and padded (I glued a throw rug on top for traction), Amos did not want to use it. I think the ramp was the problem, since it wasn’t flat ground and most of his experience is with stairs, not ramps. Out with that design.
Looks like it’s got to be a stair design. I reused the materials from the ramp to build the stairs (trying to keep costs low) and over engineered the steps to make it extra sturdy. I used 2″x6″ pieces for the siderails to provide lateral strength and created 2 stairs to get Amos up to the 22-inch floor height of the SUV. I am quite happy with the final result and Amos has effectively used it (after an initial hesitance). Unfortunately, these stairs do not fold down, but I sacrificed storage in order to create a structurally-sound and comfy-on-the-paws stairs. Check out the pics of Amos going up and down like a Champ!