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Our dog Max, a senior medium-sized terrier mix, had surgery to remove two herniated discs on July 13, 2015. Because of his age and the long recovery period for spinal surgery, we were very concerned about providing a safe and comfortable space for him after our regional veterinary teaching hospital was able to send him home.
I literally spent days looking at crates, kennels, and playpens for dogs (and children) at Amazon and on several websites devoted to the care of paralyzed and handicapped dogs. It soon became apparent that a “playard” or playpen would offer more flexibility than a kennel and make it easier to care for a recovering but initially paralyzed dog without separating him from family or hurting our creaky backs and hip joints.
After much searching, I found the North States Superyard 3 in 1 Metal Gate and knew it had the features that would work for us:
- It’s large enough to hold food and water bowls and a large orthopedic memory-foam bed.
- Its shape is reconfigurable and could be made to add enough space for him to move off the bed and stand up as recovery progressed.
- The “floorless” playard design is easy to keep clean and can be picked up and moved instantly. A shower curtain creates a disposable, waterproof, and washable floor that’s very easy to clean.
- The playard is sturdy and easy to look at, with smooth taupe paint and matching plastic connectors. Putting the panels together was not at all difficult and the shape can be changed at will to a hexagon (or octagon with extra panels), a rectangle, or a square. It comes with brackets for mounting to a wall if desired.
- The gate is at floor level, so humans and dogs can simply walk out without going up and over another barrier.
We brought Max home on July 20th for a month of crate rest. He left the hospital with four prescriptions, a UTI, and instructions for passive range of motion exercises. He could not walk without a sling for his hind quarters nor urinate on his own. He would sometimes try to move his hind legs, but was “knuckling” and too weak to stand without a sling. It would be nine days before he could urinate on his own without being expressed.
The playard was a lifesaver. It allowed Max to be with family, see what was happening, and safely rest while healing. I bought the package of two extra panels thinking that it would be good to expand the usable area after the initial crate rest period. However, after assembling the 6-panel set, we decided to add the extra panels for a better fit with the 42″ dog bed. Also, the extra space worked out well for food and water bowls as well as for changing “pee pads” and fleece protecting the bed.
This playard was “just right” as a confinement and resting place, and big enough to allow limited movement while Max regained the ability to stand and sit with control. We took him outside as needed, supporting his hind quarters with an improvised sling. The playard was stable but light enough to simply pick up and move out of the way at these times, so Max didn’t have to be walked though the gate or picked up before he was steady enough to navigate it himself. Easier than struggling with a cramped kennel.
I’m happy to report that when we went back to the veterinary hospital, Max was walking quite well on his own, with a sling only for stairs. He has continued to show daily improvements in stamina and muscle control. [Update: Three months post-surgery, he’s walking straight at a normal pace, and is able to sit or squat without difficulty.] We’re delighted that he can enjoy his walks. Now, we only have to prevent him from doing too much or things he shouldn’t, such as jumping in or out of the car.
As you can see, the pen worked best for us when configured as a simple square. There’s just enough room to stabilize elevated food and water bowls on one side and room for a dog to change positions or move from bed to floor. It’s spacious enough for a human to walk inside and change bed coverings or work with a medium-sized dog like Max. Purchasing the North States Superyard worked out very well for us and I highly recommend it as a solution for post-surgery crate rest.