Being a Friend to Man’s Best Friend

When [Jason Dorie] tipped us off on this, he said, “This barely qualifies as a hack.” We disagree, as would any other dog lover who sees how it improved the life of his dog with a simple mood-altering doggie-bed carousel.

[Jason]’s hack lies not so much in the rotating dog bed – it’s just a plywood platform on a bearing powered by a couple of Arlo robot wheels. The hack is more in figuring out what the dog needs. You see, [Thurber] is an old dog, and like many best friends who live a long life, he started showing behavioral changes, including endlessly pacing out the same circular path to the point of exhaustion. Circling in old dogs is often a symptom of canine cognitive dysfunction, which is basically the dog version of Alzheimer’s. Reasoning that the spinning itself was soothing, [Jason] manually turned [Thurber]’s dog bed on the floor. [Thurber] calmed down immediately, so the bittersweetly named “Dementia-Go-Round” was built.

Sadly, [Thurber] was actually suffering from a brain tumor, but he still really enjoyed the spinning and it gave him some peace during his last few days. Looking for hacks to help with human dementia? We’ve had plenty of those before too.

21 thoughts on “Being a Friend to Man’s Best Friend

  1. Some old humans have the same problem too, I think he may be onto something bigger than he realises. I showed the video to somebody with expertise in the area and they agreed, the concept is brilliant.

    1. I agree it may well be getting at something deeper. Or it may be one of those one-off “brain tumors are friggin weird” things. I’ve read about all kinds of motor issues, and even cases of a person’s personality abruptly changing,

  2. Might need to build this for my parent’s dog… She’s 16 years old and paces a lot, especially at night when nobody is awake to calm her down. I’m sure she’d appreciate it a lot.

    14/10 excellent puppers

  3. Thanks everyone – It was such a rewarding thing to see. He only got to use it for a few days, but it made such a difference for him it made me sad that we hadn’t thought of it sooner. It’d be awesome if it could help someone else.

    Also, if you want an extra good cry, Sara wrote about her life with Thurber, and talks about the various things we made for him over the years, including the Thurber Feeder 5000, a co-sleeper bed, a crib, and finally the bed spinner. Comes with the requisite onion-cutting warning:

    https://psiloveyou.xyz/the-life-and-times-of-thurber-james-michener-1689b803b8ed

  4. One of my cats walks in circles a lot. He’s blind, and also has cerebellar hypoplasia, which is a sort of brain defect that often leads to motor dysfunction. (We got the cats a few months ago when they were 7; the blindness was from an infection when he was a kitten.) He circles more when he’s stressed or feels lost, but also sometimes just when he doesn’t have anything better to do, and we think that’s probably CH-related. Distracting him helps. One of his adaptations to blindness is that he keeps his claws out most of the time, so they click when he’s walking on wood floors. His brother has a bit of the head shakiness, so he may have a mild case of CH also, but doesn’t do the circling bit.

    1. Oh, also he’s a bit extra-loud because he’s polydactyl – in his case it’s extra thumbs in front, rather than extra middle toes which is more common, and the extra thumbnails seem to be larger. (I’m told that polydactyly is part of a plan by cats to develop opposable thumbs, and once they get it working they won’t need to depend on apes to do things for them.)

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