…or should I say “Stairs Mastered!”
Thank goodness Mr. Spanky Pants can now navigate our 3-story townhome completely independently of my poor, aching back. Based on how quickly Spanky was growing, I could tell he was going to have to learn stairs sooner than we had taught Diesel. With Diesel, I remember doing all kinds of reading about keeping your growing mastiff puppy away from the stairs, lest you damage their hips. So Barry and I faithfully carried Diesel up and down the stairs until he got to be about 60 pounds, at which point I was seriously struggling to lift him and called his breeder in distress. She was shocked to learn that we were still carrying him and told me to immediately start teaching him to do the stairs on his own! Practically, she asked me: “What good will it do Diesel’s hips, if you fall down the stairs with him and break both of your necks?”
So I was determined to teach Spanky how to do the stairs slowly, but well before he hit 60 pounds. We started with the 2 steps leading into our house and moved up to the 4 steps across the street.
What I hadn’t expected was that less than a week after we brought him home, he followed our Walker kitty up half a flight up stairs before he realized what he was doing and stranded himself. I encouraged him up the rest of the way and he was triumphant! We continued carrying Spanky up the stairs about 95% of the time, and down the stairs 100% of the time, but over the next several weeks, we got him to the point where we didn’t have to carry him up at all.
Down the stairs was far more precarious. Watching him reach for the next step, with his wrinkles drooping forward was pretty scary to watch, but we practiced them the same as we had practiced going up: first on 2 steps, then on 4 and finally on the full flight. He actually officially mastered the full flight while I was out of town: our pet sitter did it. It was a wonderful homecoming surprise! The baby gates are still up as he does still require a “chaperone” but my boy is growing up!
He had his last free ride over a week ago and just in time! He is close to topping 60 pounds (which I consider to be my breaking point… literally) and dead-lifting him is no longer an option, which is also problematic for getting him in the car. Fortunately, learning the stairs also means being able to use the Pet Loader. We also have a 72″ telescoping ramp, but I much prefer the Pet Loader and so I set it up today to see if Spanky would use it. He hesitated at first, due to the open back design of the stair, but a well placed treat kept his head up and paws moving. And he was up then down three more times with no trouble at all.
Easy… peasy… In fact, the hardest part about the whole thing was adjusting the Pet Loader and removing the 5th step (as our last car was significantly higher at 35″). This contraption is big, bulky and heavy, but ultimately an essential piece of equipment for any mastiff owner with a tall car! I highly recommend it.