I have been holding off on doing this post, and a few others, because I wanted my mom to get photos and videos of me doing some specific tasks. But due to COVID-19, we are not able to go to our regular places. So instead of waiting longer, I will post this for you now. And update it at a later time with better photos and video.
As a service dog, I have many jobs that help my mom be more independent. Today I’m going to tell you about one of those jobs. Opening doors! But a different type of door than I have shared in some of my previous posts.
In my post Kitchen tasks! I told you about the cupboard doors that I open for my mom. And in my post A new refrigerator and learning new ways! I told you about opening the refrigerator door. And in my post Doing dishes! I open the dishwasher door.
But what about those great big doors that we encounter when we are out and about Those that need opening because there isn’t a handicap button to push and they don’t open automatically.
Have you ever thought about how a person who uses a wheelchair opens one of those doors that goes into a building or a room? Sitting there waiting for another person to come along to help would be time-consuming. And could even make my mom late for an appointment because she had to wait too long to get help.
So what is my mom to do? I’m sure you can guess. If you said that I can open the door for her . . . you are right!
When the door opens outward I can open it!. My mom has a special hook with a tug rope that attaches to the lever handle. Once she slips the hook on the handle she backs up to give me room. She tells me “tug” and I know that means to grab ahold of that tug rope and pull.
My favorite tug rope with the hook that we use the most.
When I am tugging on the rope I have to pull downward slightly — and sometimes even quite hard — so that the handle will move enough to release the bolt. Once that happens I can just pull the door open.
Grabbing the rope and tugging so I can get the door to open!
My mom then takes her chair and puts the edge of it against the door to hold it open. She tells me “out” and I go through and turn to face her. I even have to step over her footplates on her chair to get between the door and her chair. But I squeeze right through that narrow space!
At this point, she takes that hook off from the door and comes through to where I am. She lets the door rest against her chair and slides on through.
in recent months my mom and I have encountered some lever handles that are designed differently than what used to be the more standard design. So she had to do some experimenting and find something else that will work on these doors.
I’m sure it won’t surprise you that my mom now has a few options for the part that attaches to the door handle. But my tug part stays the same!
For one door that we encountered the lever handle was round. So the regular hook we use didn’t fit This one was in an exam room at her doctor’s office so her doctor opened it for us.
But my mom was disappointed because her doctor wanted to see how I could open a door. Although at her next appointment we did get to try out my mom’s idea for an attachment. And I got to show her doctor my skills! Which made us all happy!
The round lever handle.
The other handle that we encountered where the hook didn’t fit had a narrower flatter lever part. Too thin for the hook. This was a lighter bathroom door so my mom was able to get it open but that isn’t always the case. So she needed to find another type of attachment that will work on these handles.
A nylon fabric sleeve that attaches to a lever handle with velcro.
An important part of my job is being adaptable to different situations and settings. And my mom also has to be creative with finding ways to adapt when we encounter unexpected things. This gives us both an opportunity to maintain that independence which is such a special gift to my mom! I love my job and being able to give that gift of independence!
A short video of me opening a door!
Thank you, Brenda and Buffy! Often when we’re out, I end up opening the door for Maddie and her wheelchair, when we should be letting JJ use his skills, because it seems too complicated. This post inspires us to be creative. We have the white tug rope hook, but loved seeing how you loop your noose rope around some handles, and also the Velcro attachment. If we’re in a hurry, we will make time later to work on a tricky door. This way, Maddie and JJ will be even more independent. You are so inspiring!
Hi Beth, Maddie, and JJ,
When I am out with my husband or friends they usually end up opening the doors because to them it seems easier. Buffy has gotten quicker and more efficient with practice. I found it harder when we were first doing the doors because I was often in a hurry. I would feel the pressure of the time restraints and try to rush Buffy which ended up slowing the whole process down. She could feel my uneasiness and would hesitate because she wasn’t sure why my demeanor changed. I started trying to add in a bit more time as a buffer so that we could get organized and do the doors without hurrying. This seemed to help greatly! And whenever possible I would find doors in quiet areas where we could practice without feeling rushed.
Thanks for your kind words! It warms my heart to know that I am helping in some small way.
Hugs and wags,
Brenda and Buffy
Hi! I saw your youtube video on opening doors and you wished me luck on making my own pull for a lever door. If you ever have time, can you do a post or a video on the nylon sleeve with Velcro door pull you showed in a picture here? That looks like an interesting solution for difficult handles.
I ordered the nylon sleeve from Ears &Tail. The link will take you directly to the item I got. It has worked well on a variety of lever handles that we have encountered. A few years ago I just happened to come across the website and the nylon sleeve looked like it might be a good item to try. I was pleased with the quality.
Quite a while ago Buffy did a post My service dog “tug”ropes! where she showed some of the attachments that we use for different types of doors. This might give you some other ideas, too.
Thanks for reaching out and inquiring about the nylon sleeve. If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to ask.
Hugs and wags,
Brenda and Buffy