Lisa Vesty, 43, from Balby near Leicester with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, is experiencing the benefits of dog ownership thanks to the support of her TGA Vita S.
Having been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome aged 30 – despite having the condition since the age of 12 – Lisa had to stop her sporting activities including netball and hockey because of increasing pain and mobility difficulties.
Her condition had continued to compromise confidence over many years resulting in difficulties with tackling the outside world on her own. This led to Lisa becoming housebound and struggling to benefit from the local community, seeing friends and getting fresh air. When she decided to take ownership of cocker spaniels Tyler and Maya and a rugged Vita S, however, her life instantly improved.
"My dogs and Vita S give me a reason to go out,” Lisa explains. “Increasingly I was finding going out on my own so difficult, I wanted more adventurous walks in our neighbouring fields however my husband works nights so couldn’t go in the day. I never grew up with dogs so hadn’t appreciated the special bond you get with them until now. The three of us go out twice a day along bridal ways, over farmland and along the old railway line. We meet so many people who say to me, 'how on earth did you get here?' and I say – 'just look at the machine I am on!'
“Previously people could be awkward talking to me on my old scooter however things have changed. With my slick looking Vita S it sparks up a conversation which always includes the dogs – dog walkers are like a secret club where everyone says hello or wants to chat, it's fantastic.”
Before owning her current Vita S from TGA, Lisa used another scooter however it did not have suspension which caused issues with her joints and back. Trying to tackle kerbs was difficult and resulted in Lisa feeling like her 'back was being shattered' every time. Her Vita provides motorcycle-engineered suspension and a bucket seat, so her joints are protected from sharp bumps – hence dislocation can be avoided. She also has a dropped shoulder and scoliosis however can achieve a comfortable position with the scooter's adjustable tiller and armrests. Another vital feature of the Vita which helps Lisa is its tiller with 'wig wag' controls. These allow a user to accelerate or brake using either their left or right hand. As Lisa's wrists vary in strength, with good days and bad, she can alternate between her better hand, so the scooter is always in control.
In terms of safely walking Tyler and Maya, Lisa has devised a clever way of attaching bungee dog leads to her scooter seat, so they trot alongside the Vita. When they have to negotiate narrow gates or parked cars, Lisa approaches with caution and the spaniels are trained to walk behind. By lassoing the leads onto the scooter Lisa can control her Vita with both hands and hence drive hassle-free.
“My life would be impossible without my scooter and dog ownership,” Lisa adds. “I wished I'd had a decent scooter when my boys were little so I could have joined them with bike rides or fun at the park. My time with the dogs is so precious to me and I love taking photos of them for my Instagram account. Photography adds another dimension to a walk and I want to share our experiences to encourage people in a similar situation to get out there. My love of dogs has led me to become a blogger for dog product manufacturers and I continue to share info on disability-friendly dog toys. I now have toys that I can throw or tug with my dogs which don't hurt my wrists or cause dislocation. Play is such an important part of your relationship with a dog.”
“The Vita S is part of me, it's an everyday appliance that makes my life easier as I don't want to look or feel disabled,” she concludes. “So many other products are flimsy, like my old scooter, plus they can look old fashioned. My Vita is modern and its lights make a massive difference, especially in the winter when it's dark at 4pm, I don't feel vulnerable as they are so bright. Without these, my time outdoors would be cut short so much. I'm not exaggerating when I say my scooter and dogs have been life changing, without them I would be housebound and unable to go out, which would be terrible for my mental health.
“I would encourage everyone with a love of animals and the countryside, living with walking difficulties, to consider a TGA scooter and the priceless companionship that dogs deliver."