It was love at first sight. And I’m not talking about my husband of 13 years. I’m talking about little rubber cylinders that slide onto dog’s toenails to give senior and special needs dogs traction on slippery floors.
As a doctor of veterinary medicine who specializes in animal chiropractic and veterinary acupuncture, my patients are often senior dogs with mobility problems. Through conventional and alternative medicine, I could improve mobility and comfort, but I could never affect slipping. Slipping, splaying, and struggling on hard-surface floors was an age-old, common problem to which I had no solution. I would simply tell clients to litter their house with throw rugs, but inevitably, the dogs would still choose to lie on the cold, hard floors (and have to get up off those floors). I needed a biomechanical solution to this biomechanical problem.
I’d never been a fan of booties or socks, because dogs are dogs, not people. Dogs use their toenails to gain traction, not their paw pads. In the wild, dogs will flex their paws and use their nails like soccer cleats, digging into the earthen terrain. Unfortunately, our domesticated dogs live on hardwood, tile and laminate, and when they start to slip and instinctively dig in their toenails for purchase, their hard nails on hard floors only make matters worse.
I had no intention of falling in love that December afternoon. I was cheerfully manning my “holistic medicine” table at our hospital’s annual open house, when a client approached me with a smile. “Hello, Julie,” he said. “Look what I did for Morgan.” My hair stood on end. He had placed small rubber rings on his 16-year-old Australian Shepherd’s toenails. He went on to explain their purpose and her dramatic improvement, but he didn’t need to. He had me at “hello.”
No one before had ever thought about enabling traction through the toenails–dog’s natural mechanism for gaining traction. I had been longing for this product my entire career, but I had no idea what it would look like. But here it was and I was smitten. ToeGrips made sense. They were natural, simple, and revolutionary. As I began incorporating them into my practice, ToeGrips had such a dramatic impact on the quality of life of my patients and clients, that I knew we had to make them commercially available for all dogs.
With the gracious blessing of my client, I founded Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips for Dogs. After a year and a half of development, ToeGrips are now sold by over 300 veterinarians in 10 countries. And like any good relationship, I love ToeGrips more today than the day we met.
Thank you Dr. Buzby for developing ToeGrips and providing this article for my readers. I really wanted to feature this product, especially given my soft spot for senior and special needs dogs.