The Fan Hitch Volume 7, Number 2, March 2005

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

Editorial: Sirius Patrol, Canadian Style
F.I.D.O.: Allen Gordon
Nunavik Dog Slaughters, Part I
Pregnancy, Whelping and Pup Development in the ISD, Part II
Fan Mail
Tip for the Trail: Building a Dog Ramp
In the News
Behavior Notebook
Janice Howls: Transition to Primitive
 IMHO: Change

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Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

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Editor: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
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Tip for the Trail….

                                               Photo: Hamilton

Building a Dog Ramp

submitted by Mark Hamilton

I have a question for those readers who harvest and burn firewood. What do you do with an aluminum extension ladder after you've dropped a tree on it?

The first answer that came to my mind was, "Replace it". I will also add here for the sake of any others who may find themselves in this same circumstance, while this is a good time to announce that you intended to replace that particular ladder anyhow because it was (select one of the following):  1. too light, 2. too heavy, 3. too short, 4. too long, don't expect anyone present to actually believe you.

While not in any way making up for personal incompetence at felling large trees, I subsequently discovered that a reasonably straight (or in this case straightened) section of an old aluminum ladder makes an excellent structural member for a dog ramp. The only additional elements required to complete the project are a surface for the dogs to walk upon and something to hold the deck to the ladder. 

Texture 1-11 plywood has a roughened surface with grooves cut along its length to simulate the appearance of shiplap siding.  Dogs can securely walk up and down on this surface without the need for cleats or a rubberized material for additional traction. I cut some left over sections of 5/8" Texture 1-11 plywood into 17" widths across the plywood's 4' dimension. That way the shadow line cuts in the plywood go across the ladder section in the same direction as ladder rungs. 

After drilling a number of holes through the ladder's rails, I used some 1/2" stainless steel screws (which were sitting around in my workshop, leftover from the dog box project) to attach the plywood to the ladder section. During this process you can further straighten the ladder section by aligning its rails with the straight cut edges on the plywood.

My ramp measures about 6.5 feet long and is pretty lightweight at 26 lb. It is also very strong and the footing is so secure that our dogs, who were totally unfamiliar with using a ramp for loading into our truck, immediately accepted its use, even preferring to walk all the way to the bottom rather than jumping off the side half way down.

So, if you've got an old aluminum ladder lying around all bent and busted, do a little measuring, then some cutting, and make yourself a ramp. Using one for loading and unloading is easier on your dogs' joints, and yours too.

Got a tip you'd like to share? Email it to or snail mail it to: Mark Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791, USA.


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