If necessity is the mother of invention, so is love.
Medford resident Gary Lewellyn bought his wife of 46 years, Yvonne, a little white puppy and stuffed it in a stocking on Christmas morning in 2008 to cheer her up after a bout with cancer, which is in remission.
Soon after Molly, a hyper Maltese-poodle mix, came wiggling out of that stocking, Yvonne had to have a hip replacement and could not walk her new puppy, which proved to be a jumping, ball of energy.
"He thought Molly would help with recovery," Yvonne said. "He thought she would be a lap dog, but she was a very active puppy."
At the time, Yvonne said she couldn't even walk down the driveway.
Lewellyn, a semi-retired dentist, modified one of his fly-fishing rods to solve the dilemma of how to exercise Molly when Lewellyn was away, and "Molly's Mouse" dog exerciser was born.
He attached a swivel at the tip of a nine-foot graphite fishing rod, fastened a long nylon cord to the swivel and tied a small stuffed animal to the end of the cord.
The contraption allows Yvonne to sit or stand in one place and twirl the rod so that the stuffed animal soars around her, while Molly races after it, panting in the exhilaration of the chase. Molly's toy is a tiny, plush tiger named "Tigger."
"I was just thrilled," Yvonne said. "I can stand in one spot. She does all the exercising."
The graphite makes it "very light, durable and easy to deal with," Lewellyn said.
It's strong enough to contend with 18-pound Molly or Lewellyn's daughter's pit bull-lab, which is about 80 pounds, he said.
After Molly's been worn out with "Molly's Mouse," she calms down into the lap dog the Lewellyns had envisioned, Yvonne said.
The exerciser can be shortened to about half of its length for indoor use, which is also convenient for storage, Yvonne said.
The invention isn't yet patented, but Lewellyn has talked with an attorney about ways to protect his idea.
The idea isn't entirely new. Similar dog exercisers are available online, with slight variations in design, and Lewellyn admits it wouldn't be too hard to make at home.
But Lewellyn's swivel design makes it easier to spin around and prevents tangling, he said.
"I'm trying to price it low enough that someone would just as soon reach into their pocket," he said.
The product is available for sale for $29.99 at R & R Pet Resort, 340 Cabbage Lane, Phoenix. Lewellyn said he is looking for other ways to market his invention.
Lewellyn gave owner Sue Ross a couple of the dog exercisers to try out on dogs that lodge at the R & R kennel.
"Oh, the dogs love it," Ross said. "Not all of the dogs key into it right away, but once they do, they chase it all around. It's fun for them."
Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail email@example.com.