Saturday, November 14, 2009

Building Endurance in Your Injured Dog

The bandages from his broken ankle long off, Joey was doing great: Though we watched him closely, I cannot even pinpoint exactly when our dog stopped favoring his right side hind leg, the leg that was badly hurt, the one that had the metal plate and screws, and that had three broken toes, and when he stopped hopping on three legs rather than four. But he did!
When you've had an injury, you get back to normal slowly. Little by little. You notice and complain about your aches and pains. Maybe you even go to a physical therapist. Your dog, on the other hand, wants to jump right in, back to life. He wants to walk, run, jump up on beds, jump down from beds. Does he feel aches and pains? Maybe, but he isn't going to tell you.
He is, in fact, going to act rather like your adolescent child when he or she is injured or sick.

The fact is that both Phil and I played an important role in our dog's recovery and rehabilitation:

For a few weeks there, in the glory of the summer, I was taking him swimming in the lake, taking him literally doggie-paddling, giving his legs a workout, and getting his endurance up. (At least I was doing that until I got kicked out of the lake!)

Dad was taking Joey running in the morning...building up his muscles and his endurance.

Bringing patient, and having a good watch with a timer on the run was part of the process.
At first Phil would take him running for five minutes.  Then a few days later, increase it to ten.  Then a few days later, increase that to fifteen.  And finally one morning Phil took Joey out for a big twenty-minute run.

The twenty-minute run took place, at first, once a week. After a few weeks, he increased it to twice a week...
It's important to observe your dog - including what's going on with his tongue. That can signal he's too hot or too tired.
Joey would always start every run out strong. However, unlike before, at some point in the run, his tongue would hang out.  On some days, he just got slow toward the end of his run.

The dog, so full of enthusiasm, didn't realize that he needed to stop - so we humans had to realize that for him.  You have to understand it's not your run alone; it's the dog's run, too.
But it just seems that all of a sudden I noticed  Joey was walking normally and running normally, on all fours!

When I asked Phil if he had his running partner back, he paused.

"Almost, but not quite."

Now, five months later, on the long runs, the mornings when Phil runs for 40 minutes or more, Joey can't make it all the way.
Mister Enthusiasm is good for about 15 minutes but can manage twenty.

So Phil has to figure out how to run the dog - and still get his own long run in.
It was September. The shadows that followed Joey and me when I walked him toward the pond in the late afternoon dragged behind us. The long and lanky shadows that preceded Joey and me when I walked him back from the pond also seemed anxious to climb up the hill. Even the shadow of Joey's tongue, which would by then be hanging out, seemed longer. But we were on our way!

Please read more about our dog's injury and recuperation, from Joey's point of view!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reunion of Littermates - Ten Years Later!

Do you think that brother and sister puppies know and recognize each other as siblings?  Do you think they "know" they're related?

As I walked into the kennel one morning to bring Joey in to be boarded for one week, I'd had no idea that Joey's littermate lived in the same town as we! I knew Joey was from Connecticut, and here we lived in Boston. But that day I saw that dog standing there - those eyes - that body shape, that head shape - I knew it had to be!

"How old is your dog?" Nine.

"Where did you get your dog"? Connecticut.

"These dogs are littermates!" I exclaimed, excited and in disbelief.

And she even had the same collar and lead as Joey had!

We arranged with the kennel to have the two siblings' pens side-by-side.  It was so endearing!

We also exchanged names and phone numbers and emails and planned to get the dogs together - but then Joey was hit by the car.

We had to respect the time Joey needed to hear.

And then, six months later, that day arrived.

We had to deal with each dog's personality and attributes: Rosie was protective of her owners, and Joey was highly excitable. We had to plan out what to do so Rosie would feel comfortable around Joey, who would naturally know no restraint.

This morning a car pulled up to the sidewalk outside our home and Elisabeth, Rosie's mom, got out then Rosie got out. Joey knew something was going on outside but he couldn't see what. Still, he could hear it. Elisabeth and I had decided to keep Joey inside the home while Rosie got comfortable in a new place and with new people.

But when I came inside, Joey could smell Rosie all over her hands and arms. He kept sniffing for more and more.

The question everybody asked is, "Do they recognize each other? Do dogs who've been separated since birth have a sense of being family?"

We get used to each other little by little

Soon I put Joey on lead and slowly allowed him to go outside. First I had him sit on the front step of our home for a while, while Elisabeth had Rosie remain on the sidewalk, close to her. The two dogs just looked at each other and got comfortable like that for a while. It was pretty difficult. He wanted to get up but I would say "Sit" and he obeyed. Dog obedience can be a real challenge, and one thing I learned was that after this ordeal with the car, Joey had really strongly bonded with me and was considerably more obedient than he'd been. But still, it was a challenge to keep him still.

We see each other for the first time in ten years!
And so begins a story of reunion and - what else? Read the continuing story in Joey's blog to learn more about Joey's life and injury and the reunion and reconciliation of littermates, from the dog's perspective!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How Do You Keep a Good Dog In?

Is your dog also nicknamed "The Escape Artist?"

Monday, May 25, 2009

What Does a Dog Do after He's Been Hit by a Car?

The dog has gone off on his own and you don't know where he is. You might not even know that he's wandered off. You might not be aware that he has gotten hit by a car.

What did our dog Joey do after he was hit by the car? He eluded everybody who was trying to HELP him, and walked home, several blocks away. And walked back down our driveway to the gate, and sat, and waited.

He didn't cry, he didn't lay down. He just sat by the gate.  And waited. For me.

People have told me that a dog who knows he's going to die will find an isolated place and just stay there. I don't know about that. I do know that our dog was very wounded, and that he came home, and waited.

And this is why it was so difficult for me to know, on my own, what had happened to our dog.

Another dog I know of (through the blog) was hit by a truck; his owners thought he was dead and they started digging a hole for his final resting place. Suddenly, he started moving.

It was a miracle.

Just last month, ten months after Joey was hit by the car, when I was walking Joey on a rainy day, an enthusiastic City worker stopped me and said, "Is this the dog who was hit by the car?" It turns out this was Eddie, the person who had tried to follow Joey but who'd lost him in the underbrush, and who notified the City that a dog had been hit!

We can salute the spirit of dogs and wounded animals, the spirit to survive.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How Our Dog Was Hit by a Car

Hello, friends.

Let me tell you about how our dog, Joey, got hit by a car.

One sunny morning Joey found a very nice place in the back where he could dig a long hole that followed along the fence, and then dip down under it, and gradually squeeze his body under it. In between it and our neighbors’ wooden fence is just enough room, a gap of about six inches, for him to squeeze my thin body through. About 30 feet later he is free.

And that's exactly what he did.

The site Joey chose was particularly clever because there was an evergreen tree in front of it that blocked us from seeing what I was up to. There was also a non-biodegradable plank that I had so smartly had placed there to keep him from access to the fence, which he easily pushed aside, it having become dislodged during the winter snows.

Isn't it amazing how dogs just figure these things out.

But this is just my point of view.  You can read more about Joey's life and about his injury and about life after he was hit by the car from his perspective, from the dog's point of view.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Dog Who Runs

We have a dog and his name is Joey.

Joey runs.  Joey is a runner.

He's a chocolate Labrador Retriever, and as of this writing, he is almost eleven years old.

The miracle of his existence is that he was hit by a car last year and he survived, one miracle right there, and he is still running, three to five miles almost every day, another miracle right there.

This is a blog about living with a dog who runs!

Read my blog! And read about Joey's life and about his injury and about life after he was hit by the car from his perspective, from the dog's point of view.