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!

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