As I sit down to write this post, I am reflecting on how fast the last 5 months have gone. I live in the West Kootenays surrounded by mountains and glacier fed lakes. As with so many areas in BC, we had an unusually hot summer. While we had a few small fires caused by lightning strikes, our homes were not at risk but the air was full of smoke for most of the summer. Now that we are at the beginning of November, the weather has cooled and we are starting to get snow.
I had planned a summer and fall of off-leash adventures for Marley and Loki but by June, I knew I needed to make some alterations. Loki tore her ACL over 12 months ago. She can walk without a limp but she still doesn’t put full weight on the affected leg when standing. I signed up for a Fenzi Academy class called ‘Those Bum Knees’ and am half way through the program and learning a lot about canine conditioning to help strengthen weak legs due to knee injuries.
In the spring, I noticed that Marley was standing with his left leg at an odd angle. He wasn’t limping so I didn’t think much of it until one day after playing with Loki he could barely get up after lying down and he had a hard time getting up the stairs. I took him to the vet and the vet ruled out knee issues and arthritis leaving us with a soft tissue injury. Additional reading on my part makes me think that he has an Iliopsoas strain. Many of the exercises for bad knees can also be used to rehab an Psoas strain so I have now started a program of canine conditioning for both dogs and plan to take a course coming up Feb 1st called ‘Preventing and Addressing the Iliopsoas’ in order to better understand and treat this condition.
Because of these injuries, I did not want either dog getting into and out of the car on a regular basis until I could get a platform to help them. I checked out a few options and opted to order a KLimb platform that I can use for training and to minimize the stress on dog knees and legs when entering and exiting the car. I picked the platform up on our way to Moab and have been using it regularily whenever I take them anywhere in the car.
Because the summer was so hot, training and walks happened in the early morning or in the evening with minimal activity during the day. During our training time, I worked on adding the verbal cue for spin/turn, practiced our cue ‘between’ with a goal of having each dog respond from a variety of angles and spent time working on handling their mouth to increase their comfort level with this activity. We practiced nosework; working on vehicle searches, corners, and inaccessible hides and I revisited my article indication and discovered that we weren’t ready to add an article to a track; more work was needed!
We spent the first two weeks of October biking/hiking with friends in Moab. Marley and Loki came with us and for the first time, they were not able to run with the bikes. I stayed with them at the campsite while my husband and friends did the long bike rides and hikes. The dogs and I leisurely explored the campground and surrounding areas. I used the time to practice nosework in novel locations and to read Alexandra Horowitz newest book called ‘Being a Dog’. The book is available from DogWise a great source for excellent books on training, living with, and understanding dogs!
Watch for future posts on what I have learned (am learning) about article indication, bad knees, soft tissue injuries, and aging in dogs.
Thanks for reading and happy training.