Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Joys of Getting Older....

Bender turns 9 in human years in March. His muzzle is greying and his bad knee is gives him trouble after he tries to run too hard. It's hard to know how well he is travelling in comparison to other dogs with similar genetic origins because we honestly have no idea what breeds combined to create him. If he is compared to a Mastiff or a Labrador, he is going OK. If he's compared to a staffy or other smaller boofa, then he's probably below average.

Bender still gets right in to the action.
Barbie is 7 and her back is starting to stiffen up on her. She loves to run flat out and push herself to race around with Mouse and her younger friends, but her spine is not as supple as it once was. She had also been a bit more delicate than usual, yipping when Mouse collided with her in the house, and not wanting many cuddles.

Barbie doing her thing..... 
I came across Julie Edwards at Wellness Centre for Dogs during my work with GreyhoundAngels after she offered her services to the foster dogs. She uses Bowen therapy among other techniques to help dogs be more comfortable. I thought that Barbie in particular could benefit for some treatment, so I got her to come around the weekend after Christmas to have a look at the oldies. She did a lot of work on Barbie's neck and a bit on her back. Her neck was really tight and I could feel the difference before and after treatment.

She did as much as she could with Bender as well. He is an anxious kind of dog but he was as co-operative as I expected he would be. Julie doesn't push the dogs or force them to accept being treated, though we did use treats while she worked on his back legs. Of course the oldies took 'breaks' and when they did, Mouse came over and positioned herself in front of Julie, saying 'ok, now do me!'

Mouse chasing her friend Daisy
Mouse had a tight right hip flexor and she has some sub-scapular weakness still which causes her elbows to turn out. It's noticeable when she sits, and sometimes in her lure coursing photos, but it has improved a lot since we got her. We got given some homework, to work on front and rear paw targetting and to get them all to stand on one of those physio wobbly boards. The hounds both front-paw target a pillow now though it is taking Bender longer the 'get it'.

I could tell Barbie felt better a few hours after her treatment. The next day she was doing zoomies around the lounge and initiating games of bitey face with the others. It had been a couple of months since I had seen that behaviour from her.

The other thing I thought was worth trying was swimming. Bender is a strong swimmer and he has been since he was very young. It is part of the reason we suspect there may be some labrador in his genes, as he loves to swim and retrieve. 

The problem with Bender is that he gets to the river or the beach and does a lot of running around before he gets to the water. When he runs and jumps he ends up sore. We dose him with metacam for three days afterwards to help with the inflammation and pain but he does do the three legged bunny hop when he has been still for too long. 

There is a dog swimming pool in the kennel zone about half an hour's drive away from us at the Furkidz Resort. You can book it out for an hour or half an hour and it's just you and your dogs in the pool house.

Last time we tried to get Bender into a swimming pool was during a New Years Eve celebration a very long time ago. He was a very young dog then, and he refused, because he was scared about getting in and out. I was hoping that his memories of that had faded and that the moulded ramp in the pool as well as it being long and narrow would give him the confidence to get in and out.

The water is a bit gross, there's dog hair and it smells like dog, but for Bender the outing was a great success. The first couple of times he had to be lifted in but after that he was swimming and retrieving his ball on his own accord with no running around or competing with other dogs. The aim is to go regularly for a few weeks and see if it helps the muscle tone on his back end and in his lower back, so hopefully when he runs around off leash everything 'holds together' a little better.

As you can see in the video, swimming is not a favorite hobby for the greyhounds. Barbie is a fairly strong swimmer but she spent the whole time trying to swim to the side to try and haul herself out.

Mouse just trusts you are going to hold her up so barely bothers to kick her legs. We decided not to use life jackets as I had tried one with Mouse previously and got the same 'limp dog' effect. I think Barbie may prefer to have a life jacket on but Mouse needs to learn to swim without one otherwise she is just going to float around the pool doing nothing. We might get them the 'head donut' style swim aids that keep the water out of their ears as other greyhound owners have recommended them to us.

We are booked in again on Sunday so we will see how it goes!!!
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