Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh Yeah Sophie Girl!

First of all, I have the happiest lab in the world today. I dragged my flu-y self outside to let her run. Off leash. Outside the yard- in fact in the field behind my house. For the first time in MONTHS.  And, this little lab wants you to know she is HAPPY!  The labby bounce is back!!

Sophie was back at the chiropractor yesterday. She had three little adjustments to make and that was all. Everything that was majorly out prior to this and causing her huge issues was fine this week. So, I asked the question, I admit... I asked whether Soph could ever run agility again.  I got my answer. Yes, she can. YES, SHE CAN!!!!  Sophie has adjusted so well, she will likely be able to run agility again someday.
Of course, I am not naive enough to think this is without significant work between now and then. Sophie does not have very good muscle tone in her back end, especially on the left side since she has favoured it for years. As you can see in the picture above, she still sits wonky. But, that's due to lack of muscle tone and maybe habit, at this moment rather than pain. So, in the short term, Sophie is under strict orders to run. She is to run straight lines, and start to rebuild what she’s lost over the last 1.5 years of being a house dog. If we can do that without her alignment going out significantly, then she stands a better chance of running agility.  Just for the record, if I ever do run her in agility,  I am planning to special her, then veteran her- that means she gets a double jump height drop. Simply put, Sophie would jump 16” instead of 26” after she turns 5. So, that is far less stressful on her body. As well, she'll learn a running contact on the A-Frame to save her jarring anything. 

This will take significant work, if I decide it’s feasible and possible to run her again. I understand completely that her hips will always be loose so she will have a greater chance of arthritis long term and that her knee could be hurt again but the reality is that she is a high energy dog, needing a challenge. Sophie could re-injure herself running in the yard and I can’t keep her from being a dog. That is clear. So, I think it’s worth starting the process towards seeing if I can’t rebuild her strength and muscle tone. That alone will help her feel better.
So, the plan for now: off-leash runs. They will be shorter to start, as I am not to run her to the point of exhaustion. As she gets stronger, they will get longer. The whole goal is to run her well to rebuild muscle tone. If I run her too long, she'll get sloppy and not rebuild the muscles I want, thereby likely causing her to go out again. On the super cold days, I can run her on a treadmill. She can also swim indoors this winter.  As well, I am going to start doing her range of motion exercises that I got a little sloppy and lazy doing as she didn’t want me to do them. They hurt, she got growly with me and I stopped. They will resume now. And, I’ll work her on the peanut ball, to help with core strengthening. 

In terms of actual training, Sophie is capable of doing a much nicer sit and down than she has been able to do for well over a year. So, it’s time to reward her holding a proper sit to build those muscles. She demonstrated last night, she is capable of doing a nice, straight sit when there’s food being offered. This morning, it's a bit sloppy again. As well, I can start doing some basic foundation work in agility: contact work on my travel plank, turns around a pole, with no jump, figure 8’s around poles, with no jumps. These are little foundational things I am working with Murphy so I think if I treat Soph like a pup, not allowed to weave or jump to start, we can learn some basic handling moves together and work on her focus, before I even try jumping her. If nothing else, it’s good for her brain to learn new things.
I have no idea if Sophie will actually run agility again. I do know that I have more hope that her life has improved greatly through the excellent care Dr. Orchard has given Sophie. I think ultimately everything I have done to support her, from rehab work with Theresa at Canine Rehab Saskatoon, to the laser treatments and acupuncture I did at Acadia and now this has all brought us to the point where she feels better and I feel like I am getting my labby back. There was a time when I thought her life would be shortened due to my inability to manage her pain. Now, I think she has a happier, healthier, brighter future. And, that’s lovely!

Yeehaw Sophie Dawg!!


Bronson and Pepper said...

Yay for Sophie! Glad to hear she is feeling better and able to start being her labby self!

Honey the Great Dane said...

Hello Spike, Sophie & Murphy - I saw you over on Mango's blog and thought I'd pop over to say hello!

That's great news that you will be able to do Agilities again, Sophie! I tried it once when we were still living back in NZ and it was great fun - although all the equipment was really just too small for a giant doggie like me...! :-(

Anyway, I hope you'll come over to my blog to visit me too!

Honey the Great Dane

Mango said...

Hooray for Sophie! I am sure she can't wait to run the agilities. You will have a hard time making her take it easy.


Mango said...

Pretty much any non-stressful thing that forces Mango to use his leg is what is recommended. Hill walking is supposed to be good too where you go straight up the hill and then kind of zig zag down. We haven't tried that one yet.

I have noticed that he is MUCH more stiff on the days I am too lazy to do his exercises. But I can tell he doesn't like it. He's pretty used to carrying that one leg around like a peg leg and when I first start he will usually just sit down and protest.

Biggest challenge is knowing when to stop and when to push him. I did too much the other day and the poor guy was really sore.

He HATES the rocking back and forth with his bottom and man can he make his rear end heavy. Stubborn dog!