It’s really important to give your dog exercise after an injury. However, the timing is very important. You also need to build up his strength little by little and you need to know when to stop. ************
Dad and I are running together every few days. This morning he took me out at 5:45 a.m., before the other joggers were out, before the sky revealed its morning light. We ran in the same morning light as on our last long run, before I was hit by the car. This time, my dad and I ran for about 5 minutes, steady running, no breaks. I felt great. Afterward, Dad said I was a little slower than I used to be but who cared. The running was the real thing and I was with my dad; we were together and we had the world to ourselves.
Then I came home and went back to sleep in my bed, and stayed asleep until my mom arose. “Joey, up! Up! Up!” she said, her intonation rising with each “up”.
By that time it was already really warm out. She made up her doggie kit, into which she places a few poop bags and a few treat. She also got a few tennis balls and a few towels. Then she got me into my new harness. I was getting definite ideas at this point: The harness is connected with swimming. Hmmm….My ears are standing up high and I’m following her around our home, focusing intently on her.
Then she attached the lead to the harness and off we went – into the car.
Soon we were at my favorite hangout, the lake! Ah, my beloved crystal lake!
There was only one dog there and only a few people, and I think that was the idea.
Into the water I scampered, right away.
My mom threw out a tennis ball, said “Joey, go get your ball!” and I’m supposed to go after my ball, and I start to.
But then I see the distant shore and that scares me so I turn around to face the nearby shoreline, to go back where I started out. This new harness seems to have an answer to that. My mom is right there and she gently lifts me by the harness, which is easy because I’m in deep water already, and holds me in place while I make like I’m swimming. Sometimes she holds one hand under my belly which also holds me up and allows me to just get back in shape.
I am looking at the nearby sandy beach and working hard swimming but I’m not going anywhere – but I don’t realize that. Or maybe I do, but I keep swimming and paddling away. My legs are getting a lot of exercise, my rear legs in particular. That’s what my parents want.
My mom can see through the crystal water of the crystal lake that my injured leg doesn’t quite kick as well as the other leg. She’ll be careful to get me exercise and build up my muscles and coordination but to not hurt my recuperating leg.
Every once in a while she lets go of the harness and lets me really swim – on my own, to shore, of course. I relax a bit and sniff around. Then she throws the ball again, I go after the ball, I get into deep water and become afraid and turn around, and while I’m looking at the nearby shore she holds me in place while I swim. She says “Good boy. Joey, you’re doing great!” a lot. Then she lets go of me and I swim, on my own, to the nearest shore. We go through this a few times.
It’s getting later and other dogs are showing up. I focus on them. The tennis balls don’t interest me. If a dog owner throws out a ball and his dog goes and swims after it, I go after the dog. Suddenly I have forgotten that I’m in deep water.
My mom is watching out for dog safety and if I get too close to the other dogs she tugs on my harness. The harness is gentle and doesn’t hurt or pull or tug on my neck. It just slightly separates me from the other dog.
Another dog, a boxer, is there in the lake, also learning to swim. He’s 8 years old, and until this year he was afraid of the water. His mom and big sister do like my mom does to me: They carry him out to the deep water, let go of him, and he swims to shore, and then say “Good boy! Good Julie!”
After a lot of swimming and physical therapy and playing, my mom decides it’s time to leave the water and head for home.
She’s hoping that when we get home, I’ll be exhausted. But I’m not. I am, however, happy – and thirsty!