Nov 092009
  • After your dog is injured, when should you expect your dog to start walking? 
  • How far and how fast should he walk? How about swimming and dog hydrotherapy?
  • What’s the best way to get your dog’s muscles back in shape and to get his stamina back? 
  • If your dog is a runner, when and how should you introduce him to running again?

Good communication with your dog’s veterinarian can give you some guidelines. But as always, observe your dog carefully and notice and pay attention to everything, and use that as a guide.


Here is my time line for my rehabilitation from my injury.  In general, my parents and my doctors made these decisions, not I.  If my parents took me swimming, I went swimming. If they took me running, we went running. They decided how far, how fast, and how long I was to be out and walking, running, or swimming.  I guess in the end they made the right decisions, because I’m doing really well now. I’m not even limping!

Day 1:
I was hit by the car and brought to the emergency room of the animal medical center.  When I went home six days later, I had a full-splint on my leg.

During this time, I may only go outside to pee and poop and then must go back home. I must walk slowly.

Week 5, Day 3: I have surgery on my broken ankle, though I’m asleep and don’t know what’s going on.   When I go home, I have a half-splint on my leg.

During this time, I may only go outside to pee and poop. I walk slowly.

Week 12, Day 3:
I go back to the animal medical center for a bandage change. It has been 7 weeks since my surgery. Although he was going to only take x-rays at this time, my doctor removes my splint!

Since I’m allowed to go upstairs and downstairs, my parents let me go up and down a lot so that my muscles begin to strengthen.  Of course, since I’m on my lead, I can’t go up and down too much, but I do it as often as they will allow me, and as many times as they will allow me. When I am home alone, my parents keep me in the living room and close the little door gate. They don’t want me jumping up on anything.

Week 13:  Day 3: I go back to the animal medical center for x-rays on my broken ankle. It has been 8 weeks since my surgery. My doctor removes my bandages!

During this time, my leg muscles continue to start working again.I’m still walking with a limp.  When I am outside and I start to hop on three legs, my parents slow me down so that I use all four legs.

My walks start out short. Then they get longer. Then they get longer and longer. Then they get longer and longer and faster and faster.  My mom is walking longer and longer and faster and faster, too. This is good for me.

Week 16: It has been 11 weeks since my surgery. I’m running and playing in the back yard. My parents are throwing the ball and I’m chasing it and bringing it back. However, we don’t play this game for too long.

Week 17: It has been 12 weeks since my surgery. I’m walking well enough and I’m strong enough to take a walk around the block with my sister and littermate, Rosie. I am still walking with a limp.

My parents take me to the lake for the first time!  My mom walks me around the edge of the lake but I do some swimming, too. I go to the lake a few times this week and I am swimming, usually in place, with my mom holding me up by my harness.  My legs are getting stronger and stronger and I’m feeling better and better.

Week 19:  It has been 14 weeks since my surgery. Dad takes me running with him. We run for one block!

Week 20: It has been 15 weeks since my surgery. Dad takes me running with him. We run for five minutes!  Then we walk.  The next day we don’t run and the next day we run again for 5 minutes again.  I’m feeling stronger.  Jane takes me on long walks and she doesn’t’ let me stop and rest until we get to our destination, or until we get home.

Week 22: It has been 17 weeks since my surgery. Dad and I run for ten minutes!  The next day we don’t run and the next day we run again for 10 minutes again.  Then the next day we don’t and the next day we do.  I’m feeling stronger and my parents say that they don’t see me limp when I run. They say “Other than the bald spot on his back, you wouldn’t know he was hit by a car.”

Week 25: It has been 20 weeks (5 months) since my surgery. Dad and I run for twenty minutes!  This is our “short” run.  I’m feeling good.  I’m not limping.  We do this run now a few times a week, one day yes one day no one day yes one day no.  During the afternoons, Jane takes me on long walks and she even tries to run for a block or two with me, but I’m much faster than she is and I’m always ahead of her looking back at her. They still say say “Other than the bald spot on his back, you wouldn’t know he was hit by a car.”

Week 25: It has been 20 weeks (5 months) since my surgery.

My dad says “Twenty minutes may be it for him.”   I’m going to do my best to run longer and longer and further and further.

My doctor says that I’m “a healthy dog”.  I love my doctor!

Week 26: It has been 21 weeks (5 months, 1 week) since my surgery.

I love my life! I go to new places and see new things. I meet new people and new dogs. I make many new friends, both people and dogs.  Everybody is surprised at how well I do.  When I’m off-lead, I obey my mom when she says “come”. At night I don’t limp.

But I do sleep well!

Aug 182009

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.

into the water i went right away

into the water i went right away

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.

swimming in place

swimming in place

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!


Aug 022009

Many dogs go to physical therapy after they are injured.  Water therapy, called hydro-therapy, is becoming popular.  This is good because it builds up the dog’s muscles without putting any pressure on injured areas. It also helps prevent arthritis, which can set in after a serious trauma. And most dogs love swimming. Most. Not all dogs like the water. Some like to look at it but not go in it. Some like to play along the edge. But there are ways to make your dog comfortable with water.

IMG_0011Today started out like any other Sunday: Dad woke up at sunrise, I woke up with Dad. And then I went back to sleep.

He woke me up later and I went out with him on a short walk.  Of course in the old days, it would have been a long run. But these are not the old days: These are the new days. These are “nowadays”.

It was a nice walk and then I came upstairs and went back to sleep in my bed next to my mom’s bed, until she woke up.

Then we were all one awake family.

My parents disappeared for a while in the middle of the day. I was pretty sullen to be alone and to not be included in whatever they were doing. But that all changed.

I saw my mom go and get a few of my poop bags and put them in her pack.  Then she came downstairs with a bunch of towels, one of which is the towel she always uses to dry me off.  I was getting ideas and the sudden and quick motion of my tail reflected that.

Then Dad came upstairs and he was jiggling his keys. I got more ideas.

Then Mom went and got the lead. My ears were on high alert.  Then Mom attached the lead to my collar, opened the front door, said “Joey, come” and I knew this was good!  Off we went to Dad’s car and me to my usual place in the back seat.

In a little while we were at my beloved lake. I love the lake and I love the dogs and excitement that surround the lake.  We took a nice walk and ended up at a cove at one end, where there is a gentle sandy beach.  My mom took the lead, and headed straight for the water and I headed straight for the water as well.  It was glorious.

My mom said something to somebody about “physical therapy” and my being hit by a car.  I wasn’t interested in her talk, however. I had a conflict of interest: I was interested in the water and in another dog that was swimming. It was difficult to make a choice but Mom solved that conflict: She pulled on the lead and said, “Joey, come.  Let’s swim!” and I followed, and we started walking in the water along the shoreline.

physical therapy for me

physical therapy for me

We walked as far as we could go in one direction and there I saw Dad on land!  Then we walked back to the original place, and there I saw Dad again!  We kept walking back and forth along the soft sands of the shoreline and Dad followed us so he could be near us.

I want to go in deeper

I want to go in deeper

Soon I wanted to go in deeper. My parents said “Do you think he’s ready to go in deeper?” but I seemed to be telling them that I was ready for this so Mom let the lead out to its longest and let me swim out.  Eventually I turned around to come back in.

We played this game for a while. Mom and I would head out into deep water and once there, I would decide to turn around and swim toward shore, where Dad was. I would go up on shore toward Dad, turn around, see my mom out there in the water, and decide to go back in the water toward her, as she said, “Joey come! and wiggled her fingers to urge me forward.

Once in a while I was distracted by the other dogs in the water but since I was on lead, there was no chance of going over there and though I tried, I understood my limitations.

conflict of interest

conflict of interest

After a while, both my parents said “I think that’s enough for the first day” and I was perfectly happy to stay on land and dry off.

Tonight I had a huge appetite and I am both eager to go out again and very tired.

Physical therapy is really a lot of fun, if you’re a dog!


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