Monday, March 30, 2009

Jinx Channels Ivan B

Not really, but we did give it a try, just to see if dressing the part motivated her to give it a real work out! Frankly, she wasn't thrilled about the bandana but for the most part, she tolerates the crazy things I ask her to do.

When Jinx first began her rehab, and was getting accustomed to her hobble/restraint system, she wore an Under Armor shirt over the harness to prevent her from messing with it and to keep it in place. We even sent a photograph to the Under Armor company, praising their product. They did not answer. Apparently having a dog model their gear wasn't high on the list of "things we want to promote." But, hey, it worked!

We have progressed to the point where she has a tiny pink weight to velcro around her leg, either on the foreleg or between the paw and pastern. That prompted me to put a bandana on her head. She REALLY looked at me as if I was crazy when I started singing, "you're a maniac, ma-ni-ac....." (thus firmly establishing my age). Jinx tolerated it and seemed to be amused that I was so humored by her appearance. For her weight exercises she has to offer her paw and I require that she also extends it, so not only is she lifting it, she is also exercising the possibly nerve damaged area.

She has also learned to "sit pretty" which means to sit up on her haunches and balance, and to offer me a paw. However, as I attempted to photograph it I realized that my verbal commad has a proximity attached to it. Whenever I got too far away, she would become confused over what I was asking, as apparently I have taught her that the command criteria involves having me within several feet. I'll have to work on that one, but was unable to get a photograph by myself. It's really cute, though; a definate hit on the dinner theater circuit! From that position she will learn to "wave", by repeatedly offering her paw and that becomes the bicycle like action of the human machine used in physical therapy.

As you can see from the photograph, the vet does have some concerns yet as to possibly nerve damage. The 'knuckling" when resting is something that had worried me previously. I do see it less and less, and Dr. Bruce advised at our last visit, that the nerves will regenerate, so this is merely a matter of being patient as she continues to recover. I hold out any ray of hope like a carrot to our sled, and continue to march toward that goal.

We still do the cavaletti and she is very good about lifting her foot. I told her today that I can already see the rippling muscles in her shoulder! She continues to practice her "lay" (dead dog, flat on your side) position from which I can ask her to flex her head to her shoulder.

Because I noted she tends to stand like a tripod, with her hind feet wide and the good front leg centered, we also use exercise bands on her hind legs to keep them closer under her body. This prompts her to put her injured leg to the ground. I do think that the traditional gundog hobbles might actually work better, because the rubber bands stretch. Of course, those are only for stationary exercises. The last thing I need is to have Jinx fall over onto that shoulder or try to catch herself. She is so tolerant of all these devices.

Walks are high on the list of acceptable exercise, which has necessitated the addition of a "walk" command, which means "keep all four feet on the ground". This is helpful when Jinx decides she would like to sprint and to carry the injured leg up. I am fortunate that due to her training I can stop her and remind her to "walk." I also use that command when she wants to heel with me and carry the leg elevated.

Jinx has to earn all her meals through work. Sadly, she has porked on some pounds being sedentary and if I added training treats to her regular meals, she would swell like a woodtick on a labrador. One way she earns her meals is by tracking. And she is getting darned good at it, and quite persistent! The first thing she does when I let her out to potty is to look for a track she might have missed. Tracking puts her head down so that she cannot hop, and must move one foot and then the other. I had begun doing this in the house, laying a trail of kibble that wound through the kitchen and livingroom but now that the weather has improved, I lay tracks outdoors so that we can legitimately combine rehab with applicable training. If nothing else, Jinx will be a devoted tracking student by the time we're through!

The most recent addition to our reportoire is to have her offer me her *good* paw, while bearing weight on the other. So far, I have only attached the word and I pick up the paw myself, but being the food motivated creature she is, I think we will soon find success. However, this one is more difficult because she wants to stretch out instead of keeping her injured leg underneath her. I believe that as she builds muscle tone, it will also become easier for her to do.
I believe this (septic vent) to be the culprit in the injury. At the risk of sounding like a lunatic, I have a picture in my mind of Jinx running, looking over her shoulder at Cooper, and smacking into the pvc pipe.

This week Jinx will have her first swim therapy session. If I don't have my hands full, I will try to get some photographs of that. One small step for dog therapy, one giant leap for Jinx! For anyone rehabbing a dog following an injury, I hope that these blogs inspire you not to give up and to think outside the box.