Sunday, June 8, 2008

Does My Dog Need Exercise

Ausha is my best friend, a 10 year old Labrador retriever; she is smart as a whip, and very loving. It has been such a joy having her in my life, but now she is 52 years old, (a dog is 7 years old the first year and 5 years old each year after that). She has slowed down, and does not get the natural exercise she used to just by being a puppy.

Training Ausha to get exercise also involves training me, which is not always easy. It is imperative however that she get this and it is really good for me too. It was unfortunate that it took me a while to realize that Ausha was not her slim trip self anymore, as with anything else, if it happens slowly it does not always get noticed.

When she started having trouble with her hips, the vet told me that she had severe arthritis, and she needed to loose a little weight, about 20 pounds. I was in shock, this had never been a problem before, but she had never been physically limited in what she was able to do before.Now, we are both on an exercise program for our mutual health, and it is showing.

Ausha has lost that extra 20 pounds and I am loosing a little myself, which has been a side benefit. We started with a trip to the vet, to make sure she was able to exercise. I was told to start easy because of her hips, and if she started showing signs of physical stress we should slow down.

We started by taking walks around the block, slow, easy and enjoyable walks for both of us. Gradually we increased to a brisk walk, 3 days a week and our regular slow, easy walk 2 nights a week. I have a friend that owns a ranch, a couple of days a month we go out
there and she too runs with the ranch dogs. She has actually become more active in the last few months on her own.

She looks forward to our walks now, and will bring me her leash if I forget, its great when you train your dog to take care of themselves. It has been one of the more enjoyable lessons we have had, because it is together, and we both love spending time together.

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