Happy is proof that not only can you teach an old dog new tricks, but you can condition them to become all-terrain, all- adventure dogs!
How will I keep this short enough? Happy is my loving Labrador, ready for a cuddle, any day, anytime. He is my companion in adventure, always willing to climb that hill, clamber up those boulders or cross that creek. He will sit for hours gazing adoringly at my elderly Mum, a nose encouraging her to keep stroking him when she stops, he will also step to her side to help her rebalance when she wobbles.
Sounds like he has been with us since a pup, hey? Happy joined my partner and I when he was only 2 weeks from turning 8 years old! He had serious gut health issues, chronically infected ears that were so bad he would smack his head on doorways to stop the pain, fungal infections between his toes, virtually no muscle and flat feet. But beautiful eyes!
Happy clearly had very little experience of the wide world, he made all the puppy mistakes, tripping in holes, stumbling down steps, getting stuck in brambles, surprising himself with the feel of water and lots more little accidents. He lumbered rather than ran, his big flat feet flopping on the ground in front of him. I could hardly bear to watch the way he moved; it was so awkward.
Happy was so weak in his muscles I had to carefully limit his exercise, he was 8-year-old, unhealthy and appeared quite stiff in his hips. Apart from walking I also carefully and slowly began a little strengthening regime of: sit to stand, drop to stand, backwards walking and simply standing still for 30 seconds without moving. I incorporated this into his mealtimes, so it was easy to remember. We had some steps at one end of our back veranda, and I added them into our daily routine too, once Happy was strong enough.
Of course there was (and still is) lots of sitting on the floor with Happy for cuddles and during that time I would use the red light therapy wrap over any sore spots, or stiff joints, I would massage muscles, do fascial release over his hips and back and also use some quantum healing and bowen therapy. Because I live with Happy, I could apply therapy little and often, rather than do a set session.
Overcoming Happy’s other health issues were also important, we visited an integrative medicine vet, 2 hour’s drive away, for help with diet and allergies, and were also assisted by our local vet practice who were willing to work with Happy’s special diet….for 5 months it was cooked white locally caught fish and cooked pumpkin with prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes and various herbs, fed to him 4 times a day. He was so allergic, that a mouthful of something else could make him seriously ill. Two years later and Happy eats a raw meat/offal/bones/fruit/cooked vegetables diet of great variation and he can also pick up odd things out on the trail and not experience any problems, so the effort was worth it! Chronic inflammation in the body will also effect joints and muscles, so when I visit a new client, we always have a chat about the dog’s diet.
Happy has steadily became stronger, moves better and his toes have even developed some shape so he isn’t as flat footed, he still gets therapy but doesn’t need it as often. As a precaution I have now started him on Canine 4Cyte Joint Supplement which helps with aging joints. Happy sleeps on Henry Hottie thermal beds, made in Australia with chemical free materials, and cotton covers. He has 4 of these beds and they are his first choice as they are warm in winter, and cool in summer.
When I meet other ten year old Labradors I am sometimes shocked by how old and stiff they are, Happy is proof that with a bit of work we can make their senior years more active and comfortable.