Tag Archives: enrichment

Izzy’s toe – recovery and enrichment

It’s been quiet on the blog – more so than usual – over the last few weeks because it’s been a bit chaotic here.  You see, Izzy dislocated a toe on an evening walk and her rehab has been my priority.

The medical description of her injury was a ‘medial dislocation of the 5th digit.’  That’s the outside toe for those laypeople out there and it meant that the toe decided to go towards the centre of her body and at one point was completely tucked under the pads of the toes on the foot.  Ouch!

The most immediate concern was pain relief and I am grateful that we have an After Hours vet in our city.  Not all locations have this and you have to wait until morning to see a professional.

Home from the After Hours

Izzy had her toe padded and wrapped and was given a Metacam injection for pain relief. So tired I didn’t want to wake her to take her harness off

We were back out at our vet in the morning for an exam and they agreed with me to treat it conservatively which meant putting the toe back into place under anesthesia, restricted exercise (going to the toilet only) and NSAIDs for pain relief.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of enrichment activities for a dog that must rest.  Boredom can quickly set in and enrichment keeps their minds active so they are less likely to want to exercise and, in Izzy’s case, do zoomies in the house.

She taught a massage workshop with me on 27th October just 2 days after having her toe re-aligned; she simply had to sit out the gait analysis part of the agenda.  Otherwise, she was my perfect demo dog as usual and the change of scene was good for her.  She came home happy and tired.

Teaching Massage

Izzy was happy to rest on the massage table during class

And later in the week, my hairdresser allowed her to come with me so she could have another change of scene and enrichment.

At the Hairdressers with Therapaw Bootie

Izzy at the hairdresser’s who gave her a sheepskin to lay on. She’s wearing a Therapaws bootie to help protect her paw

After my hair was done, Izzy had her short toilet walk in a new neighborhood with new and different smells – also enrichment.

I’ve been taking her for short toilet breaks to other parks, too.  And rides in the car are also stimulating activities for her.

In between, I’m lucky that I had a friend who looked after her for two days while I was working and during this time she also had the company of another greyhound.   It really helps to have friends who understand and can help out when you dog is injured.

I’ve been lasering Izzy’s toe daily to help with blood flow and tissue healing and she is back to walking, although I am increasing the distance of her walks slowly to ensure we don’t over do it.  Also, after a period of rest, the physical condition of a dog declines.  So it’s wise to manage the re-introduction of exercise to avoid other strains and injuries.

Izzy has arthritis in her carpus (wrist) and toes, and so this injury is probably also a sign of the vulnerabilities that we will need to manage as she gets older.

The good news is that she is on the mend and we haven’t had any set back so far.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Advertisements

At Kindness Ranch

Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary is a unique place, the only sanctuary in the United States that cares for animals used in research and laboratory facilities.  At this property, you’ll find horses, cows, sheep, pigs, cats and dogs.

The small team at Kindness, which is a fairly new sanctuary at only 12 years old (founded in 2006), work hard to care for the animals and maintain their large Wyoming property to the highest of standards.  Animals that can be rehabilitated are put up for adoption; the others will simply remain at the property with a secure and safe home for life.

IMG_2624

I have just finished a week of work with the dog care team at Kindness, discussing things like behavioral adjustment programs, enrichment, gait analysis, physical rehabilitation and senior dog care.    I also introduced them to the range of flower essences I use to support emotional health whilst working on training and rehab.

I chose to travel to Kindness Ranch because, for anyone who follows my blog, I often include items about research.  I’m a self-confessed science geek.  But I am not naive.  I know that much of the research which is published involves dogs as study subjects.  The life of a lab animal, in most cases, isn’t pretty.

The ranch is in remote Wyoming – Hartville to be exact with a permanent population of 69 people.  For this reason, if you’d like to visit Kindness (there are 4 guest yurts on the property which can be hired for your stay – and these are well-appointed and very comfortable), you need to book ahead.  The ranch is also a good place for a digital detox, too,  because the guest yurts do not have television and cell phone reception is patchy at best.  WiFi is available but is slower than most are used to and not suitable for streaming.

Dogs coming from a laboratory situation often have unique needs.  Most have never experienced grass under the feet, the sights and sounds of the home environment, and some will have healthcare issues that require attention before adoption is possible.  Many have never been house trained.  Their ages vary depending on how long they were used for study.

And while Beagles are the dogs most often associated with laboratory research, expect to see other breeds of dogs, too.  Larger breed dogs are often used by veterinary schools, for example, so students can learn blood draws, how to vaccinate, etc.  These dogs become living pin cushions and are not surprisingly fearful whenever a needle is presented.

I deliberately chose Kindness as a destination because of the special niche it holds in the animal rescue world.  It takes special people to liaise with laboratories and encourage them to release their animals rather than choosing to simply euthanize them (described as the ‘cost effective’ option).  Kindness walks a tightrope of sorts to ensure that the animals are given safe passage out of the lab and onto the sanctuary whilst maintaining the confidentiality of the labs.

And it also takes special people to live remotely and care for these  animals.

I hope you enjoy these photos of my time at Kindness and, if you believe in their mission, please consider making a donation.  Every bit helps.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Hank

Hank was the first dog to stay with me overnight in my yurt. Hank is an older boy who spent the first 7 or 8 years of his life in a laboratory. He’s a bit stiff, and has trouble with stairs (as many of the Beagles do).

IMG_2626IMG_2627

Hank in for a cuddle

One of Hank’s favourite pastimes is being held like a baby on your lap. He makes himself totally relaxed and floppy and will stay for as long as you like. It’s amazing how trusting these dogs can be given their treatment at the hands of others.

 

Rocky

Rocky is a big boy who doesn’t know his own strength (he needs more training about walking nicely on leash) and he’s afraid of men.  We suspect his life as a veterinary school practice animal meant that he didn’t have a positive relationship with a male lab assistant and/or vet students.  So we worked on setting up a system where the men on the ranch will visit and quietly enter and feed him high value treats. Handlers will praise Rocky when he is quiet and doesn’t bark and will start using a ‘click for quiet’ approach to clicker training.

Frieda

Frieda is a pit bull who loves to go to the dog park on the ranch, appropriately called the K9 Corral. She has good recall and knows most of her basic cues including sit and down. She’s very intelligent!

Gus

Gus is another senior Beagle used in pharmacokinetic studies for at least 7 years. (These studies introduce drugs and watch their effects on other organs in the body.) He’s a bit achy in the joints, too. Gabapentin and muscle relaxants prescribed by the vet have helped him a lot and his caregiver says that he is a different dog with the support of his meds.

 

Play date

A change of scene, play, and social time with other dogs are all important to the emotional health of our dogs.

Izzy, for example, has a boyfriend who lives on the other side of the city.  His name is Bergie and they have a special relationship.  I can’t even remember when it started; they just met at greyhound walks and bonded to each other.

So, it’s important to his owners and to me that we make the time for them to see each other.  This week, they finally managed to have a play date after being severely rained out of one date and then missing another chance to see each other when, again, the rain and cold interfered with the monthly farmers market display for Greyhounds as Pets.

On this date, Bergie decided to impress Izzy with his hole digging skills…she took a front row seat!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

My diary

I still use a paper diary despite having access to online calendars and tools. There’s a reason for that.

Diary photo

I successfully managed my time through the Auckland Power Crisis of 1998 without a hitch, thanks to my paper diary. My colleagues, who were already relying on electronic schedules, didn’t know where they were supposed to be for weeks.  Meetings had to be rescheduled; service delivery slowed.

My diary also helped me through the days and weeks following the Canterbury Earthquake of February 2011. During these trying times, I could still make and keep appointments, keep notes as reminders, and generally have something to hold onto that was part of ‘normal’ life.

Most pages include reminders of what I need to finish that day.

And reflecting on my diary over the weekend, I see that it includes Izzy’s social calendar.

Going forward over the next couple of months, Izzy has engagements for play dates, appearances at the Riccarton Market for Greyhounds as Pets, and dates for sleepovers when I have to travel for business.  She also has a birthday party date with her best mate (and boyfriend) Bergie.

I often say that the best thing we can give our dogs is quality time.  One way of ensuring you make time for your dog is to commit to them in writing.  I’m pretty confident that I’ve got the right priorities and tools to do just that.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Enrichment for the special needs dog

In my massage practice, I see quite a few special needs dogs.  These can be senior dogs who are slowing down for a variety of reasons, dogs who have been injured, and dogs who are terminally ill.  Some also have behavioral difficulties which exacerbate any physical limitations they may have.

One of the things I address with my clients is enrichment.

The dog may be physically limited in its abilities but is not impaired cognitively.  Like older people who have entered rest homes/nursing homes, or who are being cared for at home, these dogs need stimulation and variety.

Visitors, including other dogs, is just one example of an enrichment activity.

Another issue for owners in this situation is introducing variety by getting their dog out of the house.  If a dog enjoys car rides, for example, they may be happy just to take a drive to a new location with the windows down to experience new scenery and smells.

Kenny, a 13+ year old Bull Terrier/Blue Heeler cross, was taken to the beach recently - his smile says it all!

Kenny, a 13+ year old Bull Terrier/Blue Heeler cross, was taken to the beach recently.  He needed to be carried from the car to the beach but his smile says it all!

I know some owners who take their dogs for a take-out meal so they can sit in the car and enjoy it together – with snacks included.

Once owners have tried enrichment activities with their dog, they have universally reported to me an improvement in the dog’s disposition and general engagement.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand