Friday, August 27, 2010

A Dogs Purpose

In lieu of anything exciting to say, this really touched me.

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, 'I know why.' Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good Life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The Six-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that , so they don't have to stay as long"

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

Author unknown

Friday, August 20, 2010

Progress - I think

At the end of week 3, things seem to be progressing well. I'm sure Fox has finally started putting on weight. I was really worried for a while as nothing seemed to be happening so I de-wormed and started him on a low dose of Devils Claw again in case it was worms or pain that was causing him to stay skinny. The only other thing that I can think that could be contributing is anxiety/loneliness as he does not currently have a companion. Unfortunately I can't do anything about this at the moment. Grazing owner will most likely have another horse in quick smart as soon as the grass takes off though so hopefully won't have to wait too long.

According to my plan, I was supposed to get the physio out next week but I'm going to put it off for another week which means the start of September will be the start of my riding if everything goes well. And I think it is, Fox was running around again the other night and he looked strong and sure, just not very fit LOL. Feeling confident about his recovery is good and I really think having the plan laid out on paper (or on blog) really helps that. Though I have to learn not to stress if I can't do something on a particular day, it's not the end of the world!

The pole sessions are going well. I start with them all on the ground quite a distance from each other. We spend some time warming up over those then I put them close so he really has to engage then one pole goes up slightly. We only spend 20 minutes or so doing this as I don't want to push it at this early stage. And it's important, I think, to note that I'm not lunging him over the poles, I'm leading him. Circles at this stage are still too rough on a body like his, we've gotta build some strength before we can start circles.

Clicker training has been nonexistent. Previously I've just been using my mouth to make a clicking sound but it sounds similar to a sound I make to go so I didn't think that was a good idea. So I thought I would get a proper clicker. Could I find one. No. I'm weighing up the options of starting with my mouth again then using a clicker when I can get my hands on one. But I'm unsure of how the changeover would be. Would everything have to be relearned for the new clicker, or would Fox not care? Still mulling over this.

I have first dibs on the new grazing but the current lady, Smurf's new owner isn't moving out till probably the end of October now. That means we'd move in start of November and with November comes Guy Fawkes. Things were insane with fireworks where we are so I would probably leave him where he is until the end of November. Then I would have to move him out for a week over Christmas/New Year as there is always fire works around then. Or I can figure out a plan to get him used to them. But to be honest I'm a bit frightened about the whole thing after last year. Even at New Years when I knew he was in a place with no close fireworks, as soon as I heard them I felt quite anxious. My problem, not his. Apparently he was getting used to them by the end last year. Got a couple of months to figure it out yet though.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Just a minor one thankfully, but it could have been worse. But isn't that the way, you make a plan that involves a horse and invariably something happens that will disrupt all your hard work.

I got to the paddock after work after on Friday, Fox was standing on the top of the hill in a bit of a strange place not moving. At first I thought he was stuck. He wasn't moving an inch. I got close enough to see with relief that he wasn't stuck, not a scratch on him in fact. We were due to go out for some handgrazing so I haltered him and attempted to lead him down the hill. He was acting rather strange, like he didn't know where his feet were going and kept trying to go back up the hill. Eventually we made it to the flat and when he started barging around me shaking his head and stamping his feet that's when I realised. Staggers. I honestly hadn't been expecting it this early but the grass has started growing at a rapid rate so I should have known.

As soon as I let him loose he hurried over to the corner of his paddock where there are a few bushes. Fox has rather atypical symptoms, so much so that the first time this happened the vets didn't think it was staggers at all, they thought he was in advanced stages of liver failure. This was only a few months after I had bought him and I was terrified that I was going to lose him. Luckily someone suggested I try a toxin binder and what do you know, after a few days he came right. As well as the typical twitchy neck and shoulder, Fox also gets hypersensitive which leads to stamping and charging around when you try and do anything with him. He also likes to hide in bushes and in corners. No one has any idea why, but if there is a bush handy, he will literally stand in the bush if he can. But now I know his early warning signs I can nip any further deterioration in the bud.

I haven't got a toxin binder yet, wasn't planning on getting any for a few weeks yet so I didn't have any to give him straight away. I could however move him off the rye grass and onto one of the paddocks that have been resown with horse friendly grass. I also gave him the weekend off. So a wee bit behind but yesterday he was looking back to normal so we will resume our programme today providing he still looks ok.

I also did a bit of a scavenge around the orchard and sheds and found 3 PVC pipes of similar thickness and one log that is about the same length and width. So now I have 4 handy poles without having to go to the arena.

My wonderful boyfriend also got me a bareback pad. Not the one I was looking at but I'm not gong to tell him that. It's a Zilco one and it has pockets. I'm quite excited about the pockets, no more worrying about where my phone is going to go and I can fit some snacks and a water bottle in there. Sweet. It's nice and cushy so will make the bareback experience for Fox and I more pleasant, I wont have to worry about my bony bits digging into Fox's back or his bony bits digging into me. Won't get to ride in it for a bit but it means I don't have to use the saddle at all until Fox bulks up a bit.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Turned up at the paddock last night to find my crazy horse being, well a crazy horse. Running and kicking and bucking all over the show. This included sliding stops into the vicinity of fences. Far too close for comfort, not that that seemed to phase Fox at all. Despite my heart being in my throat watching his antics it was really nice to see him feeling good enough to have a good play.

We had some handwalking scheduled, (more on the rehab programme a bit later) and I have to say I was slightly nervous at the prospect of taking my very fresh horse for a walk. But he surprised me and apart from getting a bit pushy he was pretty good. Only a few minor spooks at I have no idea what. He was striding out so well that I was hurrying to keep up and he would have liked to have had a trot but I was in my gummies so no running for me.

I'm sure he's finally started to put on a bit of weight but I'll leave it for another few weeks before I call the physio. Hopefully he'll have filled out a wee bit more and will be starting to build some muscle so I won't have to be quite so embarrassed.

August rehab programme

Week 1 that we're part way through

Monday - Hand grazing
Tuesday - 20 minute handwalk
Wednesday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Thursday - 20 minute handwalk
Friday - Handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Saturday - Poles
Sunday - Clicker Training - going to work on the friendly game, standing at liberty for massage and picking up feet for now

Week 2

Monday - 30 minute handwalk with massage and stretches prior
Tuesday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Wednesday - 30 minute handwalk with massage and stretches prior
Thursday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Friday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Saturday - poles with massage and stretches prior
Sunday - Clicker training with massage included

Week 3

Monday - 30 minutes handwalking with massage and stretches
Tuesday - 30 minutes handwalking with massage and stretches
Wednesday - 30 minutes handwalking with massage and stretches
Thursday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Friday - Handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Saturday - poles with massage and stretches
Sunday - Clicker training with massage

Week 4 - get phsyio out and hopefully get cleared for riding

Monday - 30 minutes ridden walk with massage and stretches
Tuesday - 30 minutes handwalk with massage and stretches
Wednesday - 30 minutes ridden walk with massage and stretches
Thursday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Friday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Saturday - Ridden poles with massage and stretches
Sunday - clicker training with massage

September we will reassess and make adjustments depending on the progress of the previous weeks. If all has gone according to plan, add 5 minutes of trot and gradually build up.
I would also like to get a collection of poles that I can quickly put out without having to go the arena that I can incorporate in our handwalks, nothing too intensive, just enough to walk him over a few times. We'll still leave the big pole day to the Saturday but I think the extra times during the week would be beneficial. Thursdays and Fridays I work so don't have a lot of time before it gets pitch black but come September there might be enough light to do something a bit more significant. Not that Fox doesn't like getting out on yummy fresh grass.

And September is Spring YAY!!!!!!!!!!! Which means he probably won't need any extra grass as we'll most likely be overrun. Bring on the toxin binder BOOOOH!

I really REALLY want to be riding this Summer. Don't want to do anything fancy, just ride. Maybe get to the beach a few times, or the river. Just have fun. And at the end of Summer reassess again and see whether he would be able to start some low level dressage training again. Maybe even a wee bit of jumping.

So long term I'm hoping the plan will go something like this

August - start building muscle and fitness
September - start riding and introduce trot work
October - increase to longer rides with longer trot work
November - introduce circles and maybe canter is a straight line
December - Increase rides further, introduce light schooling
January, February - Fun times!

That's the ideal plan anyway and if takes longer then it takes longer. November may be to early to start circles but we'll just try and take it week by week, month by month, assessing the situation as we go.

There seems to quite a number of bloggers with horses in rehab and I just want to give a massive shout out to them. The commitment and time is intense, not to mention the cost. But good on you for sticking by your horses and seeing the process through.

I will admit that the thought of giving up has crossed my mind. Putting Fox in a boarding place and forgetting about it. But I love my big crazy horse and I love the time I spend with him so this schedule is a commitment to myself and to Fox that I will see this through.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Well the little fellow is gone. I said good bye to him in the morning, gave him a big hug and a face scratch and had a wee cry. In the afternoon his new owner came to pick him up. He loaded and unloaded like a champ. He settled in quickly after putting on a show for his new buddy a tiny wee hairy pony. And that's that, down to one horse again.

Fox fretted for hours after Smurf had left. Up and down the fenceline, calling and calling. I found it quite distressing to watch so after working up the courage and writing the text three times, I asked the land owner if I could move him up with the other horses. She said no. At the time I was fuming mad but in hindsight the reason she gave me was perfectly valid, her horse is recovering from who knows what and she didn't want him running around. Then I had to go to work so I had to leave him. The land owner did after a while say she would keep an eye on him which she only had to look out her window to do, till it got dark which was only half an hour but hey that's something I guess.

It took Fox a few days to settle down properly but he seems back to normal now. It's nice being able to spend proper time with him and give him the attention he deserves.

He's looking like crap at the moment which is awful. He's been out of work for a year now so has no muscle or top line at all, and he's skinny which makes it even worse. He's getting a ton of food and is started to look a bit better now but still not good enough. I'm also working on yet another rehab programme. And I still have to call the physio. *Sigh* so much to do. And it's raining again.