Wear and Tear

Last weekend I found the perfect cure for writer’s block.  It’s called walk six miles up a mountain at three o’clock in the morning wearing nothing but running shoes, running shorts, florescent green T-shirt, gloves, hat, flashlight, and a Portland-to-Coast race number.  Oh yes, I mustn’t forget my two flashers and reflective vest, which were the only things keeping me from blending into the shadows when the occasional oncoming motorcycle patrol volunteer went by.

So for about ninety minutes it was me, myself, and I walking as fast as my legs could go.  The darkness kept me from distraction and gave me the opportunity to try and put my finger on something that’s been nagging at me related to dog sports, dog injuries, and owner frustration.  Something was missing.  So I started to review my assumptions about dog sports and put together a working hypothesis to test upon my return home.

My hypothesis goes like this: I believe dog owners come home from a three day agility trial – I’m using agility as an example, but it could be any dog sporting event – and they assess their dog for any “wear and tear” before their day is officially complete, much like I do with my mountain bike after a day of gravity assisted frolic of single tracks, rocks, and roots.  With my mountain bike I assume that the terrain will take a toll on my bike, and before I am truly done for the day I wipe off any debris and realign and lubricate all mechanical parts so I know before my next ride if I need to make a stop at my local bike shop for adjustments.

Now, I know that a dog is not a piece of equipment like a mountain bike.  But until my dog can answer the question “how are you feeling” or “where does it hurt” I’m the one totally responsible for it’s current and future functioning and personally I don’t like surprises and am of the belief system that little fires are easier to put out than big ones, but I digress.

So, over the past week I have been testing this hypothesis and what did I find?  Well, I informally asked twenty-three owners (all owners of agility dogs of various experience levels) what they do after they get home from an agility trial.  The clear majority don’t include a dog “wear and tear” scan; no massage, no stretch, no palpation for soreness.  Quite frankly, many didn’t know they should or even where to begin.  They are proud of their warm-up and cool-down routines while at the trial, but few knew that there was more to it than that.  Sadly, my hypothesis failed!

I feel that this home “wear and tear” scan might be the missing link for injury prevention because it can alert you to a potential injury that might be prevented with Traumeel and a little time off.  So, no wonder many owners are surprised and/or frustrated when their dog comes up lame, which many times was caused by a layering of little injuries.  They truly are the last to know.

What does a “wear and tear” scan look like?  For more information or to just keep this discussion going please join my Yahoo-group at poodles-in-motion.

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