Agility and Safety
It has been ages since I last updated my blog. I have a lot of things going through my head, but since I know many people don't share my opinions I thought it would be better to just keep them to myself. However some recent events led me to believe I will never sleep well until I get this out of my system. So here it goes.
Recently I have had a really bad luck with dogs and injuries. I've had people ask me what I do wrong that my dogs always end up injured, but I don't think my dogs get injured more than any other high drive dogs. I just probably stress about it more than most people do. I am not blaming anybody for anything, or pretend that I'm a better person. I am sure agility people in general treat their dogs very well and we all have to make choices for our dogs. So for me anybody who puts their dogs' well-being above their expectations is a great person, even if I don't agree with the choices they make. Maybe they are right and I'm wrong, it's been known to happen.
Anyway, of course the silly injuries of my dogs made me think a lot about what I could do better to keep them safe, and even though I believe I've always kept my dogs' interest as my top priority, I probably will never be as relaxed as I used to be. I even considered quitting agility and just finding something else to do, but the truth is - the more my dogs rest, the more they are injured. Controlled activity like agility is probably one of the safest things they do. The most stupid injuries happened to us when you would least expect it. To Tani, turning too close to the wall while doing hydrotherapy. To Momo, hitting a bar holder with with her knee while doing a simple wing wrap. Each time I felt so stupid, helpless, depressed. Could I have done something to prevent it? What was I even thinking, letting them do something so dangerous? But as hard as it is to accept it, I can't control everything. Accidents happen even when you do everything right.
After I saw my dogs limp, I did what I believed was best for them. I went to the best vet abroad, the best physiotherapist abroad, the best chiropractor, the list goes on and on. And every specialist had a different solution to my problem. All of them made sense to me so in order to be extra careful I decided to stay on the safe side and rather rest more than less. It took me months to realize that I made my dogs worse by trying to keep them safe.
Sitting in the crate was stressful for both Tani and Momo. Tani lost all muscles in her legs and got fat around her ribs. She was scratching herself and biting her skin until she was bleeding all over her body. Her nose was scratched from pushing it out of the crate. Momo looked like a savage beast. She was walking in circles and breathing heavily. Every time I would just look into her direction, she went crazy and tried to bounce against the walls, until she remembered her leg hurts like hell and started to walk and breathe heavily again. It was so painful to watch them like this. I still cry only thinking about it. The moment I took them out on short leash just to pee, they would do something stupid, try to do zoomies, jump somewhere, pull on leash on slippery surface, and my heart stopped again. And please, don't get me started on all impulse control we did, of course it helped a little but not nearly enough. This is Momo after injury, the day the vet suggested to put her in a puppy pen so that she could walk a little instead of crashing into the cage. As you can see, it didn't help at all.
Anyway, I have to knock on wood but they are both doing well now. We survived the crate rest, built muscles back and are returning to normal life. I am terribly aware of the fact that although we survived the injuries, they can happen again. And no matter how hard I try, I will never be the same person again, smile when they do something crazy, run on a muddy competition because it's an important one, agree to run a dangerous course because a judge had a cool new idea to try and I traveled far for a show. No matter how hard I try, my dogs can still end up injured and miserable, but I will do what I can to make sure they are safe. I hope you will, too. Because as long as we agree to run on slippery surfaces and dangerous courses, nothing will change - and I believe we are all responsible for what the future of our sport will be.