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RedWolf Posted - 08/05/2015 : 4:25:34 PM
My best friend and her husband have a recreational kennel of 8 dogs, 4 of whom are quite good (contemplating the 4-dog sport class at Kalkaska this winter), 2 of whom aren't quiiiiite as good as the 1st 4, one of whom is basically retired due to attitude issues...and then there's Gypsy, the reason I'm posting.

Gypsy is a great dog: very patient, steady temperament, LOVES to pull--but she'll be 15 this fall, and last year she showed signs of arthritis in her hips after a couple short runs. My friends don't put a lot of miles on their dogs, and Gypsy isn't allowed to run w/ the "fast 4" anyway, but we're all getting worried about how much we should let her work in harness this winter, if at all. But at the same time we don't want to completely deprive her of what she loves to do if there's still a chance that she can do a little sled-work. (We jokingly were calling her "Iron Dog" at the start of last winter, before the arthritis showed up, but we all knew even then that she was on borrowed time.)

So, to make a long post short: would it be alright to let Gypsy do maybe a mile or 2 on weekends, just enough that she still feels like she's part of the goings-on? I told my friends I'd ask and get back to them w/ some answers. Thanks in advance....
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RedWolf Posted - 08/06/2015 : 05:43:36 AM
Those are actually 2 great ideas--b/c if she does a super-short run (like you said, Chuck, half a mile), she wouldn't feel left-out but it wouldn't put too much strain on her joints. If she's ouchy afterwards, the next step would likely be official retirement. And running alongside while not hooked to the sled might work too, b/c there's even less physical strain.

I'll let my friends know and see what they think. Thanks so much.
Dougskijors Posted - 08/05/2015 : 10:11:42 PM
Maybe let her run along out of harness?
My little retired dog nips behind me and runs on the tails of my skiis.
ChuckCubbison Posted - 08/05/2015 : 6:18:06 PM
I'm skeptical that any dog at that age, especially one with noticeable arthritis issues, can run two miles without having some pretty serious aches and pains afterwards. But if the dog will do it, and wants to, great! Maybe start out with some runs even shorter than that, a half mile or so, and evaluate how she is doing in the hours and days after, then increase the mileage if appropriate.

I've always been a believer that the dog will tell you when they're "done." That being said, with a 15 year old I think you have a responsibility to be smarter than the dog and make sure they don't do something that is beyond what is safe for their body.

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