To run is to be free….

We always try and get the dogs to the beach when they are puppies. It is a big vast open area which blows their minds a bit. Dill had several trips during puppyhood that nearly ended up with him going back to the breeder! So we really wanted to get Raven out when she was younger in case she ended up the same but she had her accident and it didn’t happen. We have then waited, built her up, got her some fitness and she now has some muscle building up too. So six months after her accident we took her to the beach.

To say I was worried about it is an understatement. I didn’t know if it would be too much, whether she was fit enough, how she would be with the sea (oh she finally swam on her own yesterday!!) and whether she would listen to us or do a Dill and bugger off chasing birds the whole way along the beach. So lots of things to worry about!

We planned to go very early so we would miss people, so when we arrived and saw a large number of cars in the car park we were wondering what was going on! Think the football club had gone for some beach training but we were able to keep away from them and we didn’t bother them and they didn’t bother us.

We let the dogs off pretty quick, the other three are well aware that the beach is lots of fun and so they get wound up quite quickly. Dill made a lot of noise, he wanted the world to know just how happy he was to be on the beach and Lily just danced around us waiting for the toys she knew we always take to the beach with us. Raven took off with them, she was feeding off their excitement and she happily ran round with him, you could see her nose going the whole time whilst she was trying to take everything in but she never went too far, stayed with us for most of it.

There was lots of fun had by everyone. Watching Raven run, like properly run was amazing. I can’t look at her and not think about what happened, I think about it a lot. I worry about it all the time. I know that however much she enjoyed running, however well she was moving that everytime she does this she is going to be causing wear on her spine that the others won’t have. We have been looking into supplements etc and she will probably go on some once she has finished growing to help reduce as much risk as we can but for now she has to be allowed to be a dog.

The best bit, however odd it might be was getting this photo on the right. I have been watching her movement like a hawk, analysing and probably over analysing how she moves, whether she is moving properly or not. When she runs, I haven’t seen much of her fully extending her back legs. I have found when training the dogs she can’t ‘crawl’ like the others can, it is clearly uncomfortable for her, which is understandable when you think about how they move to crawl but it also had me worried about her hips. She spent a couple of weeks moving oddly and then when we got her back she did favour one side over the other so I am aware she probably has some wear on her hips that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. Obviously makes me over paranoid… but seeing this photo and those back legs stretched out – I just can’t describe how happy and relieved that makes me. She is moving properly. This wasn’t the only photo either, she was still moving like this when she was tired too so her movement is fine.

6 months post op – Raven has competed in three shows, two championship ones, qualified for Crufts, is now retrieving dummys and dummys covered in pheasant pelt. Her recall on the whistle is pretty good and she is improving on her stop whistle daily. She still gets over excited in new places and at places she does know, she struggles a little with the excitement of it all but I am pretty sure the more she goes to new places the more normal it will become. There are still things that due to the isolation at Dick Whites and then the crate rest for a month has left issues that we are working through but we will get there in time. How she is now is so dramatically different to six months ago. We still have a long way to go but we are getting there!