Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Recovery Day

You probably wonder what this topic hides. There has been no injury for anyone of us at the kennel, that would require a recovery, so no worries!

What we reffer to as Recovery Day here at Kipp d´Amundsen Kennels is something we have developed for our dogs and us, based on certain needs and mostly philosophy.

It is a day off from hooking up and running. No mushing day. Now you will think why making such a deal out of it – simply a day off is a day off, right? Not really. Actually, the Recovery Day is something very far from not doing anything with the dogs and letting them just sleep and stay in their kennels and houses.

All the dogs get to run, stretch, play and socialize in the play yard, as usual, under our or our handlers´ supervision.

Our handler Sandra playing ball with the pack.

The main string, which this year counts 31 canine athletes for the time being gets to spend several hours with me and Jachym, while we play and run around with them, with every single action having a deeper meaning (stretching, checking overall condition, checking for harness rubs and sores, loosening muscles, socializing and strenghtening our bond, to name a few).

Here Dasher gets an overall check up, with a "bend for cookie" diagnostic method, as taught by sled dog specialist Jerry Vanek, DVM.

Each one of the dogs gets a thoroughfull check up, rehabilitation excercice of back and legs (what I call the „balance excercise“), stretching and brief massage of back and neck areas. This allows us to see if the dogs need any aditional treatments (such as thoroughul massage, performed inside, in warmth, Reiki healing, etc.) or adjustments (by a professional chiropractor).

 Cuddle and stretch with Star.

Massaging Joey´s back and thies. His expression speaks for itself :) 

When necessary, we take a dog into the dog kitchen to do massages and stretching in calmer and warmer environment. On the picture above, Grayling gets a thorough full massage of the back muscles, while on the picture below, we do the "balance excercise". 

The next thing, and as popular among the furry athletes, as the massages and stretching, is what I call „trick-for-treating“ – doing tricks for treats, using the clicker training method, and teaching the dogs new tricks, upon their interest. This is something new at our kennel, that we have introduced this summer in cooperation with our former handler and very skilled dog trainer Kristyna. I already see some amazing changes and results on the dogs only after a few sessions and very basic work. But that will be a topic for another blog post some other day.

Sparky doing the "gimme-five" trick, while Magneto is watching.

The Recovery Days are a wonderful way for us to spend time with our beloved dogs in a totally different way than running them in team and working hard. It allows us to see them as individual beings, and mainly it allows them to BE JUST DOGS

The oportunity of creating and enriching the bond between us is huge and nothing makes me smile more than seeing my happy dogs bouncing around in a harmony with each other, the sparks in their eyes and their doggy way of smiling at us, comming for a hug and belly rub or just to sit on the bench with us. 

In the beginning of October we attended the sled dog symposium in Kiruna (which is also on my list of things to write about) and I was beyond happy to hear the speeches of Finnmarkslopet veteran and champion Roger Dahl and Yukon Quest/Iditarod veteran (YQ champion) Hans Gatt. Their lectures on dog care, relationship, respect and love of dogs not only made my day, and confirmed my philosophy of sled dog care, but inspired and motivated me and deepened the commitment of myself and our kennel to never stop reaching further and further in terms of care and devotion to our dogs.

There is always more we all can do for our dogs, folks!

Happy Trails!

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