How do you decide what the right thing is?

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by elegy, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    The first time he got hurt, he actually was playing flyball. But it was an accident- he got run over by a huge dog. It wasn't the result of normal routine running. This time, he hurt himself falling off the dogwalk. It wasn't a bad fall, and he landed on his feet, but it was enough. Sigh.

    He's 3 1/2. It's a huge portion of his life that he's been on injured reserves. It sucks.
     
  2. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    I wouldn't consider falling off the dogwalk "normal routine" in agility, to be honest. I see maybe one dog fall off it every other trial or less - generally when they are loading on, and more often than not the "fall" if from 8" or so off the ground. Meg's fallen once (loading). I'm not saying, obviously, that injuries don't/can't happen in agility. But I wouldn't consider that a normal risk.

    Two things I'd want answers about (and you may already have them from previous appointments): 1) Is there a structural reason he's had this particular injury twice? and 2) Does the fact that he's had the injury before make him more prone to having it again? If the answer to 1 is yes, I'd be pretty hesitant to put him back to any sport that is likely to involve a 'crash' of any type. If the answer to 2 is yes, maybe the same.

    Honestly, agility is my first love, and I'd have a hard time saying "we are done" without a really strong reason, and for me "this type of injury can happen more often in agility" isn't a good enough reason unless I know my dog is more prone to re-injury. We all know injuries can happen anywhere and any time. I know you and Steve do a ton of hiking in rough terrain - if you quit agility and he re-injures himself out hiking, how will you feel? Do you intend to restrict his hiking, dog play time, and other activities that could result in injury?

    Here's what I'd do, as someone who doesn't have to make the decision or live with the consequences ;). Go to the appointment and see what the person says. If it is their opinion that agility isn't any more likely to injure Steve than any other activity you enjoy with him, and you decide you really do want to keep doing agility, set up a training plan with your trainer. I'd do a ton of work on body awareness and hind end awareness, and very carefully train a straight load onto the dogwalk regardless of your position. I firmly believe that is the most dangerous part of the obstacle. And then I'd do my best to let the worry go. He may get injured again. He may never again have a soundness problem. It may be agility, flyball, hiking, or jumping off your bed if he does get injured. What it won't be is your fault.
     
  3. Dizzy

    Dizzy Sit! Good dog.

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    At the end of the day its a game... He's your dog... You'll have fun together no matter what. Focus on that :)

    Don't put the game before the dog.
     
  4. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    I don't know the answer to 1, but the answer to 2 is yes.

    The thing is, things like flyball and hiking do not have the physical requirements of agility. There isn't the sudden turning at speed over jumps. It's just not really any comparison in the physical requirements. Especially for a dog who is as, er, motivated as Steve. I know I can't eliminate all the risks, but what if I can eliminate some of the risks? He doesn't care if he plays agility or not. He does care if he's living in a box.

    And then there's the part where I don't love agility, but I'm trying to not let that weigh too heavily in my decision.
     
  5. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    Steve is sooooooo cute. ;)

    I had some issues with Gonzo doing dog sports too. I had so many aspirations for us, and he could've gone far.... but after an acl tear during his third flyball tournament, THEN a recurring limp randomly after practice, my vet told me it's not worth it to hurt him again. It wasn't. I still did rally and obedience, still had fun playing with him, and he's nearly 13 and very healthy. I play Frisbee with him still! He still has fun without dog sports. I can't wait to get a dog who can compete and Gonzo taught me so much, but you have to accept it when a dog just isn't physically cut out for competition. It's no one's fault it just happens.
     
  6. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    *g* Steve *is* my dog to compete with in sports after Luce blew out both her knees and was relegated to the world of Rally and Obedience. She did an awesome job, mind you, and I could not possibly be more proud of what we accomplished together, but I really would have liked to do agility with her.

    At least there's no question at all of him returning to flyball. That's what he lives for. I'd have a much much harder time walking away from that game.
     
  7. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    It seems like your answer is more clear with these two comments. You don't love agility. Steve lives for flyball. It is less risky for this particular injury. Is it just the pressure of the trainer that is making you think you should stay in it? I misunderstood earlier, and thought that you really wanted to stay in agility. If you don't love it and he has something he loves more, what is keeping you in it?

    I hope that question doesn't sound snarky - it isn't meant to be.
     
  8. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    But you have lil Bean to train too! ;) if I were you, I'd give Steve a long long long break before going back to any sports. I've heard that flyball is more taxing than any dog sport, because of the high speed and impact.
     
  9. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    +2 to BostonBanker's comment, also with sincerity and no snarkiness at all.

    Unless you have the kind of dog who runs agility like it's flyball...not just fast but with reckless abandon...except with many more twists and turns, higher jumps, etc.

    It can be done don't get wrong but I wouldn't start pitting the two against each other in terms of which has a higher risk for injury.
     
  10. crazedACD

    crazedACD Active Member

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    I think your answer is right there. If you can meet the dog's needs with other activities, you may want to count the riskiest sports out.

    When I got Zoie, I considered dabbling in some sports and whatnot. Something fast paced would have been good. But at around 10 months her knee started popping out with strenuous activity, she has luxating patellas. It stopped actually popping out at about 2 years old but is still a factor...she can certainly walk, run around, swim, etc. I just do what she likes to do and she has a happy life while I work with my other dogs that are more suited to sports. Although she would (or would have) enjoyed those sports, she wouldn't have liked doing them for part of the year and then spending months on crate rest.
     
  11. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    Agreed. I admit, I'm one that avoids flyball because of the risk of injury - but different types. We all need to decide what we care about and what makes us and our dogs happiest, and what we and our dogs are best suited for. If you don't like agility, certainly don't do it!
     
  12. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    If you don't love and he's happy with just flyball then I'd just go with flyball. I know I love agility and that makes the idea of quitting very difficult for me. I know that's the majority of my indecision with Mia. She'd be fine without agility but I don't know if I would be. Sometimes makes me feel a little selfish...
     
  13. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    Because I want to love it, because so many other people love it, because it's interesting, because it's a challenge that I feel Steve and I can meet (maybe), because he has So Much Potential To Be Great.

    If he hadn't gotten hurt again, or if he'd gotten hurt in a different stupid way, I'd stay in it. But weighing the risks/benefits.... I just don't know what the right thing for my dog is.

    Flyball has different injuries to worry about, though other than stretching his wrists regularly, I don't think much about them. This specific injury is not likely to be a problem for him in flyball.
     
  14. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    A lot of people seem to say that, but I'm not sure I believe it's true. You train a good, safe box turn, and you keep your dog in good condition. Beyond that, your dog is running the same pattern every time. The hurdles are low. There are not any surprises. He knows what to expect and knows how to prepare his body for it. There's nothing for him to think about or judge- he just does what he's patterned to do.

    For a dog like Steve, I think flyball is significantly safer.
     
  15. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    Some of the things that make a dog a really great flyball dog might make the dog a not so great agility dog. And vice versa. It works that way with a lot of sports. It can be very difficult to have a dog who is truly great at two different sports. Really, many dogs aren't even truly great at the different styles of agility some dogs excel in organizations which emphasis tight turns and twisty courses, while others struggle with such courses. Having a dog who's truly great at one sport sometimes mean you sacrifice having a dog who's really good at many sports.

    I'm not trying to discourage you from agility but I think it you are going to continue, you might consider focusing a lot more on the foundation work. As in going back to the beginning, not running sequences and just working a ton on building a solid, solid understanding of jumping, handling, individual obstacle performance,etc. Going entirely through foundation programs like Success with One Jump, Susan Salo's jumping stuff, SG's Crate Games, ST's Running contact work (even if you aren't doing RCs going through her plank work for it will build great obstacle confidence) and a solid conditioning program that includes exercise and body awareness/strengthening. Planning on not "doing agility" until Steve has a super, super solid foundation to fall back on. This could be beneficial in several ways. It will give him a good long break from the sport which hopefully will set him up to be less likely to be reinjured. And it will make it more clear to him that agility is different from flyball. Right now, he likely is a much more well practiced flyball dog, so he's falling back on his experience as a flyball dog in agility. And it will give you a chance to get more confident in your handling and him to get more comfortable following your handling. I think those things combined will make agility as safe as possible for him and make you and him a great team in agility.

    Of course, if you don't enjoy agility and Steve is already a superstar in flyball then there's really no reason you should feel you have to do agility too. Not because you feel you should love it or because other people love it or because your dog could be great at it. He's already great at a sport and that is something many people hope for but never quite achieve.
     
  16. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    Steve doesn't have any issues with confusing flyball with agility. For an experienced handler, he'd be an ideal dog. He's powerful, he's fast, he's very handler-sensitive, but not handler-*focused*. His problem is that he's got a green handler who can't think quickly enough to handle what happens in a sequence. Which isn't going to be improved by not running sequences. What works in my head doesn't always work when I'm actually out there with my dog-- totally normal issue. But one that won't improve if we don't work on it.

    ETA: I'm gonna send him to BB. She'd know what to do with him :)
     
  17. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    I don't know how likely this is, but is there a dog you can 'borrow' for classes while Steve is recovering? I know when anyone at our training center is having a really tough time with handling, my trainer can hand over her older dog, who will work for anyone and tell you just where to stick it if your timing isn't right. It might be good for helping you handle better when Steve is ready to go back to work.
     
  18. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    I didn't suggest he confuses flyball and agility, I suggested that he's likely had more work in flyball and that that foundation is what he has to fall back on in agility. Agility isn't really about running courses, it's about the little things that happen in between. Building a really, really solid foundation will help you be a better handler and help Steve be a better agility dog :) Some people like following a handling system and Mecklenburg's book is pretty complete for her handling system, starting small and building on it. Even if you don't want to follow a system working through that book would be a great foundation for a handler who feels they need to improve. http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=2717

    Is there a reason you have been so hesitant to go back to foundation work with him? Have you already worked through Success with One Jump, Crate Games, etc and not found it to be beneficial for your issues?
     
  19. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    But it's not really anything about him, falling back or otherwise. He does fine, and since we've fixed the overarousal problem, pretty much runs clean unless I mess him up.

    I'm not against going back to foundations, but it doesn't really address my current issue, which is mostly planning and managing to get where I need to be.
     
  20. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    I don't think reinforcing foundations can ever be the wrong answer, and like I said, since it was a dog walk injury, I'd especially be focusing on that.

    However, I agree that the only way to learn to handle sequences and a course is...well, to handle sequences and a course. You do all your ground work of course, but when it comes down to it, it is a new skill all together.

    I wish there was a good, clear answer. It is clear how much you care for your dogs and their well-being, both mental and physical. But, as I'm sure you know, at the end of the day - you are going to have to decide whether or not to gamble. I hope the specialist will be able to offer some good information that will make the decision more obvious for you.

    For what it is worth, as I was thinking about this last night, I realized I know another agility dog who recently recovered from the same injury (I assume - the owner called it a groin pull). I know she did a ton of rehab with him, and he's been back running agility and kicking butt most of this season. And he's a definite high-drive dog. I know all dogs are individuals, but this dog clearly recovered so well, I figured it was worth mentioning.
     

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