writer, warrior, whack-a-doodle

Juno's Got Back

Juno's Got Back

June 13, 2012
Posted in: Dogs | Reading Time: 4 minutes

The last two times Juno went to her Physical Therapy appointment---she goes once every month for a water treadmill workout and check-up---she gained 1 full pound of weight on both visits. She was down to a svelte 58 lbs and hovered there all winter, which greatly helped ease the pain of her severe hip dysplasia. But now my chunky-monkey is back up to 60 lbs. And just when I started to panic and go all diet-Nazi (as Mr. Wild Dingo calls me when it comes to starving feeding the Sibe), I discovered, it's not all that bad.

Juno's PT noticed she actually gained a ton of muscle in her back legs, which have always been severely atrophied from improper use. And both legs are more evenly developed, as her right leg is usually worse than her left. Dogs with hip dysplasia will swing their hips side-to-side (like a wiggle) while walking in order to compensate for the pain, which causes the muscles to atrophy in the legs. Unfortunately, that compensation will cause more complications in the spine later down the line, so it's important to keep muscles strong in order to stabilize the hips and the spine. Leash walking, unfortunately, doesn't help since the pace is slow enough to cause the swinging motion and running won't help since a dog will 'rabbit' the back legs.

As soon as spring hit, I started jogging her by bike again at a trotting pace 2-3 times per week. The trotting pace forces the dog to swing the legs directly underneath her body in a normal forward and back motion, using core strength and building hip flexor muscles. And now after the PT has noticed a huge improvement each visit and muscle gain, I'm more convinced than ever that trotting is the best exercise for a dog with hip dysplasia.

She's doing so well. Her trotting pace is actually getting faster. It used to take her a little over an hour to do her 4 + mile loop. Now it takes her under 50 minutes. The first 20 minutes are spent walking to the sport field and letting her take care of business and pee-mail. After 20-minutes it doesn't take much to convince her to "get down to business" and get into a steady trotting rhythm next to my bike. She absolutely loves it. And it's a joy to watch her. We'll jog up to 15-20 minutes at a time, take a break, then add another 15-20 minutes.

Her weekly schedule basically rotates between her short bike runs of less than an hour and long slow distance, off-leash hikes of 1.5-2 hours.  Hiking her anything short of that doesn't do much for her bad Sibe self. Sibe owners can sympathize.  But biking her 2-3 times per week is a win-win for both of us. It gives my poor hiking feet a break which allows me to do my own ride on those days as well, and it makes her as tired as a long hike.

I put together a little video of how she and Loki run with me on the bike. Though I started off biking them separately, I found a way to make logistics work so I can bike them together now.  I tend to prefer just free biking versus bike-jorring because it allows them the free time they need at the beginning of it all to take care of their pee-mail business. But typically 20 minutes into it, both are fairly committed to holding a pretty good pace and keep it up. At first Juno tried to run with Loki when he ran ahead, but I have to hand it to the Sibe. She's pretty good at listening to me and slowing down when I tell her to. Running won't hurt her, but it won't help build muscle and since this is all about that, I slow her down to a trot and I let her run, if she wants to, on hiking days instead.  In fact, she's pretty much figured out she doesn't have to keep his pace and you'll notice she stays at her own trotting pace even if I or Loki are ahead of her.

It's almost as if she knows it's better for her health. Maybe she does.


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9 comments on “Juno's Got Back”

  1. GO JUNO! Amazing how well she is moving. I will take your word for it that there are good muscles under the floof.

    Mango Momma

  2. That was so much fun to watch. When we read the first paragraph, we couldn't figure out why you were 'punishing' Juno with starvation for adding muscle mass, which is of course heavier than fat. Glad for Juno's sake you quickly figured out it was healthy weight gain. Both their movements look very fluid as they run. How did you get the smooth fore and aft shots while riding your bike? Especially the aft shots? So what do you do in the winter when it's too icy to trot alongside the bike? Interesting that Juno moved between the pavement and grass while Loki stuck strictly to the pavement.

    Jed & Abby

  3. I think you need to come and get Morgan for a month and get her into shape with Loki and Juno! lol She looks fantastic, even if I did laugh all the way through that video over the song choice!

  4. I enjoyed the video and I am so impressed that Juno and Loki trot next to you without going off-track. I doubt I'll be able to do this with Homer. Well, I haven't tried... a bit nerve wrecking for me as he tends to have a mind of his own.


  5. Good lord woman...... badass bootcamp trainer is right! I've been thinking I might like living with you, but after this post I realize I wouldn't fit in. I like leisurely strolls through the neighborhood preferably with a cool breeze giving me a nice tailwind. After a half mile or so, I'm ready for a biscuit and a nap.

  6. That's amazing - bravo for you, Juno! You are an inspiration! Loved the video, too!

    Thank you for your words of support for our Chloe. I'm going to show her your video when she wakes up!

  7. Juno sure looks wonderful... and very, very happy! You can tell she's feeling great!
    Our mom is a bit of a slug, no long long bike rides or walks fur us, its a good thing we have a big yard to zoom around in!

    jack & moo

  8. Ms. WD,
    Your description of me was uncanny in its accuracy. Petit bossy doggie riding in your bicycle basket through the scenic countryside... barking directions while munching on biscuits... ooh la la, sounds like a dream come true. The Wild Dingo Swiss estate is definitely back on my bucket list.

    Now about your resemblance to your cracker and criminal doggies... me think you doth protest too much:) How else could you write so eloquently about their, uh... shortcomings... unless you too have at least some proclivity at said misbehaviors? Un huh. I will whole-heartedly concur that you must be very fit (badass fit) so it must be Monsieur WD who is "sweet" and "fluffy." Just makes me love him more.

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