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Rogues Gallery Kennel

We have yet to leave the starting chute with a race team of high-powered huskies this season, but already we have noticed positive changes in our sled dogs that went to "Gone to the Dogs" during the summer months.

We brought four different dogs to Gone to the Dogs. Three were among the weakest dogs in our kennel when it came the physical stamina and cardiovascular endurance, while the fourth was a dog that suffered a recurring injury annually. Laurie Cramer listened to what we said about each dog, then physically assessed each one herself before developing an exercise regime. Over the next few weeks the dogs were brought to her for regular therapy on the land and aquatic treadmill, the latter seemed to be where the most progress was made in terms of their fitness.

As fall training began weeks later, we immediately noticed the changes in these dogs. All three of the formerly weaker dogs looked indistinguishable from the strong dogs in the kennel. They have all been pulling their weight while pulling a fourwheeler on some extremely demanding runs through the soft sand on the beach near where we live, still showing no signs of fatigue as the runs have increased to 15-20 miles in length.

One of the dogs even positively changed his gate after going to Laurie's. This dog had always favored a lope, which is not an energy-conserving gait over long distances, which may have been why this dog tired so quickly. Laurie developed a therapy using foam "waterwings" for the dog to wear on his wrists, while treading in the aquatic treadmill. In addition to increasing his stamina, this also encouraged him to move in more of a trot, and it is this gait that he now favors while running in the team.

Additionally, bringing these dogs to Laurie has had an added effect of making at least one of them that was extremely skittish of strangers more calm. While she is still not the most social dog when people meet her for the first time, she is 100 percent better than she used to be.

In regard to the fourth dog with the recurring injury, time will tell how she does, but we are hoping the increased fitness in summer strengthened her muscles, ligaments and joints and will prevent injuries this winter. Laurie also taught us several stretching exercises to perform on this dog, and the others, to further prevent injuries during the training and racing season.

We will definitely be going back to Gone to the Dogs next summer, and would encourage other mushers to bring their dogs in during the summer for both the physical and mental stimulation. What the dogs got out of their visits was well worth the price.

Joseph and Colleen Robertia
Rogues Gallery Kennel

 

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