I have a 12 yr old lab mix dog named Pearl who was injured about 4 years ago. Prior to her injuries, she was a great hiking companion, and loved going out with me on weekend trips. I worry about how she would fair if I reintroduced her to hiking/backpacking.
4 years ago when she was 8 she somehow managed to mangle her right hind leg pretty badly. She broke her leg in several places including where essential tendons/ligaments attach allowing the leg to move. After 5 surgeries, numerous pins, plates and screws later, she is able to comfortably walk and jog on the leg, although she does move with a limp.
I was wondering if anyone out here has reintroduced a dog with similar issues to hiking/backpacking and if so, how they faired. We visit a 35 acres offleash dog park freqently, and she does alright. I just worry that at her advanced age, and with her limp, she might be stressing other areas of her body. But she gets so EXCITED when I pull out my backpack, and so SAD when I drop her off at a friends house.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Please, please consult your veterinarian first. Start with short hikes of just a mile or two and work up. You shouldn't expect your dog to carry a pack considering her age and injuries. Remember that 12 for a dog is the equivalent of 84 for a human!
While the hikes probably have to remain short, at least you'll be giving your dog a good time, which is important for whatever time she has left!
Had you considered dropping her off at the friend's house and then going home for your pack? (That assumes she hasn't seen the pack beforehand!)
Edited by OregonMouse (01/06/1306:35 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Thank you for your input. The vet has cleared her as "almost good as new, and as good as she's going to get". I have pain meds for if she happens to overdo it, and the vet has said to allow her as much exercise and physical activity as she feels comfortable with. The biggest factor the clinic warned me against is letting her become overweight as that will really put extra stress on her joints.
I wouldn't expect her to carry a pack, or go on difficult trails with rough footing. I do however worry about the lenght of the hike. It can be hit or miss as to how much activity she is up to. I'm not sure if it is how she sleeps, the weather or something else, but sometimes she could go all day and sometimes she's not up for much.
I liked your suggestion on leaving the pack for later, but this old pup is too smart, she knows what's going on well before we head for the door. "First comes the dehydrator, then measuring and packing... yup, they're going packing again without me!"