It has been an emotional few weeks for many local dogs and the owners that love them. Tonight a vizsla that has been missing on Vancouver Island for seventeen days was finally reunited with her family. Closer to home in the hiking trails of the north shore mountains there have been other lost dogs. I know the family of one dog lost and helped hike some trails with Stella this week to search. That dog was actually lost while helping to track another missing dog. Thankfully both the original missing dog plus the one I know were both found safe thanks to a ton of volunteers and lots of long, cold and scary days and nights for both the dogs and the searchers. In our same North Vancouver mountains a flat coated retriever was just found after being lost for 6.5 months and a Bernese Mountain Dog needed a search and rescue team with helicopter to be rescued in dangerous snowy mountain terrain after going missing for 13 days while snowshoeing with its owners.
We live in a large city but are lucky enough to be a short ten minute walk to the wonderful trails of the North Shore mountains. My dogs enjoy lots of off leash freedom on these trails and we generally stick to fairly easy trails. Both dogs have very good recall and are very attentive about checking in with me but this has gotten me thinking. It is a risk-reward tradeoff with off leash hiking and it would be my worst nightmare to lose one of my dogs. My dogs LOVE to run and romp through the woods and I would hate to let my fear of losing them prevent us from enjoying those wonderful hikes we do daily. I practice and reward recalls heavily but have decided to also start training a whistle recall. A whistle carries much further than my voice and doesn't get tired or emotional like a human voice can. Hopefully we will never have a situation where it would be necessary but I feel it is a good tool to have just in case. I also make sure that both dogs gets to meet all sorts of people regularly so they are very comfortable with strangers.
Meanwhile Riley has been recovering nicely from surgery. We went through a variety of xpen configurations before settling on a location that makes him happy. We had the staples removed last week and had my vet check out a possible seroma (fluid swelling) that was at one end of the incision. We ended up putting him on a course of antibiotics just in case the fluid was from an infection. The incision is now a normal size with just a small bit of scar tissue and he is getting stronger every day. He wasn't happy when he couldn't romp in the snow this week but we are now almost three weeks post op and hope to start swim therapy next week so things are looking up for him :). Stella is now nearing the end of her heat cycle and is feeling much more like her regular bouncy, happy self. Her cycle makes her quite sleepy and more nervous/jumpy than normal so we haven't done much (any!) training this month but hope to get some stuff in over the holidays.
Hopefully we will soon be back to these sorts of scenes.