When Hennessy came trotting back to me, tennis ball in his mouth and holding a back leg up, I knew it had finally happened. Having a dog, particularly a large dog, there’s always the risk that they could tear the cruciate ligament in their knee, which is similar to an ACL tear in humans. I knew when we adopted Hennessy two years prior, that his high-energy habits increased that risk. We’d kept him at a low weight and tried to keep him from rushing down the stairs to ‘answer’ the door, but sometimes you can’t avoid the inevitable!

It was late October in Portland and if there was a ‘perfect’ time for a dog to be on 8 weeks of strict bed rest, this was it! We thanked our lucky stars and settled in for the first winter in 2 years that didn’t involve keeping towels at the door to dry Hennessy off after walks. We watched the rain pour down from our comfy couch and kept Hennessy sedate and rested after his TPLO surgery. The weeks went by, slowly, and he made a full recovery.

When you’re stuck in the house, it’s easy to become comfortable with the day to day routine. I hadn’t realized how bored Hennessy and I had become until the first time we were able to take a walk after his recovery! We stepped outside, into the rain, and headed to the park. Henny’s nose was to the ground the instant we hit the pavement! He was having the time of his life; I hadn’t seen him this interested in anything for months! Every tree, every breeze and every path we took was full of new information for him to sniff out.

We all know a dog’s sense of smell is much more fine-tuned than ours. This article from Nova explains just how much more! The analogy they make is to vision; if we’re able to see a third of a mile away, a dog is able to see more than 3,000 miles away. It made me think about how important environmental stimulation is to our dogs. No wonder Hennessy seemed bored, after 8 weeks of being house-bound, his whole world opened up when we took that first walk!

We’ve been on several walks since then, and Hennessy’s mood has improved with each one. It’s tempting to keep him inside when it’s raining, but seeing him so engaged and happy keeps us motivated to get him out there, rain or shine. They’re not always long walks, but he has a great time just the same. Would your dog appreciate some time outside with you? Yeah, it’s probably going to rain until June…do you want to wait until then?

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