Dog trains man

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Three months into Kenzo's physical therapy to recover from a tendon injury, the side effects on his mental health are starting to show. Being leashed since December, his frustrations are mounting rapidly.

Physically he is doing great. Recovery is slow, but we are making progress. We do our exercises and a lot of extra training and activities to tire him out. People that already went through this, warned me how difficult it could be, but I underestimated it. What he lacks from walks, being social around other dogs, and expending his energy, can't be compensated by upping in other area's like training and nose work. At least, in Kenzo's case.

The first signs came when he started to misbehave when spotting other dogs - which I avoid as he is not allowed to play. Then the other day we met one of his long time favorite girlfriends, a nice calm girl, called Frida. I shouldn't have gone up to let them meet. I expected them to turn around each other with tail wags, as they usually do. Instead, he harassed her on a very rude way.

Kenzo and Frida last December, before his surgery, best friends
Kenzo is no saint, and he can be a bully on occasion, but this was past all limits. An explosion of cropped up energy and frustration.

We will have some serious re-socializing to do. I discussed it with our trainer from the club, who knows Kenzo since puppy hood, and his vet team. There is not much more we can do at this time. We have to finish our physical therapy first, before we can repair the mental damage. The only thing we do try is some damage control. After I tire him out with nose work, we go for a walk - on a short distance - with another girlfriend of him.

So far, it doesn't help, and his frustrations are very visible during those walks.

I am sure he will return as the Kenzo we know, but all of this is going to take a lot longer than I could ever imagine. Still 3 months of physical therapy to go. After that, rebuilding his social skills for an unknown time to come.

But we are in good spirit. We will get stronger out of it when we reach the other end, whenever that might be.


  1. I'm sure it is frustrating for him. We went through something similar during Ginko's 2 back-to-back knee surgery recoveries. During that time, we lost our elderly Dalmatian. By the time Ginko was healed up and we adopted (because he was miserable as a 4-year-old only dog), his social skills had really suffered. He was rude to every dog we introduced him to at the shelter. We finally got permission to introduce Ginko and Lilly at home. He snarked at her once, then was totally fine. I think he is struggling without her, but at nearly 14 (with several major health issues), he is a different dog than 10 years ago. I just cannot imagine introducing him to a housemate. It's so hard.

    We send our best healing and low-frustration mojo.

    1. Thanks for the mojo !
      I fooled myself thinking Kenzo would be stable enough, if only I would give him additional care and attention. I hope when we come out of this, he will give one final snark like Ginko and then leave it at that.

  2. I am happy about Ginko that he finally met with Lily. It must be a great experience for him as he had already suffered a lot of loneliness.
    How is Kenzo now?

    1. It is too early to tell if he is doing better or worse at the moment. First thing would be to have him physically in such a good shape, that he can go off leash, and then we take it from there.

    2. Its too long since our last chat. How is he doing now?

    3. We thought we were in the clear, but unfortunately suffered a relapse. We are going to the vet to have it diagnosed. They found an infection in his paw, so maybe we are "lucky", but it might also be a strained wrist... to be continued...

  3. We went through something sort of in the reverse. Tucker's first ACL surgery was a very long recovery period and we dealt with it like you're doing with Kenzo. However, Tucker went the other way. Became totally uninterested in other dogs and very much less interested in people. Even his pack mate, Lucy. He never regained his "normal" social self. He became much more an observer of life, rather than a whole hearted participant.

    1. Thanks Sue. Sorry to hear that about Tucker. It strengthens my believes they take a real hit psychologically from those long recovery periods.

  4. Oh hugs! We've been through long recoveries with our horses - we know the frustrations you are dealing with.

    Monty and Harlow


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