Most of my days are spent on the trails with dogs. Sounds cool, right?!
Hey, I’m Alicia and my life wasn’t always like this. Just a couple years ago I was working a desk job for a local municipality. I probably would have stayed there but in October of 2013 I was on my lunch break and took a walk to the coffee shop, as I was returning to work I was hit by a car in the crosswalk. Little did I know how much that one event would change my life. With over a year of physiotherapy, massage therapy, and counselling to work through my injuries and PTSD, my biggest life saver were my dogs, Kona and Cali. They were my encouragement to get moving, get better, and get back to my active self. For those who have ever experienced any kind of injuries know how hard some days can be. How depressed you get. Those days aren’t completely gone, but they are few and far between now. Trying to get through the days at the office while suffering in pain from my neck and back injuries, I spent my weekends hiking with Kona and Cali. It not only helped lesson the physical pain but also eased my anxiety, depression, and PTSD. As Monday, would roll back around, panic attacks were getting more frequent and severe. Eventually, with the support of my fiancé, Colten, I quit my office job and started West Coast Heeler Pack K9 Adventure Hikes. It was only a matter of weeks before I was getting booked up with dogs to hike.
Now, let’s not get carried away and think Dog hiking is this always fun-filled dream job. It’s a lot of work. You must manage many dogs together, read their body language, ensure the right temperament dogs are together in a group.
Then I have Kona and Cali, who at times can make you want to pull your hair out. They are incredibly smart, but that doesn’t always mean easy. They not only need lots of physical exercise, but mental exercise as well. To do this, I take them out on the group hikes, set aside time for trick training, obedience training, and our favourite, agility.
I attended agility classes with Kona for almost 4 years. We competed in 3 trials and qualified and placed in two of them. We stopped competing after the third trial because it was clear she is not comfortable performing in front of crowds of people. I keep up with her agility skills, as it keeps her working, mentally and physically. This is extremely important because Kona is the type of dog that will challenge your authority, daily! She needs consistent and constant work.
Cali took agility classes for about 10 months, before we took a year break. Now since end of the summer, we have jumped back in and right into trialling. She is one spitfire of a dog. So much speed and energy. The biggest obstacle we face is her reactivity to dogs. Being on group hikes, has helped tremendously, but the thing I found that was our turning point was when we started agility. She had to learn you can sit in your crate while another dog is running a course, and vice versa. Learning to listen and focus to the tasks I give her with other dogs nearby.
Having and wanting to be active and stay active post-accident can be a challenge from time to
time when I push too hard and get flare ups. I was seeing the Back on Track® brand when I was at agility trials. Considering it, I was intrigued. Wondered how could this possibly help? Hey it’s worth a try. First, I used the Back on Track® Rug for Cali. I followed the directions for use. For weeks, she would wear it before runs, in between runs, and after runs. She wasn’t looking stiff, sore, or weak. Still not knowing for sure how this would help her, I started using the Back on Track® Back Brace after my hikes, after trials, even during long car rides. The relief I got from it was incredible. I’m not one for medications, so to find something like this was most ideal. Being able to feel the difference when I used the Back Brace, I am confident, my dogs feel the same relief from any possible or potential sore and stiffness from their long hikes, or long weekends of trials.
In Canada our winters are long, and our summers feel way too short. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t get to enjoy some great summer weather and outdoor adventures with our dogs. In some parts of the country, summer can bring blistering temps for our furry...