Making Fitness Count

Making Fitness Count

Both you and your dog should start the season in good shape, so why not work out together?

This English cocker demonstrates the animated performance of a dog that is in good condition. You owe it to your dog and to yourself to be equally fit.

A health issue appeared on my personal radar recently and provided a much needed wake-up call to get something done about my weight. Between March 10 and Memorial Day I lost 25 pounds. I plan to lose an additional 25 to 30 pounds by September 1, which will put me at my lightest in several years, and likely my most fit during the same time period.

Already I feel the difference, and I now have a positive mind-set regarding my weight and its health implications. It isn't as if I did not know what was needed previously, but I did not want to act on what I knew. That has changed.

The American Heart Association ranks heart disease the number one killer in America, with stroke ranking number three. Being overweight is a primary risk factor in heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to additional heart problems (see sidebar).

Warning Signs of Stroke

If you or someone else has one or more of these signs, don't delay. Call 911 immediately.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
Immediately call 911 or the emergency medical services (EMS) so an ambulance with advanced life support can be sent for you. Also, check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared.It's very important to take immediate action. If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. tPA is the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of stroke within three hours of stroke symptom onset. If you are at risk for a heart attack or stroke talk to your doctor about taking an aspirin each day, and about taking an aspirin if you experience the symptoms of heart attack or stroke.


Another problem linked to being overweight is diabetes, and it can be serious. Death can occur, but individuals may also suffer blindness or lose a foot or leg because of diabetes.

To be honest, I am more than a little bit concerned about those last two diabetes-related possibilities. While it's easy for me to say because I am not looking death in the face, I might prefer death to blindness or losing a limb. Okay, maybe I have a bad attitude. But I believe many of you understand my feelings.

So'¦want to lose some weight? You know what to do, so do it -- namely, start paying attention to your diet and reducing those calories.

Want to lose weight and gain some muscle while losing fat? Exercise!

And who better to exercise with than pup? Right, there is no one better! Take pup for a half-hour walk each morning and evening. It will provide you both with exercise and provide you both with an improved attitude toward life, and each other.

The best hunting, hunt test and field trial dogs I have ever seen are dogs that have bonded well with their owner/handler. Nothing forms, and then maintains, that bond like spending time together, especially exercising and working together.

And certainly you will have your whistle along and use it to keep pup sharp. Some mornings a small training dummy or two can be slipped into your vest so you can drop or throw one for pup to either find or fetch. Doing this will keep pup checking back with you as he quarters when you have that opportunity. Tossing the occasional dummy can also help steady pup, or keep him steady.

Finish polishing pup both physically and control-wise while doing the same thing for yourself. Face it; it is a lot more fun busting brush when you do not feel like your next step might be your last. Getting in shape will help reduce the waistline, lower your blood pressure, improve your cardiovascular system and help prevent diabetes. All in all, exercise is a pretty good deal, and it's great to share with pup.

I had a troublesome experience last winter, mostly of my own doing. There are reasons why the event occurred, but no excuses.

When a contractor entered the house, one of my dogs raced through the front door and immediately disappeared. I searched but did not find him. My wife and I became more concerned as time passed because my area is full of hazards that kill dogs -- namely, cars. I do not know how many dogs cars kill each year, but autos kill nearly 40,000 whitetail deer annually in Pennsylvania.

The dog left before noon and at 5:35 a neighbor from several blocks away knocked at the door and reported that she had just taken my dog to the local animal shelter. She was very pleasant as she told me how much she and her kids enjoyed playing in the snow with my dog -- he had been at their house since about noon.

Here's the problem. Pup had a brand new collar, but no license or rabies tag attached.

First, I was about three weeks late getting his new license, due for renewal on January 1.

Second, his up-to-date rabies tag was still on his old collar. I had not bothered to switch it because I planned to get the new license within several days and change the tags at that time.

My bad.

Pup now wears a current license and rabies tag, and he also has a brand new registered microchip under the skin near his shoulder so that if he ever gets lost again, any vet that handles him will be able to discover that pup belongs to me.

I feel better.

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