I had a hip replacement surgery a few weeks ago at the age of 53, and that was my second one! My right hip joint was re-surfaced with titanium implants when I was 40. My left hip has now been replaced with a full ceramic ball and socket. It’s now my fourth week on two crutches and the pain levels have now improved to the extent that I can get about, sleep at night and am back working a few half days at Kildare Vet Surgery. The Gym Dog team at our pet resort are playing a blinder without me, keeping all the services on the go. The vet hospital, Doggie day care, boarding kennels, cattery, dog training, hydrotherapy, pet grooming, GymDog pet food retail, are all as busy as ever without me. The reason why GymDog runs so well without me thankfully is because our culture is so animal-focused. My team instinctively are doing good work daily because they understand our mission. Helping dogs live their best lives through diet, wellness, fitness and training.
I played a lot of sports when I was younger. Although I loved books, I equally loved being active in the outdoors. I rode ponies and graduated to riding on the track, bumpers, point to points, hurdles and hunter chases, both in Ireland and the UK. I played rugby in Clongowes to decent level until lack of bulk led to injury and I gladly quit rugby under age. I ran 1500m and 5000m as a boy and stepped up to the Dublin Marathon and the other big city Marathons in my 20s and 30s. I have the medals, scars and aches to prove it. My creaking hip joints, and the constant pain as the years and miles wore out my joints, brought my gallop back to a trot and eventually to a halt. I love skiing but find the turning was a strain in recent years with a weak arthritic left hip joint. I had a couple of falls on icy black slopes which convinced me that skiing through pain wasn’t wise. In recent years I love cycling and swimming. These are pain-free sports.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I try to apply the lessons of my own sporting injuries in my daily work with animals. My generation was brought up in the 70’s and 80s to train through pain, grit our teeth and get on with it. But we didn’t listen to our bodies and we didn’t know how to train smart. Pain causes depression, anxiety, low self esteem, reduces quality of life. I know from my own experience of living with arthritis that the best way I can improve an animal’s quality of life is to put together a good comprehensive pain management plan. I do this on the first day a new patient arrives in GymDog. My aim, to help these dogs live their best lives pain free. I do this through combining medical pain treatments with a therapy/hydrotherapy plan and with nutritional supplements and with a Gym Dog complete diet to suit. I have no doubt that my own life experiences have made me a better vet. My goal as a vet is always to improve quality of life through pain control. When we are injured, we need to listen to our bodies and recover through careful movement. When our animals are injured, we must try to listen to what they are telling us they need.