To look at Parker the eyes are bright, his gait is flawless and you would never guess he was almost eleven years old. Parker has been well taken care of by his owner Jim Bailey. From warm dog house, comfortable pads, vet checks, and joint supplements for Parker as he aged, and maintaining a good weight. Parker looks to be a much younger dog. Only thing that gives him away is some grey showing around his muzzle.
Parker's stide may not be as long as it used to be but he still can cover the ground in the woods but just a bit slower. However, with age comes experience and Parker doesn't miss much. He knows how to find the birds, how not to push the birds and how to conserve his energy in the woods. The season of 2015 found Parker guiding on hunts for at least two plus hours and coming back in without any gait change. By the next day he was ready to go again.
Pre-season conditioing and joint supplements along with a good diet and maintaining a good weight is the key to the longevity of any senior dog. Without this extra care many dogs have to stop hunting at nine or ten. Or if they do hunt many will show lamness in only a couple of days of hunting.
We brought Parker into the hunting season just a bit under in weight so as to not stress his joints. I felt he can easily put the weight back on once the season was over and he was back to his house dog routine.
Year round Parker receives Joint Care 2 by Foster and Smith. I have tried a lot of different joint supplements over the last 20 years but have found this product to consistently work for us and others I have recommended the product too. Jim...Parker's owner has also not allowed Parker to jump out of the back of the SUV. This is very important for older dogs not to do this. It is hard on their joints and it is not a normal movement that a dog does. When the dog hits the ground with forelegs extended the force of the jarring goes up the lead leg and directly to the shoulder which is locked in an outstretched position. Many times causing a dog to become lame or even injured. Young dogs can get away with this however, this is really hard on an older dog and especially an older dog over weight and out of shape.
Parker has also been feed a good quality dog food that has promoted excellent coat and supports his needs as he ages, with a vigilant eye on the weight he carries.
However, I feel the biggest factor has been implementing the joint care product at age 8 and to also make sure he maintains a good weight that does not stress his joints. Then lastly and one of the most important is the pre-season conditioning.
So many times owners take their dogs out with hardly any conditioning and wonder why the dogs become quickly lame and stoved up in a very short time and cannot hunt. The owner walks down the trail and expects his dog to run its tail off and in very short order the dog is laying down, heating up and done for the day. Pre-season conditioning is imperative with any dog but even more so with an older dog.
Let's look at this way. Why don't you just go out and run 3 miles right off with no conditioning for it and lets see how you feel at the end of the day. Better yet... how do you like getting up in the morning out of bed after doing something like that! Here is one more thing...let's put you in a small cold dog house on damp straw! Let's just see how sore your joints are going to be and how stiff you will be in the morning. Dogs have incredible tolerance for pain. However, when you do see the signs of soreness it is typically when the situation has gotten quite bad.
I believe in preventing these problems with dogs. Every time you lame a dog up...you do damage that will affect the dog later in life. Think about those that played football in high school and on to college football etc. All this will take its toll late in life. I am not saying to not play the game...but to manage the game and to give the care to the dogs so that they can play the game late into life. Dogs can be such a companion, and a friend... it is up to you the owner to take care of them and provide for them and make solid choices in the care of the dogs that will hunt their hearts out for you.
I have been raising dogs for over 25 years now and there have been only a hand full of dogs that I have seen perform at this level. Not to mention Parker just sired a litter this summer of 11 puppies. Not too bad for the "Old Guy".
Parker is a very loving dog, loved dearly by his owner and family and has been a joy to all ...except for when he ate and entire Rum cake! We look forward to seeing these future generations of Parker pups work the grouse woods and be our dogs by the fireside and our hunting companion.