Ray, being predominantly German Shepherd, was always expected to be a high energy dog. Both Carol and I have done significant running over the years and were quite hopeful that Ray would be a good running buddy.
As soon as he moved in with us, we ran (pun not intended) into a problem. On an 8km walk he kept taking breaks. We found out later that he had Stage 2 Heartworm so that could explain his possible discomfort over long distances.
With the Heartworm in the past, his energy level marginally improved. We did witness bouts of frenzied activity (“zoomies”) but these were very short lived and then he was back into his chill-out mode. There was a chance that he could have some soft tissue damage from the Heartworms but this could not be verified or disputed as internal soft tissue damage is difficult to identify.
As a result of a DNA test, we also found that Rottweiler was very significant in his gene library and, as they can apparently be very laid back characters, we thought that perhaps it was the Rotti in him that we were seeing.
With the exception of a number of short bursts of running, we respected his apparent discomfort and just ensured that he had regular walks that were both proportionate to his size, and which he could accommodate without obvious problems.
We had everything under control until this Summer when our temperatures starting hitting the high 20’s and the humidity was in the 70-80% range. Ray seemed happiest just sleeping on the chair, or other comfortable places, until we coerced him out for a walk. He would initially resist but, once out, he would cooperate and seemed to enjoy the time outside.
We have had many discussions about his activity level history and, with these recent events in mind, questioned whether we should let him do what he appears to want (sleep all day) or whether to coax him outside so that he gets some exercise. The latter seemed the sensible choice because he does need to exercise, and the last thing we wanted to deal with is the possibility of a frustrated Ray!
So was it residual damage from Heartworm; the Rotti personality; the heat and humidity, or some other medical condition?
Our temperature just recently dropped to 18C and you would think that we had a different dog here! He was so excited at being leashed to go out and, while he was out, he had that “old” spring in his step as he checked out everything within sensing distance. It was such a pleasure to watch him effortlessly leap around and generally have fun on his walk.
I guess we just learned that Ray is not too energetic in the high temperature and high humidity conditions. We can work with that! Will he ever become a running buddy? Time will tell and we’ll certainly give him some opportunities to run, but only on the cooler days!