by Colin Aina
Caged animals never truly thrive in captivity, nor do domesticated dogs that remain inside. Given the chance, they will do what comes naturally and resort to their instincts despite their current confines. My 13 year old Siberian Husky, Max, knowing that he's got a loving owner that feeds him twice a day and actually has his own futon to sleep on, constantly tries to escape his home. Despite being at the age where most Labrador owners are starting to see the end, Max can scale a 5ft fence and be down the street in minutes. He does this merely to explore and seek out new scents. He never really goes far, just from yard to yard sniffing the perimeter until he's bored and then moves to the next. I keep him in the yard with a steel lead which I rigged with a locking carabiner attached to his collar. This keeps him in order..usually. I came outside a few weeks ago and he had caught a really pretty grey dove. I unclipped him from the lead and commanded him to drop it, grabbing his jaw and pressing his lip into his canine (which never works, I don't know why I try). He ran through the house wit hit and then back outside, eating the entire bird in about 4 crunching bites. He did the same thing with a massive squirrel last summer. I must say, pretty impressive while being attached to a lead.
The same is true with people that need to be active in the serenity of the outdoors. Not to say that we are inclined to maul small animals to feel free, but when we are constrained by the lead of an injury, we tend to try to break free whenever we can. I was in this similar position to Ben's when I had knee surgery 3.5 years ago. I felt truly useless and tried to do as much as I could despite being in an immobilizer for a month on the couch. I came up with modified workouts at home and spending 2 hours at PT twice a week made me feel normal. The same would prove true for Ben. I repeatedly checked in with him to see how things were going and since he was segregated to his home without the ability to do much, he was frustrated. I offered advice on what to do as far as at home workouts as well as concerns he was having about the healing process.
Four weeks passed and Ben received great news. Although his leg was not entirely healed and ossification (growth of bone) wasn't complete, he was to graduate out of the hard cast adn into an air cast for 10 weeks. Now the fun will start! Being able to articulate the leg and walk on it now gave Ben a bit more drive and the ability to reclaim some of his freedom. I kept track of his progress via Strava (strava.com) as well as receiving pictures like the ones below.
Throughout his new found freedom, (albeit in a boot), Ben was able to accelerate his fitness and do what he could to get back to form. Luckily, the boot did allow for a familiar stiffness and responsiveness akin to an ice climbing boot. This allowed Ben to train on his homemade climbing wall in his yard. The worse part about being casted or in a boot is the muscle atrophy. The bone needs to heal, hence the immobility, the muscle then needs to be rebuilt back to function.
He would be in the boot for 10 weeks.