Josie loves to hunt.

That is the first thing her owner, Mark Howlett, DVM, Gem Veterinary Clinic in Emmett says about  this beautiful yellow lab. Throughout her 14 years, Josie (pictured in the wintry shots) was spending 40-60 days each year hunting upland waterfowl.

When she was eleven years old, she began to slow down.WestVet Physical Rehabilitation for Hunting Dogs Dr. Howlett described it this way, “She started exhibiting signs of osteoarthritis in her hips, confirmed via radiographs (X-rays). Not only did she have arthritis—it was a severe case.”

Dr. Howlett treated her for years with prescription medication, however, he noticed that her symptoms were getting worse, not better. He met with surgeons at WestVet for a consultation, thinking that a hip replacement surgery or maybe joint resurfacing would be the best option, however, the recommendation was to try Physical Rehabilitation with Teri Dowdell, DVM, and Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT).

Upon referral, Dr. Dowdell was surprised Josie was still doing as well as she was considering the amount of stiffness and range of motion she had lost. “Josie’s treatments have included: hydrotherapy, acupuncture, therapeutic laser, stretching, massage, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, and therapeutic exercises,” said Dr. Dowdell. “When she arrives for rehab, she is usually pretty stiff in the rear quarters, but by the time she leaves she moves much more fluidly and is more comfortable.” 

That means that this beautiful 14-year-old dog is still doing what she loves—hunting. WestVet Hunting Dogs Physical RehabilitationThis January, despite frigid single digit temperatures, Dr. Howlett and Jose were hunting. “She retrieved her limit of Greenhead through drifted snow and freezing water, never thinking twice about doing her job.” Dr. Howlett said, “I did tear up as I got to watch my original “tule dog” return to her passion, hunting.”

He also says with a laugh that Josie’s other favorite thing to do is … not so active. “She still holds the couch down when I’m gone, just to make sure it doesn’t fly away.  Never, never, I mean, never, spoil your bird dog.”

Josie can add another title to her resume, her daughter Addi (pictured in the fall hunting shots), WestVet Physical Rehabilitation with Dr. Teri Dowdell also, an avid hunting dog with 10 years of service, was featured on the cover of the 2013 Browning catalog. You can see this “cover girl” HERE.

Dr. Howlett estimates that Josie’s daughter Addi has often retrieved more than 400 birds in just one hunting season, and as she has started to slow down, he thinks she may need some Physical Rehabilitation as well. WestVet hunting dog physical rehabilitation therapy keeps dogs activeAnd he says he won’t hesitate to get her treatments, “As a veterinarian trained in western medicine, I was initially a bit skeptical about Physical Rehabilitation, but now I believe it has a valuable place in the multi-modal treatment of osteoarthritis. Proof, how many labs get to hunt into their 14th season?”

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