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When I got our pug Hazel, I never expected that I would ever compete in agility, but after my first class, I was hooked, and Hazel and I began to excel at it. However, a couple of years into agility, Hazel began to "refuse" the weave poles. I was not sure what was happening. I knew it was not a training issue, so I started to look at her physical condition. After getting a consult with a Canine Rehab Specialist, I found out she had damage to her back-left leg and was not fully weight bearing on it. She never showed any signs of discomfort, and after six months of rehabilitation, we began doing agility again. About a year after coming back to agility, we ran into another issue. At a local trial, Hazel couldn’t make it up the A-frame. She ran slowly that day, and she struggled to make her way up one side of the A-frame, and then, just stopped and came down. Hazel at this time was diagnosed with neurological issues and we were told she would probably be in a wheel chair by the age of 6. It was recommended that she not continue with Agility. I was devastated; my stomach started to tense up and my face became flush. Hazel and I bonded over agility, and I looked forward to it each week. I was sad we had to stop, but I was also horrified that I might be hurting Hazel by running her in agility. Let's face it, pugs just weren't bred for this sort of physical activity, so we stopped it entirely. By stopping, I thought Hazel would get better. However, during this time her allergies became worse (i.e., she was constantly licking her legs) and she was put on medication to help with this issue. Over several months, Hazel started to put on weight. She tipped the scales at 27 lbs and was lethargic, sluggish and depressed. My once energetic dog was now sleeping all the time. I knew something needed to change because her quality of life was suffering. To take the weight off, I began exercising Hazel using new exercises I had learned with canine fitness equipment. After a few months of consistent exercise and strength training, I noticed Hazel’s energy was a lot higher, and just for fun, we began doing some light agility in our yard. Over a few weeks, Hazel ran great and looked fantastic in the yard; she didn’t refuse obstacles and there were no signs of any issues. Just to have fun, I decided to sign her up for an agility competition. If Hazel struggled, it would be our last agility competition ever. When I came to the competition that day, some people who hadn’t seen us in a while asked if I had gotten a new pug! I laughed, but they were dead serious and shocked to find out she was the same dog. One lady said, “she physically looks like a totally different dog.” I guess, over the past several months, I hadn’t noticed how much of an impact these exercises had on her physical appearance. When we ran that day, Hazel was like a rocket on the course, didn't refuse any obstacles, ran clean, and placed first in her jump class. I was so excited! I had my teammate back, happier and healthier than ever! It was a huge relief for me. The awards and titles are nice, but none of that really matters to me. It was more about having a healthy dog and spending time with my best buddy while doing our favorite activity together as a team. That’s all that really mattered to me. Since that day, we haven’t looked back, and we do those same exercises each day and continuously add in new ones. Most recently, Hazel has been diagnosed with Osteoarthritis in her knee and hip dysplasia in her left hip. However, through fitness and wellness (massage and chiropractic) she has shown very few symptoms as these exercises have created solid muscle mass that helps support her joints. At almost 8 years old, Hazel is still doing agility, I know Hazel can’t do agility forever, but with her energy level, I don’t see us stopping anytime soon. Even better yet, she is not in a wheel chair (as was previously predicted!), her energy level and drive are very high, and her quality of life is back!  

From Big and Fat

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To Look at That!

Hazel The Pug's Transformation

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