Man’s Best Friend – The Story of Blue

Meet Blue, a beautiful red Kelpie adopted from a shelter in Auckland who has been given a new lease on life with his adoptive parent, Gareth Corbett. After not being able to jump in the back of a car or run more than 200m, Blue will be participating in the upcoming Eukanuba Tails and Trails event on Oct 27! Read on to learn how Blue’s life was turned around…

Meet Blue

Blue is a two year old Red (Australian) Kelpie who was adopted last December from an Auckland shelter. Having had a black and tan Kelpie for 12 years previously, adoptive parent Gareth was confident of the breed and wished to adopt from a shelter again.

Blue was surrendered by a family moving overseas and it was clear he’d been well looked after because he came with a birth certificate, a full vaccination history, had been spayed at the right age and had a gleaming coat and good teeth. However, it’s likely he was a backyard dog as he was terrible on the lead, did not socialise with other dogs, was a terrible chewer, and only halfway to being house trained.

Blue’s Weight

The biggest issues were Blue’s weight and fitness – he weighed in at a hefty 25 kilograms when a working Kelpie would be nearer 18 kilos, and a pet Kelpie should be around 20 kilos. Worse than that was his lack of any muscle tone and a large posterior that prevented him from being able to jump into the boot of a car. The first time Gareth took him out he could hardly manage 200m without collapsing for a rest. For a young dog, this was terribly sad to see.

Luckily, Gareth is an exercise physiologist and experienced ultra-marathoner, so he prescribed a personalised diet and fitness programme for Blue. Under the guidance of their vet, they slowly reduced Blue’s calorie intake as they didn’t want to put his body into shock. Over seven months he has come down to around 21 kilos and the vet has declared him in the normal range. He has lost a lot of weight in his face and has now lost the rolls of loose skin he had for a while across his rump. Both Gareth and the vet are happy with this weight as he has a large frame and can see that he has built a lot of muscle on him.

Let the Training Begin

Blue’s exercise began with gentle short walks where they paused often to give him a chance to rest. It was slow progress until March when he began to get some strength and pull the lead. He completed an 8-week obedience course where they were recommended by a police dog handler to use a check-chain. From this, they received a few comments from the public but the reality is that when used properly it is a great tool and most of the time sits loosely around his neck causing no harm to the dog. They no longer need it as now he can walk with a regular lead. Blue is still training across all his behaviours but he has become a huge part of the family and joins them on most outings – Gareth and Blue are now learning agility but he’s actually too fast for the course!

When Blue was ready, he began jogging here and there in the middle of a walk in the cool evenings. These days Blue does speed interval work off-lead in the park, either playing with other dogs or chasing a ball, and they’ve built up to 10km runs.

Gareth has tried running with Blue off-leash but he’s too easily distracted (although it does mean he’s getting more distance covered). Blue runs straight and well on the lead and is much more obedient running than when walking.

Next up, Eukanuba Tails & Trails!

Tails & Trails will be Gareth and Blue’s first event together and Gareth is expecting it to be a chaotic day with Blue wanting to stop and say hello to every other dog rather than go running. Gareth says “I expect one of us will have to drag the other to the finish line.”

While the event for the duo is just for fun, Gareth thinks it’d be great if their story can persuade others to look into adopting a rescue dog. “Blue has settled with our family so well it feels as if he’s always been there and we love having him as another member of our family.”

Love Gareth and Blue’s determined spirit and have a furry friend at home interested in tackling the same challenge? Learn more about the Eukanuba Tails & Trails at www.tailsntrails.co.nz

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