Rio in training with Trey Scharp. PC: Briley Pickerell
If your dog is as serious about hunting as you are, then you already know all the places birds and game love to hide are the same places your dog tends to get cuts, abrasions and -- worst of all -- injuries that can sideline them for weeks. Sure, many hunters will tell you more time in the field gets your dog more callused up, but according to the vets who are treating these injuries, it’s a case of luck if your dog hasn’t suffered some kind of injury -- and hefty vet visit -- while out in the field.
Dr. Steve Roberts, a veterinary ophthalmologist based in Loveland, Colorado, who treats over 700 dogs every month for eye conditions, says sports injuries happen more in dogs than people. During hunting season, he sees dogs everyday for injuries to the eyes, eyelids and cornea. This isn’t a huge surprise -- if your dog’s out there working, he’s probably deep in the brambles, thick grasses, under barbed-wire fences, in the farmland brush or working through fallen logs and other obstacles. More and more hunters are realizing protecting their dogs from the elements isn’t any different from adding in an E-Collar or other accessories that aid in the safety of the dog, or in the training process.
Many hunters carry special antibiotic creams to help treat less serious injuries in the field, as well as saline to wash out a dog’s eyes. Union Sportsmen's Alliance has a good article with tips on first aid supplies to bring with you when hunting. The blog post by Northwoods Bird Dogs also has some great information about injuries in the field.
But the best way to ensure your dog doesn’t end up in the vet’s office with a scratched eye, puncture wound, or a nocardia infection is to protect them with Rex Specs. If you’ve tried Doggles, you know they fall off easily. Rex Specs stay in place, protect your dog from UV rays, and most importantly, ensure your dog’s eyes are fully protected from injury. Rex Specs are used extensively throughout the military and police forces for tactical operations and training. Most recently we heard from our BORTAC (Border Patrol Tactical Unit) agent, Bert Troncoso, that his dog, Rev, busted through a sheet rock wall with his Rex Specs on to get to a drug stash. The goggles remained in place, but without them Troncoso is sure Rev would have had eye damage. Besides helping protect from blunt objects - like walls, K9 Rev wears his goggles daily to prevent from dust, sand, debris and UV rays.
Rev at work on border patrol. PC: Bert Troncoso
Getting your dog comfortable with Rex Specs is an easy process. Use them sparingly at first and when the dog is in a reward-based situation. Put them on for ten minutes while working on a training exercise that stimulates and engages the dog, then slowly increase the amount of wear time over the course of a week. If you’ve got a young pup, start training with Rex Specs as soon as you’re able, and the dog will adjust even more quickly. Rex Specs don’t impact quality of sight, won’t fall off (watch our video showing how well they stay in place here) and could be the difference between a season packed with success or one ended by injury.
Rio training in Rex Specs. PC: Briley Pickerell