Adventure dog advice...Don't make me tell you twice.

I was recently inspired by a segment in a book that gave fantastic advice. This advice in the book matched the same advice that I had been given several years ago and has been repeated to me many times since.

I affectionally recall the repeated advice, as it comes from one of my favorite people on earth… and that is… “Look up the trail.” It matches the segment I read in the book which was: “look past the corner”

Both solid mountain biking tips. And if you have ever ridden single track you know exactly what I’m talking about.


But here is the kicker:

I’ve been told that if you have heard the same advice twice from different sources you better listen up.

And similarly- while in lecture in vet school we had a professor that promised: “if you hear me say it twice it WILL be on the test.”

Alright so there you have it. I heard the same advice twice and from different sources, so we need to discuss this and discuss how it is applicable to first aid for our dogs.


Newsflash: I look at canine first aid differently than most.

To me, administering canine first aid is our emergency plan when all of our other plans have failed. Which drives me to focus on a more preventative approach and mindset in my teachings and content.

There is a tight correlation with prevention and planning. And having a fail-safe backup to your backup plan.

That is- plan A, plan B, and plan C all failed. Administering canine first aid is plan D.

This was inspired by a military veteran while listening to him talk about and utilize PACE.

PACE stands for primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency plans.

That is how we should look at our approach to canine first aid. Yes, we are well educated and well versed in the principles, strategies, and tactics, but it always remains as our last resort.


So, coming back around to “look up the trail”, and “through the corner”

Applying mountain biking skills to real life (which I often do- the world would be a better place if more people mountain biked) is simply another way to say plan in advance, otherwise you will be at an obstacle and you won't be able to react quick enough to get safely to the other side. 

Plan for the approach.

Don’t fixate on what is directly in front of you

Plan for the obstacles

Look ahead and adjust your path accordingly

And if you have ridden single track you know that if you do fixate on whatever is directly in front of your wheel you are probably going to end up hitting it. (I have hit a tree or two! – the tree always wins.)

So again, plan ahead and rethink how you think about canine first aid. It is something you strive to master- but it’s your last resort, emergency plan.

Because when you educate yourself on and focus on the planning and preparation part of first aid you set yourself in a mindset to proactively prevent bad things or mishaps from happening in the first place. When you planned and you are prepared you are confident, and you do not dwell, or worry, or feel as anxious. Would you believe me if I told you this will make you less accident prone? There is a direct connection between our thoughts and actions (prepare) and how we show up in the world (prevent).

That being said, if you focus on planning ahead and prevention fails, you have a bomb and fool proof strategy that will help you in two ways:

  • You will have confidence in the situation
  • You will execute without delay because you have done the necessary work upfront


My dad is an auto hiker. He purchases vehicles all over the country. He then hitches up his car trailer and goes and picks them up himself. He picks these vehicles up from a variety of different locations and at all different times of the day and night, depending on when he rolls into his destination. He says that he always has a jump box in the truck. He says if he doesn’t have it, sure enough the vehicle he is there to pick up will be dead. And no one will be around to help him. And it will take an extra 1.5 hours to get the car started and loaded on the trailer. Hello self-reliance!


Something so simple, when applied to my teaching strategies here could potentially save a life. It also can allow you to approach wandering the outdoors more confidently with your dog. It can allow you to silence the fears and anxieties that arise when you are exploring new places with your pup. I used to say, “let’s eliminate the worry.” But the worry is necessary sometimes. It’s the kick in the ass that makes you formulate your own PACE plan. But don’t let that worry consume you or take away from your outdoor experience.


So, on that note we need to have a quick discussion on balancing planning and being present.

Some people are so caught up in their own minds they never actually get to enjoy the beauty of nature. (A little Eckart Tolle anyone?) It’s a common epidemic these days. It’s an area where our dogs have us beat because guess what- they aren’t thinking of the what ifs. They are simply being. They are present. Be present but do the homework upfront so you can adventure safely.

And finally, give yourself grace. I am far from perfect in this balance of being present but being prepared. But I am constantly striving towards that goal. There is always room for improvement.

And before you roll your eyes at my cliché comment just remember that its considered cliché because it’s the truth.

So, I’ll leave you with this final thought. Something that is considered cliché is kinda like hearing or receiving the same advice more than once. Or twice in my example above. So, at what point does it start becoming cliché? At what point do you accept something as the truth? A wake-up call from the universe? If you hear something twice pay attention- if you hear something that is “cliché” it’s probably words to live by.




Libbie Fort

Hey Sue!
No worries! It is frustrating for everyone when wounds or bites don’t heal like we want them to… and unfortunately it happens. However, it’s kinda difficult to answer that without more info!! How long ago did the bite happen? Has your dog been in for a recheck examination since starting the meds? Is your dog off the antibiotics now? And if so for how long?Where is the bite and how deep is the current wound? And a couple more thoughts/questions…Are you sure it was a black widow bite?  Depending on the severity of the bite and the size of the dog black widows bites tend to result in more neurological symptoms…Typically a brown recluse will cause a spider bite that can lead to localized infection and tissue death.
Let me know! And hopefully I will be able to help in some shape or form… sorry your pup got bit :(

Libbie Fort

Cognitive decline in older pups is somewhat common… my parents are currently experiencing it with their 16 year old jack russell, and it is sad! I hear you. First of all… keep in mind that the beautiful thing about our dogs is they have no human like stigmas attached to their ailments. So remember that in your pup’s mind he is present and just going about his daily business. – He doesn’t know he is losing his memory like we see in early human alzheimer’s patients for example… which is incredibly heartbreaking to watch them go through that for both the patient and the family.And second (to answer your question) there is no harm is supplementing with fish oil.. those omega fatty acids are fantastic for brain health.Also, they do make foods now for brain health..Purina pro plan (which is a fantastic dog food) makes a line called “bright mind.” And the other practical advice I can give you is to keep doing what you’re doing! Set up her environment so she is comfortable and she cannot injure herself.. baby gates around stairs, don’t rearrange the furniture if her vision is going, and lots of area rugs if she has any muscle atrophy and arthritis. 

I really wish they could stay young forever!! And for what it’s worth I know how you feel seeing her in this season of life…. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with other questions!

Stacy James

Hi Dr Libbie !!
My senior girl is starting to show what appears to be signs of age related dementia ?? She will be 14 in January 202.0. It kills me to see what appears to be confusion in her eyes when she is wandering around the house looking stumped @ Times. She knows the home. We have lived here 6 plus years … she’s always had quality food and Vet care. Our own Vet hasn’t had much advice on how to help. I live in a somewhat rural part of Georgia so I’m not really sure where to get
Info on how to help her. I just know her behavioral changes sinces end of August have been so 90% different from her normal behaviors. I’ve even had to hand feed her at times to get her to eat. How do I help her through this ?? Are there any type meds that our canine friends can use for dementia ?? I love her more then life & would do anything to make things easier. I’ve kept her home environment the same. She’s wearing her same sweaters I get out every fall. She’s eating her same foods. Nothing has changed except her. She had her annua exam and shots in July and had a clean bill of health. We have excellent Bet care. We’re just at al loss. I know I am rambling but I love her so much and would do anything to make things easier for her. Thank you so much Dr Libbie.
Stacy James. And SammyGirl


Do you have any advice for treating a black widow bite on my GSD? My vet gave antibiotics and they helped but it just won’t heal and my vet has nothing more to help? I hope it is not inappropriate to ask here. I am just at my witts end.

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