Tuesday, November 30, 2010

tricky t-day ~ ???

OK, I'll admit, trick training has been at the bottom of the list the past few weeks.

However, Oreo has been giving me spontaneous "hugs" at times, like when I come home and he wants to play. I find it quite sweet when he puts his paws on my shoulders, so I thought, hmmm, can I put that on cue? Everyone needs a good hug once in a while, right?

Here's my attempt. Oreo thinks I'm more fun as a springboard, than something to hug. It is a good thing he's a little dog.

Monday, November 29, 2010

moody monday

cell phone, bad lighting, priceless moment

Our school didn't win last night, but, as usual, our boys handled themselves with grace and dignity. Boy, was it a great game, and I don't even understand football.

Friday, November 26, 2010

old photos

I plugged an unmarked memory stick into my computer to see what was on it. Boy did I find some treasures!

Here is one of my favorite photos of Misty and Munchkin. Munchkin had recently been diagnosed with the big "C" when this photo was taken, but he wasn't giving his toys up to Misty! Munchie was a special dog, and Misty adored him, although she would push him out of the way whenever treats or attention were in close proximity.

Munchkin loved pillows.  In fact he slept on mine every night, with his legs wrapped around my head. I always woke up with a paw in my eyeball.

Look at him with his paws crossed!

This was the photo that made me coo with delight!
Don't you want to squeeze that little butt?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday at work, I produced an entire Thanksgiving video for all of you in my head! It was perfect! Sweet, charming, I couldn't wait to get home to get started.

Unfortunately, I have to deal with a bratty movie star while filming, and things didn't go as planned, despite several takes. I guess that's what happens when you try to get a dog to do a nice calm trick when he wants to go outside and PLAY BALL! But, I couldn't put off filming, as the sun was quickly going down. Directors have to take advantage of good light while they can!Plus, that's what they make glow in the dark orbees for.

Thus, here is Oreo's Thanksgiving movie titled, "What the Heck Does a Dog Have to Do to Get a Treat Around Here? Thanks for Nothing!" With special guest star, Misty.


Obviously, I'm thankful for my dogs, 'cause they sure do make me laugh everyday.

Hope everyone has a safe holiday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

trying out another quiet zone

Forgive me please, no tricks this week. Between league, "working the plan", schlepping Misty to the vet's, parent teacher night, and such, we didn't have much time for tricks this week.

On Sunday, I did make time to take the dogs to a brand new spot. Another cemetery. There seem to be oodles of them in a 5 mile radius of my house!

This one was very quiet and small. No people, but we could hear various power/lawn tools being used in neighboring houses.

I wanted to gauge our progress, to see if Oreo's coping skills had really improved, or if he had simply become acclimated to the other cemetery.

Again, I was pleasantly surprised. He was definitely on the lookout, some lip licking, and circling going on, but no panic, or "get me outta here" pull to the end of his leash. I asked for "heel" and "sit", but never had to resort to pulling out our target. In fact, for the most part, we simply walked, with the ocassional stop and sniff whenever Misty informed us of a good spot.

Jeff thinks I'm weird, hitting all these cemeteries. However, I think they are a good place for us right now. They are quiet, an occasional person may drive by, or be tending a grave. We can work on our skills in foreign places, and then, when I feel we are ready, branch out to livelier places. I don't want to rock the boat and move on to fast.

Monday, November 22, 2010

misty update

Good news & bad news I guess. Misty's ACTH test results came back normal. So, we have ruled out Addison's disease.

Good that we won't have to deal with monthly injections, but now we are still on the hunt for what's wrong with her. Very frustrating, and heartbreaking to see your dog continue to suffer.

Next step, another ultrasound to see if anything has developed since the one in August. With the holiday, the soonest appointment I could get was a week from Wednesday.

Misty's new food bowl

I'm trying to get some extra vitamins into Misty's system. Good thing she will eat just about anything.

If I put this bowl in front of Oreo, he would turn his nose up, and say, "Where's the beef?"

My good dog, Misty, however, eats it all up, chomp, chomp, chomping those fresh veggies.

Now that the dog garden is turning brown, a dog's gotta get her greens from somewhere.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

yes, we did.....

I love double stuff oreo's. Both the regular and the golden version.

I buy my dogs the Three Dog Bakery version.

Well, their double stuff golden cookie smells just like a cupcake. Jeff decided to try one. Then, convinced me to take a bite.

I took more than one bite.


Jeff thinks we should bring them to Thanksgiving dinner for dessert. Hope no one notices the bone in the center of the cookie.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

...and the results

I stuck to my plans at our league match, and I'd say our results were better than I expected.

Oreo was quite confident while waiting in "The hole" for his turn for standard. He kept butting his head through the flexi gate trying to get in the ring while the other dogs were running. He definitely knew why we were there.

When it was our turn, I told the judge, "We're just training."

He said, "What do you mean just training? There's nothing wrong with training."

OK, so off to it. We were in/out of the ring in 20-30 seconds. I could hear people from our shy dog seminar cheering every time I treated Oreo on the course.

Afterward, one told me that Oreo looked so happy during the run. I agreed. He ran fast, didn't skip any obstacles, or stop on the teeter to look around. He did some side glances, but never any rubber necking.

He was a bit more nervous in the hole on the games run. I think it was because the judge was shouting out points to the scribe. Still, Oreo was able to do some sits & hand touches.

Again, we were in/out quickly, and Oreo did the loop happily.

I was thrilled. Even more thrilled with his stress level in and around the building. I used our tool box to deal with walking past the line of cars, and it worked. He didn't seem to care much about other people walking their dogs around us, even men. He noticed them, kept an eye out, but wasn't a basket case. In fact, at one point, Oreo spotted a man, sat down and looked at me - waiting for his treat. A completely different dog than I brought there last year, where he would be in panic mode in the parking lot.

After submitting my last log, my behaviorist wrote that Oreo "is starting to recognize there are other behaviors besides ultimate panic". Wow. What a concept. I'm so glad I trusted her, and have been working so diligently, despite having some doubts at first. Today, I saw first hand that he has changed, even if it is a small change that only I would notice. I hope Oreo continues to make more gains in confidence.

first league match

Our first league match is today. I got the course maps yesterday, and looked for the best line for Oreo. The standard course was not well suited for my dog. It starts with weaves, then swings back toward the crowd right at the getgo. Yes, I'm using league as training, but I don't want to stress Oreo out completely! Therefore, we won't be following the numbers.

Our behaviorist advised us to train as though not at a meet. She suggested breaking up sequences, then reward/sit 5 seconds if he seems ok, go on, otherwise end while he feels he did a good job. If he refuses an obstacle,back up and redo, or make up another jump that was not on course just so he does not think he did wrong.

My plan? Start way far away from the crowd at 10, then do 9, 12, reward....13, 16, 17 reward and leave! I'm hoping he will give me some good heel/eye contact on our long trot out to jump 10. I will also reward after doing obstacles near ring crew/judge. We are jumping 8 inches, instead of 12 this year. Anything to make it less stressful & more rewarding for Oreo.

The games map is much more promising. We won't be playing the game. I didn't even read the rules (reverse snooker? I can't even play regular snooker!).

I'm sure you can all see the nice outside loop that I plan on taking. I'm hoping for a glimpse of confidence on our quick lap around the building.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Misty's morning

Misty had the test for Addison's disease scheduled for this morning. It is one of those fasting tests.

Misty was quite annoyed with the fact that she wasn't getting any breakfast, cheerios or Charlee bears, as per her usual morning routine. Heartbreaking to see how depressed she looked. Jeff was worried she was going to call child protective services on us.

It was as if she was saying,"I don't need a test for Addison's! See, I have a very healthy appetite!"

Poor girl.

I felt horrible leaving her at the new vet for them to run the test. I pictured her shaking in one of their cold crates, peering through the metal bars, with barking dogs surrounding her. Akin to putting her in jail, even though she committed no crime.

I rushed over to pick Misty up as soon as she was ready.

While waiting in reception, I imagined Misty running through the door to greet me, seeking comfort after such a terrifying ordeal.

Yea, well, I knelt down to greet her, and Misty looked adoringly up at the receptionist, at the other end of the leash, who was petting her saying, "Oh, she is soooooo sweet." Misty wags her tail, refusing to look at me, preferring to gaze at the younger, newer human.

Hey Misty!!!!! Remember me? I know I forgot to give you ONE meal, but can't you at least show me some love? I mean really, you've known this girl for what, two minutes?


I quickly got her out of that horrible, abusive place before they could brainwash her any further.

We'll know the test results on Monday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Misty's trip to a new vet

I took Misty to a new vet on Tuesday. After 3 months of treatment/tests, I wanted to get a second opinion, and make sure I have covered all my bases.

I made an appointment with the owner of a different facility, but he was way behind schedule, so I ended up meeting with their wholistic vet. Funny, because I had done some research on her previously, and have thought about switching my dogs to her practice numerous times.

She met with me for about an hour, did a thorough exam, ran new bloodchem/CBC, urinalysis, and looked over the records my vet had faxed.

New findings?

  • Misty has a heart murmur
  • Misty's last urine report from the lab came back with suspect cancer cells (my vet didn't tell me this)
  • Misty's bloodwork/symptoms suggest she may have Addison's disease (hypoadrenocorticism)
  • Misty's "lack of definition in kidneys", as indicated on her last ultrasound, concerns the vet

Her suggestions on where we go from here?

  • continue on antibiotics for another 6 weeks
  • run a test for Addison's disease
  • do a new ultrasound
  • continue with acupuncture

If Misty has Addison's disease, it could be effecting her immune system, and making it difficult for her to fight off infections. Obviously, bladder cancer could be the root of all sorts of problems.

Overall, I don't feel like my regular vet led me astray at any point. This vet indicated that this is a tough case. None of the reports/tests/values are leaping off the page. However, there is a reason why this infection was not clearing up, then turned into a drug resistant monster (there are only 2 drugs it is not resistant to), and we have to figure out why.

She told me to think about things for a few days, do inevitable googling, and get back to her about how I want to proceed.

It was a lot to take in, and I was hoping to leave with more answers. I understand though that medicine, no matter how scientific, is often a big puzzle that must be solved. I am hopeful that I now have a smart sleuth on the job.

In the meantime, we'll keep plugging along, and give Misty the good spot on the couch each night.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

tricky t-day~mommy's helper

When Jeff threw his back out over the summer, I got roped into helping him put his socks on/off. After several days, I threatened to hire a cute home health aide..... a male one.

Time and some motrin helped the pain go away, and we didn't have to go that route.

Since then, I've heard from co-workers that home health care costs LOTS of money. Well, good thing I have a smart dog!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

we conquered

Well, my school's football team beat the number one team in the state last night. Very big game, very exciting! Then, this morning, Oreo and I conquered our new walking place!

We walked all over the cemetery. Wooded areas, familiar areas, new areas, even wide open space areas. Oreo walked on a loose leash about 90% of the time. He often offered a "heel" even when I didn't ask for one. He sniffed stuff. It felt like our regular morning walk at home.
The other 10% could have happened anywhere. He started barking when a couple dogs came charging at us along a fence line. I didn't realize houses abutted the cemetery. These two dogs looked like they were going to jump the fence and eat us for lunch. I quickly moved us out of the way. I thought about just throwing Oreo in our car, which was parked nearby, and calling it a day. However, he had been doing so well, I didn't want to go home on a bad note.

Luckily, Oreo recovered super quick, and we headed to the wide open area, where he did just fine.

Another stressful moment was when he heard kids' voices in the distance. Again, he pulled on his leash a bit, but I was able to get him back to a calm state quickly.

This was a big day, and I was so proud of Oreo. It took us five trips to get to this point, but I'm hoping it won't take so long when we hit another new place. Maybe the skills/tools will become more ingrained in his system and he will know what to do.

I tried to take photos with my phone, but with the delayed shutter time, the best shot I got of Oreo unfortunately has Misty peeing in the background!
At least she's not peeing directly on someone's grave.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

silly saturday startline stuff

Our behaviorist thought I was giving Oreo too many treats on the startline. She thinks agility should be the big reward for remaining calm.

I'm not sure how rewarding agility is in class for him (depends on the day), but I know he finds agility very rewarding at home.

In the yard, I set up a mini course to see what I could get out of Oreo.

Well, I think we still have a lot of work to do on our startline. Of course, Oreo doesn't think it's work, which I guess is the point.

Thanks for all your compliments yesterday. I really wasn't insulted by my student, mostly amused. 16 years of working with teenagers, and you get used to them pointing out your pimples, high waters, and fly away hair. If you don't have a sense of humor in my profession, you might as well quit.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

working the plan~new places

On Sunday, I took Oreo back to the "new place" (can you still call it new if you've been there 3 times?) to keep working our plan.

I kept him in the wooded area of the cemetery, to help him feel safe. He did so much better this time than the previous two. He even peed. Weird, I know, but Oreo can't pee when he's nervous.

Here he is sniffing stuff....

....because he was relaxed enough to take a quick break from looking out for terrorists:
I shot a video to show our doctor. If you have no life and would like to watch a long 3:48 minutes of our opening moments, click on this link. You'll see why Oreo would be a wonderful secret service agent. I wonder if President Obama has any openings.

Oreo did really well, for him, on this video. A jogger approaches us at the 2 minute mark. Oreo noticed her way before I did. Oreo handled it surprisingly well and recovered quickly. After I shut off the camera, we walked around to the opposite side of the fence, where there were less trees. A car slowly approached and Oreo saw some people walking in the distance. Cars don't bother Oreo, unless he feels there is the potential for people to get out of them. He got stressed, and started pulling hard on his leash, and I couldn't get him to respond to any commands. So, I think we need to do more work in the sheltered area.

After the doctor viewed the video, she told me that his target attention was really good. She was also pleased with how I got him off the path, while Oreo was still rational, when the jogger approached. However, she wants me to work on keeping his attention in the heel more, because I am losing him a bit after I give him the treat.

I'd really like for this to be an ok place to bring the dogs to walk. There are lots of winding paths, I feel safe there, other dogs are leashed, it's close to my house, and the residents stay in their beds. We'll keep trying.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

tricky t-day~playing hooky

Well, we intended to do a tricky t-day video yesterday. However, when I got home and the dogs saw the snow, well, we decided playing in the white stuff took precedence.

You only get the first snow once a season.
I knew there was a chance of snow, but I really wasn't expecting to have to put the rake away and take out the shovel.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

something to carry

I took Oreo to a new place to walk last week. Quiet, no kids, only a couple people. We tried out all our new tools to help him acclimate, but he still had a tough time. Better than usual, but I would hardly call it a relaxing walk.

I asked the doctor for some suggestions.

She asked if Oreo would carry anything in his mouth, and thought it might be calming for him.

Well, I wonder if this is what she had in mind?

The other thing Oreo has taken to carrying around are my socks. Lately, for some reason, every time I put on a pair of socks, they end up with holes in them by the end of the day. So, if we have to train Oreo with socks, I have lots of them in reserve.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

where's Misty?

Where is Misty? Can you find her?

Here's your clue....follow the sun...
This week, Misty got put on yet another antibiotic, trimethoprim-sulfa, for her UTI. She had been off the antibiotics for 2 weeks, but I wasn't convinced she was better. Our acupuncturist told me her kidney and bladder points were still in need of a lot of work. She thought running a new test was a good idea.

I had another culture and sensitivity done, even though the last one came back clear.

My instinct was right, she's got an ecoli strain that is resistant to the other 2 drugs we've tried. The creepy crawlies are still in her system.

Hoping this med does the trick. She's been fighting this for over 2 months. Looks like she'll be on the meds another month. Poor girl.

Friday, November 5, 2010

all lined up

The other day, I went in the basement to throw some sheets in the dryer. I was about to go up the stairs when I glanced to my left and saw this:
If you know Jeff, this many bikes won't surprise you. We've had more in our basement at the same time. I think the record may be 7, or was it 9? However, I didn't realize he currently had 4 (5 if you count the half built chopper in the background). My guess would have been 3. Although, I knew he bought 2 bikes in the past two weeks. That means nothing, because things get sold as fast as they get bought around here. Honestly, I can't keep track. When, Jeff says, "I have to sell that Buell," I think, "Now, which one is that?" I don't say that. I nod, as if I pay attention.

What made me laugh, when I saw this foursome, was how Jeff lined them all up, like they do in the stores. Exactly the same way my nephew lined his match box cars up when he was 2. Theo had to have all his cars just right. We couldn't dare touch one! We'd mess up the perfection he'd created.

I'm sure Jeff thought the order out carefully. This arrangement wasn't made haphazardly. I'm no biker chick, but even I can see the similarity between the army green bike and the orange one. Surely, they had to be next to each other. I do believe they are going from smallest to biggest.

This set up took time, precision, and lots of moving stuff around. Perhaps even, dare I say it, a dust rag. I can see Jeff stepping back to make sure all the front tires are even, and turned the right way. Adjusting the mirrors. Making sure there is the same amount of space between each bike. Symmetry is very important in Jeffland.

Now, I know why, when Jeff says, "I'm going to the basement", he's down there for a very long time. Jeff has to make sure all his toys are lined up just right. Match box toys for grown ups.

Happy Birthday Jeff!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

back to agility~working the plan

I finally made it to an agility class on Monday night. We haven't done any agility since our shy dog seminar the first weekend in October.

Parts of our behavior plan include agility. I was anxious to get back, so I could start keeping a record.

Winter has come abruptly, and class was held inside. I thought being indoors, with new dogs/people might prove tough for Oreo, but I was wrong.

I brought his target out, and he engaged in that game right away. Huh. Cool.

Then, the dreaded startline stay. Our first try, not so good, but I was determined to give this a shot. I lined him up again, and asked for a really, really brief stay. As soon as he gave me eye contact, I clicked/reward. Then, I lined him up again, another quick stay and we went on eye contact.

OK. I think we might be able to do this. At minimum, establishing a routine is good.

My teacher stood in the ring (as per plan). Oreo did look at her a couple times, but ran really fast. In fact, at one point, I said, "Whose dog are you?"

After running the course, my teacher set up 6 jumps in a perfect hexagon. Of course, I had to open my mouth and say, "Oh, it's the circle of doom!"

My teacher thought, due to my comment, I should demonstrate the exercise with Oreo! Great. Sorry Oreo.

Oreo did serpentines & threadles in both directions. No surprise, he was successful. However, the jumps were set up right next to where everyone was sitting. He didn't even seem to care. Therefore, I thought that was progress.

After that, Oreo didn't want to go back in his crate (could be because his crate was stuck between two that were filled with Australian shepherds). Instead, Oreo was doing all kinds of tricks. Even hard stuff, like backward figure 8. With people nearby! Yea Oreo!
We'll go to another class on Saturday and see what happens. I'm going to try & remember my video camera. I want to record how he looks on the startline.

We also signed up for the winter agility league, where I am making every run a training run. No points for us this year.

I'll have to do another "working the plan" post to talk about all the other stuff we're working on. I sent this week's log off to the doctor, and she said that we are definitely making progress. That is good. We still have some big hurdles to overcome though.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

tricky t-day ~ 2 things at once

Oreo and I are still working on the "roll up in a blanket trick". Not even close to getting it.

This week, I decided to see if Oreo was able to multi-task with his blanket at all. I had him "take it", "hold", and then "Scoot". Well, he did all 3 on the first shot!

So, what's the problem Oreo? Roll yourself up already!


Happy Last Day of Annoying Political Phone Messages on Your Answering Machine! (At least for another year anyway)