Friday, December 31, 2010

rockin' in the new year - Oreo style

Oreo and I reached a milestone today! At our morning CPE trial, Oreo had two runs over 4 yards per second.  Broke our record of 3.9, which was on a jumps only course.  These runs included tunnels.

I can't tell you how many people came up to me to say, "He's gotten so much better," and "beautiful runs."

Oreo dealt with things like men in ring crew chairs, and having to take a jump right toward the crowd and steps away from the timer & scribe. I thought for sure he would go around that jump.  He flew over it like we were all by ourselves.

My strategy today, ignore all Oreo's usual stressors, pretend Oreo has no stressors, and simply run my butt off, encouraging Oreo verbally the entire time.

The two runs were like a dream.

I only got our first run videoed. Too bad, because I think our second run was our best.

Now I have to stop cheering for Oreo when he's going over the last jump, because he dropped that last bar. Second time I've caused him to drop a bar with my hootin' and hollerin'.  I have a hard time controlling my excitement when he surprises me with such a good run.

I'm so proud of my little boy.

new year

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Unpleasant indeed

my merlie girlie

A few weeks ago, Jeff & I thought we might be giving Misty "the needle" the day after Christmas, which was how things went for our dog Munchkin.

Misty looked horrible, could barely walk, and sadly, stopped grunting during belly and back rubs.  Jeff and I would rub and rub her back, hoping to hear a tiny sound of contentment, but it was as though Misty had no feeling left in her body. Her eyes were bloodshot, her back end swayed in the wind. I had a good cry at one point, prepping myself to let go.

Silly me.

Misty is back.  She's no spring chicken, but her personality is shining through her eyes again.  She's lifting her back leg up for "pit scratches", doing deep, long grunts when we massage her back and belly, humping the couch pillows after dinner, and barking at us to get up and feed her in the morning.

I know, sometimes, dogs get better right before they get worse, so I am really stopping to appreciate these moments.  Have you noticed there have been lots of Misty photos on the blog lately?
Doesn't she look good?
I've also started charting Misty's eating/peeing/pooping behavior, supplements/medications, energy level, ball work, and an "other" column.  I'm hoping this will help me notice any changes early, see improvements, and learn what's working and what isn't.

Kathy & Marie suggested getting Misty the fitpaws disc.  It came in the mail yesterday, and Misty couldn't wait to get on the thing.
"It's mine Oreo.  For once, something is for ME!"
Misty is now doing 5 minutes a day on top of our yellow peanut ball.  All she can really do is stand on top and an occasional head turn, but I can see her entire body working.  We'll start adding the disc to our morning workout.

We went in for the dogs' acupuncture treatment this week.  Our vet told me that Misty feels much better than our last visit.  That was so good to hear.

She also validated my concern that many of Misty's recent problems were due to a negative reaction she had from the last antibiotic.   She was glad to hear I was doing the ball work with Misty, and told me it would help Misty a lot.

I spoke with my regular vet regarding my hesitations about the next set of procedures.  She told me, "If you don't want to do it, then don't.  It's not invasive, but it is still surgery.  We can treat this conservatively."

For now, I am going to forgo any more procedures.  Misty is really starting to get nervous about going to the vet, and I think adding any stress to her life right now would cause more harm than good.

By the way, I tried standing on the fitpaws disc, and fell off a couple times.  Maybe it is easier if you have 4 legs?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

tricky t-day~blizzard

Looks like mother nature is up to her own tricks. We had quite the storm yesterday.
you can barely see our picket fence to the right!

doesn't the drifting look really cool on our roof?

Misty gets some water from her favorite bowl on the planet.....a big snow bank!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Lots of it (16 inches, Jeff measured)....more still falling.

I shoveled a circular path around the perimeter of the yard for the dogs, but not before both dogs plowed through the snow on their own. Silly dogs. Don't they know how spoiled they are?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

oreo's new toy

"try and get it from me....I dare ya!"
We'll see how long the legs and tail remain attached before it ends up in my sewing basket.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

post festivities

After some filet of beef, cheese, crackers, bacon, scrapple, opening presents, and a trip to grandma & grandpa's...........

Up next? A real snow storm!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays to all our beloved blog friends and their families.  Wishing you a safe holiday, filled with treats and smiles.

Love, Sara, Misty~girl & Oreo

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Somebody's 4 Today!

Did you guess that it is Oreo?

What a banner year for my little rock star. After months of rehab, he recovered from a torn CCL, and went on to win two first place ribbons in the DOCNA national championships finals. Not to mention all the little gains he's made in confidence along the way.

Happy Birthday to my crazy, freaky, black and white, cookie dog. You are a star Oreo.
The ending of this video has Misty running around in the snow, which is footage from last January. Unfortunately, Misty no longer chases Oreo, no matter how much Oreo tries. I'm so glad I have video of them playing though, because it always makes me smile.

The good news is Misty has been doing quite well the past few days. I think she may have even gained a pound or two.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

tricky t-day ~ Misty's workout

Well, trick training time, has turned into workout time. Misty has been getting stronger, and as a result, so has Oreo. Once the physio ball is out, he demands equal time.

Ballwork is how we start each morning, and Misty has made tremendous gains in strength. Unfortunately, she still lacks confidence on top of the ball, so most of our work is done with her two front paws up on the ball. I do put her on the ball each session, with hopes she will be able to do "real" ballwork soon.

The instructional video does say that some dogs take longer to get used to the ball, and I guess Misty is one of those dogs.

Ergo, no trick this week, but if you want to see Misty doing some of her ball work, watch this video. It's really boring, and I recorded it more for me. I wish I had a "before" video from our first session, because, boy, is there a huge difference in her legs.

This morning, Misty did stand on top of the ball for a few seconds all by herself! Again, a big change from how she looks at the end of this video, which I shot on Saturday.

Friday, December 17, 2010

misty, misty, misty

Misty's urine culture came back negative. Not exactly the news I wanted to hear, that means she most likely has cancer.

The doctor wants me to go back to the specialist, do the next battery of tests, yada, yada, yada.

On top of everything, Misty's hind leg weakness has become more pronounced. Not sure if that is related to the cancer.

This week, we started doing some hind leg strengthening exercises using our peanut ball, and doing laps up and down our steep driveway. I've already seen a difference in her strength. Therefore, Misty will have a workout everyday as long as she can comfortably do so.

I'm going to put off the next round of tests until after Christmas. I want our acupuncturist to check out Misty's back legs first. She's had her hands on Misty's legs/spine on a regular basis, and I feel she will be a big help in guiding my next step. She's trained in rehabilitation as well.

Otherwise, Misty is eating like a fiend, and her mood has gradually started improving once I got her off that antibiotic. As long as she's independently mobile and content, I'm good.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

tricky t-day~bookworm~updated video

A few weeks ago, I showed you a video of Oreo learning how to read a book of tricks. Well, he has moved on to bigger books, and now knows how to open and shut the book as well. Hoping to get it all in a smooth sequence with some page turning eventually.

I updated the video this morning, for those who saw the "blocked" notice from you tube.

I wonder if Mrs. K thought the book she gave me for my birthday would ever appear in a video on youtube?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

guest instructor

We had a guest instructor at agility class on Saturday. I've worked with her in the past, but it has been a long time.

She set up a course of jumps and tunnels, and wanted us to do specific things, like layer a curved tunnel and not babysit our dogs at the end of the tunnel. Two hard things for me to do.

I was pleasantly surprised when Oreo did the layering with no problem on our first try. He missed it the second time, but I'm sure it had to do with my motion.

The tunnel babysitting, well that was a different story. Despite repeating my behaviorist's words in my brain, "expect a bit more from Oreo", I was unable to resist the urge to meet Oreo at the end of the tunnel each time.

The instructor told me that Oreo is running with much more drive now than the last time she'd seen him. She was right, Oreo was running fast and focused, even with her standing in the ring.

The instructor ended up putting a jump bar on the ground, and told me I couldn't go past it. She told me to face my body away from the tunnel exit, but turn my head to connect with Oreo. Well, the first try, I was focusing so much on my body, I forgot to look for my dog. Poor dog. The next time I looked for Oreo, but he came to my side, instead of going over the jump. So, I had to move closer to the jump, and then we did it successfully.

I made a video of these two skills in the yard. I am going to have to work more on breaking this tunnel babysitting habit, as Oreo starts to gain more confidence.

You'll see our layering didn't go so well at first, I had to make it easier for him.

Friday, December 10, 2010

this is America

Today was a triumphant day for me at work. We have an Iraqi immigrant in one of our math classes. I know she has lived through some horrific things, and I'm pretty sure she received very little schooling in her home country. Her English is very, very limited.

Like all our students from the middle east, she is respectful and hardworking. However, when I ask her, "what is one plus one", she often answers, "one", or "four". I can't figure out if it is a language barrier, or lack of background knowledge. I walk away frustrated most times, and I'm sure she does too. Math is supposed to be the universal language (all of our other immigrant students excel in this class), why is she having so much trouble?

Well this week, somehow, I was able to teach her how to simplify radicals. I taught her a process using an index card with the perfect squares listed, and with the help of a calculator, lots of pointing to buttons, she was able to do the steps.

I doubted she would internalize the concept without me being by her side to guide her through the process.

However, when she raised her hand for help on her quiz today, I was shocked when I saw she had already answered some of the questions correctly!

I touched her arm, and said, "You did it!" I think I was more excited than her.

When I graded her quiz, she earned a 75%. Usually, she earns a zero.

My heart was all warm. This is America, a place where she feels safe and can learn!

Now, if only my other kids had done so well.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

tricky t-day~ trick menu

OK, I have been a tricky t-day slacker. Busy life, no daylight makes it impossible to shoot a video, despite having a trick ready! I will try again next week, but no promises.

Anyway, here is some amusement for you. Although, I'm easily amused.

Jeff and I went to our favorite Chinese/Japanese restaurant this weekend. They have a newly reprinted menu. I was disappointed to see that the soft shell crap was no longer available.

Bummer, I never had the chance to order it.

However, there were a few interesting options on the beverage list.

For example:
And on the beer list, one of America's favorites (but not mine):
Oh, it makes me giggle, with endearment. At this restaurant, we have our own table(really, no one else can sit there!), and the waitress knows our order by heart, in English and Chinese. We even have our photo hanging on the wall.

Yesterday, Misty spent much of her day at the vet, waiting for her bladder to fill up, so they could stick a needle in it and extract a sample. Doctors are so barbaric, aren't they?

Jeff said, "Are you sure that's what they are going to do? Won't she end up with a hole in her bladder and leak all over?"

Gosh, I hope not.

I had Jeff drop Misty off, and I got to be the good parent by picking her up. Misty came out with her tail wagging, and the employees going on and on about how sweet she is, as usual.

Now we wait. Again.

Monday, December 6, 2010

moody monday

I've really got to start taking more photos of Misty during meal and squirrel sighting times, so she doesn't look so depressed in all her photos.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

league match

Kathy asked if we get our league course maps ahead of time, and the answer is yes. Usually a few days ahead. She also asked for video, but I didn't get any this match. We are in/out of the ring so fast, you blink and our run is over, I kind of figured, what's the point? Maybe next time.

Our league alternates between 3 different training facilities, this is the one that is the most difficult for Oreo.

For our standard run, I switched plans after watching the big dogs run. All the equipment at the site was wooden. Many of the dogs were slipping/bailing on the dogwalk. I didn't want to risk an injury/freak out moment due to equipment. So, I changed my sequence a bit to avoid that obstacle.

Our run went.....jump, tire, teeter, treat.....Oreo transforms into secret service officer.

I thought he was looking behind the upcoming tunnel, where a bunch of equipment was haphazardly being stored.

He goes around the next jump, then hesitates about going in the tunnel.

I get him in the tunnel, and click while he's in the tunnel & reward him at the exit. We do A-frame, treat, jump, jump, treats, and leave.

I look back at the course, still trying to figure out what the heck freaked him out. That's when I saw a man sitting in a ring crew chair, in direct line from the teeter. Don't know how I missed him on course. However, there was not much I could have done about it anyway.

Regardless, Oreo still started and finished good. Plus, he was eager to go in the ring, and relaxed in the parking lot.

Before round 2, Oreo was nervous in the parking lot, freezing in place. I had to get my target out to help him focus on me, not the scary surroundings. Once we did that a few minutes, he was walking OK. We hung out in the doorway with some friends and their dogs. He was able to do simple tricks.

In the hole, he was eager to go. We did jump, jump, tire, weaves, tunnel....I thought, hey, we could do this for points! Then, I said,"No, Sara, you promised, every run would be a treat run!"

Thus, Oreo got a treat upon exiting the tunnel. I hear someone yell, "training in the ring," and we do another tunnel, hit the table, Oreo sits, treats and run out, but Oreo flies over a couple jumps, independently, on the way to his leash.

Yes, Oreo was running with enough confidence to earn some points for our team, but I was proud of myself for sticking to my original plan. We are here to train, there are no ribbons, prizes, or titles, just bragging rights. When things start going good though, it is hard to mute that competitive side of your brain.

Oreo left the ring happy, and heeled with good, happy eye contact all the way back to the car. No, the monsters are going to get me leash pulling, like he usually does at trials. That was the biggest accomplishment of our day.
Thanks everyone for your lovely comments on my Misty post yesterday. Reading them made me feel better.

Misty will be getting a cystocentesis urine culture done on Monday, and hopefully that will be the end of the testing for awhile.

Today, Oreo and I are off to our second league match. I have short sequences planned, with rewards set every three obstacles or so. The courses were very twisty turny, so it was hard to make a plan at all. We'll be on/off the course real quick.

Oreo has been a little stir crazy this week, with all the attention being on Misty. I'm hoping he uses that energy positively, rather than using it to freak out.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Misty's visit with the specialist

Misty had her appointment with the internal medicine specialist on Wednesday night, which included a new ultrasound. We had to drive through a horrible rain/wind storm to get there. The hospital had lost power, but luckily they had a generator that kept everything up and running.

Unfortunately, I did not leave with a concrete diagnosis. I told the doctor I was really getting frustrated. However, the doctor thought we were finally getting somewhere. Well, I'm glad he went home feeling positive!

The results? Misty has a nodule in the front portion of her bladder that could be a benign or malignant tumor, or inflammatory polyp. He emphasized that this is not a common area of the bladder for cancer to form. She also had some mildly enlarged papilla and mildly prominent lymph nodes that could indicate inflammatory reaction to urinary disease or less likely, cancer.

See what I mean? Frustrating!

Next steps?
  • take misty off the antibiotic for a few days, run a new culture/sensitivity-may need to use a "phantom antibiotic"
  • if culture is negative, do chest x-ray to look for evidence that cancer may have spread
  • endoscopy of lower urinary tract(which can't be seen on ultrasound) and/or bladder surgery to remove nodule

I'm really hoping we don't get to the third option. I don't want to knock Misty out, or put her through surgery at her age. My philosophy for my pets at this stage is maintaining quality of life, not performing procedures to add months to it. So, option three will need to be explained more fully if we get to that point.

The internist did prescribe piroxicam to help with the inflammation. The added benefit is that this drug has been proven to shrink bladder tumors in some dogs, including my Munchkin, who saw amazing results from the drug.

Overall, I think the doctor believes Misty's problem is most likely a stubborn bug, that requires a rarely used antibiotic, BUT.....ugh!

be careful

Jeff sent me this photo, taken in a taxi in Louisville, Kentucky.
I wonder what happened to this guy's know there's a story(or 2) behind this sign!

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.