Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dang and Tree

SUMMARY: No agility for Tika. So we found ourselves a tree instead.

Tried Tika over just a few obstacles, jumps at 16" and then 12", in class tonight. Boom, came up limping again. So that's it for her for a few weeks; obviously this isn't going to recover quickly. Scratched her completely from this weekend's trial.

Boost: Knocked bars bars bars. Must do drills the next 2 days. Argh. Cold. Wet. Grumpy.

So, as a pick-me-up, guess what we grabbed on our way home this afternoon?

Boost helped.

But guess who still had to drive.

Labels: , , ,

Complete list of labels

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Purple Foot

SUMMARY: In honor of Tika's sore toe.
Tika has been wearing a little purple and gray hiking bootie on her sore toe since Wednesday. I've been taking her out on leash into the yard, trying to keep her from running and pouncing, but still playing tug of war pretty enthusiastically, which probably still puts a lot of pressure on that toe.

I've been throwing the purple jolly ball for Boost, who brings it back, then I play tug of war with each dog, then throw it for Boost again, hanging onto Tika's collar. Tika has burst into a run a couple or three times when I'm not expecting it (off leash, pottying, then a squirrel or alien invasion or whatever catches her attention). But I've seen no signs of limping.

Did the same this morning. After our play session, decided to take a purple photo. Came inside to get the camera. Went back out with the dogs not on leash--because this is the boring part--and the tripod and the camera; Tika became very excited, did the sproingy antelope thing with about four leaps in a big circle and came up with her paw in the air looking distressed. Curses, egads, and zounds.

I took her bootie off, put it back on, gave her some treaties, did the photo thing, and she stopped looking so pathetically miserable, but with still a distinct hitch in her giddyup. I'm thinking she's not going to be competing next weekend. Me not happy.

Labels: , , , , ,

Complete list of labels

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Morning Update on Tika and Her Foot and Vet Bills

SUMMARY: Not broken, but sore. Budget a little broken, though.

The vet took 3 x-rays to be sure of what he was seeing but charged me only for the two he said he'd take. He sees nothing broken or chipped, so it's soft tissue of some sort, but without an MRI to determine whether anything is ripped to shreds, we treat it with rest and antiinflammatories and see what happens.

Vet suggested wrapping it in a little padding to give it a bit of support and protection, but said that if the padding gets wet at all, I need to take it off immediately because damp wrappings can cause other problems very quickly.

I put the still-sedated-looking but happy-to-see-me Tika into MUTT MVR just after 5:30, drove up to Redwood City for our Silvia Trkman tricks seminar, took her out to potty in their little gravel potty area around 7:30, and she found the only puddle in the place and put her foot right into it.

So the wrap comes off and instead I'm going to use one of our little hiking booties.

Vet said no food last night until 8 or 8:30, so at 8 I took her out of her crate and quickly taught her the first trick for the seminar. (We're auditing only, so we hid in the back of the room while the participants did their thing.) Despite her eyes still looking like she's halfway in another universe, she had no problem at all responding to click-and-treat shaping. (I used "yes!" as my click.) Then I took Boost out and got most of the way through teaching her the trick, too. I love "operant" dogs! (Dogs who know they're supposed to do something and keep trying until they get a response.) And I love knowing that I've got a pretty good eye for what to look for and how small the pieces of progress sometimes are in order to quickly put together a successful whole. (If you try to use too big chunks, it takes longer!)

I digress.

Tika also had her anal glands expressed; one was very full and one only partly. But with 3 infections already in her history, I wanted them checked while she was there.

Home at 10:30, she was happy about having half a dinner although still looking weirded, then went straight to bed without wanting to go outside.

This morning, still looks a bit sedated to me, which worries me a bit. She has shown no interest in coming downstairs, even for the morning treats ritual. ...Well, she did get off my bed and come to the top of the stairs to look down at me. Then after a couple of tossed treats, right back to bed. It's now 9 a.m. and still no interest in coming downstairs.

Vet bill--compare and contrast (to your own expenses or whatever you'd like)--my vet rates in a local consumer rating group as "good at keeping costs down."

Exam/consult: $57 (My vet will give me detailed info about everything and talk to me as long as it takes; I never feel rushed or pressured. It's well worth the cost.)
Heartguard, 6 months  for 2 dogs: $72
Rimadyl, 20 tablets (40 doses): $44.50
Half a day hospitalization: $28
Technician/nursing for half a day: $35
Two foot x-rays: $184
X-ray interpretation: $30
Sedative: $59.50
Bandage/padding left paw: $13.50
Surgical pack/suppplies: $8.50 (Hmm, not sure how that's different)
Express anal glands $28.50
Toxic waste/environmental fee $5

Labels: , ,

Complete list of labels

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tika Tika Tika

SUMMARY: Dang sore toe.
Tika is at the vet's for the afternoon being sedated (well--MORE sedated, since I've been giving her a light sedative the last couple of years just to go to the vet's for any reason) to try to do good x-rays of her toe.

There goes another $350 bucks towards the athletic animals. If the next trial weren't going to be for another month or more, I might have postponed the x-rays for a week to see whether the toe got better on its own. But now I'd really like to know ASAP what its status is.

In any case, she's going to be on thorough rest for the next few days at the very least.

Vet says, yes, it's swollen. It's sore but not so sore that she can't stand on it, although she shifts her weight off it when just standing there. Not so sore that, with a blast of adrenaline, she can't run full rockets to the far end of the pen to chase the sheep on the other side, although she comes back limping again.

Could be sprain or strain. Could be torn ligament. Could be dislocated. Could be a bone chip or a hairline fracture (vet doesn't think it's a larger break but with the swelling it's hard to tell).

So I asked him to go ahead with the xray as best he can with just a sedative. If that doesn't work, will have to take her back in a few days for anesthesia to get better angles on the foot. In that case, I probably will put it off for a few days to see how the toe goes on its own.


Labels: ,

Complete list of labels

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Old Age. It's Not for the Faint of Heart.

SUMMARY: A scare, sadness, and relief.

Over the last week, I've been talking to my first sister a bit about her 13-year old Lab mix who has been in declining health. But the dog still loved to go for walks, even if she could barely stand. Incontinent. Maybe a little senile, a little hard to tell. When was the right time to let her go? Would she make it easy by slipping away quietly some night in her bed?

No, she leaped down a couple of steps into the carpeted living room yesterday--the dog who could barely walk, needed a towel under her belly held by her human caretakers to help her stand, wanted to leap down the step--fell, and couldn't get up again. Her front legs were as strong as ever, but her back and hind legs had given up, couldn't hold her up. Had she damaged something, or was this just progressive deterioration? Could she feel anything in her rear legs? Could it be fixed? Guessing not--

My mother has had some serious health issues lately. She's still SO much "Mom"; no sign of the mental deterioration that she had so feared because all of her female relatives succumbed to it, but at 80, some other things have come up in rapid succession, landing her in the hospital or emergency room several times in the last half year. We've had some scares. I don't know whether she or we are more scared each time.

She's had some procedures last week to try to stabilize her heartbeat. Thought it was successful. Then problems, and to the emergency room. Then OK and home again. It's her heart, for goodness sakes; these aren't minor things. She's always been so strong, or seemed like it to me. Very active and healthy, mentally and physically and socially.

Last night I told my sister to call me if she decided to put the dog to sleep and needed company, someone other than her own daughters, whom she'd have to take care of more than they could take care of her at such a difficult time.

I've heard nothing all day. Headed out for an evening with my Master Composters group around 6:00. Home a bit after 9, and there are 4 messages blinking on my answering machine. Given that I usually have about one once or twice a week, and given the way things have been going, that couldn't be good.

The messages were from my dad, saying that he was taking mom to the emergency room again. From my first sister saying that she put the dog to sleep and shortly thereafter got the call about my mom and was now at the hospital with my parents. Two from my out-of-state fourth sister wanting reassurance, feeling outside of everything.

OK, that's not so bad--given that there were no additional follow-up calls.

I called my first sister for an update. Mom's back and legs seemed to be giving out, wouldn't hold her up, she fell or was afraid of falling (not clear on this), couldn't feel one leg. Couldn't get up. So they'd gone to the hospital.

The doctors had ruled out heart attack and stroke and were progressing through a variety of other tests. Mom was perfectly capable of chatting and being--well--just the same mom as always, just with a body that's not willing to play the same games the same way any more. Turns out that it's just a (probably) minor infection, and she'll spend the night there so they can keep an eye on her to be sure that the treatment is taking rapid effect.

I am greatly relieved.

But meanwhile the hospital can't find a copy of mom's Advance Directive. What does the directive say? If she falls down the steps into the living room and can't get up, what do we do? She's not a dog, not senile, still going to contribute a lot to her family and the world--we expect--and she's only 80, for crying out loud, that's not old enough to be frail. Is it? Isn't 80 the new 60? And 60's the new 40?

It's all so much really out of our control. We have to rely on the expertise of others, and we have no good way of knowing whether they actually have any idea of what they're talking about. We like to hope so. We have to hope so.

Because I expect mom and dad to still be around when I hit 100. That's just the way it's supposed to work. And by then, I'll have lost how many dogs to the Big Milkbone in the Sky? Four so far, two more on their way--Tika's 8, Boost's 4. Ten years from now, I don't expect that they'll still be with me. Some other young and bouncy and crazy and loving dog will most likely be in my life. It won't be the same as any of my previous dogs. It won't be as good as they were. And, in other ways, it will be better.

Not so easy to adopt a replacement parent from the local parent shelter; their screening requirements are REALLY tough. So I'll have to keep the ones I've got. And meanwhile my sister's dog is gone. In peace. But so hard for the ones left behind.

I have no clever line to wrap this up. Because the story really has no end. So I guess I'll go to bed.

Labels: , , , , ,

Complete list of labels

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Dog Health and Hiking

SUMMARY: Both dogs seem fine. Did some nice hiking with dogs and wildflowers today.

Tika's still taking rimadyl twice a day per vet's suggestion. Haven't heard a yelp or whine of pain out of her since maybe Monday last week. Boost of course has never indicated that she's in pain. Dang dogs.

I've been doing some of the Pilates for Pooches exercises and some additional ones that the physical therapist suggested. The DVD is interesting and useful. At least, it'll be useful if I can stick with the exercise program. Like I'm good at that. Hah.

It's weird to be surrounded by agility equipment and not be using any of it.

So today we went for a nice off-leash hike instead. (Also suggested by two or three dog-medical-type people as being excellent for both dogs.) Challenge is that we have to drive 45 minutes one way to get to such a place, then $5 parking plus $2 per dog. Not something I'd do every day, or even every week. Sigh.

Friends who live up in that area constantly post notes on facebook about all the cool offleash hiking they do with their dogs. If I ever had any urge to move again, I'd consider moving more up thataway for that reason. So we met today at Sunol Regional Wilderness to go trekking.

The dogs loved it. The people hiked maybe 3 miles; the dogs must've covered three times that.

And how long did the energy burn-off last? For the whole 45-minute drive home, at which point they were well rested and ready to play. It didn't last NEARLY as long as the horse and/or cow manure in which they both rolled enthusiastically. We did a lot of hosing off when we got home.

I've got some photos almost ready for viewing but there are some issues with my photo site. Will post the link when they're ready.

Hope everyone who's going to the 4-day Haute TRACS extravaganza trial enjoy it without me. [sniffle] I'm sure it'll be difficult for them.

Labels: , , ,

Complete list of labels

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It Isn't Supposed to Work Like This

SUMMARY: Tika and Boost both out for the count.

See, I have two agility dogs of different ages so that I'll always have at least one in working order so that I can do agility anytime, anywhere. That's the way it's supposed to work, right?

With great frustration (and worry), I have just scratched both dogs from Haute TRACS (the big 4-day USDAA trial in 2 weeks).

First, you knew about Boost. Boost has tender, probably pulled, muscles in her lower abdomen/groin/leg area. I entered her in HT against her physical therapist's advice because I was going to be there anyway, running Tika, and I figured--what the heck, I can scratch her from some runs if I needed to, and at least she'd have had 4 weeks of rest if not the full recommended 8.

But, now, Tika. Tika's issue with coming up sore seems to be getting worse. At the VAST CPE two weeks ago, I wrote about how she was suddenly sore after her first run but reasonably functional (slower and more careful and hitting the ground hard over jumps and missing weave entries and like that, but happy to still be playing the game) . She's had rest and doggie aspirin and massage from me in the meantime.

This last weekend at the Bay Team CPE she was awesome--also jumping 20" for the first time--very fast, very happy, no sign of the VAST problems. However, by the time we got home, she was doing the hunched over thing and exited her crate from the car very gingerly. Yesterday she yelped occasionally with certain movements or contacts with people. Today she is in just plain goddamned misery. Can barely walk. I had to talk her into having breakfast--and if you know Tika, you know that this is very serious indeed. I don't know what it is--arthritis in her neck acting up? Pulled something? Broke something? Cramped muscles? Aspirin and massage have done nothing for her all day.

So--really--neither of my dogs is in a state to be able to do even 2 days of agility in just two weeks, let alone 3 or 4. So I pulled out. This'll be the first time I've missed this 4-day extravaganza.

Since I was earning free runs by signing up for crew chief two days and chief course builder the other two days, this leaves the clubs in the lurch. Not to mention my DAM teammates (only Tika's--I did show SOME restraint and didn't enter Boost in the 5 DAM events.)

I figured it was better to pull out now and give everyone two weeks to find replacements. Tomorrow I'll take Tika in to the regular vet to check for any basic things.

I'm just about at my wit's end--having 2 dogs is supposed to prevent me from ever having a weekend where I can't do agility! How come it's not working like that?

Labels: ,

Complete list of labels

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Boost Visits the Orthopedist and Tika Goes For a Hike

SUMMARY: Boost looks good but there's work to do.

We drove wayyyyy out of town this morning--about an hour and a half--to the current favorite dog sports orthopedist, up in Marin, north of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. A long way from home.

And there in the lobby was an agility friend who lives a few blocks away from here, picking up her dog. Small world.

Dr. S did a quick physical exam and said that nothing seemed amiss, except that she didn't want to extend her rear legs but that could be pain or it could be that she just doesn't want to extend her rear legs. So he agreed that x-rays of her pelvis would be good to eliminate anything structural.

We left Boost to be sedated and x-rayed and went in search of the Oakwood Valley Trail in the Tennessee Valley. (I thought that was farther away than Marin, but what do I know?)

It was a lovely day for a hike, we found the trail easily, and I thought we had a couple of hours, so we set out briskly. It was muddy in spots, but otherwise the trail was wide and comfortable with a slight uphill grade.

They had told me that this was a dog-friendly trail, and indeed the only people I saw on the trail were five other lone women with their dogs (three black labs, a husky, a golden retriever, and a black and tan coonhound I think). No men, no dogless people. Interesting. And for some odd reason I didn't take photos of any of the dogs.

Tika behaved VERY well, met each of them fairly comfortably. No shrieking and throwing herself at the end of the leash. Odd.

We were about a mile out when my cell phone rang to tell me that Boost would be available an hour earlier than estimated, so we turned and went back. (I'll load more photos of the hike later.)

Dr. S showed the x-rays, and said that she could be the poster child for excellent OFA hips. Nice deep sockets with the leg bones well-seated. However, when he pulled on her legs, he can none-the-less feel that they're loose--the hip moves slightly out of the socket and back in again.

This might not be a problem; there are apparently many many loose-hipped border collies that never have any issues. Or it might be a problem; some of those border collies develop arthritis. There's no sign of that in Boost at this time. So Dr. S. said that he sees no reason why she can't do everything normally.

Then we did the physical therapist. She ended up doing a thorough and deep massage to be sure there were no soft-tissue issues, and indeed she found that Boost reacted with discomfort to pressure on a couple of small, deep muscles under her rear legs, and a bit on the shoulders where she said that she'd expect a dog to be compensating with her shoulders for soreness in the rear.

Boost, after initial misgivings, really relaxed into the massage except for raising her head and glaring when the sore spots were hit. Didn't hurt that there was still a lingering bit of sedative.

Then we talked at great length about exercises to strengthen and tighten her hips, abdomen, and lower body in general. I have so much homework to do! I have a video now, too, that explains some of the exercises.

I didn't get home until after 6 this evening, so gone for 9 hours. A long day. I'm tired. Glad there's nothing serious with Boost, but the physical therapist suggested a couple of weeks of rest with no intense, driven running. Just lots and lots of hiking. Ack! More time that I don't have! And that's just NOT going to burn off the energy!

Well, we'll see what we come up with.

Labels: , , ,

Complete list of labels

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ribbons and Choices

SUMMARY: Tika does well but is sore; Boost runs a lot; TMH can't make up its mind.

These March winter mornings in Turlock started with frost on the grass but the sun rising bright and clear. By early afternoon, people had stripped off their coats and some had started hosing down their dogs to keep them cool. But when the sun set--Brr!

With Boost's agility career on hiatus while I figure out whether she has a physical problem, all my hopes for the weekend rested on Tika. If Tika can keep her bars up, she usually excels in CPE events. This is good, because I'd like to eventually earn enough Qs for her C-ATE (250 about), and she has a long way to go. We do few CPE trials any more, so every run counts because Tika is 8 and comes up sore more and more often.

We had 10 runs this weekend, and I promised myself that I would take Boost out after every one of Tika's runs and do something physically and mentally stimulating with her in lieu of a run.

First thing in the morning, we always play a bit of frisbee to loosen up the dogs and burn off the edge so that they'll relax in their crates. We did so Saturday. Then, on our way off the field, a friend with border collies that Boost loves to chase headed out to the playing field, so we went back out and ran a bunch more.

I try to keep the frisbee low so that the dogs aren't leaping and torquing their backs, but a couple of times I missed and I cringed seeing Tika's leaps.

Tika Sore? About 2 hours later, when I took Tika out of her crate for her first run, she emerged hunchy and stiff. Well, crap! I've driven all this way, paid my entry fees for the weekend (which are now nonrefundable), have only one dog to run, and this is one of the few CPEs for us this year. Plus when I've scratched Tika in the past, she often then goes blasting around the field full speed after squirrels, so how sore can she be? She is a known drama queen when it comes to injuries, too, so I have to take that into account.

I massage her, stretch her a bit, try to get her spine and shoulders mobile the way I was shown. (I'm not very good at this.) First run is Colors, only 11 obstacles, so what the heck. She runs fairly well, keeps all her bars up, but I can see that she's catching herself roughly when landing after each jump. But she's bright-eyed and eager and fast. Ends up 3rd fastest of all 58 dogs, all heights/levels, on the same course.

She's the ONLY dog in her level and height--24"--so she's guaranteed first place every time unless she eliminates, and there's not much chance of that. But I'll take the ribbons only if we've earned them.

She gets a doggie aspirin, more rubbing, and then I take Boost out for some running and training.

Boost Play and Training. I manage to keep my promise to Boost 8 out of the 10 runs for the weekend. I start and end every session just as if we were going into competition, using the right leash, the right toy, the right warm-up, then the right back-to-the-crate routine with treats and all. While she's out, we practice a variety of things:
* Sit-stay and down-stay, including with lots of excitement and toy throws. Even did a little out-of-sight stays, which we've never worked on before. Only 5 seconds, but she held it.
* Down from a distance while she's moving. Took her a couple of tries to realize what was going on, but then she got it and did very well. None of my other dogs have been able to do that without a lot of work, and even then reluctantly. But Boost has a super-fast down and seems comfortable doing it.
* Lateral lead-outs. Goal was to ensure that she was looking at the jump, not me, before I released her. We've done these before, but obviously not enough. It took her a very long time the first couple of times before she stopped staring at me and looked in the general direction of the jump inadvertently, at which point I released her and threw the toy. What a quick study she is!--By the end of the weekend, she was back to doing it pretty reliably.
* Sends to a jump from various directions (just a jump frame with a bar on the ground).
* Lateral "out" commands (around garbage cans) while we're moving together.
* Sitting up on her rear legs.
* Rolling over.
* "Close"--command for running next to me instead of ahead, until I say "go".
* Various running and moving ground exercises.

She seemed to enjoy it and didn't look disappointed or confused when I put her back in her crate, since I was following the same competition routine. (Unlike Jake who was quite disturbed and sulky about doing the agility that he expected.)

Plus she got to Run With The Border Collies for about half an hour at the end of the weekend while I packed my car.

Tika Still Sore--Or Not?
Tika came out of her crate with the same hunchy look for almost every run, although she always perked up completely when i presented treats. Did lots more massaging and stretching than I usually do with her. She loves the attention.

I couldn't decide whether to scratch her from the rest of the weekend. I really didn't want to, for my own sake, which is not how you're supposed to make decisions for your dog. On the other hand, she was always excited about running, enough so that we were having troubles with our start-line stays, and she always did the over-the-top grab-mom's-feet thing at the end of every run. And this is a known issue, not some mysterious malady.

Tika not looking at all wonky:

So I ran her all weekend, although she was landing heavily and grunting after her jumps and turning wide the whole time (except for one run), not her usual effortless flowing jumping and tight turns.

That Dang Snooker. The only run of the weekend where she didn't come out of the crate looking sore--and didn't keep her bars up--was the last run on Saturday, Snooker. The sun had already disappeared and it was much cooler. Maybe she liked the coolth.

Snooker in CPE is different from USDAA Snooker, in that you MUST successfully complete three reds to be able to earn a qualifying score (if you then go on and earn enough points in the closing). There is a fourth red on the course, but you can (must) take it ONLY if you knock one of the other reds. I explained this to a few people during the briefing.

Tika was the last dog to run of the class and of the day, so we ran a couple of hours after the briefing. I put her in a down stay and started my long lead-out to get into position. Next thing I know, there she is right next to me, bright eyed and bushy nubbered.

I set her up about 12 feet off the first jump to give her the right strides to get over the jump without knocking it. What she does when she decides she's going to self start is to stand up, slowly creep forward until she's right up before the jump, then takes off without enough space.

I looked back and, sure enough, the bar was down. I had hoped for a 51-point (perfect) run, but that was out of the question. And then my 12 years of USDAA experience kicked in: If I did just the two additional reds and the closing, I'd still have enough points to qualify. So that's what we did, and we did it quickly and smoothly. And we got to the end, and the judge comes over and says, "Did you realize that you could have taken the fourth red and still earned a qualifying score?" Oh--well--crud. I can't even remember my own advice for two hours! So we got no points for the closing at all and no Q.

You Know What Happens When You Assume. Our only other non-Q for the weekend was the preceding Standard run, which Tika did nicely all the way to the 2nd to last obstacle, which was a dogwalk-tunnel discrimination. I yelled "Climb!" and raced ahead, assuming that she'd do it because her arc from the previous obstacle led there--but Nooooo! Silly mom, tunnel much easier when mom's ahead. Body language takes precedence over voice commands.

Tika--Yes--Still Sore, But Happy.
In Snooker first thing Sunday morning, we had short weaves in the opening for for 7 points. Every time, Tika--my superb weaving dog--either went into the weaves on the wrong side because it was closer or went into the correct place and came right back out again. Wasted a tremendous amount of time in the opening, so we missed our perfect 51 points by less than one second! Argh! It was a qualifying score, but still, I didn't understand.

Until, before the next run, I had her do figure-8s around my legs, and the first time, she yelped and stopped! OK, sore side-to-side, too. So we added additional manipulations and stretchings and bendings, and she was decent after that, although still slower in the weaves than usual. And I didn't try pushing her speed during our runs, which I usually would do, to get her more excited and driving.

Qing and Firsts.
In all, Tika earned 8 of 10 Qs. It's always better for me (I feel better about my first places) if there are other 24"-jumping dogs in my height and level. But the two catahoulas weren't there, the BCs Annie and Django who sometimes jump 24" weren't there, and BC Brenn has moved down to 20".

As a result, to make me feel that we've earned our first places, I compare our scores and times to every other dog, all heights/all levels, who have done the same course. This time, Tika was never the top dog, but out of 50-60 dogs, she was still between the 3nd and 10th fastest or highest-scoring dog, so I felt that the 1st were earned.

Note that, in USDAA, if we weren't feeling well and were making mistakes on the course, we'd be wayyyy down in the rankings somewhere, but here in CPE, Tika is still near the top.

The only two dogs who beat us consistently all weekend were a fast little sheltie who has running A-frames and--in point accumulation classes--5 more seconds than we do, and a Border Collie in the 20" group.

The Horns of Height Dilemmas. Now, Tika is eligible to run 20" in CPE. I do 24" because she has to jump 26" in USDAA. So I could move her down to 20" for future trials to see whether that's better. Here's my personal dilemma: Because the 20" BC made no mistakes this weekend, and is also at Level C, if Tika had been running at 20", 7 or 8 of those 8 pretty blues would have been pretty reds. As much as I like competition, I must admit that a guarantee of not getting 1st is rough.

When Tika is 100%, we can almost never beat those other dogs on speed, so in timed courses, we usually win only if they make mistakes. In points courses, we can win when we create a cleverer, more efficient way of collecting points than the others, which is possible sometimes but not always.

Here's the second dilemma: in USDAA, I could move Tika to Performance and jump her at 22" instead of 26". But: I've already signed her up for the next two DAM Team events with 3-dog teams, with Tika at 26". And they'd be fun teams. We already have our team names (not always easy) and one even has a logo already. And I'd like to run with them. But if I go to performance, I'd have to find different teams. And closing is only a week away for one of them, which would leave that team stuck without a 3rd. But I want to do these teams!

So I'll probably stay at 26" at least for those. Maybe move her to Performance in some other things. And stay higher in Steeplechase and Grand Prix until she earns her 50th tournament leg.

I hate this. Dogs shouldn't get older and sorer.

But I Had Fun. In all, though, it was a good weekend. So I wasn't even particularly annoyed when I left the grounds around 7:30(!) Sunday evening. Especially because Boost got to romp with a ton of other Border Collies the whole time I packed.

Here's Bump, Dig, Boost's half-sister Quas ("Kass"), and Boost--who always just watches and outruns the other BCs:

Never thought I'd be able to tell one black & white BC from another, but over time, I've gotten to know some reasonably well. Here are housemates Bump, Dig, and Styx (with Cattle Dog Skeeter in the back), then blue merles Boost, sister Bette, and Quas.

It seemed like a lot of dogs milling and dashing around! (Easier to count when they're in a snapshot.) So sometimes we hardly noticed when other random dogs joined the crowd.

Skeeter is largely blind due to glaucoma; has only one eye left. But her Human Mom can get her to leap and play by shrieking and doing monstery things with her arms. It's very cute. While Boost sits, poised, waiting intently for a border collie to start running.

Tika kept rushing back to the van and looking hopeful. That's because they usually get dinner right before we go home. And we know who's the chow hound.

And I wasn't even annoyed when, while heading to the freeway, the car felt funny handling, and I wondered whether I had a tire problem, and then the tire-pressure light came on. I pulled into the Jack-in-the-Box, and sure enough, one tire's pressure was 5 lbs lower than the others, and it had this little ding.

Safe to drive? Dunno. Don't want to have blow-out on the way home; that WOULD annoy me. So I called AAA to have them look at the tire. Took less than half an hour to get there, but it gave me plenty of time to enjoy my healthy french fries...

to watch the moon come up over JITB...

to take endless sunset photos...

Here's a scenic one of the sunset reflected in my minivan's window. Glamorous, huh?

Then AAA arrived. He said: Dunno, but he'd replace the tire to be safe rather than sorry. He had the right tools to do it in about 3 minutes. Amazing.

Got home VERY late and slept VERY well for many, many hours.

Had These Photos And What To Do With Them? But lastly--just for you, gratuitous barking grassy Bump photos:

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Complete list of labels

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More About Boost

SUMMARY: Orthopedist appointment in 3 weeks; pelvis comments.

I've set up an appointment for x-rays and exam with an orthopedist for Boost in 3 weeks--first appointment that's available. It's about a 90 minute drive one way. I am so not looking forward to 3 hours of the dogs in the car, resting and storing up energy, while I'm tiring myself out, driving. But I sure think it'll be worth it.

Meanwhile, I forgot to mention that the vet/masseuse also commented that Boost's pelvis is a little flat and a little short. She said that what this means is that she might be less "scopey"--the scope of what she can quickly and easily adjust to might be less than dogs with a differently shaped pelvis. It's not an insurmountable issue. Just might take more or different training. Which was an interesting observation.

Who ever thought, back in 1995 when I started going to class for something to do with my dog one night a week, that I'd ever think about anything like this?

Labels: , , ,

Complete list of labels

A Break for Boost

SUMMARY: Taking Boost out of agility for a while.

I've commented here about Boost's bar knocking, about my lack of success with bar-knocking drills (which actually work well with Tika), and about some of the spectacular all bars down, all the time runs in class lately.

The next step is to evaluate Boost's physical status. Yesterday, I took her up to Power Paws for a massage and evaluation with a well-regarded DVM/masseuse who specializes in performance dogs (got tired of dealing with "overweight, out of shape pet dogs and their owners") and who participates in agility herself. Boost took a while to relax (one reason I don't do a lot of stretching and rubbing with her--she's not much into being touched, although she puts up with it, and never relaxes much), but by the end of the session her body just flowed out onto the table, eyes half closed. She still resisted some things just from being that kind of dog, but mostly she got into it--as most dogs do. Jake and Tika always liked getting worked on.

The evaluation--and this is in my words: Boost reacted in pain to some work on her right rear leg. Hard to tell exactly where, but DVM thinks lower back or pelvis. Says that Boost's legs are all spectacularly muscled, which would most likely eliminate dysplasia. But her lower back and abdomen need work to develop the muscles there. (Just like us humans with back issues! She and I now both need to start doing crunches!)

The suggestion was to not do any agility with Boost for a while, to continue evaluation of what the problem might be, to give her body time to heal, and to work on developing those other muscles. Got the thumbs up to keep doing what I've been doing, and even more of it--the exercise ball, backing up the stairs, long hikes and running, just not jumping and like that.

So I'm going to get her x-rayed at a well-regarded dog sports vet if I can get an appointment any time soon. Then we'll see from there what more to do. Like: To work on: Teach her to sit up (some people have taken to calling it "sit pretty"--what was traditionally called "beg") and even to do squats. I've seen videos of dogs doing it; if they can stand on their hind legs, and if they can "sit pretty," then it just takes some additional work to get them to go from one to the other. Maybe it'll motivate me to do more like that, too.

So I've scratched Boost from the next 2 CPE trials in March, although I've left Tika in (since I've promised to be the chief score table czar). Next USDAA is the big four-day Haute Tracs extravaganza in 2 months. Would be too bad to miss that with Boost. But--well--we'll see.

Meanwhile, I'm also going to take at least one six-week session off from class; Boost can't participate, Tika and I can always use practice but it won't hurt us badly to miss it; and I'll be needing the time and money for Boost's work.

The interesting thing was my first reaction to the suggestion to stop agility with Boost for a while: A sense of relief. Like, maybe this is a fixable issue and if some time off is mostly what it takes, hallelujah! Like, someone is giving me permission to not do agility. Isn't that funny, what goes through one's mind?

It'll be tough, being at a trial and not being able to run Boost. I'll try to still take her out and play with her just the same. Have to remember to do that and not start putting it off because it's "not important" (like doing a run you've paid for).

After the massage, we went for a drizzly walk around parts of Power Paws' open fields.

Just about the only shot of Tika, because she always wants to be out at the farthest distance, exploring:

Both dogs seemed intent on grazing, since the sheep were in a different field and not doing the job. With San Jose spread out below and vanishing into the glaring mists of that steady, steady drizzle.

We walked up over the rise where the big agility field is and down the other side. There's Tika, as far away as she can get (to the right of the tree near center--really, she's there!).

Labels: , , , ,

Complete list of labels

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Scary Things In The Night

SUMMARY: Do we have a sick dog or do we not?

It's five in the morning. It's dark, it's cold. I'm awakened suddenly by that too-familiar hyook...hyook... sound of a dog about to toss her cookies.

My first thought is always: Don't do it on the carpet! I try leaping to my feet while simultaneously disentangling the bedclothes, turning on the light, and trying to figure out which dog it is and where she's located. I'm not very efficient at this process, still half in dreamland.

Lights on, it's Tika, her head over the side of the bed like a seasick sailor over the edge of the boat, except No no it's so much easier to clean up on the bed (or in the bathroom) than on the carpet!

Too late--as I grab for her to either push her back or pull her into the bathroom, one final double-size HYooeahhh-- but all that comes out is one solitary long tendril, which adheres to the side of the mattress, on the multicolored floral-print sheet.

The tendril looks reddish.

OK, is she vomiting blood or isn't she? I can't tell exactly with the pink-and-yellow-and-blue pattern underneath, and there's so little there. Wipe it with a paper towel (always on hand in the bedroom for such situations)--OK, yeah, I think I see a spec of red in with the usual color.

But there's so little of it, Tika looks so happy to see me up and moving around, and I'm so tired and my head is so congested. Dogs go briefly outside to do whatever relieving they need to do--I hear no more hyooks-- and we all go back to bed and everything seems completely normal this morning.

But now there's this horror in the back of my mind--why would she have blood in her spit-up? Why?


Complete list of labels

Saturday, November 22, 2008


SUMMARY: Dang Boost at night.

What, is Boost reading my blog now? She made me get up at 1:00 this morning to let her out.

Labels: , , , ,

Complete list of labels

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Dog In The Night Party Umpty-Ump

SUMMARY: Boost's nights seem to be back to normal.

In the last month, Boost has asked to go out during the night only twice: Once at Scottsdale, which was my worst night hacking and snorting with the miserable cold, which could've just woken her up thoroughly, and once more on Nov 11. But otherwise, she's sleeping through the night.

Was it the 2nd round of tougher antibiotics for a longer period? Was it putting her in her crate after she came back in after insisting on going out? Don't know, but something worked, thank goodness.

For previous posts on the topic, click the Housebreaking label. (At should bring up 4 other posts...)

Labels: , , , ,

Complete list of labels

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Leaving My Dogs Behind--Je Vais Aller au Montréal

SUMMARY: Business and pleasure. And no agility.

I will be leaving you all for a week. Might be able to log in and post some random things, but not sure yet. I'm flying cross-continent to attend a meeting/conference, which I'm looking forward to--meeting some people I've met only by phone, and being in the middle of discussions on plans for features for the next product release. And I'm hoping to get a little sightseeing done at either end of the week. Il faut pratiquer mon francais--- jeepers, is that even close to right? It's been so long--

Je manquerai mes chiens! (Right form of "miss"? Argh!) And, simultaneously, I'll be glad to have a vacation from them and their training and their exercising and their feeding and their fur everywhere.

And we'll hope that Boost's middle-of-the-night problems, whatever they were or are, will not reappear to plague my renter, who is taking care of the beasties for me. (My vet made it sound as if some kind of noncalcium bladder stone was a more likely problem than an infection, but we're sticking with the antibiotics and keeping our fingers crossed.)

And we'll rely on the fact that all those Québécoises speak English without a twitch and I can practice my francais only if I really want to.

Labels: , ,

Complete list of labels

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Dog In The Night Part ??

SUMMARY: Another trip to the emergency room.

Friday night I got to bed around 9:15 in anticipation of rising at 4:15 to head to Turlock. Before that, Boost squatted to pee when I took her out, but did nothing, and I figured that she was trying to demonstrate that she really had taken care of business.

But, in the bedroom, she tossed and turned and moved around restlessly and then about 20 minutes later demanded urgently to go out. We went out. She squatted--nothing. Moved elsewhere, squatted, nothing. Repeat for about 5 minutes. Back to bed. Tossing and turning, demanding to be let out, squatting, nothing. Repeat I don't know how many times until 1:30 in the morning. I had not slept a wink, and neither had she, and now I was getting a little worried. Maybe a bladder infection--but we DID use antibiotics (ending 2 weeks ago) and she HAD mostly slept through the night for the last 2 weeks.

Could it be one of those other things that the vet had said were possible but rarer? Bladder stone? Some kind of growth or blockage?

My choices were: (1) Go to the emergency room and spend large sums of money. (2) Blow off saturday at the agility trial and wait to see my regular vet in the morning. (3) Give up my bed, drive to turlock, hope she'd be ok for 2 hours in the van and that I might be able to sleep for a couple of hours there.

Rejected (3)--didn't want to be caught out of town if it was indeed something serious. Rejected (2)--that's a lot of entry fees to blow off, plus I really wanted that one last try at Steeplechase.

So we went to the emergency clinic, which I'm grateful to have only about 2 miles from home.

An hour and a half, 2 x-rays, and $400+ later, we determined that it was probably a bladder infection still/again. They injected antibiotics and gave us a different kind of antibiotic pills to use for the next two weeks.

Returned to bed, and we were both so exhausted that we fell right asleep--for an hour before heading to Turlock. I kept my alarm clock in the van's front seat in case I realized while driving that my alertness was fading and I needed to pull over and sleep, but I felt amazingly good (for 1 hour of sleep) both mentally and physically.

Then I had those two lovely Standard runs with both dogs first thing in the morning. Maybe I should do without sleep more often! KIDDING... by late afternoon at the score table, I found myself staring blankly at scribe sheets, not able to process what I needed to do. I managed only about a 10-minute break sitting quietly with my head back and eyes closed, but it was enough to survive the rest of the day.

I slept VERY well Saturday night until Boost asked to go out at 5:30. Would've liked an additional hour of sleep, but, oh, well. Everything on her end (so to speak) seemed to function just fine all weekend. And she slept through last night at home, too.

Labels: , ,

Complete list of labels

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

No Dog In The Night (and Other Gratitudes)

SUMMARY: Boost sleeps through the night, and otherwise also a good week.

I hit Boost's not-sleeping-through-the-night issue with a two-pronged attack: shock and awe... (No, wait, that was a different campaign.) ...really, Plan A: 10 days of antibiotics plus Plan B: every time she gets me up, she has to sleep in her crate when we return to bed.

This isn't a tremendous hardship, as she slept there every night for her first year here, and she still sometimes sleeps there voluntarily when maybe Tika or I toss and turn too much.

Before Plan A and Plan B, she got me up 10 out of 25 nights (after I started tracking). That included one stretch of 7 nights where she *never* woke me up, giving me false hope, but NOOooo, then 5 out of the next 10 up.

So we get to Plan A and B. After the first full day of antibiotics, she let me sleep. Then ditto for the next 3 nights. Wow, thought I, it *was* some insidious infection. But NOOoooo again, 4 out of the next 6 nights she got me up. Each time, I zipped her into the crate afterwards. She grumbled some and hit on the door a bit (it's one of those lightweight pop-up nylon crates), but I told her to knock it off and she settled in each time.

I also started Plan C: When *I* was up in the night on my own for any reason (last night: something banging around on the deck. Maybe the wind.), I did NOT let her out just because she asked. She pestered me a bit at first but since then, just accepts it. Because I think that's what started the problem--a bout of insomnia, where I just let her out every night in the middle of the night when I was up and she asked.

So then...looking promising...after the last day of antibiotics, we went 6 nights with no out--ah, ha! it WAS an infection?!-- but wait: then one night of out plus crate, two nights off, one night of out plus crate, and now 5 more nights off. So only two nights of the last 15 has she gotten me up. I can only hope. It's still a little unclear whether it was an infection or behavioral, but I'm leaning towards the latter.

Boost resting up from a hard night of sleeping through. Uzza wuzza cute widdle feeties all gathered up!

I am also grateful that I can now comfortably wear all those pairs of jeans that I haven't been able to wear since October. Thank you, Weight Watchers (no meetings this time, but using their strategies).

I am also grateful that I saved $200 on my auto/house/umbrella insurance yesterday. Thank you, Geico. (Used to have Geico auto insurance for years and loved them, but 7 years ago they couldn't insure my house and now they can. Go figure.)

I am grateful that, on very short notice and at essentially the last minute, I have found excellent DAM teams for both dogs for USDAA Nationals. Thank you, agility friends!

Let's hope that things keep looking up.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Complete list of labels

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Dog in the Night Follow-Up

SUMMARY: Boost is fine probably.

The vet found nothing wrong with Boost even after doing a culture of her urine and testing for a few other things. So we're going back to the assumption that it's probably behavioral, because everything else that could be medical is both rare and harder to diagnose.

However, he did say that certain bacterial infections won't show up in the culture especially if they're mild, so let's try 10 days of antibiotics anyway and see whether it helps because sometimes it does. I'm leery of antibiotics just on general principles, but he felt from our long discussion that I had asked the right questions and tried the right things and said that, if it were his dog, he'd do it. So, OK, we're doing it.

I picked up the pills right before leaving town midday Friday and just got back. The dogsitter (Renter) said that she didn't wake him up at night and he saw no signs of puddles in the morning. Of course, I haven't even been up to my bedroom yet, so who knows--

But I'm back on thinking we'll simultaneously treat it as behavioral. Starting with, if she gets me up, she goes into her crate instead of on the bed when we come back in.

Labels: , , , ,

Complete list of labels

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Dog In The Night

SUMMARY: Boost and her potty habits. Or what.

I am exhausted. Boost has gotten worse about not sleeping through the night. Last time I bemoaned this, someone suggested maybe she had a bladder or other urinary-tract infection, but no, I was sure it was just some sort of training that she had figured out was being trained when in fact it wasn't being trained, it was all a misunderstanding.

So I determinedly walked her out back before bedtime and insisted on a good pee and then we'd go to bed. And it got a little better sometimes, and then finally we had a good solid run of a whole week, 7 days, with no asking to go out after bedtime. Then we backslid for a few days, then we had maybe 5 days with no going out, and then the last couple of weeks it's back to almost every night.

What still doesn't have me convinced that it's a UTI is that she sometimes goes ALL DANG DAY at an agility trial without wanting to pee, so if it were a real problem, wouldn't it affect her all the time? And then the usual pattern is: pee and go to bed, then maybe within an hour, ask to go out again (what, is she holding it back?) then maybe or maybe not in another 1-2 hours ask to go out again but almost never after 1 or 2 in the morning. Then she's fine until whenever I wake up for real, which sometimes these days isn't until 9 because I'm so wiped out from being woken up.

Anyway, OK, now i'm going out of town for 2 nights without the dogs and realizing that I have to explain this to my renter, who's watching the dogs for me. I did not have to explain this back in May when I went to Arizona for a week. So clearly it has gotten worse, not better.

So this morning I went out with her, wearing rubber gloves (me, not Boost), and shoved a little baby-food jar into the appropriate location to gather a sample. Now we have a vet's appointment for tomorrow morning. The receptionist said, oh, no, they'll want to get their own sample. I seem to remember from a past dog, ages ago, where the vet said it's sometimes hard to get their own sample so if I could get one, that would be helpful. But that was then and this is now. And maybe I don't remember that well. So should I dump the sample? Nah, guess I'll hold on to it for a day and let it brew. Or maybe try again tomorrow morning just in case.

Meanwhile, Boost enjoys a little boxing. I spend money on dog toys why?

Labels: , , , , , ,

Complete list of labels

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No Practice Makes--What?

SUMMARY: Lack of classes, lack of practice, but Tika's fine.

As of this week, we've had no class for 3 of the last 4 weeks. Yikes. And that's after I cut down to one class a week, so I'm sort of sharing Boost's class time with Tika, so it's not superly sufficient anyway.

And just not motivated to work on jumping drills in the yard. Bor. Ing. Would be more interesting if I had enough space for the dogs to open up and actually practice something, but now I can set up two jumps 20' apart--and then we're out of room. Makes it hard to trick them into thinking we're doing something else.

So we have a CPE trial in Petaluma this weekend, and who knows what's going to happen.

Tika's anal gland, meanwhile, looks just fabulous, to my inexpert eye. She's had oral antibiotics for 10 days, plus twice-daily cleanouts of the gland with antibacterial ointment and hot compresses and massages. She wasn't thrilled with the process, but we came to a working agreement. Went much better than any kind of work at the vet's would have gone, I think.

Gave her painkillers for about the first 3 days, rimadyl as an antiinflammatory for about the next 5 or 6, and she is just absolutely frisky and happy the last few days. So she should run fine this weekend (says here), if she can keep her bars up. It helps that, in CPE, she jumps 24" instead of 26"

And I entered Boost at 20" instead of 24" this time (she's actually eligible for 16", but since she has to do 22" in USDAA, I prefer to stay in that range), which might or might not help with her bar knocking.

And we'll just concentrate on making sure we do weaves correctly, and contacts correctly, and I hope have just a grand old time.

If only this smoke would go away. It's been weeks, now. California's just burning up. I guess I'd rather deal with mere smoke than with a fire creeping up on my house. Oddly, my allergies and asthma seem to be far more subdued than usual, although my throat's a wee bit scratchier. Anyway, it's mostly just ugly stuff.

Labels: , , ,

Complete list of labels

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tika Progresses

SUMMARY: Doing better.

Sometime between the emergency vet Sunday evening and the regular vet this morning, the abscessed anal gland ruptured all by itself so is draining some. The vet told Tika that she did a good job but it didn't prevent her from screaming and thrashing when he tried to really get in and check it out. Last time this happened, they tried sedating her and it took three people to hold her still enough so the vet could try to clean it out a little and it worked only partly and later they completely anesthetized her. She's one strong, panicked dog at the vet's.

It would help if she had a tail that you could grab and lift, but you're also fighting this little tiny nubber tail that you have to grab right against her buttocks (do dogs have buttocks?), right where it's already sore, and try to pry it up. Gads.

So I said, let me try the home treatment. I have to try to get antibiotic ointment into it twice a day for a week. This might be like tilting at windmills. Very strong, very panicked, very drama queen windmills that shriek and thrash if you just look at them wrong.

Also the yelping around her head, the vet thinks it's her neck again and I'm not convinced again because she keeps holding her head to one side and kind of shaking it, but her ears look good and it's really hard to get in her mouth (remember the shrieking thrashing windmills) to look but nothing appeared out of whack, so who knows what it really is.

But she's playing fetch just fine, and tugging of war, so we're getting there.

Now I'm off to the chiro for a pinched something in my right arm. Aren't we the healthy bunch?

Labels: ,

Complete list of labels

Monday, May 05, 2008

Handling a Sore Dog

SUMMARY: What to do when your dog is sore?

I'm a terrible patient in some ways--not very patient, really. When I'm injured, I tend to push the limits of what doctors suggest. Thank goodness, modern human medicine now wants you to do as much as you can as fast as you can, rather than resting abed.

So, for example, if I've badly sprained an ankle (enough to go see the doctor), and confirmed that it's not broken or torn, and the advice has been to rest it for [some period of time], I rest it until I can run on it... a day? three days? (Of course I have to keep testing it, not resting it, to see whether I can move without, like, screaming.) I don't seem to have done myself any serious damage this way. Sure, it's not 100% when I start being active again, but if I don't move, I put on weight (it lurks in the shadows, waiting for any sign of weakness, and then LEAPS onto my hips at a moment's notice!). And maybe I have to ice it and take NSAIDs for longer than I would if I had given it the full rest, but in so many ways I feel better by pushing the envelope.

(Aside: OK, really, how much work is pushing an envelope? I mean, really!)

When my knee was so screwed up that I could barely walk, I did listen to my physical therapist when she said "you are scratching yourself from the trial this weekend and you are NOT running, NOT!" When the orthopedist said, "I can't say that I give my blessings for you to go to the Nationals and run your dogs, and I don't think it's a good idea, but I can't stop you from doing something that you want to do, so [fill in assorted medical advice]," I did in fact go to the nationals and I did run my dogs and I borrowed a bicycle to get around, and I did not suffer greatly for it except that it was damned dull sitting in my chair icing my knee constantly when there was so much to do and see that I couldn't [do or see]. But that was possible because the knee had improved somewhat in the preceding 2 or 3 weeks so that I COULD, in fact, run on it without, like, screaming. And, furthermore, Tika's team made it to the finals and she took home an individual placement ribbon, her first ever. So what did that teach me?

But that's not what I came here to talk about.

So, now I have, in my care, lovely furry athletic beasts who are in much better shape than I am and who rely on me for intelligent, well-reasoned choices about their care. Ha! I try to be a better patient for them than I am for myself, but I am of mixed feelings, because failing to follow my own medical advice to the letter seems, in fact, to have been good for me.

So, what to do when the dogs are hurtin'?

When Jake, at nearly 10, first came up sore--suddenly so painful that he couldn't even go up stairs--x-rays proved arthritis. Vet prescribed 6 weeks of complete rest. Six weeks! On a wild and crazy dog who ran full out chasing tennis balls for 20-30 minutes daily! He got full rest for maybe 3 or 4 days, and then very limited exercise for a couple of weeks after that and then we did just a little tiny bit of class at a lower jump height, and all that time he showed no signs of pain, none! OK, he was on anti-inflammatories, too, for at least a couple of those weeks, and I knew that, and I was cautious. But not six weeks worth of cautious. And this 17.75"-tall dog continued to jump 22" in USDAA for another 18 months, then jumped 16" for another 3 years (eventually only one run a day) until he died at 15. He still jumped at 12" beautifully with no signs of pain.

So now Tika, just 7 this February, has been turning up sore more and more often. What's the right answer? How to treat her? I know that active dogs are at least as bad as active people--they don't care if they're in pain as long as they're moving moving moving! Until the pain gets to be too much for them. I know that they don't necessarily show it until it's pretty thorough.

I can't afford regular chiropractic visits (for myself or for the dogs). Some people swear by it, since dogs can't and/or won't tell you when they're sore, you need to do some massage and hands-on evaluation of all their joints on a regular basis, whereas with a person you can get away with it only when you need it. But not all of us have those resources. So it's my own limited-skill dog massage and limited-skill dog stretching and just trying to pay very close attention to what the dog's behavior tells me.

For instance, when it's mealtime, does Tika spring fully into the air several times? Does she just lift her front feet off the ground but the rear feet stay down? Does she just wriggle in an excited little dance? Does she play full-out with Boost or does she play a little and then tell Boost to get lost, or does she plop down and refuse to play? Things like this tell me a tremendous amount.

So, to run Tika this last weekend or not? She seemed painfree and rarin' to go Thursday and Friday with no drugs since Tuesday. I was cautious by scratching her from 2 of her 5 runs a day and picking ones that I thought would be easiest on her body.

Over the weekend, I watched her carefully and constantly for any sign of soreness. Did she stand up as soon as I approached her crate (versus staying lying down)? Did she stretch comfortably (versus not at all, or minimally, or even too much--which was a sign with Jake that he was feeling a bit off). Would she take a toy? Would she try to shake it? Did she bounce when I brought out the frisbee?

I avoided playing tug with her as much as possible, and when I did, I worked on keeping her head down instead of at my level and keeping it less intense to avoid the real insane neck-wrenching kill-shakes. We did a little frisbee first thing in the mornings but I kept the throws short and at ground level. I tried to get her out of her crate a little early for extra warmup and stretching, and to walk her around several times during the day so she didn't stiffen up. She looked great on course, landing lightly on her feet, turning smoothly without slowing down.

We played a bit more intense frisbee at the end of the day Sunday, but not nearly as much as I let her the previous weekend. Still no sign of any soreness today. Next trial isn't for a month, and they'll have a complete week off while I leave them at home going to AZ.

It's a balancing act with tough choices. I have plenty of friends with dogs with chronic injuries who struggle often with when to rest the dog, and how much, and what other treatments to try, so I'm not unaware of the risks of running a dog who has had issues. Having mere pet dogs is so much easier.

Labels: , ,

Complete list of labels

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

SUMMARY: Is Boost night-trained or isn't she?

When Boost came to live with me, she was about 3 months old and sleeping through the night. We did have a rare case or two of peeing in the crate at night, but at the time I was using a crate with a waterproof base, so clean-up was easy. Eventually, I switched to a lightweight fabric crate, and eventually (like with all my dogs) she ended up sleeping on my bed.

I've never had a problem with my dogs regularly needing to go outside during the night. Usually, if a dog suddenly feels nature calling--even needing to throw up--she'll leap off my bed, which is what wakes me so that I can usher them outside (or, in case of imminent horking, onto the tiled bathroom floor).

In Jake's last year or two, he needed to go out during the night more and more often, but he was 15 when he died, so I'd cut him some slack. Plus he somehow cleverly figured out that, if I didn't wake up and let him out (and I tend to doze off again unless the activity continues), he could walk into my shower stall, do his business there, and get back to bed. How clever is that? I *never* ushered any of my dogs into my shower stall for anything exept a very rare bath.

During the time she was sleeping in the crate and for a while thereafter, I was going through a period of insomnia, so I'd rise in the night, don my robe, and head downstairs for a hot chocolate and a crossword puzzle to put me back to sleep. If in the crate, she'd start to make a ruckus, so I'd have to let her out to keep her from waking my housemate. Whereupon she'd want to go out, so I'd let her. When she stopped sleeping in her crate, she'd just immediately get up as soon as I did, trot downstairs, and demand to be let out. And I'd let her.

I've had less and less trouble with insomnia over time, and now (bless hormone therapy!) it's not a problem at all. So, in recent months, I've realized that she's been waking up in the middle of the night on hre own and needing to go out. Not every night, but I doubt that a week goes by where she doesn't want to go out at least one night. This is the dog, mind you, who can go most of an entire day at an agility trial without peeing and a whole weekend without pooping because things are just too interesting to want to take time for potty breaks. So I figure maybe she's just holding it.

I've started insisting on her going outside before bedtime and waiting for her to potty (and giving the verbal signal and all), but most of the time she just tries to play. (I don't do so, and I take away her toys, but that doesn't necessarily stop her.) It's rare that she'll actually do something at that time under my guidance.

I've started getting pissy in the middle of the night when she wakes me up. Maybe that's the wrong thing to do (she says in retrospect), because now she apparently tries to hold it, which makes her restless, so she moves around on the bed and moves and moves and moves and moves and moves and STOP IT DAMMIT! (or I keep telling her to settle and then rolling over and dozing off).

Two weeks ago, in one of our rare stays in a motel, she DID pee right before I went to bed, and she did get really restless in teh middle of the night and I ignored it, figuring it was the noise of an unfamiliar hotel setting. Finally I rolled over, reclaiming more of my bed--and discovered that it was sopping wet all through my dog-bed-cover, the bedding, the mattress pad, and the mattress. Fortunately there was another bed in the room. I took her out right then and she peed some more.

So I don't know whether I managed to train her to wait for the middle of the night to go potty or whether there's something else going on. We have none of the other likely symptoms of, say, a bladder infection, so I'm just thinking it's a training thing, and I'm struggling with fixing it.

Friday night, she woke me up leaping off the bed and refusing to settle. In the yard, she walked all the way around the yard slowly (not her usual pottying mode, which is a trot to an appropriate location), peed for about half a second, and then came back into the house and settled for the rest of the night. Does she think she HAS to go out in the middle of the night even if she DOESN'T need to go? Dang dog brains.

Labels: , , , ,

Complete list of labels

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Vet Bill

SUMMARY: Ouch. There goes the tax refund--and more.

Tika's total bill for the tooth thang: $913, plus $389 for additional requested services. I'm guessing that there are less-expensive vets, but I really like mine and have been going to that facility for nearly 30 years; not inclined to try to find another. Maybe I'm foolish about that.
  • Exam/consultation: $62
  • Pills (10 days antibiotics, 7 days Rimadyl): $61
  • Half a day hospitalization: $63
  • Meds at hospital, injected (antibiotics, anti-inflammatory): $50
  • Tech assistance: $45
  • sedative: $37.50
  • anesthetic procedure: $220
  • surgery: $90
  • surgical pack/etc.: $15.50
  • Heart/oxygen/etc. monitors: $50
  • Toxic waste/env. fee: $4
  • Venipuncture: $14
  • Lab fees for blood test: $124
  • X-ray of tooth: $77

(I'll have to double-check on lab fees--blood test was presurgery to be sure she was healthy enough, but I don't know what all the test entailed for that $124!)

Additional services at the same time:
  • X-ray consultation: $60
  • 3 Xrays of neck, back, hips: $249
  • Teeth cleaning: $80

(X-ray consultation--not sure whether that would've been charged for just the tooth, or whether that was only for the additional x-rays.)

Labels: ,

Complete list of labels

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Got Call From the Vet and Tika's Fine

SUMMARY: Lots to report.

Tika's awake and sitting up. One of the roots of the suspect tooth was "badly abscessed" but they were able to clean it out and don't think that I'll need to do any nursing care on it, just antibiotics and Rimadyl for pain & swelling.

Other damaged tooth looks fine at the moment. All her teeth looked pretty clean, although they found a couple little pockets of tartar to clean out.

She has about a 4" gash on her inner thigh (! I'm so observant--but she doesn't roll over all that often except on the bed, and then I'm lying down next to her) but it's not deep and they think it'll be fine; looks like it has been there for a few days. Who knows what she hit and when?!

Her ears look good. Her nails didn't need much trimming, but they topped them off anyway.

X-rays showed many interesting things. And they're a good baseline for later. Her neck looks fine (back to the suspicion that the most-recent complaint wasn't the left side of the neck but the tooth).

Her hips "aren't perfect." The right one has some pinhead-sized bone spurs that probably aren't affecting her now. The left hip is slightly shallow and could have some problems eventually (I think I remember that the on-site vet a year or two ago thought that her soreness was her left hip--if so, maybe it just popped a little out of place--luxated--and then popped back again and was fine. Jake's knee used to do this all the time as he got older).

She has some teeny bits of arthritis in her midback that also probably aren't bothering her now, but there is one disk space that's a bit narrow and has some calcification inside the spinal area--probably not normally a problem but just twisting the wrong way or hitting something the wrong way could give her a lot of (probably) brief pain. It actually sounds very much like my own problem back.

Vet wants me to come in next week to talk about all of this in more detail.

So--she's OK! And things are hunky dory. I'll go get her in about 3 hours.

Labels: ,

Complete list of labels

Waiting For The Call

SUMMARY: While Tika's at the vet, we have to do something to keep our mind off it.

I get scared about my dogs going under anesthesia. Especially when we don't know 100% what the problem is. I've talked myself into being reasonably calm while a teeeeny wee voice in the back of my head is screeching "panic! panic!" It didn't help that Boost was up about every hour from 9:30 until 3:30 with diarrhea. Seems OK this morning; no obvious cause.

Funny, got email this morning from a friend whose agility dog was under anesthesia YESTERDAY to have the same tooth removed for the same reason (but no swelling in their case). The tooth is a "carnasial tooth"--the largest upper premolar closest to the molars. I've heard twice today that that's the most commonly broken tooth in dogs and that it is commonly removed due to such damage.

(Image from this site.)

Still, as I emailed another friend this morning: After Remington, every little thing now makes me think "cancer!" and then I find myself thinking, "why doesn't everyone just get cancer and die and then I don't have to worry about it any more!" and then I could just kick myself and this morning I was hugging Tika and bawling about I didn't mean it don't leave me, that sort of pathetic thing. She thought I was a little over the top and didn't want to have anything to do with it.

I'm fine now.


Just waiting for the vet to call.

So Boost and I went for a long, not-too-leisurely stroll along the Guadalupe River. She whuffed briefly at another dog, but by George, I was able to stop and actually chat with another dog owner--something that I cannot do with Tika along and it's so discouraging.
My vet's pyracantha shrub. Those little tulip ears--surely it's a border collie?!
Big white bird thing (my mother would be ashamed of me) standing in the Guadalupe. Even swollen with the recent rains, it's not much of a river any more. But it is dammed in a couple of places. The one we walked past shortly thereafter (maybe 20 feet high?) has a salmon ladder.
Workers need to keep the blackberries cut back to allow flow and prevent flooding. It's a nice urban stroll along here.
So pretty, so calming. Such a nice morning (but cold--my earlobes were developing icicles as I jogged). Maybe we'll actually have class tonight.
--Or maybe not. (Back to the real world, waiting for the light rail to cross.)

And of course, where would we be without Mr. Chia Head, who has had a hair-raising experience!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Complete list of labels

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


SUMMARY: Parvo is alive and well, and some dogs aren't.

I want to share some emails from fellow Bay Team members this week.

Derede, a long-time member and dog trainer:
You may have heard this line: "You never hear of a dog dying from parvo; but you do hear of dogs being put down for temperament problems. Early socialization is very important. It's a calculated risk."

I've used the line myself. Well, you may be about to hear of a dog dying of parvo. Some of you guys know my baby Wings. She's 16 weeks old today, and she has parvo.

If she'd gotten it right after the [late August] trials, or before that when I was taking her *everywhere*, I'd have understood. But [she] hasn't been anywhere since 9/8 except she came with me she I got my car washed eight days ago. She did sniff the flower beds there, so maybe it was that. But also folks come in to see us, and we go lots of places, and one of our dogs was at the vet's a week ago, and the parvo virus as I'm sure you've heard can be picked up elsewhere and brought to a site on shoes, dog feet, even car tires. It lasts up to a year (some sources say even more) in the environment if the right conditions prevail.

Wings was on a 4-week vaccination protocol, due again this Saturday. Some sources speak of a 2-3 week protocol, and I'm kicking myself for not asking the vet if I should be DHLPP-ing more often. (Giving more frequently than 2 weeks is counterproductive since the two administrations are likely to cancel each other out.) The problem is maternal antibodies. I thought a dog was protected, more or less, until the vaccine kicks in, but actually, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center, there's almost always a "window of vulnerability" when the maternal antibodies combat the new vaccine but provide no protection themselves. Somehow the virus found a window of vulnerability in my baby Wings here at home.

As you know, Parvo has no cure, no treatment, just palliative care (fluids, antibiotics to ward off possible secondary infections), and you hope the pup is strong enough to pull through on its own. 3-5 days will tell. I'm writing you guys all this to warn you, I guess, that parvo is out there, maybe less known than it should be. When symptoms began Thurs night (vomiting, lethargy; no diarrhea or fever, the classic signs), neither the emergency vet nor my regular vet the next day tested for parvo because I told them her vaccination protocol and added that she hadn't left home lately, though dogs and people come in. So they didn't suspect. It took two days for a proper diagnosis. Parvo presents in many forms. Older dogs can even be asymptomatic.

Eradicating it is very difficult. I've just started on the bleach disinfection regimen here at home -- how do you disinfect a woodchip agility field? She wasn't out on the course but our dogs were and we were, and we were all in contact with her, walked through the lawn where she pooped sometimes, and any of us could have brought viruses out on our feet. Basically you figure everything she touched, and everything touched by anyone who touched her or walked where she walked is contaminated. I don't even know where to begin. Together with contacting everyone who's been here, it's a Herculean task -- but it keeps my mind off Wings.

So herein lies my cautionary tale. I'm not sure what I'd do differently: I still believe keeping a dog cooped up at home until it's 4 mo old is a recipe for trouble itself, and not foolproof anyway. I guess I'm writing in part to inform, in part to lecture to myself, in part to solicit (if you believe in that sort of thing)
healthy thoughts. Please think good thoughts for my baby Wings.

In response, here's Pat, long-time dog owner and owner of one of the very few pet blood banks in the country:
Sounds like you did everything according to the book, but just hit that one moment of susceptibility.

The next time anyone tells you they have never seen a dog die from parvo or vaccinations don't need to be given, call me. I'm not a vet, but I have seen hundreds of dogs die from parvo. It can happen even if your pup has never left your bedroom. My friend lost an entire litter of Aussies. They had never left the whelping room, they were being vaccinated regularly, and we had to disinfect ourselves completely before entering the house. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to avoid it. Our shelter periodically has to purge the entire facility because of parvo breakouts that kill the dogs. I have personally had 5 rescues die from parvo shortly after I had brought them home. Period of exposure to time of death is very short. These dogs had obviously picked up the parvo during their incarceration. Most were adult dogs.

Bitches that are hyper immunized before whelping present an even bigger problem, since their maternal antibodies may last beyond what is normally considered the safe window of vaccination. Better to have less antibody response so the vaccine can kick in sooner. Some breeds seem to be especially prone to needing puppy vaccines for an extended period of time. Rotties and Dobies seem to fit into this catagory.

I cannot tell you the amount of money I have made from the belief that Parvo doesn't kill or vaccinating excessively has no value. Every Parvo season the orders for plasma pour in from vets trying to save dying puppies. We sell thousands of units of it. Unfortunately, plasma is often a last ditch, to late effort, or the owner can't afford it. Consequently, the pup dies.

We get calls from all over the country, but areas where wild canids roam are especially bad, compared to city dogs. Don't take pups anywhere you hear the call of the wild. Coyotes are little parvo reservoirs.

We get calls for many adult dogs as well. Wherever there is a stong belief against vaccination, Parvo breaks and I'm the one who gets the middle of the night, desperate calls.

It is my understanding that there is now a vaccine that counteracts the maternal antibodies and provides parallel protection. I have not had any pups, so I can't say for sure, but it would be worth looking into if you are getting a new pup. If over vaccinating is a huge concern, you can use just a straight parvo vaccine for the vaccinations over and above what is necessary for immunity to distemper, et al.

And a note on the use of plasma. Plasma does not work by supplying antibodies to fight the virus. All it does, in the most simplistic terms, is provide the material that plugs the holes through which the fluids are leaking, thus maintaining osmotic balance and preventing dehydration.

Hope this helps someone in the future. And yes, adult, healthy dogs who have had parvo can shed virus for a long time.

A couple of members wrote that they follow Dr. Jean Dodd's protocol; here's one link to the info. (This is not an endorsement by me; I haven't researched this and know nothing about it. I'm just passing along information.)


Complete list of labels

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tika is Good

SUMMARY: Back from the vet and fine. Strong as an ox.

Vet said that, with just the sedative earlier, they had 3 people trying for 45 minutes to get her to hold still enough to flush the glands. With anaesthesia, it took about 10 minutes to do what they needed to do. He said, "You should buy her a harness and tow rope; she's so strong (especially with the rush of adrenaline) that if your car broke down, she could tow it for you!" That's a 43-lb agility dog for ya.

Now another 10 days of antibiotics and a recheck in 2 weeks. Jeez, that was an expensive vet visit.

Labels: ,

Complete list of labels

Tika's Backside and Home Alone

SUMMARY: Tika's anal gland still infected.

After a week of oral antibiotics and antibiotic ointment, 3 days later Tika again began licking the affected area overmuch. Yum! Isn't that your first reaction when--um--certain parts itch? Think I'll lick that! Back to the vet. One gland is still infected.

She's such a drama queen at the vet's. Best treatment is to flush the gland, but last time we were in they tried that without a sedative and really couldn't get much done. So now she's at the vet for a half-day visit for a sedative and a second attempt at squeezing a catheter into a pinhole opening and flushing it thoroughly. (I wonder why she hates being at the vet so much?) Vet is doubtful that DQ will hold still enough for it to be done successfully even with a sedative.

Meanwhile, I'm going out for a few hours today, which means that Boost will be home alone I believe for the first time ever in her entire 27 months of life. Fortunately she's a pretty mellow dog, so should be fine. I'll really have no way of knowing what she's doing while I'm gone--barking like the neighbor's dog does all day? (And sometimes all night.) Or just snoozing off a good weave-pole and tunnel session and breakfast? I'm guessing the latter.

Update: 10:15 AM: Vet just called. "She's so strong and she wiggles so much" that they weren't able to do much in the way of flushing. And it was looking worse than he had hoped and there's a bit of a blood clot in there, too. They want to do a very quick, very light general anaesthesia to put her out for a few minutes to do the job right, otherwise he feels that we could be fighting this for months. Argh.

I gave them the go-ahead, although general anaesthesia always scares me. I'm supposed to be sneaking out to a movie with a friend to relax, and now i'm going to be worrying about this in the background the whole time.

Labels: , ,

Complete list of labels