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

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Easy Come, Easy $180 Go

SUMMARY: Boost's toenail = vet visit.
Boost ran fine in class last night with vet wrap around her toenail, but when I unwrapped it, it was bleeding again. Wrapped it for play this morning, and again it was bleeding.

I looked more closely at it. The broken part that I didn't want to cut off because it's below the skin line is basically pinching the quick and continuing to injure it. So--off to the vet we go.

Vet won't cut into the skin without sedating the dog. I guess that makes sense, but it's very expensive: sedation and 3 hours under observation afterward. Plus they want her on antibiotics because the injured skin will be making contact with the ground. He said she will be fine for agility in the morning, but not this afternoon. So no bar-knocking drills today, either.

She's at the vet now. I picked a vet closer to home because today is very busy with work and packing for the weekend, and I didn't want to drive the half hour to our regular vet. I have to go pick her up at 4:00. I cry when I have to leave my dog at the vet, I'm such a wimp.

I'm a bit weepy, too, when I have to spend $180 for one broken toenail.

At least it's not raining.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Do Those Dewclaws That You Do So Well

SUMMARY: Poor Booster's little toeie has an owie.
Dinnertime last night, and Boost is lying in the corner lick lick licking her paw. I check it out: Dew claw toenail is broken in half at the quick and it's bleed bleed bleeding. Gotta hurt, too.

I don't trim them often enough, and it was pretty long, so I blame myself for this one. Thing is, Tika's dew claws (and back in the day, Amber's and Sheba's) kept themselves trimmed down--proof positive that some dogs indeed get traction from their dewclaws when running. Jake's *never* wore down at all; Boost's wear down a bit but not enough. So with one dog who doesn't need it at all and one dog who needs it seldom, I just forget.

I was able to trim off most of the broken part with no sign of pain on her part. A little styptic power to stop the bleeding, a nice flesh-colored bandaid (couldn't find any merle-colored bandaids) to cover it for a little while (chyeah, that stayed on for hours--not!), and some constant reminding to leave it alone.

By bedtime the bandaid was lonnnng gone and she was leaving it alone. Just trying to decide whether I want to wrap it in a bit of that mesh tape when she's outside running the next couple of days. In class tonight. And how about at the trial this weekend? Since I know that she uses them a bit, since they wear down a bit--

argh, decisions! [Gnaws at own nails--]

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are We Ready Yet?

SUMMARY: Conditioning hikes...wellllll... plus Tika's butt and agility training...wellll...and about that camera.

I am swamped this week. THREE projects for work simultaneously. I can handle it, really I can--

But no energy to call the insurance company and ask to rescind my claim. NEXT week maybe.

Camera: It occurred to me that I must be able to RENT one of the cameras that I'm thinking of buying. Looked online, sho nuff, lots of places. So I reserved a camera (plus battery plus memory card--extra fees of course) and hopefully can pick it up Friday before heading for Yosemite. I have a borrowed lens that'll fit--18 to 200mm, which isn't quite as nice as a 300, but I didn't want the additional rental fee--not surprisingly, most lenses cost more to rent than the camera body.

So what kind of conditioning are we up to this week for the grueling 3000-plus-foot trek up to Glacier Point on Saturday--T minus 3 days and counting? Monday, a mile and a half on the flat with the beasts. Typical brisk walk. Yesterday, a mile and a quarter on the flat with the beasts. Another typical brisk walk. PLUS i went up and down my 3/4 story stairs 25 times! I added that up--that's about 150 feet elevation gain! omG I'm nowhere close to 3000 feet.

This evening planning on joining the sierra club group for a 5 mile, 500 feet brisk hike from Skyline Ridge to Russian Ridge (love those names). Then, to make up the additional 2500 feet of conditioning, I'll come home and climb up and down my stairs 416 times.

Or not.

Tika's anal gland is looking somewhat better. Monday she definitely drooped; yesterday her usual perky over-the-top self returned in full force. We're using hot damp compress plus antibiotic ointment twice a day. It's still bleeding a bit but not nearly as badly. I'm almost out of ointment, crud. Plus I doubt the renter's going to want to do that on Saturday.

And we're a week and a half from the SMART USDAA warm-up for the Western Regionals the following weekend, and what have we been working on? Noooooothing! Plus missed last week's class; it was rescheduled for earlier in the day because of World Team practice, and I couldn't make it. NEXT week I'll get serious again.

I mean, we do do a few drills every day, but just kind of general things: A little contact work, a little weave pole work, a little running and jumping. And now--on to Projects A, S, and P!

Things are looking up. Or, at least, I am.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

World Good. Facebook Good.

SUMMARY: Tika gets a vet appointment through facebook.

Facebook is interesting. It gets a lot of flack for the banal things that people post. But, for the most part, the people I know post interesting things. And I find out stuff that I wouldn't have known otherwise. Like, a distant friend's mother-in-law died. Like, another distant friend just had an operation. Like, who among my facebook friends are at the AKC nationals this week. Who got a new puppy. Who lost a dog. Who's working on running contacts.


Yesterday, I posted this in my status:

Tika is in so much pain (tbd what exactly--arthritis?) that Ellen has scratched both Tika and Boost (technically still in rehab) from the whole 4 days of Haute TRACS. [sags despondently]

I got plenty of sympathetic comments. One person asked when she'd be seeing the vet. I replied:

Scheduled vet for Monday. Regular vet gone this week, so only one vet in office, already overbooked, said I could come sit and wait however long it took until a few minutes opened up and I decided it's not that much of an emergency. I hope.

Another of my facebook friends just happens to have the same vet that we do. And she just happened to have an appointment for this afternoon. And she just happened to decide that she could wait until next week and offered the spot to us. And I accepted with pleasure.

This would never have happened without facebook.

Tika is feeling above average today; running around like normal, just sometimes forgets and does something forceful or twisty with her front parts and yelps. Not completely debilitated like she was Wednesday. Hopefully we can pinpoint where the problem is and then decide where to go from there.

I'm floored and grateful for the gift of a vet appointment 3 days earlier. It doesn't cost her anything except time to set up the changed appointments, but it feels wonderful and it feels like a huge gift. I know how hard it is sometimes to get appointments at times that are convenient. All is right with the world.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Choices Made

SUMMARY: I make some progress with dogs but not much.

I went ahead and moved Tika down to 20" for this coming weekend's CPE trial. Oh, well, so we'll be competing against more excellent dogs. That's what competition's all about, and maybe she'll jump more comfortably. She knocked only that one bar a week ago all weekend, but she sure wasn't comfortable landing.

I'm moving Tika gradually to Performance (jumping 22") instead of CHampionship (26") in USDAA. I think. I went ahead and left Tika in the two championship USDAA DAM teams for April and June (so far)--which means she's still jumping 26"--and have left her in championship Steeplechase and Grand Prix so far--because she still needs ONE tournament of any kind for her Platinum Tournament Master. And 26" in Standard and Jumpers, because she needs just a few more of those for her ADCH-Silver. But I'm conceding to her repeating soreness and moving her down to 22" in other classes. We'll see whether it makes a difference.

I'm supposed to be giving Boost a complete rest from intense running for 2 weeks per physical therapist, just giving her excellent, long hikes over varied terrain. Well, after 2 days of 2-mile walks over level sidewalks, I decided that I'm just too busy to go driving for an hour to get to someplace where I can let the dogs off leash to hike, and I'm just not going to do it. I have to drive 15 minutes just to get someplace with uphills and downhills, and I'm just not going to do it, even though I could use it, too.

I worked on lots of tug of war, set up a cart with a platform so she could put her front feet on it and push it around with her rear legs (both dogs, actually, for everything), one exercise from the PT, and practiced with their rear legs up on a step and streeeeetchhhhing them out (also from PT), and working on sitting up. Tricks.

And by Saturday evening Boost was going nuts. Pulling all the toys out of the toy box and chewing on that. Poking at the space heater because she knows it gets my attention (dammit!). Throwing her bedding around. Standing in the yard and barking at phantom ideas. In short--that dog needs more exercise that I can give her around here without running her (dammit!). Good thing she's not *seriously* injured. We'd both go insane.

So I went back to running her in the yard. Mostly avoiding agility equipment except using a 4" bar to practice handling maneuvers, and a straight tunnel to try to avoid banking off the sides.

She's also on prescription anti-inflamatories for 3 weeks to see whether it makes a difference in her movements. I avoided paying another $100 at the vet's for supplements that I don't even believe will do anything based on recent research.

So many decisions to make, one after another. And so many of them affecting my dogs' lives and health.

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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?

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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!).

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's About Time! Saving Purebred Dogs

SUMMARY: British Kennel Club makes it unacceptable to breed dogs whose features make them unhealthy.

The RSPCA (British version of ASPCA) pulled out of Crufts (the major purebred dog show) last year over concerns about the bad effects that breeding for exaggerated appearances have done to dogs. The Kennel Club (British equivalent of AKC, but older, possibly first in the world) has since revised its standards somewhat, among other things now disallowing incestuous breedings to be registered. Mixed reviews, not surprisingly. Read the article.

North America (and AKC) is already far behind Europe, where most laws now prohibit docking of tails and cropping of ears. We'll undoubtedly be way behind in this, too.

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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.

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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...)

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Caffeine, Chemicals, and Coneage

SUMMARY: Musings upon the effects of assorted chemicals on human and canine consumers; plus coneage.


OK, here's a life lesson (file under "Duh!"): If you find that drinking even a couple of cans of caffeinated Coke in one day (34 mg caffeine each) makes you twitchy, sleepless, and prone to heart palpitations, beware dark chocolate. Oh, yes, it might LOOK like "candy" (AKA "sugar"), but in fact it's 20 big fat mg of caffeine PER OUNCE, so if you were, say, to eat perhaps 10 ounces in one day, even if (let's say hypothetically) it's chocolate-covered cranberries, hence fruit, hence healthy and nutritious (am I right?), then that would be like drinking six cans of Coke, and perhaps might make you lie awake, wide-eyed, until 4 in the morning, heart bouncing around like a superball.

Note to self: Take nap this afternoon. Leave. The chocolate. Alone.


Note to self #2: Don't let the dogs at it, either. Theobromine kills. (Notes from my email in the Fall of 2000:
"I nearly killed now in recovery [at the emergency clinic]--but I spent 24 hours not knowing what he had gotten into & thinking it was something in one of the piles of junk that the landlord still has here (having found a chewed-up pesticide box but that contained apparently sealed bottles, & pesticide symptoms didn't match but I was convinced it was something in the yard [ and called poison control 2 or 3 times before and after taking him to the emergency clinic]). What a nightmare...

"He got into a Costco-sized bag of semisweet chocolate morsels that I didn't even know I had, let alone was anywhere near where he could get at it. It was one of the scariest nights of my life. [I was at home, crying, while he was at the emergency vet's, and finally just decided to start unpacking the boxes in the kitchen, and finally found the bag, in a box that had been untaped but wasn't open; he must have been sticking his head in under the flap and munching. I was so relieved to finally know what the problem was.]

" highly toxic to dogs and, [in Jake, ]caused a racing heartbeat [that was so fast that I couldn't count it--tell me that isn't terrifying--], vomiting, horrific diarrhea, and hallucinations. [The only dire symptoms that he escaped--and we were just damned lucky, I think--were] seizures and death."


But that's not really why I called you all here.

Sitting awake at my kitchen table in the wee hours inspired me to talk about coneage. Yes, that's coneage, like as in signage:

Main Entry: signˇage
Pronunciation: \?s?-nij\
Function: noun
: signs (as of identification, warning, or direction) or a system of such signs

This word is not my coinage; I blame it on my Punmeister Instructor who sometimes deviates from puns into other wordplay.

Main Entry: coneˇage
Pronunciation: \?k?n-nij\
Function: noun
: cones (as of numberage for a collection of agility equipage) or a system of such cones

So, I was inspired because I just bought at the flea market, ta-da, finally! my own coneage for my own numbered courses! Six orange cones (sadly, not purple) for only $3! Much better than I could get anywhere else! Now, it is true that I had to number them myself, but hey, I needed practice counting from 1 to 6! Plus now Boost and Tika can decide whether bowling is on their agenda:

And anyway I already warmed up by numbering my previous very own coneage, although it might not be very cone-shaped, had the big advantage of being FREE because I already had them:

However, their main disadvantages were (a) they moved around the course randomly in a stiff breeze (b) they moved around the course randomly when Boost discovered that they make really fun noises when chomped on and (c) they don't stack very easily.

Now, I have graduated to another, more conelike, better stacking, variety of coneage for the numbers beyond 6, also free (if you disregard the $2 each for the plants that came in them). I had to number these myself, too, which is rude considering that I paid $2 each for them:

And why would anyone need numbered cones in their very own back yard, when no one is laying out courses except your very self? Because I am very good at remembering courses that go in a straight line and go "jump jump tunnel jump jump tunnel" but very bad at remembering clever courses that actually teach me and my actual agility dogs some actual useful moves. Like all those nifty courses that use identical equipage but different numberage in Clean Run's "Backyard Dogs," which I can't even remember more than 3 or 4 numbers on the first course, let alone up to 10 on a dozen different yet same courses. Like this:

And now, before I leave you, I'll give you one additional nifty tip about coneage in addition to those various clever ways to have FREE although breezable coneages of your own:
You must always stack cones with the lowest number on TOP. This is so that the next person laying out the cones can easily see that the correct number is next and can easily lift the next cone from the top of the pile. Like this:

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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.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

A Dog's Final Care

SUMMARY: Are you a bad person if you don't do everything medically possible to try to save your dog's life, no matter the cost?

My sister-in-law, who has a dog whom she adores but is not active in "the dog world", posed this question after watching an episode of Judge Judy (?) in which it seemed to be implied that you were a bad person if you didn't spend the money, whether you had it or not.

I had just happened to read an article in DogSport magazine (May/June 2006) by Terri Arnold, whom I don't know because she's an AKC-only person, but I thought her conclusions described in "When to let go" are quite helpful. In summary, she says that she'll use the same criteria for her dogs that she'd use for herself on when to let go, and I quote:
  • Must not be a burden, neither financial nor emotional, to those who take care of me.
  • Must be able to communicate with those who love me--if not verbally, at least with my eyes and spirit. I must have an interest in the world around me.
  • Must not be in agonizing pain all the time.
  • Must be able to eat and drink and take my medicine in order to help myself.
  • Must have my dignity; I could never lose complete control of all my bodily functions and want to live. (For a dog in particular, this could mean separating the dog from the life he was familiar with.)
She goes on to describe how she made those evaluations for her beloved Stride when he developed a brain tumor. But she also said, "There is no one more capable to make this decision than the person who loves the dog."

UPDATE: May 12, 2008 - The full article is now online here.

I raised the question with agility friends at dinner this weekend, and we all agreed that there's so much that goes into the answer: The dog's age, personality, and physical condition overall. The owner's health (mental and physical) and energy and living situation and finances. The nature of the illness, the nature of the treatment. More than one of us had stories of how we fought with money and medical treatment into five digits of expenses for a beloved dog, to gain only a month. Or two. Or, in Remington's case, four. We all felt that we did what we needed to do and could do at the time, and we all felt that maybe we'd never do that again. Or maybe we would.

We talked about where the line is (as did the article)--you don't put a dog to sleep because you're moving and can't take the dog with you, or because he's, say, vomiting and you don't know why (given that the dog has otherwise been healthy and there's no other evidence of illness). Still, I don't know what you'd do if you had a young, sick dog and the vet couldn't tell more without tests and the tests would be $500 and you don't have $500. Most people I know, however, aren't in the situation where they really couldn't afford to have basic blood, urine, & xray tests done.

But there remains that huge gray area where it's just not completely clear, where the vet can't decide for you and the dog's body doesn't decide for you. I think that Terri's guidelines are a wonderful place to start.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Dog-related Medical/ Bereavement Web Sites

SUMMARY: Assorted useful dog-related URLs.

These are the URLs that I found in a magazine in the waiting room the first night that Jake was in the emergency room.
  • Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement
  • The magazine said that this is the ASPCA's pet medical care site, but I don't see "ASPCA" on the site anywhere. Still, looks like lots of useful info on care and health. The only bad thing is that I don't see a search function (at least not in Netscape on the Mac).
  • Dog Age calculator; apparently you have to register to use the calculator, which I haven't done.
  • care info: This site seems to have a lot of helpful articles on care and medical issues.

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