Sunday, July 06, 2014

Aftermath and analysis

SUMMARY: In which Human Mom dons her sleuthing hat and tries hard not to feel horribly guilty.

The master bedroom has a walk-in closet with sliding doors. There's a bed in the corner there--put it there for Tika one night a long time ago and she used it for a while but then stopped. Chip often snoozes there, at least for a while, at bedtime or after.

This is where I found him, way back at the end of May, on a hot evening after I had been out, nearing heatstroke after hiding here from the Dang Fireworks. The windows were closed because it was hot out. The room was hot. No air movement. And no water within reach.  But apparently it was the best place to get away from the noise.

Since then, I've had a water bowl in the master bath (not the closet), just in case.

On the 3rd, all the windows were open to let the evening air in because it wasn't quite that hot. Evidence said that he had in fact sought shelter here for a while: The bed had a large wet spot on one side. Either he peed there or he lay there, panting and drooling, which stressed dogs do.

At some point, probably because the windows/drapes were open, he realized that this was not a safe place. I'm guessing that he first went to the other end of the hallway to the renter's room, as it was the only other door open on that floor. That's where he tore apart the miniblinds and left smears of blood everywhere on the blinds, windowsill, windowframe, and window.

I was sure that he must have sliced open his pads on the narrow metal slats of the blinds.

Apparently when he got the window fully open and pushed out the screen, he thought better of it, thank goodness, and headed back into the hallway.

Bloody footprints led down the main stairs and after that it's hard to tell where first, but I'd guess across the carpet into the living room and to the front window to try to get out there. Bloody footprints then went into the dining room, through the kitchen, back out to the front hall, and down the minor steps to the lowest floor. There were bloody footprints on the carpet into my office, and into the downstairs bath and laundry room, and then the damage to the doorframe to the garage door.

Basically he went into every available room in the house looking for solace and didn't find it.

Finally went out the doggie door, which says that he truly felt the world was ending, because when I'm here and there are a lot of fireworks, he will not go out into the yard. It must have taken a tremendous act of bravery.

I don't know whether he tried any other ways of getting out... the east gate, which he's periodically been digging under and I've been refilling, was untouched. There aren't a lot of ways for him to try jumping the fences. which are 7 feet (2.13 meters) and are reasonably new and pretty solid, although I did check all along it for holes underneath or loose/damaged boards or signs of toenails on the wood. Found a few here and there, but could've been from dogs chasing squirrels.

It's possible that he tried climbing onto this pile of pipes, which used to be raised on supports at either end, where the remaining board and pipes are.

However, this is the smoking gun: The attention that he paid to the west gate. He clearly worked at it for a while. All along the bottom, there's this (that's about a one inch gap at the bottom above the concrete):

Then this, along and just above the horizontal board at the upper area of the gate:

If he had hit just to the right, he could've opened the gate and gone out, but I doubt that happened. I think that he gained purchase on that top board, dug rear claws into the cross-board, and went up and over the top.

He's just a little dog (not quite 20" (50cm) at the shoulder) and the gate is 7' at the peak (over 6' at the low points). But he is agile.

And then he vanished.

Skip forward to the early evening of July 4th. Chip has been home with me since just before 1:00. He's lying there sleeping.  I receive two phone calls about 20 minutes apart from people who have seen my dog running down Blossom Hill (a major 40 MPH thoroughfare) and saw my posters. I explained that I had my dog, and they both said that's odd, it looks just like him, down to the red collar and all.

So I am revising what I think happened on the night of the 3rd: The "white dog" that people reported being near the VTA station over a mile southwest of me around one a.m. was not Chip--it was the same dog who was running down Blossom Hill the next evening.  Because that's exactly where I was afraid that Chip had been headed (when I thought it was him) if he had continued in the same direction. Which means that Chip didn't travel *quite* as far and had probably headed northeast from the very beginning--the direction in which we picked him up.

As it turns out, his only injuries were a deep but open, not-too-wide scrape on one knee (he's showing you where it is here) and one damaged toenail--I could see the blood in it still when he got home. No damage to his pads at all, thank goodness.

On the 4th, he was clearly one exhausted doggie. Lay around all day, never going out into the yard unless I went. In fact, stuck within a few feet of me wherever I went all day. In the yard, he showed some interest in the toy that I threw for Boost, but trotted a couple of steps and then stopped. Probably very sore from all that running and traveling.

Starting in the late afternoon, I played a long fireworks video on my computer. Didn't seem to bother him at all, so I just gradually upped the volume, what the heck.  (This is not the first time 've done this, but mostly it was after his initial scare a month back.)

In the evening, when we started hearing the first few booms, I went out onto the porch with all 3 dogs and a ton of chopped-up hot dogs and we did tricks and Chip got a treat every time he alerted to a boom. Eventually it was too much for him and we went inside and that tiny effort was over for the evening.

He paced a bit--from one room to another, then stood there waiting for the next sound, then moved again. Often to stand next to me, then to leave again. I'd pet him when he was near and talk to him quietly about the loud booms. Around 8:30, he finally wanted to climb into my lap.

So we sat there like that for a while; I draped the corner of a lightweight afghan over his ears and eyes and he seemed to relax more.

When we went up to bed shortly thereafter, I firmly shut the windows and drapes, set up a laptop playing the fireworks video. It didn't sound a lot like real fireworks, but it masked all but the loudest sounds, and actually worked like white noise for me.

I lay down on my side, invited chip up next to me, and we nestled like two spoons. I draped the corner of my comforter over his ears and eyes, my arm over his side and back leg, and we both settled quickly and slept.

Now everything's pretty much back to normal except that I'm concerned about leaving him home alone.  The evening of the 5th stayed quiet until about 9:30, and I dared to hope that that meant that everyone had used up their fireworks, but nooooo--started in again, and went until 1-frigging-thirty in the morning, off and on.   We made do once again, but it wasn't as intense and Chip didn't really want to spoon again and i didn't play the fireworks again and all was, well, as well as could be for the booms outside.

I hope that he never again has to have an adventure like this. Nor I.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Speaking of dogs being scared of fireworks

SUMMARY: Can laugh at it now--

Added a 3rd & 4th, July 5.

Comics of dogs and fireworks and being scared. What can I say?

Chip is home!

SUMMARY: He was missing only 14 hours or so, but it seemed like weeks.

[Oh, sorry everyone--I wrote this all up and then went off to eat and sleep without actually posting!]

I got home last night about 10, after a pleasant evening with friends. My renter, who had also just gotten home, said, "What happened to Chip?"

Me: "?"

She said that he had crashed through/knocked down the gate into her area, and there was blood on the windowsills.

Me: "?!?!?!*%*#" and a bit of calling Chip, which she had already done.

Her 2nd-floor windows--with the brand-new miniblinds that I installed with much cursing and fuming just 3 months ago--now look like this.  (This photo is today; she cleaned up all the blood smeared all over them and the windowsill. You're welcome.) The screen on the less-damaged window was pushed out of the window. Feared that he might have jumped.

Bloody footprints went down the main stairs and across my ivory carpet (not my choice of colors) in the living room...

...and all the way across the windowsill on the living room's picture window...

I felt like I was in a bad murder mystery scene.
All the way through the front hallway into the kitchen, then back down the lower stairs...

to the garage door, which he also customized some...

Now THAT is a dog in a blind panic from fireworks, because the dog door was available. I really assume that he finally went through there and over the very tall gate.

And then--no sign of him. I checked the entire house and yard to be sure.

Then the exact order of things is a little foggy, but this is the general idea.

I walked and drove around the neighborhood calling his name for maybe an hour. Came back home and dealt with things like finding good photos of  him for lost dog posting, posted on Craigslist, updated his contact info for his microchip (still had his previous owner's disconnected phone number), emailed his previous owner, posted a notice on NextDoor for all my surrounding neighborhoods, posted on FaceBook for all my friends in and out of the dog world.

Went back out for a while and checked Martial Cottle Park a bit and went farther afield, maybe half a mile or so.

Came home again about midnight, checked email (a few "hope you find him"). And a phone call from a dog agility friend offering to come help search tonight! I said that since fireworks were still going off, he was probably still running and it made more sense to wait until morning.

Then went to work creating a flyer that I could email around, post on facebook, and print up a zillion in the morning to go around the area. Checked email about 1:30 and OMG there was a note from someone on NextDoor who had nearly run into a big white scared/lost looking dog about a mile and a half southwest of me. Sure sounded like him.  I raced out there and walked and called and looked for about half an hour.

I haven't posted much about my back/nerve/muscle problems, but it hurt like heck to walk and those parts of me were pretty miserable.

Got back home and discovered emails from two NextDoor neighbors (whom I've never met) who were back out in the area searching for him, too!  If I ever doubt human nature, I just have to remember all of this.

One said that they thought he'd gone up the bike path, so I drove out to various ends of the bike path to call his name. (Boost accompanied me on a couple of outings, hoping Chip might smell her and come out.)

Poor Boost and Tika, with me racing in and out and giving them "guard the house goodies" over and over, were a little confused & worried, I think.

Finally I'd done everything I could think to do (looked for other online sites to post lost dog info, read some info on best ways to find lost dogs [which I was already largely familiar with from our escapades with our husky years ago]), scrolled through ALL the found dog photos at the closest shelter--they post them every hour 24/7! More good humans doing that work.

So got into bed around 3:30, managed to drop off around 4.
Tip: The only reason I managed to do it is because I have a tendency to catastrophize (what if he was hit by a car? what if someone steals him? etc.) so I have been practicing for many months to recognize that that's what it is: A form of predicting the future and of course you can't predict the future. So I concentrate on the here and now--I've done what i can for tonight. I need some sleep to be able to function. Chip has my phone numbers and a microchip, so it will be easy for someone to contact me.-- and this allowed me to drift off.
But woke up again at 6, only 2 hours later. Intended to just check email and go back to bed, but there were already emails from friends saying, "I'm here in the area and looking" and "what can we do, we're on our way over?" and my sister apparently saw my post when she woke up early and showed up at my door at 7 (lives half an hour away). So I found myself coordinating emails and cell phone calls and groups of people who were communicating with each other and me, largely with group texts which I had no idea how to do on the cell phones, but we made it work.

I searched for nearby vets and other dog-related businesses (pet stores, boarding, etc) and printed a zillion flyers and lists of addresses for people to post things at.

That sounds quite compact, but really was constant activity for me and them, no down moments to even think about food (although I did eventually actually get dressed).

It all culminated at about noon like the classic peak of a movie storyline when 5 people--two searchers in cars,  two searchers who'd hauled their segways over here and had been searching, and another person just arriving--all appeared at my front door at the same time and we stood there with my sleepless-fried brain trying to make decisions with arms and fingers all pointing in various directions and flyers flying left and right and then--

My home phone rang.  I had not been using my home phone in all of this. But it is the *first* number on the tag on Chip's collar.

I ran and grabbed it. Not a very good connection with a man who didn't speak English all that well. He asked whether I was missing a dog and I said yes! And we had some other conversation that was muddled--he couldn't stay, he had to go to work, etc with me saying, no! I'm coming over NOW, where ARE you?

When we straightened that out, he was at the social services building about 4.5 miles northeast--which would put him about 6 miles from where folks thought he was sighted last night where we were concentrating our search.  When he said, "there's something wrong with his foot," I was positive it was really him.

My sister stayed here to man the phones and whatnot, one friend tossed me into her car to drive over there, another friend tossed a bucket and bottle of water and bag of goodies into my lap from her car, and off we went.

Seemed like a 50-mile drive, and then there he was with 2 guys by the side of the road! She screeched to a halt, I ran crying down the sidewalk (oh, did my back and leg hurt? I don't remember that at all, just crying and running). They were smiling as I came. I handed them all the cash I had with me (they hadn't asked for a reward, but seemed like the right thing to do. Wish I'd had more.) and thanked them over and over, took off their leash and put on my friend's leash.

Chip? Oh, hi, Mom. Good to see you, I'm kinda tired. Can we go now? Very calm, very stoic as we examined the huge bloody spot on one rear knee. I think he'll live. Very low-key when we got home and didn't lie down for a while; thinking that he must've had a good night's sleep curled up somewhere.

So--thanks ever so much to all the people who gave up parts of their night's sleep to help search or to talk to me (some of whom I never knew before), who showed up unasked in the wee hours ofa holiday morning to spend it searching for my dog and posting flyers, who let me know that they'd be on their way as soon as their schedule allowed it, who blew off part or all of their Friday agility competition to help, who gave me emotional support, who organized the help while I was brain-fried, who gave my dogs their own treats when he got home, and I can't even think of  everything. My heart is filled with your generosity and kindness.

I'm going to list names later if people don't mind being mentioned publicly, but I want to be sure that it's complete, so that'll be after I get some food and sleep.

You are all wonderful. I'm grateful and honored and so much in everyone's debt.

Chip is out and lost and scared

SUMMARY: Effing illegal fireworks.

He was OK when I was out Tuesday evening. I didn't think I needed to worry about the evening of the 3rd, and I was planning on being here on the 4th.

He's gone. Tore up his feet and/or mouth trying to get out, and my doorframe and metal miniblinds (most likely the source of all of his bloody footprints).

I got home at 10 and then went out looking for him. Also posted on the Next Door neighborhood list and craigslist. At about 1:30, after making a flyer, I saw an email that said that someone had seen a scared, lost-looking big white dog down by the VTA/chynoweth station. That's well over a mile from here.

I went back out and can you believe it two of my neighbors have been out looking, too--the ones who saw him in their car and another who saw our messages online.

No sign of him. My back is in agony and starting to spasm--more meds are in order.

Will try to get some sleep and decide what to do next in the morning. Hoping that someone just calls me; he does have my phone numbers on his collar. He's also microchipped but silly me I'd been meaning to getting around to finalizing that I'm Chip's new owner with his previous owner, but didn't. His previous owner's phone # on the microchip registration is no longer in service, and there are no alternatives given. I did call the registry and send in a transfer per their instructions tonight, but who knows whether it'll get updated or not.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Clicker Training

SUMMARY: So much to learn, so many dogs, so little time.

I taught Tika and Boost to stretch on command (and Boost her back legs, too), at least more or less, by following Susan Garrett's suggestion to have a clicker and treats right after you get up while you're sitting on the -- throne. Yes. Because dogs will get up off their beds and come in and stretch. What a great time to catch them doing that.

So every morning they get the commands for that while I'm there to practice, except Tika stopped wanting to several months ago, so then it was mostly Boost.

To keep things hopping, so that that's not the only thing that Boost does while we're there, I mix it up with nose touches, hand shakes, left and right. And I keep saying, Boost, I should teach you more tricks.

Now I have Chip. Chip is cheating me because he comes in to see what's going on, then goes back out into the bedroom and around the corner and I can just barely see one of his leg when he stretches. Meanwhile Boost is right in front of me, staring at me, so she'll think that any click and treat is for her.  It will be challenging to teach Chip to stretch on command.

But he has figured out that treats are being handed out, so he comes in and wants in on the action. But all he knows is a wimpy nose touch. Which gets boring. So I need to teach *him* more tricks.

Next, I'm dogsitting my sister's dog, Abby. Abby likes to greet you at any time with something in her mouth. Her most favoritest thing is socks, but anything else will suffice if the mean humans have hidden all the socks.

Me find stick!

So now *she* comes in in the morning where treats are being handed out and wants some, too. She knows "sit". But that gets boring really fast. So I decided to teach her a nose touch to the back of my hand. She seemed to get it right away. I'm experimenting with doing it in different places in the house to see whether it's really a thing or whether she's just hoping that there's food in the hand. Have worked on that for a minute or so a couple of times a day for the last 4 days.

She also hates having her paws touched or held. So I started working on that with a clicker and tasty treats, just touch her paw and click really fast before she moves it and treat. Over and over and over. I was able to touch longer and with more pressure, but always on the top of her foot. As soon as I started trying to touch the sides, it was harder because she always moved right away.

[Note about training sessions: If I have time, I do multiple passes with each dog. So, 10 treats worth of work with Tika, then with Boost, then with Chip, then back around again. For the moment, Abby is in the mix, too. This gives the dogs' brains a chance to relax and not stress out between times.  If things seem to be going well and no signs of stress, or if I need a lot of rewards in a very short period, I'll do more than 10 treats worth, maybe 20 or 30. When desensitizing Chip to the flap of the dog door, I just stood there for 5 minutes or so with a hot dog in my hand and flapped flapped flapped over and over while he just licked at the hot dog and got tiny nibbles of it. That process wouldn't have worked, I don't think, 10 treats at a time.]

So back to Chip, I decided to teach him Shake, since he doesn't yet. Have had three sessions during which I worked on shaping that (holding a treat with my thumb in my open palm, waiting for him to move a paw, then move it more, then touch my hand, etc.) with the clicker. He's starting to get it--much less time licking and much quicker to lift his paw to my hand now.

Only thing is that he much prefers his left paw than his right paw. I did teach Tika different commands and cues for left and right shake, apparently I need to do the same with him. Thinking about that, or whether it's better to find ways to make it easier for him to use his right paw first. Training tricks is so easy and yet there are so many decisions!

Then it occurred to me that maybe learning "Shake" was a better way to teach Abby to let someone hold her paw. So yesterday morning I switched to that. She was much quicker to use her paw to begin with, so after a couple of sessions, she's also already lifting her paw to my hand--but she does it at the same time as she's rooting firmly into my hand with her nose. Trying to not let her get her nose on my hand before her paw gets there now. Tricky. Have to be persistent at keeping my hand away from her nose without her getting frustrated and stop trying before she uses her paw. I think I can manage that OK.

I have probably this morning and this evening for a couple more sessions of working on that before she goes home; will see how far I get.

Meanwhile, back to Boost. Decided to work on her walking backwards. Never did solidify that thing. Making progress. She also by default wants to try to lift her back legs onto something, because I've put so many sessions into the work for her to do a handstand. But she's getting over that.

And Tika wants in on it, too. I'm trying to get her to sit up and other things to strengthen her core, but her back end is pretty weak these days. I should do this a couple of times a day every day, but just never feel like I have the time. So mostly we just do the good old tricks, anything to get her moving in tight circles or backing up.

All of this is good to give all the dogs practice at lying down and waiting their turns. Some dogs aren't quite as cooperative about this...right, CHIP??

This is also challenging when my back is killing me, which it has been doing excessively the last few days. Sucks. Working with the doctors to figure out what next.

But dogs are enjoying their treats and the attention. That's the important thing.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Graduation animated GIF

SUMMARY: Because I can...

...and because facebook won't display it animated. Bah.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Chip Training Update

SUMMARY: Wobble board, nose touch, fireworks and heat, fence barking.

We started a Foundations class last week and it's good practice for him to wait quietly in his crate (except when he periodically barked challenges at the silhouette of a dachshund lawn ornament on a nearby wall--he did something similar at a dog park with painted pictures of dogs outside the fence). Also good for me to be more focused on training.

This last week not so much for focusing; up to Portland for 2 days then another day full of graduations then a long work day and an evening out, so we practiced mostly just Saturday and Sunday.


Last week's issue: The wobble board.  Fairly early on with him, I shortened one leg of the Table (by about maybe 2 inches), played tug with Tika on it and with Boost on it for him to watch, then got him playing tug on the ground and convinced him to jump up and continue there. Other than a short period of concern, he then relaxed and paid the movement no more mind. So I figured I was OK.

Introduce the class teeter with about a 6" drop at one end to play the Bang Game (reward the dog when he makes the teeter end bang down), and he stepped on it, it moved, and he was done with that. So then: Introduce the class Wobble Board with a 10" drop and supported only in the middle rather than along one axis (like my table or the teeter) , and after putting his feet on and it moved like crazy, he'd have nothing to do with it.

The instructor loaned me a wobble board to bring home. Trying to get him to decide to get on the board and shape that behavior (reward for looking at it, then for moving towards it, then for a foot touch, etc, but in very small increments). After 3 days, all we had achieved was two feet on the side that's in touch with the ground. Slightest movement, and he was outa there. I propped it up some so that the drop wasn't nearly the full 10", but no go.

Boost and Tika, that's a different matter. Could hardly keep them off it, even though Tika's back legs are pretty week these days and she kept losing her footing, falling, getting back up, trying again, very excited. Boost also excited about it: Jeez, really good chicken treats just for standing on a wobbly board!  (Neither Jake nor Remington had issues about things moving under them, either--Rem used to leap onto the patio glider to get a better view of the squirrels, and that thing leaped all over the place.)
Anyway, Chip would even jump back if the board moved because the other dogs or I moved it, and Doh! it took me until today to remember how long it took to desensitize him to the motion & noise of the dog door flap:

So this morning I did a ton of Human-Mom-Bangs-Wobble-Board with him standing near it and getting a treat every time I banged it.  Did that for a total of maybe 5 minutes until he wasn't jerking every time it hit.  THEN within a few minutes more, he was getting his front feet on and leaving them on when it moved slightly (with me supporting it so it wasn't so sudden). Still cautious, but now not jumping back as soon as there was motion.

So he's just going to take longer on this before we get to the Teeter, but the teeter should be a piece of cake afterwards. Says here.


I'm still working on that haphazardly, but he's moving to touch it in various offered places now. Not all the way to ground level yet, but the touch is getting more forceful and he's doing it to various flat objects, not just the clear plastic target. When I taught this to Remington--my first-ever clicker training assignment--he was doing a forceful nose touch & moving to the target within our first 5 minutes! Chip is not that dog.


The dang dog next door likes to throw himself at the fence and make a ruckus. I've debated asking the neighbor whether we could just put in a gate and let the dogs play together, because it sure looks to me like your basic fence-fighting game: "Hold me back, hold me back!" but when you remove the fence, the dogs are best buds.


Tika occasionally gave in to temptation and returned the fence throwing/ferocious barking, but could be easily deterred.  Not Chip. I've tried chasing him away and saying No! and Cut it out! in various firm but not agitated ways. What I seemed to get was him checking to see whether I was around whenever he made a ruckus. If I just opened the back door, he'd come running, but if I didn't, or if we were already out in the yard, fageddaboudit.

I moved towards prevention rather than deterrence: If I were in the house (e.g., trying to work) and he started in at that, I just brought him inside and closed off the doggie door. Which is inconvenient for me and for the other dogs. And didn't solve the problem, just postponed it.

SOOO I reversed strategy, using his "checking in to see whether I was around" existing behavior with the Premack Principle.

Results were very good after the first couple of sessions (while I was out doing yardwork or training or whatever in the yard). By the end of it, he'd hit the fence, bark a couple of times, and look at me, instead of staying there engaging in frantic almost-uninterruptable throwing/barking. OR, even better, look back at me as he approached the fence, hence was rewarded, so never even got there. Yeah! Don't know whether this will take care of what he might do while I'm not here.

But progress feels good.

SIT/DOWN STAY: Getting longer. Trying to work it with the hose spraying (just one squirt--he's staying in position more of the time now with that one squirt).


Why on earth the Idiots are setting them off when (a) it's illegal and (b) we're in the worst drought in recorded history and fire danger is extreme and it has been very hot lately. But, whatever. Ten days ago, found out that they Freak. Chip. Out.  Neighbors, many of whom are also upset (many with freaked-out dogs of whom one actually has seizures from the experience), think that it might be graduation parties. Yeah, best way to graduate: Break the law, terrify kids and dogs for miles around, and start a raging wildfire. Good.

Chip just stands rigidly, trying to figure out where the noise is coming from, jerking his head left and right. Tries hiding in one closet, tries hiding in the other closet, tries crawling under the bed, tries to crawl into the sink (?!!!!) and around and around. He'll settle a little bit if I let him hide under my bedcovers with me (I have never ever let dogs do that before), but even that lasts only a little while. Plus it's hot!  So some nights it has been tough for me to get to sleep.

He's the first of my 7 dogs to be this way.

Yesterday, my yard hit 104 F (40 C), and it was still over 90 when I left the house around 5:30 for the evening, so I did not open the upstairs bedroom windows at that time. When I got home at 11:30, all three dogs greeted me, but then Chip disappeared. I went upstairs to open the windows and turn on the fans, and he was hiding in the big closet, curled up in the bed that I put in there. Still pretty hot up there, but if he felt safe, OK...

I left him there for a bit until I heard him sort of coughing--like he had something in his throat. Went back upstairs, and he vomited a tiny bit (on the carpet, of course). I noticed then that there were several little vomit spots like that near and in the closet. The water bowl in the upstairs bedroom was empty, so I filled that and he immediately drank a ton of water but kept that little cough and a few more little vomits as I frantically tried to clean them up. Then one big gush and all the water he had drunk came out.

That's when it occurred to me that he was in the early stages of heat stroke. (You know, sometimes I'm not too quick on these things.) Went through various stages of me figuring out what to do. Immediately wet his stomach/groin area and ears (bare skin to be cooled by the fans) and paws. He started to settle. Let him drink more water--that was a mistake, as it again came back out a few minutes later. Then I moved him and the other dogs outside (where he didnt want to go), where it was noticeably cooler than upstairs. Kept the skin parts moist and waited to see whether the coughing stopped, which it did. Left the dogs outside for a bit while I did a cursory clean-up on the various vomit sites.

Came back downstairs to find him standing on the full-height counter outside the kitchen window. I have no idea how he got up there, except that he sure can jump.  Maybe there was a firework that I didn't hear and he wanted to get back in.

I then provided a bowl of water with ice cubes and let him drink a little at a time over about 10 minutes while I held a blue-ice pack on various parts of  his body; although he already felt much cooler than he had when I first held onto him, I wanted to be sure. Fortunately he likes to be held and touched.

When he got to where he didn't want to suck down tons of water, and there had been no more coughing or vomiting, we went back upstairs to bed and everything and everyone was fine.

At 2 in the morning.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Day Two of Useless Human Mom

SUMMARY: More agility dog abuse with friends.

This morning I could barely walk out to the yard with the dogs. Hobbled in from the parking lot at the agility trial site. Did a little bit of set-up at the score table and confirmed with one friend from yesterday that she'd be willing to try running Boost in Standard and Grand Prix.  I squeegeed off a table covered with morning dew--and realized that I suddenly felt much better. So I walked the Gambler's course, thinking that I'd run her, but just walking around the course a couple of times hurt enough that I changed my mind and enlisted the other friend from yesterday.

Sooooo Gamblers and Standard and Grand Prix went more or less like they had at the end of the day yesterday. Today, Boost was more interactive and happy and comfortable getting riled up by the friends before the runs, and she started out running with each of them, but did only about 5 or 6 obstacles before turning and fleeing for the ring exit. Funny, after one of those runs, after she reached me, she immediately turned around and started looking for the friend to see what she was doing. Dang dog. Too bad I can't be out in the ring, too. (Standing next to the ring didn't work any better.)

Our clearly stated goal was to try to give Boost more experience running with other people, and Qs jus didn't matter at that point, just to try getting her to run and keep her running. Better than yesterday, sure. But a long way to go!

Later in the day, the Snooker course had a ton of tunnels and an Aframe, and I've become SO tired of Snookers that consist pretty much entirely of jumps (with their associated risk of knocked bars), and I was so sad and frustrated earlier in the day that I wasn't able to run with my dog, that I decided to try running her in Snooker. It became apparent during the walkthrough that the Super-Qs would be decided by speed, because pretty much everyone (or a huge percentage thereof) would be doing three 7s in the opening.

I thought about scratching because I didn't want that much pressure, but decided to at least try it. Actually worked pretty nicely, and we got all the way halfway through 6 (out of 7) in the closing and I forgot to do a front cross, tried to rear cross a tunnel and pushed her off it. But I'm pretty sure that, even if we had finished, we'd have still lost the Super-Q on time; DANG there are some fast dogs out there! Still, it was nice, I was able to run some, she did good and kept her bars up. I did hurt a bit more while leaving the field, and I scratched her from the final run of the weekend (Jumpers) because she looked pretty tired when I pulled her out of the x-pen for Snooker.

Oh, right, she did get a Q in Snooker, but no Super-Q.

Chip did NOT stay in the x-pen today. I tried it three times and he was out in a matter of minutes, so he went back into the crate today. Today he did not want to play tug with me at all; I tried 3 or 4 times but my back hurt too much to keep at it, so I just did low-key things with treats.My

Not much else to tell; just how my friends are so accommodating and cheerful and willing to try things with my dog, and how helpful people are in keeping the trial running, and how many nice people asked me how I was doing (and i tried not to grumble about having a crappy back--at least "Back is not good, but the rest of me is pretty good").  Agility community is excellent.

My back doesn't seem to be any worse than it was before the weekend. Just on any given day it's likely to be particularly crappy.  But boy, I'm exhausted again. Off to bed even though it's early. The dogs have all been pretty quiet and sacked out, even though we didn't do much really during the day. Just being at a trial with all the stimulation I think can tire them out mentally. This is a good thing.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Operating in an Entirely Different Frame of Reference

SUMMARY: Just try to get Boost doing agility.

This was one of those weekends where it felt like I was back at square two, and mostly it was OK to be there if only my back/leg didn't hurt so much.

Here's how it went:
  • Masters Standard (22" Championship): Knocked a bar early on. Ran past a jump midcourse. Wouldn't do the weaves. Just couldn't get her into them until after we'd been VERY eliminated on refusals. Then she did only a few and popped out, so we just left the ring. I tried very hard to be hearty and cheerful. But it hurt when I walked.
  • Masters Gamblers (16" Performance): Got lucky with the opening-- a big straight curve with nuthin' but contacts and tunnels, so we went out and back. And luckily the tunnels were at the outer corners, because I could barely hobble my way through part of the course, and I was able to send her to the tunnels, which gave her momentum to do the contacts in just a lovely way.  Didn't expect to get the gamble and didn't, although our timing was good and we were right where I wanted to be when the buzzer went to start the gamble.
  • Masters Snooker (22" Ch): Enlisted a friend with whom we do quite a bit of hiking (Carson's & Hiker's Human Mom) to try running Boost. She ran her in class a few weeks back and Boost looked pretty good then. Today, The Booster was having none of it. Sort of trotted alongside, staring up at her. No actual running from the dog. Trotted past the first jump, then took it. Trotted past the Aframe, then took it. Took the next jump, trotted past the Aframe, then took it. Repeat a 3rd time. So in 50 seconds she did 3 jumps and 3 Aframes. But at least she didn't try to leave the ring. (I hid beforehand so she didn't know where I was.)
  • Masters Jumpers (22" Ch): Enlisted another friend with whom we've done a lot and who even dogsat Boost (Human Mom of Bump, Dig, and Styx). Last time she tried, Boost did a few jumps and then raced out to find me. Today the friend worked hard at getting Boost riled up and irritated with generous treats (because Boost wouldn't play with either friend at all), and Boost actually ran half the course--not full-speed, but running rather than trotting. Ran past one jump in there, but continued. Still, as soon as the course turned back towards the starting gate, she ran off and came looking for me.
  • Steeplechase (16" Pf): 2nd friend also tried running Boost here, with about the same results as in Jumpers. It's progress, but still she won't do a whole course with someone else outside of class.
  • Masters Pairs (16" Perf): I scoped out the easy half of the course and decided that I could get Boost through it even if I were hobbling, and my Pairs partner (who was also limping from a gimpy knee) was game to let me try. We ran second and other than turning the wrong way a couple of times, Boost did great, even did the weaves perfectly. Our partner Eed on refusals on the harder half of the course, but no worries--allowed me to relax on my second half, and it's not like we need Pairs Qs really. But at least we had one decent run. 
But I hurt.

I did take Chip out a couple of times for maybe 15-20 minutes each time and worked on having him look at me when I said his name, trying a little bit of circle work with limited success, worked on getting him to play tug with me and stay on the toy, with fairly decent success.  His nose touch to a target is improving fairly rapidly now that I've been working on it almost daily at least a little.  We worked on his revamped Down (going front-first down rather than sit first), and he's pretty good but I do have to signal it clearly, so we need to wean off that. Practiced the down-stay and the sit-stay with fairly decent results (still not taking my eyes off of him, not getting farther away than I can catch him if he starts to get up). Let him hang out under the score table with me for a while (getting treats for paying attention and also scritches and affection) and he behaved very well.

I even risked putting him in the low x-pen with Boost for the last hour or so of the day (since he was starting to make a mess of Tika's soft crate, and it's the only good one that I have left plus the only teal/purple one left in the world) and he actually stayed in, even when Boost and Tika were away! (I hadn't really thought that he would.)

Tika got to come out with me a couple of times, too. Did some tricks, some exercises to strengthen her back legs, back, and core muscles, and then just hung around the score table getting treats and scritchies. Her cough wasn't too bad today but did show up from time to time. She did sort of perk up and trotted briefly after a frisbee a couple of times, but no actual running. Sigh. Old dogs.

If I hadn't been in pain most of the time, it wouldn't have seemed like too bad a day. Weather was sunnyish, downright balmy with a cooling breeze. Grass surface was lovely. Friends were sympathetic and helpful. Score table work went well. 

I took no photos, perhaps needless to say, as I just didn't want to move around that much.

Will try again tomorrow. Playing it by ear--or by back, I guess.