a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: October 2002

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Update on Jake's toe

Just got back from Dr. Rausch, who x-rayed Jake's foot & says it's not broken. He referred me back to my regular vet, whom I do like a lot, for follow-up treatment.

Xray shows a bit of a bone spur and thickening of the tissue, some of which he thinks is scar tissue. Bone spur can be as a result of an injury, such as a dislocation or serious sprain, or just regular arthritis--and it would take at least a couple of months for it to grow, so whatever this is, the original injury didn't take place just 2 weeks ago, although he might have aggravated it somehow 2 weeks ago. (And, yes, that was ALLLL one sentence!)

He suggests at least 5-6 weeks of no heavy-duty running or jumping (so, Jim/Nancy, no class for Jake probably the rest of the year :-((((( )

Gwen & others who've had to keep their active dogs inactive--I dunno how I'm going to get through this! At the moment he's got free run of the back yard, which he just demonstrated to me moments after we got home from the vet--and a squirrel appeared just as I opened the back door--involves some quantity of extremely intense running and jumping. (No yelp this time, thank goodness.) I'll have to discuss with my vet whether I need to keep him crated & on leash. Sigh.

Dr. Rausch suggests discussing with my doctor various nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, glucosamine & such, and acupuncture. He interprets the result as essentially arthritis, which might be career-ending and might be something that recedes and allows Jake to do whatever he wants to do with no (or minimal) pain. I will have to decide what to do about competition when/if the toe feels better and stops hurting at least once or 2x a day, which it currently does.

There don't appear to be surgical solutions. Dr. R. says that if this were a young, active, competing racing greyhound, that amputation of the toe would be a reasonable choice to prevent ongoing & unnecessary pain & that would slow the dog down. But neither of us think that's a good choice in this situation.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Jake Can't Run at Bay Team Trial

I still don't know what the problem with Jake's foot is--can't get in to get an x-ray and see Dr. Rousch until next Tuesday, but it's been a week and a half and it's not better, so I have a feeling we're not going to be better enough to run at the Bay Team trial.

Monday, October 21, 2002

NADAC trials in November & Jake's foot

And now....

Jake's foot is definitely not better. I suspect that means it's not going to be better by our NADAC trial. I can't imagine that a toe joint that's as enlarged as his is (feels hard, not swollen, but I dunno) is going to get better in less than 3 weeks.

Any hope i had that it was maybe arthritis that maybe he's been able to ignore for a while & will continue to ignore especially now that he's been taking rymadil (sp?) for a week vaporized this morning when I wasn't thinking about it much and he dropped a toy as I was walking in the yard & I kicked it & he ran for it, whined sharply, and came up limping again.

Now i have to decide whether I'll really enjoy going to NADAC trials being able to run only Remington (and Tika in jumpers & tunnelers--she's not going to be ready for contacts for November trials, for sure). And especially since now we're so close to Jake's O-NATCh and I was thinking that the odds are good we could finish it with the Bay Team & Elk Grove NADACs. I think I'll be grouchy about the whole thing if I go.

I'll go for sure to the Bay Team trial. But now I have to decide about the Elk Grove trial. Closing date is Oct 31st--I can't get in to see Dr. Rousch until NEXT tuesday, so I won't have any firm diagnosis until then (assuming that we get one even then). At least that's in time--barely, maybe--to get an entry into Starfleet if it looks possible.

The lady I talked to at Dr. R's said that, if the toe is broken, he'll probably be in a splint with minimal activity for 6-8 weeks.

You know, it's one thing to see your dog gradually get slower & older & stiffer, but to have a dog who seems to be getting better & faster every month to suddenly have something wrong with him that's sidelining him, maybe forever (what if it *is* horrid arthritis or really bad calcification from some other reason?), it's a little jarring.

Just moaning as usual... I sent in Jake's entry for bay team with a note that I might have to pull him. I guess I ought to just do that now. :-((((((((

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Tika In Class/At Placerville

Wow--what a great day we had in class today! She was *on* and doing great!

Aframe & dogwalk: She was wonderful. We're still pretty much at the stage where I place her up high on the obstacle and then i stand still & say "touch" and she goes to the end & touches, two feet on & two off. She did great. Didn't swing her butt off to either side, which we'd been having problems with for a while. Have been working on getting her to sit into the end rather than stand, and she did pretty danged good at that on the Aframe. She's excited about getting onto the obstacle & doing it at a reasonable speed. Did discover that if I make her *wait* at a position on the obstacle and move off to the side and say "touch," she's not too sure about that. So I need to go back a couple of steps and make sure she understands that that means move on down. Rachel just started to introduce us to fading the target--suggested we wait another week before doing it, but Tika reacted well in class to once-there/once-not-there.

Teeter: We're starting on a low table & running to the end, two on/two off. Did very nice, fairly fast. Rachel introduced us last time to something that Susan Garrett does, which is to immediately go into wild play mode with the dog after they do the contact (all obstacles, actually), which is what makes them want to drive & slide into the contacts. I think I can see Tika speeding up already after a week of that.

Weaves: Wow! She skipped one pole only once, and she made her entrances both from a full-speed u-turn from a tunnel and going full speed over 2 jumps beforehand. And she's doing them *fast*! She looks like she's kind of crashing through them rather than doing them smoothly & effortlessly, but at last I didn't have to say "really, she does them faster at home!" Whatta girl!

Jumping/tunnel sequences: I'm still having a little trouble with the last jump of a serpentine, but she stayed with me the whole time in each sequence and was fast & didn't turn off or get confused & she carried out fairly well when I remembered to hold my body right for a long-enough time,and she was *fast* and handled both front crosses & back crosses! It's like we've jumped a whole level since last week--I dunno what's gotten into us. (I *have* been practicing doing more jumping sequences & carrying out here at home because I know that's where the problems are--but I didn't think I'd been doing *that* many. :-) )

Staying at the start line: She was perfect all through class! Class is where she usually *doesn't* stay at the start line, so I was very pleased.

I didn't realize that Rachel saw our run this weekend at Placerville--I was sorta hoping that she wouldn't see us in case we screwed up, but now I'm kinda glad that she did, because she said we did good except for the place I knew where she didn't carry out, over the end of a pinwheel, & Rachel says that's 'cause I didn't hold my position long enough. (Oh, yeah, and there was the not-staying-at-the-startline thing, but Rachel had the same problem with Fable. :-) )

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Tika--Aside from Agility--

The pulling on the leash is a killer. I can usually walk around an agility trial with her without a lot of tussle--unless she gets it into her head that one of the other dogs is especially fascinating. But Walkies time in the morning is such a blood-pressure raiser every day. Who do I walk first, for how long, what do I work on with her--it's supposed to be a relaxing, stress-free physical activity for me. Hard to believe it's been going on for 9 months and I haven't made all that much progress.

BUT I know she's better in so many areas. She still barks more than I'd like, but I *think* she generally barks less & shuts up more quickly when she does bark.

She has recently started this new thing--makes me nervous because she's so quiet for so long--she just lies out on the grass, watching the back yard go by, waiting for somethng exciting to happen. So I get worried, because in the past, long periods of quiet from the Merle Girl meant trouble. I mean, she doesn't always lie there--she gets up to check out gophers, and squirrels, and apples, and stray branches that are threatening national security--but she's doing it all so quietly!

I was going to say that she almost never barks at night any more, then she woke me up barking fiercely at something--twice--at 4:00 this morning. Yawn.

She now has figured out pretty much that when I tell her to get off the bed or to move, she has to do so, and that usually it just means an adjustment, not a banishment from the bed, so I don't have to fight her most of the time and hardly ever even have to move her physically.

Argh, we had a nasty surprise Saturday night at Placerville. At midnight, sound asleep in my tent, I was woken groggily from a deep sleep by a dog barking ferociously outside who sounded a lot like--Tika! Somehow she had worked the tent door open and gone out. Then apparently Holly Bourne has been out of her trailer for some reason, and Tika had decided that she looked like a threat and had gone into that full watchdog backside down, frontside stiff, full frontal barking thing, keeping Holly out of her trailer. It might have been funny if it wasn't so scary, actually.

She didn't come when I called her, but she at least stopped barking at Holly and moved off into the darkness somewhere. When I finally grabbed some shoes and a jacket and some junk food, she continued to not come when I called, moving further & further off among the dark crating area. Finally she heard the rustle of the goodie bag opening and closing and came right over. At least she's learned what that means!

I never know what to do then--don't want to yell at her for not coming, but I'm not sure whether lavish praise is the right thing, either.

But I was sure more careful about making sure the tent zippers were shoved inside the security tab. I have no good way of locking them, but I think I'll be OK if i'm careful.

I do have remember to clip her cabana crate closed, because she's figured out how to unzip that. Jeez, I hate smart dogs.

We keep working on the recalls and on not leaving the yard except on a leash at my side. She hasn't escaped recently, but I don't think she's a safe bet yet to let out in the front yard off leash. I see improvement all the time, though, no matter how slow. She's more like my old husky, who wanted to go explore, and less like Remington, who really was a homebody (although he'd go out of the yard occasionally to see what was on the other side of the driveway, he always wanted to come back quickly). Even Jake prefers sticking around & has shown no reall interest in exploring.

She's got "Left" and "right" commands almost down (turning in circles only), which is pretty exciting. I'll have to double-check my notes from Rachel's session at Camp on what to do next.

Anyway--that's the update on your baby girl, since I haven't written anything in a while & haven't seen you, either. Think I'll go take a nap.

Tika Runs at Placerville; Training Updates

Tika's jumpers run was kinda fun this last weekend, and a little frustrating, too. She didn't stay at the start line--I was trying to lead out beyond the 2nd jump, and I was 5 steps away from my spot when someone yelled "she's up!" and I turned and there was a gray bolt of lightning aimed straight at me, sharp brown eyes focused on me. That's the first time *that's* happened. Back to practicing sit/stay/release combos...

I called her off of the wrong #3 obstacle but I was still in the wrong position and when I tried to turn her, she took the wrong obstacle after all for the big E. But at least it gave me a moment to get into position. ;-) Then we ran the rest of the course with only a couple of rough hitches. Got wild applause from the large crowd watching. She was definitely among the faster dogs, although this is USDAA so there were some great dogs, and most much smoother than our run, at least of the ones I saw. I loved the way she stayed focused on me, although we need to get some of that focus onto the next obstacle (that's still where our rough spots come--not carrying well to the next jump).

Her weaves are getting SOOOO good. She's the first of my dogs where I'll really have to *move* to keep up with her going through the weaves. I think she's actually slowed down some now that she's working independently all the time--I'm wondering whether I should jsut occasionally hold her tab lead while she goes through to keep up her confidence. Hmm. I've been working on getting her to get the weave entrance after going full speed over a couple of preceding obstacles and from different angles. Getting better all the time...

Tika got the idea about staying on the table very quickly; now I need to combine the down with the jumping onto the table, and I think we'll have a pretty good table pretty quickly. IF I practice, that is--

Still a lonnnng way to go on contacts. I'm just not really practicing them much. I just don't see now how I'm ever going to get a novice title on her by Feb. 15. There aren't any competitions in December or January, even assuming we're ready by then! And the way Rem & Jake went this weekend (this is the 3rd agility event in just over a year where I've pulled jake because of a minor injury), I don't know whether it's practical to expect to do them at Camp again. Arrrrrgh

But she's going to be SUCH a blast to run! Fred Brattain was quite excited about seeing her run, for what that's worth.

Jake's Sore Foot

Just an update for those who might have seen Jake limping before I carried him off the gambler's course Saturday morning.

At the moment, his foot is in a big ol' bandage, which quite disgusts him. Looks like a white boxing glove. His outside toe on his right foot is swollen and painful. Vet thinks it could be a soft tissue injury about as much as it could be a hairline fracture or chip--doesn't think it's a real break in the bone. He offered to x-ray, but I worry about the anesthesia, especially for a dog who'll be 11 in 2 weeks, so I decided to keep giving it a rest for a week or 2 and see how it feels when we take the wrap off on Sunday.

So Jake won't be running at Madera. And he won't be in class this week or next.

Remington Not Moving As Fast Lately
I waffled about scratching entirely, since Remington hasn't been running his best at USDAA trials. But Becky Harsted kindly said she'd be willing to move Rem down to Performance, so I can see whether it's really the 26" height that slows him down--he's been running so FAST so CONSISTENTLY at NADAC and CPE trials, that I'm beginning to grudgingly think that the 6" difference is really a big difference for him in competition.

I'm not sure whether this means I'm giving up on ever earning those 2 standard legs Rem needs for his MAD. A PD III just doesn't have the same cachet as a MAD, and it's so infuriating that he's got so many of all of his games legs but can't get the standard ones... But if he's really much happier & more comfortable running the lower heights, maybe it's just time. After all, he's over 9 now, himself, and I thought he wasn't really showing it, but...