a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: January 2005

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Just a Simple Post

I can hardly wait--agility this Saturday for Tika! It's been 2 months since our last competition.

This will also be Jake's first sitting-out. We went to class last night and he was magnificent--running like the SuperJake of old, getting his contacts, hitting some tough weave entries, eager and excited. And I don't think he was hurtin' later, either, from the extra running and jumping.

Did I do right to retire him? Argh. I hate second-guessing myself.

Did you ever try to take a really nice picture of one dog? How about 2 simultaneously? How about *three* simultaneously? Jeez. What dorks. Definitely at least a 2-person job, but there was only me and my camera. Here's one feeble attempt out of about 20 shots.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Assorted Notes

Rescuing dogs for show biz: URL passed along by a friend.

Work Deadlines: Well, that was a biggie. I've put in over 54 hours this week. It has been many years since I've done much more than 40, and not 40 often these days. Dogs have not been happy with me; I even skipped Jake's agility class this week trying to get something done that I had to get done that day.

Crazed animals: At least Tika got class this week. She seemed quite happy about that after three weeks off for holidays and rain. She even did sit-stays at the start line most of the time. Lifted her butt maybe twice but I believe put it back down without moving. And stood up or lay down once or twice to eat dirt. (It is *so* tasty after a good rain--all those years of dog goodie crumbs and sawdust add up to the yummiest between-run snack--) But when replaced each of those times, she stayed replaced. So there's hope.

Leaping dog: Tika is not a low-key dog. Remington used to get very excited about going for a walk, but he'd slam his butt to the floor to have the leash put on because he knew that that meant he'd get to go sooner. Tika leaps 10 feet in the air repeatedly, shrieking and running in circles between leaps, sometimes even dashing into the other room. If I wait, eventually she might sit on her own, but meanwhile the other dogs are sounding off and swirling around, too. As soon as Tika sits, so does everyone else, and all of a sudden there's peace--except for Tika's frequent under-the-breath whines and all indications that she's barely remaining seated and is ready to explode from her position with a moment's notice.

Dinner dog: She also leaps at dinner time after the bowls are full and as I'm heading back into the house from the deck where the food is stored. She leaps and leaps and throws herself at the doggie door sliding-door insert (which I have to squeeze past to get into the house). I did finally decide this year that having her stress and drool all around me while I filled the bowls was too much. I've been trying for a couple of years to get her to sit while I did it, but that never worked; I switched to lying down and she's much, MUCH better at that, although I do usually have to remind her. But the reminder is sometimes as simple as looking at her. Sometimes there are solutions for her problems and I just haven't stumbled on them yet. (Lying down instead of sitting, for example.)

Walking around other dogs: Or figuring out how to get her to behave when there are other dogs around while we're out for a walk. (This isn't an issue at agility trials or class, by the way--only *away* from dog activities.) Her usual behavior--I've griped about it before-- which is shriek and yowl and throw herself to the end of the leash and thrash and become totally and obsessively stressed, I have failed to thrwart by scolding, punishing, trying to get her to walk at my side and rewarding for that, making her lie down (doesn't get to go anywhere as punishment), trying to get her to do some tricks, and I'm not sure what else.

Today we went for a nice 3-mile walk along part of the Guadalupe River Trail and, by the end of it, Tika was actually sitting and staying as other dogs walked by. This was a major achievement after getting a chance to work with her for only 5 or 6 dogs walking by during the whole walk. This was the first time I tried working on her sit with clicker & goodie as they came by. I combined with verbal correction and close physical restraint when she leaped and shrieked, but I was quick with the clicker and the goodie when she sat, and then when she remained sitting, and then when she remained sitting and looked at me.

So this was quite successful. The challenges for me are (1) remember to take goodies and clicker with me *every* time we go for a walk, because although we hardly ever see dogs around here, we do see them often enough that all of the neighborhood dog owners think she's viscious, (2) what exactly to do when the dog is offleash and running up to us, (3) what exactly to do when the other dog is stationary. I've debating putting up a giant siren on the roof and sounding it whenever we go for a walk so that all the people in a half-mile radius can put their dogs into the house so they're not barking at the fence when we try to walk by.

But I'll come up with variants on the theme. Now that the inkling has finally gotten into her head that there's something to do other than overreact to the other dogs. I don't know why this works and other behaviors haven't, and this is only one day, but eventually--

Greeting people at the door: And there's still the greeting-people-at-the-door issue. Throwing her into the other room behind the gate is only a bandaid for the symptom, especially as she continues to shriek and leap and bark (note to self: get refill of mouthspray for punishing shrieking and barking). Sigh.

OK, now, don't everyone send me your solutions. I'll only get annoyed and start shrieking and leaping about.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Tika's Doing Fine

I've been busy. Tika's doing great. Only 3 or 4 days after seeing the vet, there remained no signs of pain or of the little tiny bit of swelling at the one point. I kept her to a minimum of [Tika] activity anyway for 10 days, gradually increasing. She's all back to normal now and doing fine.

Except that--with no agility class for the last 3 weeks and our last competition over Thanksgiving--she's bored BORED ****BOOOOORRRED**** and hardly ever stops pestering me to do something interesting.

Jake's doing fine, too, just the usual occasional yelp about his backside area.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

not related to dogs (updated Jan 18)

This page has a brief amount of info about breast fibroid adenomas, or fibroadenomas: Hmmm, after reading a couple dozen pages on the web, it's starting to seem like I should call the surgeon back and ask for a needle biopsy after all. It's always the bad stuff that's posted on the web, eh?

But I'm still not losing sleep over it. In any event, I already have a 3-month followup appointment. Also standard procedure from my previous experiences.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Misc Stati

Mammo followup: Saw surgeon today. Diagnosis is completely harmless fibroid adenoma based on what she felt and what radiologists interpreted in ultrasound & mammo. Said she'd do a needle biopsy if it would help me sleep nights but there's not other medical reason for doing so. I said I was sleeping fine so skip it, since it's been done before and found nothing. Case closed.

Tika followup: No sign at least the last couple of days of any pain at all. She really wants to get up and go go go. Interestingly, though, the more days we have of quietude, the more the dogs seem to expect it. I guess these guys could be couch potatoes given the right environment. Can you picture it? I'm not sure entirely--

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Just Notes

Jake's goopy eyes: Last summer Jake's eyes started being goopy--very goopy--every day. Took him to the vet, who said they looked slightly red and gave me some prescription goop to put into them a couple of times a day. I did for a week or two and saw no difference, so stopped. Yesterday killed two vet visits with one stone (does that metaphor work? Note to self--hmmm--) and took Jake for his annual checkup and shots (a few months late). Vet said his eyes were indeed reddish (if one pulls back the eyelid a bit and peers around behind there), so gave me some more-brutal antigoopyeye ointment to put into his eyes thrice daily. Two days later, and it already seems to me that his eyes have ceased to goop.

Jake with--oops--goopy eyes--enjoying a Bully Stick.
Bully Sticks are the gods' gift to dogs for chewing. Very popular amongst the canine set. A little pricey, sadly. But last time I was in AnJan's, they had 3-foot Bully Sticks for not much more than the price of 2 or 3 6" sticks, and I can cut them into 6 pieces with a hacksaw. (See standard bully sticks here.) (What is a bully stick anyway?)

Tika stir-crazy: So it's been 3 days with quite restricted activity. Yikes! Trying to do just tug-o-war, but she really puts her feet into that, too. Was doing some in the yard today--Casey loves to crash into her with his toy while we're doing that--and he hit her foot and she shrieked. Poor girl. Just gave all the dogs about an 8" bully stick--the thickest one for Tika--and Tika was done in a manner of minutes. Jake will be working on his for hours. Now Tika wants me to do something else fun. I want to go to bed. This is so working.

Find-it game: I don't remember whether I've ever done the find-it game with Casey before this last week. The rules are: Dogs sit-stay in one room. Mom hides a tiny Roundup-type dog goodie in the other room at or near floor level. One dog gets to go in and find it. Dog also gets a reward (another tiny goodie) from mom for finding it. Dogs really enjoy this. Gives brain and nose a workout. Casey started out looking for a goodie this week, but would search only for a couple of feet in front of me. So I had to put the goodies fairly close to me and also not too far from the previous goodie so he'd start getting the idea of ranging for it. Dogs and their noses are amazing. You'll often see the dog stop in his/her tracks, sniffing, back up a step, sniff all around, as he zooms in on the goodie behind the table leg. Casey's catching on. Quickly. Amazing how motivating food is.

Mammo update

OK, this is still not dog related, but people are asking.

Went in for an ultrasound on a small lump found in mammogram. Ultrasound says it's about 1.5-2 cm lump that the doctor would like a surgeon to take a look at.

This is also something I've done repeatedly; mostly surgeon has said, yeah, it's a lump but nothing interesting, although once did a needle biopsy, which was, yeah, it's a lump but nothing interesting. So I have an appt next week with the surgeon. Kaiser also apparently has a "Mammo Review Board" consisting of radiologist, surgeon, and I'm not sure who all, who decide whether to recommend a biopsy based on mammogram and ultrasound. I'll hear what they have to say when I see the surgeon.

The doctor I spoke with said that the ultrasound report said that it was larger than in previous mammo (although I had thought it was going to take them weeks to get copies of the previous mammos, and they didn't actually say on the report that they had received them) and that it had something like clearly defined edges with indistinct edges (this isn't an exact quote--but doctor read it to me and was as confused as I was).

So--been there, done that.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Lucking Out on Forfeiting Entry Fees

Normally, after the closing date for an event, you cannot change or cancel your entry, which means you can't get your fees back if you do. Some clubs are generous if you have a good reason, but sometimes they can't afford to be (long story that I'm not going into).

So I called the Fun Match secretary earlier today and left a message that I won't be coming this weekend and why, believing that I was writing off my entry fees. However, just found this on the web:

Unfortuately due to the abnormal rainfall and the rain soaked fields the parks department has cancelled our use of the park. So the fun match will be postponed. We will be shredding your checks.

So I wouldn't have been doing agility on Saturday, anyway. Whew!

Should I Get Serious About Casey?

(Thanks for people's patience--I send personal email and then I steal the text and stick it up in my blog for everyone to read. I keep threatening to get serious about my housemate's Little Black Dog, Casey. He could be fast like Pic (the wonder-PyrShep), I'm thinking, although we have some play/stress issues, I think (he'll play tug of war like crazy, blast thru the tunnel and over a jump, get the toy I toss, and then run into the house so I don't make him work any more). I've hardly spent any time with him on weaving poles. I did finally spend the time over the holidays to progress to nose touches on a target--but he still wants to lie down to do it, and he's still a little iffy on whether he's going for the target or my hand or something else--but I'd say he's up to more than 80% right now. But I obviously have a long way to go to get him onto contacts. But he already has a mostly decent sit-stay (took him a little while to get the idea).

I've been threatening Tika's agility instructor with asking for a separate private class or 2 with Casey for quite a while now and never managed to do it--hmmm, I wonder whether she's got an opening next week, since I won't be doing Tika? :-)

Working with Casey would be much less expensive & time-consuming & stressful for me than getting another dog of my own. So I still haven't decided that I want to do the new-dog-thing right now. But I still want at least 4 years in age between dogs, and Tika won't be 4 til Feb. So that's that. Maybe in April or so I could start looking for a puppy. Maybe. Although I'm not sure what I want.

Tika, for all her agility prowess, has really exhausted me on the topic of new dogs in the household.

I'm Going To Go Stir Crazy--

Tika still didn't want to put weight on her foot--at least, until she got excited (I know, I know--that means she was *awake*, right?). She still will go full out running and jumping straight into the air (e.g., when dinner is served), so it's not agonizing.

The injury. Click photo to see larger version.

Went to the vet this morning. There's a small swelling at the front of the wrist. Could be a simple bruise. Could be a bone bruise. Could be a sprain or strain, especially if she slipped on the wet ground and overextended something. Could be a tiny fracture or tiny chip, although he doesn't think so--and he won't even try an x-ray for something like that without anaesthesia--said it's not worth it, they can't get clear enough images for something this subtle, especially with Drama Queen Tika (whines when I touch the sore spot; shrieks and throws herself around and shows teeth when the vet touches it).

So--it's 10 days of rest (argh!?!) and Rimadyl and then gradually increase exercise if it's looking OK.

We'll be skipping our fun match this weekend (my one chance to work on those badly deteriorated start-line stays) and class next week. I hope we'll be good for the Bay Team trial last weekend in January, but I might not know by the closing date...

This was my nightmare when retiring Jake--what if something happens to Tika and I have no agility dog? Whine whine whine-- (or, rather, more like shrieking and throwing myself around--)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Nooooooooo! No limping!!!!!

Ohhhh nooooo, Tika is limping! This can't be happening!

During yesterday morning's backyard romp, I kept thinking that I was seeing a limp, but then I'd watch her carefully and she'd look fine. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I'd think I saw a limp again--but she was operating at full-steam-ahead speed and intensity, so I thought I was seeing things.

She yelped once when I started to wipe her feet off. I couldn't find anything, so thought I must've held her foot wrong.

We had a nother play session later in the day. In the evening, watching her around the house, I kept wanting to ask my housemate to watch for a minute to see if she was limping, but then I'd watch closely, and again I'd see nothing when watching directly.

We all went for a really long walk in the evening and she was her usual wild-child self.

About half an hour after we got back, after she'd been lying down, she got up--on 3 legs.

She definitely puts weight on it. Give her an adrenaline rush (for tika, this happens whenever something really exciting happens, like--she's awake) and she walks, runs, pounces, normally. But shortly thereafter, or in the middle, she favors the left front foot. When just standing still briefly, she often just lifts it casually from the floor.

She has been much more subdued, actually, all day--she was not eager to take a flying leap off the bed in the morning, nor to propel herself at jetliner speed out the back door when it first opened. She still wants to play, but then she lies quite quietly for quite a while.

I can find nothing.

We're off to the vet's in the morning. I'm dreading this. Maybe she'll be better by tomorrow.