a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: December 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Rawhides

SUMMARY: Different dogs, different rawhide personalities. (This was one of several scenarios that I had envisioned as part of my Christmas letter. But I pared a lot out of it, so you-all get it on my blog, instead.)

Sheba and Amber: Christmas 1983, just a couple of normal dog pet pals enjoying a treat. Maybe Sheba wants to enjoy two treats.
Jake Step 1: Carry his gift around looking concerned and mildly reproving.
Tika Step 1: Tear off enough paper to get to work. No nonsense here.
Jake Step 2: Carry his gift around looking concerned and mildly reproving.
Boost Step 1: Carry it to bed and check it out cautiously.
Jake step 3: Carry it to bed and monitor for intruders.
Boost step 2: Bury the rawhide in a secret place.
Jake step 4: Carefully remove just enough paper to tempt the other dogs to just dare to try to come take it.
Boost's cleverly buried rawhide bone. No one will find it now.
Jake step 5: Carry his gift around looking concerned and mildly reproving.

In the Olden Days, when we had Sheba and Amber (who were just normal sort of pet dogs, although special in their own ways), we gave them giant rawhides for Christmas every year. They'd pull the wrapping paper off and lie there chewing on them for a while and eventually get tired of them and then chew on them off and on for maybe weeks.

Remington was completely spooked by giant rawhide. (He was a sensitive soul.) He just wouldn't go within a foot or two of one, although he'd chew small rawhides with pleasure. After two or three attempts in different years, we just gave up.

It occurred to me that I hadn't tried giant rawhide bones with any of my current dogs for Christmas, I don't think. So I bought three large rawhides, wrapped them loosely with just one piece of tape holding the paper, and handed them out.

Tika immediately trotted to the den, gently tore off enough paper, one small bit at a time, to get at one of the big knobby ends, and proceeded to gnaw. Normal. Except for the wrapping paper remaining on half the bone, for hours.

Jake, typically, carried his slowly around or just stood in one place, looking concerned and occasionally shooting me admonitory glances for saddling him with such a huge responsibility. Eventually he retired to his bed and let it rest beside him for a while, while he monitored the environment for encroaching canids. When none approached him, he appeared disappointed at not having a chance to warn them off, so after a while he tore the wrapping off half the bone and went back to carrying it around past the other dogs, looking concerned.

Boost took it gingerly, watched the other dogs for a couple of minutes, then took it to her bed, where she examined it closely for a while. Then she determined that the best course of action was to bury it where no one else could find it while she decided the ideal plan of attack. A couple of hours later, Jake found the cleverly hidden package and walked around with THAT one for a while, looking concerned. Eventually, it disappeared again, and I assumed that Boost had buried it again. Apparently she had, but in some odd corner of the living room, because the next day Jake found it again (still wrapped) and carried it around for a while before Boost finally took over once more and removed the wrapping paper to give it some chewing.

Holiday Letter Photo Credits

SUMMARY: Holiday letter, as usual, didn't make it for Christmas.

Well, folks, the annual Holiday Letter is finally printing and a big batch will (I hope) go out in the mail tomorrow.

I had intended to give photo credits for all the photos, but decided that there just wasn't enough room and, since this is a limited-distribution-to-friends letter anyway, I figured I'd just post the info here. Here goes:
  • Front cover (me at Scottsdale): my camera, some friend wandering by
  • Back cover (me at Disneyland): my camera, my sister Linda or her spouse Paul
  • Back cover (odd shell thing): me
  • Sepia hiking group: me with camera on tripod & timer
  • Me with camera: Keith Holt
  • Me with Boost going over jump: Bamfoto
  • Pile of mulch: Me
  • Jake: Me
  • Team at nationals: My camera with human tripod (I set up the camera and position and hand it to random someone with instructions on how to frame the photo)
  • All others: Probably my father (Bob Levy) or mother (Louise Levy)

Now all you need is the letter. :-)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Feliz Navidog

SUMMARY: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

The Taj MuttHall purple and blue tree
The dogs haven't knocked too many ornaments off the tree. I keep the lower levels decorated with lightweight, nonbreakable ornaments just in case. And the tree is tied to the walls in case of earthquake or dog entanglement, so we don't have a repeat of (many years ago) when the tree crashed sideways.
(Same tree, different camera settings. Ain't photography fun?)

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Doggernet

SUMMARY: Dogs, dogs, everywhere you turn.

Individual pages for dogs and dog blogs are everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. The question is always how much to look for and how much to read. I learn something everywhere I go. For example, did you know that Yahoo has an "Individual Dog Blogs" category? And that Taj MuttHall seems to be on it? We've traveled pretty far for a blog whose original purpose was simply to be my way of tracking my progress and experience with my dogs and was never intended for public consumption.

I learned that latest tidbit by reading Pappy's Dog Blog and comments posted thereon by its readers. However, mostly I just follow two other agility blogs, Flirt's Dog Agility Blog and Training Journal for Devon and Jaime--because one day I found them, somehow, and because their posts are interesting and because they touch on lots of material that's of interest to me.

It's fun--or strange--to see how often pages I've worked on come up at the top in dog-related searches:
  • "hemangiosarcoma": Wikipedia's article, which I started because I knew 2 things about it from Remington's illness

  • "Remington agility": The top 5 listings from this Google search are me and my dog (all the more reason to have dogs with really unique names)

  • "how many legs to earn a NATCH?" (something I tried for what-the-heck last week) and of the first 7 responses to come up, one was my Taj MuttHall page about Remington and/or Jake earning their titles, one (another Bay Team member) Jack & Libby's page about Skye Buhite, and one a PowerPaws page about their dogs (my instructors and also Bay Team members)
  • Thursday, December 21, 2006

    Agility Class At Last!

    SUMMARY: Took Tika to class last night and we did fine.

    The last time I went to agility class was November 15. Took Tika last night for one last shot before another week off for Christmas. They've already cancelled Boost's class for today because of anticipated rain and the holiday rush, dang it all.

    We both did well. I never ran full out, although after some experiments, I did rather a Goucho Mark glide, to get some speed without actually pounding my knees. Tika handled just beautifully at a distance. I am so pleased with her weave poles, both her entrances and her willingness to stay in while I veer off sharply in an entirely different direction. She made some very difficult entrances last night with me at a distance (that a couple of other people had trouble with even being there to manage their dogs into the entrance), and I really pushed the limit on veering away--the instant she was in, I took off at nearly a 90-degree angle past a couple of other obstacles to the next one 40 feet away while she finished the poles. (Normally I'd drive her through the contacts for maximum speed, but in this case I was trying to move around a large course without having to run, so I took any distance maneuvers I thought I could get away with.)

    She even stayed at the start line! Without standing up or skootching! Which she's normally very bad about. I guess practice does help, eh?, and we've been practicing that in the yard lately. Except once she did stand up early and I let her go because I didn't want to walk back to her (BAD handler! this is why it deteriorates...).

    The only issue was, as usual in training, that she stands at the end of the contact, having made a very nice 2on-2off landing, and roots around in the grass looking for microscopic bits of goodies that previous people have left on the ground when rewarding their dogs. It's so hard to practice real-life contacts with her. In competition she never does that (because there's no food in the ring). I've been trying to reward her for releasing off the contact and coming with me, but the challenge is getting her to release and come with me! Even when she decides to recognize the "OK", she strolls off in any random direction with her nose to the ground looking for more goodies. We're still working on this...

    But I felt good, my knee felt good, Tika handled beautifully, we had some lovely end-of-the-year brownies baked by Tracy in honor of Flash's triple-double at their recent 3-day AKC trial and various pastries provided by Ashley in honor of Luka's ending up in the top 10 in all 5 categories in USDAA for the year--at last look, they were in something like 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, and 8th (gamblers?). How far they've come in 2 years! It's very exciting to have seen them progress and succeed.

    And I might have mentioned it before, but I'm delighted to have Ashley in my class because I really feed off of his enthusiasm and determination. His legs are much longer and faster than mine and he's more coordinated and naturally bubbly than me, but it gives me something to strive for. Our Wednesday night class this time around is generally very inspiring for me. I've seen Tracy improve in confidence and willingness to try challenging handling moves with her fast little sheltie. Ken and his fast Terv, Apache (aka Bubba for who knows what reason), have inspired me since Tika and Apache were both novice dogs and I'd always be looking for other dogs who could come close to Tika's time on course (faults aside), and Apache was one of only a couple of dogs there, so I was thrilled when they joined our class. And Jennifer and her fast aussie, Kai, are fun to watch, too. While Ken and Tracy are more like my age, they still know how to move around a course, and meanwhile Jenn and Ashley are younger and more athletic and I love watching them run and trying to get my body to do what theirs do--not in an unrealistic way, but on the theory that an excellent way to learn how to do something well is to watch experts do it.

    And we all feed off of each other at stretching our handling skills, with Jim helping by throwing in frequent challenges ("here's how you might handle it, but if you really think you can get there, then here's this option--"). If even one of us says, OK, we'll try the double-layered, distance send, double-reverse front-cross halfway across the field for major Cool Factor points, then by golly we all end up trying to do it, and we all cheer and whoop wildly as the others try it and so often succeed. It's especially helpful with Ken and Jennifer because their dogs also jump 26", so we're in a minority in training classes in general.

    It's a great class. Thanks, Jim and Ashley and Ken and Tracy and Jennifer and Bobbie and Kathy for helping me to challenge myself to be an even better handler--somewhat humbling, with my 12 years of experience, being propelled onward to greater things by all these folks with much less experience.


    SUMMARY: Various dogs sing for various reasons.

    The late, great Frankie, thinking about his glory days as a torch singer.
    RemSing Feb 2003
    The late, great Remington singing.

    My sister Sharon had an Australian Shepherd, Frankie, who used to throw his head back and howl (sing) whenever anyone sang "Happy Birthday To You!" It was a great trick for calling family (of which Sharon and her then-spouse had huge quantities of) long-distance on their birthdays, just something a little different.

    My old pal Remington used to move into a different world when sirens sounded; as though taken over by the spirits of his wolf ancestors, he'd raise his nose to the heavens and a long, thin howl from the depths of his soul emerged as though civilization and his family had vanished from around him, unnoticed. He also howled (sang) but in a more conscious way when he was very happy, and he did it more and more over time as we encouraged him by trying to get him to sing on command.

    I have three dogs now who are useless as singers because they just never naturally howl and I know of no way to teach them to "sing" if they don't do it on their own. The only time I've ever heard Tika howl is when she's dreaming (very spooky, wild sound, thin and deep, pulled from an ancient memory, in the depth of the dark night).

    The only time I ever heard Jake try to howl was when Remington used to howl at fire engines, and even then he couldn't quite figure it out--he'd put his head back in the right position but then make just really sharp, painfully high-pitched yelp-barks. Since no one else around here howls, I've never seen him try again, the little copy-cat who likes to believe he's really the leader of the pack.

    And I've never seen any hint of howling or singing from Boost, although she does often do a little short "oww!" of happiness sometimes when she first gets out of her crate in the morning. Hmmm, something to think about trying to capture--

    Monday, December 18, 2006

    Just a Cold, Near-Christmas Morning

    SUMMARY: Coldest morning in a long time. Dogs don't care.

    The tule fog makes a stunning view on many mornings.
    This morning, the temperature dropped briefly to 29F around 7:00. The grass and ground were crinkly with frost, although you can barely tell in this photo.

    It's so cold that even Boost needs to wear a fur stole.
    Tika almost-patiently waits for action, her Christmas collar just visible.

    Sunday, December 17, 2006

    Really Truly Getting There

    SUMMARY: Knee is happy. Dogs need practice.

    Last weekend I walked through Oakridge mall from my favorite parking out back all the way through to the front, slowly, using crutches as extra support. Today, I strolled cheerfully although not quite full normal speed through the same mall without a crutch in site. My knee stiffened up during the movie--maybe from just sitting still for over 2 hours, maybe from that long walk, maybe both, so I had to slow down some and I felt a bit of pain along the sides. But I wasn't visibly crippled. Yay!

    So I came home, iced the knee, and went out back to practice doing some actual sequences with the dogs. This meant maybe 4 or 5 obstacles with me moving a few brisk walking steps, but that's more than I've done since before the surgery. I haven't been doing jumps with them because their training issues with jumps involve me moving, so today I set up a jump and discovered that Tika still knocks bars and Boost is so used to NOT doing jumps after 3 weeks that she just completely ignored it. So we worked on both of those as well.

    Then I dared to move some equipment around. I never move my dogwalk--just can't be done in my yard (other than that there's only one place I can put it anyway. And the A-frame almost never moves--again, it takes up so much real estate and it's very hard to move. And the teeter doesn't tend to move far. Unlike Jim Basic, I can't just grab it around its middle, lift, spin, and drop it again.

    But it's been so long since I've moved anything for fear of aggravating my knee--other than adjusting the angle of the weave poles and realigning the tunnel ends after the blasting dogs pull them out of alignment--that I moved 2 of the 3 tunnels AND the teeter AND the weaves (now perpendicular to the direction they've been most of the last couple of months) AND the one jump I have up. Knee didn't bother me while I was doing it, either, but I need to be careful that I don't do in my back while trying to save my knee.

    It sucks, getting older and fragiler! But it's exciting to have a different set-up to try for a few days, and to feel that I can once again drag 20-foot double-walled competition tunnels around on my own. Small victories every day.

    Friday, December 15, 2006

    Archive Links Broken

    SUMMARY: Blogger Beta something's amiss

    OK, two people reported that they couldn't get to my archives (the list down the right-hand side--which I've now converted to a drop-down menu) and, indeed, when I migrated from the old version of blogger to the new version, it seems to be posting those links incorrectly. (It's all automatic, which is usually cool, but the new beta blogger is having trouble with the links, I guess.)

    Meanwhile, use my "Complete Archive of Posts!" link to the right, which I create manually, so it works fine, plus you can go to each post individually as well as monthly.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    Another Good Day

    SUMMARY: Knee good, dogs good, yard good, good good good.

    Part of my yard with leaves begging to be gathered.

    Hard to believe that, by the time I went to bed last night, I could barely walk without pain again. Had to ice my knee a couple of times when it woke me up around 11 and 1 or so. And then--today--I feel great! Except for a few twinges on the sides, and having to be careful about twisting kinds of movements, I'm walking normally, going up and down stairs, having just a fine old time with no aching or difficulty. I'm really not sure what the difference is. Today I went to Longs, the Post Office, OSH for lamp-repair parts, the gas station, and home again. Played with dogs in yard and sent them to some agility obstacles. Got out the leaf blower and cleared my lawn (it's SO hard to find dog messes to avoid stepping in when there are little round yellow and brown leaves all over the grass). And I still feel fine.

    Living with dogs does force one to do certain things. I wouldn't have felt obligated to clean up the lawn leaves if it weren't for the dog-mess thing. (And there are a ton more leaves on the mulched parts of the yards that I still need to get to.) And, funny thing, in the doctor's office yesterday, when I went to change back into my pants to go home, I grabbed them wrong and spilled dog treats from my pocket all over the floor. Normal people don't have that kind of issue...

    Boost's weave entries are looking better and better. But her nose touches as she blasts down the teeter are veering way off to the side when I'm behind her. I spent several minutes working on convincing her to use the target on the ground in front of the teeter rather than inventing her own spot on which to touch. I hate clever dogs.

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006

    No Knees Is Good Knees

    SUMMARY: Well, crap.

    Saw my surgeon this afternoon for the first time since the surgery. He said that he found essentially nothing, no major meniscus tears or folds or little bits of loose cartiledge or nuthin'--just arthritis. He said that there were a few little ragged edges on the inner (left) side of my meniscus that he cleaned up and that will probably help the knee some, but mainly it's just arthritis.


    So the main thing is strengthening that naughty quadriceps. And he confirmed that I just need to let my own interpretation of my pain be my guide: I need to decide what's reasonable and bearable; there's nothing inside the knee that needs healing (little bit of swelling left it just irritation from the scope poking around inside, basically) so I don't have to worry about tearing anything loose. He gave an example of stubbing a toe--sure, it hurts, but it's nothing to worry about, but he can't really give me guidelines on pain because it's a personal thing. Huh.

    So meanwhile, my knee is jabbing and throbbing again (sympathetic pains, I suppose) so I think I'll go ice it some more to teach it a lesson. (And let those dogs who are chomping at the bit because I've been down all day keep stewing. Fortunately housemate played with them *some* this afternoon.)

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    Down and Up Again

    SUMMARY: Yesterday exhausted; today exercycle

    Oh, hmmm, I thought I had posted my notes about the Fun Match I attended on Nov 25 (right before my surgery week), but they seem to have been stuck in limbo. So I just reposted "Out of Condition" for November 26.

    Yesterday I went out to a movie, during which my knee throbbed off and on, then felt really tired by the time I got home. So I lay down briefly, then prepared some green beans (a really strenuous chore indeed) for dinner at my sister's, drove up there, had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, and didn't get up til the next morning-- oh, wait, sorry, distractaed there. Had a lovely pot roast dinner. Watched A Charlie Brown Christmas, which was good as always, and then a 1992 Charlie Brown christmas special (on DVD) that we never even knew existed--and after watching it, now we know why we never knew it existed. But I was so exhausted still, and my knee just wouldn't let up its mild throbbing. So I drove home and I was so exhausted & sore that I thought I was gonna die right there. So I used the ice machine in the evening for the first time in a few days while collapsed in a little heap on the couch, watching TV in a barely conscious state.

    This morning I felt much better.

    So I did the exercycle today for the first time since physical therapy last Thursday (it hurt then), and I did it for 10 minutes on a pretty easy setting and everything felt fine! Huzzah! Also raked some leaves in the yard and mopped the kitchen floor lightly (not on my hands and knees).

    Dogs are helping by periodically crashing into my leg for various not-very-good reasons.

    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Tootling Along

    SUMMARY: So far so good, still

    Housemate's cooking fan club
    Housemate gets Tika and Boost lined up for some good fetch.
    When tug-of-war isn't good enough--Boost learns to fly.
    Yummy home-made cookies from Saturday night's party.
    That's me at Saturday's party, rather blurry, oh, well, but the only photo I asked anyone to take. Really, I only just met the guy five minutes before and his wife was sitting right there.

    Things are progressing fairly uneventfully. Boost chose two of the coldest, frostiest mornings to go outside first thing and roll in poop, covering herself with gobbets of stuff head to tail, making us both miserable as I had to spend considerable time hosing her off with icy-cold water. I've always wanted to install a hot-water spigot to the back yard for dog care, but have never had the budget. Someday...

    Jake has been eager to play fetch lately, which is grand.

    All the dogs want more attention and excitement than they're getting, but they're surviving. I am going outside with them most days at least once and at least throwing a toy for them to bring back, with just a wee bit of basic agility that I can do while essentially standing still. Have worked on some basic tricks with a clicker inside the house on a couple of occasions for a change of pace, and have occasionally fed them their meals in Buster Cubes (which they have to roll around to get to dispense the kibble). It's been raining or drizzling the last two or three days, which makes me want to avoid having them run around in the yard--gets them all muddy and tears up the lawn.

    But I haven't taken them ANYWHERE in a couple of weeks--no classes, no visits to the park, no walks, nuthin'. Really need to do something, anything, as soon as I can manage.

    Fortunately, the renter/housemate always plays with them daily anyway, but has been making a special effort to get at least Jake and Tika well-run. And they love him for it--plus they're rather fond of helping him finish off a few scraps left over when he makes his daily sandwiches or otherwise cooks. Tika's not fond of fresh broccoli, but even she will munch a few pieces when she sees the other two gulping them down.

    The knee mostly gets better. I had my first post-op physical therapy Thursday morning, where we did almost nothing (because my knee hurt at least a little with most things, and therapist doesn't want to start the pain cycle with even a little aggravation). On the way home, I stopped at Rite Aid briefly, and discovered that, even being able to park right in front of the store, I was tired and sore and my knee ached and it was quite strenuous. I slept two hours when I got home. That evening, I reverted to crutches around the house, which I hadn't used in probably 4 or 5 days.

    But the next day, Friday, I felt my best post-op so far, even forgetting from time to time as I moved around the house that there was anything wrong with my knee at all. Saturday I went to the movies and did so by walking ALLLLLL the way from the back parking lot through the huge Oakridge Mall to the theater, the most walking I've done post-op, even including a couple of grocery shopping trips. I did take my crutches with me and used them just to give me a wee tiny extra bit of weight-bearing support for that leg, trying to walk normally, just braced with the crutches. I think I did fine.

    I haven't used the icing machine in 3 days now, so that's been 3--hmm, maybe 4--nights I've gone without it overnight. The first of those nights I did get up in the night (towards morning) and ice it for 20 minutes, as it ached enough to be bothersome after I got up to use the facilities, and then it was fine again.

    So I'm just icing for 20 minutes off and on during the day, and am doing a very few exercises when I remember to do so. Need to do some more; the weight is already creeping on (but I'm eating crappily, too--usually the exercise I get helps to accommodate that). Tried the exercycle in physical therapy briefly and couldn't do much; I'm going to try it again today and see what I can do.

    Last night I carpooled with a friend on a lonnnng drive (over an hour an a half) to Pacific Grove to an agility club party/meeting. I survived the drive and the party and managed to snap a bunch of photos of club members, and although I was tired when I got home, I attributed it more to the late-night hour than to anything knee-related. So, yes, progress is occurring.

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    So Far So Good

    SUMMARY: Life is becoming slowly more normal

    Last night I carried my own ice machine (about the size of a 6-pack cooler) upstairs to bed and again downstairs in the morning, working on walking stairs up & down normally. There's just a little twinge occasionally there, but mostly it feels OK.

    The knee catches or pops often when I'm just walking--in a completely different place than it did. Doesn't feel good, but doesn't hurt like the catch on the side that started a couple of weeks ago. That's on my list of questions for the surgeon, although I don't know how many answers I'll get til I see him at my appointment a week from this afternoon. He (or someone) apparently forgot to fill out the referral for continued physical therapy, so I'm waiting for them to get back to me to be able to schedule that.

    Dogs are waiting impatiently for me to come outside and throw something around the yard for them.

    Leg with indelible writing, indelible yellowish substance, indelible purplish substance?

    Bruised left hand.

    When I was able to shower on Saturday, it was such a relief! In real life, I don't always shower every day; I don't perspire (therefore don't accrue odors) all that much normally, so I thought that a mere 3 days would be trivial, since I was lying around most of the time anyway, not getting sweaty OR dirty. But, wow, it felt so good after 3 days to take that shower!

    The thick yellowish (and purplish?) stuff on my knee and leg didn't come off, even the part I could scrub at. (Can't scrub the two tiny places with a couple of stitches in them.) And the writing on my leg--which I can't interpret but probably means "this is the correct knee"--also doesn't come off with scrubbing. Now I've had two showers and it's still there!

    And my left hand, where the nurse had trouble inserting my IV tube, is quite discolored now, although, thankfully, not painful--just colorful.

    Will be trying to get in some hours of real desk work today.

    Sunday, December 03, 2006

    Recovery Moves Along

    SUMMARY: Each day shows notable improvement in the knee. But sleepy!

    Today I hardly used the crutches at all, and have even been bending my leg/using it almost normally going up and down stairs, although trying to be cautious without limping from mere concern about not wanting to do any damage (a tricky balance indeed).

    The knee is definitely swollen, although not hot or inflamed-looking, it's not oozing or turning red, and it's not extending down the calf or up the thigh. And it's less painful and achey every day. So I'm hoping that the swelling is normal. I'm keeping it elevated above the level of my heart as much as I possibly can, even when sleeping, and using Karey's icing machine almost constantly, and taking 800 mg of ibuprofen 3 times a day. But when I wore my stretch jeans today to go out to the movies, I had to keep reminding myself that the reason they were tight around my joint was not because I was wearing an Ace or any other bandage, but simply because of swelling.

    What surprises me is how much more tired and loafy I feel every day even as my knee improves. The first day I was quite alert and peppy. The second day I was mostly awake and coherent although nauseated and in pain for a good part of the day. I'm sleeping well at night (I'm sure the vicodin helps a lot there) but also getting woozier and woozier with each vicodin I take--or not-- For example, I took one around 10 last night and another around 8 this morning (it was aching a we bit and not relieved by the ibuprofen), and within an hour I couldn't keep my eyes open. Slept for another 2 hours and woke up only because one of the dogs again started gnawing on a bone in the same room. Even so I really dragged myself out of dreamland.

    Haven't had another vicodin since, and I'm still draggy and bleary-eyed. Certainly was perky enough to be driven out to the movies with a friend, had no trouble staying awake for the film, but by the time I got home--nap time! And I'm still not feeling alert.

    I haven't had the mental energy to do anything except read, not even more than a couple of partial crossword puzzles here and there. Don't know how I'm going to concentrate enough to do actual work, which I really need to be doing. In fact, I'm almost at the state where all I'll have energy for is watching TV, which is a REAL low point for me (haven't fallen to that level yet, but perhaps this evening--).

    I'm trying to be up and moving around as much as reasonable, too (striking that balance with keeping the knee elevated), as I'm sure that some kind of exercise should help, as well. But I'm a little limited in what I can do. Not clear from the doc's instructions whether I should be trying the exercycle again now or wait until I meet with him in a week or so. Sigh--another item on my list for monday's phone call.

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Much Better Today

    SUMMARY: The title says it all.

    Yesterday, the merest movement caused intense agony. For example, if I decided that I wanted to move my leg an inch to the right, I braced myself, gritted my teeth, girded my loins, grabbed the leg of my sweatpants to try to move the leg with my arm instead of using the leg itself, moaned or grunted or yelped in pain anyway, then lay back exhausted to decide what I could manage next. You can imagine that getting up to go to the little patient's room was quite an expedition.

    Today I'm so much better, much more what I had expected from their descriptions. Knee is a bit sore and stiff, but I can get around, I can, say, roll over on my side with only a little agitation, I can even walk a little distance, cautiously, without a crutch if I need to do challenging things like move liquid from one place to another.

    This morning I meandered out into the back yard (yesterday morning I wasn't meandering ANYwhere, thank you very much), traded one crutch for the pooper scooper, ambled slowly around the yard picking up poop, and then played a bit of fetch and did some agility with Tika and Boost.

    Now, let's define "doing some agility"--another exciting episode in which I discover that the dogs don't understand what I thought they understood. I lean the crutches on the teeter (it's convenient) and step away a step. I stand facing a tunnel that's 20 feet away from me.

    Picture the set-up: teeter is to my right, weaves are ahead of me and to the right of the teeter. Tunnel is U-shaped, one end straight ahead of me, other end 10 feet to its right. Line up dog on my left side. Put my left foot out straight towards the left end of the tunnel, hold my left arm straight toward the left side of the tunnel, face my shoulders and head towards the left end of the tunnel, and say "through."

    The dog makes a u-turn in front of me and does the weaves.

    Gradually we work our way to where the dog does the right side of the tunnel.

    Finally, with patience, the dog does the left side of the tunnel. Lots of excitement and play (well, as much as I can manage without actually moving, protecting my knee all the while) and praise and do it a couple more times for reinforcement.

    Turn in the opposite direction. Now the teeter is to my left. There's another u-shaped tunnel, left end directly in front of me and about 20 feet away, right end 10 feet to its right. There's another tunnel whose entry is ahead of me and to the right about 10 feet.

    Line up dog on my left side. Aim foot, arm, shoulders, head towards left end of tunnel straight ahead. Say "through." Dog crossed in front of me and goes into the tunnel to my right.

    Eventually we get them into the right side of the correct tunnel. And, finally, into the left side of the correct tunnel.

    Yow. Something else to work on. Does it never end?

    But on a more exciting note, I was sending Boost out through a tunnel and giving her an "out" to weaves, and she was making the entries and staying in! Progress has definitely occurred there.

    So, anyway, I'm feeling much better today. Just woozy from the Vicodin, but calm and mostly pain-free. Life is good. Dogs are calmer today, after their exercise and brain work.

    Yesterday was filled with gratuitous barking, Boost chewing on the Xmas tree skirt, dogs poking noses into trash cans, all those things that get active dogs turned in to the pound for doing because they're not getting the mental or physical stimulation they need. And I don't think I was out there with them more than 15 minutes max, so it really doesn't take much.