SUMMARY: Taking Boost out of agility for a while.
I've commented here about Boost's bar knocking, about my lack of success with bar-knocking drills (which actually work well with Tika), and about some of the spectacular all bars down, all the time runs in class lately.
The next step is to evaluate Boost's physical status. Yesterday, I took her up to Power Paws for a massage and evaluation with a well-regarded DVM/masseuse who specializes in performance dogs (got tired of dealing with "overweight, out of shape pet dogs and their owners") and who participates in agility herself. Boost took a while to relax (one reason I don't do a lot of stretching and rubbing with her--she's not much into being touched, although she puts up with it, and never relaxes much), but by the end of the session her body just flowed out onto the table, eyes half closed. She still resisted some things just from being that kind of dog, but mostly she got into it--as most dogs do. Jake and Tika always liked getting worked on.
The evaluation--and this is in my words: Boost reacted in pain to some work on her right rear leg. Hard to tell exactly where, but DVM thinks lower back or pelvis. Says that Boost's legs are all spectacularly muscled, which would most likely eliminate dysplasia. But her lower back and abdomen need work to develop the muscles there. (Just like us humans with back issues! She and I now both need to start doing crunches!)
The suggestion was to not do any agility with Boost for a while, to continue evaluation of what the problem might be, to give her body time to heal, and to work on developing those other muscles. Got the thumbs up to keep doing what I've been doing, and even more of it--the exercise ball, backing up the stairs, long hikes and running, just not jumping and like that.
So I'm going to get her x-rayed at a well-regarded dog sports vet if I can get an appointment any time soon. Then we'll see from there what more to do. Like: To work on: Teach her to sit up (some people have taken to calling it "sit pretty"--what was traditionally called "beg") and even to do squats. I've seen videos of dogs doing it; if they can stand on their hind legs, and if they can "sit pretty," then it just takes some additional work to get them to go from one to the other. Maybe it'll motivate me to do more like that, too.
So I've scratched Boost from the next 2 CPE trials in March, although I've left Tika in (since I've promised to be the chief score table czar). Next USDAA is the big four-day Haute Tracs extravaganza in 2 months. Would be too bad to miss that with Boost. But--well--we'll see.
Meanwhile, I'm also going to take at least one six-week session off from class; Boost can't participate, Tika and I can always use practice but it won't hurt us badly to miss it; and I'll be needing the time and money for Boost's work.
The interesting thing was my first reaction to the suggestion to stop agility with Boost for a while: A sense of relief. Like, maybe this is a fixable issue and if some time off is mostly what it takes, hallelujah! Like, someone is giving me permission to not do agility. Isn't that funny, what goes through one's mind?
It'll be tough, being at a trial and not being able to run Boost. I'll try to still take her out and play with her just the same. Have to remember to do that and not start putting it off because it's "not important" (like doing a run you've paid for).
After the massage, we went for a drizzly walk around parts of Power Paws' open fields.
Just about the only shot of Tika, because she always wants to be out at the farthest distance, exploring:
Both dogs seemed intent on grazing, since the sheep were in a different field and not doing the job. With San Jose spread out below and vanishing into the glaring mists of that steady, steady drizzle.
We walked up over the rise where the big agility field is and down the other side. There's Tika, as far away as she can get (to the right of the tree near center--really, she's there!).