a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: June 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Of Dog Eyes and Human Feet

SUMMARY: Eye tested Boost; Tika bloody.

The other day, got this email from Nancy Gyes:

I am involved in a Vision Study with Optometrist Gina Day and her research partner Maureen. Vision testing is being done on dogs suspected of having ETS (early take-off syndrome), or some kind of vision problem that might affect their jumping. We also need to test a large number of non-affected dogs who jump well as a control group. As we are getting into the testing we realize that there is really not nearly enough knowledge about how dogs test that are normal good jumpers. The retinoscopy is used to discover if there is a refraction error in the dogs eyes, since dogs can’t read eye charts, just like babies or young children. We would like to test a lot of shelties and border collies since there are so many of them in agility, but we also want to test lots of other breeds. And we would especially love to test your dog if they are a nice jumper, or if you think your dog may have a vision deficit.

I took Boost up with the theory that there's nothing wrong with her vision--she runs fast, knocks bars but no sign of early or late takeoffs or hesitations. My assumption has been that she knocks bars because she doesn't try hard enough not to.

That might still be the case, but now the waters are a little muddied: Turns out that she and I share something besides a birthday, and that is myopia (near-sightedness) and astigmatism. Of the 30-ish dogs they've tested so far, Boost rates the worst of any in the near-sighted department. On the OTHER paw--she also rates the highest for the quality of her binocular vision (use of two eyes together), so maybe the near-sightedness is less a player since the binocular vision is what gives good depth perception.

They're just starting to collect information, so it could be a long time before they have enough information to actually publish something. Can hardly wait.

Meanwhile, about Tika's odd eye problem (description and photo in this post). This red bloody-looking lump on her inner eyelid(?) showed up around the beginning of April. Don't think it has changed really since then. However, yesterday morning she had bloody crust next to that eye. Same thing when I got home last night. Same thing when I got up this morning. Don't know what it means; still looks about the same to me, she's still not rubbing it or anything.

Anyhoo, off to the vet again to see whether he has any better ideas on what's going on, and if not, maybe to the doggie eye doctor. It's always something involving the wallet, isn't it.

And since we're all going to ail together, I guess, I went ahead and got a cortisone shot in my sore foot today (as mentioned in these posts). As I was afraid of, it's hurting more now, ow ow ow, hope I can get to sleep. Had this same reaction many years ago to a cortisone shot in the thumb, but then it got much better more quickly than w/out the shot. Meanwhile, icing icing icing. And maybe in a few days I'll be pain-free. One can only hope.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thursday's Class and Excitement

SUMMARY: In which Human Mom has pain, Boost runs with her sister's handler, and some people have lots of enthusiasm.

When I arrived at class last Thursday evening, the weather couldn't have been better. Still daylight at this time of year (O!, that it would be like this all the time!), neither hot nor cold, shirt-sleeve weather, a beautiful evening.

And when I did a warm-up run with Tika, my lower back muscles hurt so much that I could barely trot. I warmed up even more, and lay on the grass and did various fix-the-back things, and the back eased off, but still felt the aches in my knees and foot. Why do I do this, go to class like this? (Well, that's meant to be rhetorical, but I'm always one to answer rhetorical questions-- (a) dogs seem to like agility (b) it gets us all out of hte house and doing something active (c) I'm in denial about my ailments.)

Boost and I are having very very few runouts or refusals in class these days, and the few times that we do, I have an instructor to point out why what I thought I was doing wasn't what i was actually doing. This is why I'm supposed to videotape myself, so I can see what I wasn't doing on my own every time. Bah.

But the bars still come down.

By the end of the class, I just couldn't run any more. T-Cam's mom (T-Cam/Boost have the same parents) seemed delighted at the chance to run Boost for the last run of the evening. This is the second time they've done a run in class. Last time, several weeks ago, Boost was very uncertain and followed Silvina around the course only tentatively, then ran to me as soon as possible. Both times, S wooed B with treats, since Boost wouldn't get into playing tug with a "stranger" (someone she's only seen in class every week off and on for 8 years, you know). This time, Boost went with her willingly and even eagerly, and stayed with her all the way through to the end, and wanted to stay with her after S dropped her off with me! (Dang, why are S's freeze-dried liver treats better than my freeze-dried liver treats?) Boost still held back while running, but not nearly as much as last time. And they had a couple of refusals while Boost watched S so very closely, but S figured out how to fix it the next time around.

S is so happy and enthusiastic with her dogs, and with mine, too. I try to emulate people like her, who have so much energy and excitement with their dogs and just don't let up, but wow, it's exhausting for me! She's not unique among top dog handlers; so many of them are so very good at making their dogs feel special and excited and supercharged. If I do that at their level for a couple of runs, I'm so burned out that I'm ready to sleep for a week. I'm certainly better at it than I was when I started back in 1995 (gasp). But I'm basically a mellow, reserved sort of person even when I'm excited or happy. You know the stereotypical really excited person, who jumps up and down and claps their hands? I would never be that person. If I won the lottery, I'd most likely grin a lot. I might even high-five someone, or pump my fist and say "Yesss!" For me, that's very excited.

Anyway. Wish everything would get better spontaneously. Because as it is, now I have an excuse for not practicing with Boost to fix our agility issues, whereas before I had no excuse, just didn't do it.

Ah, yes, well, this is all so typically me. My dogs are wonderful and I love them dearly. How can I resist that bright-eyed, sharp-eared Tika stare over the desk, saying "Come ON! Let's GO!" She doesn't care what or where, just let's move it! So, guess I'd better move it.

See y'all later.

[Stands up. Tika pumps fist, says "YEsss!"]

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pet Poisons

SUMMARY: Sometimes, things can kill your dog that you wouldn't expect to do so.

Yesterday i posted a link to the Top Ten reported poisons for dogs and cats. That doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of others. I'm surprised that I've never posted a list or link of poisons and toxins--at least, I just did a bunch of searching in my blog and am finding nothing. (Could be the search doesn't work well, too, of course.)

On this page are links to lists of some Poisonous Plants and Flowers, Toxic and Harmful Foods, Dangerous Chemicals, and Other Environmental Hazards. It doesn't list specific medications, just the general warning:
Hazards from Pharmaceuticals and More: There are some human medications that are safe for dogs, but many others can be seriously harmful to your dog. Even some veterinary drugs can be toxic if not used properly. Before medicating your dog, always contact your veterinarian for instructions. An accidental overdose can prove fatal depending on the substance. Also, remember that your dog might be curious and quite crafty when it comes to opening pill bottles. Keep ALL drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements out of reach.
Please do go through the lists; some might surprise you.

Here's a more complete list that's interactive: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poisons/

Sunset at the Park and the Pond

SUMMARY: Wordless Wednesday

>>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. <<

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Top Ten Pet Poisons

SUMMARY: In case you didn't know.

For dogs and cats. Top 10 reasons why people call the pet poison hotline. Which, by the way, is 800-213-6680.


Goodbye Google Reader

SUMMARY: Possibly some useful info.

If you use Google Reader to aggregate your RSS feeds, I hope you know by now that it's going the way of the dinosaurs on July 1st--that's right, it's retiring to a building on the train ride in Disneyland.

If you don't know what "aggregate your RSS feeds" means, or if you don't use Google Reader, you can stop reading right now and go practice some challenging weave entries.

No, really, it's going away.

Many tools provide similar services. I've been waiting until the last minute, of course, because lots of tools have been upgrading like crazy to try to capture some of the tens of millions of people who were suckered into using Google Reader and are now having the rug pulled out from under them. Fortunately, many of the tools make it so easy to migrate your list that you won't even realized that anything happened.

Today I opted for Feedly. I logged in to Feedly using my google log-in, and voila, I was up and running. I've dinked around with some of the preferences to get things the way I want (I set my initial page view to be the Index, to be the closest to Google Reader, but you might like some of the other options better).

The San Jose Mercury News ran an article yesterday on the subject, which is what finally propelled me. If you can't read the article, let me know and maybe I can copy it and email it or something like that.

That is all. Happy blog-reading to you all.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Morning Blues

SUMMARY: Just one of those mornings.

Also sing today's song to the tune of Darling Clementine, because I created my own earworm yesterday and it won't go away.

Oh my darling
grown-up doggie
you're no longer just a pup
Yet you peed
upon my carpet.
In what barn did you grow up?

When I got up this morning and put my feet on the floor, yup, a wet spot. Don't know who did it or when or why, and no one's talkin'. I don't remember anyone being restless or trying to get my attention during the night, and I'm usually (sometimes too much) aware of their movements and when they thud-jump off the bed. No recollection at all.


Soooo I cleaned as best I could with my Bissell Spot Lifter using just water, then applied generous doses of Nature's Miracle.  Spot Lifter and Nature's Miracle--two products that a dog owner with carpets really can't live without! Wish I'd known about them 30 years ago instead of only 10.

But the motor on the Spot Lifter is going south. I ran it down completely several times and then recharged, but it didn't help.  This is my second one; the first one  just wouldn't run one day. So looks to me like their lifespan is around 5 years. But it's so amazingly useful in my life that I'll keep shelling out the $50 every 5 years. Heck, that's not much more than entering Grand Prix and Steeplechase at any one USDAA trial.

And now, for a gratuitous photo because I can.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Springtime Lament

SUMMARY: A hairy situation

Sing today's song to the tune of "Darling Clementine."

Oh my darling
   shedding canines
   there is dog fur everywhere!
I am sweeping
   every hour
   'cause you won't retain your hair.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Just One Little Thing

SUMMARY: Another weekend with pretty much no colorful fabric items to hang on my wall.

Here's a quick note about this weekend.

Ha ha! Just kidding, no it isn't.

I really hate having the alarm go off 3 or 4 hours before my normal wakie-wakie time. Groaaan.

Worst thing this time was how much my lower back hurt. One muscle on one side had been bothering me, but probably loading the car Friday evening put the finishing touches on it. Walking very very gingerly as I got ready and headed out.

But, as always, once I'm on the road--and especially at that certain hour of the morning--it all faded away and the excitement of being on the road crept in. I love going places, and moving along the highways at this early hour when so few people are out makes it feel special and almost magical, wondering what's just a little farther down the pike.  I think i got that from all the years of traveling with my parents, who took us to so many interesting and entertaining places.

About 90 minutes later, arrived at the fairgrounds. This sat in the parking lot, blaring recorded loop messages over and over about being kind to the rest of the world. Don't know what this was really about, but it's pretty cool (love the "STOP" flag on the side) and it's a good message.

And then, well, agility. Gah.  Tika had 3 runs, Boost had 10. Out of those, i came home with one Qualifying round that I was happy with, one Q that I accepted but wasn't what I wanted, wayyyy too many near misses, and a couple of disasters.

Like this:

Award for Best Run of the Weekend:
  • Tika's Saturday's Snooker course: She ran my 50-point plan perfectly, and so few dogs of any height or level managed to do it. First place, a Q, and proof that she's as fast and as happy and as expert on the course as ever.
Nominations for Just One Little Thing:
  • Boost's Sat Snooker: Some bobbles during the opening that wasted time, but no faults (same course I ran with Tika). Closing perfect, perfect, perfect, but near the end I got worried about running out of time because of the bobbles and started pushing hard... and she knocked the next to the last jump, augh! Maybe she would've anyway even if I'd stayed relaxed, and turns out that we did have time (not much, but enough).  But I'll take the blame for that one. (A Q, but not a Super-Q.)
  • Tika's Sat. Jumpers: I forget that now, even in class and at home, when I send her to a tunnel, she often pulls away or veers past it. Not sure what that's all about, confidence or hearing or vision, but whatever--I still forgot. First half of run: Fast and perfect. Last half of run: Perfect. But right in the wee little middle there, I sent her to a tunnel and turned and burned... and she went past it on the outside for a runout fault. 
  • Boost's Sat. Jumpers: She was PERFECT! But I forgot the course in one spot, hesitated, and she ran past a jump while I looked around to find my position. My fault again, and wasted a perfect Boost run!
  • Boost's Sat. Pairs Relay: Only 9 obstacles; 1st 8 were spot-on perfect and fast, then she popped out of the weaves at #10.
  • Boost's Sun. Grand Prix: Another almost perfect run on a very difficult course where very few dogs Qed. But. Knocked one bar (the 3rd one). One crappy bar.
  • Tika's Sun. Jumpers: Crashed the first bar, the rest perfect and fast and delightful. 
  • Boost's Sun Jumpers: Fast and beautiful and kept all her bars up but I moved for a front cross just a little too soon and pulled her off a jump for a refusal. Crap crap crap! (Of course it WAS right in front of her and she WAS running straight towards it...)
  • Boost's Sun Snooker: Another gorgeous completed opening, then knocked #4 in the closing, so not even a useless Q.
OK, Fates, I don't mind a couple of near misses, but really, 8 of 13 in one weekend with only one thing?? Why couldn't we convert *some* of them? Jeez--

On the other hand, on the spur of the moment I decided to get Boost tested for the [nonagility] Canine Good Citizen title (Remington, Jake, and Tika all took it and passed it years ago). And she passed! Woot! So I'll probably send away for the official certificate and title. 

Plus, as always, Boost is just fabulous at winning raffles. Here's what she won for me on Saturday:

    It was, indeed, hot on Saturday. Not Super Hot, but plenty hot enough. I wanted to try to give the dogs some grass to lie on instead of being zipped into their crates.

    This spring I bought and started using a low x-pen (instead of the 42" one I've had since I started agility)--so much easier to carry around and move and get things into and out of, and the dogs stay in it anyway although they could perfectly well hop right over it. (Boost is lying in the crate, you can just see her through the mesh.)

    So, the other things of note that happened this weekend in agility:
    • Boost's weaves were broken all day Saturday. We attempted 4 whole sets of weaves that day, and of those four:
      • As noted above, popped out at #10 in Relay.
      • Sat Standard: Popped out at #10. 
      • Sat Steeplechase: Popped out at #10
      • Sat Gamblers opening: Ran past weave entry, then after she went in, yes, popped out at #10.
      • Gah! What's with that???
    • Boost's weaves were superb on Sunday. We attempted 2 whole sets of weaves:
      • In Standard, at a very sharp angle on her weak side, she worked hard to make the entry and, although she bounced slightly against pole #2, made it in with little help from me.
      • In Grand Prix, blasting out of a tunnel and needed to make a sharp turn to the left to the weaves, I was behind and just yelled "Left weave!" and, Lo!, she did. Perfectly.
      • Funny dog and her weave poles.
    •  Some meltdowns:
      • Saturday standard: Pulled off a jump, popped out of weaves, left Aframe early, turned back at last jump instead of continuing.
      •  Saturday Steeplechase. Instead of doing a 180, came through the middle and backjumped, popped out of the weaves, a bar. (But DID carry out over 5 jumps all the way to the end very nicely.)
      • Sunday Standard: Ran past the first jump and it went downhill from there, not sure HOW many jumps she ended up missing in various places. I think that's where I stopped in the middle and said to her, "You know, you have to take SOME jumps, that's what this is all about!" before continuing. (But her weaves and contacts were all good.)
    Oh, but then she won something else that I dropped a ticket in in the raffle-- a replacement for one I used to have that broke:

    Wasn't nearly as hot on Sunday, although it remained shirtsleeve weather all day.  While I tore down my set-up, sllloooowwwwwwllllllyyyy, trying to save my poor back, they hung out in the shade but let me know what it was that they'd really wanted all along. That purple thing lying there. Yes, that.

    Then, the drive home. I had high hopes as the first hour went by without a single slowdown, but then as we hit Berkeley--complete standstill, just little movements here and there.

    Things to take photos of while at a standstill in traffic:

    What is that a statue of? Angry villagers with rakes and hoes, and a dog with a frisbee? Couldn't quite make it out. Maybe people with kites?

    Other end of the same bridge. Obviously Berkeley protesters, with the UC Berkeley Campanile and someone in a wheelchair? Is that The Thinker with a protest sign, too?

    Ohhhhhhh noooo, this can't be good: 54 minutes to the Oakland Airport, which is only 14 miles ahead?!?!?

    Hum de dum de dummmm... The Oakland Fire Dept. can set this tower aflame and practice their high-rise rescues alongside the Oakland marina.

    Whew, it really took only 20 minutes to get to the airport exit, and I did hear on the traffic news that they had cleared away two big accidents in the meantime. Glad I decided to stay an extra hour at the end of the day to hang out and talk with various friends, or it surely would've taken me 54 minutes.

    Still, took me over 2 hours to complete the trip that was only 90 minutes on Saturday morning. And my lower back is just a mess. It overshadowed even my sore foot (which felt better sunday than it had on saturday) and my knees (which were--well, not great, but not as bad as they'd been a couple of days before). Always something, dangit.

    Fortunately, I found some chocolate chip mint ice cream in the freezer when I got home. Thanks for stocking that for me, Ellen.

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