a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: August 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How Are We All Doing?

SUMMARY: Reporting on Human Mom, Boost, and Tika.

Tika is refusing food more and more often. I'm not happy about this. Don't know whether it's her meds or her health. Need to call the vet to discuss. Not convinced that taking certain drugs to help her heart or her cough is good if it means that she loses interest in food. Until this morning, she was happy enough to eat the new fancy expensive kibble that I just bought--as long as I didn't intermingle regular kibble, which really ruined the whole thing, you know. But hand-feeding still worked. This evening she didn't want to eat much of it at all.

She even almost turned down her guard-the-house-goodie this morning when I left for work--and she's not rejected that before. (It's just a dry biscuit, but until now has been eagerly accepted.) No problems tonight in class, though, sucking down those Zukes minis!

Human Mom had a rotten night last night, what with back/leg pain, a cough that wouldn't quit between about 2 and 3 a.m., two dogs that needed to go out in the middle of the night at different times, and a sometimes coughing dog. H.M. got most of her sleep between 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Amazing I made it through the day. But work was interesting and urgent today, which helped.

And then, even more interestingly, felt really good in class tonight running Boost. Was able to actually run, fast for me anyway, without pain. That bodes well for the weekend. Still, the back and connected leg pain are such a...pain. Standing there, watching someone else's run, turned my head or some other innocuous minor movement, and whack! Sudden pain in lower back and I had to take steps to ease it out. So we didn't do a whole class this evening; want to save myself for the Regional Championships this weekend in Prunedale.

Boost--well, wow, what a great night in class! Not a single bar down! No nasty runouts (except pretty obvious handler errors) or refusals. Wow! Well, OK, couple of missed weave entries, darn it, she will just never be as good as Tika at the weave entries. And that's the thing we've most practiced through the years. OK, anyway, maybe it was because I was moving more comfortably and faster, dunno, but what a pleasure it was! Hoping that it lasts through at least some of the weekend.

See folks there Saturday through Monday; I bailed on Friday's events for various reasons. Weather should be great, people should be wonderful, maybe we'll get a Q or two.


SUMMARY: Everyone needs a hobby.

Boost seems to be collecting apples from under the apple tree in the back yard and storing them in strategic locations around the house. So she'll have something to eat in case of the zombie apocalypse, I suppose. Or, if not that, they make perfectly good toys to roll down the hallway and chase.

"Hmm--it round, it red, but it no taste like yard fruit ball. Hm. Taste like master gamble Q. Hmm."

Monday, August 26, 2013

Today is National Dog Day

SUMMARY: August 26 every year.

Can't tell you more than that, as today their server seems to be overloaded. Instead, go play with your dog.

I'll be at work. :-/

When will the cruelty stop?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tika's Retirement Run, Part 2


Part 1 is here.

She starts out pretty fast. Knocks a bar about halfway through, not sure why (I mean, these *are* only 16" jumps). Then goes off course (before the teal tunnel) when I'm actually turned and calling her and clapping--I wonder whether that was a side effect of all the heart-warming cheering and clapping going on all around us? No matter, a Q wasn't my goal -- I was watching for signs of discomfort or coughing or slipping on the wet grass.

Then she slowed abruptly before the next to the last jump, not sure what that was about--did she think we were at the end? -- so I stopped, so she stopped, and then when she looked OK to me, I popped her over the last jump to make it official.

Notice no excited foot biting at the end, sigh. But she doesn't look particularly *un*happy.

Anyway, it was nice, and  a whole crowd waited to give me hugs and kudos at the exit gate.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tika's Retirement Run, Part 1

SUMMARY: She's just a good girl

We had our final run this morning pretty early. Fog, as usual, had descended in that area overnight and made the grass quite damp. I saw several dogs slip and fall; didn't want Tika to do that.  Also wasn't sure whether she'd want to run or would start coughing or what, so I tried to take it easy.

That didn't work well at the  beginning--she shot off the startline and I barely got in my first front cross. She slowed through the run and almost stopped before the last two jumps ( after earlier knocking a bar and going off course) but completed it, with a crowd cheering us on the whole way.

She did cough a bit right after that, but not a lot, so it was OK.

I didn't cry too much, just some while I was getting all the hugs from so very many of our agility friends who've been with us through thick and thin; who supported us, teamed with us and sometimes even Qed and won with us, encouraged us, cried with us, laughed with us, and all the rest. What a great group of people.

I brought a cake. A huge cake.

She expressed curiosity about the cake.

I encouraged her repeatedly to put her paws up on the table to try to get a photo of her looking at her cake. I think she thought that this was some kind of trick, but eventually she did.

And she didn't waste any stupid time by merely stupid *looking* at the cake. That had not been part of my plan.

So I cut that huge hunk out and the Merle Girls each got a piece of gooey sugary yummy retirement cake.

Tomorrow, more about the weekend and hopefully some videos.

(Thanks to Jean Danver for the photos.)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Coming Up, Tika's Last Trial

SUMMARY: Well, officially entered, anyway.

I entered Tika in one run this weekend, Jumpers, which was always her favorite. I haven't been doing much with her at all, and she starts out in the yard playing fast and eager but quickly resorts to just digging her notorious hole to china under the shrubbery. Tried running her around a small course today with just a few jumps and tunnels and never did get all the way through it.

So I might just pick a quick few jumps and out. So sad. I'm so very sad. I'll make that officially Tika's last agility run. Here's the age data from this trial's statistics sheet:

I'm not expecting much from this weekend. This week I ended up with a cold, so am tired and congested on top of Boost's insane obsessive scratching and biting the last couple of nights, really interrupting both of our sleeps. She scratched for two hours straight when I went to bed last night, and then another hour after I gave her a prednisone.

Now that she's on prednisone, I hope that'll knock it out quickly so we can both sleep.  Except of course that prednisone tends to make my dogs' bladders work more urgently, which could get me up in the night anyway--so I *do* want to remain asleep-but-alert to avoid having a bed wetting or floor wetting like last time around.

This heavy scratching started (it's been building up by hydroxyzine had been holding it off) after several days of Tika coughing a lot during the night. Now Tika's getting an occasional small dose of hydrocodone/something (similar to what humans get with an intractable cough) and I think that's helped some, not eliminated completely but not interrupting my sleep every hour.

And I've already mentioned that I'm completely out of shape, not doing any running or hiking or anything. My foot and back aren't a lot better--improving, I think, but not there yet. I've put on weight, Boost has put on MORE weight which is a mystery because I've been cutting back her food more. She's now getting only 83% of what she has gotten most of her adult life, and she's up another half pound in the last month! Argh! It is true that she's also getting less activity because I'm doing so much less lately.

So this weekend is really not going to be about me and Boost qualifying in anything because the odds seem slim. Instead, it's about Tika retiring, and about sugar, because that's what I'm bringing to celebrate. Because I need more sugar.

In fact, must go pick up the celebration thing right now.

Wish us good luck in getting a good night sleep, and then in the morning it's off to Manzanita Park.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Things That Tika Has Mistaken For Something Alive While Out On A Walk

SUMMARY: Dogs see shapes.

Tika goes nuts when she sees another dog while we're out on a leash. She makes a ruckus, but in fact she really does just want to go check it out and then she's happy. She just doesn't often *get* to go check it out, dang Human Mom.

Photos from the web--things that Tika has actually mistaken from a distance for a person walking a dog on a leash (motion vs blurry vision)--suitcase with long handle, person pulling wagon, man using string trimmer:

Tika also is ready to take off like a rocket--from 0 to 60 in a nanosecond--if she thinks some critter is running. Image of something that almost got my arm ripped off--shoulder hurt for days-- because I was thinking, "innocuous inanimate thing blowing in the wind that dogs would have no interest in" and Tika was thinking, "Thing run! Me chase!"

Now she has cataracts, which the vet noticed yesterday are getting a bit thicker, so who knows what she's going to mistake for something else.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tika Goes To the Vet

SUMMARY: Things are a bit better.

We checked in with the vet this morning.

Have I mentioned lately that Tika hates going to the vet?  From the moment when I open the car door to see her quivering, to the moment when she races to the car afterwards and does NOT want to take a little potty walk thank you very much, she hates being at the vet.

So she gets tranks, one pill an hour before we go. We tried a new one this time that isn't supposed to be as potentially disruptive to her heart. It worked better.

First, the de rigueur sniffing everything at a hyperspeed rate. But this time, not so much whining as usual and took more time sniffing instead of immediately racing into--

--the pacing around and around. This time, not so frantic, and when I'd get my hand on her, she'd actually stop to be stroked (not the usual reaction at all).

Then, obsessively checking whether the door will open over and over. This time, no throwing herself at the door and screaming.  (And the tranquilizer we'd been using mitigated that behavior some but didn't eliminate it.) So this is also good.

Also, with the other trank, she'd be dopey and tripping over her own feet for a couple of hours afterwards (even at a lower dose). This time, she's pretty normal.


Her heart rate is back to around 130/140, which is often where it has been in the recent past, but her pulse is still mismatched, about 90, which means that the heart is still pumping too fast for it to be efficient in its weakened state. But that's much better than over 200 with a low pulse. So the digoxin seems to be helping.

She's still been coughing more than I'd like (especially the half dozen, sometimes more, sometimes fewer, times during the night that wake me up, thanks a ton), but there's still no evidence of an infection or fluid build-up (although we didn't repeat the x-ray this time), but yes a bit of congestion. Sounds a lot like me when my allergies or asthma flare  up a bit.  Tried Tussin DX for a couple of days but (a) she HATES it, shakes her head wildly after I squirt it into her cheek flap, so have to give it to her outside to avoid having a house decorated with cherry-red spatter, and (b) not sure it was helping anyway. So will be adding yet another pill to her regimen to try to alleviate some of her coughing.

A little concerned about how little interested she's been showing in her regular food. Hand feeding the uneaten parts sometimes works, waiting 30 or 90 minutes and trying again sometimes works, but not always. She's not missed that much food, probably less than a cup total over the last couple of weeks, but her weight is down a couple of pounds. (Vet says that this is typical for many kinds of chronic illness, and also that the digoxin, started 3 weeks ago, is notorious for making dogs into picky eaters.)

She still takes treats, canned dogfood, and other snacks with the old gusto. I've ordered a bag of the food that she got at the housesitter's house (Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Canine Formula with Smoked Salmon), which she apparently was willing to eat when she wouldn't eat her regular food over there. We'll see whether that helps--would have to really start monitoring her weight to see how much of that she needs daily.

So, as much as she hates going to the vet, her Human Mom is happy to have more information and reassurances and possible treatments and all.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Checking In

SUMMARY: How's Tika and everyone and everything.
Thanks, everyone who's asked about Tika.

She still thinks she's good, just her stamina seems to be getting lower all the time. She still plays tug with full ferocity; still runs after the toy or frisbee full speed--nothing wrong with her limbs or bones or muscles. But I suspect the heart just makes her tire much more quickly than she'd like. The last couple of days she's been coughing a lot again. Then, tonight, we drove up to class, and I didn't hear any cough from her for three and a half hours. Got home, had doggie dinners, everyone's lying around before bedtime, and now she's coughing again. Maybe there's something in the environment here? Wish I could guess what it is.

I'm still treating my back and foot tenderly, and I'm just dang tired of it. Why don't things just heal up the way they used to when I was 13? Or even 20? Although--well--I still remember, my freshman year in college, the ankle injury received by being between two flag-football player bodies going in opposite directions at the same time. Hurt for months.

Anyhooos-- Because, as one person put it, I have all this money and time just lying around with nothing better to do, I entered Boost in all classes at the two-day SMART USDAA that's coming up in a week, and then also all classes at the FOUR-day Regional the following weekend. I can barely totter around a field, what makes me think I can do four days of agility? At least it's just with one dog.

I signed Tika up for a single Jumpers run at the SMART trial to use as her real, final, complete retirement run. Not sure what I'll do to celebrate that with other attendees--still pondering options. Undoubtedly something with sugar in it. Because that's the way I roll.

Meanwhile, I left the Merle Girls with friends (the family of Bump, Styx, and Dig) for four days...   something I've never done before (dogs have always stayed at my house when I take off for a vacation... and the friends provided photos!

They had trouble finding Boost the first evening--

All the dogs got to go on a fun tour of the Stanford University Campus. Bump *always* has something to say, and Dig is always monitoring the situation.

Wet Booster Collie.

The Merle Girls meet the Rodin Sculpture Garden. What ARE all those giant people pointing at?

Visiting the Stanford family mausoleum.

...while I went off to Tuolumne Meadows at 8400 feet in Yosemite. It was gorgeous. I love it up there.

No mosquitos was a bonus. Walked a very few miles here and there, but hardly anything at all, and my foot and back really felt it quickly.Very glad to stop for lunch in the shade alongside the Tuolumne River.

 Disappointed that I couldn't do more. Couldn't even walk the length of the Meadows and back (well, it's VERY long). But got a lot of photos that I'm still sorting through, and I was VERY happy to be there, and to be there with good friends...

... and nothing to worry about except whether to have a frosty (soft ice cream) cone *every* day. [Answer: Well, duh!]