a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: October 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Evil Floors

SUMMARY: Genetics.

You know how uncarpeted floors suddenly became evil to Boost about 4 years ago? (The same kinds of floors at home remained OK, but anywhere else--even ones she was familiar with--suddenly became evil.)

Boost couldn't walk on them at all without complete panic, toenails scrabbling, all hunched up, legs akimbo and lowered towards the floor. If it were absolutely desperately necessary for her to get across an evil floor, she'd hug the wall and stay low and fast and then it was apparently almost OK, if she stayed right next to the wall, to get across the floor with more or less normal walkage.

Even unfamiliar surfaces that weren't really smooth but that *looked* smooth became impossible to walk normally on.

Sometimes she'd get stuck on a small carpet and couldn't get off.

Gradually, over a year or so, we discovered that, if she kept her rear feet on the carpet, she could move her front feet around on the evil floors with no problem. That was pretty funny.

Then she got to the point where, if her rear legs were stretched out and CLOSE to the carpet, her front legs were fine. That was pretty funny, too.

But then she advanced to where she'd stretch herself across an entire room like that--rear legs as if there were a carpet, but in fact none were in sight.

The relatives and guest dogs are even amused.

(And then she'd have to back up to get back to the carpet--no turning around and walking normally!)

That's about where we are these days. After a day or so being around an evil floor, she occasionally forgets that it's evil and walks normally, but no guarantee that that will last even the whole evening.

So, anyway.

Found out Friday night that her daddy, Coty, ALWAYS hated smooth floors and spent his entire life hugging the wall when in a room with evil floors, hurrying and staying low to quickly get back to safe footing.


Oh, realllly?? FASCinating!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Renaissance Faire

SUMMARY: A fantastical Saturday.

I and two friends took ourselves and our cameras to the Northern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire on Saturday. Had to leave the Merle Girls at home, but none-the-less had a great time (although I never manage to take enough photos). Here's an appetizer selection.

A naughty faun.  (Faun girl, if you see this, my friend has more photos of you that you can have. I'm at elf (at) finchester (dot) org.)

An herb seller outfit.

Musicians and performers of all kinds abounded.

It was a Fantasy-themed weekend, and fairies of all kinds abounded.

In the Renaissance, nothing is ever spelled the same as it is in the 21st century. Food and drink, all marvelous, also abounded.

Fairies on horses!

Vendors abounded--amazing ceramics and other stunning works.

Elizabethan outfits were the most elaborate.

Street scene--booths of one sort or another, or stages, lined the entire site.

Dirty Laundry laundresses performing.

Belly dancer.

Romeo and Juliet as you've never seen it before!

Playing dice. It was impossible to tell who were "participants" and who were "visitors"--many visitors (like me) dressed for the time period, more or less. And people hung out and did all the sorts of things that people did.

Speak softly and carry a...

And masks.

Oops, caught in the act.

For many more photos of these and more, including nights in shining armor, brilliant colors, and all, here are the rest of my photos from the day:   http://elf1.smugmug.com/Events/Renaissance-Pleasure-Faire2013/32572615_t4qXS6

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Weekend Results--Hopeful and Not

SUMMARY: Training might be paying off--

Saturday: Generally a  good day.

  • Pairs Relay: On a lead-out pivot, Boost ran around the first jump. Reset her and started over and we ran beautifully. No Q, though.
  • Standard: On a lead-out pivot, pulled off the 2nd jump and (watching the video) I don't think I had even turned yet. Reset her and started over and we ran beautifully (well, except once where I did a front cross and the jump wasn't where I expected it to be, so a bit of time wasting while I figured it out). No Q, though.
  • Gamblers. Went exactly per plan, except for a bit of confusion in the actual gamble part--we got it but were *barely* under time. Thought it was a pretty good run--a Q but ended up with no placement.
  • Jumpers: Went really nicely up to the next to the last jump when she turned back to me for a refusal, but the rest was lovely.
  • Steeplechase: Wahoo, a lovely, fast run! At least, it felt fast to me. Would never have occurred to me that Boost doing a lovely clean run wouldn't Q, but she didn't. I did notice that she hesitated slightly before a couple of jumps, but thought nothing of it. In watching the video afterwards, I see what I've noticed in other vids-- it might feel fast to me, but she's constantly measuring her strides, taking too many, spending too much time looking at me. That made me very sad--despite how well things have gone all day, this tells me that we have a very long way to go to fix things. (I'll see about posting the video later.)  Plus, well, the fastest dogs are so DANG AMAZINGLY fast.
  • Which took us up to Snooker, which is the one Q I really want--the Super-Q variety, that is. We'd had a pretty good day actually. NO (!) bars knocked, no weaves missed, only a couple of runout or refusal things. I could only hope--I scouted out a four-reds, four-7s course but decided that it required skills that we are too weak on, so picked a  nice four-reds, one-four and three-sevens course that I was pretty sure that we could do.
    Sadly, however, we were near the end of the running order, and by that time I knew that, to get a super-Q, I had to do at least a 6 and  three 7s, and four 7s was easier--by that I mean that it wasn't easy (for us) but that it flowed better than the 6. So--the part that I thought would be hard for us? It was. On the 2nd red, she did the "what jump?" thing and then knocked the bar, and I knew it was all over. Went a little longer but my heart wasn't in it and I missed an obstacle, so not even a plain Q.
Sunday: Not as good; reverting.
  •  Jumpers: Well, we got through it sort of--two knocked bars and one reallllly wide turn (my late front cross). Still, a reasonably good flow.
  • Snooker: Picked a reasonable two-7, one-3, one-5 opening that I thought that we could probably get through--only one long stretch where she had to send ahead of me, and of course she didn't--turned in front of me and started leaping backwards. I had to reset her and move again, wasting time--and then turned back to me instead of taking a teeter, which really surprised me. But we got all the way through the opening, all the way through 6 in the closing, over the first jump of the 3 jumps in #7, and on the second jump of #7--she was so busy watching me that she ran past it instead of taking it. I could've just died. Yes, it would've been that badly desired Super-Q. Crap.  SO much work left to do to try to fix years of deteriorating performance. Still--with 3 days perspective--it was a pretty good run over all. It was a Q, adding to our huge stack of useless plain Snooker Qs.
  • Gamblers-- Wheels starting to fall off. Some miscommunications wasted time, two sets of weaves and she didn't make the entry on either of them, so not a lot of opening points. I had a good approach to send her out to a tunnel in the gamble (which lots of dogs had trouble with), but I knew that the part where she had to keep going over a jump after the tunnel would be a problem, and sure enough, she turned back to me before the jump. So no Q.
  • Standard: Ran past a jump while looking at me. Turned away from a jump in front of her to look at me. Turned away from the weaves in front of her to look at me. Back to our usual messy style. But at least no bars down.
  • Grand Prix: Came in past a jump in front of her while looking at me. Turned back to me on the approach to the weaves. Definitely no Q.
 Looking at me and running past or turning back from obstacles is still a huge problem. I guess I shouldn't expect miracles after only 3 weeks of more concentrated and focused practice. Generally, our runs pleased me, but I admit to feeling a mite discouraged at the work that I need to do.

So--Only 3 bars for the weekend, which is pretty good for us. Two Qs for the weekend, which is definitely better than 0.  I'm not completely discouraged--it does feel like we made progress--but will I have the stamina and determination (and time) to keep on it?  We shall see.


SUMMARY: My back is so much happier in a regular bed than in MUTT MVR. Sorry, MM.

Don't they look happy? This is in the Travelodge in Turlock last weekend.

Whenever possible without paying an arm and a leg more, I get a room with a King bed (like we share at home) or with two Queens, because the 3 of us just do NOT fit well on a single queen. Yes, I'm spoiled.

This time around, Tika mostly slept on the floor except for brief periods on the blue bed and a little time on the other bed with me; Boost slept mostly on the blue bed with brief periods in the other bed with me. Every time I woke up, they were in different locations.

This is me in the room's cosmetic area (what do you call it? sinks and counters and mirrors--the bath & loo are behind a door). Takeaway: Look at the camera, not at myself.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Tika Brain, Who Knows

SUMMARY: Meds and kibble and communication.


Back in July, Tika started refusing her regular kibble or eating just a bit of it. She'd eat other stuff, but not that. So I bought her a big bag in early August of the different kibble that our dog sitter successfully fed her. That lasted 2-3 weeks, then she wouldn't eat that *or* the traditional kibble (which is what Boost still gets). Then I bought 5 small bags of random kinds of kibble. One of them she rejected after about 2 weeks, but has been cheerfully eating the rotation, fed from a different one of those small bags each meal.

Yesterday morning, I set down her food and she sniffed it, then looked at me accusingly. I tried holding the bowl for her, and offering pieces right out of my hand. Sniff, look. Then she stepped over in Boost's direction and tilted her head as though trying to see what Boost had, then looked back at me, then looked at Boost's dish again, then back at me.

So I put away the kibble from her bowl and gave her some of the traditional kibble. She ate it happily. Hence, I'm putting that back into the rotation to see how that goes. Funny dog.


Tika will take her meds if I hide them thorough in something tasty, like canned dogfood. It has to be very thoroughly hidden, though, as Tika sniffs carefully at everything that I offer her and won't take it if she detects meds. The Vetmedin is the toughest because the pill is so large. Often I have to break it in half and try again one half at a time.

Saturday night in the hotel, she was lying on the bed and I sat next to her. I offered her the hidden Vetmedin pill and she refused it. Tried surrounding it with more food--refused. Broke it in half, cleaned it off, hid it with fresh food. Sniff, reject. Tried begging, tried offering it in a different hand--sniff and refuse. "Oh, Tika," I said sadly, ready to give up for the evening, "you have to take your drugs." I started to stand up, but she gently placed a paw on my arm and looked at me. I stayed there and asked, "what do you want?" She looked at my hand with the pill. I offered it to her. Very slowly, very gently, she took it and swallowed it.

Sometimes I just don't understand dogs.

But I love my Tika just the same.

Friday, October 04, 2013

We're Still Here

SUMMARY: Boost training, Tika eating, Human Mom...wellll...

Hard to believe that I haven't posted anything since Sept 15. I keep thinking of things to write here to keep track of, but then somehow I never implement.

I've started working more diligently on Boost not wanting to drive ahead to obstacles in front of her. Working in the yard, mostly just running in circles to keep her going. Have rented the big field at Power Paws 3 times to spend an hour practicing. Got one private lesson--two days ago--so I've had only 2 days to practice a few minutes each day on that material. (Also got some tips on improving her weave reliability, you know, the reliability where some weekends she is HOT and other weekends we can't do them correctly EVah?)

I dropped my weekly class for a while so that I can concentrate on Boost's Special Needs. Feels odd--it has been a long time since I've not had a regular agility class or two, but I think that this is what we need right now.

She seems to enjoy it!

Tika started coughing more and more and I took her in to the vet Wednesday. He's pretty sure it's "bronchitis" caused by one or more of: weakening trachea (happens in some older dogs), heart enlarging more and pressing on the trachea, or allergies or dust. Lot of construction going on behind us right now to turn the 300ish-acre parcel into a park (yay!) and the neighbors are complaining about the dust, so could be that.

He recommended upping the hydrocodone that I'd been timidly giving her, and sure enough, pretty much no more coughing.

Although I'm not sure that she isn't a little less energetic. Hard to tell, because she's been less and less active and energetic. Maybe a couple of close-to-full-speed chases after a toy or frisbee, and then is content to just wander around investigating things. Lies down quickly in many cases. Doesn't bother getting up to see what's going on unless she's really convinced that it's worth her while (used to always have a Tika tailing me everywhere, every time I even stood up).

Her appetite seems good as long as I keep rotating through 4 different kibbles (NOT the one she's been eating for 10 years and NOT the one that I bought for her back in August--got tired of both). Although she's SO SLOW now. Old timing on mealtime: Both dogs sit. I set Tika's food down and release her, she attacks it. I set Boost's food down and release her, she starts eating calmly, and...Tika is done already! NEW timing on mealtime: Both dogs sit. I set Tika's food down and release her, she starts picking up small mouthfuls and chewing thoroughly. I set Boost's food down and release her, she starts eating calmly. Eventually, Boost finishes and then stands and watches Tika. Meanwhile, I take 6 t-shirts out of the dryer and fold them neatly. Then, finally, Tika is done. It's eerie, how different it all is.

I seem to be making some kind of subtle commitment to continue doing agility, as I have just bought a replacement tunnel for the most disintegrating one, and I've just bought 2 new (well...used) jumps. No activity on adding dogs to the family, though. I'm starting to be inclined to wait until Tika is gone (yikes, painful to think of).

My foot no longer bothers me--mostly because my back has been giving my muscles and nerves such a nasty ride that I've not been very active. But in the last couple of weeks I've started walking to the frisbee park again, and working on a little agility training again, and trying a couple of new things through the physical therapy department. There might be hope. (I think I'll still be struggling this weekend, but mentally I'm feeling pretty good.)

So, this weekend--off to Turlock for two days of USDAA agility. Boost competes, Tika gets to hang out.

I usually, as we all know, get up at 4 am to drive out on Saturday morning of out-of-town trials, but after getting up to the alarm this morning to go up to the practice field, I decided that I can't bear to do that again (even earlier) tomorrow, so I've done the unusual thing and reserved a hotel room for tonight. MUTT MVR is pretty much packed--oh, clothing! Ok, will get to that in a moment--and dogs got some exercise and maybe, just maybe, I'll be in bed in Turlock at a reasonable hour tonight! Worth the expense this time around, anyway.

See you all on the other side of Weekend.