2010-The Year of Rehabilitation and Realizations

The year started off pretty well for us and then I had a mini (ok, it was probably major, I'll just pretend it wasn't) crisis about not being able to train my dog to meet criteria.  Normally when I put in effort, develop a training plan, and take private lessons the goal gets accomplished.  With the move of Agile Canines Training School into a new (old) building, I knew Bailey wouldn't be working on actual skills for a while, especially not in a group class.  Yet, my training goal for this year was to get real running contacts.  Thus we started working with Annelise privately to get a good base for said running contacts.

I knew my dog was aging, and that she likely wouldn't ever have the speed I'd really like, but I was really confused (okay, stressed) by the fact that she was NOT improving, and actually seemed to be getting worse!  Her contact behavior had deteriorated so much that I couldn't even get a maintained canter across the dog walk, much less over the a-frame.

Then we met Dr. Julia Tomlinson of Twin Cities Animal Rehabilitation Clinic who is worth her weight (times a billion) in gold.  Bailey had a physical injury that most humans wouldn't be able to work through.  Yet, she was still running around and acting like a normal dog at home but when asked for tight turns or increased speed on challenging surfaces, she was unable.  Dr. Julia made a tentative diagnosis of "injured right quadricep muscle" and we started on a rehab plan.

It was not all flowers and roses, in fact I remember saying to Bailey that if she doesn't stop being a jerk on a leash she can sit in her crate for hours and hours and hours on end.  Yes, she was put on strict crate rest with short leash walks (required to be loose leash with no harness or gentle leader because of the way both contort her body).  I thought we were all going to die, I am not kidding.  I tried to sell her to many people and pawn her off on co-workers A. Lot.  We used a lot of stuffed kongs, bully sticks, and beef ribs in the first couple of months.
Then I thought about what a real trainer would do when faced with this problem; teach my ten and a half year old dog to walk on a leash.  I know, I know... most people have this realization when their dog is about 4 months old.  We're just a little behind the times.  I did a lot of things wrong (think the worst about walking management tools) when she was a wee pup and into adulthood so I've never, ever, been successful at teaching her real loose leash walking skills.  Walks were either a) off leash, b) on an x-back harness, c) wearing an easy walk or d) on a gentle leader.  I could probably count on two hands how many times she'd been walked on a 4 foot leash attached to her collar for more than a trip to and from the car.
Enter the Loose Leash Walking Project.  My dog can casually walk on a loose leash at home for a decent distance.  I still need a very high ROR when in public but hey, WE CAN DO IT!

And that brings us to today.  We had a visit with Dr. Julia on Wednesday.  For the last couple months, we've been going to see her every 3-4 weeks for an adjustment and to check on progress.  I think we're both still hopeful she'll make a full recovery, but the last appointment was really about how far she has come.  I was getting so, so, so distressed about the fact that Bailey wasn't holding her adjustments in the beginning.  Her sacrum was constantly shifted because of a lack of muscle to hold it in properly.  She was very sore, very often.  There were days where I wanted to give up.  There were weeks where I didn't do any stretches with her because it just was not going well.  We got into a major rut.  Then our Ohioan Training Buddy helped me develop a TAGteach style plan of action.  Since then I've been reliably doing her stretches at least once a day and actually at least 85% each week.
Progress has been slow, but it's there.  Her sacrum hasn't shifted in months.  She's gaining strength in adductor muscles.  Best of all though, my happy little girlie is back.  She's moving freely, she's using her leg completely (absolutely no toe-touching, ever), and we're having a blast doing her rehab exercises these days.  Since she's been unable to train for competitive behaviors that are strenuous (agility) or one sided (heeling) or could otherwise compromise her leg, I made her stretches into a training game.  She will readily offer a bow, a nose touch to hip, or a leg lift.  She's even doing leg lifts on the ball by herself now.  She "assumes the position" for her theraband exercises and stands like a statue for vibration therapy.
I learned something vitally important this year.  My training plan wasn't ineffective.  My dog was hurting, I just couldn't see it.  Don't ever underestimate or rule out a pain response if training isn't going as it should.  

Realistically she may never compete again, and I think I'm okay with that.


Holiday Gifts

The dogs got beef ribs and some canned food for Kong stuffing, and a stuff-less skunk toy.

The cats got new comfy beds for on the furniture (dual purpose cat sleeper and hair containment).

I got some pretty awesome things from the family.  Best gift?  Retired bridle leather with turquoise beads bracelet from Montana!

Also got the Dansko shoes I've been coveting.  Mom was sneaky and I love, love, love them.

Brother gave me an ipod shuffle!  I'm so excited to use it while I'm working out now!

Despite all the stress of having the holiday at The Farm, it was absolutely great to see everyone.


Declaw Alternatives

Yes, a cat post.  I'd say (without looking at actual numbers) that we do about 50% of our cat spays/neuters with a front declaw, 10% is probably a 4 paw declaw, and the remaining 40% are only spay/neuter.  Surprisingly (to me) maybe 45% of those initially not declawed come back in later for a front declaw.

I've never been a fan of declawing.  Working at the clinic has made me even less of a fan.  I live with one front declawed cat (done at an older age, but definitely not old) and one who has kept all of his claws for his 13 years of life thus far.

Why do people feel that declawing is necessary right away?  I will say that I stand by the fact I would rather see a cat declaws and living inside safely, than the alternatives (becoming an outdoor cat or dead).  Of course, of course, of course!  I just feel like we're missing out on a key element of pet education if we're seeing so many (standard) declaw procedures.

1) Nail trims.  I've been experimenting lately with my own cats.  I've got both of my cats accustomed to the dremel.  I trim the tip with a clippers (if I let them get that long) and then dremel it back, like I would a dog's nail, until there is no point to the nail.  This means that he can't be using the nail to scratch things.  I ran my fingers over the nails when I finished this morning and it doesn't appear to be sharp in any way.  We have leather furniture, so scratches happen pretty easily.  He doesn't actively scratch things, but if I let his nails get too long they tend to do the damage all on their own.

2) Soft Paws.  I've heard very little good about the product, most of the negative relating to the glue used.  I bought some a while back and haven't used them yet.  I've  been told to expect to have to order new glue to use as the tube in my kit is likely dried up, despite it not being opened.  The reason I haven't tried them is I'd have to let the nail grow out for them to fit.  I simply haven't seen the point yet.

3) Appropriate scratching surfaces.  I don't have any cat trees.  I really, really, need to build one.  Not only as an appropriate scratching surface, but I'm sure the cats would love to have a place the dogs absolutely could not get to.  Most scratching surfaces bought at local big box stores are too short for the majority of the cat population.  It does no good if the kitty doesn't like it!

4) Enrichment.  Cats are more likely to find inappropriate scratching surfaces if they are bored.  Keep your indoor feline occupied.

5) Health.  As always, if there are sudden changes to your cat's behavior, a vet visit may be in order.


Developing A Training Plan

We have a new "clinic cat" at work.  She's a little kitten that was found out and about in the winter weather.  A kind citizen brought her in.  My boss promised her a home before the holidays and since nobody has come forward, she's become the newest addition!

Which means she needs vaccines and sterilization and other fun things clinic cats get.  I've wanted a new pupil for a while now and what's better than a food motivated, silly little kitten?!

I've never been good about creating a training plan and actually using it.  Since I would like this to be as effective as possible and accomplished in the shortest amount of time possible, I'm going to create, and stick to, a training plan.

I won't share my loftiest goal, but I will share what I hope to accomplish along the way.

1) Relaxed blood draw behavior
2) Kennel on cue
3) Go to mat

The plan is to ask tomorrow if I can work with the adorable kitten, if my voice will cooperate.  It is currently on vacation without me.

"The Golden Years"

Buzz will be 13 in May.  I've tried to make sure he's still getting physical and mental stimulation as he likes, because who wants to be forgotten in their golden years?  Last night we had a "meeting of the minds" with some good friends and a sleepover (I can count on one hand how many times Buzz and I have had a sleep over)!  He interacted with Beckett, Via, and Elvis as well as the myriad of people around all night long, he had a blast!  So much fun in fact, that I had to crate him to get him to sleep last night!
Watching waffles being made!
We then went to training group this morning where he worked for a good portion of the hour.  It was evident he'd been to a sleep over, but was happy to be there and to be working!

Beckett has learned how to use the pivot box!

I've been taking him to work with me to see people and use the treadmill since it has been WAY too cold for outdoor activities.  When it does warm up again, I hope to resume at least once weekly walking in town.

I've not been good about using food toys, but I plan to start doing that again.  I can take Bailey for her walk in the morning before work and leave the tug a jug out for Buzz (yay for multi-tasking)!

What do you do in the winter to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated?

I'm looking for Bailey specific activities too.  She doesn't like coming to work and isn't generally satisfied with town walks.  She does like going to Tractor Supply to go shopping, but there's so few things we need from there that it's realistic about once a month.  I do alternate dogs when going to training group, but then she's only getting out every other week at best.



We've been doing our stretches and ball work dutifully.  We are failing at exercising (well, the dogs and I are... I am not, for once, whee).  It is SO COLD outside that even with boots and jackets and activity, we are limited to the driveway and while it's pretty long, it gets boring after a couple passes.  This morning Buzz went out to pee, walked to the shed and stopped.  He looked at me and walked back to the front door.  He made that pretty clear.

I keep saying I should just bring him to work and put him on the treadmill, so that's what I'll do tomorrow.  We'll go to work and he'll exercise on my lunch hour while I eat lunch and/or read a book.  Hahahaha, oh yes, I'll be laughing at him.

If I remember, I'll bring my camera.  He's never been on the treadmill at work before, but I doubt he'll have any problems with it.

Bring it on Midwest Winter, bring it on!  We can work around you!



Sorry for the poor quality.  I was just happy my camera complied long enough to get a couple pictures before it said "I AM TOO COLD!"
Snow dogs were happy with snow, only when in complete winter gear.

Buzz knows how to stay warm.  It involves 2 jackets and some boots.

I emailed Muttlucks again to ask about buying a single boot and no response... so we have 3 Muttlucks and a reandom, red, cheap boot.


More Poking and Prodding

Originally uploaded by Keen on Mangoes
Buzz was poked in the bladder (still "stuff that shouldn't be" on his urinalysis but... we're going to wait and run another urinalysis in 2 weeks), poked in the jugular (his general health profile was straight black, right down the middle, awesomely good), and poked in the armpit (yay, another lipoma). He says he wants to stay home from now on.

All in all, a pretty darn good report.


A Very Special Setter

He wasn't mine, I never saw him for more than a couple hours at a time, and yet this is one of the most challenging euthanasias I've been through.

He touched a place in my heart that hasn't been used in a while.  He was special from that first time he walked through the clinic door.  He and his owners came to us just a couple months ago because their other clinic was closing and the boy needed a reliable doctor to fight for him.  We've been trying our damndest to provide him with relief from seizures, but nothing has worked.  He'd start a new drug, have no seizures for days at a time then he would start to have grand mal cluster seizures again.  One of his owners would call in tears asking if there's anything we can do, and we'd eventually find a new drug, a new supplement, a new something...

Today he came in for that final visit.  I stepped in to the room to say my good-byes and the big blue boy shoved his head into my face.  I told him what a good boy he is, how brave he's been, and that he's the most beautiful setter I've ever met.  He obliged me for a couple seconds and then began pacing again.  Watching him so clearly uncomfortable with... everything... made it almost bearable.  I told his owners how damn sorry I am, how badly I feel that we couldn't help him.  They'd done everything anyone's ever suggested that *just might* have helped.  They'd exhausted all options.  This was the last gift they could give him.

Rest well beautiful blue boy.  You've given everyone you met something to remember--Don't dwell on the past, don't worry about the future--just live in the now.  I'm sorry your body failed you, and I'm sorry we couldn't help you.  I'll remember you forever, as the bravest dog I've ever met.


Crazy Red Adolescent Boy Dog

I affectionately refer to Fritz with many crazy-like names.  I don't use his name much (habit that deserves a post of its' own...) so I find other things to call him.  Today he was red beast, crazy red boy, and goofy red kid... I think.

Our training today was great in many ways.

  1. He never stopped taking food.  He started showing signs of being disinterested, so I stopped before he stopped.
  2. He remembered hand targeting after only a couple sessions.  He hasn't worked on it since he was at my house in September.
  3. His Gentle Leader behavior was functional.  He'll still put his nose through the loop and allow it to be buckled without bucking-bronco tactics.
  4. The Tug-A-Jug is still exciting.  As is the Kong Genius.
  5. He was able to reorient at the door and I was proactive and held his collar to prevent leaping off the deck (he likes to launch from deck to sidewalk, completely skipping the 3 steps and hauling the person on the other end of the leash with).
  6. He didn't pee on my shoes in greeting...
September... we definitely have snow now!
I brought an assortment of kibbles I have at home (TOTW High Prairie, Fromm Salmon, Fromm Duck, Kirkland Chicken and Rice) and some Old Mother Hubbard assorted mini-biscuits.  We also used treats from his house--peanut butter biscuits, dried chicken jerky, and soft beef treats.  He was very alert and in tune when we encountered another dog (a good distance away).  I was able to get him to reorient and sufficiently reinforce/keep his attention every time but one.  He did wuff! a couple times but no leaping dog behavior, just a lot of "stop and stare" that was fairly easy for me to reengage him from.  Very little Gentle Leader frustration behavior (he perfectly demonstrated the difference between thick and thin nose loop preference that I'd tried to explain previously), and incredibly responsive to the slightest pressure.

  1. He was still launching at me pretty regularly.  It decreases significantly each time I see him, but he's still doing it.  He's huge and it hurts.  It frustrates him when he doesn't get my attention that way, so then he gets mouthy. I was sorta able to redirect to a toy and sorta able to engage him in training... sometimes.  I know he needs a better way to greet me, but if I get down on his level I get pee on my shoes.  If I engage with him upon first arrival, I get pee on my shoes/pants/whatever is nearby.  (He's a huge submissive peer...)
  2. Nail trim.  When he stayed with me I trimmed his nails almost every day.  By the time he left, he'd lay on his side and let me trim all four feet without mouthing me.  He was relentless today.  I actually needed another hand, which I haven't needed with him in quite a while.  A toy in his mouth was not sufficiently engaging, he wanted to mouth ME.
I'm not sure if mouthy was just a "thing" today or what's going on with that.  He's always been a mouth-oriented dog, he samples everything, but I can't remember it being this significant before.  Is this something that needs to be addressed, or will it go away?

Greetings clearly need help, but I'm not sure how.  Crating hasn't helped in the past.  He gets all wiggly and pees as I unlatch the door.  I've thought about crating + dropping food in without eye contact, but I doubt he'd eat it, so... ineffective.

And my biggest struggling point ever--teaching the owner leash handling techniques with a Gentle Leader on.  Kristen and I have talked about it extensively and not come to any real conclusions... anyone else have suggestions other than go ride a horse (seriously... people who ride/have ridden have excellent leash handling skills)?


Rehab continued

 We visited with the fabulous Dr. Julia on Wednesday evening and while the appointment went well:

  • Bailey's sacrum is still staying where it needs to!
  • Buzz is definitely more mobile
We still aren't seeing enough results with Bailey's leg.  More ball work (correctly... since I'd misunderstood before) for both dogs.  
  • Bailey is to do single front leg lifts while on the ball
  • Buzz is just to stand on it for 30 seconds
And, we're using resistance bands on Bailey's legs now.  



We have a generic herding dog mix who comes into work.  He's a rescue, from an unknown situation, and he's a dog I would truly call "unpredictable."  He has to be muzzled for all encounters because his warning signs are so slight and his threshold is so low.  In the months since I've worked at the clinic, I take this appointment every time I'm available.  He can be so sweet and he really seems to be "misunderstood" among other things.  We get along okay and I think we've reached an understanding.  (I have to preface this with... I do what I can at work, there are things I would do differently--like not pushing him over threshold, but I have to do my job in the best way I can.)  The understanding is: he lets me muzzle him without any fuss and he can growl the whole darn time if he wants.  When we're done, I take the muzzle off with as little fur pulling as possible and then he gets a treat.

I'm sure I could fill up pages upon pages based on my interactions with him, but one from yesterday deserves to be documented.

I got kisses, and I wasn't scared of him when he did it.  We played "the muzzle game" in front of his owner (who has a healthy fear of him, and can't safely muzzle him herself) and he got SO DARNED EXCITED that he bopped me on the chin.  His eyes lit up, he danced around, and he was so darned excited.  He adores the muzzle game.  I would classify my encounters with him previously as either neutral, or negative.  Definitely not positive.  Yesterday's encounter ended positively.  I've never been more thrilled to see a dog put his ears up and look expectantly at me.  He learned how to earn treats.  Not that I would have allowed the kisses if he hadn't been acting the way he was.  I don't know how to adequately describe it, but that boy was just... relieved, maybe?

Good boy.  What a good boy he was.



My female boss teaches puppy classes at the veterinary hospital.  Occasionally we have discussions about "challenging" puppies and the like.  Lately she's had a little mix puppy who seems to be the bane of her existence in regards to teaching down.  She asked for ideas about three weeks ago, after all of her usual methods didn't yield results.  I relayed the different ways I would go about it, minus shaping... until the very end.  She'd tried all of my other suggestions for luring the behavior and for a couple weeks no more comments, so I assumed things had been going well and they'd found a trick.

Today while I was finishing up some surgical charts she came in and showed me this little bundle of fluff that could not be lured into a down and very rarely offered a down.  Since most puppies learn how to be lured quite well, I first tried to lure the puppy into simple positions.  Environment was too stimulating so I had to keep reengaging the puppy (not something I would normally do... but I had limited time).  After about a minute I had the puppy licking/following the food reward in simple circles, in a straight line, and into a sit.  From there I "shaped" (yes, using the term very loosely, but there's really not another way to describe it) the puppy to down.  Each time the head followed the food I let her have a nibble.  Even if it was a tiny movement, nibble on food.  My end goal was to have her blindly following the food.  I never did work on the down portion, but something happened in that session and my boss was able to get five lured downs from the puppy later!

I can't call it shaping, because I wasn't waiting for offered behaviors really.  I was just luring, but the puppy wouldn't lure well, so I had to shape a lure, I think?

Anyway, I'm happy the puppy is "learning down" and the family/boss are happy about it.  But what do I/can I call that?


Semi-Permanent Retirement?

Bailey has been going to see a rehabilitation specialist since June.  We went because she was in pain, definitely, but I really had hopes she could recover and return to performance events, even if not seriously.  We've been given the go-ahead for Tracking... but I have not been good about getting out to TRACK with it getting dark so quickly now.  I need to stick to my goals and actually work her.  Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I have time and daylight to lay tracks for her.  (Just not this week, as it's deer hunting/gun season and we live in the boonies with stupid people.  I don't even walk the dogs around here this week.  We stay in the fenced yard.)

She is making progress, but I just don't think that with her age and those muscles having 10.5 years of muscle memory... I'm going to convince her body that it's supposed to work differently and carry her differently.  She's holding her adjustments, and seems to be far more comfortable in general, but.

We have an appointment on Wednesday with Dr. Julia again.  I plan to ask her if it's realistic to hope for a return to agility or not.  If it's fair to ask that of Bailey's body.  I will not compromise my dog's body anymore.  I did it unknowingly for years, but now I know better, and I know my dog better.

We've been working on obedience with relative regularity, so I'm going to focus on that throughout the winter.   And this is why I've been posting about things not relating to training, or trialling... because the more I think about it, the worse the situation seems.  Therefore, I start to think about my other favorite topic of breeding/health/etc.  *smile*

If I post about health and breeding too much though, remind me to TRAIN MY DOG.  Obedience is something we can do, and can practice, and can prepare to take our first ever obedience class when we're given the okay.  Dumbell holding sits on the hatbox are coming along beautifully, now I need to progress to working on that behavior without the hatbox--in front and heel position!

Registering "Pet" Dogs

Sparked by a conversation at work... (these are always good, I swear).

Both of my dogs were registered because at some point in time, we had planned to breed.  Also, it's "just something you do" according to my dad.  His reasons are different than a responsible breeders' might be, but it gets the same job done; puppies registered and accounted for.

One co-worker has 3 purebred, registerable dogs.  None are registered because they're all pets, and speutered. Another has 2 dogs, both registered; one was going to be bred but developed allergies, another was a rescue who came with her registration.

Many of the breeders I know ask that all puppies are registered, but don't necessarily ensure it happens.  A couple register all puppies and send the paperwork in before leaving for new homes.

Is it really as beneficial as I'm thinking, and as necessary?  I feel like it's a mixed bag.  As long as the breeder knows what was produced in the litter, and keeps tabs on the pups as they grow, then the AKC doesn't really need to know, I suppose.  On the other hand, how many people develop an interest in dog sports later on and then end up doing an ILP/the like which can just be confusing for everyone.

1) Is your dog registered?
2) Is your dog neutered/spayed?
3) Did you complete the paperwork, or did the breeder?
4) Do you compete in AKC and/or UKC events?

*1-yes, both are
*2-yes, both are
*3-we completed paperwork for both
*4-Buzz is registered with the AKC and UKC, Bailey just AKC



That is all... ok, somewhat all.  We finally got him sedated and xrayed about 5pm and there is NO evidence of a tumor!

More details later... off to cuddle my dog again... because I can.



Buzz says...

QUIT poking my bladder!

Saturday Buzz had some orange-ish urine at the end... when he was mostly empty.  I made a mental note and said I'd keep an eye on it.  Nothing else until Monday morning, last pee before work and the end is bright red.  No mistaking that for orange or yellow.

I loaded him up and away to work we went.  Doctor #3 gave him a full physical exam (including rectal... Buzz wasn't so sure she REALLY needed to go up there but being the most excellent boy he is, he held very still) and she was able to palpate "something" up near the top of his bladder.  Urinalysis showed signs of infection, but the problem is, boy dogs don't just get UTIs.  Then we took an xray (or two...) and compared it to an xray taken in July.  There is a definite opacity difference up near the top of the bladder, suspicious of a tumor.  I went home Monday with some antibiotics to treat the bladder infection and a lot to think over.

Each doctor made a handful of suggestions about further diagnostics, treatment options, etc. and today we did an ultrasound to more accurately determine the location of the mass (and, essentially, to prove it really is there).  It showed up on the ultrasound screen as at the top, in the trigone area of the bladder.

Tomorrow we do a cystogram (human site, but essentially the same) to hopefully find out more information.

Any extra vibes, good thoughts, prayers, whatever you may have will be appreciated tomorrow.

Throughout all, my sweet boy has remained so.  He doesn't act like there's anything bothering him and keeps wondering why people are poking around his abdomen so much!



I was reinforced for poor training tonight.

My dog is on the ball, err... peanut!  Let the rehab continue!


Submitting Abnormal Results

I had a post typed out and then decided it's really not about that.

Based on something that happened at work yesterday, I'm curious about not just releasing (the third part)... but the second part of this, submitting abnormal test results regarding your dog.  (Testing is the first part of all this.)

Case in point: a client wanted us to do a patellar luxation OFA form for her dog.  It's a common problem in the breed but the attending veterinarian hadn't ever filled out a form for it before.  He noted that there is no way to grade each patella individually.  You can make notes about each patella, but then each patella is given the same grading, from "Normal" up to "Grade 4."  He then made a comment that people wouldn't submit abnormal results anyways.

Would you submit abnormal results and just not release, to provide beneficial data for your chosen breed.  Or would you withhold results completely?
--The attending veterinarian commented on the money factor.  It costs money to send the form in when the results are already known.


Training Notes

1) UNintentional test of Bailey's article indication went really well.  She circled me to find the track again and indicated her line.  It was both wonderful and confusing.  Nope, it was just wonderful.  Scent, line, plop.  "Mom, I found an article!"

2) Holding a dumbell and keeping her feet in like we've been working on is too much work.  Tonight Bailey learned holding objects in her mouth while sitting on her pivot... hat box.  And then we worked on splendidly close front position while holding a dumbell, on the pivot box.  Yes, my dog is that awesomely amazing.  It's fun to have a dog whose nose is at belly button level and literally puts the dumbell into your hands then.

3) Buzz thinks the FitPAWS peanut is actually kinda weird.  I plopped him on the ball, thinking nothing of it because he's my unflappable boy and he went "WHOA! mom-lady, what IS this thing?!"  So then I braced it even better and took his cone off and he happily balanced on the ball.  Win!  Hopefully he'll be able to balance it himself someday, but I'm not holding my breath.

4) Bored dogs are SO HAPPY TO TRAIN.  We went for a walk as soon as I got home from work, just on our road, came inside and started training.  They were so keyed up, it was cute.  Then I felt bad because it's been a while (we won't mention how long it's really been) since they've been worked.

More magnificent dumbell work.
Short grass tracks for both dogs with no corners.


happy is what you make it

the smell of fall
laughter with friends
meaningful hugs
new life
the wind blowing
hot cocoa
new socks

what makes you happy



Eye exams are important, not just for breeding pets but also for our sport (or semi-retired, sport) dogs.  The ultimate goal is to keep our pets running for as long as possible, so with that comes preventative health care and gathering as much information as possible to make informed decisions.

Bailey had a "puppy CERF" which is standard practice.  It gives the breeder feedback and provides the owner with a baseline.  I never sent her CERF form in, but I still have it.  It was clear, so no worries there.

We got started doing CERF exams in 2007 when the TCVESSA held a PRA blood draw in conjunction with their annual CERF clinic.  There was a discount on the price of PRA testing for dogs with current CERF exams, so I figured why not!  Both dogs had clear exams and I sent their forms in.  Test results came in a couple months later with Buzz being normal/clear and Bailey being affected (but not yet afflicted, per her CERF exam).

Since then I've learned a lot about inherited eye problems as well as some specifics of the form of PRA springers can be affected with.  At eye exams in 2008, both dogs were once again clear and Dr. Schoster didn't find it odd Bailey still had no signs of being afflicted with PRA.  She's been on some sort of eye vitamin (typically Ocuvite, sometimes Bilberry with Lutein) since the "diagnosis" and well... I just expected her to be normal.  I've kind of forgotten about the whole thing because so many dogs were unafflicted for years and years and years.

This eye exam went a bit differently than expected.  Buzz played brave boy and went first.  No concerns, only notation was his tarsal gland ademonas.  Still completely sighted at over 12 years old, and I couldn't be happier.  I let Dr. Larocca examine Bailey without any history because I've learned that professionals don't want to be given any kind of feedback that could sway their exam findings.  He told me she would be receiving a clear CERF which is when I chose to tell him she is genetically affected with PRA.  He looked at me, looked at her... and said "I don't believe that, your test is wrong!"

I had to hold in a laugh because he said it so emphatically.  I wouldn't have been laughing at the notion of it, but merely his... enthusiastic response!  I let him explain himself, "no dog still sighted at 10.5 years old can be affected with PRA, we would be seeing degenerative changes."  I casually mentioned she's been on an eye supplement since "diagnosis" in 2007, had a clear CERF in 2008 and did not have a CERF in 2009.  He was adamant the test is wrong!

Her sire is deceased, with no banked blood.  Her dam is deceased, with no banked blood.  She has a half sister on either side, neither of which has had the PRA test run, as far as I know.  She has full siblings, but I don't know of any, and I doubt her breeder has contact with any.  This is information I told him because he asked me how many affected offspring she's produced...




I promise I did not laugh when saying "she has produced zero offspring," though it was another pretty close slip.

He said we have to re-run the test.  I said there is only one laboratory currently doing ESS PRA tests.  He tried to find me another place to send blood... but there aren't any.  If I ever have money to spare, I'll ask if we can run Sarah and Addy blood, to see if it provides us with any kind of information.  If either tested normal/clear, then we would know somebody's test is wrong but the problem lies in them testing carrier or affected not giving us any valuable feedback.  As much as I would love to know "for sure," it really doesn't matter.  She has no offspring and all I care about is that she's still sighted.  The PRA test is what got me started doing regular(ish) CERF exams, so I don't regret doing it.  I just like definitive answers, especially when a professional doubts another professional's diagnosis.

To prove that I'm just a wee bit crazy... I seriously loved this appointment.  It amuses me to no end when something or someone is challenged.  It keeps everyone on alert and engaged.

I'd visit him again any day.  Informational entertainment with some seriously fun learning.  Yes please!


The Awaited Return...

Bailey finally got to track today.  I've either been too busy or it's been dark since we were given clearance to track that the poor dog had to wait until today to track for the first time since June.  Part of me was terrified to take her, for fear she'd be a complete nut job... and part of me was so darn excited to be able to work my dog again.

First surprise.  She offered loose leash walking, despite wearing her tracking harness.  I rewarded that heavily with hot dogs (hot dogs are not a common treat around here, so they're like... better than cheese).

Second surprise.  When I switched her lead from collar to harness, she didn't immediately lurch forward like I expected.  She was interested and started checking the ground out but there was no distinct "WHEE!" behavior I'm accustomed to.

Third surprise.  She indicated and STAYED while I picked up the first article (see, we all have our faults, I've not trained that piece of the chain very well... I'm lazy and normally wing it).

Her track was aged 3.5 hours, had 2 ninety degree corners, and 4 articles.  It started on short grass then went into tall grass and on into a wooded area.  I sent her over some downed trees and her first corner was just past a pine tree with no low hanging branches.  From there we headed onto a hayed path and into a hay field.  Here she really shocked me by turning to check in (she NEVER does that) and then getting off the track and finding deer poop to eat. I was seriously peeved because I've worked so hard (in the past) to keep her ON the track and not allow extraneous sniffing and crittering.  After we had a discussion (that was more aimed at me about laying shorter tracks to start back with... duh), she moved into the final leg where we had  a lot of fun.

The track exited the hay field, into a lightly wooded ditch, across the driveway, back up a lightly wooded ditch on the other side, and her end article was about 15 yards in the field.

She worked the exit from the field nicely.  Checked both ways before committing to heading down, moved quickly across the road (head down, YAY), then checked left and right before heading up the other side.  She was rewarded with her final article not far in.

I was really surprised by her relaxed working style.  I'm not overly concerned about today's session.  She hasn't done much of anything in over 3 months, so I'm sure there's a lot of other factors playing into this.  I do plan on laying tracks at least once a week though, and hoping for twice.  My biggest stumbling area is aging them.  I don't have a lot of daylight now and I'm not fond of tracking in a field in the dark...  Hopefully I can set aside some time one day of the weekend though and we can prepare for a TDX test in the spring!

TCOTC's Fall TD Test

I used my weekend wisely and laid tracks for TCOTC's Fall Tracking Test.  I always have another motive for attending events as a spectator and this was no exception.  I love hearing the feedback from experienced judges and I love watching handlers work with their dogs.

This time though, the best conversations were had outside of the field.

1} Article Indications
I don't pretend to know everything about tracking, my dog has only passed a TD so far.  Her indication is accurate (she places the article between her front feet), easy to read (lies down), and is incredibly solid (she has not indicated articles twice in her two years of tracking).  From the conversation today, very few people think it's important... yet it's essential to passing a test!  Most are taught by experienced professionals that the dog will just learn to indicate as they progress.  Yet, the handlers I was talking with all said they wish the indication was stronger... they just weren't sure how to do that.

A) Use a behavior the dog does easily... I usually ask "what is your dog likely to do" when discussing article indications.
-Bailey does a down--she will lie down in/on just about anything... she likes wet and gross.
-Buzz does a pick up and stand--I started asking him for a down but he just does not like laying in wet grass and he gets cold easily.  It changed into a stand then I added in the pick up so I can have exact feedback when he stops.
One handler today said he was going to try a paw target because his dog likes to use his feet... great!

B) Train the behavior away from the track.  You can still track while training the indication, but DO create a training plan for how to get that desired result.

C) When you start asking for the indication on a track, use a familiar article on a very short track.  Let the dog work it out.  Most make the connection very quickly.  If not, go back to doing indications.

2} Long Walk Ins
One handler let his dog run down the road to the place of their walk in.  They then walked for about 400 yards to the actual start flag.  By the time he and his dog reached the start flag, his dog was flying so high that he never really settled into his track.  The dog almost completed the track, but per the handler, he was difficult to handle.

I've experimented with this one a little bit.  I was so lucky that Bailey's TD track had a VERY short walk in.  I knew if we had a long walk in, I hadn't appropriately trained her for that, and we would have a much slimmer chance of passing.  It's something I've worked on a little since then.  Since the beginning, I've tried to make a distinction and ordeal about switching her lead from collar to harness.  This is a big clue to her that she's supposed to lean into her harness and track.  Sample training sessions included rewarding with treats for checking in while attached to collar and letting her move quickly when the lead was changed to harness.  I have not switched back and forth when approaching a start flag, though it's something I plan to do.
Example: today we got the last dog out of the car and "ready" too early.  The dog was headed toward it's start and needed to come back and wait.  If I asked Bailey to do that currently, I may have trouble getting her to settle and wait.  I plan to help her understand that we may not always get to approach the flag and it's not something she did to cause that.

Some people attach the lead to harness and let the dog work the whole walk in.  If your dog is physically and mentally able to do that, then go for it.  I know mine is not and it's not something I will do, nor suggest very often.  Even if my dog was two years old and physically able, I'd be afraid of mentally tiring at that point.  I like to stack the deck in my favor, so I want the dog at peak working ability when it comes time for the judging to start.

Tracking is definitely my favorite sport.  It's so much fun to watch the dogs work, and when you see a team that's just on, it's awe inspiring.  It's also not as easy as people tend to think.  I know some get by on sheer luck and dog ability, but it does require some training complete with training plans, to prepare each team to the best of their abilities, as with any competitive sport.


Tomorrow is Special

Bailey gets to go tracking.  I don't think she understands exactly what's in store for her.  She's going to be thrilled.

YAY rehab.  YAY Bailey.

That's about all I have energy for.  Bedtime, more exciting details tomorrow and hopefully pictures of the happy event.


Bettering Me

I've had so much stress and stuff on the brain lately that I've neglected to train my dogs mostly.  I've also neglected their stretching quite a bit.  This is not smart, I know this but... it is what it is.

I'm creating a calendar with a checklist for each day, right now (or, I will when I think about how to do this... maybe a checklist will be better?).  Three goals for each category should help me be successful.

Dog Goals:
Walk for at least 45 minutes on leash, off property, three times weekly.
Stretches twice daily, as directed.
Food toys at least 5 times weekly.  (Stuffed Kongs count as food toys.)

Me Goals:
30 minutes of cardio 3-5 times each week
Eat a real breakfast and pack lunch the night before (so I'm not tempted to just "grab food from the store")
Be a better and more understanding friend (TAG people, I know that's so vague and unclear but... it's all I've got right now, I need to think about ways to BE better and this is a start)



I had big plans for tonight.  HUGE plans in fact.  It involved a lot of sleeping.  I had specifically hoped for about 12 hours.  The dogs did not think that was a good idea when I got home.  Bailey rooooed at me.  Buzz nosed me and I gave in pretty quickly.

We have a "normal" route in town used frequently in the winter and/or at night.  Today I decided to branch out and use part of the Ice Age Trail to bring us there.

Overlooking the St. Croix River Valley

We had some nice hills and trees and leaves and scents to enjoy before hitting "town" and sidewalks.  It was about a half hour-long and enough for them to get the sillies out.  Then we hit up our normal sidewalk path with a twist!  Since it was still light out, we detoured through the state park and then headed towards a favorite coffee shop (they allow dogs inside... that is truly what makes the awesomeness that is).  I got the usual Mocha and tried to take a rest. They were not interested.  So off we headed for the car.

We walked by a football game and a "scary guy" that Bailey only looked at.  He emerged from the dark and had a very low voice, but I have to give him major kudos!!  He approached slowly and talked the whole time.  She just glanced at him and kept walking... yay girlie!

By the time we got back to the car, nearly two hours had elapsed and we were READY to be headed home.

The problem though is that now I'm quite awake.  They're full and sleeping.  Lazy dogs!


Scent Articles

They will be the death of me.  Today Bailey reverted to doing a tracking indication (again) and bringing me every article, except the one I scented.

Less petting, more tracking food-mom-lady!

My dog loves tracking.  She's good at tracking.  She wants to know why I keep screwing with her brain.  I clearly don't understand this game.

I give up.

The end.


"Too Patterned"

Tonight I was accused of being "too patterned."  I wasn't quite sure what to say to that, so I asked for clarification first.
1) "you walk your dogs in the same place, at the same time"
--That's something I really don't do.  I do tend to walk my dogs in a certain city on Mondays, but that has more to do with Eric working Mondays than anything.  There are days I walk them as soon as I get home from work and days I don't actually get them out for a walk.  Maybe I need to keep better notes, to see if I really follow a pattern more than I think.

2) "you follow the same schedule all the time"
--This one's a stretch.  I have the same basic morning routine, but doesn't everyone?  My "night routine" is completely non-existent.  Monday and Tuesday I have to be to work at 7:30, so I get up about 6am.  Wednesday and Thursday I have to be there at 8, so I get up about 6:45.  Some days I shower in the morning, some days I don't.  Some days I eat breakfast at home, some days I don't.

I don't even have a set schedule for feeding the animals.  It's a "when I feel like it" schedule.

Maybe all this defensive-ness means I AM too patterned though.  Argh!  And I really thought I had escaped that tendency!


Shaping Workshop

We had "training group" today and it's really a get together for us friendly dog-friend/nerds to socialize and kinda train our dogs.  I ended up bringing Buzz today and he was oh-so-happy to go!

Elizabeth and Beckett were there, Brian brought the adorable Ms. Maisy Jane, Jane brought Finn, and Robin had her NEW PUPPY Via!

Buzz and I have been working on crating more than half-heartedly lately, trying to determine if his poor crate behavior is due to a lack of training, or possible cognitive issues.  The last two nights he has settled nicely after a walk and some down-time before bed time.  When we arrived at training group this morning, we took a short walk with Beckett and then he crated up nicely at the training center.  Very few barks and only in one instance.  I'm trying to keep better records of his behavior in general, so this is definitely something I need to pay attention to.  When, why, and for how long does he bark.

After crating adult dogs so we could PLAY WITH THE PUPPY, we actually got to work.

Robin had us do a warm up heeling/loose leash walking on both sides activity.  Three dogs milled around with their handlers and nobody had a collision.  That impressed me.  I thought for sure I'd hit a pole or a dog or someone else, but nope!  (Confession time: I've never been in a group obedience class...)  Buzz had quite a few no-sits and I was trying to work on my clicker mechanics (don't reach for the treat until after clicking) so then we stopped movement exercises and worked on semi-stationary exercises so I could focus on less.  Robin tagged me for remembering to click THEN treat.  Mannn was that challenging for me!  It's something I should work on at home a lot more and just... don't!

Scent Articles
--where we ran into the problem I always have.  How to mark a deaf dog from a distance!  I utilized Robin's expertise and extra hands to try solving this problem.  Buzz was working the "pile" (2 leather, 2 metal, plus my scented leather) nicely but not committing to the correct article, so I wanted to mark when he indicated.  The lights I brought with did not have the distance or direct-ness (I'm sure there's a better word I can't think of right now) it needs.  Robin's going to bring a laser light next week to see if we don't get better results.  I do have to admit to telling him how adorably wrong he was when he got confused one time and just started picking up articles and throwing them at me.  I never know how to handle it when he does that, so I normally call him away and just start over.  I have yet to find a way of preventing the pick up of the wrong article... ideas?

Elizabeth and I traded dogs.  She worked with Buzz on muzzling while Beck and I worked on head turns and paw lifts.

It was grand fun and I'm very sad I missed out on the first session.  I'm going to bring Buzz again next week, and I may actually bring both and trade out--I haven't done THAT in forever either!

Buzz and I miss camp.  Not that this picture has anything to do with dog training, other than it was taken at camp.

Oh, dog training fun... I just wish we could get together more often, then I'd actually have well trained dogs.



I just finished reading The Dog Who Spoke With Gods and The Art of Racing in the Rain.  Both are wonderful books and both made me hug my dogs super tight.  It's easy to get caught up in day to day life, and forget about just how special these creatures are.  Nights like tonight make me unbelievably happy I have the resources available to make Buzz's aging as painless as possible.  It's certainly not the cheapest, and likely not the absolute most effective, but being able to watch him catch a scent and then RUN after it brings me to tears every time.  Watching him dig in gopher holes, because he can, makes me happy.  It does my heart good.

Both books are an enjoyable read, but be prepared to shed some tears.



Three Vermilion Tollers

Vad, Torque, and Riga ran in the WCX test today at the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever National event.
Vildanden's Neon Af Nischi

"Torque" (Vad x Remi)
Vermilion's Twist'n Torque

"Riga" (Vad x Hannah)
Vermilion's Rah Rah Ramona

To see more of these talented tollers, visit their webshots album, or their website!


Recheck Appointment

We managed to arrive on time to Buzz's first recheck appointment.  Overall it went wonderfully well, except for the initial "Bailey is here for her appointment" scare!  Jenny needs to stop scaring me!  I only brought one dog, that would have been a problem if I brought the wrong one.

Anyway, Dr. Julia had me on the edge of my seat when she felt him and said "he might be ready for strengthening," but then changed her mind.  He's doing VERY well, but he's not doing that well.  He had some "spinal manipulations" (aka the MN legal version of chiropractic adjusments) and we were sent home with the same exercises.  His exercises are pretty easy and I do them almost religiously.  I've also given him all of his oral meds and injections ON time so far.  Go me, right?  (Having a calendar plastered to the refrigerator helps, a lot.)

So, we continue with the weight shifting (she gave me some tips on being more efficient), bows, and treat stretches.  Cross those darn fingers we get to start strengthening (and thus, going less frequently) after this Friday's appointment.  (I was hoping we could do a Monday or Wednesday but it seems everyone takes those evening appointments.)  I guess Buzz gets to come to watch the NSDTR NATIONALS conformation event with me!

Bailey did 2/3 of her diagonal leg lifts to 30 seconds tonight!  I'm still not sure if they count or not though because she was wobbly at first, then recovered.  The last was only about 15 seconds, then she started trying to lean on me.

And, for your educational fun: PennHIP vs OFA


Dog Books

I love to read.  I don't read as much as I would like to, and when I do it's mostly girlie stuff (Nora Roberts/JD Robb, and the occasional John Grisham, et al, if it's not a dog book of some sort).

When Eric and I went to Wheels and Wings yesterday (and the day before, in the rain, to watch the truck pull...) we happened upon Motorbooks at just the right time!  It was after 3:00PM and thus you could fill a bag with as many books as it would hold, for only $30 (plus tax), a box was $60 but it really did NOT hold twice as much!  I was so excited by this because before 3, everything was "just" half price, so 2-3 books equaled $30. We went our separate ways and I grabbed almost every dog book I could, that was not written by Kyra Sundance.  (And Eric found a billion books on home repairs, cars, free calendars, mixing drinks, etc!)  I came home with some pretty neat books, and some that... well, I wouldn't have paid actual money for!

See Spot Run by Kirsten Cole-MacMurray and Stephanie Nishimoto is first on the list to be read.  It looks like fun and actually seems well put together!
Retails for $19.99

Whole Health for happy dogs by Jill Elliot DVM and Kim Bloomer is next on the list.  I'm pretty fascinated by what I paged through, and super excited to read it!
Retails for $15.99

The Safe Dog Handbook by Melanie Monteiro, for no reason other than the other two looked more exciting, is third on the list!
Retails for $19.99

Dog Lover's Daily Companion by Wendy Nan Rees and Kristen Hampshire doesn't appear to be a "read me page for page all the way through" type of book, so I'll probably look at it from time to time unless I find differently!  Definitely not something I would have bought under different circumstances.
Retails for $19.99

Love of Goldens edited by Todd R. Berger is not something I bought for myself, but I'm going to read it before it gets sent off to Ohio anyways!

The non-dog books: The Quotable Barn Cat, Rainy Day Magic, The Gourmet's Guide to Cooking with Chocolate, Digital Photography Guide, and a work out book that requires the use of things I already have!

Now I just need to finish the current JD Robb book so I can get started on reading dog books.  Reading two books at once doesn't work well with my CDO tendencies...

Oh, and I bought a book at the library sale for 50 cents, Sight Unseen by Robert Goddard.

Old Dogs

Bailey had a recheck with Dr. Julia on Friday and I scheduled to bring Buzz along too.  We'd never determined the cause of his exercise intolerance, despite a visit to the Cardiologist, and Dr. Enochs was still sure it was a pain response that just wasn't being managed with NSAIDs.  Dr. Julia found lots of things out of whack with him and used the word "kittywampus" many times while doing her evaluation and chiropractic adjustments.

The short of the long is that he's an old dog with a changing body.  He's in a lot of pain, so her plan is to manage pain--with Adequan injections ($ouch) and Previcox ($ouch2... it's a darn good thing I get discounts at work), increase mobility and then hopefully strengthen!  We're also using a drug called Amantadine--believed to work by restoring the balance of natural chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the brain.  She noted on his evaluation that there was some delay between stimulus and reaction to stimulus.  So we started a regiment of prescription medications (I guess waiting until he's over 12 years old before needing regular prescription medications was nice of him) and have a recheck in one week.

Adequan is one injection subcutaneously every 4 days for 4 sessions, then once a week for 4 sessions... after that we'll see how it goes.  She's hoping to get it down to once monthly.  Apparently it's licensed for subcutaneous use in felines but not canines, though it appears to work the same.  Dr. Julia said something about money being a restriction in their pursuit of FDA approval for SQ use.

Previcox is at half of his "normal" dosage for now, one half tablet every other day.  He's been on Previcox before, but it didn't seem to have much effect.  It had more than the no-effect-Rimadyl though.

The Amantadine is given once every other day too.  She said it will take up to 8 weeks to see results with that medication, so I guess we're in this for the long haul too.

In wonderful news, Bailey's making some great improvements.  We have not been cleared for fun activities yet, but she did write "I'll evaluate your request for tracking after our next appointment."  She makes me laugh a lot.  Bailey and I won't be visiting Dr. Julia again until she can do diagonal leg lifts for 30 seconds, so that's my motivation to keep working with her and get to 30 seconds.  We're at about 15 right now, she wants us to shoot for increasing by 5 seconds each week.  She's still pretty unbalanced at times and tries to brace herself with a wide stance, so it's been definite work for both of us.  I often feel like this would go smoother if I had another set of hands and eyes, but we do what we can.  

If I needed more motivation... I get to order a FitPAWS Peanut.  I don't think she understands how much trouble my dog is going to have with balancing on something.  My dog is not brave, but we can fake a lot of things.  I don't think we can fake being brave on a wobbly ball though.  That means I'll actually have to train my dog to do something (other than walk on a loose leash), I guess we'll just see how it goes though.  The end result will hopefully be Bailey balancing on TWO legs on this peanut ball, that's a darn lofty goal.

I have two old dogs that are working towards being pain free.  I love the resources available to me, I just wish Dr. Julia would move closer to me.  

Bailey's picture of her on a hatbox is displayed at the Rehab Center.  That makes me laugh.  So does the fact that Dr. Julia uses words like "kittywampus."  I also told her again that the biggest benefit of this whole activity restriction thing is I actually taught Bailey to walk on a loose leash.  She thought that was pretty funny, but it's never really been important until now!  I couldn't put a GL on her, or an EW, and I couldn't just put her x-back on and let her pull me.  I actually had to train her to walk nicely and respond to leash pressure.  It was annoying as all get out, but it's a really nice thing to have now.  I think that should be a selling point for TC Rehab, don't you?


What can we do now?

I read about Steve's rehab and I become semi-motivated to write about Bailey's.  Their ups and downs have weirdly coincided.  Bailey doesn't see Dr. Julia until NEXT Friday, a whole three weeks since her last appointment.  After I got the picture of her sitting on the hat box, I emailed it to Dr. Julia and the reply was "HOORAY!"

I've been not good about doing all of her exercises every single day.  She's supposed to be doing paper slides, opposite leg lifting, sits, bows, treat stretches, and quad stretch morning and night.  We're supposed to do pivots right and left on the pivot box midday.  I usually get at least one set in, sometimes two, and rarely three.  I've made a pact with myself that I will get all three in for at least three days starting yesterday.  I only did part of tonight's set because she seemed sore from our walk, but that still counts!

I don't think Bailey or I understand the paper slides very well, but we do them as best we can.  Dr. Julia showed me how to do Logan Basic last time, to help me help Bailey more, but I can't seem to do it well enough to make a difference.

Rather than sounding like a broken record though, I'm happy to say my pupper is doing well.  She's doing so well in fact, I've discussed with her doctor, trying to wean her off Fluoxetine.  She's been SO good after the initial stress of lack of exercise and such, that I'm really, really thinking about it.  We've had zero incidents at the cabin with being evil to cats and guardy.  Creatures are responding to each other when necessary.  She's been relaxing nicely out in public... but the real test will come when she's allowed to actually go to classes again (I'm being optimistic here).  Until we can evaluate that, she'll remain on it.

My goal from the visit with Dr. Julia?  Cleared for tracking practice.  Her sacrum has stayed where it needs to be the last two visits.  It was "barely" out of place the visit before that.  That was my biggest concern.  We couldn't build those necessary muscles if the body wasn't staying in the right place.

Improvement.  Lots and lots of improvement for the girlie dog and I.


We Have A Hat-Box Sit!

She can sit on a hat box now.  She can use the leg muscles.  They're working again.  I would be yelling and typing in bold if that wouldn't scare people away.  I AM SO HAPPY.  I got this behavior yesterday... it's still has very little duration but I HAVE THE BEHAVIOR!


Getting By

We've been crazy busy here.  All four creatures and I have been staying at our lake home while the farm is being worked on.  This is both fun and frustrating.  I feel like I've cleaned and cleaned and cleaned, yet it's not really... clean?!  We also have no interwebs, so I've been busy doing other things and neglecting my email.  Rather than the usual 2000 unread emails, I had about 4000 when I checked today.  Oops?

Mostly we're all getting along and adjusting to living in a house that essentially has four rooms.  New development today though was Bailey wanting to eat the kitty litter.  Why on earth does World's Best have to taste good?  TWICE today I caught her chomping down on it.  She's not looking for cat excretions, but really eating the litter!  Then she looks at me with this dry mouth, tongue flapping expression that says "HALP!" and I just laugh at her.

I put up a new shower curtain today, did about five hundred loads of laundry... and washed dishes, floors and vacuumed.  Oh, and I rearranged furniture, and tried to make the litterbox dog un-friendly, but that seemed to make her MORE curious.  Buzz is leaving it alone.  He only cares if there's nasty stuff in it.  I have weird dogs.

I want another bonfire, but I think I burned all the good stuff last night.  Hrmph.

I miss Ohio.  I miss talking about intricate details of competition behavior training.  I miss having a dog to train.  I want a puppy.  Have I whined enough yet?

Oh, and I have to write my food toy article-y thing for work and bring in examples.  Whee!