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!