They should be fat.

My dogs are garbage disposals.  I give them left-over everything.  Tonight, dinner was served in peanut butter containers.  I finally had two and now they're happily eating peanut butter coated kibbles.  They eat a lot of what I might make for myself and then just don't want or don't like.

They really should weigh a lot more than they do.  But I still don't understand how some dogs get so fat.  I cut back on their daily ration and increase exercise if there's a couple days in a row of more than normal extras.

Bailey weighed in at 40 pounds a week ago.  She's got a little extra because she hasn't done anything in forever, but she's far from fat.

Buzz usually weighs in around 52 pounds and I'd guess he's about right there.

I certainly don't do a good job of controlling what I eat as well as I control theirs!



I've waited to write this until I've gathered my thoughts and this post would have a point.  My little girlie dog gave me the scare of a lifetime on Thursday.  She was scheduled for three lump removals.  All just lipomas, but I wanted them removed before removal became a huge ordeal due to size and location.  One is on her back, one on her chest, and then the returning lump in her right foreleg (near elbow, in the muscle).

If I didn't work at the clinic, this post would just say that Bailey's heart rate dropped during surgery.  They repositioned her and gave a medication to bring her heart rate back up.  The catheter gave her doctor a direct port to administer the medication quickly and effectively.  It worked, but there are cautions about anesthesia in the future.

sutures from removal of lump along spine on back

Since I do work at the clinic and have an understanding of what happened, as well as a point, there's a longer version.  We induced with Propoflo via IV catheter.  Propoflo is one of the fastest acting (and out of her system) induction agents available and at her age, I want her system to have the least stress possible.  Surgery proceeded normally and I started to surgically shave then sterile scrub the first lump, on her back.  SurgiVet "yelled at me" and I checked to see what it didn't like, but my co-worker was already acting.  Bailey's heart rate had dropped way too low.  She hovered right around 50bpm, most dogs stay between 100bpm and 140bpm when under anesthesia.  The doctor gave Atropine 1.0cc at a time through her catheter line, 3.0cc later her heart rate was back up to 100bpm and appeared to stabilize.  Still not sure what caused the heart rate drop, but we're trying to figure it out.  

sutures from lump removal on chest (with significant bruising)

At the clinic I work, IV catheter and fluid therapy are optional services for most procedures.  It is always encouraged, but it isn't required.  The IV catheter gave Bailey's doctor a way to quickly administer the necessary medication in order to help her.  It confirmed my beliefs that catheters are necessary.  None of my pets have been operated on without an IV catheter and fluids for years, and likely won't ever be again.

The reason for this post: elect IV catheter and fluids during surgical procedures--I won't go so far as to say it saved Bailey's life, but it sure did help her out.  If it's ever an option, choose it!  If your vet doesn't offer, ask!



Acana Pacifica

is doggy crack.  My dogs will do anything for it.  Client dogs at work will do anything for it.  The clinic cats will do anything for it.  Acana Pacifica is seriously (expensive), doggy crack.

We've been practicing our "sit pretty" that Katie talks about in her Chris Zink's 5 Minutes a Day post.  None of my other "training kibbles" get even close to the same effort.  It's ridiculously crazy!


Nail Trims

We do a lot of nail trims at work.  Some are sedated as about 98% of our surgery pets have a nail trim, but most are very awake!  In two of my morning appointments, we discussed nail trims extensively.  The owners wanted to learn how to trim the nails but were afraid.  I always say "that's a very good fear to have!"  If the owner is nervous, the dog will be nervous, and without practice, there may be good reason for being nervous!  I talk a lot about positioning and restraint with all owners wanting to learn how to do nail trims.  I always ask if the dog is more comfortable sitting/standing/laying down.  From my experience, most dogs do really well sitting for front feet and standing for rears.

That's how we did the Labrador Retriever this morning.  She readily gave me her front feet one at a time and I trimmed all the nails with no fuss.  We gave her a short break and my co-worker supported her midsection while I trimmed the rears.  No protesting, although she did pull her foot away and whine once.  I took that opportunity to tell the owner to "listen to her" because I'd gotten pretty close to the quick. 

The second one today we tried to do sitting for front feet but the dog was quite uncomfortable with that.  I asked the owner to let her lay down and rub her belly.  That worked like a charm!  Never once did she pull her foot away or whine, or try to get up.  She was in belly-rub-world!

When I first started working at the clinic, it seemed like I only did nails on a dog laying on it's side.  That is definitely easier for me to trim, but it isn't always easier for the dog.  We always want procedures to be as low stress as possible, but especially for something so simple as  nail trim.  Let the dog decide where is comfortable, take a reasonable amount of time, and take breaks when needed.  Everyone will be happier.

Don't underestimate the power of a belly rub either!

puppy Fritz



Nope, not today.  I'm currently listening to the sound of ice hitting windows.  Definitely not tracking weather.  I just came across some tracking pictures that I like.  Motivation.  Yes, motivation in the form of pictures.


Sticky Nose Target (video)

I'm finally taking videos, kinda/sorta/maybe/if I have to.  In this post, I said I'm going to teach Bailey and Rascal a functional duration nose target (sometimes called a sticky nose target, thanks to Kristen) to help physical exams go smoother.  I'll try to get video of Rascal later this week.  For now, here's Bailey!

The last piece you see, is what I'm looking for as far as contact.  Nose firmly in my palm and all four feet still.  It was difficult for us to add in motion (I started that long before the conference) and I haven't worked much with it since.  I do want her to be able to maintain the behavior while moving, so that will still be part of the criteria.

Reinforcer: Acana Pacifica
Marker: Premier clik-r (I got it at the MVC, I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.)
Location: hallway

Attire Woe

Bailey's never been fond of things touching her.  A friend with a Belgian Shepherd (of the Malinois variety) once called her dog "non-tactile" and I immediately started using that word to describe Bailey.  It's like she gets the heebie jeebies when she is touched by anything she's not solicited.

Wearing a diaper in heat?  GET THIS THING OFF ME NOW!
A jacket when it is freezing cold?  I CANNOT POSSIBLY MOVE!
A collar?  OH DEAR DOG EW!

No, really, she was crazy bad about having things put on her, or being touched by someone she didn't know.  It's gotten better over the years, I think, and it's not because I actually did anything about it.  11 years of coping with having things put on and taken off should make some changes.

A while back I tried to pair putting collars/leashes/harnesses on with REALLY GREAT FOOD!   This did not go well.  She started refusing food.  I talked with Kathy Sdao about this at the Midwest Veterinary Conference after one of her sessions where she said "Don't backward condition, it can create a trigger.  Don't feed to prevent problems."  She said this more about reactive dogs and the advice of some to feed-feed-feed in the presence of a trigger in hopes of using classical conditioning to change the dog's viewpoint, but it really relates to Bailey's problem too.  By pairing an undesirable (having "things" touch her) with a high value reinforcer, I did not make the problem better.  I made her start to avoid that food in all settings.  Kathy was right on when she asked if the food was now a punisher for Bailey.

At Kristen's prompting, I took a video of putting on and taking off all collars/harnesses "with meaning."

Car harness and collar with tags means we're going out.  This one specifically has gotten a lot better in general.  I used to have to make sure I had a hold of her before trying to put the harness on, or she would run away.  Despite trying to teach her to put her head through the opening, she would actively avoid me and the harness.  I demonstrated this for another trainer one day and her comment was "she knows it means going on the car, so it should be a happy time" but it clearly isn't.  In the video she did NOT try to leave, but she sinks down, her tail stops wagging, and her ears go back.  She even does some lip smacking/licking.  There is significant lip licking when I present the collar.  She stands absolutely still and puts her ears up/forward when I place it on her neck.  As she walks away, her tail is up.  That is a classic "Bailey sign" of discomfort.  If she's relaxed, her tail is down.  If she's stressed or otherwise bothered, her tail is up.  After she shook off, her tail came down and started wagging.  She "shakes off" every time I put "going out gear" on her.

X-back harness means wonderful, wonderful, wonderful events will happen.  It means bikejouring, it means going running, her two most favorite things in the world.  She normally howls with excitement when she sees it and then demonstrates a lot of conflict behavior.  She'll dash up to me present her head then duck away at the last second.  She absolutely hates having it put on.  You can see her just squish down and she really didn't appreciate me touching her after it was on.  Her tail went up and she kept going to the door.  She really, really, wanted to go outside.  It normally means really great things.  She shakes after it's removed.

THE tracking harness means slightly less wonderful things but is still very exciting.  She approached me happily then crouched down when I slid it over her head.  This piece of equipment seems to have the least negative connotations associated.  I can't explain why, other than it is the most recently introduced.  I know I harness her after I've laid a track, and she knows that so I wonder if the prospect of tracking overpowers?

Slip leads aren't a big deal going over her head because there is so much room!  The problem with slip leads is when it tightens.  I need to get a video of that, for another day.  Taking it off, I do tend to scratch her neck before removing it 98% of the time.  I'm not sure why I do with that and not other things.

Slip collars tend to be a big ordeal.  It is generally tighter fitting, meaning it touches more of her head when it's put on.  No problems once it's on though, vastly different from leaving harnesses on her.  (I've never done a hand target for removing collars, so I shouldn't have done it in the video, but it worked REALLY well.)

Walking harness (H-style) is something we've been using since her rehab started.  It's a harness she doesn't pull on and hopefully distributes weight more evenly along her back than pressure on a collar if she does hit the end of it and pull before I stop her.  It means slow, controlled, walks.  I don't know if it's the sensation, or what it means that causes the avoidance she shows (or if she just smelled something really good outside).  The  foot presenting behavior is something we've worked on, and something I expect when putting this harness on. The delay isn't always predictable, but it does happen fairly frequently.  I was surprised that she didn't sink down when I buckled this one.  Really surprised. 

Not shown: gentle leader.  Last January I put a gentle leader on her and she hit the floor whining and crying.  Plastered herself.  I had absolutely no idea why.  It scared both of us.  This summer I found a lump at the base of her skull, right where a correctly fitted gentle leader would sit.  I would guess it put pressure on an already sensitive area and that sent her over the edge.  She's normally a very stoic dog, so it shocked me when she cried out.  Thankfully the lump is just a lipoma, but she doesn't wear gentle leaders anymore.


Doing What I Say

I tell clients at work all the time to brush their dog's or cat's teeth.  We discuss it in routine appointments, we discuss it after dental cleanings, and I talk about it with new puppy owners.  I get decent interest from puppy owners and a lot of motivated owners after dental procedures but I've never once been able to say "my dog's gingivitis improved dramatically after only a month of brushing" or "my dog's teeth are sparkly white and she hasn't had a dental in 4 years."  
Bailey's teeth--staining, build-up, and gingivitis.  I'm embarrassed.

Bailey's teeth get nasty after a month if she doesn't get enough chewies (she has had two dentals and I almost scheduled her for another).  I noticed how gross her teeth were today and decided I need to do what I say.  
Buzz's teeth--minor staining, minor build-up, and minor gingivitis.

Buzz, on the other hand, has never had a dental and really has pretty great teeth.  He gets chewies on pretty much the same schedule Bailey does but has dramatically less tartar build up.

I do have a dog toothbrush and toothpaste.  I bought it at least two years ago and it hasn't ever touched a dog's mouth.  I used it on Baby's teeth twice, if that.  Today I brushed the teeth of both dogs after breakfast and before dinner.  I don't expect it to remove the tartar build up... that's what bones are for, but I do expect it to help with the gingivitis.

I didn't teach my dogs to "help" me with teeth brushing.  I have taught them to be okay with mouth handling though, and Bailey opens her mouth when I put my hands on it and say "open."  Neither dog appreciated having the canines or incisors brushed very much, but were pretty good for the molars.

I know Crystal has started to brush Maisy's teeth.  Does anyone else actually brush their pet's teeth?  (I tried to do Rascal's and he told me that was not in his plans for today, or tomorrow, or ever, really.)

(It is really, really challenging to get good pictures, in focus, of dog teeth if I have to hold the lips back too.  Maybe I'll recruit a helper tomorrow.  The difference between Buzz and Bailey's teeth is pretty dramatic, especially on the canine teeth and premolars.)



"What did you do tonight?"

Dude, I accomplished a lot of stuff!

  1. Walked all three dogs---Fritz separately, Buzz & Bailey together.
  2. Buzz did all his exercises.
    1. Front leg lifts, 3 reps of 20 seconds each leg
    2. Nose touch to hip/treat stretches
    3. Bows!
  3. Bailey did hers too!
    1. Stand on the peanut for 30 seconds (she's turning around on the ball again, I need to ask if that's allowable or not).
    2. Quad stretch
  4. Dremel nails!
    1. Rascal
    2. Bailey
    3. Rasza (only front feet so far)
    4. Fritz--he's getting better but still tries to get up multiple times
    5. Buzz has not been done yet and I may not do his tonight, he's got super hairy feet... don't want to pull his hair out!
  5. Fritz is getting up on the peanut now.  I started him the same way I started Bailey.  Launch off it!
  6. Buzz & Bailey have Kongs for dinner.  Behold the power of food toys!
I think that's enough for tonight!  What did you do?


Exercise Companion

While my two are laid up, on boring restricted activity, I get to play with Fritz!  Today we went for a walk in the woods after work and he kept doing his famous "stop and stare" act!  I got a couple good pictures and a couple that were way, way, way, out of focus.  I'll keep on practicing!

One of the out-of-focus pictures, but he looks so adorable frapping!
He's here until Friday, so I hope to get a couple more of him!  He's such a giant dork, but man does he make me laugh!



I don't know if I'm being overly sensitive or if I'm seeing what I want to see, but the more dog sport videos I watch, the more I get concerned.  The lack of speed and precision isn't necessarily due to poor training, could it be due to injury?

When I look at how Bailey used to run agility and how she was running in the last couple trials before I pulled her, there was a dramatic difference.  When she couldn't heel during obedience at the specialty, her whole gait was off.  Due to the injuries my dogs have sustained, am I "giving the dog (really, the handler) the benefit of the doubt" more than I should?  Or are there dogs with significant physical issues that aren't being addressed because a regular veterinarian can't diagnose and treat those problems?

I need to ask Dr. Julia what she thinks, though she probably won't have an opinion.

annual heartworm test

This is a hot topic at work right now.  It's comping up on "heartworm season" so we recommend an annual heartworm or 4DX test for all dogs in addition to using a heartworm preventative either year-round or thaw to freeze.  We all have different opinions on the importance of vaccines and bloodwork, which is something I, and the other technicians at work, understand.

Our clinic recommends an annual DHPP combo vaccine, and we follow the WI state law of three year rabies vaccines after the initial one year.  Those two (Rabies and DHPP) are considered the "core" vaccinations (communicable/zoonotic and life threatening).  If I were in need of compromise in order to save on cost.  I would likely let the DHPP go another year and run a heartworm test instead.  At the clinic I work, a DHPP and heartworm test are only cents difference.  As a technician, it is my job to "present the facts" to the owner and let each one decide.  I've discussed with one of the veterinarians I work with about compromise, and how do we present the information as unbiasedly as possible.  I clearly have a bias, but I try not to let it interfere.

How does your veterinarian present heartworm and vaccine information?  Do you run a yearly heartworm test, do you give annual vaccines?  Does your dog have risk factors that affect your decisions?

Truthfully, I run a 4DX on both of my dogs every spring.  They are on every 3 years for DHPP and Rabies, alternating years.  I haven't given a Lyme vaccine in years and the 4DX hasn't shown Lyme positive for either one.  Though, the Lyme vaccine is giving me a lot of headache this year.  I just cannot decide!


In the Name of Training

Bailey has an aversion to the kitchen.  More specifically, she has an aversion to the oven.  It is a gas oven.  If you reach for the drawer at the bottom she runs to hide.  I've discussed what she does with many friends and professionals, the consensus seems to be a fear of the gas itself.  I've half heartedly attempted to condition her associations and she will walk past the kitchen after the oven/stove has been turned on, but wants nothing to do with the kitchen itself.

Gas oven at far left.
Today, in the name of training, I made more waffles, and cooked food in the oven.

I had a Kong stuffed with frozen, raw food.  A towel for her to lay on.  And I made waffles.  And other things in the oven.  And then I took pictures.  And she ignored me.

And she stayed, mostly... with her kong.  She left twice when I reached for the bottom drawer.  When I did actually open the drawer a little later, she looked at me and continued eating.

Wait.  Did I just reinforce her fear of the oven?

No, it is not possible to reinforce fear.  I did, however, reinforce her for remaining calm, on her towel, and in the vicinity of the scary things.  I used my "lazy trainer card" and let the kong do the reinforcing.

Fun with Friends

Lance (and blurr of Vito)

Handsome Vito!



Maisy... or part of her at least

Can you find the Greyhound?


Not pictured: Dobby the MN White Toed Chipmunk Dog.  Buzz and Bailey had to stay inside.  Oh, there were humans too!


Duration Nose Target

During one of Ken's talks, we saw a video of a marine mammal doing a front appendage and nose target on the wall for an exam.  It made me start thinking about how nice that behavior would be for pet animals to have.  Especially the wiggly puppies or nervous dogs.  If we can give them a behavior to do and build the reincorcement history, would exams go more smoothly?

I started using Bailey's sticky nose target the day I got home.  We've been working on proofing the behavior of "keep your nose in my palm until told otherwise."  So far I can kick my legs all around and someone can poke her.  She has to see the person first for it to be okay, but she allows it all with tail wagging.

I'd like to be able to use this behavior for future physical exams.  It'll be something she knows how to do and it should give the examiner a better way of examining.  Instead of a puddle on the floor, there will be a dog standing straight.

I wasn't sure if I should admit this, but I've started working with Rascal too.  Can I teach my cat a sticky nose target well enough to use it in a stressful environment?  I guess we'll see.


Major Woe

I guess I should have gone to more of the physical rehabilitation talks at the conference.  I taught little kiddos this morning, got my teeth cleaned, and then the dogs and I visited Dr. Julia.  I knew going in they were likely to be chiropractic messes.  Bailey was toe touching with a right hind before I left for the conference, but it seemed a little better (or she got better at hiding it).  Buzz had trouble with stairs at Elizabeth's house, he was having trouble at home too, now that I think about it more.  We just didn't use them a whole lot before I left because it had been nice out.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
We'll start with the old man.
*Sore over sacrum, tilted right.
*Pain on right hip extension, better after adjustment.
She adjusted 8 areas and had to bring out the vibration device in order for his adjustments to hold for more than a couple seconds.  Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
Discharge: No exercises apart from treat stretches and bows.  Leash walks for 20 minutes twice daily.
No other activity, no stairs if possible.

Then it was Bailey's turn.
*Pain over right proximal quads, improved after adjustment.
*Knees feel okay.
*Sore at thoracolumbar junction and in midthoracic spine.
She adjusted 8 areas on Bailey too.
Discharge: No exercises apart from right quad stretch, hold 10 seconds after walks.  Leash walks 20 minutes twice daily.  Restricted activity.

Recheck one week for both.

Good news: they still love her and going there.  They looked a lot better on our walk after the adjustments and seemed to move freer.

More good news: I can definitely tell where she's hurting when she is.  Too bad I don't know how to fix it!

So, anyone have extra springer sized bubbles they're not currently using?  I could really use two right about now.  Crate rest, low key activity in the house while people are home, leash walks outside.  Lots and lots and lots of food toys I guess.