Doing the right thing.

When people talk about doing the right thing, it's usually regarding something other than the relationship had with a dog. In the last week, I made a heart-wrenching decision based on a a culminating event. Bailey has struggled to live in the city with me. She is stressed daily, she's conflicted daily, and she's unhappy... daily.

Bailey has been taking vacations to visit my mom for weeks at a time since early summer. This was to help give her time to relax so that she could live with me in the city again. And for a while it worked really well! She'd go away for a week or two, I'd pick her up and life would be okay for a couple more weeks in the city. And then it stopped working. She started getting anxious when I'd leave my bedroom to take a shower, she'd be so scared of being out of my bedroom that she'd just glue herself to my leg, and then she was so over threshold that she was getting upset with Buzz almost daily. We tried a lot of management techniques with very little, to no, improvement. I tried giving her Clonidine more regularly but it wasn't even helping on the evenings I had to work.

Last Sunday,she was dropped off at my house after her most recent vacation with my mom.

The scenario went something like this:
Brother calls--he's here!
I go outside to get her and she's so happy and wiggly!
We get her stuff out of the car and head toward the house.
She steps inside the house. Her tail drops, her ears go back, and I stared in disbelief... I didn't know what to do.

She was terrified of being in this house. It has so many negative associations that I just can't undo, that she just can't overcome. I know she's a sensitive soul and she was trying so damn hard, just so I could have her with me.

Last week I made the decision to let Bailey live with my mom indefinitely. I did not make this decision lightly, in fact I stressed about it for days. In the end, all of the friends I discussed it with agreed: she's so unhappy living here with me. It's such an unnecessary unhappiness as well. When she's at the farm with my mom, she's a completely different dog. She woo-woos in the morning because she's just so damn happy. She goes for multiple walks each day, in the middle of nowhere. She can relax in any area of the house she chooses because there are no other dogs.

I'll still see her, and I'm sure I'll visit more often now, but she won't have to come back to the city with me. My mom says she looks for me to come home from work every day for the first week or so, but then it gets better.

I'm not doing the right thing for me, because I tried that already, and it didn't work out. I'm doing the right thing for Bailey, because she deserves it.

I still hope that I will be able to change my living, and work, situation to accommodate her better in the future. For now though, I won't feel guilty for putting her through so much every single day.


More Rehab

Most of you probably already know that Bailey had a lump removed recently.

It was getting in the way of her active life style. It made her sad.

Now we're past the surgery and into week five of recovery. She has seen Dr. Julia twice and this last time she got some pretty sweet exercises to do (and I got some massage-type things to do). Behaviors that nobody ever thinks will come in handy that Bailey is now doing for rehab.
  1. Leg Lifts
  2. Side Passes (although, this specific behavior is being lured as Dr. Julia wants the feet to meet then separate, NOT cross)
  3. Step on to perch, step off perch
  4. Sit with front feet elevated
  5. Bow
  6. Fold back down
  7. Tuck sit with rear feet held in
#7 is important because this is her baseline right now.
A still from a video clip
Which happens to be significantly worse than her baseline last time we worked on this.

This is how well she could sit, with effort.

Yay for more hat box sits!

And leg lifts!
Although, she's not working on the ball yet.
Most importantly though, this is what her leg looks like now!

No more lump!


Functional Dog

Bailey has just returned from a week and a half getaway vacation on The Farm. She's always a completely different dog mentally when I pick her up. She's relaxed and in the frame of mind conducive to being a normal member of society. I can take her places and do things with her and she has a normal threshold.

So, tonight when we got home from work I was a good student and we worked on separation stuff. I kept her under threshold and reinforced frequently. We even practiced crating while I worked Buzz. Basically, my dog was great.

And sometimes she came out of her crate to engage in play with me.

Buzz says that allergies are the devil. Poor Buzzer. I've unintentionally fed him three new things in the last two days. Apparently he's allergic to one or both or all of them.

Then they practiced being good dogs together on the bed.


Just My Dog

Tonight I'm feeling quite nostalgic about my old guy. I usually call him my perfect dog and brag about how easy he is to live with.

If you ignore the fact that he will steal any available food (from the counter, a table... your hand).
He is staring at the food on the table, willing his tether to malfunction.
If you pretend like he doesn't have a farting problem (even when he eats foods he's not allergic to, and takes his enzyme/probiotic supplement regularly).

If you pretend he's ever had a reliable recall in his life! (I mean, he's always been reliable in not coming, so that's still reliable, right? I usually just tell people he's deaf, which he is, but that has no bearing on his lack of recall. He is better about keeping me in sight now that he's gone deaf though.)
That is Beck's nose. Holy hell do I still miss that Grey.
Seriously though, he is the dog I compare all others to. 

He has a delightful demeanor.

He shares incredibly well.

He adapts to major changes (like moving to the middle of the ghetto) with ease.

And lets not forget that even at 14 years young, he still has a sense of adventure!

He's really just an awesome dog. In that inexplicably awesome kind of way.

I'm thankful he came into my life as a flea ridden, worm infested puppy from a stereotypical backyard breeder. He's got some nice genetics in his ancestry that made him the dog he is, and that is a very good boy.


In the Last 24 Hours

1) I emailed Ruca's new owners for an update. The last one I got was great but it's been a couple of months now and I miss her. I hope she's still doing wonderfully!

2) I hung out with most of my bestest friends last night and ended up bring both dogs along because there was the promise of water-play. Everything was going fine until Bailey was doing a water retrieve three legged, with a barely audible whine but OHMYGOD there is a BUMPER TO BE GOTTEN. So I passed Buzz off to a friend and checked her over. I felt all over her leg and she didn't make a peep. This is the leg she was scheduled to have surgery on last Thursday. The vet thought I was doing it for cosmetic reasons.

3) I gave Buzz a bath, blew him out, and trimmed him. He appreciates the fact that I'm mostly just concerned about hair removal and don't spend hours making him look presentable anymore. I really only use a clippers with a 7F and a straight scissors now. If I can't get it done with those tools, it's not going to get done. He still thinks grooming in general is a waste of time. And then I let him play in Lake Phalen. He probably thinks he smells better now.

4) While hanging out with said bestest friends, we made grilled cheese, on the grill.
photo courtesy of Sara R

5) I have decided that the best use of my morning will be to do nothing. I have a long list of what I should do (clean my bedroom, clean the bathroom, clean the stairs, do laundry, dust, vacuum, clean out the car, etc) but instead I've been sitting in bed with the dogs and just enjoying the quiet morning.



I learned today that I should listen to my gut feelings and only trust people who've earned it. I also broke my dog's trust and put her in a situation she couldn't handle.

Bailey had a surgery scheduled for her leg at the prompting of our rehab vet. Bailey's leg has a recurring lipoma (fatty, benign, lump)  that's intertwined with important things in her right elbow. Lipomas are typically removed only if they're growing rapidly, or in a really easy to remove location. In Bailey's case, the lipoma grows in such a way that it appears to interfere with her ability to move that leg freely. For such an active dog, that not only puts stress on the compromised leg, but then also stress on the rest of her body due to compensating. For this reason, she has had this particular lipoma debrided (debulked) three times in the last five or six years.

I scheduled the surgery with a veterinarian who has handled a few of Bailey's "really abnormal" cases as well as routine acupuncture and chiropractic when we don't need to see the rehab vet. I've only ever worked with this one vet at the practice but I've come to trust her judgement. She tells me how it is, every time. When I presented Bailey's leg case to her, she said she'd be willing to debride it.

I got a call yesterday from a different veterinarian at the clinic asking me if it was okay that she do the surgery as our regular veterinarian is out with a back injury. I agreed to it and then we discussed Bailey's anxiety. I asked whether I should give her Clonidine before the surgery tomorrow or not. The veterinarian advised against it and said that instead, her technicians would put in an IV catheter and pre-med Bailey when she was dropped off. I know my dog, I knew she wasn't going to handle being kenneled in a strange place very well at all.

I'm going to preface the below by saying that I'm really happy that A) I got a call yesterday when they wanted to switch veterinarians and B) the veterinarian didn't do a surgery she wasn't comfortable with.

But, I got a return call at 1:30 today from the veterinarian saying that the surgery wasn't performed. We talked for a bit and apparently she was missing a lot of details about what's gone on before and what I expected... at 1:30pm (I dropped Bailey off at 7:30, she was going to be the first surgery of the day). She said nothing about how Bailey was doing and I was in the middle of doing something for work so I didn't think much of it.

Until I was driving out to pick Bailey up after work. And then my heart sank. My anxious dog who can barely handle significant changes in her routine with medication, has been sitting in a strange kennel all day. I had a feeling just what kind of dog I might be picking up. I'm sad to say, I was right.

I could hear her before she even got down the hallway. She was dragging the receptionist and whining. She leaped at me and then made a dash for the door. She was panicked and so upset she even had no interest in me.

A normal dog, a dog like Buzz, would have handled a situation like Bailey's today with barely a bat of his eye. Sure, he hates being kenneled but he's stable. He would have been happy to leave but I wouldn't be concerned about his elevated adrenal and cortisol levels impacting daily life for the next couple of days. We'd get in the car and he'd be his normal dorky self.

However, a dog like Bailey will be on edge for the next couple of days. She'll be hypervigilent and she'll be on house lock down, because otherwise she'll be having explosive reactions everywhere we go and the vicious cycle will continue. I've handled her like that before, and let me tell you, it's absolutely no fun for anyone. Today was not fair to her, and I should have known better. I haven't dropped her off for a procedure in years for a couple of reasons but her anxiety about being kenneled in a strange place is a major one. She doesn't handle sudden changes to her routine well, even while on medications. I'm borrowing a quote from a friend's blog,

"High levels of adrenaline are associated with heightened vigilance, anxiety, lowered thresholds of sensory perception; these make the dog more reactive to stimulation, rather than thinking. Higher levels of glucocorticoids cause an overactive stress response and depression. After a stress response it can take days for the glucocorticoids to go back down to baseline levels. If the dog has another stressful situation before this happens the entire cascade of the stress response starts all over." (The quote is taken from this article.)

I learned a lesson today. I need to advocate for my anxious dog every single time. And I need to make sure that there are crystal clear instructions about what to do in the case of "what if" situations.

What would I have done differently? Once the veterinarian decided she wasn't going ahead with the surgery, I would have wanted a call. I would have found a way to leave work to get Bailey and we would have gone home. She would have been upset, but she wouldn't have had so much time to build up even more anxiety to the point she's at now. The poor girl whined and panted the whole way home.

And now I get to manage her for the next couple days, and probably give her Clonidine regularly, because it will make her life a little more bearable.


Allergies & Buzz

Buzz has had allergies his whole life. The poor guy has shown signs since before he was a year old. I remember taking him to the vet because his neck was "all red" at a routine appointment. The vet asked if he wore a red collar. Nope, his collar was black. At that point he was eating Iams, the green bag, so the vet just figured he needed some extra "stuff." We put him on a recommended supplement.

He probably took that supplement for a couple months to a year but we didn't notice a single difference. It's not a terrible supplement by any means, but it's not really... addressing the concern either.

Once I started learning about allergies in dogs (at least five years after we initially noticed his "red neck")and what they can be related to, I was determined to help Buzz become allergy free.

A fellow Springer owner once recommended I bathe him every day to remove the potential airborne allergens from his body before he inhales them (or at least limit how much is inhaled). I shaved him down and took him in the shower with me every morning before school! I think that might have lasted seven days...

We were also given recommendations to increase his omega 3s. I did that in the form of a capsule and switched him to a salmon based food. At the time, I didn't realize that he actually got worse with the increase in fish oils. Buzz ate the salmon food for close to a couple years and I've since learned that he's incredibly allergic to most (if not all) kinds of fish. Boy did I feel rotten when I figured that out! His poor body probably didn't even know what to do with itself!

A couple other things we tried were Cranberry (no change) and SeaMeal (increase in allergy signs). I also tried him on Flaxseed which created an increase in itching I had no idea was possible!

Quite honestly, I think I tried nearly every food on the market for him. Seriously. And there was very little improvement. In the end, after trying everything from Nature's Recipe to Innova EVO to a prey model raw diet; I just gave up. I found a food he did okay on and stuck with it, apologizing to him regularly for not being willing to put him on Prednisone for the rest of his life. The food he did okay on was Fromm Duck and Sweet Potato. He was still having minor allergic reactions but the horribly red and irritated skin was gone, he even regrew fur on the front of his elbows.

This spring I vowed to do an elimination diet with a known safe food to see if he could get complete relief. I chose to use ground raw duck from Woody's because it was exactly what I was looking for; meat, bone, and organ. No veggies, no supplements of any kind. After just two weeks of eating ONLY this, I saw some remarkable improvements in Buzz: he was even less red in those telltale areas, he licked his legs less and even stopped chewing his feet completely. He looked almost like a normal dog! There were a couple things I really hemmed and hawed about eliminating from his diet. The most important being his joint supplement. I knew he needed a supplement and he'd been on the Dasuquin with MSM for so many years that I was leery of changing it, but it had unspecified "liver" in it. Thankfully I found a supplement that isn't flavored and he's done very well on Wapiti Labs Longevity for a couple months now.

Since the start of his elimination diet, I've tried a few more foods with him. Some with success and some with failure. When his body isn't having an allergic reaction every single day, it's quite easy to tell when a food I've fed him causes a problem; I'll know within a matter of hours.

Buzz has a very short list of safe foods and more often than not, he's allergic to the ingredients other foods are mixed with.

Safe foods: Woody's raw duck, Bravo raw beef, Primal raw rabbit, Canine Caviar Open Sky kibble, and PureBites freeze dried Duck liver.

The most recent unsafe foods: lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, egg, flaxseed, many grains. He's also allergic to CET poultry toothpaste.

In addition to his prescription medications, Buzz is currently taking the Wapiti Labs Longevity and a virgin/unrefined Coconut oil (the only oil he can tolerate, it's a medium chain fatty acid). He takes the medications he won't willingly eat in food with part of a Greenies Pill Pockets Duck and Pea.

I'm sure the saga will continue, and he's currently in a cone after my last food experiment with lamb, but he's doing well I'd say. And his body seems to appreciate not being exposed to things it's allergic to all day, every day.

Buzz a couple weeks ago, looking pretty darn okay.


Hypothyroidism and Buzz

Buzz has had a very eventful year so far and I hope it will be slowing down shortly! I figured I should give the list an update, mostly because we've learned so much in the last couple of months!

My 14 year old dog presented with partial left sided facial paralysis, increased pain-seemingly all over, weight gain (I was feeding less than a pound of raw a day and he wasn't losing any weight, he weighed in a 60# and should weigh around 50#), and difficulty swallowing. We saw our regular vet who recommended we see a neurologist. The neurologist was incredibly UNhelpful but in a veterinary behavior appointment for my other dog later that week, it was suggested that hypothyroidism could be causing many of these issues Buzz was presenting with.

Buzz was *very* hypothyroid when we tested and was started on brand-name Soloxine at the prompting of many articles (rather than generic).

He's been on meds for almost 3 weeks now and I didn't realize how nasty his coat had gotten until I bathed him and blew out his old coat yesterday. He's all shiny and fluffy and bright now (and boy did he lose a lot of dead coat)!

We also saw the eye doctor for a routine CERF yesterday. He noticed bilateral pinpoint retinal hemorrhages... and recommended we take blood pressures and run a 4DX. We ran a 4DX+, which  was all negative and took blood pressures which showed a slightly elevated diastolic reading (but normal systolic). My wonderful regular vet did some more research and digging for me, to discover that Hypothyroidism can also cause the retinal hemorrhages as well as elevated blood pressures.

As of now, Buzz is starting to lose weight, his coat is changing (for the better), he has no trouble eating and can do so out of a bowl again, and most importantly, his facial paralysis was a thing of the past after only a week on the Soloxine.

I'm so freaking happy I ran into someone who gave me a recommendation based on some obscure signs; and that she was right.

Buzz at Battle Creek recently.
Now we do a thryoid retest (with the new recommendations, we'll be drawing for a T4 just before he gets his morning med and a full panel 4-6 hours post med) in 3-4 more weeks and recheck his eyes & blood pressure too.


Stress Happens

I've thought a lot about blogging again. It really takes brain power to write things people want to read, or really great pictures. It seems my interest in either of those things has fallen by the wayside for many months. Part of it was the "BIG MOVE TO THE CITY" and part of it was a lack of actually training the dogs to have something to post about. The dogs and I have spent a lot of time being busy, stressed, overwhelmed, and just plain burnt out. I've been to the doctor because I was sick, they've both been to many doctors for not feeling well and it's finally all ready to spill out.

As I was driving to Tim's house last night (for those not in-the-know, he's my boyfriend, and he's pretty awesome... he is with me after all) I took note of the self-stimming I was doing. It's a stress induced habit I've had for as long as I can remember. When I'm not stressed, it happens never. When I am stressed, it happens multiple times per day. When I'm on the "other side," the downward/good side, of the stress-bell-curve, I self-interrupt and laugh. With a few mild changes along the way, my self-stim has been pretty much the same: I drum my fingers in a very rhythmic pattern on my thumb. Let's just say that it happens almost daily since I've moved to the city. I really only started to realize it again a couple weeks ago though.

Why does anyone care about my autistic characteristics? Because I've realized in the last week or so that not only has my dog been significantly over threshold nearly every single day since the move, I have been too.

You see, the dogs and I come from a place where the sounds at night are crickets and coyotes and frogs in spring, summer, and fall. In the dead of winter, there are no noises except maybe the crackle of a fireplace, or the occasional snowmobile. Sirens outside mean a tragedy is happening within hearing range and if it gets closer you start to worry about the neighbors. (And let me tell you, any house within a mile or so is considered a neighbor because otherwise we wouldn't get to use the word!)

Running. Bailey's favorite past-time.
We weren't accustomed to the overwhelmingly constant noise and stimulation of city life. As a matter of fact, aside from going to hang out with my gym buddies 3 mornings a week, the only time I really saw other people is when I made a point of doing so. Work was mostly harmonious and while a lot of my day was spent interacting with people, I also spent a good chunk of it hanging out with some really good therapy. If something stressed me out, I took a mental break outside with one of my favorite board and train dogs, and that was acceptable. We also had an assortment of clinic cats, adoption cats, and the owners' dogs to pet and cuddle. I never realized how much of an impact those animals really made on my sanity.

Ruca adored being able to run full tilt without a care in the world.
When this big move to the city happened, I made the mistake of asking myself, and Bailey, to just take the plunge. As a result, all we could do is try to keep swimming. The longer we lived here in that state of mind, the worse we got. She has a history of being a reactive dog. Through training, medication, and dedication, I was able to show her in obedience, agility, and rally successfully for a couple years with just a few modifications to help us both be successful. 

As for myself, this new job I signed up for came with some requirements I was not prepared for. I was expected to be alert and focused for nearly 8 straight hours. My day job is helping adults with developmental disabilities gain employment. The way the program runs, and apparently the way many programs run, is on the absolute minimum of staff possible. Everything is about "numbers" meaning we have to keep the correct staff to person served ratio constantly. There are no traditional breaks, and I get a paid "lunch-half" as long as "numbers are good." I was so mentally exhausted for the whole first month or more that I had to come home and take a nap. Every single day.

I didn't really take it all in and process it until last Wednesday, when the Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist we saw was an advocate for my dog. All the stress I was experiencing accumulated and it reflected on my dog. Not only were we both having a difficult time coping with all these changes, but I started to fail her in pretty big ways. I put her in situations I knew she couldn't handle, because I thought for a few weeks that increasing her physical exercise would help the situation, or that just enough stimulation in general would tire her out. Bailey was thrown into situation after situation that sent her over threshold, in an honest (but half-brained) attempt to help her. She became a dog I had never known. Her dog reactivity threshold was so low she couldn't even see a dog down the block without staring, circling, and wuffing. (As previously mentioned, this is a dog who had successfully competed in obedience and agility for years, with nary a glimpse of reactivity.) Going over threshold nearly every single day meant that she never really "came down" from that adrenaline high. She then developed separation anxiety. To the point that on multiple occasions she was howl/scream/barking for hours on end and there was nothing I could do about it, because I had to be at work.

So we had to make changes. I accepted the fact that we'd all be staying in more, in the bedroom. I sent Bailey to stay with my mom a couple of times in order to let her actually relax for an extended period of time. And I gave myself a break. I really didn't have to do ALL THE THINGS after all. I took more frequent trips back to my happy-place-home-land with the dogs. Just to breathe in the fresh air and hear familiar sounds.

Buzz enjoys just walking through the tall grass.
Last Wednesday, Bailey and I saw Dr. Duxbury. It was the most relaxing and enjoyable learning experience I've had in a while. We got some homework, some different advice, and a new medication to try on an as needed basis. Bailey and I even did a bit of work last night out in public and she was awesome, because our brains were in the right place. When she told me she'd had enough of working, I listened and took her home. 

Life has been a lot better these last two weeks. It has slowed down to a bearable pace, and we've been able to enjoy it. I knew city life would be hard for us, but I had no idea just how hard until it really hit me like a ton of bricks. We're moving past it and hopefully I've learned enough from it to help us all cope a whole lot better, at least until a living situation where we aren't exposed to so much stimulus, is found.
We are really trying to embrace city life. This was taken on our front retaining wall.


The Littlest Big Girl Spaniel

Bailey's been having a really rough time lately. The move has been really hard on her, all of these adjustments have been more than she can tolerate so her mental state is compromised nearly constantly. Add into that mix the fact that she's dealing with multiple physical-medical issues as well and I'm feeling pretty down about my little girl spaniel. I'm being as proactive and reactive as I can possibly be. We've got an appointment with Dr. Duxbury at the University of MN Veterinary Medical Center's Behavior Department, we've been to see multiple veterinarians about her other issues and have an appointment for more at 9:30 tomorrow morning. So to shake the "woe is us" mindset, I tracked down some pictures that remind me of who she is when she's physically and mentally sound.

Of course, if you can spare any good thoughts, we'll take them. For now, I've got both of my best elderly spaniels sprawled out next to me and it's a good night.


Establishing Routines

First, a video from our backyard!

I think we've finally settled into something that resembles a routine. They're getting at least a short walk around the block 5-7 mornings a week. This is always a short leash and collar walk as it gives us time to work on the skill with very infrequent stimulus. I'm also planning for a longer walk (30-60 minutes) every work evening. So far this week, I've succeeded. A downside to this city walking business is that I have to plan ahead more because otherwise we only walk on sidewalks.

Walking only on sidewalks is a problem because Buzz has been dragging his rear feet more lately (or I just noticed it because we're walking on pavement and he made a rear nail bleed yesterday)! So... today I haphazardly trimmed the fur all four feet and he wore boots on both rear feet. I also made it a mission to walk on grass as much as possible! We scouted out a whole new area in our "neighborhood" even!

Bailey alerted to two dogs across the street and down. She's really been more reactive this week and I'm still not sure why. We did not play LAT, instead I asked for right side walking and fed while walking until the other dog was behind us. I think my new goal behavior is for her to recognize a dog is there and then ask to continue moving. I'll see if we can set up scenarios like that in class.

We also alternate leashes. Buzz always starts out on the Flexi because his leash behaviors are always better (unless we're in a pet supply store). Bailey always starts out on a 6 foot leash. They both wear harnesses and when we find open space I switch the leashes often.

A huge success today is that they both complied with my request to get rid of that NASTY thing in their mouths. Bailey is very good about spitting things out when I ask her to. I usually have to decide if it's worth it to wrestle Buzz for the object or just let him consume it. I can't honestly say I've worked on this behavior but he dropped a bone tonight when I cued it! Bailey also dropped a squirrel carcass she discovered at nearly the same time. I was shocked and they were both paid quite well for dropping the nasty things they'd found!

I still need to get into the Kong filling and teeth brushing habits for them but right now, walking seems to be the most important. And so we walk! I could do without the wet though, oh boy could I do without the wet!

Hopefully I'll have time to get to Battle Creek again this weekend. Both dogs seemed to love it there and I certainly love it there!

(Apparently our music isn't working right now... oh well!)


Sticky Nose Target

Bailey has a sticky chin target. It's a very strong behavior and I use it multiple times per week. It is incredibly useful and I'm so happy I taught it.

Buzz had a "lick-bop-slurp-bop-???" behavior from when I attempted to teach a sticky nose (yes-nose, not-chin) target. I took video of trying to "clean it up" without any kind of definitive marker. I am amazed at how people can train without a marker! I got some really nice solid nose touches but they were rarely repeated because of the lag time between behavior and reward. It was entertaining and ridiculous!

I did a session with him tonight using the light as a marker again. I got a lot of the same crazy not-desirable behaviors but I also got a lot of really nice nose touches with duration. He was clearly getting the point!

And this is the most recent session tonight (#3 overall).

A few more sessions and I'll have a real sticky nose target behavior!


Relaxation Protocol-Day 1 (kitchen)

This is what Bailey and I did tonight.

Sit for 5 seconds
Sit for 10 seconds
Sit while you take 1 step back and return
Sit while you take 2 steps back and return
Sit for 10 seconds
Sit while you take 1 step to the right and return
Sit while you take 1 step to the left and return
Sit for 10 seconds
Sit while you take 2 steps back and return
Sit while you take 2 steps to the right and return
Sit for 15 seconds
Sit while you take 2 steps to the left and return
Sit while you clap your hands softly once
Sit while you take 3 steps back and return
Sit while you count out loud to 10
Sit while you clap your hands softly once
Sit while you count out loud to 20
Sit while you take 3 steps to the right and return
Sit while you clap your hands softly twice
Sit for 3 seconds
Sit for 5 seconds
Sit while you take 1 step back and return
Sit for 3 seconds
Sit for 10 seconds
Sit for 5 seconds
Sit for 3 seconds

At least, I hope that's what we did... I'm still not sure if I'm doing it right!

We also worked on "It's your choice" with a few modifications.

Surprisingly, it wasn't too incredibly boring the first night. Motivation, I have it!



content  (kənˈtɛnt)
— adj
1.mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are

Tonight, the dogs are content. In fact, all dogs in the house appear to be content.

I took my dogs to the "park" near our house we've recently discovered. It's not a dog park, it's not completely fenced in, and we're probably breaking some law by having the dogs drag leashes, but it provided the dogs with an opportunity to stretch their legs! Bailey was SO happy to run around while we played recall games and she was incredibly responsive to her sticky target/recall cue nose touch. As soon as she saw my hand, she was on the move back toward me!

And Buzz was mighty responsive today as well. I was pretty proud of the elderly boy! We definitely need to find a real dog park and use it at the odd hours, but for now... this will work!

We're now all hanging out on the couch watching CSI waiting for dinner to be ready.

Content dogs make me content.


Reactive Dog Class/THE BIG MOVE

On January 2, 2012, the dogs and I moved to a house in Saint Paul, MN. Since that day, we've been doing our best to keep on going about life as it was before!

In an effort to help us all adjust better, I signed Bailey and I up for Reactive Dog Class. This is only the second type of class she's ever taken in her almost 12 years of life! (The reason for that is worth at least another blog post...)

I keep telling myself "I'm going to be a good student, that's the only way she'll get better and we'll make any progress, right?!" Truth be told, I've not been a very good student so far. I am still walking the dogs together in the morning and often-times in the afternoon as well. Before I can walk them separately, I need to work on each one being left in the bedroom while I take the other out without protest barking. I haven't found a way to safely feed out of a food toy yet (we live with another dog, Bailey guards ALL THE FOOD THINGS and things related to her crate) so they've only had a trachea one day and a frozen kong another. Kibble has been served in bowls like a bad owner! However, I AM carrying treats with me EVERYWHERE. I'm reinforcing our canine housemate for lots of appreciated behaviors, I'm reinforcing my dogs for good leash walking, responding to cues in a timely manner, and the three of them practice eating treats in an orderly fashion. A goal of mine and of the class is to be out working the dogs in public, under thresh-hold at least a couple times a week. Last night the dogs went for a car ride. I never took them out of the car so I suppose that outing doesn't count. However, tonight we went on a real outing!

Lauren and I took the dogs to Urbanimal to explore and walked around outside the store a bit. Bailey and I worked on loose leash walking, our "there's another dog" retreat (cue is a rear end tap), and sit/relax in new environments. The Saint Paul Urbanimal is TINY and there's a dog daycare attached so we didn't stay long as there were DOGS in close proximity and she still managed to keep her brain about her and work under thresh-hold. Chuck and Don's was the next stop on the list! While there she willingly worked on sit/relax in a corner of the store with very few distractions. My rate of reinforcement was high but we accomplished the task.

Tomorrow we will find a place to RUN as I know that physical exercise will help us out. My poor Bailey was used to running off leash 2-3 times a day for 10-30 minutes at a time before we moved. Now she gets some yard time, leash walk time, and sometimes we even go on a field trip. She's severely lacking in the physical activity department!

I even brushed their teeth tonight! We're getting back on track and establishing a new routine.