Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Appointment

Yesterday I had a 2.5 hour appointment with a certified veterinary homeopath. Wow!! Dr. F was great. His background is as a traditional vet before getting turned on to homeopathy. My friend, Michele, was awesome - she came for the three hour ride (x2) and appointment. She was able to add bits of info about Ike and keep me company in general.

Ike was stellar - about 30 minutes into the appointment he told me he was ready to go. Went to the door. Looked at the door. Looked at me. He tried this QUITE a few more times to no avail.

The appointment consisted of me walking Dr. F through every incident of Ike's life health wise and his preferences (food, cold space, warm space, etc). It is difficult because the tool CVH use is for humans, so the vet must translate for canine patients. The vet needs to have a good handle on dogs in general and the new patient. Hence the road trip.

I had to create a veterinary treatment history and profile of Ike for Dr. F. Doing so made me realize how much Ike's nebulous symptoms have escalated in the past year. I am nervous about choosing to go the homeopathic route - who wouldn't be - it is a complete unknown to me. However I don't feel like treating Ike for the bouts of GI distress but not understanding what the underlying cause is accomplishing anything. Michele asked Dr. F if he knew what was wrong with Ike. He said of course, he is out of balance.

The skin eruptions (Ike has had some allergy related bumps this year - the last time he had them was in 2005) and GI distress are signs of his energy being out of balance. Who knows, perhaps his reactivity is also a sign. Although I have to say that I find Ike to be more reactive when he is feeling good which means we might have to take our training and management skills to a different level.

I really don't care WHAT the scientific term for what is wrong with Ike is as long as I can find a more efficient way of having him feel good on a consistent basis.

While we were in the appointment Ike was licking his bum, a lot. This is incredibly unusual. He has only done this once before and I made an appointment for him at the vet's office only to cancel it because he stopped (in August of this year). I groom him myself, so I do not think that his anal glands have ever even been expressed. I know the vet never has - he has never scooted, etc. Last time this happened I saw Dr. Anne while it was going on and she mentioned something about the waning moon and parasites. I'll have to ask her about that again. She did preface the statement with, this will sound crazy. Dr. F did check Ike's anal glands and they were fine. He said Ike was just trying to help him choose the correct remedy.

I had my vet office fax down Ike's fasted blood work and Dr. F doesn't think Ike has hyperlipidemia or that I need to do anything crazy-strict with Ike's diet. Of course, given that homeopathy views all disease as variations of dis-ease, i.e. unbalance of energy I am not surprised that is his opinion.

I am starting a blog to track Ike's reactions to the remedies Dr. F prescribes. It is called Ike Homeopathically. The thing about doing homeopathy properly is every little bit of information is important and a reflection of what is going on internally. Since I do not journal, and if I did I would then have to transcribe my notes into either Excel or Word to send to Dr. F, I thought blogging about it would be ideal. I can just send Dr. F the website and keep it updated.

I don't think it will be a very exciting blog to the average reader, but it might interest some of you who are looking for alternative methods to deal with chronic health issues or even typical health issues without the traditional palliative methods.

OTHER TIDBITS

Dr. F doesn't think Ike should be on a joint supplement right now. His feeling on supplements is that they are just natural drugs and mask signs of internal imbalance. Since we are trying to figure out what is wrong with Ike we do not want to mask ANY symptoms that might lead us to the answer. He says to continue with the Vetri Science Canine Plus, BugOff Garlic, and 3V CAPS for now.

Ike's diet has plenty of variety and the right amount of fat so for the moment leave it as is.

We didn't even get into vaccines really. We talked about them a bit and his opinion about the Rabies vaccine is that you should do your best to have your dog as balanced as possible prior to vaccinating them. I plan on titering for all other vaccines in the future. I would LOVE where Bug is so young, to be able to prevent the systematic damage in him that I feel vaccines cause.

Dr. F also feels the fact that Ike consistently loses his pelvis is a sign of imbalance (and I almost forgot to tell him this tidbit!). He expects that with homeopathic treatment Ike will only be seeing the chiropractor once or twice a year. He feels it is beneficial to continue seeing Dr. Anne as needed.

Dr. F also recommended if I purchase one book on homeopathy and animals it be Don Hamilton's Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs. I was planning on having Barnes & Noble order me a copy, but Dr. F had a signed copy I could purchase. Very convenient.

Ike's first remedy is Nux Vomica and I already have a post I need to write on his morning behavior!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ducks!

Today Bug and I had a herding lesson and Bug got to work ducks!


The control pen was still icy, so we opted to work ducks in the barn. It was pretty cool. Diane had three ducks (I believe they are Indian Runner Ducks) in the barn, separated from the rest of the flock.

We started by Diane letting me know that the ducks will NOT go to the human. Unlike the sheep, the ducks find the handler as frightening as the dog. We let Bug get worked up over the ducks and he was pretty interested.

I am now very glad that we did not switch to ducks when Bug didn't warm up to sheep immediately. Would you like to know why? He was a bit stressed out by the ducks! Even though they are smaller than him. Considering he lets DJ, one of my 'tiels boss him, I wasn't that surprised. He did get braver as the lesson went on and we ended with him bringing me the three ducks a few times.

We worked quite a bit on me exerting pressure with the rake correctly, not moving, keeping my eyes on the stock - not my dog, and keeping my mouth shut! Diane gave all the verbal encouragement today for two reasons - she knows what she wants to see again and Bug tends to return to me when I verbally praise him.

We worked on moving the ducks together out of the corner. To do this I had Bug on a tab leash. I used my hand right near his nose to push the ducks out. The ultimate goal is to get the dog to use his nose to boss the ducks around.

It was interesting to watch Bug try to figure out how to get the ducks to move. He was definitely pretty confident with them but couldn't make the mental leap to moving them with his nose. Considering he does use his nose to move things I don't think it will take him that long to figure it out.

Bug was much less sensitive about the rake which is great. I showed Diane how I have been practicing him moving away from the rake and I have been doing it all wrong. Oi! She said to make sure I always do it on lead so that I can control his head movement. If he moves sideways when I am attempting to have him back away I am to return him to the same location and try again.

It was a good lesson. We both had a lot to take in.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Rally-O #3

Today was Ike's 3rd Rally class. Ike was in a good mood today and really felt like working. He is starting to believe that Rally really doesn't involve agility equipment and enjoy it completely.

I walked him on the course while Jenny was setting up the signs so he could sniff the signs and cones. He didn't become fixated on them when we were "working" so I feel like it was helpful. Jenny also said I could allow him to sniff the unused signs outside the ring (I neglected to, though). She also mentioned that if he continues to be *too* interested in the signs/cones when I finally get around to trying to trial I could bring a couple with me to let him sniff before we were actually showing. I hope that he'll be over it before then though.

Things I need to work on with Ike:

Our fronts are painfully bad. As I noted last class, part of this is he needs an adjustment. Part of it is a training issue. Jenny recommended that I leave my left foot forward a bit as that is the side his little tush kicks out on. It definitely seems to help, so we will work on it. I also need to remember to not look at Ike but look where I would like his tush to be.

Sit-stay while I walk around him. Jenny has given me quite a few good pointers and at this point we really just need to practice. First pointer, The leash stays stationary while you walk around your dog. i.e. it is on an imaginary hook. Second pointer, don't look at your dog!!

I have worked so hard on eye contact that it is a problem .... for me!! I have been trained to maintain eye contact. gah! ;D

Those are the two main trouble points at the moment. The good news is that with PRACTICE they should get better. Jenny also commented that his turning is getting much better. I think I am thinking less about my feet (which will probably bite me is the @ss later).

I still have to figure out my plan for Ike and Rally. We are both enjoying it a lot. Right now the next session isn't a possibility as I only have once Saturday free in January. There is a weekly Heeling with Rally Moves drop-in class I might be able to manage every so often. Two Sundays a month there is a Rally drop-in class (that I have yet to make it to!). I am also going to be doing some semi-privates in January focusing on heeling. We'll see, I guess.

WHO are my dogs?

Hmmm....Holly tagged us on her blog with a fun new game.

We have to think about who each dog would be if he/she were human (personality wise), in general or as a specific person. I will tell you right now, this is REALLY hard. The only one I can easily figure out is Carmen!

Carmen would without a doubt be Reese Witherspoon. She is pretty (when the beard is in good shape) and driven. A GREAT work ethic. Reese Witherspoon's production company is called Type A Productions.

Ike is a very difficult call. He likes a low-key environment and chillin' out, but isn't really that chill a fellow himself. He is a contrarian and a thinker. I think Ike reminds me of Gil Grissom from CSI (Las Vegas). Not really a touchy feely kind of guy, but a good, smart individual.

And then there is Bug. I think Bug would be Owen Wilson in real life. A complete goof with an intense, slightly dark side. I know that is hard to believe of the Bug, but I think it is there.

I am going to tag Blue, K9-Crazy, Dawn, and Diana. If I didn't tag you and you'd like to play, please do. If I did tag you and you don't want to play - please don't! ;-P

-------------- UPDATE --------------

John unequivocally disagrees about Bug being Owen Wilson. He is leaning towards Jack Black. He said Bug has to be someone short, pudgy, and goofy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays, etc.

Ike played with Bug & Nellie!

This Christmas I am thankful that Nellie is spayed. Otherwise we might have cocka-porgis running around. They LOVE each other that much. I think part of it is Bug is just so happy to have a dog that will cuddle with him!

We survived the holi-daze. Ike was sick AGAIN Christmas eve night. He took John on an hour jaunt through Reading at 2am in the morning in the pouring rain. You KNOW Ike is sick if he is voluntarily out in the rain.

Tuesday we had a fasted blood draw done. This will let us know if the boy does have hyperlipidemia. We have an appointment Monday with a homeopathic vet.

Wednesday was the first day back on a raw diet and he got sick. EVERYONE has been diligent about not over feeding him or feeding him table scraps, etc.

It was a stressful day for him - we were at the in-laws with the niece and nephew, their father and step-mum, etc. So, was it the stress?

I gave him pheasant on Wednesday - it is a Primal mix so it is not JUST meat. Is he allergic to pheasant or something in the pheasant? Does he need a home cooked diet (versus raw)?

Yesterday he had rice and cooked turkey treats that I had made (just turkey, parsnip, and carrot) for dinner. Today I gave him some chicken and veggie Oma's with rice. We will see. He seemed to be rubbing his face immediately following his meal. Allergy?

Tuesday we also had a follow-up eye appointment for Carmen. No change in her retinal health. Unfortunately she still has conjunctivitis! What the heck? So the vet prescribed some prednisone drops (which are very expensive!) for her eyes. They already look completely better. The vet feels she is allergic to something in the house. This is basic deduction - everything outside is now dead and she doesn't display typical food allergy signs (paw licking, face rubbing, etc). So dust mites or a cleaner of some sort.

My concern is that the prednisone drops will work and we will stop them and she'll get conjunctivitis again. Since the red eye doesn't really seem to bother her much I am not clear what the course of action should be. It seems silly to be treating something that doesn't really bother her? What am I missing?

Ike has Rally-O class tomorrow and Bug has a herding lesson Sunday. Should be a fun weekend. Due to the snow I think Bug will be working ducks. Very exciting!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Corgis Heart Snow

Schnauzers....not so much.

Pics are from this morning...waking up to a Buggie-wonderland and an Ike-nightmare! Ike's Rally-O class has been cancelled. Now I must see if I can convince him Schnauzers do go the bathroom in the snow. He has been boycotting since 2:30 yesterday. Crazy dog!




Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oh my!

Llama Treats!
That is.... treats made of llama meat for dogs not treats made for llamas!


Same recipe as the ostrich jerky, but baked.

2 lb meat
1 cup rolled oats
1 egg
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup diced fruit.

Bake 25 minutes at 375. Flip and bake 10 more minutes. Voila! It does not smell meaty - rather fruity actually. I suspect the boys will give the llama treats two paws up! And no dough!

Handling

Bug and I attended handling class again last night. It went well. Due to the holidays there are no handling classes for the next two weeks. Then I have a chiro appointment with the boys (1/7) and our first UKC show (1/10)! Gulp.

Last night there was another Cardigan there! A blue merle with tan points! Very cool! She could have been Buggie’s relative in appearance.

I really need to work on picking him up and putting him on the table. I am SO not graceful.

I also need to work on adjusting his feet. I remembered to move from above but was holding his leg too low. Kerry suggested I move his leg up higher, near the shoulder. She said it typically does not bother the dogs as much.

Bug was very happy gaiting and I remembered to relax my hold on the leash while he was doing so!

Lisa was also there with her Vizsla Ryan. We spoke to Kerry after class and she gave us the low down on the Hartford location (February show). Does not sound very nice AT ALL. In a cold basement with a marching band practicing. And a not very safe neighborhood.

I am seriously reconsidering it as my choice for my first AKC show.

Consult with Nutritionist

Yesterday I had a phone consultation with the Angell nutritionist to discuss Ike's diet.

I heard rumors that she wasn’t as “chill” with raw as I had been told by my vet. I expected her to attempt to dissuade me from feeding raw. Nope. Hooray!

First she taught me how to correctly calculate the fat content of the prepared meats I am feeding raw. Take the fat content listed on the bag (in this instance NV, Primal, and Oma’s) multiply times 4. That number is your fat content. (The reason you multiply by 4 is because most raw foods are 75% moisture, give-or-take [Primal Pheasant is 68%]. 4 gives you an easy number to work with.)

In the Primal pheasant that works out to 32% fat. For a Schnauzer my personal goal is to keep it at or under 15%. So, if I were feeding Ike JUST the patties it would be WAY too much fat.

Fortunately for Ike I do not feed him just the raw patties. He gets 1 ounce of meat with squash and cooked greens each meal. The ratio I feed him brings that fat content down to around 10%. Phew.

We discussed the lean meats. No more duck or beef for Ike, even rarely. Game meats, please.

Chicken – white meat only
Turkey – white meat only
Venison (which Ike doesn’t tolerate well, alas)
Rabbit
Elk
Buffalo
Ostrich – she recommended Blackwing Farm
Possibly Goat – depending upon the cut (leg/muscle would be preferred)
Possibly Llama – depending upon the cut (leg/muscle would be preferred)

Dr. R feels I should get fasted blood work done on Ike. If he does have hyperlipidemia that I should put him on a diet that contains no more than 5% fat. Yikes!

We discussed supplements and the calcium/phosphorus ratio. This ratio was the big concern of the vet who gave me major grief. Dr R does not feel like you can balance calcium/phosphorus ratio by making sure you feeding bone. She says the calcium/phosphorus ratio is balanced IN the bone – then you add more phosphorus with the meat. So, you should be feeding eggshells or calcium carbonate with with all meals. (This is if you are feeding raw meaty bones – not an “AAFCO” balance diet like NV, Primal, which the vets prefer). Dr. R feels that Balance IT is the best supplement available as a multi-vitamin/all-in-one supplement.

I have checked the calcium and phosphorus ratios compared to the Canine Plus by VetriScience which I currently use. They are higher in the Balance It formula. There are similar ingredients but different amounts. I e-mailed the makers of Balance IT and unfortunately unless you use one of the "recipes" there is no recommended dosage for the supplement. What a crock. At $20 a "recipe" you could buy Monica Segal's Optimal Nutrition which deals with homecooked meals and nutrition AND raw for the same amount.

Full disclosure: I used a promo code to download a free recipe. It really is a joke - I am not just being a jerk.

Dr. R feels that most supplements do not provide enough of the key ingredient to be preventative/therapeutic/effective. I asked her specifically about joint support and salmon oil.

With joint support she feels that it is very important to give dogs who are involved in performance sports joint support prior to them actually displaying an issue. She feels that the supplement MUST contain both glucosamine and chondroitin to be effective. She recommended Cosequin DS (Double Strength). I currently use Glyco-Flex Classic 600 mg. While this contains 600 mg of Perna canaliculus (Green Lipped Mussel) which have been shown to reduce joint pain, that doesn’t break down to an adequate amount of glucosamine and chondroitin to effect change.

The typical initial dose recommended is 1500 mg of glucosamine and 1200 of chondroitin daily for 1- 2 months. If a response is obtained, the dose can be reduced to 1000 mg of glucosamine and 800 of chondroitin or less.

The Cosequin DS contains 500mg glucosamine and 400 mg chrondoitin.

In terms of salmon oil Dr. R said that the typical product owners use does not contain enough DHA or EPA to be therapeutic. I currently use the Grizzly Salmon Oil and took it out of the fridge to work this over. Each pump is 3.5 ml. 12% of which is DHA and 9% of which is EPA. Doing the math, it works out to under a mg(.4 mg/.2 mg) of those oils! Dr. R said I would have to do about 500 pumps a day to reach a therapeutic level. Gah! I have a brand new bottle I just bought, not even opened.

Dr. R recommends 3V CAPS HP Snip Tips made by DVM Pharmaceuticals. Each capsule contains MORE than the daily recommended dose of EPA and DHA. Since the EPA and DHA will be beneficial to Ike if he does indeed have hyperlipidemia (and it is also good for joint support) I will be switching products.

All in all I found the consultation to be worth both my time and money. Now on to the fasted blood work (appt. Tuesday a.m. - same day as Carmie's follow-up eye appt.) so I can make an informed decision about how to proceed with Ikey P’s diet!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

6th Photo

Amanda from manymuddypaws tagged us!

Here's the deal: You have to check your Photo Archives (or wherever you store your images) then select the 6th file folder, open it & post the 6th picture contained there, with the story behind it.

Now I am supposed to tag six friends to do the same - instead I will be lazy and say, join the fun if you'd like!

Here is the photo:


My mum and the boy on a VERY blustery day!! Kind of funny....I have no clue why she was holding him. Unusual to say the least.

Canine Eye Exams - A Good Idea

I belong to a Schnauzer e-mail list that is very active and has many informed members. When I first mentioned my concern about Carmen's eyes one of the longtime members and breeders stated that she feels "performance" dogs should have their eyes checked on an annual basis. I kind of took it as her typical hyperbole and shrugged it off.

However, I have come to believe it is a good idea. Our classmate Makin (Vizsla) has just recently been diagnosed with an eye issue.

Neither Carmen or Makin were doing agility prior to this year, but the idea of having an annual exam or every other year exam makes more and more sense for a performance dog. Like humans, dog's eyes change as they age.

A CERF exam only costs $50.

I think $50 is pretty reasonable for both peace of mind and the potential to cut off development of an eye issue early. Something to think seriously about.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quickie Training

Worked with Ike on "down" means stay in a down! And let me walk around you.

Fronts....continue to be very crooked and ugly. This is going to need some serious rehab and advice from Katrin/Jenny/Marlene. Perhaps even a private or at the very least SO much more practice/rehab it makes my head spin.

Around - moving to my right and behind me. MUCH smoother than it was Saturday!! Thankfully Ike is a quick learner.

Bug worked with the rake. The rake comes into a neutral position (upright) you move in. The rake moves out (think sweeping leaves away from you, but one motion, kind of?) - you move out.

He actually seemed to think it was fairly fun. I did incorporate clicker and treats, so that is probably why. I am also using a larger rake per Diane's suggestion.

Short and sweet!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Walk Rudely Interrupted

6:20am....dark morning

Cars whiz down Washington Street.

Bug and Ike cross the street at the cross walk with human in tow. Ike is suddenly struck by a smell in the four feet of grass beside the sidewalk and before the house's/yard's retaining wall. Julie spots a human approaching. Out come the clicker and treats. Total attention on dogs. Through the focus we hear,

"Excuse me."

"Excuse me."

"EXCUSE ME."

Julie, turns, a quizzical look on her face, "Yeah?"

woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo

"This is my house," says the lady walking to the train.

woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo

"Good for you, " says Julie anticipating where this is leading.

woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo

"This is my house," the lady repeats. "What are you doing?"

woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo

Aggravated Julie replies, "Getting out of your way so my dog doesn't bite you - you see how he's barking? He's afraid of you."

woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo

"This is my house," the lady repeats like a broken record.

woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo

"Great, this is public domain, too."*

woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo

And off she went to the train while Julie and the boys walked home plotting surreptitious dumps of dog crap late at night.

*Note: I actually contacted the town about this before after another run-in with a totally unhinged lady. Yes, I am a little unhinged too.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rally-O #2

Ike and I had a very good time at class today. Much improved from last week. It was a little quieter and we were both more on the ball.

New things to work on.

Ike will not down and allow me to walk around him in this environment. Or rather he will down but pops up when I start tomove. Need to work on this and then proof while outside and in more exciting places.

Left about turn. Oh, difficult. Remember to turn toward my dog and then bring him behind me.

Straight fronts. Currently they tend to be VERY crooked. Part of this is surely that Ike is not in alignment but most of it just needs training and refining. I find if I use both hands and pull them just a wee bit toward my left knee I get a straighter sit.

I forget what the other station we had a lot of trouble with was called - it was the second one and involved a front and then you took your dog to the right and behind you. I remember what we did, just not what it was called. Maybe Marlene will. Anyway, I need to work on Ike moving around behind me.

A general thing I need to work on is him being tighter with me (in terms of heeling and turning) - I think this will come with practice and comfort.

After class was over I tried to get Ike out to sniff the signs before they were all picked up. He finds the cones and signs fascinating. I am pretty sure this is because he is not clear what the rules of the game are yet and "touch" is one of his default behaviors. Touch is the first operant thing he learned - so he always reverts to it.

I am really enjoying the class and am bummed there are only two more. I will have to see how I can continue with the boy. The tough thing is I already have three weekends occupied in January and two in February so I definitely cannot take another session then. Hopefully I will figure it out. Ike seems to be enjoying himself and isn't too worried. Hooray!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Extreme Ike

As I mentioned in a previous post – Ike was ill on Friday. He seemed better Saturday and Sunday. Then had me out every three hours all night long Sunday-Monday.

Tuesday I took him to the vet to have some blood work done. Ike has been having (EXTREME) bouts of diarrhea every two months or so. In February – the first major bout – his GGT levels were off in his liver. I wanted to make sure things were still the same or better.

Due to the frequency in which these bouts are occurring I hypothesized that Ike might have some form of Irritable Bowel Disease and wanted to discuss it with my vet. Unfortunately my vet was not available. The other vet I saw at the practice closed his ears once he heard I feed raw. Let’s just leave it at the appointment and follow-up call regarding blood work were an utter disaster. Once the vet gave up lecturing on raw it was suggested that Ike has Addison’s Disease, an adrenal gland disorder. Whatever. (Note: the blood work did not indicate Addison’s either time.)

Yesterday afternoon I spoke to my regular vet about the blood work. Ike’s bilirubin levels (liver again) were elevated, but the vet didn’t think it was indicative of anything. He felt it was most likely a result of Ike being sick and that Ike’s liver appears healthy.

My vet was slightly concerned that Ike had elevated levels of lipimea in his blood (fat) after eating boiled turkey with rice for four days. We did not do a fasted blood draw, so the blood work could still be a bit off and a fasted draw might be in our future.

The concern is because Schnauzers are predisposed to idiopathic hyperlipedemia. They have defect in lipoprotein metabolism; i.e. they do not process fat well. Hyperlipedemia can also be acquired based upon other factors like diet. Given that Ike only eats lean meat, it suggests idiopathic hyperlipidemia.

I do not want Ike to continue to suffer through these extreme bouts of GI distress. Nor do I want to stop feeding him a diet that I feel is better for him. I asked my vet if he knew of any vets that were comfortable with raw and he recommended I contact the vet-nutritionist at Angell to discuss Ike’s diet.

If Ike has IBD a lower fat diet is going to be key to controlling it.

If Ike has idiopathic hyperlipidemia a lower fat diet is going to help in controlling it.

He currently only eats lean meat (as I am well aware of the Schnauzer propensity for pancreatitis and hyperlipidemia). I am not sure what else I should/could be doing….

So, we have a consultation next Wednesday with the nutritionist at Angell. I will keep you all posted. In the mean time I am going to start with being more diligent about the fat content of treats I use and freebies that he gets from dh, myself, and the in-laws.

I am pretty sure this takes string cheese off the easy treat list! It also makes me that much more interested in a food dehydrator.

Handling

Last night Bug and I attended the drop-in handling class at Masterpeace. It went really well. Kerry commented on how much more confident Bug seemed. I am sure part of that is my confidence level. I am not as freaked out!

On the table Bug was great about letting me adjust him. For the most part I remember the pointers from previous classes. Lead around my neck, Bug’s front feet placed as close to the edge of the table as feasibly possible, move feeties from above. You can tell he is an old pro at this. Once he was on the table he was “working.” I know that free stacking on the ground is what we want, so I am thinking of working with a clicker to try and get him to place his front feet closer together.

Kerry had us do a triangle and I noticed that people were handling the corner a couple of different ways. I asked Kerry if it mattered. She said it depends upon what you are trying to show the judge. Interesting.

I am getting excited about our first event. I hope it goes well!

Last night I also picked up some of the ostrich jerky everyone has been raving about ($5/4oz – minimal ingredients). It is dehydrated Oma’s ostrich and the boys give it a big paw up. Particularly Ike who is looking at an even more low-fat future. More on that later.

Doggie Nail File

Just like Tracy at K9-Crazy suggested a few months ago....take a look.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Six Things I Like by Bug Powers

Dawn at Days at Daybreake tagged me! Woo-hoo. Mum doesn't usually let me use the 'puter. Even though I am an excellent typist.

Six Things I Like:

1. Squeakies!! Particularly my yellow-ducky squeaker.

2. Ostrich Tendons - they get so stretchy like taffy - fun.

3. Belly Rubs!!

4. Pillows to rest my head on.

5. When dad gives me something off his plate (bad dad!).

6. Sharing the futon with my bro and mum.

hmmm....I forgot to mention.....SHEEP!!

I will tag Pixel and Miley, cause they're so cute (my type of ladies). And Kota and Strata cause they're just starting agility like me.

See ya later....licks and wags, Bug

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Toe Success

The last two times I have clipped Bug's toe nails and have had my husband John hold him. I learned an excellent technique with my attempts with Katrin. I have John sit in a kitchen chair. He picks Bug up and holds Bug, with Bug's back against his (John's) front. Then I clip.

The first week I just did his rear nails since his front nails wear quicker. He gave John a corgi head butt, but other than that it wasn't terrible or as stressful as it had been when we were trying to work on it at Katrin's house. I wonder now if the different location added to his stress.

Last week I did all four feet and I actually completed 2 nails before Bug even realized/decided that maybe he didn't really want this to be happening. John said he felt like Bug was 90% better than the previous week. Pretty darn good improvement!

This week, Bug was AWESOME!! John said that was the final 10%. We have a technique that works. I am going to be SUPER-SUPER-SUPER careful to try not to quick him. I think quicking him would be a major set-back. But now that we have a routine, maybe not.

Wow, two major accomplishments in one day. Go Bug!

He Passed!

Visions Cornerstone Dream On (CGC)

(L to R: Bug, Julie, Ari, Obi, Katrin, Julianna)
As you can see we had a good time trying to get a photo!

Bug & Daisy Playdate

Most of these pictures came out blurry but I will share anyway. Bug and Daisy had a FABULOUS time!!





Rally-O #1

Yesterday Ike and I had our first Rally-O class. We almost didn't go as Ike was pretty sick on Friday. He seems to get sour stomach every few months. I need to talk to Anne about building up his gut. Unfortunately this means that both dogs have very obviously lost their pelvis (Ike from being sick, Buggie from rough-housing maybe?). We don't see Anne until 1/7/09. Hmmm....I might see if Cheryl has any availability. I HATE waiting, especially with Bug - I feel like it is *really* important for him to be in alignment.

Back to Rally-O. It is a large class and a puppy play group is going on at the same time in a different section of the building. Very distracting. Very loud. Poor Ike. I didn't bring his crate in so ran back out to grab it for walking the course. We all walked the course together with Jenny the instructor. As we walked she gave us pointers on how to handle the different stations. The stations must ALWAYS be on your right.

The first station was a serpentine through cones - kind of like weave poles that you do WITH your dog! Then a 270 turn. Etc.

The first run through I was not prepared for Ike not to be 100 % focused on me. Oi! What kind of dork am I? I take him to a training facility he has only been to a few times that is SUPER stimulating (noise and three Goldens! [who are all nice though]) and expect him to be perfect and happy?

So, in our first run through he lagged quite a bit and kept trying to investigate the signs and cones at the stations. Every single one! ;-P

We had the most difficulty with the 270 turns (both left and right) and the call to front. We haven't done a call to front in more than a year. He does a lovely set-up which we worked on relatively recently with Katrin's Heeling class, but no fronts.

As the rest of the class did their runs, Ike kept trying to go investigate a poodle named Boodles and was in general feeling pretty relaxed. No hiding in his crate or worrying. Okay, this was good. Maybe I don't need to be a stressed as I was immediately following that first run through. It would be great desensitization for Ike. If he can learn to work comfortably and happily in this environment he could probably do Rally anywhere.

Second run-through I prepared myself with a hand full of chicken and tried to keep Ike SUPER engaged. MUCH better. I am such a clueless mum sometimes!!

After we talked to a nice woman who has a low-key luxury model GR named Joey. Ike was very good with both the human and her dog. This class might be perfect for counter conditioning his negative association with Goldens too!! It was super to see Marlene work her GR boy Kody. He is gorgeous!

This week I am going to try to practice a down-halt (down on left side at halt), call to fronts, and 270s. I think it is most realistic that I will find the time to practice the first two. We'll see.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Exciting Weekend

The boys and I have an exciting but low-key weekend coming up. Tomorrow Ike starts his first session of Rally-Obedience at Canine Mastery. I hope he likes it! The bonus is my friend Marlene and her GR Kody are in the class - so we will get to see them on a weekly basis for a bit!

Then Bug has a playdate with Daisy the Australian Labradoodle from CGC class. They ADORE each other. I cannot wait to see them tear around together.

Sunday is Bug's CGC exam. And hopefully we will squeak a short hike in there somewhere!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday Night - Thank Dog-Gods

Carmie, Ike and I had the best classes we have had in more than a month. After my Frantic post last week I realized that I have been behaving frantically for a while. So on my way home from work yesterday I decided I would breath deeply, slow down, and try to focus on being more consistent.

Well, what do you know – it worked! Both dogs had super classes and I feel like I didn’t muck it up too badly.

Katrin has suggested I try to allow Carmen to drive ahead of me more to increase her distance. Funny, it makes SO much sense and yet I never thought …. that just because she isn’t going warp speed doesn’t mean I can’t allow her to get ahead of me. Huh. This might constitute another training break through for me. I don’t think Katrin ever phrased it quite like that before or if she did I must have had imaginary fingers in my ears (la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you). I am excited. It worked quite well – that and the consistency. I felt like Carmie was really “on” last night. She nailed her weaves too.

We have been practicing weaves with 12 weave poles and I am considering breaking it down to just six. I am doing 12 because with Ike we had a pop-out issue at pole 10. Maybe it was just the learning curve but I blamed it on learning to weave with a set of six weaves. Now after watching Carmie nail the set of six last night (with two cages on one side), I am thinking maybe I should break it down to six – there would be less to fade. Then I could have two sets of six one after another and slowly move them to a set of twelve. Just a thought.

My *goal* is to have solid weaves by May. I REALLY want this – which I means I SO need to get cracking. Currently it is dark when I walk the dogs in the a.m. and dark when I get home!!! I don’t think I can train Carmie in my mud room like I did with Ike – the lighting isn’t good enough with her eyes. So, I need to buy a halogen work space light (which I have heard give off killer light for not that much $$) or borrow one.

Ike is such a joy to run now that I have sworn off trialing with him. He finds playing agility with me SO reinforcing and he actually has a decent foundation of baby-distance on him. It is fun to see him work. Working him allows me to work more on my consistency, which is good.

With Ike, on the second part of the course, I kept trying to stick a f/c in when he was moving too fast. It is because of my deathly fear of rear crossing (just kidding). But I am not comfortable with r/c because most of the time my dogs are not moving ahead of me. Katrin reminded me of what we had just worked on with Carmie and I worked at sending Ike ahead of me and crossing behind him. It was a little clunky, but by the third time I was getting more of an actual switch and not spinning.

I really do feel like the realization that I do not have to move as fast or faster than my dog is a breakthrough. It will definitely help with my consistency. Now we will see how long this takes to sink in. Last year in January or February I had my consistency breakthrough and I have been working at it ever since – some weeks good – some weeks TERRIBLE!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Biazarro

I am reading Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals by Karen Dawn. Mostly out of curiosity ( I will review when done). I am vegetarian, but am not a hard core PETA-like-animal-rights-activist sort. Anyway, this comic was included and I love it!!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

CGC # 5

Hooray for Buggie!!

Today we did a dry run of the CGC test and Bug did very well. I am particularly proud of his reaction to distraction. Today's distraction was a stainless steel bucket dropped on the ground and someone walking by on crutches. When the bucket was dropped he barely flinched and then looked immediately to me.

Yes!!!

He could have cared less about the crutches. For whatever reason he has no fear of crutches or wheelchairs.

Our loose leash walking in the "real world" is going to be an ongoing project, IMO. However, when we are "working" and I ask for a loose leash he does it very nicely.

I am nervous about next week, but that is because I am a dork. Bug was super. I am very proud of him.

Some Wrestling

....beneath me, of course!!




How Scary!

From Dolittler, Dolittler’s back on the Xylitol attack! (the Rescue Remedy and Tic-Tac edition) :

....newest loser product to adopt Xylitol: Rescue Remedy.

You heard that right. This bach flower extract-containing product we often recommend to soothe our dogs’ high-strung souls has succumbed to the Xylitol dogpile. No longer can I safely recommend Rescue Remedy now that its pastilles contain the ingredient. Though its other products have reportedly not yet been tainted by this sweetener’s potentially dog-toxic effects, I can no longer trust the manufacturer to keep its products Xylitol free without fair warning....

Personally I only use the drops - but this is SUPER scary. Please be aware!

Herding

Yesterday morning Bug and I had a second herding lesson with Diane. It was AWESOME!!

Our first lesson Bug was really stressed about the new location and acted more like the Bug I first brought to Colleen's than the Bug I have come to know. So, yesterday we started our lesson by having Bug move two groups into and out of a center pen. I had a different dog this lesson. He happily moved those sheep about.

The we worked on "get around." Diane tried to teach me to meet my dog, not cut him off. She brought out her AS Mikey and let me work with him. It made perfect sense. I had been taking my eye of the Bug and literally cutting off his forward momentum versus turning and meeting him when he came around. Not sure if that makes sense or not - it is hard to explain, even with sheep.

We also started to work a bit on fetching but it was stressing Bug out, or I was stressing Bug out, or the rake was stressing Bug out. Who knows. So we altered our plan and just worked on me letting him bring me sheep and changing directions. Also keeping him engaged with the rake.

Bug really was stellar and I listened and asked more questions. I also tried not to HELP my dog, which can be hard for me. Diane must have yelled "Don't move" 10 times if she yelled it once!

Diane also showed me a way to take playing with the rake at home to the next level. It is literally the space game with the rake. She showed me how she could ask Mikey to side-step, etc with just a wee bit of gentle movement from the rake. I am definitely going to work on this with Bug. Probably Ike too because he would enjoy it.

The lesson ended on a real high note. Bug brought me the sheep (and I didn't move!) and Bug kept the sheep in front of me! Moving back and forth and balancing the pressure on them. It was awesome.

I need to work on Bug playing the space game with the rake. I am happy to say I am starting to "grasp" more bits and pieces. Backing up was not as hard for me this lesson. Diane was also able to clarify different pieces for me. We have a lesson in two weeks to hopefully build on this week's success.

Impressed

Obi has been very relaxed while staying with me. He slept in Bug's crate last night. We went to bed around 10 and he slept through the night until about 6:30 when he started whining a bit. So off we went for a walk around the neighborhood (on the GL because he is forgetting his manners when walking with the boys! [John, Bug, and Ike]).

Now everyone has been fed and Obi is looking for things to pick up and bring me. He has already brought me a slipper, a cube of post-it notes, and a rolled pair of socks! I decided to buy a few minutes by giving the boys fish skin chews.

I am very impressed with how well he has adapted to being at my house. He is not noticeably worried about "mum." I am sure it helps that he knows me and that I have dogs, but none-the-less - impressive.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Relax Much?

I am making a vegetarian strudel (I accidentally screwed up and bought puff pastry for T-day - so this is to use up the left-over filling) and I hear this loud snoring noise. I thought it was John - that he had fallen asleep watching tv.

Nope, It is Obi!!



Bug is trying to keep a watchful eye on him,

in case he makes off with me in the middle of the night.

Obi So Far

Obi is staying with me this evening so to try out being away from mum. So far he is doing awesome. To give you an idea of what he is dealing with:
  • 1 set of super steep stairs;
  • 2 cockatiels that think big black dogs are super-scary and if they open their wings and hiss like a snake said big dog will be scared (and not MORE interested!);
  • 1 lonely Zebra Finch;
  • 2 Guinea Pigs;
  • 1 jealous Cardigan;
  • 1 Super Schnauzer who thinks welcoming his house to dogs with GOOD manners is no big deal;
  • 1 super husband with a goatee.

It took Obi a second to do my stairs. He stared up them like, "huh, really?" And then up he went. Bug is being a grumble-puss. He is convinced that Obi is going to steal me away somehow.

Once I ate lunch, I decided to take Obi for a walk to try and make sure he was relaxed and had gone to the bathroom. Katrin will be proud - we sat at all curb cuts and there was no pulling on leash.

Second walk after dinner with jealous-Cardi and Super-Schnauzer, a bit of pulling so I put the GL on Obi so as not to reinforce any bad behavior. We want an Ike on leash, not a Buggie.

Obi is interested in the birds and the g-pigs but not overly so. He is more interested in the birds because they react and try to scare him. He could care less about the pigs aside from the fact that they smell good.

Right now I have a Bug asleep beneath my feet and an Obi nuzzling me. Will keep everyone posted. I did try to find some children for Obi to not look at, but there wasn't anyone about this afternoon! I suppose they are still recovering from T-day.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Bug's Bro Luther

Best of Breed - Kennel Club Of Philadelphia, Inc.



To read more about Luther you can visit either Holly's web site or her new blog, Tails of the Visions Cardigans.

Thankful

This year I am thankful for quite a few things. I am very thankful for the Bug and that the Bug and Ike get-on so well. Pics from yesterday's celebration.





























Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Frantic!

That was my handling style last night in class. Not sure why. The course was not particularly difficult but I handled it terribly with both dogs. My biggest issue appeared to be consistency and just forgetting what I planned on doing and then trying to cross too late or forcing an ugly rear cross. As far as reasons why this might be – I woke up feeling really sick – so maybe I am coming down with something!

;-P

Seriously though, I am trying to adjust to running two fast(ish) dogs and it appears my adjustment period will be lengthy. I love having a fast and happy Ike but boy does it make my head spin!

We practiced a tunnel, jump, wrap, dogwalk combo that was really fun. We don’t do a lot of wraps and it took me a minute and some coaching to understand how to make Ike turn faster. The sooner I start my f/c, i.e. the further I can send him from and then make my turn (f/c) the tighter he will turn into the wrap. Very cool to witness that mechanics of it.

I also had a class where every single time I took my eyes off of my dog I lost them. It is not usually so pronounced, or I do not usually take make eyes off them so frequently, or Katrin was just really calling it out. Any-which-way it was a lesson drilled home – the second I took my eyes off of my dog they listed behind me. Lesson learned – do NOT take your eyes off your dog.

The good news is that I collected myself for the final run with Ike. It was quite nice. So, it’s possible….when I am consistent and calm!

Oh, and Ikey was blowing his down dog walk contacts. Katrin asked if I care. I know why he was blowing them – he was moving faster on the dog walk than I have ever seen *him* move. He isn’t used to that and doesn’t have the control to do the down contact at that speed. In a sense I do not care because I will probably not be trialing Ike ever again and a trialing Ike is different than class Ike. But at the same time I do care.

So, I am going to work on asking him to decelerate on the down contact. I am not sure if I will ask for a wait or just slow him with my body language. I will have to futz around. He is so different now than he was. Before asking him to wait would stress him out, but he has more developed control of his rear and isn’t that stressed by me asking him to repeat exercises (over and over). He no longer thinks that asking him to do something again means he is wrong (hooray!). So, I will have to think on it. Since I know the cause of the contact blowing I am fairly certain I can fix it easily. Or train him to take contacts while moving FAST!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kickin' the Bucket

Katrin's right, it is pretty funny.

We are making bucket progress. The bucket is still in the middle of my kitchen. So convenient. Both John and I keep accidentally kicking it and out runs the Bug to touch his nose to it. Hooray!! I am also feeding him next to it and since his bowl moves, he moves and then he bumps into the bucket.

Of course, Ike thinks the bucket is the best thing ever. “Oh, are we working? Let me touch the bucket, paw the bucket, circle the bucket, bump the bucket, down at the bucket, try the paw again.” Exhausting just watching him!!

Bug will touch his nose gently to it after I have kicked it. He will stare at it and offer a down. He will – if Ike isn’t about – take treats OUT of the bucket. Of course, if Ike is anywhere near the bucket Bug cannot even get to it!! Teacher’s Pet, that one.

Now we need to start working on the bucket being swung about and clanging down.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

BUSY Weekend!

Where to start? How about....

You know it is REALLY cold when your Schnauzer's beard freezes.

Friday I went to the Cluster with two of my friends from the Shelter days (Marlene and Michele). Bug had an appointment with Debbie Gross Saunders in the morning to see if she had any recommendations for proactive treatment for his long back and hip. Yes, I am a bit anal, but I would rather be doing this stuff now when he is 2.5 yo and healthy than later.

DGS has very nice energy. Buggie thought she was swell and wasn't really a nudge about her handling him. DGS felt him over and asked if it was his right hip that is slightly dysplastic as it felt a bit tighter. I believe that is the correct hip - although I will have to talk with Holly.

DGS did some deep tissue massage and Bug looked pretty content. Due to the tighness and massage DGS decided we should also use the laser on Bug. To which I said, newbie that I am, "The laser?" Apparently there is a fair amount of research that supports the use of laser in aiding with inflammation and tissue injuries. I have to say that Bug did seem to be moving particularly well after the session.

DGS recommended a couple of exercises that we learned from Mel Henkel at the seminars she did for Maplewood - including what I think of as the flying dog exercise (and might in fact be the actual name). You extend a front leg and the opposite hind leg. The dog uses his core muscles to balance. DGS uggested putting a cd on Bug's back - as long as it stays balanced on his back I will know he is correctly using his core muscles during the exercise. Doing this with Bug - hysterical. It is going to take some time to get him used to being handled in that manner. At the moment he thinks it is freaky! She also recommended extremely steep hill walking and ball work.

Bug, Carmen, and I stayed over at the Red Roof Inn in South Deerfield to make getting to Saturday's trial a bit easier. We were at the Breeze Thru Agility CPE trial in Conway, MA. The temp was about 20 degrees and the wind chill was single digits. We were trialing in an unheated horse barn where the temp inside was still about 20!! We had snow flurries in the afternoon! Our water - along with Carmie's beard - kept freezing!

Even with the brutal cold, it was a great day - what made it even better was that we had the opportunity to hang out with Bill (a member of the Performance Schnauzer e-list) and Maggie, a really sweet rescue Schnauzer. I saw some of their runs and Maggie has really nice drive - she obviously enjoys the sport and enjoys working with her human! Hopefully I will get to see them again at the upcoming (end of Jan) SCAT trial, if we enter it. We also met a Schnauzer cross named Toby with a lovely temperament. I love meeting other Schnauzers at trials - it makes my day!

Carmie and I had a great day. We finished our Level 1 title with a Non-Traditional Jackpot Q/1. Carmie accumulated 54 pts!! The Dog-gods were with us - I was worried as Carmen doesn't have a ton of distance yet. We are working hard on it though as the venues we play in all have some distance requirement and ultimately it benefits you to have a dog that is wiling to work away (right?). Jackpot is similar to USDAA Gamblers, unless it is Non-Traditional. In Non-Traditional Jackpot, the gamble is at the judge's discretion. i.e. they can do whatever they want!

In this class, the gamble didn't have a distance line. You were required to complete 4 obstacles, which included either the A-frame or weaves and had to end on the table. The other two obstacles in the gamble were of your choosing. Weird, but I guess we will take it!

We also Q/1 in L2 Fullhouse and Q/2 in L2 Wildcard. We got whistled off L2 Snooker almost immediately when my body language had her backjump a colored obstacle. Oh well - I need to be more careful! ;-P

In Wildcard - Carmie acted a bit lost on course twice. On the ride home I was thinking about this a lot. That class happened when the sun was at its brightest in the barn. Although the most noticeable issue with PRA is low-light vision, I have read that very bright light can have a similar effect for dogs with PRA - washing out the area. Considering the judge was using her hand as a visor I can see how the same thing could have happened to a dog - especially a dog who's vision is compromised.

The weather was EXTREMELY difficult for humans and canines. I made sure to stretch Carmen and have her do spins and figure eights, etc. I appreciated very much that the judge mentioned that in her briefing. After trialing in such brutal conditions, I think it is safe to say I am an addict (as if I didn't already know that!).

Today Carmen had a spa day and Bug had CGC Class # 4. I am so proud of the Bug. Even with a very bad mum who doesn't do her homework his stays have improved dramatically. He is such a quick study! I think I might need to take some competition obedience classes with this dog. I think he would really do well. And to be honest I need the push of structured classes. CGC has been terrific for making me work on some of the little skills I haven't paid much attention to yet.

Today's new items were:

Test 8: Reaction to another dog

Test 9: Reaction to distraction


Bug did really well with reaction to another dog. Katrin split the class in three and had three teams on one wall and three on the opposite side. Each pair would walk towards each other. We did this multiple times prior to stopping and asking our dog for a sit. We did this a few times prior to actually greeting the individual. Then we rotated so that every team had the opportunity to do a run thru with every other team.

I also decided against using "boo" as my nonsense word. My friend Marlene commented on how it could be considered part of Bug's name since I do call him Bugaboo on many an occasion. Instead I am doing a very annoying "beep" noise. I felt like Bug did better walking with me this week. I don't know if it is because we have been practicing a bit on our walks or because I am not incessantly chanting his name so he isn't forced to tune me out. Either way, I will take it.

We did not do so well with the reaction to distraction. Katrin dropped a stainless steel bucket and Bug tried to hide behind me. Then when she picked it up he acted like he thought maybe she was going to hurl it at him. So, I borrowed the bucket and we are working on making it the funnest thing ever. Right now it is in the middle of my kitchen and I have already kicked it three times.

Do you know you can find salmon treats in buckets that are lying about?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Distance!

Last night both classes were set up similar to a NADAC Chances course. Distance challenges!! Hooray! Distance is something I am desperate to work more on with Carmen.



As you can see (Thanks, Katrin!), the course started with jump, dog walk. Carmie couldn’t see the dog walk at first due to the black contact. She took the space between the dogwalk and the tunnel a couple of times. Once she realized, she was fine and in fact took the dogwalk without instruction a couple of times.

The first distance challenge involved a pinwheel after the dog walk. I frequently “ride the line” instead creating an invisible line that would actually be useful to my dog. Carmen had a lot of trouble with this exercise. I am not sure what the distance was, but it was outside her comfort level. It was also in a corner – not sure if it was harder for her to see? Regardless Katrin and I talked about what I need to do in order to help set her up to succeed.

I am going through a very frustrating period of knowing what I am doing wrong – I can literally feel it as soon as I do it – but not being able to do it correctly. This is a ton better than before. Before when Katrin would ask if I knew what happened and I would guess or not have any clue. Even when she told me half the time I hadn’t felt it/realized my body did that! So, this is progress.

After the pinwheel I tried to stick a f/c bewteen 5 & 6 when I should have waited and done a r/c at the tunnel. This is a problem I have. I try to do f/c ALL the time. Ike isn’t even slow anymore and I am doing this! I essentially cut off my flying little s/p schnauzer and am lucky I didn’t fall on my @ss. Needless to say I went with the r/c before the tunnel the rest of the night.

From the tunnel we went into a distance challenge on the weaves – which we didn’t really follow the line for. And then onto a bi-directional tunnel that allowed for the opportunity of layering a jump. Carmen actually surprised me by not taking the call off jump. She didn’t get the jump she was supposed to take, but had quite some distance. We’ll get there eventually with practice.

She was much perkier than she has been the past two classes (where she was accidentally fed dinner beforehand), but she did seem to run out of steam at the end. She didn’t have the umph! she had earlier. Maybe the cold was getting to her? Not sure. Maybe it was in my head!

I am 88% decided that after the trial this weekend we are going to stick to training and skip trialing until March-April. I think she needs a breather. I am not too crazy about the indoor venues I have been to that host most of the trials locally anyway. 88% sure....

Ike’s class was a blast. He has such joi de vivre now! Amazing. He had some trouble with the distance challenges but not really THAT much – and in a different sort of way than Carmie. In the pinwheel he was able to successfully navigate – it was just U-G-L-Y! He kept reorienting to me for info. He would take the jump and re-orient to me. Obviously I wasn’t giving him enough info, fluidly enough! I did manage to stay on the “right” side of the line though. And he was super happy about the entire thing. No stressing with the repetition.

In the weaves he kept skipping the first pole, my fault. But gods was he trying. This was from the line! Yay, Ike! He did seem like he was starting to stress, so I moved in a helped him out. He handled the last portion of the course very nicely as well. First run he did the same things as Carmen - running between the jumps. The second time he nailed it. I also remembered to cue "Out" verbally which I think Ike actually has an understanding of (must remember that!).

Very fun classes. I think everyone did an excellent job with the distance challenges - and they really are challenges!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Teasel Treatment 2

Last night I did a second Teasel treatment on Ike. He fell asleep. I found myself incredibly relaxed as well. It will be interesting to see, once Ike’s treatment is complete how it effects Bug. Buggie relaxes with me, but more often than not he is go-go-go. Hence the nickname Bug! Will the Teasel treatment knock him out too?

Since we started the Cat’s Claw and Life Exxtension with Ike I KNOW he feels MUCH better. I hope the Teasel treatment adds to that.

I have noticed this past few days with the Lachesis and Aspen (and the Teasel) he is LESS reactive. Thank you dog-gods. I do these things (homeopathy and alternative treatments), because I do believe in the potential for them to work. When they work I am floored (I suppose that will start to happen less and less – the flooring part). This is how people are converted, I suppose. ;D

Monday, November 17, 2008

CGC # 3 (How I Continue to KILL the Meaning of Words)

Yesterday was class three of Bug’s CGC prep class. The new additions to our repertoire were:

Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place

Test 7: Coming when called

Test 10: Supervised separation

Bug is doing stellar with “sit” and “down.” We need to work on our “wait.” At about 10’ he thinks he has waited long enough. This is completely my fault as we haven’t practiced AT ALL. This week I will work with both boys separately downstairs in the mud room. Ike will be working on downs in place. Bug will be working on stay. He was perfect with coming when called.

As the title of this post alludes to, I have also been attempting to negate the meaning of Bug’s name. huh? While loose leash walking instead of using a nonsense word when necessary with “Let’s Go” or “With me” interspersed, I have been doing a nonstop litany of “Bug, Buggie, Bugaboo.” Repeat ad nauseum. Hit me with a bumper, please. I think Katrin would have had she had one handy. Instead she verbally reminded me that I was very quickly making his name mean…. NADA!!

Sh!te. What am I doing? I NEVER did this with Ike. It’s a confidence issue for me. I do not feel confident that Bug will walk WITH me so I do this barrage of verbal tics that unfortunately include his name. I am not yet confident about our relationship. What’s really odd is that for the most part Bug is EXCELLENT on leash – rarely attempting to take me for a walk.

So, I am going to start using “boo” as my nonsense word because I have an aversion to “Pup, pup, pup” (‘cause I am a contrarian like that). I will also try to start using “With me” when Bug is giving me super attention and is indeed with me.

This morning I started re-orienting him to the fact that his name means something. On our walk (about 40 minutes) I called BUG at 5 different points and rewarded him with cookies for immediately turning towards me. Of course Ike says – “Right here, mum” and is IMMEDIATELY at my side. Good goober.

When we were practicing our heeling and halting in class, Katrin had us walk around our dog while in a stay. Bug was fine with that. I think that long back allows him to swivel his head better than Ike or something. He did a great job holding his stay and we NEVER practiced this before.

In other CGC prep news, one of the students brought her children with her to act as part of the crowd. It was a GREAT distraction for Bug because he LOVES kids. It must be a cardi thing. He sees them and says “oh hiya!! You must be my fan club!”

Bug also did his first supervised separation and was totally cool with it. Good boy!

I think the biggest things we need to work on are my mouth, Bug’s stay, and maybe his feet? He takes feet handling as an invitation to act like a complete goof – doing the shoulder grind and saying “Don’t you want to rub my bum?” I might ask Lisa to do this portion of the test next week, too. Just to see if he does it with everyone or only Katrin (who he loves even if she does torture him).

After class I took Bug to the Dirty Dawg Wash to get rid of some of that fur he is shedding and the red sand from Diane’s. Holly and Katrin will be so proud of me – I figured out how to blowdry his bum hair so he doesn’t have a crazy cowlick back there. We are set for the UKC show in terms of beautifying (if nothing else)!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Puppy Development Seminar

Yesterday I attended a seminar put on by the Wachusett Kennel Club. The seminar was on Puppy Development and the presenter was John Rogerson. John Rogerson is a behaviorist from England who has been working with dogs for the past 3o years. It was an excellent seminar - I wish I could have afforded to go to the Aggression seminar he is giving at this very moment.

Below are my notes.
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While we were waiting the last five minutes for all attendees to show up John Rogerson (J.R.) talked about the differences in dog training in other countries. He works with our government, the Cuban government, International Association of Guide Dogs, the Kennel Club in England, teaching at University in India and Italy, etc. He said the UK and US are the only places where you see a group of trainers that are predominantly female.

Apparently the UK Kennel Club has a program to certify trainers called the Kennel Club Accredited Instructor Scheme (aka Program). It is accepted by vets worldwide and takes about 5 years to complete. It includes Learning theory, breed specifics, anatomy/physiology, grooming, law, handling, and ability to teach.

J.R. said he likes to start the series (as this is typically a 4 day seminar and has been condensed into one day for the Wachusett Kennel Club) by talking about the frightening situation we are currently in – that it then DRIVES the seminar.

Dog bite deaths have doubled in the past 6 years in the USA (17 v. 30).

He said in the past the typical British family dog was a small-to-medium dog with wirey fur and on average lived about 15-16 years. It went every where with its people and was very well socialized. He said that the typical British Family dog no longer exists. He said he feels that is part of the problem.

People – “pet owners” NOT “Dog Enthusiasts” – are owning dogs bred for a specific purpose and expecting them to be a companion. He strongly feels this plays a part in aggression, as does ordering dogs off the Internet, and the number of “pet owners” who own a 2nd dog to keep the first dog company.

In his opinion for the “pet owner” all owning a second dog does is dilute the owner’s influence by 50% and increases dog-dog aggression. He claims that in an area where a doggie daycare has recently opened dog-dog aggression increases.

Back to puppies....

Breed Standard – Genetics versus “pet owner” expectation. Genetics gives the possibility. Owners need to control it.

Genetic behavior is pre-programmed at birth. It is inflexible to any kind of modification. For instance do you not expect a Doberman to want to guard it property? Genetics can be CONTROLLED with training but not manipulated.

Puppy = Genetics + life experiences at home with breeder + new owner.

Be aware of impact of other dogs in a breeder’s home on puppies. Puppies use dogs other than the mum as role models.

From 3 weeks on all sense are working and play develops.

Play:
1st true interactive behavior – pawing
2nd mouthing, lock mouths
3rd Wrestling
4th Chasing

Play is important because it allows pups to compare against each other, bond with other pups, relax, and allows them to practice life skills (terriers – mouth, BC - chase, Rottis – wrestle)

Play Biting.

J.R. feels that all the things we do to extinguish biting activities tells our dogs that biting and playing with us is not okay.

He feels the best way to stop play biting is to bring your pup into a room, tether him to a door or the wall and interact with the dog and the toy. If the pup’s teeth touch your skin – you move outside the reach of the tether. Once the pup picks up the toy again be it out of frustration or whatever – re-engage play. Dog more easily learns that play doesn’t happen when teeth touch skin.

Good breeders have the opportunity to instill appropriate play skills in pups. Give puppies more toys than pups and of a very large size so that the pups can interact with the toy and each other without their teeth touching other pups. Rotate toys to keep them novel. He said he sees a 90% decrease in pups being mouthy with humans using this technique and cuts down on possessiveness (as there are always enough toys). The bonus is you have a very toy driven dog. Versus a dog that has had the play drive extinguished and the owner now must rely on food as a reward.

The big question is what happens to a puppy between purchase and being dropped off at a shelter. It is a combination of genetics, what happened at the breeders, and you.

To prevent separation anxiety from 3 weeks on mum needs to be able to remove herself from the puppy area at will and get back in whenever she wants. You do not want to lock mum in a different room because that can cause to increase sep. anxiety. Pups bark for mum. She responds but is unable to get to them. Pups hear her response and hear that “Yes, There is a reason to be worried.”

Where puppy is kept at the breeders is their model of the world. 2/3 of the surface should be something that is common in households and will most likely be found in your house (rug, hardwood, linoleum). 1/3 should be a novel surface. Mum will house train the pups by teaching them to seek out someplace other than where they eat and play to go to the bathroom.

Creating a reactive dog.

Mum is GREAT with the breeder, but when a new individual arrives – woo woo woo.

New individual makes off with one of your littermates!

New individual arrives, mum – woo, woo, woo.

New individual makes off with another littermate!

This is imprinting and imprinting is FOR LIFE. The first pup may be able to recover with proper socialization, maybe. Pups 2, 3, etc – CANNOT recover from this. Will most likely always think people are creepy. All you can do is control the reactivity. Mum has very effectively taught these pups, “Trust with your life the people you live with – no one else.”

Possession Issues.

Feels breeders can begin to prevent this by having more food bowls, water bowls, and toys – teaches dog there are enough resources.

To test at home with your pup walk up while they are eating. If they start to eat faster they are a bit possessive about their food. What to do? Break food into two bowls six feet apart. While dog is eating a bowl A, walk up to Bowl B and sprinkle chicken on it. When puppy moves over to Bowl B to check out the yummy chicken walk up to Bowl A and sprinkle chicken on that bowl. Puppy quickly starts to understand that not only is there plenty, but if you let the human near it you might get something better.

J.R. firmly believes that in the cases of food aggression, reactivity, etc. if the puppy is 12 weeks or under you should return them to the breeder.

J.R. believes that the socialization period is even shorter than the commonly accepted length of the 3 weeks to 12 weeks. He feels it is 3 weeks to 9 weeks. He feels that getting a pup at 12 weeks is buying a book that is already written.

If he said it once, he said it 10 times – the key to the future success of dogs in our community is supporting GOOD breeders – they have the opportunity to change things.

J.R. feels that puppy class lesson plans and training techniques should be geared more towards the make-up of the specific breeds in the class. For example, he feels a guarding breed (which has a natural propensity for possessiveness) should never be taught to tug UNTIL they have a very solid retrieve (which is a game of sharing). J.R. feels one of the biggest problems with puppy classes is that they are geared to Dog Enthusiasts and not the general public and it is the general public who needs them. He questions why we still include so many competitive obedience pieces when it is really general skills the owners want.

If you are teaching a socialization class and we are saying socialization occurs from 3 weeks to 9 weeks you have 1 week from when the pup arrives home. J.R. suggests intensive 1 week class. First night at his house – he controls all the food, water, and toys. 2nd night at a classmates house, Classmate controls all the food, water, and toys, etc. Teaches pup that we are all the same – we are a community. Feels it is more important for pup to play with appropriate adult dogs than with other puppies.

J. R. cautions that names are very important and can be self-fulfilling for owners and dogs. Feels they are a window into the owner’s psyche. If they have named their Yorkie Saddam or the JRT Snap and they are a pet owner – what do you expect?

One of his favorite things to do for puppy class is ask the owners to go online and prepare a 5 minute spiel on their breed for the first night – which is without puppy and goes over training methodology, local dog law, responsibilities, and asks WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR YOUR PUPPY?

Many people do not actually know what their dog was bred for or why it is important and might impact their training.

Pulling.

This is how J.R. teaches a dog not to pull. He uses something called Premature Conceptual Learning which he learned from elephant trainer is the Philippines.

At 5 – 6.5 weeks old the breeder should take each puppy into a different room, alone. Put a collar on them and tether them to the door or the wall. Sit next to the pup and wait. He said one of four things will happen.

1st scenario – pups pulls and then gives up and relaxes the lead
2nd scenario – dog is scared and you reassure him and he relaxes the lead
3rd scenario - Temper tantrum and then relaxes the lead.
4th scenario – puppy is in distress and might submissively urinate.

Scenario 4 is the only instance in which you should take a step back and build up to the situation. He said that 3 – 4 10 minute sessions very effectively teaches a dog that pulling gets him no where.

For dogs that pull on lead and are older than 5 – 6 weeks. Buy a new lead. Pretend you are holding a full glass of water in your hand with the leash. The second that water cup would be dumped – you pretend to take a nasty fall. Act hurt. Slowly get up. Walk in a pained manner for about 50 yards. Do this about three times. Assuming you have a relationship with your dog they will begin to worry that they are causing you to be hurt and will adjust their pulling behavior to prevent hurting you.

All training is DESIRE. Desire to gain something that benefits them. Desire to avoid something bad.

How much desire does the owner have to train?

Recall.

J.R. says NEVER teach a recall in the backyard.

J.R. suggests driving someplace about an hour-and-a-half away where you can allow the dog off leash in an open space. Let the dog off leash. You stand in the same spot. Allow dog 20 minutes to explore area. Then walk to the car door, open the door, call your dog, and wait 30 seconds. If he is not en route, you get in the car and drive down the road.

Why?

The dog is someplace he has never been before. He does not know how to get home. He should be cognizant and have a good enough relationship with you that he recognizes you are his only chance of surviving. If he does not then you need to work on your relationship with your dog prior to trying to teach a recall.

He suggests driving only a half hour away for puppies.

Teaching Down Stay.

First introduction to the down stay should happen after you have run your dog ragged, fed him, and then asked him to down. The first time a dog does a new behavior effects how they will do it forever more. We want to teach our dogs that a down stay is relaxing and self-rewarding.

Magnitude of Reinforcement.

Ask you puppy people to list:

5 foods in order of absolute favorite to okay
5 toys in order of absolute favorite to okay
5 ways to touch the puppy or dogs in order of absolute favorite to okay

If your puppy people cannot do this they should work on their relationship with their dog. When training, start with lowest reward in the beginning. Save the higher reward to strengthen the training.

Playing.

Toy should fire off some natural instincts in the dog.

Teaching Retrieve.

Start with lower value toy. If you throw most valuable toy why on earth would they want to bring it back to you. Puppies and dogs have a natural desire when they have something new and novel to take it off in a den to examine it.

Put a coffee table in the corner of the room creating a den. Toss the toy toward the table – about halfway. The pup will run after toy and then continue to the coffee table. Walk over to the coffee table – crouch down and face away from the coffee table (so your back is facing the puppy). Quietly stroke the dog. Once the dog relaxes take the toy back to the same spot and do the same thing. Do this about six times.

Now move so you are sitting on the coffee table. Toss the toy away from you. When he heads toward the coffee table – there you are. Introduce trade. Trade the EXACT same toy for toy he has “retrieved.” After dog is doing the efficiently move from coffee table – you will find dog begins to come to you. Then remove coffee table.

With tugging J.R. recommends pulling in toward your stomach and letting the dog pull out. He doesn’t recommend head shakes as he feels they can escalate out of control too quickly as they mimic a killing shake.

Motion Sickness.

Breeders can help minimize puppies that have motion sickness by putting them in a crate in the center of the care with cardboard on the sides so that they can only see forward and backward. Do not feed them prior to the first few trips.

Another suggestion is something called a grounding strip. Something to do with the static electricity can cause motion sickness.

For incorrigible counter surfers who have humans who are not willing to do management he recommended double-sided sticky tape.