Friday, May 30, 2008

Weaves # 6 - the BIG Bang

Last night was our final weaves class and it is obvious that Carmen is really starting to catch on regarding the weaves. We did not have the same problems we have been having (entries). yay! It is also obvious that she is a lot more terrier than Ike is. She charged Blue and Iris. She charged Callie. She was a COMPLETE AND UTTER NUDGE when she wasn't running a course. I have to check the lunar calendar. Is Mercury in retrograde or something?

I am VERY pleased with her performance when it comes to agility equipment - not so much when it comes to other dogs. Poor Iris was in her crate when Carmen decided to go on high terrier alert. So, Carmen is on much more than "Ike" watch. In general I have been pretty happy with her behavior regarding other dogs in class, last night was more of an exception than the norm and it was extreme and somewhat depressing. Fortunately Carmen is not like Ike and I can scruff her and then she can go back to playing. Katrin referred to her as a dictator dog which is SO apt.

I am taking part in an earthdog training hosted by the Greater Boston Area Earthdog Club on the 8th (and if the Ike likes it - continuing to train). My original intention was to do it with Carmen because I think she will rock at it. However, after talking with Katrin and last night's events, I am definitely going to hold off on doing it with Carmen. Ike can be my doggie g-pig! I think he will like it and hopefully it will boost his confidence. Once my relationship with Carmen is cemented I will try her at earthdog. She tries to climb trees after squirrels, so I think it is safe to say earthdog would be right up her alley.

In the meantime, we will be continuing to practice our weaves and starting the Five Directions class in June.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ike Smiling

Ike is indeed slacking off on the fun policing. Very odd. I hope the earth doesn't spin off its axis!

Bug & Obi Go Swimming!

Hmmm....I'd really like to get down there...

Do I dare? Obi says, "Heck, yeah!"


Helping Obi harass the Mont-Monster - what fun!

Mont says, "We corgis are supposed to stick together!"


A good roll....

Ike says, "See the stuff that goes on around here?"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Full day!

This morning I took the boys over to Gilmore's with me to pick up some bedding and hay for the piggies. I decided to buy a bale of hay and put it in the huge Oxbow box that I haven't broken down yet. Heh-heh. Very tricky and I saved myself $50!!

Gilmore's is an agriculture store on Rt 27 in Walpole. They carry minimal doggie stuff, but lots of wild bird stuff, hay, bedding, etc. On the way home I decided to stop at a trail head I always see going the "back-way" to Walpole in Sharon but have never stopped at. It has two signs, one says Town of Sharon, the other says .4 mi to Warrior Trail. Nothing else. I have NO idea what the trail belongs to, but the boys and I decided to check it out.

It is a double-set of wooden stairs up to the actual trail and the stairs are the type that are open in the back. I was worried the dogs would think that was scary, but they did not. Hooray. We hiked out about 15 -20 minutes before I decided I wasn't wearing the proper footwear and since there were no signs, just trails branching off of trails, I would be better off visiting another day and being better prepared (water, anyone?).

Later in the afternoon Ike, Carmen, and I had an hour and a half lesson with Erin. As always, it was educational. Erin typically has me walk the course she has set-up a couple of times, and then walk it with her and tell her what I am thinking about doing and why. At times it is frustrating in a positive way - I don't always know my own intentions or I think I am looking at it from the dog's perspective until Erin says something that makes me question everything! To be honest I don't plot my handling as much as I should (in the sense that it would benefit me), I feel it more. In addition I find the AKC style courses much more complicated because I am not used to them.

We then break the course into chunks and eventually run the complete course. Today ended up being pretty hot so we alternated between dogs and made sure to keep Ike's runs happy, happy. Keeping Ike's runs happy didn't require much - he wasn't trotting AT ALL, he even broke into a canter on the dog walk (unheard of)! I brought the monkey out and he happily played with it with Erin right there. In short, he continued his current "agility-rocks" mood. I know I must sound loony but I SWEAR it is because I told him he doesn't have to trial anymore.

Carmen was also really good. Erin could definitely see the progress we have made since we saw her a month ago. I so think there is something to Katrin saying Carmen thinks some obstacles are boring. She hasn't seen that many contacts and dang if she doesn't think contacts are the coolest thing ever. I kept having to call her off them. Of course, if I did a better job about my body positioning she wouldn't be thinking random contact obstacles are asking to be done!

Every dog has important lessons to teach you and I think Carmen's job is to make me a better handler. I can not get away with half of the stuff I can get away with-with Ike for a combination of reasons. She commits so much more fully to running the course with you and she is much more responsive to my body language because she assumes if my body is saying it, I must mean it! Ike says, well, your body says one thing but your words say another, let me wait until you clarify further.

I was really happy with how much fun Ike had and how good Carmen is. She tries so hard to figure out what I want. I love it. She also makes me appreciate so much the relationship I have with Ike. And lest you think Bug has been neglected, we worked on down and shaping some movement to and around a toy. Right now he thinks I am a bit loony. AND (most important!) he and Ike were tearing around together this morning, on our hike, and this evening. It's official - Ike likes Honor!


Channel 5 has a video interview up with a woman who lost her dog after a rabies vaccination. Although it was shown at 11 o'clock and only a 2 minute piece it will hopefully prompt some thinking by viewers. And *thinking* is all we are looking for! Here's the link.

The yahoo book club DogRead is watching the DVD In Search of the Truth About Dogs by Catherine O'Driscoll in the month of June. Ms. O'Driscoll wrote a groundbreaking book on vaccines called What Vets Don't Tell You About Vaccines after losing her two Goldens very young. This book has been on my reading list for a while. I don't always keep up with either Dog Read or the Clicker Solutions reading list. I don't have time. However every so often what is on my reading list will coincide with the authors they will be hosting. Yes!! And they have a 10% off deal with Dogwise for people who aren't APDT members (APDT/CPDT members get a discount).

So, I think I will pick up the DVD (which is only $15.95 at Dogwise) and the book!

Tuesday Night Class

Last night was Ike's Tuesday night agility class. I went over to my in-laws to practice with Carmen, and then left Bug with my FIL. So Ike had the evening ALL to himself!

He was great!! I was actually out of breath from running him - which probably says more about my conditioning program than his speed! But seriously, he was ON. We ran the same course twice and the second time I gave him a really ugly entry to the poles and he didn't even bobble. I also flew ahead of him during the tunnel, tunnel, tunnel sequence and he almost blew by the tunnel and then said - oh, it is in my p-o-t (path-of-travel), better take it. Yeah, Ike!!

Last week we discussed "switch," and this week there was a nice serpentine in the course design. A serpentine is the name for a series of obstacles (most often jumps) that are set up in such a way so that the dog must alternate its direction away from and toward the handler (switches aka lead changes); essentially running in an "S" shaped path. With Ike I was able to get one FC in after the first jump, but then forgot the second one twice - in part because I was flabbergasted by Ike's speed! I also fall prey to the fact that I *think* about a serpentine as a series of obstacles which is handled from one side, which isn't necessarily true. I need to retrain my brain (in a lot of ways).

In typical me fashion, I am of course over analyzing where this speedy Schnauzer has come from. I was talking to my friend Michele last night after class and she pointed out that with Ike it is typically many things, not one moment. True enough. He is feeling better, he has competition, I have totally changed what I am rewarding on walks, I told him he didn't have to trial any longer.....I think that is one of the biggest reason I am seeing a major change. Oh well, I will take a happy-speedy Schnauzer over trialing any day of the week.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rascally Ike

Since I have started working on Honor's "down," I have also been working on assorted things with Ike. There is nothing Ike likes more than training at home - he thinks it is the best game we humans ever invented. We are working on dropping into a down while walking, push back stand from a sit, and sit from a down. The last two Ike is having some trouble with, but nothing unheard of.

I have a small piggie xpen that is about 18" tall that I use to block one of the dogs from coming into my computer room so I could work with the other dog. Last night I worked with Ike first and then switched to Honor. Ike immediately hopped the piggie xpen to get back into the room and keep working. So, I closed the door. Silly boy.

I think I am going to do some shaping with Honor and get him to loosen up. Right now I feel like he stresses out a bit if he can't figure out what I want. I want him to just try things and not worry.

He loves to take ALL of the stuffies out of the bin and be surrounded by them. Teaching him to return them all to the bin would be an excellent trick - but that is down the road!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Favorite Alley Photos

(John split his head open playing bball - hence the bandage)

Friday, May 23, 2008

One Year!!

Hey, I have been blogging for one whole year. I started this blog as a way to keep track of what I was learning in my competition obedience class. When I finished the obedience class and decided to continue only with agility, I kept blogging! It has been an awesome tool.

Recently when Ike started acting so funky and I was starting to get down I was able to read back and say - "Oh, It's only been a month of extra-bizarro behavior. Phew!" If I look back to where Ike and I were a year ago I feel like much more time has passed with all we have learned. How could all of this have happened in a year? Wow.

Happy Blogging!!

Weaves # 5

I don't really feel like posting but feel like I would be remiss not to. Weaves continues to be an interesting class. While we were setting up the course Carmen, Bug, and Monty were loose running around. Callie arrived and Carmen was somewhat obnoxious trying to intimidate Callie. I scruffed her and she screamed bloody murder. Oye. Talk about my emotions getting the better of me - Carmen is a DRAMA QUEEN and I know this yet I felt like a complete and total heel. I am not saying I handled it in the best way - since as Katrin said, me being there could be interpreted as "backing her up" (among other important factors like the timing of the scruff, etc) but I also didn't handle it completely inappropriately (just mostly). Yet my emotional response to Carmen being a DQ was a bit over the top. I am definitely emotionally exhausted.

Carmen proceeded to behave really well with Callie and Meeka running around loose and for the rest of the class. Yay!

Carmen is so funny. She REALLY wants to learn, wants to figure it all out. My somewhat lackadaisical training at the moment isn't helping her! Slowly but surely she is getting it. Katrin noticed that upon exiting the weaves she turned AWAY from me, not towards me. Unusual!

She is also currently not recognizing tunnels or finding them terribly boring. Either which way it is something to work on. I am on vacation next week, so I am planning plenty of puttering, hiking, and training, and that's it!!

This afternoon I started seriously trying to train down with Bug. At first he was all freaked out - which was definitely not want I want! Katrin recommended I teach him a fold-back down versus asking him to down from a sit. She said she had more luck with the fold-back down with Destinee (Honor's sis) than from a sit. In a fold-back down you essentially hold the treat beneath the dog's chin and slightly back and the dog "folds-back" into a "down." I got about 8 downs out of Bug and two of them were actual fold-back downs. I will take it!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Alley Cat Powers aka Alley, my Chunkey-Monkey

I picked Alley up at about 3pm yesterday. Dr. Kirk had called and said he was really concerned and wanted to refer her to a specialist. I asked about Dr. Warner. She is practicing at Phoenix Veterinary Hospital in Wayland and Dr. Kirk called and she was happy to see us. Yay!!

When I picked Alley up in Medfield, my poor piggie looked like she had been run over by a truck - flat and listless. G-pigs certainly are not supposed to look flat. She looked 100 times worse than she had in the morning. She had been given food and fluids - she should have looked better.

When we got to the Phoenix Dr. Warner said she was willing to take Alley home overnight and try to nurse her back to health. I told her I wasn't asking her to make the decision for me, but would her trying to nurse Alley back to health be for me emotionally versus for Alley? What did she think? Would she make it? Dr. Warner said a g-pig presenting like Alley was had maybe a 10% survival/recovery rate.

Okay. Dr. Warner went and cut some dandelion greens from the hospital's garden to try and tempt Alley. She failed the dandelion test (g-pigs LOVE dandelion greens). I had already made the decision to have Dr. Warner euthanize her (I can't bring myself to say put-down it seems wrong). I didn't want to keep her alive, depressed, and miserable for another 24 hours essentially for my emotional health. That wouldn't be fair. Alley then had a seizure, which confirmed I was making the right decision. Dr. Warner said given Alley's age (2.3 yo) it had to be either malocclusion (when the teeth don't wear properly and prevent eating) or something in the gut. It happened so dreadfully quick.

Dr. Warner took Alley out back and anesthetized her and then brought her back so I could hold her while she injected her with the poison. They anesthetize pigs first because they inject the poison into their chest and even a sick piggie isn't going to want to be placed on their back or side like that. Alley was still so dehydrated Dr. Warner had difficulty getting any blood to come up into the syringe.

I brought her home to bury her in my in-law's backyard. Their backyard is huge and backs up to a creek. There is a grove of trees between the open part of the yard and the creek. I chose a spot that should get dappled sunlight beneath a large tree. On the way home I stopped and bought two pots of St. John's Wort which is considered an "invasive" herb and has pretty yellow flowers; due to its invasive nature I hope it will survive with partial sunlight. I thought the St. John's Wort was appropriate because I am heartsick about losing Alley and because she was obviously so ill and depressed. My FIL gave me a nice cobblestone for a marker. After I dug the hole and placed Alley, wrapped in a blanket, in it and started filling the grave in, I placed the cobblestone (which is at least 10" long) in the hole standing up. I buried the stone with about 4" sticking out and the St. John's Wort on either side.

Just as I was finishing the sun officially set and the grove was filled with golden sunlight. It was truly beautiful and special. Alley was what people would refer to as my "heart" pig. She reminded me SO much of my first g-pig, Punk-rock Petey who was a long haired Peruvian g-pig. He was awesome. He used to sit on me for hours while I read. Alley was exactly the same - content to just be with you. After everything I went through with Zeke, I expected him to be my heart-pig, but it was Alley. My unassuming little chocolate sow who was so, so special. She was a chocolate brown American with a white blaze and her lower lip was perfectly split between pink skin and brown skin.

I am pretty heartsick. This is the month the g-pigs were due for their annuals, so I will make appointments for Izzy and Zeke with Dr. Warner. She is a VERY special vet and I feel lucky that I was able to have her euthanize Alley.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuesday Night class and Alley Cat

Last night Ike had agility class and he was such a good little Schnauzer. He was trotting versus running most of the time, but he wanted to play. I got wags for nothing!! Cat, Tessie, and Strata were there last night. Ike thinks that Cat is the scariest human ever - not sure why. She does have a commanding voice and very long hair.... I am impressed that he was pretty focused and not that reactive about her - especially considering Cat had a PUPPY (Strata) with her. Eeeek!

The course was nice and included 12 weaves, the dogwalk, and the teeter. I tried to reward Ike every three or four obstacles and make sure he knew that I was SO happy he was playing with me! I was distracted because one of my g-pigs is very sick and I was deathly afraid my distraction was going to carry into class and make Ike stressed and not want to play. Either he really wanted to play (because he has competition?) or he was trying to take my mind off of things because he was a good boy.

Now, if only I can make my dog move faster. After the run Katrin asked what I could do to make Ike move faster - I think I looked at her like, "Duh?" Not a single thought went through my head (Huh, this seems to be a recurring theme - vacation anyone?). I did feel that my movement was more consistent in general (perhaps I am getting the hang of that?) and that it is helpful to Ike. I didn't even think about my movement until this morning, so it is becoming part of how I move on course, which is good.

We also practiced "switch" on the flat and Ike is doing awesome! No spinning as he tries to figure out what the heck I am asking for. To practice "Switch" on the flat the handler walks in a straight line forward, using the hand that is on the opposite side from the dog to "pull" them (with a treat initially) to the other side (this movement happens in front of the handler). Apparently Ike just needs time too process these things. Now we need to practice more so we can start to use it "for real."

As to my g-pig. Poor Alley Cat. I noticed yesterday that she was not moving much or eating her hay. She is my jailbreak chunky-monkey piggie - she goes ballistic when there is food around. None of that yesterday. I gave her some romaine lettuce leaves and she did eat those, but that is it. When I got home from work , same thing. After class I mashed up some pellets and water and force fed her a little bit. G-pigs are like horses and are supposed to be constantly grazing. When they do not eat, their body VERY quickly shuts down and turns on itself.

We have an appointment with my vet this am, but unfortunately Dr. Warner (who specialized in exotics) left the practice and they do not have an exotic specialist. So, we are going to see Dr. Kirk. There are some things that they can do. Cross your fingers. Both dogs are very worried about Alley and me, which is sweet. They try very hard to make things "alright." Such good doggies.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Weekend Update

Busy weekend!

Saturday I took the boys up to visit with Nellie. I had placed a large PetEdge order earlier in the week and we stopped to play with Nellie and the boys' nana after picking it up. The order included my very own grooming table! I finally decided that working on a card table wasn't optimal (it only took 4 years). I bought PetEdge's "best seller" table and a grooming arm. yay! Unfortunately when I got the table home it had been slightly smooshed in the box and one of the legs will not extend (it is adjustable height). Oh no. I am grooming Schnauzers next weekend so I will need to run up there first thing Saturday morning and exchange it for a non-smooshed table.

Nellie was VERY happy to see the boys and Bug was very happy to see Ms. Nellie. My mum's backyard is great for tearing around, so the dogs played for a few hours and tuckered themselves out!

Sunday Ike was entered in his first AKC trial but I scratched him due to the Lyme flare-up and his mental health vacation request. As a result I had to attend a graduation party. Eeek! It wasn't TOO terrible. I took the boys to the Bradley Estate in the morning (for a 30-40 minute mini-hike) and they had a grand old time romping around. Ike found a dead frog that had been torn in half and tried to roll in it. Silly boy! And HonorBug tried to drink out of a stagnant pond - reminds me of Monty! Silly boy!

Carmie and Ike both practiced their weaves Sunday and Carmen is doing MUCH better. Hooray! Honor now knows "sit." Now onto "down."

I noticed this morning that Bug didn't want to go down my stairs so I think we must have overdone it this weekend. We will be doing some stretching tonight and making that a regular part of our routine. I *hope* he didn't knock his pelvis out playing with Nellie and that it is just that he was stiff. We have a vet appointment tonight where Honor will be weighed to make sure I am feeding him enough! ;-P and be tested for heartworm, Lyme, and meet Dr. Kirk. Wednesday Honor will have his second appointment with Dr. Anne. I am going to ask her to take a closer look at him and see if there is anything I should do other than stretching, strength exercises, and possibly arnica when we have overdone it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gratuitous Kong Photos

Bug with his Kong

Ike with his new "Senior" Kong for gentle chewers (or quitters, depending on how you phrase it)!

Honor making sure Ike's Kong is actually done.

In his favorite spot....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Small Beef Bones

I gave "the boys" small beef bones for dinner last night. I am amazed at how adept Ike has become at eating raw and what a novice HonorBug is. Bug said he was done when his bones still looked like this:

Versus Ike's bone:

I split Honor's bones and let them each have one to gnaw on. Honor took his to his favorite chew spot - under the coffee table.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Weaves # 4 and Ike thoughts

Oh man, where do I start? Carmen was super last night. I didn’t have a chance to practice with her as much as I would have liked this week, but what I did do paid off. She is definitely seeking the weave entry and starting to grasp the concept of weaving. In practice I discovered the biggest issue is where I am and where I stop my movement, etc. It affects her SO much! I need to train myself to stop my forward movement sooner so I can start to get a more consistent performance out of her.

Last night I continued to have trouble remembering to stop my forward motion! Katrin set up two jumps, one set of weaves, and a curved tunnel. In class we are down to only two gates on the weaves and Carmen handled that pretty well. The second run Katrin took all the gates off (or maybe just left one?). Anyway, we both had HUGE trouble with that! I was too close to the poles and pushing Carmie WAY out. Katrin reminded me I shouldn’t be saying “Poles” because it doesn’t mean anything to Carmen right now and I certainly do NOT want it to mean miss the poles. Duh. Anyway, we tried again and I had total brain freeze, didn’t say anything and Carmen nailed the entry!! It was hysterical.

I need to practice striding alongside the weaves versus jogging/jigging/dancing – I think it is stress displacement by the handler!

I also fell into the trap of rewarding Carmen for hesitating. Clever beast #2, dumb handler/mum! This is particularly frustrating to me. After Katrin mentioned my tendency to reward hesitation I noticed I do it with Ike all the time on walks. I have been working super hard at only rewarding him during movement and not rewarding hesitation or balking (and we have been doing great at this all week!). I guess I am so focused on it with Ike that I forgot about it with Carmen. Gah! Lots to work on.

It’s a difficult transition, from Ike to Carmen. Ike is going to be 6 in October – we have spent a long time perfecting our dysfunction. Katrin says it is easier with dog # 3, I hope that’s true!

I am going to take the Five Directions with Carmen next session. Katrin and I discussed it last night and agreed I will probably be making many more mistakes than Carmen so it is important we have a good communication foundation! Ike will stay in Tuesday nights and Bug will take Communications on Sunday. Very exciting!

We debated having Ike take the Five Directions, but it’s hard to tell if he would think it is more or less stressful. Katrin had a really interesting point – she said she has noticed that Ike typically has a good night when there is less equipment out - Which might equal fewer options and therefore less chances for him to make a mistake. I will have to think about the Five Directions though. If it helps us communicate better, it might equal less stress long-term.

I think Bug’s pelvis is still in place (phew!), I notice a distinct difference in the way he takes my stairs. He is doing them with much more ease and confidence since we saw Dr. Anne. Yay!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bug's 1st Chiro Appt

The boys saw Dr. Anne yesterday. Anne worked on Ike first so that Bug could have an opportunity to sniff around and get comfortable with the sound of the activator (a tool Dr. Anne uses to make chiropractic adjustments) and the room.

I told Anne what has been going on with Ike and that Cheryl asked that I have him muscle tested for Lyme when I came in. Dr. Anne tested Ike and he is experiencing a flare-up. She said it makes perfect sense considering the spring Ike has had (very ill in Feb. and surgery in Apr.) that his immune system would not be in the best shape.

She prescribed Lym D and Canine Immune Support supplement (Ike is on MORE supplements!). The Lym D is made by Bio Active Nutritional and contains Lyme nosodes. This is my first time using nosodes. Nosodes are homeopathic remedies that are made from the specific products of a particular disease. Apparently nosodes are most effective when the animal, be it human, dog, horse, etc, is in the midst of experiencing the disease or a flare-up. If you are interested, the web site The Whole Dog has a page on nosodes and then links to various additional pages on them – including Christie Keith’s (Caber Feidh) page on nosodes (she believes in using them in the manner in which Dr. Anne prescribed them, but not as an alternative to vaccines which some people do).

Bug’s pelvis was out of alignment – no surprise there. It is probably more uncommon for a dog’s pelvis to be IN alignment than out when they first visit the chiropractor. Other than that he was in good shape. He was awesome on the table for Dr. Anne. He could have cared less that Anne was touching him and using the activator. I swear I see a difference in his jumping about, but maybe I am just imagining things.

We have an appointment next Wednesday for all three dogs! I want to be sure that Carmen is a.o.k. after her first trial.

Last night when we got home I clipped Bug’s nails. He was a big baby about it, but I bribed/rewarded him with string cheese. He wasn’t horrible, just squirmy (like a bug!) and trying to see if he could get out of the torture. I also combed him a bit. He fur is so thick!! Especially on his bum. Ike of course went and hid in his crate so that I wouldn’t decide to brush him too!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ike's Tuesday Night Class (cue dramatic music)....

....was awesome!!

Ike was a wee bit stressed but he very obviously WANTED to play and was the most engaged I have seen him in at two months, at the very least.

Katrin had set up eight jumps with the bars angled to act as cavalettis and a curved tunnel. This was to help our dogs with foot-fall placement. Ike was great. No hesistation, and no attempts to leave (either the cavalettis or the barn). Wow! Even some wags!

We also practiced tire, teeter, send to the table and again Ike was AWESOME!!! We went through a stint a few months ago when he was refusing to down on the table. I don't know if it was because it was winter and he was cold or it was/is related to his "mood," but last night he had no hesitation. He was HAPPY!!

So, some thoughts:

I practiced with JUST Carmen prior to leaving for Ike's class. Ike watched.

I promised Ike it was just practice and no more trials forever or until we figure out whatever we have to figure out!

I brought Evanger's 100% Duck and did not treat as gratuitously as I am known too.

New to Ike's class dogs and dogs he knows well, but all dogs that he likes a lot; particularly Baxter Black. Katrin said last night, I think Ike is trying to give me a complex!! :D

Bug & Nellie, Book Mini-Review

Nellie and Honor Sitting in a tree…. First comes love…..

My mum has gone on a short vacation so Ms. Nellie has been staying with us. Oh my dog gods. Nellie and Honor adore each other to bits. It is hysterical. In the morning the two of them tear around my apartment, bat at each other, give kisses, etc. It is so nice to see them lovin’ each other up. Ike is beginning to think Honor might be as annoying as the white thing. Just kidding!

On to more serious fare…. I recently read Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon by Dr. Nick Trout. I had heard a nice interview with him on NPR and then Dolittler reviewed the book (and liked it), so I decided to check it out.

I liked the book; I found it interesting, entertaining, and a very quick read. Dr. Trout is a surgeon at Angell Memorial Hospital in Boston and it was reassuring (as a pet owner) to read how much of his human clients emotional pain and animal clients physical pain he takes on personally. The tone of the book reminds me a lot of Marley & Me without the bad dog training. Trout collapses a lifetime of experiences into 24 hours for read-ability and it works. The underlying message in my mind is “the line.” What we will do “for” our animals varies person to person and is intensely personal. Figuring out when you’ve gone too far and sacrificed your pet’s quality of life for your own personal needs (usually emotional) is tricky.

I would classify this as a good beach read or lazy day read that does prompt thoughts about the hard decisions we will all have to make at some point, if you are willing to entertain them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Act-Up CPE Trial

This weekend was Act-Up’s first CPE trial. I entered Ike in both days. Saturday was …. Tough. Ike did NOT want to play, at all. The first two runs were Snooker, a game class, which I like. In these two runs I was at least able to get Ike off the line – although it was only with much cajoling. Next run was Wildcard. Ike ran, Q’d, and placed first. Again it required MUCH cajoling to get him off the line. Once he was moving he worked well with me. Wildcard and Colors are his two favorite CPE classes. We are in mostly levels 1 and 2 EXCEPT for Wildcard! We are in Level 3 in Wildcard. The final two runs were Fullhouse and Standard - Ike would not BUDGE from the line. During the Standard run he actually started to leave the ring. The judge asked if I wanted to run him For Exhibition Only (on leash - which CPE allows). I said “No, he’s just neurotic.” If I had put a leash on him and done that I would have been DRAGGING him, AND then he would REALLY hate trialing. He was telling me in NO uncertain terms that he did not want to play.

One of the Act-Up members is a chiropractor and an animal communicator. Another club member suggested I go and talk to her. We muscle tested Ike and he did not want to play on Sunday. I kind of figured that. All along I have known that Ike does agility with me because he wants to be with me – not because he inherently enjoys it. He likes to play with me. Lately, as I have become more focused he has become weirder. The month prior to his surgery he was off. I am going to talk to the vet about titering him to get an idea of where his Lyme count is. He tested Lyme positive years ago with my old vet (who I really didn’t like). I have never done titers on his Lyme count and now I wonder if this current moodiness is related to it. Even for Ike this is extreme. It could also be related to the fact that I am under a lot of stress at work, home, Bug just came home, and we are dog sitting (yes, I know I have a lot going on). My only question about whether it could be a Lyme flare-up is – considering he has been on a boatload of antibiotics for his foot, shouldn't those same antibiotics have taken care of a Lyme flare-up? So, it could be Lyme, it could be he is stressed because I am stressed, it could be he is just sick of playing since I don’t get the message that agility isn’t his first love.

Ike and Buggy are going to see Dr. Anne on Wednesday and Cheryl (chiropractor) suggested I have Anne test him for Lyme. She said Catsclaw is often very successful with Lyme.

I don’t know what I am going to do. I am definitely giving Ike some extended time off. I am taking my C-ATCH dreams for Ike completely off the table – and I plan on leaving them off the table irregardless of whether Ike and I are able to find a happy medium. There are many other possibilities – Rally and tracking to name just two. There are also still agility possibilities. CPE has something called a Point Level title – you have to accrue a ridiculous amount of points for the level and maybe if Ike decides he wants to play agility again I will do that and just keep him in Level 1. Who knows. LOTS to think on.

Sunday is a completely different story. Since Ike made it clear he didn’t want to play, I ran Carmen. Yes, you read correctly. I registered Carmen with CPE and NADAC a few weeks ago and luckily for me she was already in the database!

I was very nervous about it, but Carmen was AWESOME. In Level 1 CPE there are no weaves or teeter, which is really nice because you can get trial experience without reinforcing behaviors you don’t want to see later in your career (like incomplete weave performances or bailing off the teeter).

Carmen has not seen a lot of contacts and after her hesitation about doing the A-frame during my private with Erin – that was my biggest concern. Would she bail or be unwilling to commit to the contact obstacles? Would I create a contact monster? Ha! Carmen was STELLAR. The first run was Standard and she actually had an off-course to take the A-frame a second time. Yay!! First place and her first Qualifying score!

The next class was Jackpot – which is like Gamblers. It was a non-traditional Jackpot which meant the judge could change the rules. The judge created a gamble box with three different gambles worth different amounts of points. The only hitch was if you didn’t make the gamble you didn’t get any points for the obstacles in the failed gamble. So if you were wasting loads of time trying to get the gamble and you finally got it, but the whistle blew you would ONLY have the gamble points. The gambles were similar so my plan was to go for one version and if Carmen wasn’t willing to take the distance challenge (a jump between two tunnels), I would see if I could pattern train her by supporting the jump and then doing a different gamble that also included the same sequence. It didn’t work, but I do think it was a good idea! : D So, we had fun for the rest of the run.

Carmen also ran Colors and two Jumpers courses. Colors is two simple courses that overlap in one place to create a discrimination issue. The handler must tell the judge which course they will be running and if your dog chooses the course for you – NQ. Colors and Wildcard are part of the Handler title because the onus is on the handler to have a good connection with their dog.

Carmen qualified and placed first in all three classes! Like I said, she was phenomonal. Part of it is her foundation in Katrin’s ABC class, part of it is her work ethic and personality, and part of it is I am a better handler and our relationship isn’t gummed up by tons of history; for a Schnauzer Carmen is extremely biddable.

I brought Ike to cheerlead and hang out with, and he seemed MUCH happier with this arrangement. The three of us took a mini-hike in the woods nearby and I promised Ike he wouldn’t have to do any agility. He got a knuckle bone and a kong as well as loads of treats and walks. I don’t know if this is what he wants, but I think it is what he prefers at the moment. We will see if there is anything going on with his Lyme titer, or if it is an adjustment issue with Bug and having Nellie staying with us.

My intention was to maybe start running Carmen in the fall. I registered her now because CPE registration takes about six weeks and I didn’t want to be dealing with a last minute situation. I am glad I decided to run her Sunday. Her first weekend out and she ran in 5 classes and Q’d in 4. I would call that an auspicious start.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Weaves #3

Carmie continues to have great difficulty with weaves from the right. It is bizarre (well, not really bizarre), but MORE practice should take care of it. Katrin suggested I remove two poles and practice with a set of four clicking the entries. Carmen thinks so much and wants to learn, she is sure to pick it up quickly with some real focused attention. Two, make sure I don’t neglect Carmen taking weaves from my left!

In addition to Carmen not liking to weave on the right I was moving too much and giving the poor dog mixed signals. I have to be more careful about that – especially with Carmen. She so seeks out information and if I am broadcasting bad info she is going to run with it.

Carmen’s start line wait is going well. I am trying to mix up when I release her at home and in class, so she is becoming more consistent and committed. She does find agility so much fun that she has trouble waiting patiently, but she does!

Carmen wasn’t anywhere near as reactive as she was last week – of course I didn’t have her near the door and I was prepared with treats and my clicker!

When Iris and Blue ran some of us went outside to create a less stimulating environment in the barn. Carmen was a bit grumble-y at Callie because she was PLAYING with Bug! The horror! But she wasn’t obnoxious, so that’s good. Bug and Callie are a match made in heaven I think.

In general a good class. We really need to FOCUS!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Honor Goes to Harvard Square!

Since HonorBug has been going to work with me this week, he got to go to Harvard Square today. My boss & I had to take some photos for a big presentation next week and I couldn't very well leave the Bug alone in the office. Well, I could have, but I didn't want to! For those of you not familiar with the Boston area, Harvard Square is in Cambridge and is quite a bustling place. It has become much more commercial in the last 10 - 15 years, but it is still filled with students, street performers, average joes and janes.

The Bug did AWESOME!!! He got lots of smiles for how cute he is and what a good boy he was.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"Natural" Flea and Tick Preventatives

I feed Ike and Bug BugOff Garlic. I have had GREAT success with this product for Mr. Ike. During the tick-infested months I feed double the dose. Since I wasn’t sure what dose Bug had been getting (Holly also feeds it and I keep forgetting to ask her how much he was getting) I wanted a little something extra for hiking. There are tons of commercial “natural” flea and tick preventatives, and non-commercial preventatives including organic apple cider vinegar and Dr. Anne’s concoction.

Because I was feeling lazy, last time I picked up vet wrap for Ikey I also picked up some Natural Defense spray.

I had done a bit of research and wasn’t comfortable using the topical as lots of dogs didn’t like the very strong smell.

Well, I don’t know if Carol and Blue noticed Bug's clove/cinnamon odor last night, but it IS strong. I only sprayed his under carriage once and it was overwhelming. I can not imagine if I’d use the topical. I can still smell it today! The jury is still out on whether it is effective. I didn’t find any bugs on the Bug last night after he was in the tall grass and Ike often gets ticks at the barn, so….

If any one has a “natural” brand spray they swear by I would be interested! Ike and Bug say, “Thanks – we hate ticks.”

Massage Seminar, Part II

Last Tuesday I attended Part I of a massage seminar hosted by Maplewood Animal Care and Training. Last week’s session focused primarily on stretching. I am a dork but I did not previously think of massage as involving stretching, so I learned a lot! The presenter Mel Henkel is a soft-spoken woman who treated James (Katrin’s current FCR SD) for a soft-muscle injury. James ADORES Mel. He was like a pile of spaghetti as she demonstrated useful stretches on him for us.

Carol and I got to work with Obi (Katrin’s new FCR puppy) who is an absolute love and is REALLY into string cheese. String cheese - such a great affordable treat!!

I didn’t end up posting anything about Part I because Ike was being such a nutter about his paw I didn’t have any brain cells to spare on writing. Also, while I feel like I learned a lot and can replicate the stretches I can’t even begin to think about how to write about them in a coherent fashion. All I can say is that both Ike and HonorBug will benefit from my new knowledge.

I brought the Bug to the seminar last night. Last night's session focused on strengthening exercises. Since Ike has such a weak rear-end, and this is something we are actively working on, I was very excited to see what exercises Mel recommends for strengthening. And adding HonorBug to my household makes me even more conscientious about stretching and strengthening exercises due to his unusual body configuration. There is a wee corner of my mind that is paranoid about that long back and I want to do everything I am capable of to ensure he has the core strength he needs to be safe(r)!

Carol mentioned that her dachshund Mia takes Vetri-Disc. I will have to ask my cardigan owner friends and vet if they think that is worth adding to Honor's diet. Cardigan-owner friends/bloggers, what do you think?

I currently feed Longevity and BugOff Garlic (both by Springtime), Glyco-Flex 600, and Vetri's Canine Plus (multi-vitamin since I feed raw). I wonder if Glyco-Flex 600 essentially does the same thing as the Vetri-disc?

Carol and Blue worked on Mr. Bug with me. He was a very good boy. He has been a bit leery of new people looming over him, but once we got into the barn and on our blanket he was a loveBug. Considering he had been at work with me again yesterday (and today!) I was afraid the seminar would push him over the edge - after all, I am basically flooding him with new experiences and people. I was so pleased that he was relaxed and happy - and willing to take treats from both Blue and Carol! Of course it helped that I gave them string cheese. Bug thinks string cheese is the # 1 creation of all time.

Mel recommended a dig box because digging is so good for dogs physically and mentally. I have never had a big digger before (and I do not know if Bug is), but it might be a fun thing to make for the boys (and Carmen!).

Another exercise that Mel recommended is the wave or high 5. Bug picked this up very quickly! We held a piece of cheese over his head toward either side and he would stretch and support himself on one leg while reaching. Very cool.

We sat out quite a few exercises because they involved the dog laying down and Bug and I haven't worked on down yet. He isn't comfortable enough to be lured into a down in a public situation with people and dogs galore. Instead the three of us took turns feeding him cheese for sitting and waving while we listened.

The next exercise Bug took part in was the sit-up and beg exercise. For a dog with such a long back he has some core muscle strength - he was able to sit-up, beg and hold it. Yay, Buggy!

Bringing Bug to the barn last night went well. I wasn't able to do a lot of the exercises with him yet, but he got out and about and had a very positive experience. And I was able to listen and learn a lot!

When I got home my mum had dropped her dog Nellie off. My mum is headed to Texas to visit friends and Nellie will be staying with us until the 13th. Bug thinks Nellie is WAY cooler than string cheese. In fact, I might go so far as to say those two are going to be bosom buddies! Ike is being quite worried about their playing - those rambunctious kids!

I snuck a practice session with Carmen and Ike in before the seminar. Carmen was having a bit more trouble with the weaves than she had been, but that is the learning curve. My FIL insists she is left-pawed. Oye! Don't let Katrin hear you say that. ;-P

I have also been thinking about my steep stairs and I think I am going to try and teach HonorBug to do them slowly - this will be better for his body and manage to do some strength training at the same time!

I intended to attend my first drop-in handling class tonight, but with everything that is going on and how new HonorBug is I think we are going to take it easy and maybe go for a hike instead.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Very original title, huh? I am tired! : )

Last night HonorBug braved my evil-steep stairs. It was really cute to see him working up the gumption to try it. He is one brave bug.

He also tried to sniff Ms. DJ (Cockatiel) who said, "I don't think so" and tried to peck him! He's curious, but not stupid and one peck was enough!

Today I took the Bug to work with me and to Ike's vet appointment. Everyone at the vet clinic thought he was gorgeous. And he is! He has an appointment for a heartworm and Lyme test in a couple of weeks.

Ike's foot is looking good and not sensitive to the touch. FINALLY!!

After the vet appointment I went over to the in-laws' to practice weaves and tunnels with Carmie and Ike insisted on practicing too. He says, "I miss playing with you!" We are entered in a CPE trial this upcoming weekend - two days because it is our club and local. I am planning on seeing how Saturday goes. I might end up scratching on Saturday. Of course, if he acts like he did today I won't. On Ike's docket for the rest of this week - step-stool work.

Carmie was great - she obviously takes great joy in the agility game. I am really concentrating on not rewarding Carmen for hesitating. Now that Katrin pointed this out, I noticed I do this with Ike when we walk. Funny how once something like that is pointed out it becomes so obvious. Carmen's tunnel performances were stellar, so I just need to work on my patience and remember Carmen has a brain!

I brought Mr. Bug out too. I think he was a wee bit overwhelmed by the days events, so we just worked on focusing on the momma and "come." Right now he is asleep next to me. I think I have a new best pal, which is awesome.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Honor-Bug Goes to Class

I took the Bug to class today. I introduced him to the table and tunnel before anyone arrived. Bug is a cautious dog but willing to take some chances, and I suspect as he trusts me more he will become more confident.

There were only three students in the Canine Good Citizen Class today so Katrin asked me to bring Bug in and we practiced walking through a crowd, sits and stays. At first he didn't want to take any treats - he was way too high. As he calmed down he gobbled them right up. Katrin gave us a piece of string cheese and Bug thought that was FABULOUS. Yay, a dog of my own who can eat string cheese! Very exciting to me. Poor Ike has huge difficulties eating cheese (no clue why - something to do with the consistency).

I was really happy with what a quick learner Honor is. I am looking forward to working with him. He is such a happy dog.

Deep breaths and the Bug

Ike has continued to make life interesting. Yesterday John, Ike, and I drove out to New York to pick up one Honor-Bug, a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Holly, Monty's breeder, was placing a lovely male named Honor. Honor is three points away from his championship and was going to be part of Holly's breeding program, but one hip did not pass OFA certification. Her vet had no hesitation saying that Honor (or Bug, his nickname) could do agility.

Honor says, "What are you doing with that thing?"

Holly and I have been talking for a couple of month's and I had expressed interest in one of her bitch Sabrina's pups that will be whelped in May. Then Bug's hip did not pass which worked out well for me. Bug is a 2 yo blue merle with tan points. He has an incredibly sweet personality. He and Ike hit it off immediately. The two dogs had met once before when we stopped in to visit with Holly and Leonard on the way home from Ithaca, but I was more obsessed with Holly's puppy Chloe at the time!

The very exciting news is that I am going to try handling with Bug. Holly would like to finish his championship and I would LOVE to try UKC conformation, as well as agility, herding, tracking, etc. Of course, all of these are contingent upon Bug liking them, too! We will see.

The first things I need to do with Bug is find a handling class and enroll him in a basic manners class. He just turned two, so he is still a baby.

When we got home from New York yesterday Ike started madly going after his foot - he was good as gold all day about it. Drat!! I was a bit worried and spoke to Katrin who recommended taking the staples out. Unfortunately the staples were not straight, so I didn't feel comfortable doing that.

Honor says, " does smell interesting."

Second suggestion 25 mg of benadryl and some Vicks Vapor Rub to hopefully encourage Ike to LEAVE THE FOOTIE ALONE!! Nope. Ike spent the rest of the night in my lap with me preventing him from getting to that foot.

Things we discovered about the Bug last night. He is not 100% about stairs. He went up my very steep stairs but REALLY didn't want to go down them. I tried using canned duck as a lure/coax, but no dice. I carried him down to the fourth step from the bottom and had him walk down from there. This will be something to work on.

He is not reactive to cars. Yay!! He is minimally interested in my birds and g-pigs. At first he pretended they did not exist and at one point when DJ was flying he hid under the coffee table. But as the night progressed he got more comfortable and bold about them.

He tried to mount Ike and Ike had him on the floor in less than a second so I guess Ike is the boss. He is not as big a jumper as Monty but was able to get up on my bed. He preferred sleeping on the floor, though.

This morning we all got up fairly early because John had a basketball game and we were planning on walking the dogs together. I had put a snow bootie on Ike's foot to prevent him from bothering it over night. When I took it off this morning the WHOLE foot was swollen. Oh no!!!!

I called Katrin in a panic and she called me back. The owner of the clinic I go to has his cell phone number on it in case of emergencies. I wasn't sure if I should actually call it. Katrin said, Yes. : ) I was possibly going to go to the animal e-vet in West Bridgewater. I called Dr. Crowell and left a message. He called me back at 8:05 and agreed to meet me at the clinic at 8:30. Yay for small vet clinics!!

Dr. Crowell said that it was possible that one of the staples had migrated and was pinching a nerve and that could be bothering Ike. He also said it was very possible that Ike does have a secondary infection due to the location and the fact that he has been bothering it. So, Dr. Crowell took the staples out, put a huge dob of antibiotic cream on the incision and wrapped the foot up. He prescribed 10 days of antibiotics and some Temaril for 9 days to help with the inflammation and itching.

On the drive home we hydroplaned severely and almost hit both a tree and a telephone pole. It was VERY scary. It was distressing because I do not have a car crate for Honor yet. If we had made impact it would not have boded well for the pups - neither was in a crate (Ike because he won't fit comfortably with the e-collar). The possibility of just such a thing happening is why I think crates in cars are a good thing - or at the very least a seat belt.

We made it home safely and grateful to be in one piece. I gave Ike his medicine and he has been conked out since. Bug has been sleeping in the computer room with me and sniffing the g-pigs while I type. The Bug staying with us was supposed to be a trial situation but Ike and Bug hit it off immediately and John and I already love him like he has been our since he was born, so I don't think this is a trial!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Weaves, Class # 2

This post could also be entitled Carmen & Katrin teach Julie about Handling. Very cool. Working with a different dog, and therefore having to change the way you do things, is so much fun.

Yes, I am such a dork but I am so excited! I like learning. It is hard, and embarrassing at times, but the glow I get from incremental progress is worth it!

Carmen and I missed Weaves Class # 1 due to Ike’s poor decision to rip his stitches out. We only managed to practice about three times, so Carmen was just about to take *a* cage off the weaves. Last night Katrin had set up a nice circular course that allowed the dogs to pick up some speed. It went jump, jump, six-weaves, six-weaves, tunnel, wing jump, jump, twelve weaves, table jump, c-shaped tunnel, jump, and back to the table to reverse the course if you/she desired.

Carmen had some difficulty with the first set of six weaves and she started to circle the weaves like she has been at home. Katrin had a really good point – I don’t want Carmen to think that weave poles must be circled before the weaving begins….that the circling is part of the process. gods, no, please! Katrin lent me a clicker and had me click the entry so Carmen would understand that the entry was important. I haven’t clicker trained Carmen nearly as much as Ike, but the click is still a definite conditioned reinforcer for her – she immediately grasped the entry concept once I started clicking the actual entry. The next difficult spot was the final two poles which was where Katrin had removed the cage – Carmen figured once she was out of the cages she was done. My version of helping her was to put my hand in her face. Oi! I have lots to work on. I did get slightly better as we went on – less hand in the face, more body language.

We had a bit of difficulty with the tunnel too. Sometimes I think Carmen loves tunnels (while setting up she kept going through them), other times not so much. During actual coursework she hesitates to commit to the tunnel – I think she wants to know where I am going to be. So, this is something to work on. I think I should work on some jump tunnel sequences with nothing else so I can get her over her strange belief that I am going to disappear while she is running the tunnel and build some speed.

I was really pleased with her performance on the set of twelve weave poles. Every time she got to a section where the cages were removed, Carmen stopped and sat, like what do you want me to do? However, when I actually exerted some patience and waited - she thought about it and continued weaving. Yes!! Such a smart girlie.

It is a full class and lots of dogs that Ms. i-wanna-b-reactive doesn’t know. So, I was foolish and was too close to the door as people and their dogs arrived. Sigh. When Meeka (AA), Callie (AA), and Molly (PWD) arrived – three females – Carmen was obnoxious. Ugh. Next week I will be far away from the barn door and better prepared. I didn’t even have my treats out yet. Bad mum!

Overall I am really pleased with last night’s class. I learned a lot during my run with Carmen and watching the other students work with their dogs. It is amazing the variety of learning styles in one class – of both the humans and the dogs.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

e-collar Escapades and Pet First Aid

Where to start? Yesterday Ike’s Soft-e collar arrived which was great since I was supposed to take the bandage off Tuesday night (and hadn’t for fear of what he would do to his foot).

Ike had a chiro appointment at 6:45 so my plan was to take the bandage off, try the new collar, practice weaves with Carmen, and go to Ike’s appointment.

At first Ike was great with the new collar, that lasted less than five minutes. :D Then he easily got at his foot, as Katrin and someone on my performance schnauzer list suggested he would. Then I put the e-collar and the soft-e collar on him. Success!! He couldn’t get at his foot. Slowly he got more and more frantic until he was hyperventilating. Okay, I continued to watch, reserving judgement re: his panic…..and then he got at his foot. He had both front paws OFF the ground and was twisted around so that he was balancing on the hip of his good foot. Talk about a determined dog. So, the soft-e collar came off and I put him in the front seat of the car instead of his crate for the trip to see Dr. Anne. I figured that way I could keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t get to that footie!

And yes, Carmen was neglected and didn’t practice her weaves. : ( Bad handler/student!

I called the vet’s office en route to the chiropractor and they were kind of surprised that Ike is being such a nudge about his foot. They thought that his desire to want to get at it should have decreased by this point and suggested I might want to see about having the staples taken out this week versus next Wednesday. I spoke with Dr. Young and she said she could prescribe an anti-inflammatory or as a last resort a sedative. I told her he was much better with the foot bandaged and if it was okay to keep it bandaged I would do so. She recommended spraying the bandage and his foot (not the incision) with some bitter apple, and taking the bandage off nightly so that the air can get at the incision.

So, I am returning the soft-e collar and keeping Ike’s foot bandaged during the day. Dr. Anne also recommended calendula cream to apply to the incision, which should help with the itchiness.

When I got home I gave Ike his “Welcome Home” treat, which last night was a piece of dehydrated apple. I was in the kitchen and the next thing I hear is John commenting that Ike is trying to get the e-collar off. Well, some lizard aspect of my brain knew something the conscious me did not. I rushed into the living room and took off the e-collar. Ike immediately started pawing at his open mouth. Sh!t. This is called choking. I swept my hand through his mouth, nothing obvious.

Two years ago I took a Pet First Aid course offered at the shelter I taught at. I figured if I was going to be working with other peoples’ dogs I better know what to do in an emergency. One of the things they teach you in the Red Cross Pet First Aid course is how to do the Heimlich on dogs (both 30# and under and larger). I picked Ike up, turned him upside down with his back flat against my front and compressed his abdomen. Nothing. Crap, crap, crap. I put him down and started to do the 30# plus version (which entails lifting the dog hind legs up so there is a natural downward angle, you compress the abdomen and theoretically whatever is causing the choking will fly out). Nothing – what the heck!

Ike is again pawing wildly at his mouth – jaws as wide as they will go, paws actually in his mouth, rearing up on his hind legs. I get my hand in his mouth and down his throat. I feel a hard edge. Yes. I moved it slightly but didn’t “get” it. But it was enough – Ike started to dry-heave and then pawing at his mouth ensues again. Argh! This time the piece is lodged in the roof of his mouth. THANK GODS. It probably took a minute, maybe two but I have never been more afraid that I was going to lose my dog than I was last night. Afterward I sat on the floor with Ike feeling like *I* was going to puke and cry. Ike was not surprisingly, very sedate.

The moral of this story is a Pet First Aid course is well worth the three hours of your life and $60 it costs. John has agreed to take it, especially in light of the fact that we will be adding another dog to our home and have frequent houseguests. Of course, as my FIL noted, you can know what to do but that doesn’t mean you will be able to do it when you need to. Thank gods my lizard brain is in working order!!