Sunday, January 31, 2010

Handling Fundamentals

This weekend Bug and I attended three (3) four-hour seminars put on by our club, Act-Up. The presenter was Debi Hutchinson who has a great reputation for distance and discrimination work. Bug and I worked Handling Fundamentals (Sat. a.m.) and Novice Distance (Sun. a.m.); I audited Discrimination (Sat. p.m.).

Debi is an excellent teacher and I felt like she was really positive and supportive of each individual handler-dog team, and gave each team excellent individualized instruction/pointers. I think I got the most out of the Handling Fundamentals seminar which I didn’t even plan on working. I had signed Bug up for the Discrimination seminar, but where his contacts are still not 100% - and in truth he is a baby dog – I didn’t feel it was the best fit. I am SO glad I was able to switch him to Handling Fundamentals!

Debi started by saying she feels that the core of handling is changing directions and there are two ways to do that – dog versus handler. She had us walk 1 through 9 (I believe) and run it to see how we handled it. With Bug I did a front cross between 4 and 5. My cross was late and Bug went wide, but made 5. Every dog-handler team that tried a front cross there was late.

Debi talked about how you need a tunnel send in order to be able to make it into the correct position for that cross. In addition your dog needs to be able to kiss the stanchion (i.e. turn tightly).

Debi had us start giving our tunnel cue earlier – as soon as the tunnel entrance was “framed” by jump # 2 which was well before lifting for #2. We worked on sending to the tunnel (from #2) with Debi on the other end and a handful of treats to reward the dogs. Bug actually blew by her every time but the first time. Early in the seminar he was committing more (or I was supporting him better) and I was able to send him to the tunnel and pretty easily get into position and be waiting for him between 4 and 5 and cue that turn nice and early.

We took a break from tunnel sends after we had cycled through the attendees a few times and the dogs were driving into the tunnel. Then we all took a jump and worked on tight turns with a single jump. Debi wants the dogs turning on the lift side so that they are not dealing with it in the landing side. Bug found that exercise over stimulating - lots of dogs with varying degrees of energy in a close space. He worked, but was very distracted.

Then we went back to working the tunnel sends but with a gate prohibiting us for continuing our forward motion and no Debi waiting at the end of the tunnel. Bug does not really have a send yet and he is very cued into my motion. I have a terrible habit of stopping my motion abruptly and Bug says, “Huh? I guess I should stop too.” We had to move the gate closer for us so that I could support Bug.

Debi talked a lot about being committed to your mistakes, ex: if you forget where you are going. She said, “A thousand and one things could go wrong but you want the dog to think he is brilliant and you’re brilliant.” She wanted us to reward and incorporate – not fix. She says the stress of fixes often bite you in the butt 3 obstacles later (I believe she said Sharon Nelson pointed this out to her). Debi said by “fixing” you ultimately lose drive. Hmmm….both Katrin and Kathleen say/do variations of this. They both stress rewarding your dog when you get lost or make a “mistake.”

Then we ran the entire course. At the tunnel I repeatedly stopped my forward motion too soon and too abruptly. Then when Bug did take the tunnel I neglected to take a break and reward him (GAH!). Coming out of the tunnel #7 I was way ahead of Bug. Debi had me do it again. She said Bug is a dog that, at least right now, likes me to do 50% of the work and being so far ahead of him is demotivating. Hmmm…I think we touched on this in class just this past Tuesday.

So to recap:

I have a tendency to put the brakes on – I need to appear to be moving to support my dog.

If things go wrong incorporate and reward.

Reward more frequently.

If I have to go into the curve of a tunnel or really deep into an obstacle pocket WAIT for my dog and drive out together – don’t be waiting for them further down the course.

As Debi said these things I couldn’t help smiling because Kathleen has been saying these things to me recently and Katrin has said some of them in the past. Debi asked if it sounds familiar, due to my smile and head shaking. Unfortunately yes. I am working hard at changing it, but I do believe in times of stress – even times you don’t think are stressful, like a seminar – you revert. And of course, in all honesty, I haven’t kicked these habits yet.

Then we talked about Switch, Tight, Left, and Right. Debi believes in teaching distance and directionals with a lower jump height because you aren’t working jumping. She teaches Switch with a toy and a jump – marking the motion the dog turns the direction you want. She teaches directionals with a toy as well. I am not sure I would be able to use directionals on course myself but it would certainly be a useful skill.

The way Debi starts the foundation for directionals is to sit on the couch with your dog in front of you. Toss the toy to your dog's right with the verbal cue "Right" - same with "Left." Rinse and repeat. Then she continues practicing in different locations, taking it outside, etc.

All in all it was an excellent seminar. I think Bug and I both got a lot out of it. I think Ike would have enjoyed it too.

More tomorrow. Right now, I am too tired to blog about auditing the Discrimination seminar or this morning's Novice Distance seminar. Needless to say I learned a lot in both!

Friday, January 29, 2010

oh no!! Blog Lists Kaput

Crap! I changed the address and my blog lists went bye-bye. I will try to recreate. Leave me a comment if you want to be added.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Six Words

The back story: Patricia McConnell just lost her 16 yo Border Collie Lassie. She was reminded of a challenge Ernest Hemingway presented to his friends - write the shortest story possible. McConnell wrote a short story about her Lassie and quite a few people in the blogosphere (or at least the Cardi blogosphere) have joined in writing their own short stories to describe their beloved dogs.

Here are mine. I bet you can guess who they belong to without me telling you.

Family is heaven. Strangers are hell.

Love me. More Toys. No Fighting.

Changing The Address

Tomorrow I am changing the blog address to

Pumpkin Bites

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil (Anne recommended using safflower oil)
1 egg
1 Tbsp. all natural molasses – preferably blackstrap
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ cup solid pack pumpkin (canned pumpkin)
½ cup water

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. With a teaspoon, drop spoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. When done, cookies should be firm to the touch. Turn oven off, and let cookies sit for 1 hour to harden.

Yield: Approximately 30

Anne said they freeze well.

Acupuncture #3

Last night Bug had his third acupuncture appointment. I have to admit I am feeling a bit discouraged. Bug is having a VERY hard time relaxing and Anne feels it is because he is VERY tight and then his nerves make him tighter. She feels he might have a combination liver/spleen thing going on. Liver Qi affects the tendons and sinews. Spleen Qi affects the muscles. She is currently focusing on his iliopsoas and hips.

To be positive yesterday was the first day she was able to put needles in his hips, and Bug was much more relaxed than he has been. However, he is super protective of his rear. Given the ice and slipping I am not surprised that he is tender.

Anne continues to give me lots of food ideas that are influenced by what she feels is going on with Bug. She gave me a recipe for soft pumpkin cookies that break up easily and asked that I reduce the amount of peanut butter Bug is getting.

Finally, while I am feeling a bit discouraged this morning I do know the acupuncture is making him feel better. When we left our appointment Bug was jumping up on me more (sure fire sign he feels great) and when we got home he started tearing around. I need to remind myself to be PATIENT!

Spleen Qi Info: Dominating the Muscles and Four Limbs

The spleen transports and transforms nutrient substances to nourish the muscles. If this function is normal, there will be sufficient nutrition. Any abnormality of transportation and transformation will certainly affect muscle tissue quality. The Suwen records, "The spleen is in charge of the muscles."

The normal movements and functions of the four limbs are also closely related to spleen qi. When there is sufficient spleen qi, the yang qi distributes ample nutrient substances all over the body so that the muscles are well nourished and the four limbs are strong and able to move freely, Otherwise if the spleen fails to transport and transform the yang qi and nutrient substances, there will be malnutrition of the muscles characterized by muscular atrophy, weakness of the four limbs, etc. Therefore, building up the spleen is the usual clinical treatment for wei syndromes of the four limbs.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Agility Classes with the Boyz

Last night both boyz had agility class. I walked into class a nervous wreck because Bug slipped on ice Monday not once, but twice, WHILE ON LEASH!! Argh. That is 3 times in three weeks, and he lost his pelvis twice in the same span! I was terrified he had knocked himself out or strained his iliopsoas again, because as you all know by now I am a paranoid worrying fool!

I had spent the day trying to coordinate with Cheryl (our chiro) in case he had knocked himself out and we needed to try and see her. We do NOT want to do acupuncture and chiro on the same day anymore as it appears to be too much for Bug. If Bug refused obstacles, the options were to leave class immediately and drive to East Greenwich, RI or drive to Auburn, MA Thursday. If necessary either would have been fine with me.

The best possible outcome occurred – I was worrying needlessly. My dog was happy and very obstacle driven. YES!

Our class format has changed somewhat and I like it a lot more. Kathleen moved three of the most advanced students up to the 7 o’clock drop-in class and turned it into a six week class. Now there are 6 students and the dogs, the handlers, or both are all in roughly the same place working on fundamentals.

Last night we ran two sequences of six obstacles. First sequence was tire to curved tunnel, fx, jump, jump, jump and the tunnel (it was an a-frame/tunnel discrimination with the tunnel being nearest to the handler).

I mentioned in a previous post I am not doing a start-line behavior at the moment because I am still trying to get the boys amped up. Ike I will likely never do a start-line with. Bug eventually I would like to have it in his tool box. I started Bug straight at the tire. He tried to enter the near side of the tunnel when I wanted him to enter the far side. Kathleen stopped us and had us start again coming to the tire at an angle so the far side of the tunnel was the most obvious choice for Bug.

Very obvious handling and yet sometimes we handlers (or at least me) do not take the time to think, at all. I was pleased Bug did not take the a-frame he went right for the tunnel. I think I pulled off enough that he wasn’t tempted.

We did this sequence a second time and I was much better about starting Bug at an angle so he was successful.

The second sequence we worked on was 4 jumps, the curved tunnel, and the tire. Initially I walked the course and thought I would stick a front cross in after the jump right before the tunnel. When I ran it I ended up having Bug enter the tunnel from my side and then sending him to the tire. I commented to Kathleen that I had wanted to do a front cross between the tunnel and the last jump - she said given it was a straight away it really wasn’t appropriate nor was there time (which I discovered). She recommended a front cross before the last jump (I think). She also commented that when Bug exited the tunnel to go to the tire I wasn’t moving and his speed definitely decreased. She asked me to be at the end of the tunnel, crouch slightly, and ready to run to the tire with Bug next run.

Next run I got the front cross in where I wanted it. I was really proud of Bug because I had to trust that he was committed enough to the jump that I could move some distance away and in front of him. He did not bobble. I was also ready for him at the end of the tunnel and we did see an increase in speed.

This class I noticed that Bug is more stimulated by some of the dogs in class running. We have two other herding breeds (a Sheltie and a PWC) in class and they sometimes bark while running. If I am not paying attention Bug feels it is appropriate to bark. Hmmm. So we practiced lots of attention games and while the PWC runs I do Bug’s stretches so he is otherwise occupied.

Ike’s class is no longer a drop-in – it is now a six-week course with 5 other dogs in it, including a Standard Schnauzer who Ike spent some time trying to play with!

Our first run out was just stellar. He was so happy and fast. Kathleen said she has never seen him run so fast. It was a really smooth run and felt good. I did send him up the a-frame at the tunnel/a-frame discrimination – I did not turn strongly enough. CM just purchased 24” weave poles so we got to use them and I swear Ike moved faster through them. My stride was definitely longer and faster while he was weaving.

I am trying to remember our second run – it was the same course and I don’t think it was quite as smooth, but I didn’t slow Ike down with my confusion. I did the exact same thing with the tunnel/a-frame discrimination – forgetting to turn until it was too late.

The second course also had an a-frame/tunnel discrimination issue, but the tunnel was on the far side close to the gating and where all the students are. A lot of the dogs were choosing the a-frame over the tunnel due to the pressure of the people and also the fact that the a-frame has been so highly rewarded. Kathleen gave a nice explanation about how she continues her path-of-travel in a straight line across the path-of-travel the dog would need to take to make the a-frame regardless of whether she is 20’ behind her dog or right there. She said if you turn too soon you make the a-frame the obvious choice which makes sense.

I had a moment of complete confusion in the middle of this course – I could not remember where I was supposed to go. Kathleen reminded me I really need to reward my dog and stay up emotionally. Just because I forgot my path is not reason to be upset in any way, I have to be careful my body language doesn’t tell Ike he did something wrong. I was happy it didn’t upset Ike too badly. I REALLY need to get better about not letting getting lost bother me!

I was so pleased with Ike. Lots of new dogs and people and yet when we walked the second course and he was tied to the wall he was such a good boy. He quietly sat there. I tossed treats at him as I walked by to reward his good behavior! It’s funny because during the first walk through he was crated and he was being grumble-y; maybe because there was more activity there? Not sure.

It was a GREAT class for Ike. He is really enjoying himself and starting to turn on some speed. Linda, who has the Standard Schnauzer, came up to me after class. I met her the first summer I started trialing Ike, at an ASCA trial, in 2007 I think. She wanted to let me know what a huge difference she sees in Ike. I thought that was really sweet and I appreciated her taking the time to tell me that.

Run ~ Jump ~ Herd ~ Heal

Run ~ Jump ~ Herd ~ Heal has won the poll (with 39% of the vote). I was really wondering what would happen for a bit! :-) People were obviously divided by the name choices. Jump, Herd, Heal received 25% as did Peace, Love, and Joyful Barks (although John commented we had discussed Joyful Barking).

Special thank you to Nancy and our agility instructor Kathleen for helping me come up with a great new name that I think incorporates all the things the boyz and I love.

To clarify, Heal is a bit of a play on words. It represents my interest in health and alternative health care for my boys, but it can also represent the typical obedience "heeling." We don't do a lot of that at the moment, so spelling it "heal" is much more appropriate for us.

I will likely change the address and blog layout later this week. Thank you for all your help.

I will also post later today on last night's classes - they were excellent!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blog Name Poll

I have posted a poll to the right. There are two names that seem to resonate the most with me. I have put those names and two slight variations up. I am leaning one way but would like your opinions.

Run, Jump, Herd, Heal

Jump, Herd, Heal

Peace, Love, and Joyful Barks

Peace, Love, and Dogs


Saturday, January 23, 2010

101 Things to do w/a Box

Friday I read Katrin's post Things to with a box! and thought, "Jeez I haven't played that in years!" I happened to have a nice box from an order I recently placed and decided to give it a whirl Friday evening. I figured the dogs (and the humans) would enjoy it.

"101 Things to do with a Box" has never been a favorite game of mine. I think because when I first started clicker training Ike would sit and stare at me - and that was it, literally. Katrin can attest to this. One of the first private lessons I ever took with her was working on this very thing and Ike would barely move. This was before or while we were taking her Foundation class - back when it was 12 weeks. It was also before Ike became operant and realized he wouldn't lose for trying. As things progressed I never went back to it. So, Ike has played variations of it with other objects in the last 4-5 years but Bug never has.

I set the timer for 6 minutes, got out some cubed steak, and had John hold Bug on leash while I worked Ike. Ike was adorable - he moves in lightening fast mode when he is offering behaviors. Slam into a down - that's not it? Bat the box. Stand on the box. Tip the box. I was pretty excited that he was willing to knock the box over. What huge progress. He tends to revert to slamming into a down - not 100% sure that it is the box I want him playing with.

Then it was Bug's turn. I have been working on shaping a "cute" behavior with Bug. When he is in a down he starts to kind of roll over and bat at the air. I find it adorable. We haven't put it on cue yet, but he is starting offer it with some fluidity. This behavior derived from playing doggie zen at agility class. I noticed Bug would try to lean away from the hand with the treat, saying "I am not doing anything to that stinkin' treat, lady" and I decided I wanted this behavior on cue. So I started trying to make it more exaggerated.

Last night Bug started by laying down and staring at me. I did not return eye contact. Then he started offering his "cute" behavior. Nada. Then he got up and looked at the box. c/t. Bug lays down again, gets up and moves closer to the box and very gently touches it with his nose. c/t! Yay, Bug. In Bug's 6 minutes he primarily touched the box with his nose and moved around it.

It was cute how different the boys are. Ike is all about touching with the paws and with force. Bug is VERY gentle and nose touches are his thing. I kept the box and plan on continuing to play with them. I think this is a fun mental workout during our icy winter.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Help! New Blog Name

Apparently I have limited mental capacity for new blog names. Here are the suggestions so far:

Joyful Barking

Joy of Barking

Joy, Health, and Barking

Ears n Beards

Tails n Beards

Tail Envy

Waggin' Tails

Bark, Woo, Aroo (Ike, Carmie, and Bug - although Bug doesn't really aroo that much)

John just suggested "O baby I like it raw" (one of the songs he sings to the dogs) or "Protect your neck" (duck neck that is - another song he sings to the dogs).

Side note: my favorite song that John sings to Bug is:

'aint no party like a cardi party cuz a cardi party don't stop'

I am at a loss. Any suggestions? I want it to be positive and somehow actually have to do with me and my dogs! At the moment I am stumped. I am seeing a friend who is a writer this weekend. Maybe she will have some thoughts. If you'all have any thoughts - please share!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Agility Class, We Hate Ice, and Blog Address

Tuesday night the boys and I had agility class. Walking Bug back to the training room two daycare dogs came barreling out of a side room in the small hallway and pinned Bug against the wall. I held my bag in front of Bug’s face to try and avoid a snarky response from him.

When I brought Bug out on course and he was very distracted at the “start-line.” I say start-line but I rarely ask for a start-line behavior – especially since I am trying to get both my dogs MORE amped up. In hindsight I am not sure if the incident with the daycare dogs distracted him or upset him. He isn’t typically that sensitive, but you never know.

The course incorporated two boxes and looked quite fun.

Bug was not keen on jumping, refused the tire and refused the A-frame. Kathleen asked if he was sore. I mentioned he had knocked his pelvis out two weeks ago slipping down stairs on ice. I opted not to try and run him again. Bug has been super-drivey in class lately – really committed to obstacles and LUVIN’ the a-frame. The fact that he was behaving the EXACT opposite told me something was going on. I do not want him to associate agility with pain, nor did I want to hurt him more if he was out of alignment. Kathleen did comment that depending upon his sensitivity it could have been the incident with the daycare dogs.

I put Bug up and called Cheryl to see if she could somehow fit him in on Wednesday if John could bring him. She said yes and said that it sounded like his sacrum might be out. Poor Bug!!

I sat through the rest of Bug’s class and then went to get the Ike. Ike is having a blast with agility. What is nice about running Ike is that we focus a lot on my handling and by that I mean how my actions slow my dog down! When I hesitate, Ike slows down.

At one point we were meant to come off the A-frame and do a pinwheel. Half-way through the pinwheel Kathleen said, “Stop.” Essentially she said Ike came off the a-frame slowly and instead of revving him up I clicked at him with my mouth to try and urge him on (might as well say ‘C’mon!’) and matched my speed to his. She said I was cuing him to run slow. She absolutely does NOT want me running Ike like that. She had me do some “go’s” with him to get him happy and revved up and then run the sequence again. She suggested I crouch a bit at the end of the a-frame and take off with Ike. Ike really likes the phrase “Ready” so we used that too. We got a LOT more speed and a much happier schnauzer.

This week Alison was there with her two Vizlas. When Alison is there the Vizlas take the crates and I tie Ike to a loop on the wall. He has been a bit barky in the past while I am walking the course. Tuesday night he was quiet as a mouse. I also got lots of very clear visual signs that he is really enjoying himself. I am so happy!

John took Bug to see Cheryl last night and Bug’s pelvis was out again. I can only assume he slipped on all the ice because I doubt the daycare dogs knocked him out. Poor Bug. All three of us have an appointment scheduled Saturday and hopefully Bug will hold his adjustments and be ready for next Tuesday.

On a side not, I am thinking about moving my blog. I haven’t looked into how to do it or anything, but I think the address slowasmolasses is no longer appropriate. Even though I have changed the title the address is still there. If you believe in the power of positive thought it seems like it might be wise to change it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nosework Seminar

Bug and I had a great weekend. We attended a Nosework Seminar on Sunday. Nosework has been written up in Whole Dog Journal before. For those of those who don't know what it is, it was developed by K9 police officers and teaches the dog to hunt/search for odors.

We started by using food in a box and doing what was called a box drill; 7 boxes with one box containing food. The dog alerts you to which box has the food in it and you open and reward your dog. We did this 3 times in a row, took a break and cycled through the other dogs then did the box drill an additional 3 times, cycled through the dogs and did it twice more.

Throughout the day things got progressively more difficult. At one point there were nearly twenty boxes scattered through the room and Bug was off leash methodically searching the boxes for the box that contained the food. After that exercise Scott, the seminar presenter, turned a table on its side, added chairs both upright and knocked over, as well as a couple of boxes. Most of the dogs went right to the boxes to search, but in this instance the food was not hidden in the boxes but behind/under furniture! We had created the box as a visual cue that the dogs need to hunt/search then we needed to teach them to look in other locations too.

We ended the day with a mock odor recognition test - which you must complete in order to be able to compete. Scott set up a horse shoe of boxes and your dog needs to alert to which box contains the food - none of the boxes were marked so you really needed to watch your dog's cues. Bug initially went by the box that contained the food without even sniffing it – it wasn’t until we were doing the horseshoe a second time that he correctly alerted to the box with food.

Eventually you get the dog off of food and introduce them to the three odors they use in competition, which are essential oils (birch, clove, and anise).

We had an absolute blast. It was really cool to watch Bug hunt and search. The seminar presenter (who is the only certified Nosework trainer on the east coast) expects that we will start having trials in our neck of the woods in June. I am definitely planning on taking a class. Bug really enjoyed it and I loved watching him figure it out.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rabies Titer

I had a message from the New Vet this morning.

Ike's rabies titer is 1 to 3,125. 1 to 5 is consider protected.

Hooray - huge sigh of relief!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Acupuncture #2 and Chiro

Last night Bug had his second acupuncture appointment. He was much more relaxed this week - although still over thinking, as Anne said. It took a bit to get him to settle on the mat and I did treat him regularly for being a calm boy.

Anne inserted 10 needles along his back. Bug allowed her to go much further down his back, actually onto his hip. Last week he was more nervous about her touching him there (because he was in pain, I think).

Anne was REALLY pleased with how much better his iliopsoas felt after being adjusted by Cheryl. Bug was much more receptive to Anne massaging his iliopsoas and bicipital tendons. Anne showed me some additional stretches I can do at home for his iliopsoas and how to massage the gallbladder meridian that is in the rear leg which releases a lot of tension in the back.

We talked a bit about foods that Bug should avoid given the stagnant liver qi. Anne said beef is considered a hot food and we should avoid that. Bug is allergic to beef so that is not a problem. She also recommended avoiding dairy as it is a damp food. String cheese is probably our number 1 treat so...we'll have to change that. :-( It is such an easy treat. Boo.

I mentioned that while I have used acupuncture myself for chronic headaches I don't really know a lot about Traditional Chinese Medicine and I was interested in learning a bit more so I would understand better what we are doing with Bug. I had looked at Four Paws, Five Directions (a book about TCM and animals) and considered purchasing it, but decided to wait and ask Anne what she thought. Apparently "five directions" refers to a specific school of thought and is not traditional TCM, nor what Anne does herself. Anne recommended The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted Kaptchuk if I want to get a good understanding of TCM. She said it does not address animals specifically, but it is the most readable and thorough book for a layperson that wants to understand TCM.

Anne commented that most biciptal tendon injuries are a result of a back injury. I said, "So you're saying the bicipital tendon issue arose because of the iliopsoas injury?" Anne said, "Absolutely. Bug put more stress on his front trying to alleviate pain in his back." Well, duh. Connect the dots - it makes perfect sense I just didn't see it and no one had s-p-e-l-l-e-d it out for me. I was thinking of these two injuries as separate not connected. Now it makes more sense to me that Anne is spending a lot of time with Bug's iliopsoas!

I had a conflict for next week so we scheduled for two weeks. We will see how Bug does. I told Anne I could ask John to bring Bug but I truly don't know if Bug will settle for him. So we think it is better to wait, at least this time.

Then we went to see Cheryl. Bug held his pelvis but Cheryl felt he was very tight. She thinks it might be too much to do acupuncture and a chiropractic adjustment on the same day. Fortunately Bug is all set for now and shouldn't need to see Cheryl again for a bit unless he slips on ice. So, in the future we will try to schedule on separate days.

Ike also saw Cheryl. (He actually wagged at her and no barking! That is a first [the wagging], I am so proud of him; especially given he hates the activator noise.) He slipped last Tuesday getting into the car. He had the most human expression on his face when it happened - completely confused. He knocked his sacrum out which is probably the most common thing to lose when you slip on ice.

Due to my cold I did not hold my Phase One adjustment - although, thankfully, I did hold my pelvis. Cheryl did a neat acupressure thing where she put pressure on points on my chest. The left side hurt, but the right side killed. She said that is because colds enter on the left and exit on the right, so the fact that the right side hurt more is a good sign; it means the cold is leaving me.

There was an agility class going on where we met Cheryl and Bug was whining. I think he really missed class this week. He was saying, "I want to play, mum!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No Class

I have been sick with a cold, so no class last night. John was sick for two weeks and I kept knocking on wood amazed I hadn't gotten sick too. Well, that changed this past weekend! I am hoping for a shorter duration as I am taking all sorts of immune boosters (Lysine, Astragalus, and Vitamin C)

Speaking of immune boosters, I spoke to the homeopathic vet and he recommended the following immune boosters for Ike, in addition to the milk thistle, while he is on the doxy:

IG 2000 DF (Reduces G.I. Inflammation / Lessens Gut Permeability• Immune Support [including during chemotherapy, strenuous physical activity]• Binds and Neutralizes Major Pathogens• Supports Lean Muscle Mass);

Ark Naturals Nu-Pet Wafers (antioxidants, and green food phytonutrients); and

RX Biotics or Probio Defense

Fortunately the doxy does not seem to be disrupting Ike's GI. I am so thankful!!

Tonight Bug has his second acupuncture appointment. Hopefully he will be more relaxed!

Friday, January 8, 2010


Ike started doxy last night. I am a bit nervous because of his history of GI upset and how tough doxy is on the belly. However we made no midnight runs last night. Knock on wood, it continues!!

Dr. F says he usually treats high C6s with immune boosters and homeopathy and retests in 6 months. Given what happened with Bug I just don't feel 100% about that method. Dr. F said it was fine if I was more comfortable with the doxy to do that.

We are supposed to talk this morning and I would be interested in what immune boosters he recommends. I started Ike on Puriphy (milk thistle) and Standard Process Immune System Support this a.m. I will continue it for a month after the doxy, I think.

ps: Emma is having her babies right now (8:47 a.m.) ! You can watch via Holly's webcam. One so far - almost all black girl at 6:55 a.m. Good luck Emma!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Liver Qi/Chi

Wow! Really interesting, Liver Qi/Chi affects the tendons. It makes sense that Anne thinks stagnant liver qi might be part of Bug’s issue:

In Chinese Medicine "the liver functions to promote the free flow of chi, it dominates the tendons and opens into the eyes. Pathological changes of the liver mainly manifest themselves in dysfunctions of the liver in storing blood and in promoting free flow of chi, and in disorders of the tendons....

Controls the Tendons & Sinews
The tendons are the main tissues linking the joints and muscles, and dominate the movement of the limbs. The liver nourishes the tendons of the whole body to maintain their normal physiological activities. Thus, when liver blood is deficient, it may deprive the tendons of nourishment and give rise to weakness of the tendons, numbness of the limbs, and dysfunction of the joints. When the tendons are invaded by the pathogenic heat of the liver caused by liver yang rising or by chronic liver qi stagnation, there may be convulsions of the four extremities, opisthotonos and clenching of the teeth.

Acupuncture & Chiro

Last night Bug had his first acupuncture appointment and boy was he odd! We walked into the room, I sat down in a chair and Anne seated herself on the dog bed close to Bug’s level. Bug hid under the chair I was sitting on! He has never done anything like that before.

Anne was very calm and gentle. She gave him plenty of time to acclimate, never rushing him. Finally he relaxed on the dog bed and she was able to put six needles in his upper-to-mid back. She continued to massage him once those needles were in. Bug was REALLY tight and too tense to allow her to do any local points, but he did start to get heavy eyed and relax. Finally he relaxed so much one of the needles fell out.

Next we gave him a breather and then did some points on his hips and more massage.

That was all for session #1.

Anne noted that she thought his pelvis looked twisted (observant!) and I said I suspected he had knocked himself out of alignment slipping on the stairs, which could explain why he was so tense. She also said from the Eastern perspective she thought he might have stagnant liver chi, which means he is tense physically anyway and then things (both physical and emotional) build on top of it (I think). I will have to google it and ask her for more info.

Anne said initially she likes to see a dog on a weekly basis (usually for 4 - 5 weeks, but it can be less depending on the dog) and then move to every other week, and then further apart depending on how the dog is doing. We scheduled an appointment for next week.

Then we went to see Cheryl and both of us had knocked our pelvises and heads out and were totally twisted. As I said last post – we are a pair! Bug hasn’t lost his pelvis in a while and didn’t even really want to let Cheryl touch him last night. That is unusual because he LOVES Cheryl and considers her one of his girlfriends!

Cheryl adjusted his head first and once she did that he looked straighter than he did when we walked in. Once she adjusted his pelvis almost all of the tightness in his iliopsoas dissipated.

When we got home Bug obviously felt good. He tore around like a maniac playing by himself. He hasn’t done too much of that lately so I think the acupuncture and chiro really made him feel better. I did give him some Traumeel because losing your pelvis is quite painful!

I think we are on the right track and I am feeling optimistic.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Agility Class and Failed Critter Chasing

Last night Bug had agility class. We raised the A-frame some more. No problem says Bug. He flew over it and wanted to KEEP flying over it. We’ve created a monster!! As long as I do not reinforce his self-reinforcing A-frames I think he will recognize that doing equipment all by his lonesome is not much fun. Currently he has a magnetic force that pulls him to the A-frame, but he can be called off it before he gets on it which is awesome.

In the first course we ran there were two places Kathleen suggested I do a wrap with Bug versus a rear cross. Huh, even though I suck at rear crosses I would never have thought of doing a wrap. I have never done a lot of wraps. It worked really well and Bug did really nice tight turns. I think he does learn by osmosis. All weekend I was thinking about upcoming training plans. After we dropped into Katrin’s class and she asked if we had been working on “switch” I thought, “hmm…that’s a great winter training exercise.” So my plan was to work on “tight” and “switch.” What does Bug display last night, but a very nice “tight” for a long-backed dog. Hmmm

Second course had a serpentine (tunnel, jump, jump) that then flipped back and reversed. Bug handled this so nicely. He does not waste ground – he was very economical and quite speedy given it wasn’t a sequence you would think would lend itself to speed.

In general I felt like Bug was faster last night than he has been. I’m not sure if it is related to working on “go” or if he just felt good. I also noticed that I no longer hold my breath when Bug does the tire. Yay! I knew we just needed more exposure to the tire, but it is nice to see him “get it.”

Ike then had an awesome drop-in class. The “go” work is really paying off with him. While Alison was walking the course I practicing “Go” with Ike and oh, my does he love that game. Then we ran the same course Bug ran earlier. Even Ike handled the serpentine with speed.

We had one “c’mon.” Argh! I was so annoyed with myself. In general Ike was displaying a lot of speed for him. 2nd to last run of the night Ike was lolly-gagging the first three-four obstacles. Kathleen asked me to stop and get Ike revved up – then run him. She doesn’t want me to run him at all if he isn’t showing speed. So, I did a few “go’s” and his “ready” which gets him pretty amped and off we went.

I also talked to Kathleen about 2x2s. I think I am going to try them with Bug. My primary reason is it seems like there is less repetition which will be easier on his iliopsoas. I am a bit nervous about it, but I think based on Bug’s structure and what people have said it will be a good fit.

Now the chasing critters part – we pulled into the driveway and I let the boys out of the car off-leash. Bug was on the front stoop and he must have spied a critter. Our driveway runs alongside our house and there is a woodchuck that lives out back. There are 5 cement steps that lead down to the driveway from our stoop. Bug took off after the critter.

What he couldn’t have known is that the stairs were complete ice. He did NOT go @ss over tea kettle. Thank gods! But he did yelp and then had some difficulty jumping up on the bed later. Fortunately we have acupuncture tonight and are seeing Cheryl (chiropractor) afterward (that was supposed to be for me, not him). Between the two he should feel like a new corgi!

Note: I took a major digger at lunch running down the sidewalk with Bug (he's at work with me because we are going directly to acupuncture). I landed flat - face down, ripping my pants, and skinning (badly) my knee and hip. Now I REALLY need to see Cheryl. Fortunately I did not fall and squash the Bug.

We are a pair.

Probiocin (more on probiotics)

A few months ago I did a post on probiotics. I feel like they are an important component of a healthy human and dog supplement regimen, for lack of a better descriptive word.

I received an e-mail from someone in marketing at – would I be willing to try Probiocin and write a post on it?

So, I tried the product.

My boys were already on probiotics, so I did not notice an immediate change in their GI health or bowel movements. However, what I really liked was the ease of using Probiocin. With Culterelle capsules I need to either put it down their throat or open the capsule and mix it in their food; with the jar of powder I need to measure. With Probiocin, the syringe is marked for every gram and you move it as you use it. Super easy!

I have decided I will be using Probiocin when I travel – it is self contained and clearly marked. Given traveling can be a stressful experience for dogs and sometimes the destination holds its own form of stress (trialing for example), continuing probiotic use is really important, imo. I haven’t decided yet regarding everyday use (of Probiocin, not probiotics). I need to do the math and see what it works out to.

I will say that ProbioticSmart currently has a super price on Probiocin - $4.99 and the price goes down the more you order (effective thru 1/31/10 then the price reverts to $7.99). I checked KV Vet, which I consider to be an affordable source of supplies (particularly because they don’t charge shipping for most items), and Probiocin was $8.69. Yikes! Even if you factor in the shipping from ProbioticSmart their current price is still lower.

So, for ease of use I will recommend Probiocin.

I have a super picture of the package they sent, which was individualized for each dog – I will add it later today. They also sent some Probios Dog Treats which the boys gobbled up.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2 x 2

So, I finally watched the entire 2 x 2 dvd. It was not long, I just needed to put aside time. Even John got sucked into it for a bit! It was enthralling from my perspective!

What I would like to know is if it truly takes as little time (with consistent training and handling) as it seems? This would be a super method for Bug if it does, because we could avoid the repetition and strain on his iliopsoas. I plan on asking Kathleen tonight since I know she trained her young dog Squeeze with it so she could help her students.

Anyone out there train 2 x 2 from the beginning? I am not really as interested in re-training experiences only because Bug's poles aren't finished so we wouldn't be re-training. Thanks!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Thistle Sacks and C6 Results

Today I stopped at Ocean State Job Lot, a local discount store, to see if they had thistle sacks to make my own "Tug It," per Kathleen's recommendation. I bought three figuring they might not last long, and I was right. Two are already ripped to shreds!

I cut up a sample of the Natural Balance Duck & Potato which contains a protein both boys can eat. Apparently I have forgotten that Natural Balance rolls are like doggie crack. Wow. Ike thought the sack was fun and wanted to do the terrier death shake to it, while Bug just wanted to make off with it. Bug tore the first bag, so I placed the torn bag inside a new bag. Bug thought tugging on the sack was the BEST and proceeded to rip #2. So, it looks like this would indeed be a useful training tool for Bug and I should bite the bullet and order a "Tug It" since the thistle sacks don't last long.

In other news I heard from the New Vet today with the boys' C6 results. Bug's C6 was 138 (down from 424). HOORAY!!! That is a difference of 286!! Literature says if it drops by 50% at the six-month follow-up you can feel confident the Lyme was successfully treated; Bug's dropped by 67%. I will likely do another six-month follow-up with Bug - just to be sure his antibody level continues to drop (paranoid). Now of course, I do need to figure out why I think he is off. Hopefully the acupuncture will help that.

Ike's C6 is 254 and New Vet would like to treat with doxy. I am going to contact my homeopathic vet. My inclination is to treat, but I want to be open with my homeopathic vet.

Bug's good news overshadows Ikey's titer results. I don't feel like 254 is that high (compared to 424) and Ike is not showing pain. I am REALLY curious to see if I notice any changes in Ike's behavior once treatment starts. I wonder if his high titer is related to his increased reactivity with T, among other things.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chiro, New Vet, and Acupuncture

This week was very busy trying to schedule appointments. Bug saw Cheryl on Wednesday. His head was out. Hello, noise sensitivity! She also felt that his iliopsoas was as tight as it has been for some time. John and I were thinking about this and we think it might be from bunny-hopping through the snow. Either way I will start to pay more attention to it.

We were able to schedule an acupuncture appointment with Anne Murphy who works with Sterling for this coming Wednesday. When I spoke to her I only mentioned the bicipital tendon and the Lyme+ status, but I know the acupuncture will also be very useful to Bug's iliopsoas. Given it is unlikely we will be herding again until late winter/early spring I am hopeful between the time off and the acupuncture Bug will be in awesome shape.

Thursday we saw the new vet and the visit was a huge success. I am so happy (at least right now) with my decision to change.

My biggest concern was Ike and his rabies vaccine. I explained that I was very concerned about vaccinating him given his reactivity. New Vet's solution: We will do the rabies titer on him and if his titer is high enough, given his reactivity, she will write a letter to the town for me. Happy dance!!

We also did a 4DX on Ike because since he tested Lyme+ 5 years ago (and was treated) none of the vets in the interim have done a 4DX or suggested a C6. We did the 4DX and it tested strong positive - so we sent out blood work for the C6. I am really curious what his antibody level will be and if it has anything to do with how odd he has been acting. We also took blood from Bug for his 6 month C6 follow-up.

I also asked specifically about tartar. Neither dog has much given the diet I feed and the fact that I do some brushing, etc. However I was curious if she knew of anything that worked. New Vet suggested Vetzlife Oral Care Spray. It has Grapefruit seed extract, Grape seed extract, Thyme oil, Neem oil, Rosemary oil, and Peppermint oil in it. I decided to try it. I am going to ask Dr. F but I do not think that Ike can use this because it contains peppermint oil and mint is a very strong homeopathic antidote. So, Bug will be the guinea pig. Has anyone out there used it?

With all the diagnostics it was an expensive visit, but I feel it was worth it. I am so relieved to be working with a vet who doesn't roll their eyes at me (literally!) and is willing to explore other options (like the rabies titer).