Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yes!! Happy Dance!!

Ike had a vet appointment yesterday for a follow-up C6 and a rabies titer. The vet called today with the C6 results.

58!! Down from 108 in September.

This reduction in his C6 level is with homeopathic treatment, forgoing the antibiotic route. I am so incredibly happy!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pink Kitty

Thursday Bug killed Ike's 2nd to last pink kitty! The pink kitty is a toy I got at the shelter when Ike was about 2 years old (so 2004). It was the first toy he really-really liked. It has a voice box in it and meows when you squeeze it. He would/will enthusiastically chase after it and do the terrier-death-shake.

When I discovered how much Ike liked the pink kitty I bought every one the shelter had in their little store. 7 years later I am now down to the last one!!

Classes: Agility & Rally-O

Tuesday night Ike and I had agility class. It was a challenging course and for the most part I felt like we handled it really well.

We did struggle during one particular sequence. Coming off the A-frame you went right over a jump and were then supposed to call your dog into you and bring him past the table into the tunnel. Well, I have either rewarded tables a bit too heavily in the past or Ike firmly believes if an obstacle is in front of you you must take it. We had a really hard time with this - because of my handling!

Kathleen put up a gate and Ike had to think really hard - did I truly NOT want him to take the table? We practiced a few times with the gate up and I continued my forward momentum, called him "here," and rewarded him in a timely manner. The final run of the night we nailed it! Yay, Ike!


Saturday Bug had his first Rally Obedience class. He was such a good boy. When I was doing Rally with Ike Bug stood in for one class - other than that this is the first time he has done Rally (he has done a Beyond Basics pet obedience class). He did really well! I was very pleasantly surprised.

Initially he was a bit nosy about the signs and I have to work on my heeling - perhaps actually put a word to it? But he was much more successful with the "Left About Turn" his first time than Ike was and he also did the "Front, Right Finish, Halt" nicer than Ike did the first time.

He seemed to enjoy working with me and was very engaged. His "Right Spiral" was gorgeous. I love looking down at him and seeing that alert expression and big ears gazing up at me oh-so-attentively.

What was really funny was many things Jennie said yesterday echoed things Debi H. was saying in her seminar last weekend! At one point I was looking at the next sign because we had only walked once and I wasn't really sure what was coming up. Bug forged way ahead of me. Jennie asked what I was looking at. I told her. She asked where Bug went. Well, of course it was where I was looking. So pathwork is applicable to Rally too!

At another point we did a "Stop, Down." As we started to move on Jennie asked how I had released Bug. I said, "with movement," with a sinking feeling! Drrr. Debi had just spoken at length how people believe they release their dog with a word but it is actually paired with movement and if you make an effort to release your dog with just the word you will often see them NOT move because they believe they are being released with the movement (hence so many broken start line stays). She suggested taking a deep breath, saying your release word, and then moving. She said it is hard to train yourself to do since we are so accustomed to the paired cue. Anyway, I need to work on using a release word more accurately.

I was also impressed with how Bug handled distractions while we were in the ring working. he was distracted but still continued working. He didn't stop completely, nor did I lose his attention completely.

I enjoyed the class and am looking forward to next week.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Discrimination and Distance Workshops

This past weekend Ike and I attended two workshops with Debi Hutchinson. Last year I attended her Handling Fundamentals workshop and her novice distance workshop. This year Saturday focused on Discrimination and Sunday focused on Distance. Saturday’s workshop did end up incorporating quite a bit of distance.

Debi is promoting a technique called pathwork. She has been working on it for the last 6 years, but it is only in the past two years that it has really started to gel for her. Pathwork is watching the path you want your dog to take – generally watching where you expect the next footfall to occur. This means you need to use soft eyes, still watch your dog, but not be locked in on them. It was a huge challenge for all attending, but the implications are that your body then remains in the correct positive to give your dog clearer information. You could see the benefit immediately. It was really hard though!!

The two biggest things I took from the discrimination seminar had less to do with discrimination and more to do with fundamentals. Debi introduced me to a new way to practice rear crosses. She had a pinwheel set up the required a rear cross after the first jump. She asked us to run it on the outside of the pinwheel and not try to do the cross. It was amazing to watch the dogs push off the handler’s body pressure and start making the turn correctly. As they began committing to the turn sooner Debi would urge the handler to make the cross. Two novice dogs were making beautiful rear crosses in – seriously – 5 minutes. Ike and I were a different story, he was still turning on the jump but it really seemed to be helping. What typically happens for us is I shorten my stride, so Ike shortens his stride and then we get stuck! With this method that wasn’t happening. She suggested this method because it allows the dog’s confidence to continue to grow where when you both get stuck and frustrated confidence plummets.

The other thing she commented on is Ike’s tunnel performance. She said he leaps into the tunnel most of the time and that he is obviously uncomfortable with them. Yes, this is true. I have a list of trainers who I respect who have said the exact same thing. She did have a very specific suggestion – which I appreciate. She suggested I buy a used tunnel and cut it down to about 2 feet and practice the heck out of it from every conceivable angle with super high value treats. Another alternative would be a kid’s tunnel or one of those fabric leaf bags (removing the bottom). It’s funny that sometimes it takes someone stating the most OBVIOUS thing in the world to make it sink it.

Day two was all about distance. Debi said without confidence you can’t have distance. If she sends a dog out to do something and they do not do it perfectly, but they tried and it was hard, she accepts it so as not to undermine their confidence. She will try twice before moving to something easier – whether that is moving the handler in or turning over a tunnel so they choose the correct entrance. She uses a lot of gates so that the dog has less choices and the most obvious choice is the “right” choice. I was pretty pleased with how Ike did.

The exercise we ended on was a pinwheel. Debi set gates up through the center of the pinwheel (so you couldn’t go in the pocket and the dog couldn’t come in to you). You had to slingshot your dog over the first jump and maintain movement – somehow, with limited real estate – to support your dog. Ike did an awesome job! I was proud of him for trusting me and proud of me for figuring out a way to move (laterally) that would support him.

I really like Debi. I think she has great energy and a very different and insightful way of looking at agility. She adapted to each dog/handler team there and we were all very different. If you have the opportunity I highly recommend taking a seminar with her. She does compete in NADAC so she focuses a lot on distance, but the skills she uses are useful to any dog/handler team. I have some video which I will hopefully post later this week once I get over being tired!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

False Turns

Last night Ike and I had agility class. Hooray! He was a very happy and engaged schnauzer. Below is the second course we ran.

I don't know if you can see the numbers clearly or not. In order to be successful I needed to use a false turn in two places, between 12-13 and between 19-20. I really struggled with this. It required that I be more thoughtful about my movement. I did finally manage to get it, but it didn't/doesn't come very naturally and I am going to have to look for opportunities to practice it.

The second course of the night was a bit more complicated than the first course. Typically I would really struggle to remember the course. Last night I did not. I am fairly certain that the improvement in my course handling is due to the mindfulness class and practice I have kept up. How's that for an unexpected benefit?!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Yay! for Stretching and CVH Appt.

I forgot to update after the herding seminar….Bug was not stiff or sore at all. AT ALL!! He saw his chiro on Sunday and she was very impressed by the LACK of tightness in his iliopsoas and hips and lack of sensitivity in his bicipital tendons. Patience DOES pay off. Hooray, hooray, hooray! I will continue our regimen of arnica, warming up, and stretching whenever we work. I will continue our maintenance physical therapy and, of course, I will continue the chiropractic care. I am amazed – it is what I was hoping/praying for, but I wasn’t sure it was what would happen.

Wednesday I had an appointment with Dr F, the CVH, for Bug. For the past month Bug has had diarrhea from various antibiotics the vet was trying to treat what she considers an elevated C6 level (86 down from 138 12/09). Five days into the doxy Bug started with diarrhea. The first time he was on 30 days of doxy with nary a protest from his tummy. Not this time. We stopped the doxy and the vet did some research about what she would like to try next.

The vet recommended azithromycin because it is taken for a shorter duration and is only given once a day. One hour and fifteen minutes after the first dose of azithromycin Bug had terrible diarrhea, followed by vomiting multiple times, followed by projectile diarrhea. UGH! I am lucky only the first bout of diarrhea occurred in the house! Needless to say I did not give it to him again. He has been on a largely rice and probiotic diet trying to repair his GI for the past month.

I finally finished preparing Bug’s profile, history and medical timeline for Dr. F and was able to make an appointment. My primary concern is not the Lyme whose level has actually continued to drop, albeit slowly, but the skittish behavior Bug began displaying the last week of November. Bug’s initial appointment with Dr. F lasted 2 hours and in the end he asked me to dose him with nux vomica, re-introduce his normal foods (which I had started to do), and continue with the probiotics. I am to update Dr. F today with how Bug is doing. I had already started adding lamb to Bug’s rice slowly. He is now up to his normal ration plus rice. His bm are much more normal! He is still acting skittish, but less so than he was. We will see what Dr. F says.

I know homeopathy is not for everyone, but I have had much better and more concrete results with it than traditional medicine. I am lucky to have such a great CVH nearby.