Friday, September 24, 2010

Words

I tried to make a list of all the words I use to tell my dogs what to do - or not to do.  I sorted the list by categories - home, obedience, agility.  Many of the words are used in all places.  Stay always means stay, but OK means get up and move around in obedience, free means stop staying and run like a crazy dog in agility.  I keep remembering more words I use or creating new ones.  We are walking, walking, jogging, walking in order to get Jazz healthy again and I live on a busy rural road.  No sidewalks and narrow shoulders.  I am teaching the dogs the word shoulder (couldn't think of anything else) and it means get off the pavement and face yourselves into the ditch.  Hopefully it will keep us all from getting run over by the idiots who drive giant camper things towing cars at 50 miles an hour down a narrow gravel road.

One of the problems with so many words is that I forget them - hence the list!  I also use them wrong, change my mind and generally worry more about them than is really appropriate.  I listen to other people's words and change my mind some more.  I have word envy.

I learned in a recent class that I need a single, easy, marker word.  Good dog, way to go, yippee etc are not very easy for the dog to recognize and take too long to say.  I started using the word yes.  Maybe some of you are smart enough to see this one coming.  I am running around the agility course yelling yes, yes!!, YES!! and I sound like that incredibly stupid annoying shampoo commercial.  I don't have much pride, (if I did I might have gotten a nice border collie instead of Samoyeds,) but I really feel like a moron yelling yes all the time.  I know lots of other people who use that word and it sounds fine, it just doesn't sound fine when I use it.  So I changed my mind and decided to use click.  It's short, easy to remember, doesn't sound any dumber than any other marker word and it's not very likely to be used in any other context.

So now I have this nice shiny new marker word.  I wonder how long it will take me to learn to use it?  The dogs understand that click is good and gets them a treat because I loaded the word the same way I loaded a real clicker.  Click treat, click treat.  Last night at agility practice I said - "yes...click..good boy!"  I said "click ....good boy."  I said jump and pointed at a tunnel.  I said "click jump."  I said "weave" and then said click before he ever did the weaves.  You see the problem.

Words.  It's a good thing the dogs don't really seem to pay any attention to what I say.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to work on that too, but right now - who could blame them?

By the way - Coach has revisited the vet and his boys now have some kind of secondary infection.  What a mess.  Who knows what comedy of errors has caused this, but we are still working on a solution.  Her comment was - for now - let's just leave his testicles alone.  We are using antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.  She doesn't think I did anything wrong, just a case of too much of a good thing maybe?

I'll go back to something I can handle - click - treat. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

True Confessions

I sincerely hope my vet does not read this blog.  If she does - please forgive me - I am desperate!

The latest health crisis at my house is ringworm.  (EEEWWW.  Not a worm, just a fungus.)  Coach has this obnoxious fungus and it has come to rest in a very delicate part of his anatomy.  I might have noticed this except for two things - I never look at "the boys" and I really have no idea what they're supposed to look like.  Don't get me wrong - in general I know what they look like, but who knew they weren't supposed to have pink on them?  Maybe they are and this is just the wrong kind of pink? Anyway - now that the problem has been discovered we are taking corrective measures.

My vet is a wonderful, knowledgeable person and I trust her completely.  The remedy for this miserable fungus is a medicated shampoo.  I am supposed to shampoo the offending area and about 6 inches around it with this shampoo.  Here is the kicker - twice a day for a week, once a day for another 2 weeks and every other day for a month.  I need to wear rubber gloves, clean carefully or throw away any utensils and generally be careful not to get ringworm or pass it along to Jazz. This is not something Coach enjoys.  I am stiff in so many places from puppy wrangling.  I am also surprised by how hard it is to actually get a good angle on his little friends.  Believe me when I tell you this whole process is miserable and time consuming.

So here comes the true confessions part.  I have a groomer who is my friend.  I trust her and she has a great deal of experience with all kinds of dog related skin issues.  She recommended I might try using oil of oregano to cure the ringworm.  I did some internet research and it sounded promising.  I do not have the courage to call my vet and ask her about this.  I decided to compromise.  I will try the oil in the morning and use the shampoo in the evening.  If it doesn't appear to be clearing up I will go back to strictly shampoo.

The thing about this oil is that it burns a little.  I decided to be safe and test it on myself first.  I tried it on the inside of my thigh and it does burn.  It feels a little bit like extreme nettles.  I diluted it a little and applied it to Coach's ... well you get the idea.  First he looked startled and tried to lick it.  Based on his reaction, it also burns in the mouth.  He stood up and looked at his behind a few times and then started trotting around.  He tucked his tail, flattened his ears and dashed out the dog door into the back yard.  Jazz was sleeping by the dog door and seemed to lift one eyebrow and think "hmmm?"  Two seconds later, poor Coach dashed back through the dog door still moving in a fairly urgent manner.  Jazz jumped up and trotted over to Coach.  They touched noses and Jazz immediately noticed a strong scent from the other end of Coach.  I swear the poor puppy smells like pizza now!  Strong pizza, but pizza nevertheless.  Jazz was very surprised and showed considerable interest.  By then the stinging must have subsided and Coach settled down.

That whole performance lasted less than five minutes.  About ten minutes later I looked over and both Jazz and Coach were examining his balls with complete fascination.  I still think it was the smell of pizza that had them confounded.  My daily routine now involves walking, stretching Jazz's thigh, doing sit stands with Jazz, putting stinging oil on Coach's boys, working, walking/running the dogs, washing Coach's guys with medicated shampoo and drying with a hair dryer, doing more stretches and sit stands with Jazz, collapsing in a heap!  Nobody should have this much fun.  Oh well - the dogs are worth it, the exercise is good for me and life at our house is never dull.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rehab - Free at Last!

It's been about a month since our last rehab post.  I reread the last post and am so pleased to see all the things that have improved.

Jazz now walks with a very slight limp.  He willingly sits although the left leg sticks out to the side a little.  He runs, climbs stairs and jumps 16" agility jumps.  He seems happy and comfortable.  We had our final recheck and the bone is healing well.  The vet said she was able to "really crank the knee" and get no indication of pain.  He has arthritis, but she said it is not nearly as bad as many she has seen.  She cleared him to begin the last phase of rehab, which is to build up to complete freedom of activity.

I still worry about some things.  He has that slight limp and I worry that it will not go away.  The vet is not willing to commit to any answer - maybe it will go away, maybe not.  He still sits a little crooked and she said he may always sit that way.  The one that bothers me most at the moment is that he will not stand on four legs.  When he stands still, he is constantly touching the floor with the left foot and then picking it up again.  The vet was concerned, but unable to find anything that caused him pain.  She is puzzled.  I suspect that it is more mental than physical with him, but I hate to assume he is not in pain and find out I'm wrong.  He seems comfortable raising the right leg and standing on the injured one if he wants to mark something.  (I really recommend walking a boy dog so that he has to lift the good leg to mark - great way to get some easy leg strengthening!)  I am now rocking him a little in the rear so he gently has to put weight on that leg and I am having him lift the right leg a few seconds at a time.  He seems to stand on all four legs when he is really interested in something or trying to "dig in" so I can't pull him away from something when I'm walking him.  We will see how it goes.

We are cleared to do everything that Jazz is willing to do except the extreme play favored by Jazz and Coach.  We will wait another four weeks before they are free to stand on their back legs and wrestle like polar bears!  We went to agility practice Thursday night and Jazz got to actually do agility.  I set the jumps at 12" and he was really cute.  He was so happy.  I even got two rear crosses from him.  We have never done rear crosses before!  He seems to have a little trouble with tunnels - he has to crouch a little to go through them so I think it may be uncomfortable for him, but he was happy to give it a try.  He is also going up and down stairs again.  He was pretty stiff on Friday, but this is the first time in about two weeks that he has raised his level of activity enough to be a little stiff.

He is not completely free of pain and he is pretty protective of that leg.  I think he needs to build confidence as well as strength.  The left leg seems to be about 80 percent the size of the right leg, so we need to continue to build muscle. I am so anxious to be able to enter an agility trial before January, but we will see how he does.  The strangest side effect of this injury is his obedience skills.  He is heeling as if it is the most fun he has ever had!  I did quite a bit of obedience training while he was recovering because it made him feel confident and happy to be participating in training with me.  (The rehab booklet specifically recommended figure eights.)  I never realized how much he enjoys the interaction that training provides.  He loves learning things and practicing things as long as I praise him and he gets treats.  He does not want to be left out of anything.

This answers a question that was bothering me.  I wondered if I should stop doing obedience with him because he didn't enjoy it.  He doesn't differentiate between obedience and agility in the way that I do.  He really seems to be happy doing anything that we can do together as long as it is a positive experience.  I am beginning to really understand and enjoy obedience and I think he will too.  I just need to be sure we're both comfortable and having fun.

Thanks to everyone for the good wishes.  I sympathize with others that have or will go through this process.