Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Two Years Gone By

Yesterday was Marge's third birthday, and today is her second Gotcha Day with me.

Some of you might recall my video last June commemorating these events. I've decided to do it annually.

Marge, I couldn't have found a better friend and teammate. Thanks for making life so much fun.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Goodbye, Spring and Novice Courses

Never in my life have I been so thankful for air conditioning.

This was an extremely hot weekend of trialing.  Neither Marge nor I like the heat.  At all.  One day we battled the sun; the other day, it was the oppressive humidity that got to us.  Still, we had a very, VERY successful weekend.

Novice Jumpers was, for a change, the first class of the day on Saturday.  It was nice, because it meant no waiting around and not having to run in the mid-day heat.  So, my sister and I got to the trial nice nice and early, set up our little tent compound with our friends, and got ready to run.

Marge had no trouble whatsoever adjusting to the trial site (my college!).  Very, very glad that new trial sites are proving to be a non issue.  I guess, in Marge's mind, dogs + tents + agility equipment = I should be here and have nothing to be afraid of.  Maybe she doesn't even realize that she's in a new place.

I walked the course and was pretty confident.  There weren't really any areas that left me scratching my head; I had a plan for everything, and it helped that the course was extremely flowy.

This took us a blazing 20.52 seconds to finish.  Just like that, our Novice days ended (until we start FAST, that is) and we earned our NAJ title. All I needed was a front cross after the weaves and a back cross to get to the final line of jumps.  She hit 5.32 YPS - her fastest so far.  She was really zipping around this course.  I love Jumpers so, so much, and know that if we ever are going for our MACH, almost all of our points are going to come from here (our times are not nearly as impressive in Standard).

We had a long time to wait, so Marge posed with her well-deserved first place ribbon, and we headed home.  Sure is nice living ten minutes from the trial site.

We hung out at home for two or three hours, cooling down in the air conditioning, getting a bite to eat, all stuff like that.  We returned to the trial site a bit early to wait for Open Standard.  We wound up having quite a bit of company - three of my high school friends stopped by to watch us run, and Louie brought his parents, too.  I admit, having an extra six people around was a bit overwhelming, at least for me.  Marge didn't seem bothered by it at all.

I walked Open Standard and honestly thought it was a bit ugly.  The opening was tough as well as the closing.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go - there were no shortage of variables to consider.

I wound up leading out to past the second jump (longest lead-out in a trial so far), which made the opening a lot more bearable. She held her A-Frame contact beautifully, which I made a huge deal about while in the ring with her. She didn't wind up holding her Dog Walk, but I'm much less concerned about that. Her teeter was iffy, but she stayed on it. All in all, it turned out to be a clean run and a 2nd place.

Packed up after that and headed home.  I was SO tired; I had a graduation party to go to, and I was completely unthrilled about it.  I literally couldn't stand up!

A good night's sleep, 2 Aleve and a bottle of Gatorade later, and I was recovered as much as I could be to head back out for day two.

The second day moved very quickly - I guess who ever was in charge was doing things efficiently, and the fact that a lot of people left and even pulled their dogs out of some runs helped on time, too.  After waiting a bit, it was time for Open Standard once again.

Tunnel openings are always tricky, but it least it gave me enough time to front cross to the A-Frame, which she held again!  She also held her Dog Walk this time, too.  I was also extremely happy at how she handled the tunnel-Dog Walk combo - haven't trained that in a long, long time. The run was a little bit sloppy, yes, but what can you expect for a young dog and young handler running agility in the 90 degree heat?  The important part is that she's staying with me on these Open Standard courses - she's reading me pretty well because if she wasn't, we'd have wrong courses and no clean runs.

We waited around for Open Jumpers. Marge and her friend Diesel hung out in the shade of their crates and tents and breeze from their battery-powered fans.

Before I knew it, it was time for Open Jumpers - almost two hours ahead of schedule.  I walked the course and was extremely confident; it only required a couple of crosses and was very suitable to our favorite, back crosses.

It didn't exactly go as planned.

I didn't realize it was my turn; the gate steward pretty much told me at the last minute.  I normally wouldn't known, but a ton of people weren't there and no one crossed their names off.  So, we had to hurry in to the ring (which meant that my treat bag filled with juicy roast beef left very suddenly from under Marge's nose - and she watched with her eyes as it disappeared).

Then, she didn't want to sit on the start line - she was VERY distracted by something behind her.  Reflecting on it now, I think I would have been better off not leading out at all.  Louie thinks she was looking for him and the treats, but to me, it looks like she's looking at the stewards and leash runner behind her (the leash runner was a young girl, so I'm wondering if she thought it was my sister).  I finally got her going and she started running toward the fencing after the tunnel.  I called her and she came, but her weaves were so pitifully slow and she fizzled out at the 10th pole, which is completely uncharacteristic for her.

I waved my hand to the judge to signal that we were done.  And it was the best decision I made all day.  Something was bothering her, she was extremely hot, the humidity was oppressive and she had just given me three clean runs over the course of the weekend.  Why the heck would I push her?  It was obviously not worth it to run her, she was not happy to be out there, and it may have actually been dangerous if I continued.

When I heard that someone's poor dog had actually collapsed due to heat exhaustion at the end of the trial, I felt even better about my decision to pull her off the course.  Thankfully, he is OK.

And that was the end of our trial - the end of all agility trialing until September.  It seems like it's so far away, but in reality, it's not - the summer, though it seems endless, is only two months long.

A lot of good things came out of this trial and far outweigh any negatives that I can think of.  She held the majority of her contacts, she earned another title, she dealt with a new trial site, met lots of visitors, earned two out of three OA legs, and lots, lots more.  Though it would have been nice to end this half of the season on a high note in Open Jumpers, I really have no complaints.  In six days of trialing total, Marge Q'd in 8 out of 12 runs and earned two titles at four different trial sites.  Those are really impressive statistics for a dog who had to work so hard to get in to the agility ring in the first place.

Time for the both of us to get some rest and go back out there in the fall to gear up for Excellent.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

An Ode to Louie

Agility class was rained out and aside from the start of our Rally Advanced class, I have no real Marge news to talk about.  It's been hot and humid, and I'll be bogged down with school stuff until Thursday.  So, I'll take this time to talk about someone else who is special in my life.

Tomorrow, June 23, is my third anniversary dating Louie.

I'm not a particularly sappy/romantic person person, but everyone should know how good Louie has been to me.  He lives an hour away, so when he's not at college, he'll drive to my house once a week (sometimes more) to see me.  Before he got to college, we saw each other only once a week.  Before he drove, he commuted three hours through crowded NYC and Long Island public transportation to get to my house.

On top of all of that, he has taken me to numerous agility trials, training classes, run-throughs, and the like, since I have yet to get my scaredy self behind the wheel on the highway.  He offers to.  If not for him, I would have only gone to one trial so far - the one that I drove to myself, the one that was 20 measly minutes from my house.  I guess you can say that he has made a lot of things possible for me.

Marge likes him, too.  Thank goodness.  He's just about the only guy that she likes.  She has good taste.  (And he's a good listener - the reason she likes him so much is because he allowed her to interact with him on her own terms.)

He tags along with me when I go for walks, go to training class, check my blog, and all of the other Marge stuff that I do while he's visiting.  Most of it, he even enjoys, except Rally - it's too slow for him.  He has made my interests his own interests.

He even attempted to create his own agility course the other day on Clean Run Course Designer.  How adorable is that?  Check out the 15-16 obstacle discrimination!  (Who wants to tackle THIS course?)

We have a happy, mature relationship.  It's amazing to see how we've grown together over time. I am lucky to have someone like this in my life. Thanks, Louie, for all that you do!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Jamesburg, We Have Takeoff

Yesterday marked our first agility trial since the beginning of May.  It was hot!

It was a brand new trial site for us: Thompson Park in Jamesburg, NJ.  I was initially hesitant to take Marge to a new place after all the new things we've already been doing this Spring, but after a few minutes of adjustment, she did really well.  What a great site.  Quiet, shady, lots of woods, and I think I even saw a lake at the other end of the park.

She also did well with measuring, and now we'll never have to deal with that again.

Our Open Standard debut was our first run of the day, around 10 AM.  I almost missed the judge's briefing because the ring was at the opposite end of the trial site from my canopy.  I had to run down there to catch the end of it.

Walking the course, I was extremely confident.  It was an Open course that actually made sense (I've heard that some are really atrocious).  The ending was the only thing I was worried about.  It was a chute to the teeter, and then a tricky 180 before you had to pull, pull, pull into the final two jumps.

It was, indeed, the ending that killed us.

It started out so nice.. she hit her weaves beautifully, which I was really happy about.  After the table was the dog walk, and I cued her to "zone" (her contact word), and she kinda didn't and kinda didn't.  So, I didn't use my release word, which confused her.  She gave me some nice distance getting in to the tunnel, and then another jump to the A-Frame.  I cued her at the very top to zone and she didn't do it.  So I think my mind just got scrambled, I sent her to the chute and then called her back to me to the teeter.  BUT, she took it too fast and I didn't get my "teeter" cue in there so she thought it was the dogwalk.. again.. and took off into outer space for a brief minute.  If not for that, we would have qualified.

Just watch the video.

On a bright note, she didn't seem terribly concerned afterwards (even though she was on the wrong side for the finish and then spun when I tried to back cross) and we were able to finish the course.  She didn't take any off course obstacles, which I think bodes well for the future as the courses we encounter start to get harder.

Now all I hope is that no teeter issues pop up.  We'll have a private lesson after class on Tuesday to work the heck out of all three contacts!

We had a long wait before Novice Jumpers.  We mostly hung out under our canopy (which worked really well, though it hasn't yet been tested in the wind).  We took a walk in the woods, too.  Marge enjoyed it, but I kept it short because of the heat and the threat of ticks still murmuring in my mind.

When we got back, Marge hung out in her crate with our surprisingly powerful battery-operated fan.  I also brought along a washcloth and wet her down frequently, much to her dismay.

Eventually, it was time for Jumpers.  It was in the mid-80s by then, and all three of us were pretty worn out.  But we had stuck it out all this time, and I knew we could squeeze one more run out.  Turns out I was right.

Not much to complain about in this one. I was definitely sloppy because I was beat, but Marge saved me a couple of times. I'm so happy I did that back cross to the tunnel. I was worried about her taking the wrong tunnel entrance, but I really didn't think I could get a front cross in. Another nice set of weaves, and the whole effort earned us a first place in 20" Novice B.

So, despite our mishaps in Open, I think we had a successful day.  We got measuring out of the way,  we discovered a new trial site, we were able to stay with each other in Open, and we got our 2nd leg in Novice Jumpers.  We'll do it all again next weekend at a local trial.  Hopefully it won't be too hot.  After that, no more trials until September!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yesterday's Agility

Quick Layla Update: things are kind of the same.  I'm hesitant to say it, but her nose looks a TINY bit better than it did yesterday.  Vet had me bump up the dose of Prednisone to .4 cc for yesterday and today.  I can't believe it's already been a week; all I want, really, is for her nose to heal.  Keep sending her good vibes and thoughts.  My poor little cone head!

Yesterday's agility class came with an unexpected treat: only two people besides me were there, which meant we got a lot more time on course.  (Seriously, why do people pay for classes and then don't come?  I mean, it's fine with me, I certainly like the extra time, but I can't imagine spending that much money and then not using it!)

Again, no video.  I do promise to have video on Friday from the trial, though.  Here is the course map:

And, how I ran it:
  • Led out between 1 and 2 and continued running down the line to get to the dog walk.
  • Her dog walk contacts were extremely strange tonight.  My hunch is that someone peed in the grass near the base of it or something, because instead of doing a 2o2o, she was stoppping with all four legs in the yellow part of the contact area.  She usually does stuff like that when the grass is wet or smelly or something.
  • Sent her on to the jump and the tunnel; tunnel entrance was not difficult, and it was literally right in their path as they came over the jump.
  • The pinwheel-type thing was extremely tricky.  You had to decelerate so that the dog didn't take the dog walk again, BUT, if you decelerated too much, you pulled them off from the jump.  I think that's really the only thing I had trouble with.
  • Back cross to the weaves was fine; I was initially confused as to how my instructor wanted me to handle it, but once I figured out what she meant, it was a piece o'cake.
  • Front crossed the weaves and then front crossed again after the jump.  Marge could have just sliced the jump and then take off from there for the A-Frame, but Marisa said she wanted us to practice this.
  • !!!!! SHE DID HER A-FRAME CONTACT BEAUTIFULLY EVERY SINGLE TIME!  Oh, it was totally awesome.  Really hoping that she holds it at the trial.  I think she will.  She is totally getting it now.
  • Front crossed the A-Frame (mostly to proof her holding her contact), sent her over the jump and in to the tunnel, back crossed over the jump and then pushed/backed over the final jump.
Nice course.  It might have been the trickiest that we've seen at class so far this season, but it worked a lot of different skills and it was fun to run.

We had a visitor to class who is thinking about joining up.  Marge absolutely LOVED her and her smooth coated Border Collie.  I'm hoping they do join - perhaps for a selfish reason.. they passed the "Marge Seal of Approval" test with flying colors and it'd be nice to have another classmate who Marge gets along with!

Monday, June 14, 2010

When Life Strikes

I've had quite an absence this weekend.  I was simply too busy and too tired to even think of blogging - some of that busyness was good (like pet-sitting again), and some was not so good (like the fact that my cat is suffering the consequences from eating that delicious can of wet food last week).

What really angers me is that after a mere few minutes of searching online, I found that seafood was one of the most common allergens for cats.  Why didn't the vet tech know this?  Why didn't they ask the vet before telling me what has proven to be a very bad piece of information?  Looking back, I feel almost like she didn't even listen to me when I called on Wednesday to ask if that food was okay.  I feel like she rushed me off of the phone.

My vets are great, but their employees leave something to be desired.   A part of me wants to find a doctor specializing in cat food allergies and go to them instead.

That night, Wednesday, her nose swelled up.  I stayed with her on the couch until almost 3 AM, and then had to resort to putting the dreaded cone collar on her.  I really never wanted to do that again to her.  She had to wear it for an extended period of time a few years ago, and I'm really hoping that that's not what this turns in to.  It's already been almost a week.

My vet prescribed Prednisone - .2 cc for 7 days, .1 cc for 14 days.  He told me to discontinue the antibiotic, too, just in case she's reacting to that (it is a possibility, though not a big one in my mind. The swelling is already gone, but the nose is all raw and gunky and open - it's hard to explain, but it's just not pretty.  The cone does help, but not completely - even merely licking with her tongue is re-opening it every time it appears to be drying up.  Based on the fact that this keeps happening every day, I have a feeling that another vet visit is going to be in order for her this week.

She's still eating like a champ, and I'm watching her water intake (and syringing a bit extra in to her mouth to really keep her hydrated).  It's amazing how one little change has totally upset her delicate balance, and I'm really hoping we can get rid of this thing soon.

I likely won't be around much for the remainder of this week.  Perhaps I can squeak in a training update tomorrow or Wednesday, but it's possible that you won't hear from me until after my trial on Friday.

Keep Layla in your thoughts, please.  She's 11 years old.  She doesn't deserve to be put through this crap again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Late-Breaking News

I intended on writing a full training update yesterday, but life got in the way.  My cat, Layla, suddenly started going to her litter box every few minutes, only passing small amounts of urine each time.  I know that urinary/bladder/kidney issues are something you really can't screw around with in cats, so I took the first appointment at the vet that was available (which involved waiting in the waiting room with someone who was euthanizing their dog, UGH, so sad) so I could try to figure this out.

Fortunately, according to my vet, my kitty likely just has an infection.  The vet said that the sudden onset implies this.  She was not concerned about kidney disease or anything like that.  She said stones/crystals are possible, but she felt around and didn't feel anything (and Layla didn't seem to be in much pain when she was doing so). Today's urinalysis results showed no crystals or stones, thank goodness.  They gave her sub-cutaneous fluids to flush out her system (some of which she still hasn't absorbed, so she's looking like a football player with big puffy shoulders) and a 10-day antibiotic.  She seemed to go to the box less almost immediately after the first dose, so hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, we caught what ever it is and it'll go away and never come back.

On a happy note, my vet said it'd be alright to start giving my cat some canned food again.  She is only on a dry prescription allergy food, the food that really saved her after her very bad illness in 2005.  Though, ideally, I'd like to switch off of that and find something different, I don't want to mess around with her system too much.  So, I'm going to leave it and supplement with some canned food a few times a week.  Layla got a taste of wet food for the first time in probably about five years today - Wellness CORE Grain-Free Salmon, Whitefish and Herring.  So far, she's kept it down with no problems.  Yay!


As for Marge..

Demonstration Monday
Okay, so she wasn't a really demo dog, but she did something pretty big on Monday.  She accompanied me to the Pet Agility class that I teach and did really, really well.  She hung out in a crate for the duration of the class - she didn't LOVE it (evidenced by the peanut-butter stuffed Kong that she left uneaten), but she didn't make a fuss, either.  Her one grumble of the night came when the other teacher stood near the door to the crating room and told her dog to shush.  Marge gave her the stink eye from her crate, but when I went over to make sure she was okay, she settled down.

At the end of class, Marge got to come out for a few minutes.  She met the fearful dog that I've been working with and really liked her.  (Which reminds me - that doggy's been doing pretty well.  She's still kind of "my responsibility" in the class. She can go through the tunnel now and we're just beginning to extend it!  And, with my help, she put three paws on the A-Frame.  This was all using no force.. just positive reinforcement and patience.)  I let Marge run around loose for a few minutes when everyone had left; she worked her A-Frame contact with me a couple of times, and that was it.  But, I thought that this was a big step for her.

Tuesday Agility
Marge has been ON FIRE at agility class.  Last night was not an exception. No videos, because I was by myself, but here's the course map:

I led out to the broad jump with Marge on my right.  Used my inside arm to wrap her around jump three and front crossed simultaneously to get to the dog walk.  Her contacts were FANTASTIC, including the A-Frame.  The offside tunnel entry didn't screw us up, either - just ran like hell diagonally to it - and her teeter was both quick and somewhat independent.  No problems getting to the A-Frame, and then the rest of the course was just a pinwheel with an easy weave entrance and one final jump. 

I wish I could move up to the Excellent class, which runs two courses each night instead of just one.  But, the time is inconvenient for me, and there isn't enough room in the class.  Oh well.

Our next trial is a week from Friday.  It's at a new site that neither of us have been to before. I'm just hoping for cool temps and no noise.

As for my last post, thanks for your thoughts and ideas.  Nothing has happened since then, so I'll just try to stay diligent and hopefully make more progress on the issue.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Breaking the Habit

I have accomplished a lot with Marge.  That's no secret.  But, I still haven't cracked the dad issue completely, and it's very, very hard to deal with sometimes, seeing as we live under the same roof.

I have basically scheduled my life around his comings and goings so that she doesn't run up to the door growling at him when he comes home.  I have conditioned her to come find me when she hears the door.  She sits on her mat near the back door of the house and I feed her treats.  Once he's home, I generally don't have to worry any more, even if he goes in and out of the house a few times.

Today, she decided otherwise.  She was great when he came home from work - went right in to her crate, got her cookies, and calmly came upstairs with me to see who was there.

But just now, he came in the back door from working in the yard, and she decided that that was extremely scary and not cool.. despite the fact that he came in and went back out just a little while earlier.  What changed in the span of just a couple hours?  Unless I something happened that I didn't see, it seemed like it was the same exact situation.  He was home from work, so that initial "oh my God he's here" was over.  So why did she do it?

A lot of times I CAN fault my dad for instigating certain behaviors... this time, I'm not sure I can.  Of course, I can't REALLY fault the dog, she has known behavior issues and faulting her is unproductive.  But it's a tough place to be in, for sure.

She growled at him the other day, too, when I took a rare opportunity to sleep late, not realizing that he'd be coming home and I'd be needed on what my sister and I have termed "Dad duty."

It's not that I'm not sympathetic of her fear issues.  Any one with a brain knows that, especially since I carefully make all of my decisions with her best interests in mind.  But,  a small part of me is extremely frustrated, and I wish I could ask her, "what the heck is wrong with you?" Mostly, I'm angry that it still happens because of the fact that I always hear about it later from my dad.   I'll hear about it when she lays by his feet at dinner time, waiting for food.  He'll announce to all those there, "This dog growled at me again" and tell Marge "No, you're not getting any food from me," as if she could understand.  My dad sees this contrast in behavior as "stupid," I see it as unsurprising since she's been reinforced by him giving her treats in that position very often.

Surely, the door issue could be solved the same way, but my dad wants no part of it.  If he threw treats at her as he entered the door every day and was understanding of the fact that progress with these kinds of things isn't instant, the issue could be solved.  But, no, he won't get off his high horse and refuses to participate, even though he gladly gives her food at his own free will throughout the day.  I stopped asking him a long time ago.

Another part of me is sad and upset, mostly for the same reasons as mentioned above.  I take any issues surrounding my dog extremely personally.  It's hard to work on something so much and basically hear nothing good from my dad in return.  He won't even acknowledge that she's improved her behavior around him, despite the fact that she will seek him out when he's watching TV on the couch, even if she knows he doesn't have treats.  Despite the fact that she frequently jumps up on him and swats him playfully with her paws if he is in a sitting or reclining position.  No, those things mean nothing to him.  She still growls when he comes home, so therefore, she still "hates" him.  It's hard for me to swallow.   It would mean a lot to me for him to say that I've done a good job with Marge, or that Marge has changed a lot since we first adopted her.  So many other people have said it, but I guess he doesn't think it's true.

Yet another part of me feels like it's my fault.  Why wasn't I ready with treats, attempting to distract her from the door confrontation and continuing to condition her that people coming in the door is a good thing?  Why did I let my guard down for a minute?  Now I'm paying the price.

He's not a monster, really.  He's not a mean person. He's a hard-working guy who probably doesn't want to be bothered with something like this at the end of the day.  Any time I've gotten really upset over it, he's told me that it's not a big deal, and that it doesn't really matter "if the dog doesn't like him."  But, somehow, those words mean less in comparison to the things he says after one of these little episodes.  It's not that he even says anything bad - but by drawing attention to it and telling every one, or announcing out loud that he's not going to give her treats any more, he makes me feel really bad.

My dog will never love my dad.  My dad will never love my dog. Honestly, there's only a handful people in this world who can handle her fully - me, my sister, and my boyfriend, with my mom a close second.  This will never change, and that's okay.  But I really, really wish that my dog and my dad could understand each other a bit more so that I didn't have to be on guard and let down as often as I am.

It's upsetting, frustrating, nerve-wracking, and in some ways, kind of makes me feel like a failure.  I can direct my dog off-leash over 20 obstacles, but can't get her to stop growling at my dad.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Slow Week and Fleet Week

It's been a slow week around here, as evidenced by my lack of posting.

Marge seems to be doing fine.  In terms of her leg, it's as if nothing ever happened.  She's moving fine and she's energetic.  We wandered down to the beach today for literally five minutes, and I noticed that she didn't seem to be moving as well when on the sand.  I'm wondering if that's the culprit - if she is either sore after running around on the sand for so long or if it's irritating her paws.  Today, I think the sand was simply too hot for her to walk comfortably on it. If she comes up gimpy tomorrow (which I really hope she doesn't), I think I'll have my answer.

I've been keeping up with her exercise and keeping an eye on her diet, largely out of concern that she'll gain weight if she doesn't stay active this summer.  This has meant early morning walks, dinner in her Kibble Nibble, and using portions of her dinner as treats instead of adding other things in.  By contrast, in the winter, she can pretty much eat anything and you'll still see the hip bones on her back. She's by no means overweight now, but I do like her to stay on the thin side because of how active she is.  I wouldn't be upset if she dropped a pound or two.

In other news, I'm working on my second video of Marge.  You may recall from last year that I made a video of her first year with me.  I'm doing it again, highlighting the events of her second year.  Also like last year, I'm trying to think of some sort of blog contest or event or reader photo compilation to commemorate her third birthday and second Gotcha day, but I haven't come up with anything good yet.  Let me know if you have any ideas.

I hope to have more interesting things to write about Marge by next week.  After all, this blog is about her!  Maybe we'll take a trip to the park, since I'm free this weekend.  A lot depends on the weather - it's been so hot!


Something I didn't get the chance to blog about was my visit to New York City's Fleet Week on Monday, Memorial Day right here on the island.  We got to see the inside of a Navy ship, the USS James E. Williams.  It was very cool, and there were other ships we could have toured if we had more time.  In Manhattan, they had even more attractions.  I have nothing but the utmost respect and gratitude for those who serve our country so valiantly. These sailors and soldiers have made a huge sacrifice by leaving their homes, family, friends, and all things familiar to them.

I got to see this fella, a German Shepherd.  Of course, as a dog person, this became one of the highlights of my trip. He had a police vest on, but the soldiers were handling him, so I assume he was a military dog.  All I could think about is what kind of temperament he must have to do the job that he does.

The soldier asked if my sister wanted a picture of the dog, but he turned his head as she snapped the shot.

She got another as he walked by later on.  What a gorgeous and brave animal.

Just thought I'd share!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday Training 34

I should probably re-name this post Tuesday Troubles, since the heavy-hitting fact that Marge has come up lame once again on a different leg pretty much overshadows anything else that I'm going to write.  I'm not quite sure what happened.  We went to the beach for an hour on Saturday, but she didn't run around crazily (mostly trotted/loped), didn't climb anything dangerous, and seemed fine afterwards.  Sunday, we barely did anything, except for a short evening run in the field which, unfortunately, was most rudely interrupted by fireworks. UGH.

It's the right front leg this time - my hunch is that she tweaked her shoulder because it was the only thing that even felt a little bit weird to my untrained hands.  She was dead lame Monday morning and wouldn't put any weight on it.  She improved throughout the day and got extremely antsy because she'd been cooped up resting.  This morning, she seemed fine, and looked sound on the two short walks we took, but I'm still hesitant to say that she's 100% because of how bad she was yesterday.  I was completely unsure about what to do regarding agility class tonight, but the thunderstorms decided for me - class has been cancelled.  This is just about the only time I've ever been happy about not having agility.

I'm not concerned about our June trials, which are 3 and 4 weeks away, but I am concerned about the future as a whole - she's not getting injured doing agility (thank goodness), but this is now the second time (March being the first) that she's come up lame like this.  I'm trying to stretch her before agility diligently, and I've very recently started incorporating some strength building exercises that I read on Reactive Champion.  Am I doing something wrong?  Does this kind of thing happen to a lot of dogs?  Could it be diet-related?  Does she need a supplement or special muscle-building exercise regime?

Sounds All Around
I have to admit, the weekend was less than stellar.  More specifically, it was Sunday that was rather noisy.  I took Marge to my Grandma's house, where she promptly heard the beep of the carbon monoxide detector letting us all know that its batteries needed to be changed.  She went into freak mode, started panting, etc.  My Grandma put the damn thing in the back room so Marge wouldn't be bothered by it any more.  But.. I went to the door to call my sister inside (she was visiting with a neighbor) and Marge ran through my feet and walked out the door.  Thankfully, she stopped in the middle of the walkway and I just calmly grabbed her collar... but what a scare.

Marge calmed down enough to enjoy the rest of the visit, but when we got home, we took her for a walk.  Started out nice enough, until, as I said earlier, a succession of pops rang through the air.  She recovered, then they set off more. The walk was doomed at that point.  It was just one of those days where the crap never ends.

Today, we've been having thunderstorms.  On a good note, I can report that Marge is doing much better in terms of thunder.  She had a brief moment where she refused to take kibble, but still took cheese.  We spent some time upstairs in the kitchen playing our conditioning games, but then we went down to the basement, where Marge hung out in her crate.

B-ing Friends Again
We did have one nice encounter over the weekend.  My friend B and I left a party at the same time on Friday night, and he came over to my house (which was literally around the corner from the house we were originally at) to talk and gossip and catch up.  We simply sat outside for a while. I wasn't going to bring Marge out, but right before he left I decided hey, what the hell, let's give it a shot.  I didn't have any treats at all on me, so I was taking a huge gamble.  But, B sat there, his back was turned to her and he didn't look at her, try to pet her.. so.. her reaction was good.  Unbelievably good, actually.  No hackles, no growls, just tail wags AND face kisses.  Thanks again, B, for helping out!

Beach Pics
Since photos of Marge's fuzzy mug make this blog what it is, enjoy these shots from our beach excursion in lieu of the agility update that would have normally come tonight.

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