Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Whiskered One

I thought I'd post a quick update about my cat, Layla, who, as you know, has been battling some health issues for the past year.

Over all, she's doing quite well.  She is on 90 mg of Denosyl (a liver protectant supplement) every morning, and .35 cc of Prednisone every evening (a very small dose for keeping any inflammation she may have in her intestines to a minimum).

Lately, she has been turning up her food and even seemed to drop a bit of weight again.  I thought the worst, but when I offered her a can of food from PetCo as opposed to a smaller pet store in my area this evening, she wolfed it down.  Despite the fact that it's the exact same brand of food, there appears to be something different about the pet store cans.  I'll listen to what she's telling me and buy only PetCo cans from now on.  Maybe the ones from the pet store weren't stored properly (according to the expiration date, they have another two years before they expire...).

She's going to eventually need to go back to the vet for a recheck, but weighing her is the most important thing.  So, I'm probably going to bring her along when I pick up her dry prescription food (which she just kind of picks at nowadays) just to be weighed.  I'm not in a hurry to get her in for another exam, as she is stable and was really stressed out at the last couple of vet visits.

She spent some time in my room with me this weekend and pretty much purred continuously the entire time, despite me dressing her up in flowers.  I love little moments like this. :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

An Assortment of Things

My Anatomy and Physiology final came and went on Thursday.  A few hours after the test, I went home and checked to see if my grade was posted online.  I scored a 94.7 on the exam which is worth 1/3 of my overall grade, and, in addition, my lab grade of a 95.7 was posted.  This brought my over all grade up in to the 90s, and guess what.. I'm pretty much certain that I pulled off the A in the course that I wanted.  My disappearance on MargeBlog wasn't for nothing!

As you might have guessed, that's not the end of things for me.  Starting Wednesday, I'll be tackling the second half of Anatomy and Physiology until July 26.  In addition, I'll be working on TWO projects with one of my professors (details eventually - but yes, still in the pigeon lab) through July as well.  I'll also be accumulating some more outpatient (so much fun) and inpatient (not so much fun) volunteer hours for my eventual application to physical therapy school.  Oh, and that nice thing called the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is coming up on July 16, and I sorely need to broaden my vocabulary.

Our Memorial Day weekend was pretty nice.  Though I had plans to take Marge to parks and beaches and all that fun stuff, the heat, as well as just exhaustion from being busy with life, kept me home.  We did walk a number of times each day, though, in the field across the street (where the above photo was taken).  I was surprised to see Marge willing to run zoomies in the humid, sticky weather.  I guess the fact that she was cooped with little to do in the preceding days was really showing.

On Saturday night, two long time friends stopped by.  Because the rest of my summer is going to be quite busy and also because I truly have not seen my friends as much as I should/would like to, I reached out to a lot of people this weekend, wanting to catch up.  So, two of my male friends came over to hang outside in my yard late Saturday night.  I put Marge in her crate in the basement with a meatball-stuffed Kong for the first bit of their visit, but ultimately decided to take her out.  Though initially a little cautious, she warmed up relatively quickly and even jumped up to plant a slobbery kiss on the face of one of my friends.  When I put her back inside the house, she protested by scratching at the door.  So, she hung out with us for a couple of hours.

That's a quick recap of what's been going on.  Stay tuned for an agility update in the very near future.  We have a trial this weekend and some things are going to be brand new for both Marge and I and it's VERY exciting.  (Hint: can you say "slumber party?")

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Buried in Books

We're still here, I promise.  I have been devoting a lot of my time to end of semester exams.  By May 26, I will be able to breathe again, just a little bit (until, that is, my summer session begins and I am held hostage in my Honors advisor's lab, all the while trying to learn a second semester of Anatomy and Physiology)..

Seriously, it will get better.  Please just promise that you won't forget about Marge and me while I work through all of this busyness.

In the meantime, I want to leave you a short passage from the reading material from my Physiological Psychology class..

"One hypothesized source of individual variability in stress responses is called stress immunization, the possibility that early experiences with stressful situations result in decreased susceptibility to stressful situations in adulthood.  In rats, such early experiences with stressful situations (for instance, being handled by humans) led to decreased secretion of corticosteroids in adults in response to widely varying stressors."

Seems like it ties in to what would be considered good or bad early life experiences for puppies, doesn't it?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Three Day Tourney (again)

Blogger seems to have swallowed my recent post about last weekend's agility trials, so here we go again.  Thank goodness for e-mail subscriptions that e-mail me all of my posts :)

This past weekend, Marge and I enjoyed a warm and sunny three days of agility at my dog club's annual Spring trial.  5 runs is the most agility we've ever done in a single weekend.

Marge ran well all three days.  The first day, Friday, we were entered only in Excellent A Jumpers with Weaves.  I liked the course a lot... but the combination of me pulling Marge off of a tunnel by clapping (why did I do that?!?) and Marge deciding to take the pinwheel backwards NQ'd us.

Saturday, Excellent Standard was first. She ran super well.. but popped out at the 11th (!!!) weave pole. This is totally uncharacteristic of her, and after further investigation, it looks like she slipped, tried to wiggle her way back in, and couldn't.

I admit, I was starting to get a little bit bluesy over the fact that we weren't qualifying despite running so well. But then this son-of-a-gun hard course came along and we actually qualified on it. First place and the only 20" dog to qualify in the A class.

She does look a little slow, but it might have something to do with the fact that I wasn't moving all that quickly, the course was tight, and it was hot. She picked up speed at the end. It was still 4.64 yards per second (though she routinely breaks 5 on JWW courses).

Obligatory ribbon photo:

Sunday, we were back out for more. Unfortunately, I don't have any video, since I spent the majority of time by myself. Jumpers was first; not a horrible course, but the weaves were going right in to the fence. Alas, Marge popped out at the tenth pole. I think we incurred another wrong course at the end as well.

Standard was a pretty tough course, with a TIGHT, TIGHT serpentine right after the table. I was too late on the third jump of the serp and while I got Marge over it, I couldn't get her back around it and she backjumped for a wrong course. :( That was the only fault we had, though, so I was really happy with the run.

This trial is definitely one of my favorite weekends of the year. Marge thought so, too, content to lay in the grass outside of my tent as the world went by. I'm pleased to report that she did not react to a single whistle at this trial.

I also got lots of compliments about how Marge and I are doing. A friend told me that several people said that I am "doing a really good job with this dog." That made me happy. Even if we never qualify again, Marge has accomplished so much more than I ever expected.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Handling, Handling

Tuesday's class was a handling class in every sense of the word.

My instructor told me that I prefer not to handle, but to do one thing by myself, then have Marge do something else, then do something again, etc.  That's why I'm so good at rear crosses. I don't disagree with her.  The idea of actively handling around an entire course is something I'm still trying to do, especially at trials.

Course 1 (Black Circles)

By far, the hardest of the two.  The beginning, surprisingly, was not bad.  After the Dog Walk is when it got tricky.

I believe I front crossed between 9 and 10 to break up the threadle.  The 12,13,14,15 sequence was pretty nighmarish.  I did a front between 13 and 14, but it was easier said than done.  That said, I definitely appreciate all of the front cross practice, despite the fact that I'd much rather handle everything with rears.

Course 2 (White Circles)

Much more relaxed.  I don't think we really flunked on any part of it.  I handled the pinwheel with a front cross after 9 and then another between 11 and the A-Frame.  Worked wonderfully.

I'm excited for my trial this weekend and hoping I'll pick up some Q's in either of the Excellent classes.  I was so excited to be hanging out with Amy & Layla on Sunday, but it turns out that they can't make it. :(

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Spy

With my little eye..

Something beaked and green..

And one more shot just because I like it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

VIP Sunday

On Sunday, we had a very, very special visitor to the MargeHouse.

Roxanne from Champion of My Heart was in town for a journalism conference and bravely made the trek from Manhattan to Staten Island to see us, which I was overjoyed about.  (I totally would have went to NYC, but she wanted to meet Marge, too.. and, aside from passing through in a car, Marge will likely never set foot in Manhattan in her life.)

She and Marge hit it off right away, undoubtedly due to the fact that Roxanne is one of very few people (sadly) that Marge has encountered who knows how to approach a shy or cautious dog in the correct manner.

Aside from some initial cautiousness, Marge was very wiggly with Rox and welcomed a good deal of petting and cookies (though all I had in the house were some not-so-high-value chicken jerky type things).

After a little while, Marge left the room and went to sleep on the couch, obviously unconcerned about the stranger on her soil.  We followed her lead and sat for a while in the same room.

Then, Marge plopped right down on the floor in the middle of the room while my mom, sister, Roxanne and I conversed before the two of us went to grab some grub.

They enjoyed a smooch (photo shown here) as they said farewell to each other.  We then departed for lunch and, eventually, the airport with Louie for Roxanne's flight home.

Whether she knows it or not, Roxanne is someone who I admire greatly and someone who has had a huge influence on my knowledge of and interest in fearful dogs.  I began reading her blog, Champion of My Heart, in 2009, shortly after I created MargeBlog.  I find myself referring to her posts and e-mails often, which contain a wealth of info about fearful dogs and dogs in general.

Suffice to say, I was very happy to meet and spend time with a personal idol and, most importantly, a good friend.

She even took me inside the front doors of La Guardia airport, my first time in an airport in 15+ years.  You know, a little desensitization for me, the flying phobe. :)  Seems oddly appropriate for two girls who met because of their more-sensitive-than-usual canine companions.

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