Thursday, May 28, 2009

Let the blogging continue

I had a 4 day weekend all to myself for Memorial Day and it was fabulous. I managed to not over book myself and spent lots of time with my own dogs for a change. The weather was even pretty good for most of it which meant some nice walks. I did a couple of training tracks in long grass with Jenny and she did great. Much better than I expected. I need to start adding more distance and turns. I found a video of another pug doing tracking on YouTube. I was very pleased to see we aren't the only pug trackers out there. Score another for pugdom. VBG I love this photo of Jenny because she is showing her pushy bratty self. Jack is a very tolerant boy.

Missy got her sutures out yesterday. No more frankendog. Everything looks good. Now we just need to wait for her hair to grow back.
Nephew Minos is getting bigger every day. I have posted some videos of him and my crew on YouTube. Just type in Minos the bulldog to find them.

On Monday I got to watch a couple of friends run their dogs in an agility trial. (Belgian Tervueren: ) It was very entertaining. I really don't know much about agility "rules" but I really liked the fact that there were mixed breeds there earning titles too. I am a big fan if watching dogs do stuff that they enjoy regardless of which sport it is. And if all dogs are included, well that's even better.
I do have some observations (reservations?) about flyball that I plan on sharing in my next post. I am to tired for a serious post tonight however. (and I also have a story about a client puppy and inept trainers to share)
P.S. Check out two new blogs I have added to the blogroll: Leadership Without Force (a new favorite) and The Spiritdance Dog Tracking and Sheep Herding Blog.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The results are in

Good news, the lumps were grade IIa but with clear margins. (clear margins mean we got all the bad cells) I would prefer grade I but I'll take it since it is better than III. According to the report 80% of mast cell tumors are grade II. While I can't say I understood the whole report, the doctor explained it to me and was happy with the results so I feel pretty good about them too. (Not that I will stop researching info on my own because that's just how I am.) He explained we just have to keep a close eye on her for any reoccurance and if any new lumps show up we need to get them off her quickly.

It is nice to breathe again.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Frenchie as Frankendog

Just a heads up that some of the following photos may be to graphic for some people. (to me only the last one is cringeworthy due to placement) I took a few photos of Missy and her stitches tonight while she was snoozing on Jack's bed. She is feeling very good and is back to normal even running into the yard for potty time again. No more having to wipe her butt every time she has a bowel movement. No more oozing either, a nice perk. The stitches are all holding up well. There is a little bruising in one area as you will see in the photos.

Here is the patch on her left side that was our second biopsy spot. (I don't know why her eyes always look cloudy in pics with a flash. Anyone?)

Here is part of the one on her back. She's lying on the rest of it. This was just a fatty lipoma.

Her left side again and her front left paw just above the foot pad and to the side of the higher pad. (ok so what is that called?) This was just a skin tag. I don't know how many times people thought it was a tick, myself included.

This was the worst spot. It was the place we found the confirmed mast cell tumor and a new growth that looked similar starting above that one. So we took them both off and sent it off for a biopsy. It looks very askew in the photo but when she stands it is straight. You can see where placement made wiping a necessity for a few days.

She has been very good about the spots so far. Of course she can't really reach any of them due to her lack of flexibility (a frenchie thing) unless she does her patented dance on her backside in the grass or scoot the butt move. We are keeping a close watch on her and simply stop her when she starts either. In a few more days I can relax more about it because they won't be in danger of popping open with pressure. I'll have to be careful when Minos comes on Tuesday that she doesn't play to hard.

She is getting much attention and lots of treats. It's hard not to feel bad for her when all you can see is stitches everywhere.

My list of blog topics is getting longer as I keep putting off writing about anything serious until I feel better and have more time. I feel like I am behind and can't catch up. Does anyone else have that problem?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A certain amount of stress

My week isn't over and I have to admit a certain amount of stress already. The good news is that Missy came through her surgery today just fine. We removed 5 lumps, 2 of which were suspicious enough to be sent for biopsy. We know at least one is definitely a mast cell tumor hence the reason for a surgery in the first place. She was not impressed with the day at all and let us know it at the top of her lungs as soon as she woke up. It is the first time I have ever heard her howl. It had the distinctive frenchie scream incorporated occasionally as well. Not a fun sound at all. The poor thing has a bit of the frankendog look right now with all of her stitches. (rear, back, side, and leg) I couldn't bear to take a photo to share, she looks so pathetic. She is currently sleeping off the effects of the anesthesia and pain medication. She definitely had a long stressful day.

On another note I have somehow tweaked some ligaments in my upper back/lower neck last week. It didn't get better on its own so yesterday I saw my chiropractor and he had to do the full works on me. Unfortunately it will be a few days until I am right again. Having to work means I can't take any real pain meds if I want to be able to function so ibuprofen is currently my best friend right now. Being in pain for so long gives me a new appreciation for anyone dealing with chronic pain daily. It is not something I would wish on anyone. I can't wait until I can sleep comfortably again.

To add to my stress level, the house across the street from me seems to have rotating residents. In the winter there is a mom type living there. She has a very nice golden retriever who I watched almost get nailed by a pickup truck just a few weeks ago when it ran out towards the road after a pedestrian. Thankfully he seems to be trained and listened as she called him back at the last minute. He was so close to the truck that I saw the tailwind blow his coat back and make his eyes close against the dust kick up. It made my heart stop for a minute. I thought he was a goner.

In the spring her two young adult kids seem to take over and live there off and on with various friends stopping by. (at all hours) It is annoying due to some of their behavior. (example: screaming out the window at an old man as he rode his bicycle past their house) To add to that someone brought a (beautiful) male Siberian husky to the house and tied it outside where it postured and started screaming at my dogs while I was with them in the yard. We made a quick exit into the house. Now maybe he is friendly to other dogs when not tied up, but I'm not willing to take the chace based on what I was seeing. It makes me nervous. Not to mention if he gets loose we live on the other side of the street on a very busy road. The danger of him getting hit when trying to cross it is very real. Add to that my fence is only 4 feet high. I am really hoping it was just a visitor for the day. I hate having to worry about my dogs being in their own yard. It doesn't seem fair. I know Jack could defend himself if needed but the girls would be at a huge disadvantage. And make no mistake this isn't about the breed, whom is one of my favorites, but my assumptions of the potential lack of responsibility of the owner and the behavior of this particular dog in this case.

Now is the waiting game for the biopsy report. It should be back by either friday or monday. I will certainly post the results as soon as I get them. Wish us luck.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blogroll update

I have added a blog to my blogroll that while isn't dog related, is one of my favorites. And trust me, I have read ALOT of blogs. Not only does it have fabulous info on some of our smaller and many times unrepresented animal friends, it is also very well written with many cute photos. I had added a link to it on my personal (non-dog) blog but haven't had time to keep up with it so I have missed regular reading. Out of sight and all. Then to add insult to injury I spoke with their mom on the phone the other day at work but didn't recognise her as such until after I hung up. Doh! Not one of my better moments. Especially since she has also been one of my better clients. (Translation, she listened to me. Shout out to Apollo and Jenna!) Enjoy the blog and be sure to scroll back though the older posts with the "Older Posts" button at the bottom of each page. You won't be disappointed.

I hope to overhaul my blogroll soon with more new links and the removal of links from sites no longer kept current. Until then I hope you enjoy the newbie on the list.

Dogs watching TV

Today one of the things I did for Mothers Day was spend some relaxing time with the family. We bought the movie "Bolt" awhile ago but hadn't watched it. Today we remedied that. As you can see Jenny found it very entertaining. She normally rarely reacts to the TV so when she kept going up and trying to get closer to the screen we had to capture it. Ironicly my husband, who says I take to many photos of the dogs, was the one to grab the camera today.

When she wasn't trying to get closer to the screen she was sitting on my son's lap watching as well. I suspect all the animal sounds peaked her interest.

It was a very cute movie and we all enjoyed it alot. Of course we are also huge fans of Disney so not liking it is almost not an option in this house. VBG Does anyone else have dogs that watch TV?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mothers Day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Missy update and some tracking info

Missy's surgery is scheduled for the 13th. Unfortunately we didn't have any openings sooner. If anyone cancels their surgery we will certainly slide her in sooner. I hate waiting. In the meantime I have put her on full raw. It is believed that carbs and sugar can feed cancers. I'm not taking any chances. She is currently getting moose in the morning and Primal's nuggets in the evening. (pheasant formula this week) I love the nuggets because you can leave them frozen and thaw them quickly as needed. I just take them out in the morning and thaw them right in the fridge for the day. They are perfect for small dogs. No mess easy prep. I barely cook enough to keep myself alive so less prep is always music to my ears. I have used their patties before for Jack and the girls but had to cut them up for the girls since they were to big for a meal. Shout out to Lauren and Bill at The Loyal Biscuit Co. for being my fabulous supplier.

I had planned on going out tracking this morning but am battling a kink in my lower neck that is making to much movement painful. If I can get it worked out I will go. I went the other day and introduced turns which she did well with. I need to work in some longer grass and wooded areas next. I have a borrowed friends copy of Component training for variable surface tracking by Ed Presnall I also need to read. (virable surface is tracking on pavement as well as dirt and grass)

If anyone is interested in trying tracking here is some info to get you started. The books I would recommend for all beginners would be: "Novice Nosework" by Ed Presnall and Lois Ballard. As a companion book I also liked "Track Laying 101" by Ed Presnall put out by The tracking club of Wisconsin. It gets into all the stuff you need to know to lay great tracks for your dog. (you self lay in the beginning) And a book that can help dispel some myths and preconceptions of tracking that I really enjoyed was Following ghosts, Developing the tracking relationship by John Rice and Suzanne Clothier.

Most of those can be found on my favorite tracking site: I use their Sure-Fit adjustable tracking harness and their lines. (Though you can use any harness that is comfortable for the dog to wear and pull in and a long leash or training line.) Not only are they adjustable, they are easy to get on and off your dog. I also admit to loving that you can get almost any color you like in both harness and lines.

You can track with ANY dog. If they can breathe and smell, they can track. Some breeds may need to have some adjustments in training but all are capable. There are also many free e-mail lists out there as well. I am a member of Tiny Trackers on Yahoogroups. It is specifically for small dogs that track. This gives me a forum to ask questions of others that have more experience, and commiserate with those that have hit the same training hurdles when support is needed.

Look around, you may have a tracking group in your area already. If not, there may be a trainer that can steer you in the right direction or know of tracking seminars coming up. It never hurts to call and ask.

If you have a reactive dog, tracking can be the perfect sport to do because it is solitary. You and your dog get to work together and alone. It will help you learn to read your dog as well as give them something interesting to do that can help tire them out. We all have heard the saying, a tired dog is a happy dog.

Initially in tracking you have to teach the dog to follow the track you set. Eventually after they have learned the game, you need to then trust your dog on the track. The tricky part is learning to read their body language during the training portion so when you start doing blind tracks, those layed by others that you don't know where it goes either, you can trust them based on knowing when they are actually working the track or not. As you can tell by the video I am still in the teaching the game part to Jenny.

I encourage anyone interested in tracking to give it a try. Even if you never want to trial it is alot of fun to do with your dog. It is also a great way to spend time outside being surrounded by nature in all it's glory. If I don't get out in the field today I will at least play the "get the glove" game with Jenny. This promotes her drive to find the end article since finding that equals much fun. Plus it is a good marker of the "find it" game being over. I was doing the sit at the end but have decided to have her pick it up instead. If I can figure out how to get DVD clips of tracking trials I have video'd on here I will add those soon as well. I am some great footage of dogs earning their TD's. (Tracking Dog title)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Video of Jenny, the tracking pug

Today I finally had some time to take Jenny out for this years first track. It went pretty well. I only did two short ones since it was warm out. I slept in and didn't get out first thing in the morning which is ideal for tracking practice. It is cooler then and the grass being damp helps with the scent. She was panting after the second track and I didn't want to push it and risk her overheating. As a pug she is more prone to that issue when using her nose so much. I also want to keep it fun for her and quitting before she gets tired of it keeps her drive up.
I decided to take some video because I know there are people who just don't believe I am tracking a pug. I have posted photos but they don't really prove she can do it. I hope this helps. I am sure there will be some people who say I am doing everything wrong. The downside to posting video is that it opens yourself up to criticism from some viewers. I have one viewer in particular that loves to rip me down, hence one of the the reasons I have moderated comments.
I'll go on record saying that I am not a tracking expert. I have been doing it off and on for about 10 years now but never seriously. It is just something I enjoy doing with my dogs, and watching other dogs and handlers do. There is nothing like seeing a dog doing something that comes naturally to them, and that they also have fun doing. Jenny is much more driven than the other dogs I have tracked with so perhaps I will finally get serious about it.
No you do not need to train for tracking with food. It is just how I choose to train. And with Jenny food is the perfect motivator. So I hope you enjoy the video. It is about 2 minutes long and there is sound. I was trying to explain things as I went along. I should have just shut up and let her work and explained it after. Next time I will have someone else do the videoing so I can concentrate on the work. It is hard trying to do everything all at once!

I think she did a pretty good job all thing considered. I especially like the part where she gets off the track and circles back and finds it again quickly. I am still not sure about using food under the first article. I might skip that next time and only use it under the next articles. She works so much faster than other dogs I have handled so I am still working out the kinks of article indication.