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June 2011

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30th

I took the entered dogs plus Sprigs to meet up with Cheryl and practice obedience tonight at class time. Sparkle is entered in Open A just to see if she still melts down or if age has improved her some. She had a most terrible practice in which she didn't want to heel or retrieve the dumbbell. She even tried to run off. She hasn't done that in years at obedience. It was most scary. She spent the rest of the evening on a leash. UGH! That doesn't bode well. Kamikaze lost her go-outs. Spirit was the only one that looked like she might be ready for a show.

28th

Well, Xanadu went into season today. She will not be attending the obedience show this weekend. ARGH! Glad that it is good timing for her to be clear to run USDAA near the end of July though.

27th

Our weekend in Monroe playing agility was not our best effort ever. Kamikaze turned into psycho dog one day and dashed around like a fool that couldn't slow down to weave. The other days of NQ's were my fault. We finally got it together the last day for QQ #12. Lego has lost his weaves AGAIN and is only doing 10 for the most part. He did pull out one jumpers Q. Spirit got her first AXJ leg. Xanadu had a great Standard run one day that I messed up. Then she walked jumpers after that nice standard run. I was having worst day ever and got frustrated and turned around and told her to "Get out there and take that jump NOW!". Amazingly she did and then ran the last part of the course. So maybe I've been letting her play me and I've been too easy on letting her pout around a course. I ended up running a LCCOC club member's 20" dog. Lucky, since the lady was injured and couldn't run. I got Lucky's OAJ title finished up and got her first AXJ leg done too. We had one really nice standard run where she jumped the ring gates to find mom and wouldn't come back.

Kamikaze landed squarely in 6th place for AKC Agility Invitationals. The top 5 are invited. I think we did a good job in the 7 months trying to catch everyone. So, we are first alternate. If someone declines the invitation then we are in.

Saturday was my all time low in attitude. It was the day Kazee went nuts, Xanadu walked jumpers, and Lego couldn't weave. I guess I was tired too. I ended up packing the dogs in the car after my last run (around noon). I turned off my cell and headed back to the hotel. I wanted a shower and some down time. Of course, the maids were having the same kind of day I was, so they were behind on clean towels. I had to wait over an hour for a towel. But, a shower, some quiet time and a nap and I was much closer to myself again.

Now to focus on some obedience work. 

21st

Spirit spent some more time with the dumbbell since the soccer game was cancelled due to RAIN! (yippie for rain) She still HATES it. I got her to carry it a bit by keeping my finger under her jaw while she walked. Sprigs saw her new dumbbell. She will carry it off to play with it, but not really getting the game of bringing it TO me. Xanadu practiced signals, heeling and moving stand for her Graduate Open class next weekend. Most of the rest of my time was spent loading since I am leaving right after work tomorrow. It's been decided that Twinkle will come with me since Rich will be gone overnight one night as well. OH MY! This will be a test of both of our patience.

In the middle of all this busy stuff, Lego has been diagnosed with probable early kidney failure. He is fine and has no visible symptoms. The vet recommended a 'prescription' diet made by one of the big chains. I am not really all for that. Supposedly he needs lower protein (I say easier to digest), lower salt, phosphorus and no grains, among other things. I have been food shopping for him. I would love to feed him frozen raw, but the cost and inconvenience kept me away. I chose instead a dehydrated raw diet made by Addiction. This should give me the convenience of kibble with the nutrition of unprocessed raw. I have no doubt he'll eat it as he'll eat anything. I have also decided to switch everyone else at home to the salmon diet I've had the Siberians on. It is also grain free.

20th

Cheryl and I drove to Birmingham, AL for three days of agility. We got back just before dark Sunday night. Overall it wasn't a bad trip.

Kamikaze came home with 5 of 6 Q's. The first run was a bit wild and slightly out of control, but after that we kept it together. She got QQ #10 and #11 and had decent times all but the final run which was a bit slow. Lego came home with MACH points out of two jumpers runs. I did have to haul him off his first run for sniffing and not listening, but after that I was pleased with him. He was hitting weave poles on his own, even off a back cross, and sticking in them. 

Storm had a bad weekend though. She only got two jumpers Q's and they were not fast. Her and the weaves argued all weekend in standard, but she was perfect in them in jumpers. Go figure. First day was a beagle thing in the weaves. There was a clod of dirt on the soccer turf that was about the size of a treat and she popped the last pole to go check it out. Day two she got distracted sniffing and wrapped two poles. Third day I was determined she'd weave so I got too much up in her space with my good smelling hands and blew it. Well, hard to complain too much as she's pretty much been a Q machine the last couple of months. Next weekend we're back on dirt at her home arena. She should rock it there. After the show there she is going back home to her mommy. We'll miss her here, but she'll be glad to be home where there is almost always someone around the house. I'll still finish off her MACH (maybe a couple more shows) so I'll see her again. I'd like to finish that tracking title later this year I got her certified for as well. We will just have to see how that goes.

Grace came home with her Novice Preferred Jumpers title with 3 of 3 Q's and her first Novice Preferred FAST leg.

I got home to find Sprigs' dumbbell had arrived. It's so cute!

Now to wash and reload the car for the drive Wednesday after work to Monroe. UGH!

15th

I have been doing some obedience work with Sparkle. She's entered in Open again 4th of July weekend. She just needs some reminding on the stays and we've practiced the retrieve. Spirit has gotten several sessions of dumbbell work. She WILL NOT pick up that 'thing'. We've been shaping touching the middle of it with her nose and then I ask her to hold it for count of 3. She is making some progress, but it's gonna be a long road with her. She didn't ever decide to bring it to me even watching and being with dogs getting treats for bringing it. Most of my guys have finally picked it up with that going on. Not her. But, Twinkle and Sprigs have both taken off with it. So, I ordered Sprigs a Dachshund sized dumbbell. I also discovered that in obedience Dachshunds are listed as one of the breeds that only has to jump based on 3/4 of their actual height. So, Sprigs has to jump a whopping 4 inches in obedience. Xanadu has been working on her Utility skill set since she's entered in Graduate Open 4th of July weekend. I think she has a chance at passing that class at least one day.

Tomorrow afternoon Cheryl, Grace, Lego, Kamikaze, Storm and I are off to Birmingham, AL for three days of agility (indoors, on soccer turf).

12th

Cheryl and I spent the weekend in Bossier City, LA at an obedience show. It went pretty good overall I think. 

SATURDAY
Storm didn't go for the dumbbell the first signal and then she wilted on the sit stay with 30 seconds left again. This time I asked to be excused and took her straight to her crate. Kamikaze had a just stellar Utitlity run. She was passing until the very last jump. She took the same one twice no matter how clear I was she needed to take the other one. ARGH! Spirit got her very first CD leg. It wasn't a great score. Her off lead heeling had some fairly bad distracted moments. She even ended the fast on my right side. Then she bounced on me on the recall. I'll take it.

SUNDAY
Storm did her retrieve on flat today. I was so happy. Then she busted retrieve over high for anticipating the send. AHH! Well, so it goes. But, she did her sit stay today. YIPPIE! Kamikaze sent her blonde, evil twin to the utility ring. I think we passed one exercise. Spirit was even more animated (read distractible) today in Novice. Off lead heeling about like yesterday. On the recall, she started lunging before I was saying "Come" so I spit it out in a blur. Then she bounced on me and barked and play bowed and barked. OK, so score even lower, but leg #2 down!

Cheryl and Bernie came home with their second CDX leg and soooo close on the third one. Grace got a second in Wildcard Open with what would have been a passing score (skipped the sit stay).

There was also a guy doing portraits at the show. See Sprigs' here. If that doesn't work for you you can see her down pose on her page.

7th

I did a stay practice with Spirit and Storm. Storm broke twice to come look around the corner of the house on her out of sight stay before she believed I meant it. Spirit did her a two minute sit stay without wilting. I am holding out more hope for her stay this weekend. Storm and Sparkle got a quick reminder on the retrieve on flat. Neither were stellar. Storm's been kind of been stuck since that day the dumbbell was under the ring gate and I sent her and she couldn't see it. Xanadu played signals and moving stand in the house. She is improving, but still sometimes doesn't sit until the second signal. Kamikaze did a couple of go-outs and several different rounds of signal work. I am finding the way I do the drop signal can really affect her response. I am trying to work out my kinks. Twinkle did some down work in the hall with me sitting on the floor with my knees slightly elevated. Drag the treat under the knee and she has to crawl to get under. VIOLA... a down.

Now all this training went pretty well. But today I ran across Susan Garrett's blog. I scanned some entries about her new puppy, Swagger, (love the name) and learning from the runs that don't go so well in agility. Then I saw some about her online course for brilliant recalls. There were students that sent in videos to tell what the course meant to them and how it helped them. One lady had two Brittany Spaniels, a breed I an relate too. She'd always heard to be 'the cookie' (see video of that name) for her dogs. She had struggled with HOW to do that. Susan also talks about how the training should be a relationship with your dog. Training should bring them joy. It's also MY job to control the environment for ideal success. OK, I used to be really good at all this. And as far as a lot of people I see, I am still doing OK on this. BUT, I have become more focused on training the right behavior than shaping my dogs' behavior to suit me, more focused on training a skill than forging a relationship, more focused on Qing than enjoying each run with my best friends. There have been too many negative reward markers (rather shoulders slumped, collar corrections, or sighing) and not enough parties. This was a perfect time to have my face slapped about my training slipping as I have been struggling royally trying to get some manners and recalls installed in that new, completely self focused, nutty, hunting beagle, Twinkle. She has heard "NO", "OFF", "LEAVE IT" about a million times. HRMM.. on the scale of positive vs. negative, she had an overwhelming encounter in the negative. No wonder the relationship part is not coming very quickly. I took a deep breath, cut up some lamb role, found my tuggy toy with the velcro pocket for treats and turned Twinkle loose by herself out back. She immediately ran to start sniffing. I approached her with the toy and let her sniff it. I could see conflicted ideas in her head, but she stayed with sniffing. I started playing with the toy close to her. Smacking the ground, wiggling it around. She couldn't resist the urge to come check it out. I opened the velcro and let her put her head in and snack for a second. I snatched it back and started running with it. She thought about me a minute and went back to her own game. I repeated steps above. The next time I took off running, she followed. AHHH.. progress in such a short time. I turned around and opened the pocket for her again. I closed it up and put it under my arm as I walked off. She went on her own way, but when I whipped it out and hit the ground and called her as I took off running she came FLYING. Several repetitions and she was sticking in my general vicinity between recalls and not wandering so far from me. After 5 or so reps I called it good enough for one day. I took a different approach to her manners around food as well. When she'd paw me or the chair/couch I'd simply stand with my plate in my hand and turn my back. She created a situation unfavorable by her actions, but I never had to say a thing. Now, to train the other human in the household... that may be my downfall.

With all those positive vibes flowing, I decided to try my luck with Xanadu at my agility field. I've been struggling with her shutting down and was sure it must be my fault somehow. (although an injury as the cause was a possibility). I took tuggy toy packed with lamb role. I started waving it in front of her and dancing around like an idiot with it. When I lined her up at a jump and told her to wait she was quivering with anticipation (something she hasn't done for agility in a year). She raced four jumps and over the Aframe (perfect running contact). I threw the toy down in front of her and we had a tugging, snacking party. Two jumps to a 180 and a hard on side weave entrance (that she made look smooth as a baby's hiney) and through the tire. Another party. Jump, teeter, PARTY. Jump, teeter, jump, dogwalk, PARTY. Three jumps, tire, off side weaves on a hard turn, PARTY. Game over. Total time out there, 5 minutes, MAX. She never wilted, even in the heat, never walked, not even between exercises, stayed focused on me and left the field bouncy and happy. Now, can I keep myself focused when it comes trial time? Will this carry over in her head to a trial? I don't know the answers to that right now, but I know I had a happy, smiling, working beagle even leaving the field. Time to fix the relationship with the Siberian now.

5th - Goodbye Shelby... Happy Birthday Xan/Spirit

Today is Xanadu and Spirit's third birthday. Yesterday was Storm's 8th. There were cod treats for all the beagles with birthdays the first part of June.

SATURDAY

The morning started with another seizure for Shelby at around 8am. She seemed to be OK for going to the library demo at 10, so I took her. She loves kids and even if her cognitive abilities prevented her from demonstrating anything she's the greatest 'pet me' ever. So, Shelby, Xanadu, Kamikaze and Sprigs were off to to library. I was the elected speaker for most of it, so I felt like it was a rushed disaster. Everyone else thought it went well. Xanadu tried the pile of metal articles and did OK, but went a bit wild and crazy picking anyone up and dashing towards me. So Kamikaze showed what a decent performance would look like and the kids loved it. There was also a group stay session that got some 'ohh and ahhh' from the parents. A dog did a retrieve and a dog did a broad jump and one did some heeling. I think everyone's favorite part is 'come on up and meet the dogs'. Sprigs did great with all the kids and commotion. See some pictures here. It was nice to see those last shots of happy Shelby.

When I got home, Rich and I took off to see the new X-men movie. We'd kind of planned our day around it. Well, 20 minutes in to the movie a big windy storm came through and knocked power out. It didn't come back on quickly. The theater gave everyone passes to come back another time. ARGH!

Shelby had another seizure at 5pm, so I messaged one of the vet techs to see if there was something would could give her to stop the cycle. She said she would text the vet. So, on our way to dinner we got a call from the new vet. He was on his way out of town too, but said he'd call when he got back in town later and meet us at the clinic. So, 9pm another seizure. It was 9:30 when vet called and we met him about 10. He shot her up with a small dose of Diazepam (knocked her flat) and sent two more FULL doses with us to give rectally if she seized again with the warning, "you'll think you killed her". We also took some Phenobarbital to start her on. He said he'd check back after church. We laid Shelby in the half bath next to our bedroom on a pillow. 

SUNDAY

At 1am Shelby came out of the dope and was up panting and pacing and whining. We moved her to the larger, and farther away guest bath. By 5am she'd started panicked, high pitched barking as well. I went to check on her and she'd pooped in the bathroom and then tracked it everywhere. Poor girl. She didn't appear to have rested ANY. I got her out of that situation and back to the bathroom close to us hoping that was why she was so upset. Nope, she barked and paced and panted and whined. I tried outside in a run. Same thing. By 6am we were desperate to help her and decided to give her that 'knock her flat' dose of Diazepam. We were able to hold her down long enough to administer the entire syringe. We expected her to fall over fairly quickly. She stumbled a couple of times as she paced, but never went down. OH MY! Back out to the kennel run, this time with a rawhide chew. Both Rich and I had only heard that kind of bark when she was hungry, so it was worth a shot. Thankfully, that seemed to take her mind off things for a couple of hours and she was quiet while chewing. Once it was gone the whole cycle started just as before. Another chew didn't really work. I put her in Nikita's yard to have more space. She just paced longer circles and panted, but the barking wasn't going on too bad. That had to stop by 9am as it got too hot for her outside even laying in a kiddie pool with me hosing her. I brought her back in and the barking started again. The only way to keep her from barking was to sit in the room with her and watch her panic and pace and pant. OK, enough is enough, we couldn't wait any longer for the vet to call us. He'd already said if the Diazepam didn't work then we were at the end. We messaged the vet tech to tell the vet we were headed to the e-clinic to put her out of her misery. It was awful to know you needed to help Shelby out of her misery and there was only an e-clinic to go to. I would not recommend that as one of my choice ways to say goodbye. Even so, the vet there assured us at her age the chances of a brain lesion causing these problems was high (well duh) and if the meds didn't knock her flat that we were certainly making the only decision there was to make for her. (well, duh.. again) I will say it's easier to not break down in sobs when everyone is a stranger with no knowledge of you or the dog. At least they have no emotional response to spark yours. I spent the rest of the day in a sleep deprived, grief induced fog. Mostly I laid around trying to rest.

3rd 

Yesterday I gave Shelby, Xanadu, Kamikaze and Sprigs all baths. We will be attending a demo for kids at one of the public libraries Saturday. Then we went out for a couple of hours and left everyone inside since the heat here has just been killer this week. I walked back in to the smiling face of Twinkle ?! meeting me at the door. ARGH! Seems I didn't get her crate latched good. I peered into the living room to see total chaos. She had a simply wonderful time redecorating while we were gone. Days like this I can almost see why people complain about their new, young pet. Why would anyone NOT use a crate for unsupervised time is beyond me. Twinkle is such an angel for a few hours in her crate. After the initial panic and after putting dogs out to potty I took stock of the damage. One shredded Clean Run (is that her opinion on agility!?!), Two CD jewel cases in bits (CDs unharmed), two clean blankets drug all over floor and wallowed on, one pee puddle (by the door and not on carpet) and one plastic window blocker gnawed. The furniture had telltale indentations too. I picture her using the couch and chairs as an indoor Indy track. Clean up time was less than five minutes with both of us working. So, overall no real damage done. Wish I'd not panicked and taken a picture to post.

Lego got his yearly checkup today. He seems to be doing well and I finally bit the bullet and did a senior (can he really be a senior?) wellness screening on him. His urine is a bit dilute and he creatinine was slightly elevated. Not sure I'm worried. I know his urine is dilute because he drinks a lot of water at one time and then doesn't again for half a day. He's down a pound from this time last year. I can see him losing another. Sprigs was there too for her last puppy set of shots. She's lost all her puppy teeth and only has one adult tooth left to break through. She weighs a whopping 9.5 lbs (up .5 lb from last month). I'm thinking she's staying under the 11 lb limit for mini dachshunds. 

Our Dachshund proofing on the fence has been a success and Sprigs is spending much more time playing outside unsupervised.  Twinkle's nasty chin gash has about healed now. She will have a gnarly scar there, but she doesn't care. Sprigs and Twinkle continue to be good buddies.

I did a little stay work with Spirit. I think I am getting through to her that STAY means stay HOW I put you as well as where.

I also took pictures of Sprigs for AKC PAL application.
 

Rich has been working on a means to get our old videos off 8MM tapes. The process right now is herky, but here is Misty's very last agility run. She came out of retirement to run PII pairs in 2008. On a less entertaining note, Shelby had TWO, yes TWO seizures today. One at 12:30 am. She came to get me in a panic right afterwards when she is still a little out of it. One at 8:30 pm. Not good for her, but she hasn't had one in, I think, three or more weeks until now.

1st - Happy Birthday Lego

I can't believe Lego turns NINE today. I don't like thinking of him as a senior citizen. He was such a cute little puppy. I still remember the day I adopted him. He looked like a little stuffed toy.

He and I have been through lots of things together, my special boy. Oh what I've learned from him! May he live as long as Misty.