October 2005


The vet left a message Friday afternoon saying that they had the rest of her test results in. So I called today on my way back from the USDAA show in Carthage, TX. It seems the "bug" had morphed some. Now it's a fast grower. The good news is it became MORE susceptible to the drug we've been using. The specialist says we can cut her does in half. We'll discuss it more tomorrow when both vets are there.

Now for the news from the weekend...Bandit, Jedi and Josie were entered. Josie was inexplicably nervous and spooky.  The surface was new to her. It was wood chips over packed dirt. It seems either some funky smell was trapped in the wood chips or she was scared of the orange snow fencing. I'll guess for the funky smell thing since she did better on day 2 once most of the wood chips had been ground to nothingness. Day one saw me mess up her pairs run (her partner did fine) AFTER I got her convinced the wood chips wouldn't eat her at the weave poles I did a nasty handling maneuver that made her back jump one of the last jumps. Adv Gamblers was OK, but she was too spooky to go out away from me. Then in Adv. Jumpers, the run I really wanted, she got spooked in mid air and froze. This killed her momentum and she fell SMASH on the bar. Otherwise a very nice run. Adv. Standard saw us miss a dog walk contact. Day 2 saw me send her in the wrong end of the tunnel in a really tight and twisty Adv. Jumpers course.  (DARN no title)  But WOW did she handle the rest well. Adv Standard crashed and burned. We were so close to a Grand Prix Q, but when some previously buried unidentified animal hair stirred up and blew in front of her at the A Frame that was the end. The weekend was saved by her first Master Snooker run ever. I picked a course I thought we could do easily and in time. She Q'd and was only one placement out of a Super Q. Darn it, why couldn't Hamlet fly of course that time?

Bandit actually did the Adv Gamble he just though the yellow part of the A Frame was optional. He blew the Standard run by time because some terrible itch overtook him on his run to the weaves and he had to stop and scratch it for like 15 secs or more. On day 2 the judge said he earned the "cuteness" award. In standard he didn't like the weave pole entrance and there was this nice ring crew lady sitting close by..so.. he just ran up next to her and wagged his tail. I laughed and called him and he said NOPE I AIN'T WEAVING TODAY and kept just looking up at the lady and wagging his tail. After several more calls I got him back. Then in the ending sequence he ran up to the judge and stood next to her and had that SAVE ME look on his face. His weekend was also saved by Master Snooker. He got his 4th Q.

Jedi was, well if you're reading this and you've never seen Jedi at a show.. all I can say is he was very Jedi. He took the first jump of his first run with great intent and sprinted to the other side of the ring to search for birds or a way out. The nice orange fencing saved me from SHREAKING so I waited until he was satisfied that he wasn't leaving. Then I called him and he came AND he did the whole course happily and focused and with me. (PAIRS.. so it was like 8 obstalces) He only had one off course in Master Standard and Jumpers. Not bad, but day 2 went downhill from there. I actually got him good and focused and "into" it after 30 secs of the 50 sec Snooker course, and he ran like maniac. Kicking up dust to turn when I called. We almost pulled a Q out of that 20 secs. We were only like 5-8 secs from a Q when time ran out. There are some good points to focus on from the weekend.

1. He never left the ring.

2. He actually was focused on me when we exited EVERYTIME and I did get him to do a loop of jumps each time on the way to the exit. I never had to just go and snatch him up. 

3. He stayed in the ring at the end when we were leaving until I picked him up. 

3. He did 2 perfect tables. Did a perfect sphinx down the first time he was asked and STAYED that way for 5 consecutive seconds.


Today I set up the jump chute for Misty. This is her first time at full height since surgery. I got out the "good stuff" (tuna) to encourage her to pick up the speed. I put some on a frisbee at the end of the jumps. She really gave it her all. She's getting much better at bouncing. After 5 reps through the chute we worked on the teeter for a bit. Thanks to Butch Myers (again) I have a working teeter. My teeter board had succumbed to the south Louisiana humidity earlier this year so it's been unusable for months. I took it over to the Myers and paid for Butch to replace the pressed board with some more durable material. He even painted it for me! So, Misty got to work on her teeter skills. She almost never refuses to do the teeter, but her speed on it leaves something to be desired. After about 5 reps on it (with Tuna waiting at the end) she was pausing as it started to tip and then trotting down. That's a much better result than FREEZING as the board slowly creaks toward the ground and then tiptoeing to the bottom. We repeated about 30 times and she continued to do just the slightest bit better. I also took this opportunity to work on sending her out to the teeter from a distance and getting her to complete it at "speed" without me hovering right there. She did acceptably well.

While she took her 15 minutes break between jump chute work, I pulled Bandit out.  He also needed some teeter work. WOW! He can really run when he wants to. I used Misty's tuna for encouragement and it worked wonders! At first he didn't think the teeter was tipping when it should so he wanted to bail off the side just at the tip point and charge for the tuna. A couple of times over it with Mom holding his collar at the tip point and he realized it was going to tip if he'd just take one more step. That solved that problem easily. I sent him out to the teeter from a decent distance and he did it pretty quickly.

Misty came back out after her 15 minute rest and ran through the jump chute 5 more times. I could see it starting to wear her down a bit, But she managed it fairly well. They (and I'm not sure who "they" actually is...LOL) say to send them through the jump chute 5 times straight and then rest 15 minutes, then 5 more times, then the 15 minute rest and then 5 more times. Then NO more jumping that day. Do it three times a week. It's supposed to be taxing on them, but over time build up their jumping endurance. I guess it's kinda like lifting weights for doggies. During her next break I went in and worked on recording people's titles in the LCCOC record book. I volunteered to keep up with everyone's titles this year. That's assuming they email me and let me know. Her last set of 5 reps was a little more labored, but she made it through! It's the first time EVER since I started jump chutes with her last year (no, I'm not consistent enough to do it 3 times every week)  that she hasn't walked around a jump in the middle during her last set. A new MILESTONE!

I put her in the house and let Jedi come out to play. I brought the clicker out to work with him. I'm very impressed with his response to the clicker. I put him over the teeter, and discovered he has a new issue to deal with. He thinks as soon as the teeter hits the ground he can bail off the side or jump straight off the end. I'm not very pleased with this. Although, since he is lightweight and teeter doesn't fall too soon, this isn't making him miss the contact zone, but I want him to just run all the way down the board once it hits. It took some work to convince him to run to the end. I'm sure the problem isn't solved yet but we got in some good reinforcement on the proper behavior, and ignored the one I don't want.  He was my first agility dog, so he got all the mistakes made on him. I made another interesting discovery with him. Jedi has NO IDEA what "get out" means. He just stares and me and barks. Amazing how some basics get washed over trying to train your first one. So I went back to the basics of "get out" and, with the clicker handy, he was starting to get the idea. He also appears to ignore the "name" of the obstacle you're saying and relies heavily on body cues, so if you are standing still and trying to get him to make an obstacle discrimination he can't do it reliably. More things to work on!

Later in the evening I took Josie out to the jump chute. She hasn't really been exposed to them much. Lucy Long told me it would help her confidence and reliability and such to put her in one more. WOW! I think she can blaze through those 5 jumps in under a second, and then turn around and BEG to do it again.She truly LOVES this sport. It's so much fun to run a dog that's just dying to do more more more more. My other dogs enjoy it, but they'd just assume lay on a pillow and chew on a nylabone. She's DRIVEN. I did a bit of teeter work with her and then put up my equipment for the night. I had much packing to do for the Carthage show this weekend. Stay tuned next week for results and possible humorous stories of Jedi's antics.



Josie took the AKC sponsored Canine Good Citizen test today. This is her second attempt. Last year she took the CGC test and passed all the items except the ability to stay calm and composed when left with a stranger. She saw no point to that exercise and SCREAMED bloody murder. She was still relatively young (8 months or so) so I chalked it up to being a rescue and not having a lot of experience with strangers and we went on our merry way. Josie is the only one of my guys that hasn't earned her CGC yet. (YES readers... that's right... even Jedi has has a CGC) I think it would be cool to say everyone at my house has a CGC, so I gave it a whirl again this year. She passed the first 9 items with flying colors. Then came that evil separation exercise. She made it 2 minutes this year (has to be 3 to pass) before she completely lost it and started to whine LOUDLY. Personally I don't see what being calm with a stranger holding the leash has to do with being a good citizen. It's not like she tried to attack the person or growled at them or even jumped up on them. She just misses her Momma. I mean REALLY.. how many of you would hand your dog's leash to a stranger and walk off?? That's not on MY list of things I'd feel all that comfortable doing. It seems like it would be a more reasonable test to hand her to a "known" person that would pet her and talk to her while I was gone or have her crated in a strange place and leave her for awhile and expect her not to panic. Anyway, I'm not sure it's worth the $15 to try this exercise in futility again, so I guess I'll just be the house with 8/9 CGCs. Maybe she'll just go out this weekend and get that last Advanced Jumpers leg and I will forget all about this failure as I rejoice in my baby dog making it into Master Snooker and Jumpers both before she turns 2. ON TO AGILITY!!!


Yesterday one of our club members set up an agility course at her house and invited all agility club members out to her house to run it. The weather was perfect ! Highs in high 70's lows down to high 50's. I took 4 dogs out there with me. Misty,Lego, Josie and Bandit. Misty was excited to be out there and ran the course at 16" very enthusiastically. Josie ran it full tilt and I felt a twinge in my calf after that run! Bandit did alright too. Lego ran the course (on a Flexi) fairly well for the distracted dog he is. He a was happy to be out with Mommy somewhere. He hasn't gone to many show like environments lately because of his distracted nature. Why waste the money? After the agility there was a bonfire with BYO hot dogs/drinks, smores provided. Rich showed up for the food :) I can't think of a more enjoyable way to spend a Sat. afternoon/evening... hanging out with agility people and roasting hot dogs on a hanger over open flame. (How long has it been since you did that??)

Today I bought my first clicker. I've never been against clicker training it just wasn't my thing. Well, Misty's been in an agility class with a lady that does clicker. It only took Misty about 5 clicks to figure the game out just watching the other lady click and treat her dog. So, I decided to give it a try for the hounds. They'll do anything for food anyways. The first session  went well I thought. I discovered what one thing is really nice about clickers... it takes all the emotional aspect out of the way. If I say JUMP and I get ignored then I just wait politely for the desired behavior and ignore the stuff I didn't want or ask for and click the jumping. There's no voice involvement after the initial command so there's no way for my voice to give off my irritation. This seems to be really good for Jedi, who I unintentionally turned off to agility by using too much negativity. Maybe I've found a new way for me and him.

I decided to drag out ALL my agility equipment, since it was such a pretty day, and set up something to work on with the dogs. Rosey Andermann bought me a Clean Run Exercise Sourcebook as a gift, so I pulled it out for some ideas that involved weave poles. I picked this one. I only have one tunnel, so the #4 became a chute.

I was ready to use the NEW poles again. I paid Butch Myers to build me a set of competition weave poles. They even have offset stablizers so the dog never has to step on the base. They are GREAT! I LOVE them.

I started with Misty doing jump chute work to help stengthen the shoulder and build endurance. She's doing great considering only 12 days since surgery.

Then I ran the other agility guys through the exercises. Josie is so fun! She almost never screws up and she LOVES it! Lego wants to be in the middle of everything I'm doing (see him intercept Josie at the tunnel exit), so if it's not his turn he has to be put up.

He can weave wonderfully here at the house. Too bad it doesn't carry over to trials :(

Bandit was steady and accurate. If I could just find the right motivation for speed. I have some ideas though. Jedi was willing, which is a plus. I have been working hard with him on making it FUN no matter what he does. We'll see if it pays off this weekend in Carthage.


GOOD NEWS!  The vet called today and said he had the first report back on Misty's lump. This was the histology report. I will bypass all the scientific words and descriptions. It says the lump is a granulated tissue mass.. BLAH BLAH BLAH ...  THIS IS THE GOOD NEWS.... with well defined edges. For us normal people that means there was normal tissue all the way around. That translates into we got the whole nasty infected part!!  Because of this there's a possibility that surgery was a CURE in and of itself. We won't take that chance of course, but if gives us a good hope of a complete cure this time after the antibiotic regimen. (Picture me doing a happy dance with Misty!) We are waiting on the test that tells us what "bug" caused the granulated tissue mass, and the test that tells us what will kill the bug. We'll get results back in that order too. I did some Drop On Recall and Heel work with Lego today. He heels SOOO pretty in the yard and at class, but durn that ring, he knows the difference at a show and pretends he's never heeled in his life. Very irritating! He's also decided Drop on Recall means stretch and waltz in to a slow moving down instead of HIT THE DECK NOW. I am having trouble convinving him to fall flat when I say down. IF I'm close enough I can reach him he collapses instantly at DOWN, but not at a distance. I have discovered that the bamboo growing in our yard makes a wicked soundwhen swished through the air at great speed. This noise is startling him into a faster down, so maybe I should be training to a signal instead of a word. If that noise happens every time my arm moves a certain way maybe I can condtion the drop to that movement of my arm. Sometimes I run from him to get a faster recall from the start then when he's coming in fast I turn around and face him for the remainder of the recall. Well today the slightly embarrassing and painful part of training came to life. I turn sharply on my left leg and pulled my calf muscle pretty badly. So now I'm limping severely and icing my leg. I didn't know a warm up was needed for Drop on Recall work! I have been corrected by Megan Foster on the amount of money won inSteeplechase. (See OCT3 entry) She says O, and BTW, it was $7.20!! LOL :)


Misty had her 7 day checkup today. The vet is THRILLED with how the incision looks and how normal she is acting. He said I can yank the stitches this weekend.


 Misty feels so good I took her jogging to get her back in shape for agility. (She jogs I ride  a bike!) She is supposed to run TEAM in December at the USDAA  Dog Gone Fun show and I don't want to let my team down! She even wanted to go to agility class tonight, so I took her. She participated enthusiastically in class jumping 8". We avoided the A frame though.


 Misty has been BEGGING for outdoor time. Her stitches look great, so I gave her some chaperoned time out in the yard with her favorite buddies, Josie and Lego. She was sooo happy. She chased squirrels and wrestled with Josie. I was working on JUMP CUTES with Josie and Lego (16") and Misty decided she could do it better! (which she did a few times) Then she proceeded to tell me about what a great jump chute dog she was. I think there is NO MORE pain medicine in her future.

Misty was PERKY when I got home from work. She threw her front legs into my belly for a welcome home greeting. Then she woofed at me. She ate her dinner today and seems MUCH better.
Misty is not doing well today. She didn't eat dinner and she won't even get off the pillows. I am pulling her from the USDAA Halloween weekend show in Carthage,TX. Bandit will get to spend her money.
Surgery day for Misty. I went to pick her up from the vet and she was still very groggy. Her tongue was still hanging out as a matter of fact, and she couldn't walk at all. I cradled her in my lap for about 30 minutes while she woke up more and waited on the vet to speak to me. She has 17!! stitches in her shoulder. I thought this was gonna be a less invasive surgery than the first! So now it's 12 MONTHS of antibiotics. Hope that kills them nasty bugs! If not then she may be in for a lifetime of antibiotics to control them. The mass of infected tissue went off to LSU vet school for examination and culture. We won't know anything for weeks.
Bad news!! I discovered a new lump in Misty's shoulder yesterday. I took her into the vet today. They (2 doctors in my vet clinic) recommend surgery AGAIN to remove the mass. So surgery it is on Tuesday. We assume it is a flare up of the nasty infection from earlier this year. She just got off a 4 month antibiotic regimen. I'm bummed and am skipping obedience tonight. I just feel like slouching on the couch.
Ok, so I've decided to try and keep up with the dogs accomplishments and training so my agility friends can keep up with me! I got home from the USDAA show in Holly Springs, MS today. My parents live in Memphis, TN so I go to this show and stay with them. Misty, Josie and Bandit were entered.  Bandit was oh so close to that last Advanced Standard Q. He was just under 2 seconds over time. He did get his second Master Pairs leg with Tri the Border Collie. ( yes.. earlier I said it was Misty.. well I was wrong.. just wishful thinking I guess) The BIG news for him is that he got his first SUPER Q  in Snooker. WOW! I didn't think I'd EVER get one of those on Bandit. Josie was, as always, the star of the show. She got her Advanced Snooker title in style with a 51. She also got her second Advanced Jumpers Q in an all out foot race with DINO, Megan Foster's baby sheltie. Dino beat her by a couple of seconds, but it was such a blast to just make a deal to run it all out with no worry with "handling skill". Josie does so much better when I just go out to run FAST and have fun without all that Q worry. (Thanks for the reminding me Megan and Susan!) Josie also got 2nd place money in Steeplechase. She was oh so close to beating out TY, Megan's older sheltie for the BIG payout ($7 was it Megan?) Loads of fun was had by all.
And much excitement in the catching of Susan's runaway Foxhound, Star.