Monday, December 5, 2016

Agility Eggs - Maddie

It has been strange going from running three greyhounds to just one in half a year. All of the agility eggs are now in Maddie's basket. She is so different and challenging, but she is doing well. Her weave pole performance continues to be inconsistent. She is frequently popping out early.  But her contacts have been great!  I added a cue word and that has helped.  Sometimes her start lines are sluggish and she trots the first jump. I have mostly stopped leading out which has helped. Once she gets going though, she runs great and is really nice to run!

Agility Nationals are local in March (2 hours) so I really hoped Maddie would qualify. It came down to needing 9 points at our very last trial/chance. The trial prior we had no clean runs so I was starting to wonder if we would not qualify. Thankfully we ran clean in our first run earning 18 points. Here are our runs:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Retirement - Riley

So Riley is retired now. I got my signs.

The first sign was a husky sound when she was panting hard. It was kind of off and on over the last few months, but definitely becoming more consistently heard more often than not. The problem is that if I took her to the vet, he would not hear it since she would not be panting. A veterinarian friend mentioned laryngeal paralysis. I read about it. It sounded plausible, but there is not much you can do. It was not bothering Riley or slowing her down so I was not in a rush for a diagnosis.

Then a couple of weeks ago, we were at a trial and got our second sign. I was speaking to another veterinarian friend and mentioned the husky sound. She told me to google "geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis" and "polyneuropathy". Polyneuropathy sounded very much like Riley. A nerve disorder that causes muscle wasting and shakiness, lose of strength and coordinated movement and is often paired with laryngeal paralysis.  This is what I was seeing in Riley.
My dogs do lots of core, balance, and strengthening exercises on the peanut and balance discs, but Riley was getting weaker. I had noticed over the last year that her abilities and number of repetitions were lessening without explanation. I could not put my finger on it. My greyhound, Katie, who had a neurological injury at age 9, recovered from paralysis in the left rear, and rehabbed to regain about 80% of her mobility and she was never shaky even at age 12.

Then my vet friend was able to hear Riley pant after an agility run and she felt certain it was laryngeal paralysis. She felt I was catching it early, much earlier than most pet owners. As it gets worse, you eventually have to take precautions to keep them cool and calm as it will interfere with breathing and can be very distressing.  It will be a concern next summer.

And then the third sign, Riley sprained her hock. The next day, Riley was starting her usual zoomie/play session prior to the trial. She slipped and came up dead lame on the leg she had fractured 5 years ago. I had to carry her off the field because it was that bad. A friend's RV was nearby and I let myself in. Thankfully her German Shepherd knows us and welcomed us in. We were at a local trial, so Stephen came and picked Riley up so she could go home and rest.
I knew that regardless of what the injury was, it was going to be career ending. She would need time off and she would never come back from it. She was going to lose more strength and coordination and I would never feel comfortable putting her up on a dogwalk ever again.

And it is okay. It really is. Despite all of the injuries and rest periods, Riley ended up having the longest career. She always fully recovered and surprisingly did not develop much arthritis. Jumping 24 inches at 10 years and 4 months is really awesome and not very common. I just cannot complain.

I had Riley's hock x-rayed and the surgical screw from the hock fracture was as it should be. A little bit of calcification had grown over it, but otherwise the joint was very clean.  The tendons running along the inside of the hock were swollen and painful. Thankfully, the lameness disappeared within a few days.  There is still some swelling.  Typically, I would give her 4-6 weeks off, but I'm afraid she was lose too much muscle and coordination in that amount of time.  I only gave her one week off and have started her back on long walks, balance work, and am allowing her to climb stairs and jump on the bed.  All looks good thus far.

So welcome to retirement, Riley Greyhound.

Riley's second to last agility trial:
Riley's last agility runs:
And for fun, Riley's first agility trial.......... so funny how she would fling herself over jumps! :-)
Oh so shiny and new!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Nosework - Seven

Seven is settling into retirement in her usual unsettled way. I always thought she would be tough to live with if she were retired, but she basically the same. She is and has always been under foot. She is and has always been the dog that will follow you 30 feet from your closet to your bathroom 10 times in a row. She is and has always been the most excited about meals, the potential for doing anything, getting her teeth brushed, moving into another room, going upstairs, going downstairs, etc. So life is the same, just different activities.

If I could change anything, I just wish Seven could run.  Run across the yard.  Run back and forth between Stephen and I in a safe, straight line.  We do it occasionally anyway, but she generally ends up holding her left front leg up.

I have started walking her again though.  Since we put her on Deramaxx, I can see a big improvement in her overall comfort and so she is back to light hiking of up to 1.5 hours.  We also do lots of core and balance exercises on the peanut and balance discs.  She is pretty happy as long as she does something and gets a stuffed Kong.
A few months ago, Seven and I started Nosework.  It is a scent detection sport.  Instead of teaching our dogs to find narcotics, cancer, shell casings, or bombs.... we teach them to find birch, cloves, and anise. Seven is not yet searching for the designated scents yet.  You start with searching for food so the dog first learns how to find the source of the scent and is rewarded immediately.  Eventually you pair the scent and food.  You also start out searching boxes to help the dog search the whole area, but then you move the scent out of the box.  They learn to search rooms, outdoor areas, and vehicles.

Seven LOVES it!  Her passion in life is to find food so she has been wondering where this activity has been all of her life.  We have been taking private lessons and our instructor thinks she is "fabulous" and "awesome".  Seven is very driven and bold when she searches.  I was concerned this activity might turn into a constant search for food at home and everywhere we go.  So I am using a very specific, stinky, salmon treat. It is very distinct and it is not something that will accidentally be sitting on my kitchen counter. It appears the strategy has worked well.  She seems to connect wearing the harness with searching.

Monday, October 10, 2016

It's For The Dogs

In June 2015, we bought and moved to a new house. The backyard was one of the huge selling features. It was large and the fence could be moved further back for more space and it was mostly flat.
The property backed up to core property and we are on the end of a cul de sac so the backyard was also fairly private. We also determined that you would not be able to see an A-frame or dogwalk out back from the street. Perfect for the dogs!
Well, it turned out that we had a huge drainage problem and the section behind the chain link fence receives no sunlight from October to March so it never dries out during the winter.
We also found out that there is a storm drain on the next street over that collects water from about 300 feet of street and it empties out on our property line.
It also collects trash and newspapers that are lying on the street during the rain and dumps that into our yard as well.
Just 10 minutes of a heavy rain and this happened.
The river of water would cut through our backyard and continue through our neighbor's backyard. Not exactly conducive to year-around agility training.

So in February we got a few estimates and opinions.  We jumped through the Homeowner's Association and Georgia Power hoops. We crossed our T's and dotted our I's.  We got fence estimates.  This was not a project we could complete in parts.  If you were going to grade the yard, you had to take down the fence, and if the fence was down, you had to put it back up.  The shed was rotting and located in a bad place. If you have hardscape workers and a bobcat, you might as well have them haul it away and remove the concrete pad. A Big Thank You to Snookums for tearing it down! And while we could live without a shed for awhile, it made sense to go ahead and get it while the fence was down since it would not fit through the gate. So the expensive project turned into a very expensive project.... but hey.... it's for the dogs!
So Operation #NormalBackyardsAreOverRated began!
 The entire backyard was graded so it would pitch slightly to the back right corner. The gutters off the house were buried and piped out to the back.
Five french drains were installed across of the yard.

And we installed a dry creek bed to handle all of the water coming from the storm drain.
Then crushed stone and river sand mixture was laid on top of the newly graded ground. It is similar to what my other field  was topped with before the grass overtook it.
We got a new shed while the fence was down.

A retaining wall was installed.

And lastly the new fence was installed.  We did privacy down the sides and chain link across the back and around the smaller potty yard. We had to do two 16 foot gates in case Georgia Power ever has to come into the yard with big trucks.  Hopefully they never will.  We left space behind the fence so they can drive around our backyard for all of their routine maintenance and tree trimming.  It also leaves a little space for deer watching.
So here is how everything turned out.

Here is the creek bed in action.

The dog's potty yard. We put straw down to keep their feet clean when it is muddy.
Stephen built this temporary patio fence. We hope to cover the patio in the future so we just needed something that would allow dogs access to the potty yard from the back door for now.

Thank goodness we decided to grow grass.  I don't think we could have stopped it if we tried.

The grass keeps the dust down, reduces erosion, looks nicer, and is easier on the dog's feet. I will seed and water again next spring to hopefully fill in the remaining bare spots.

And then a little future garden in the corner.
All in all, I think it turned out great!  Thank you, Stephen!  I probably will not move my equipment for another year.  I really want to give the grass a chance to come in first.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Blur of Fur - Maddie

I also got some nice photos of Maddie at the Blur of Fur.
Like Riley, Maddie also did not see what all of the fuss was about and had little interest in the flirt pole or squawkers.
I am really not sure why. She readily chases plastic and fur lures that move.  But she too was not going to run away from me.  So again, I ran down the middle and called her to me.
Nice recall!

Silly hound!