Monday, July 10, 2017

Retirement - Riley

Riley is doing great!  She just turned 11 years old.  The laryngeal paralysis is slowing her down now that summer is setting in, but she seems to be smart about not over doing it when she shouldn't and taking a break when she needs it.
Her normal breathing is quiet, but she does cough and gag periodically and you can definitely hear it when she is panting.  I am only hiking in the early mornings now.  Stephen and I took her swimming a couple of times, but we have decided she hates it.  I am not sure she ever loved it, but she is really resisting it this year.  Maybe it has to do with her breathing understandably.  So we decided we would not swim her again.
Riley is enjoying the new backyard though!  Its so big and flat!  It drains great!  The sand and crushed gravel give it traction and the grass gives it cushion.  And the grass is filling in like crazy!  By the end of summer, I am betting we do not have any patches left.

Once Riley is finished, it is great to be able to bring her into the air conditioning and in front of a fan right away.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Medial Shoulder Instability Syndrome - Maddie

Maddie has a mild tear in her medial glenohumeral ligament in her shoulder.  Also known as Medial Shoulder Instability Syndrome (MSI).  I am super unhappy about it.  I think the rehab vet and I dropped the ball and should have jumped on it a lot sooner. Hindsight is 20/20. I would have liked a second opinion, but my favorite orthopedic vet is on vacation. Arrrggg!
I cannot pinpoint exactly what happened, but per my notes and the blog (yes, I'm that Type A) the first indication of shoulder pain occurred December 2013 when I was teaching weave poles.  And then it showed up off and on over the last few years. Did it start back then and we made it worse over time?  Is today's injury unrelated to back then?  Maddie does not run agility that hard (not like a self-sacrificing border collie) and I really do not train/practice very much so I have a hard time believing its just from repetitive use.... unless a minor injury early on just was not allowed to heal............... I could speculate all day.
Generally, I am gun ho about attacking issues aggressively, but my gut just wasn't agreeing this time.  Hobbles to keep her front legs from moving sideways were suggested.  They sounded awful and likely to cause pressure sores.  It was recommended that she wear them at all times for several weeks.  Maddie is so narrow that when properly fitted they greatly reduced her forward stride, so I just couldn't do it.
I also could have done platelet rich plasma injections and shockwave therapy.  Maddie would have to be sedated for both.  Without my favorite orthopedic vet, I just did not want to to either.  Then there is this orthopedic vet in Maryland that specializes in MSI.....but since its a mild tear, I opted not to go that route.
So I am going with conservative therapy.  Maddie is confined to an ex pen in the house and her only exercise is walking on leash. Lots of brushing, massages, Kongs, bully sticks, and bones to keep her entertained. Hopefully I am making the right decision. It will be a long time before I know though.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Status - Seven

Seven is lame all of the time now.  The remaining middle toe is gnarly and twisted, but she is still the most driven, energetic, and tenacious greyhound on the planet.  She is constantly under foot, in the way, and poking her nose where she is not needed. The limping doesn't slow her down at all. She is on Deramaxx and Gabapentin. I guess it is keeping her from being much worse.
I think Seven runs more in the house than she ever has..... maybe because she does not have agility as an outlet anymore. She and Maddie get pretty wild wrestling and playing bitey face and then Seven zips down the hallway and from room to room upstairs where we have carpet. She is so crazy sometimes! I'm glad the pain does not seem to bother her, but I wonder if she is making it a lot worse much faster than she should. Occasionally we sprint her across the backyard a few times since I would assume straight lines are better than the crazy turns she does in the house. But, she puts her all into every sprint, of course.  I have not figured out a way to get her to lope instead.
Swimming season is here!  We try to swim her twice a week for 15 minutes.  Seven is a beast as long as she has a life jacket on.  I made the mistake of trying her without it recently.  I think she knew better because she hesitated which she never does, but she eventually did as I asked and promptly went under water and had to be lifted out. I think she does something weird with her hind legs and paddles them underneath her body inefficiently.  Whatever, she does.... it does not keep her afloat!  So we won't try that again!
I so miss running her in agility.  All of my girls and Travis are/were nice to run, but Seven was super nice. Ferrari nice.  Fancy, expensive show horse nice.  I'm pretty sure she is missing agility as well. She is pretty frustrated when Maddie gets to train and she does not. I see glimmers of acceptance... maybe.  Occasionally when Maddie trains, Seven will walk off to nose around or eat grass instead of chewing on the fence.  I usually just leave Seven home with a stuffed Kong.  She is accepting of that arrangement.

I rarely take her to agility trials anymore. Only if I have to.  I'd love to tote her around and just let her say hi and weasel treats from friends, but if my husband is home, I leave her with him.  He usually does something nice with her.
It kind of bugs me that Seven was such a super star with filming "Pain and Gain" and with her awesome agility record and now there is nothing.  It was just so immediately over.  At least it doesn't seem to bother her.

Here she is getting beat up by her sister while she sleeps. Seven is a hard sleeper!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Agility Match - Riley

At one of the April trials, the evening match was offering practice in the Jumpers ring.  So I entered Riley at 16 inches and she had a blast.
She still has so much drive and speed.  We both had a blast!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Returning to the Agility Ring - Maddie

Our first trial back after the teeter rehab break was in March.  We practiced in a match Saturday night and then ran in the trial the next day. Maddie earned QQ #13. 

In April, we applied the same match/trial strategy with the same result.  QQ #14!

And then in May, we returned to our first 3-day agility trial with high hopes that teeter issues were behind us. But then... dang it!  She had a fly off. Maddie has never done that before!  She is much too cautious to make such a mistake. Seven on the other hand did it all the time!  I was worried that the fly off was going to scare Maddie and she would be avoiding the teeter all over again. The next day, the teeter was the 5th obstacle.  My plan was that if she did the teeter, we would leave immediately for her jackpot reward.  If she bailed, we would continue the course just so we would not end on a bad teeter.  Low and behold she did it!  Maddie teetered!

And then on Sunday, we double qualified (QQ #15).  I do wish I could speed her up at the start and especially in Jumpers.  I think all in all, she is doing better ringside as I am getting her to tug, be silly, and dig, and she is eating all of her treats.  Spraying her down also helps perk her up.  But I am just so relieved she handled the teeter so well.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Teeter Rehab - Maddie

Just when I was getting Maddie all figured out, she developed a problem with the teeter.  I had a feeling we were on the verge of it since late last year.  I had done some extra work to head it off, but then she encountered a couple of bad teeters early this year.
At the Invitational in December, the event is held on turf instead of dirt.  The teeter boards also have rubber bumpers on each end (probably to prevent damage to the floor).  Maddie did the teeter and when the landing end bounced, she got off of it quickly, the board scraped her leg, and she limped out of the ring.  She refused the teeter the next time in the ring so we left early.
We had some issues at the January trial, but were able to get through it and even double qualified twice. Then in February, Maddie got off of a shaky teeter too fast again, scared herself, and then refused it the next day. So Teeter Rehab began.
Maddie has never been great with wobble boards or movement under her feet.  In hindsight, it is not something I should have neglected. We worked hard on the wobble board when she was a puppy, but I had not maintained her confidence on it as an adult. She was very hesitant to put all 4 feet on it. But with lots of good treats and practice, Maddie will now put all four feet on the wobble board, move around on it, and rock it back and forth. And I will be sure to maintain it this time!
We also took 6 weeks off from agility trials to practice a variety of teeters.  I also made my own teeter unpredictable.  Sometimes it landed on a bouncy balance disc. Other times it landed on a brick so it made a louder noise.  I taped a rattle can to the underside so it was just noisier overall.
And most importantly, I made it unstable by putting a small chunk of concrete under the base so it was off center and would move from side to side when she got on it.  I would move the concrete to different places so the teeter would move a little differently each time.
This strategy worked great! We worked on going to the teeter at speed and also with no momentum.  I would walk her right up to the teeter and then let go so she would have to power through it starting from a standstill.  I also added the cue "hit it" so I would have something encouraging to say to her.
Once I felt we were ready to return to the ring, I started pairing practice matches and trials.  I was lucky that three upcoming trials were also hosting an evening match.  So I would give Maddie some extra teeter practice and then trial the next day.  This worked great and she even Double Qualified two out of the three times.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Precious - Riley

Riley has been doing great and handling retirement joyfully.  Her hock is completely healed and suffers no continued issues from the bad sprain.  She still bucks, spins, and twirls with her toys and never comes up sore.
I'm so happy Riley retired sound.  There is just so much more she can do than Seven can.
The laryngeal paralysis is definitely progressing and she sounds more and more like a smoker, but for the most part it is not giving her much trouble. We spent a lot of time hiking over the winter since since I think we will have to curb it in the summer to keep her from panting too hard.  I am hoping she will still be able to hike early in the morning periodically.
All in all, Riley is doing great and there is not much to report.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mental Rehab

A couple of months ago I was talking with my agility trainer about some concerns I had about Maddie. There was this video of Maddie running in a practice match when she was barely two years old that was going viral on many Greyhound Group Facebook pages. She was so happy, silly, and excited. She did her first weave poles in public and bounced up and down on her hind legs gleefully. She is completely adorable in it.  To see it, Click Here. So where did that joyful hound go?  She is more steady and purposeful today, but she seems to have lost her spark.
 Of course, when I watch Maddie's agility videos, I second guess myself.  She looks pretty good and she always ends the course with the speed and appears to be having a good time. But my gut says otherwise. For example, prior to our runs she loves to tug... until we get close to the ring.  She will usually eat treats, but sometimes she won't.  She seems to get very serious and it is difficult to get her to be silly.  She used to dig holes in the dirt ringside and I was constantly having to fill them in, but now I am lucky if I can get her to dig at all.
I also never lead out anymore. Maddie starts her courses slow (even trotting the first jump sometimes).  I start the course alongside of her because I can outrun her and it often feels like I am dragging her through the first few obstacles. God help us if the weave poles are the second or third obstacle.
So I was telling my trainer about these concerns.  I said that unlike my other hounds, I could see Maddie being uninjured and perfectly sound her entire life, but at some point just deciding that she had done agility enough times and quitting. My trainer said something that resonated with me.... You always have to rehab something.  If its not physical, then it is mental rehab.  So true!  Seven had to rehab physically almost her entire career..... but mentally was bombproof, driven, and highly motivated. Riley was seriously injured several times and also spent a great deal of her career rehabbing physically.  Despite getting hurt and falling off obstacles more than any of my other hounds, she never needed any mental rehab or retraining.  She is fearless and she loves it. So with Maddie holding all of the agility cards now, I am spending a lot of time thinking about her. Agility is supposed to be fun, but I think she is feeling a bit squashed by pressure and stress.
So I have adopted some new strategies:

Warm ups are completely informal. I try to get Maddie to play, dig, tug, or run around with me. I try to get into the ring earlier if possible to get her to dig or be silly while the prior dog finishes their run.  I poke at her front feet and try to get her to play bow.

I am trying to be very cheerful and praise her verbally throughout the run. I already did a lot of that, but I want to make sure I am not neglecting and if I can do it more.... do it more.

Hide all disappointment. Maddie is very affected by my feelings. When she would pop out of the weave poles, I would definitely correct her with my reaction or expression.  Nothing I (or my other hounds) would consider sharp, but it appears that Maddie's perception is that it is indeed sharp... so I must refrain.  It was not helping anyway. The other errors are 99% my fault, but if I am disappointed in myself, I am not sure Maddie can tell who the disappointment is directed at.  So I must not be deflated about how I handled something.  At the last trial, I think I did a good job and it showed.  She popped out of the weave poles once and I just said oops and started her over.  I tried to be very neutral.  And then the other error, was me calling Maddie and it pulled her right off the correct jump.  I praised her enthusiastically for responding to my call instead of dropping my head and silently scolding myself.

I have to be careful in training too.  I recall a couple of months ago, Maddie ran very well in training, but then refused the treats for whatever reason. I was disappointed she didn't want the reward.  And as I was driving away, I thought how stupid is that.  You want her to run agility well and she did that.  I shouldn't care if she ate the treats or not.  She was probably stressed for some reason, but ran well despite her worries. I should have been over the moon for her perseverance, but I was not. I felt really crappy later.
So mental rehab is in full swing and I think it paid off in the last trial. I was very happy with both of us. Mental rehab will just be part of our routine now. Maddie has been training great! We only train for a short time 1 to 3 times a week, but I am trying to make sure they end with my heart over flowing with how thrilled I am with Maddie.

Monday, February 6, 2017

NDTC Trial - Maddie

Year 2017 has started off great for Maddie and I. She ran very well and we earned two double qualifiers with one first place, two third places, and a forth. We now have 12 QQs towards her first agility championship.
Here are the qualifying runs from that weekend:

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!