Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rip: The Host with The Most

It's the holiday season and many people are traveling, or preparing to travel.  Hospitality is of utmost importance, so I would like to share with you why Rip makes visiting our home so truly special.

 He is The Host with The Most!

Before you arrive, he will prepare your suite.

He will greet you at the door.

He will warm up a place for you to sit.

He will call you to the sofa when the movie starts.

Depending on how the night goes,
he will party with you...

...or snuggle down to keep you warm.

He's a great drinking buddy.  No drinking alone with Rip around!
(p.s.- lest you think I'm a bad dog owner, Rip did not drink this glass of wine,
but he will stick his tongue in your glass if you're not watching)

He will ensure that your socks are properly aired.

No need to bring an alarm clock!  
He will wake you up with a leap and a lick!

He will even bring you Starbucks!
Well, sort of.

Wanna read the paper after breakfast?
No problem, he's "saving" it for you.

And after you've gone, he'll clean up anything you've left out.

And THAT, my friends is why Rip is The Host with The Most!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi IVDD 1 year anniversary

Ziggy moving on his own now looks odd to me.
And I miss it.

December 3, 2011
The incision the day after surgery.

Moving in the sling.
We've now progressed to hind end movement, too - 
but still in the sling.

Today it has been one year to the day since Ziggy went in for IVDD surgery.

If you're a regular reader of the blog, you know that Ziggy is still not yet walking, but continues to slowly progress.  Z had quite a few inches of his spinal cord impacted by the ruptures and corresponding hemorrhage, and nerves heal quite slowly, so we are still optimistic.  As long as Ziggy is making progress we'll continue to work and hope.

This has not been the easiest year in my dog-owning life, but I've learned a lot about IVDD, canine rehab, and the special/crazy commitment so many people have to helping dogs with this disease.  I've also developed some opinions on IVDD that some may not agree with.

Here are some of my thoughts:

I believe IVDD has a strong genetic component.
  • Both of my dogs that have had the disease also have very close relatives who have suffered from IVDD.
  • Though no genetic marker has been found, a study of family lines in dachshunds found that while overall prevalence in the breed is ~19%, in some families it was 62%.
  • I believe we should be honest and transparent regarding dogs that have IVDD, or have had an IVDD "episode," so smart decisions can be made in breeding.  I've used to do this for both of my dogs who've had IVDD - it's recorded in the "notes" section of their profiles.  

IVDD isn't caused by bad care.
  • I keep my dogs lean and fit.  
  • I provide them with sofa stairs and ramps.
  • I try to keep them from doing stupid things -- which is often impossible :)
  • I believe that if a disc is going to go, it's going to go.  Yes, good preventive care is needed to help protect long-backed dogs, but preventive care won't prevent a disc from going.  Ziggy's disc went when he was out in the yard for his before-bed pee.  No roughhousing, no craziness.  Just walking in the yard.

The people at Dodger's List are a godsend.
  • If you have Cardis, or another breed with a high prevalence of IVDD, you NEED to go to this site.  Now.  Before something happens.
  • At a minimum, read the FAQ's so you have some grounding in what to look for and what to do if something (heaven forbid) happens.
  • They also have a survey to collect information on affected dogs.  They include Cardigans, and I submitted information on both my dogs, in hopes that some day we can have statistics on IVDD in Cardis.

In Cardigans, we need to take this more seriously than we seem to be at the moment.
  • At the 2011 National Specialty, one of the leading experts in IVDD treatment gave a lecture.  Hundreds of Cardi people were at the specialty.  Around a dozen people attended. 
  • I attended and what I learned helped me tremendously in the first few post-rupture days with Ziggy.
  • Through my Facebook friends, and following blogs, it seems that quite a number of our dogs are having problems, yet I do not often see this mentioned as a problem in the breed.

Dogs will heal on their own timeline.
  • Right after surgery, our surgical vet predicted Ziggy would be walking by the New Year.  I guess he didn't specify which new year...
  • A few nice Cardi people whose dogs had been through disc surgery emailed me, assuring me that it took their dogs a few months before walking.  Ziggy missed that memo, too.
  • Cardis are bigger and bigger boned than Dachshunds and this impacts healing time, so much of the "time to heal" info that's out there doesn't apply to Z.  
  • It was the Dodger's List folks who have kept me hoping.  In reply to my posts on their list, they assured me that many dogs take longer than expected, and reinforced that as long as progress is being made, there is still hope that a dog will walk.

The cost and effort required to help a dog with a disc rupture are tremendous.
  • The initial decision about what to do after a disc ruptures is not easy, and, after living through a year of Ziggy care,  I will not judge the choices other people make.

Please contact me if you ever experience something similar with your dogs.  I am happy to help, support, and share as much as I can.  I know that it's an extremely emotional and difficult thing to go through.  I can relate, and hopefully I can help.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi IVDD month 11

Ziggy continues to ever-so-slowly progress towards walking.  No big changes in month 11, but some encouraging signs:
  • More frequent attempts at standing on his own
  • More weight-supporting walking in his sling - he still needs help with stability, but more leg movement
  • His right hind is getting stronger w/ better paw placement

We sent him to ISU rehab for a week in the middle of the month.  He hadn't been there in quite a while, and the rehab therapist did notice progress.

The therapist thinks Ziggy needs more core strength, though, as the "c" in his spine (when looking at him from above when he's standing his spine curves like "c") seems to be remaining and maybe getting more pronounced.  She believes that the c is caused by uneven core muscle development.  This impacts his standing, as his left hind comes in too far to the midline to support him properly.  It also causes problems with walking - his left hind often "trips" his right hind. 

So she has recommended ball work.  Today we had a family viewing of disc one of "Get On the Ball Two" with Dr. Debbie Gross Saunders, then we did a little work with Ziggy.  I ordered 2 sizes of Fitpaws peanuts, and need to order one size larger, too.  Ball work will become a daily part of his routine, and (according to the video) we should see results in two weeks or so.

Ball work to strengthen hips and hind end.

Ball work for overall core fitness.
You can see from the panting that he's getting a good workout!

To help with progress tracking, here are some videos of Ziggy from his last trip to ISU:

Underwater treadmill.  
Notice right hind doing really well.

Lots of hind end movement in the cart.  
He still tips left when the padding shifts.  
Z may be getting a custom cart as a Christmas present...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wagmore Farm: Who needs a sofa when you have a dog bath?

We're in residence at Wagmore this week - enjoying the rain, visiting with family, and planning for house and property.  So nice to be here.

And it's a week of excitement, too -- the dog bath is now in the mud room!

I've been dreaming of this particular dog bath for a long time (and I'm not really joking about that).  I just kept tabbing over the page in the PetEdge catalog, waiting for the right time to buy it.  I even made sure that the mudroom was long enough to accommodate the bath, a dryer, and a grooming table.

Finally, a few weeks ago, the timing was right.  I had a % off discount code, AND PetEdge was offering a promo.  So I just did it.  I ordered the bath.  And here it is, in the mudroom!

Hello, my pretty.  How nice you look in my home.

I'm not sure this is the "final" location within the room.  I have some flexibility because it will drain into a floor drain using a hose from the bottom of the bath, and the wall faucet hose can be can be lengthened or shortened depending on the best location for the bath.  I need to play around a bit to find where it fits best.

Oh, and the promotion for buying the bath?  A free, matching dog dryer with stand!  So exciting!  And yes, I do already have a dog dryer.  Coincidently it even matches.  But it doesn't have a stand. And who can't use an extra dog dryer anyway?

Maybe I can work both dryers simultaneously and
get the dogs dry in half the time?

Oh, and in case you're wondering about my priorities, here is the current state of the living room & dining room:

Dining room table = folding chair and plastic table.
Living room furniture = 3 hand-me-down chairs that my mother was planning to throw out

(But The Small Human loves all the open space in the room for "Minute to Win It" games using ping pong balls and foam dominoes.  So that's a benefit?)

Yes, to most rational humans the money would be better spent on decorating the human part of the house.  After all there are no dogs living here, and humans live here at least some of the time.  But the dog bath is just so nice...

 Here's a photo from the driveway looking towards the wooded pasture.  
Pretty even when it's grey outside.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rip's Training Diary #4

I realize that I haven't posted lately about what Rip & I doing with our training time.  My work duties (travel! projects!) continue to be onerous, so my training time is a bit sparse.  We are making progress, though!

Right now we're working on:
  • Go out games - including hitting the stanchion, taking cheese off the stanchion, and running to a pvc box, turning towards me & sitting in the box.
  • Retrieving - Rip loves retrieving!  We're working with wood, plastic, metal, and leather dumbbells.  Rip now reliably retrieves when I throw the dumbbell (though I still have to hold his collar to keep him in place while I'm throwing).  We're not doing any fronts - I'm just having Rip bring it back to me and drop it when I release him to the treat I've thrown.  
  • A better dumbbell hold.  Naughty Rip likes to play with the dumbbell when returning to me - mouthing it instead of holding it politely.  No surprise there - why just hold a dumbbell when you can hold it, run, AND chomp on it?!
  • Side-passing (horse people will know this term) - I'm training Rip to walk sideways when facing me - moving to stay perpendicular to me as I move back & forth.  Prep for fronts.
  • Heeling!  We love to heel!  Now we're adding in automatic sits and slow pace.  
  • A new trick that I really hope we can pull off.  I'll record it and post it on YouTube if I can pull it off.  So far Rip hasn't had an "I get it!" moment, so we'll see.

What we should be working on but aren't:
  • Agility (sigh. where does the time go?)
  • Stays.  Must start seriously working stays.  I know it's bad of me not be working on these more often.  I'm just so thrilled to have a dog who loves to play that I hate to "waste" our precious training time on the stay.

Since I don't have a training picture, I'll end with a picture that shows what happens when Rip is bored due to lack of training.  Naughty dog.  Or maybe he just wants to play MarioCart on the Wii.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A smile from India

I enjoy traveling to new countries and seeing and experiencing things that I wouldn't at home.  Many times these make me smile.

I ran across a sign that makes me smile.

Why did this sign amuse me so much that I asked my driver to pull over and wait by the side of the road while I hopped out and snapped the pic?

Because when the roads around you  look like this:

or this:

then this:

really does seem like this:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Around the World in 10 days

Follow the red lines - starting at the bottom of the "v" in North America and following the line east to track my journey over the next 10 days.  

Yes, I leave tomorrow for another business trip to Asia.  Meetings in India and Singapore.  5.5 days of work; 4.5 days of travel.  Or is it the other way around?  I can't keep track anymore.  Even the travel agent remarked at the large number of connections (8) and airlines (5).

What is likely to happen at home when I'm away:
  • Rip will start to go feral due to lack of training and tear up some of my things
  • Ziggy will drag The Husband around the yard and bark unnecessarily in the house
  • Maggie will be her sweet self and sleep a lot

At any rate, I won't be posting dog stuff for more than a week, but I'll try to post some fun from the road.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Water Work at Wagmore

I mentioned in an earlier post that there is lots of work to be done at Wagmore, our property in Washington State.  The Husband and I have been prioritizing and planning.  The thing we decided to tackle first?  The water filtration system.

In order to get all the permits on the house, we had to have the well water tested.  Everything checked out relative to the "this-water-won't-kill-you" standards set forth by the county.  "Great!" we thought.  One less thing to worry about.

Then, in August we stayed in the house for nearly a week.  The water tasted ok.  Nobody got sick.  Then, one night, we decided to give The Child a bath (we find bathing The Child to be part of good parenting).  As the bath started to fill, we noticed the water looked a little yellow.  "Maybe the water will clear out as more runs through the pipes?"

Nope.  When The Child saw the bath he exclaimed, "I get to bathe in pee water!"  Yes, the water at Wagmore looked like pee.  A gentle yellow.  Special.  The Child seemed to think this was pretty funny, but The Husband and I were not so amused so we began to try and figure out what was happening.

We contacted a couple of water filtration companies and they both came back with the same answer.  Our water was safe to drink, but it has lots of iron in it.

Since we have new appliances, new pipes, and new sinks, bathtubs, etc. in the house, we knew this was something we needed to deal with sooner rather than later.

So, when The Husband was back at Wagmore last month, he had a purification system installed.  The system lives in our ugly, needs-a-little-TLC pump house.  We also had a reverse osmosis drinking water system put in the kitchen, because, well, we were in "clean the water" mode.

Here it is- installed and ready to go!

Priority project #1 down, and many more to go.  We'll be back at Wagmore in November, and we'll see what we can check off the list.

Oh, and since water filtration is a little boring, here are some pics The Husband grabbed while he was there...

Denzil patrolling the driveway.

A view of the house from across the street.
So much pasture that needs to be grazed!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rip goes away

The Husband and I have decided that it's best for everyone if Rip goes away for a while.


Is it because that nearly every day he steals my makeup brushes from the cupboard and tries to consume them?  

Why are they sending me away?  
I'm such a well-behaved dog!

Is it because no pair of socks in the house is safe from being stolen and carried around?

But mom, you keep working on my dumbbell hold.
I'm just practicing on socks!

Or perhaps one of the other naughty things I've documented on this blog?
or  Many.  Other.  Things.

Nope.  It's because Rip gets to go do this again:

Rip is going away to be a show dog

I have finally recognized that, with my work travel schedule and family commitments, me taking Rip to dog shows just isn't going to happen any time soon.

So I found a handler who lives nearby and will take Rip with her on the weekends she shows.  This allows Rip to live at home with us the vast majority of the time so I can keep going with his performance training, but still get going in the conformation ring.

This weekend is going to be his first weekend out.

Even though I'm on a work trip, I miss him already.  Who will snuggle with me on the sofa at night?  Who will pester me to play whenever I try to sit down during the day?

The Husband is not-so-secretly looking forward to a (MUCH) calmer house with only 2 dogs - one geriatric, and one a lazy rehab patient.

Hopefully Rip will have fun on his new adventure!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi IVDD month 10

I can't believe it has been over 10 months since Ziggy had surgery for his IVDD.  And I don't mean that in a "time flies when you're having fun" sort of way.  Just the opposite really, but here we are.

The progress:

  • Ziggy is now trying to stand on his own more and more.  Sometimes he's even able to walk for a step before falling over.
  • Right leg continues to be doing much better than the left.  Rehab vet thinks it may be partly due to muscle tightness on his left inner thigh, and did some stretching last week that seemed to help.
  • Rehab vet also commented at what a lazy dog Ziggy is.  He's also quite stubborn.  Not the best combo for a quick rehab!

The work:
  • Visiting rehab vet for electric stimulation acupuncture, gentle chiro, and PT each week.
  • "Formal" PT at home is still few and far between.  At about 8 months I think The Husband and I  both just got worn out.  Bad humans.
  • "Informal" PT continues.  
    • I've started grabbing Ziggy's britches (fur on his hindquarters) and having him walk without the sling.  In the sling Ziggy basically just hangs out (see previous comment about laziness), but with "britches walking" he has to support most of his own weight, and he really moves his hind legs.  
    • Ziggy is also asked to stand on his own (we offer slack in the sling handles) when he's out in the yard.  I do not need to hold you up when you're standing, lazy dog.
    • We're putting Z in his cart in the yard more often during those times we can at least keep an eye on him from the house.  Most often he'll just stand there (laziness), but if a squirrel shows up, or dogs walk by, he'll actually move around.  I'm trying to figure out a way to load the trees with robotic, remote-control squirrels so Z will exercise more outside.  I'll let you know how that goes.

On a fun note, the boys still enjoy frapping.  Here's a video I took a couple of weeks ago (you may want to turn down the sound to avoid the background noise of me steaming milk for my Saturday latte).  A couple of times you can see Z push himself up a bit on his left hind.  Go, Z, Go!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Farm logo!

As I mentioned in a previous post, The Husband and I decided to name our property in Washington State.  We chose the name Wagmore Farm, as it conveys doggy-ness and happiness without taking itself too seriously.  It fits with all things we want the property to be:  (dog) friendly, relaxed & happy.

We still really like the name, and decided to take the next logical step (well, logical if you're a marketing/brand person).  We decided we needed a logo for the Farm.

One day I was yammering away about the property name to a friend at work, and mentioned that now I felt compelled to have a farm logo.  This friend happens to be a very talented designer (graphic design is what he does for a living).  He also likes to do some design that is different from his normal day to day work.  My dog-based farm logo request piqued his interest, so he asked me to pull together some info for him.

Since I tend towards thorough-ness, I prepared a creative brief for him which included samples of other farm logos I liked, where we'll use the logo, color inspiration, etc.  I provided this info to him and during his vacation he whipped up nearly 20 options for me.  I kid you not.  He sent me 2 pdf pages of farm logo options.  I was enamored.  I was overwhelmed.  I was giddy!  Unfortunately all of this choice made it very hard to decide which one was the right one.

We polled friends and family, which got us down to three choices.  I then designed a short discrete choice exercise and roped some friends into completing it when they visited our home.  Then we ignored all of that and chose the one that made us smile the most.

And here it is (well, here's a picture of it on my desktop):

We're both so happy with the logo, and I'm so fortunate to have a friend willing to indulge my quirkiness!  Now we're working on a compatible font choice, blog header, etc.  Hopefully some changes will be coming in the next couple of months!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Obedience "must-train" -- The Practical SIT

A strange thing happened to me last week.  Two different people in two different "venues" commented on what a well-behaved dog I have.  This would not be unusual if I were out with Maggie, but it is VERY unusual as the dog I had with me both times was Rip.  Yes, Rip!

Perhaps he's just growing up?  Is he a changed dog?  I wouldn't go that far.

Well, Rip does look calm in this picture.
Until you notice the "I-might-cause-trouble" glint in his eye.

The thing that has changed Rip's behavior in public is one simple command:  SIT

This may sound a little crazy, as sit is pretty much the first thing taught in obedience class, and Rip has been training since he joined our pack.  But I'm talking about a more practical version of sit.

I had an "ah-ha" moment during my first lesson with Bridget.  Between exercises, or when Bridget was giving me feedback, Rip was sniffing, looking around, and wandering to the end of the leash.  Then I had to correct him for sniffing, wandering, etc.

Finally Bridget asked me if my dog knew how to sit.  Of course he does - didn't she see those nice, quick, straight sits while he was heeling?

Oh, not that kind of sit.  

She was referring to the kind of sit that means I tell my dog sit, then I can pay attention to something else because I know that my dog will be sitting in that same place and not sniffing.  The criteria for this sit aren't the same as they are for a "sit stay."  Rip can look around, he can even shift a paw if he wants - he just needs to stay sitting in that same place and keep to himself.

It's weird that this was such an epiphany for me.  It seems so obvious, but the world of "sit" was opened up for me again.  Sit means sit and keep sitting.  I may shift my attention off of you, my dear dog, but you need to keep sitting.  You may want to jump up and lick that small child, but you just keep sitting.  A dog is walking by who you just KNOW wants to be your friend, but you keep sitting.

Since that time I have heavily reinforced the "practical" version of sitting.  Here are some examples:
  • When we're out on a walk and we see another dog, I tell Rip to sit next to me.  When he's sitting, a regular stream of treats is deposited in his mouth.  
    • At first I needed to hold onto his collar to reinforce the sit, and stand between Rip and the other dog, but we've moved on to just sit + treats.
  • If someone wants to pet Rip, he is told to sit.  I then kneel down next to him and feed him treats when his front feet stay on the ground, and his rear end stays in a sit.  
    • This one is really hard for Rip, as he thinks everyone must be licked, so most of the time I'm not yet able to stand up when he's being petted - but we're getting there!
  • When I'm training and setting up for a new exercise, Rip gets to sit.  He gets the occasional treat for maintaining the sit.
This version of sit has allowed me to reinforce the good and quit nagging Rip so much.  After all, it's hard to get into too much trouble if you're sitting in one place.  I can reward the sit and not nag about sniffing, etc.

As a bonus, all of this reinforcement of sit has made my life so much more pleasant.  At last week's soccer game, Rip was a jewel.  He sat as kids petted and hugged him.  He sat as dogs other dogs went by.  (I didn't even have to hold his collar!)  It made taking him to the game such a pleasure.  And, yes, he got lots of treats for all of this good behavior.

I highly recommend training a "practical" version of sit.

Friday, September 28, 2012

What to do with nearly 15 acres?

The House at Wagmore
The home itself is complete (though furniture-less) now.
But there's still so much to do.

On our last trip to Wagmore I had the luxury not to work (much) while I was there.  I got to spend time with family and hang out at the property.  Part of my hanging out involved the seemingly never-ending quest to keep the blackberry bushes and scrub trees at bay.  But part of the hanging out was just spending time there and thinking about the possibilities of the place.

Ever since I can remember I have wanted to have acreage of my own.  Space to have horses, critters, and peace with nature.  Now we have nearly 15 acres, and the task is planning what to do with it.

As I spent time out at the property, the projects began to reveal themselves.  Here's the list we have so far (not in prioritized order):

  • Interior decoration (e.g., curtains, rugs)
  • Outdoor living space
  • Lawn
  • Landscaping
  • Property planning (where will everything go - like the orchard, garden & barn)
  • Start orchard
  • Outbuilding planning and development
  • Increase forested area
  • Perimeter fencing w/ (Cardi-proof) field fence
  • Water filtration system
  • Purchase farm equipment (tractor, truck)
  • Pasture improvement/weed control
  • Farm sign 

Such a great list of things to do to create our dream property!  Now which one to tackle first...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My life in blogs

I have been a lackadaisical blogger lately.  I started this blog as a crazy dog blog, but lately life has taken over, and I've had less time to be a crazy dog person.  I knew I reached an interesting point when I started to think about the blogs I'm reading most now...

What I can relate to:

Through a fellow Cardi-blogger's blog,  I came across a blog called "The Everywhereist."  The blog writer writes about the "joys" of travel.   I was captivated.  I could SO relate.  I wasted a frightening amount of time on this blog last weekend.

Her air travel posts are particularly wonderful --  I've thought many of the same things she writes about - but she writes them in her blog in a humorous way.  I just grumble (or laugh) to myself.

The blog:

The air travel posts:

My favorite so far is the 10 commandments of air travel.  They are very true, and if you fly at all you must read this before boarding the plane.  If everyone read this and followed it, the world on a plane would be a much happier place!

So read it (please):

What I can't relate to:

Well, I can't really relate to blogs that I probably "should" be able to relate to, given that I have a dog to show and all.

Like this one on being a newbie to conformation showing:

Or, some of the blogs in my blog-roll that relate to competing in dog sports.

What is happening to me, and...

What should I write about?

Right now it leaves me trying to figure out what to focus on in my blog.

Some things I'm thinking
  • The project that is Wagmore Farm
  • Ziggy's recovery (because I am determined to post about this until the laziest of all Cardigans actually walks!)
  • Rip and whatever he'll be doing in the near future
With a side of:
  • Maggie as an old lady
  • Work travel 
  • Who knows what else
Until next time, here's one of my favorite recent photos of Rip.  Favorite because it captures Rip's personality really well.  He wants to work, I want to watch TV.  Guess who won?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi IVDD: Month 8

It's been 8 months since Ziggy ruptured his disc.   The dear boy continues to make progress towards walking.

The progress is just really, really slow.  Painfully slow.  Depressingly slow.

8 months of taking a dog out in sling every single time he needs to go to the bathroom - rain, shine, humidity, wretched heat, freezing cold, below freezing cold, etc. - really starts to take its toll.

It also takes a LOT of time.  Think about how many times your dog goes outside to go potty each day.  Then multiply that by 15.  That's how many minutes hours The Husband and I (mostly The Husband, doG bless him, since he works from home) spend each and every day taking Ziggy outside.

But Ziggy does continue to progress.  Here are some things we're seeing now that we weren't before:
  • Ziggy is able to hop along on his right leg if he is held upright.  That right leg really seems to know what's going on.
  • The left leg is coming along, too, and if I hold Z between the hind legs he can sort of walk.  
  • Sort of meaning both legs are moving forward, paws landing on the ground correctly, and then pushing themselves off the ground.  The left hind still moves to the inside so much that Z needs the support to stay upright.
  • Better movement in the cart.  

The video below was taken at ISU earlier this month.  The rehab specialist at ISU was really happy to see his paw placement, and to see how he is really getting the paws on the ground in the right way, and using them to push off.

We finally have the cart adjusted better, but it's still not perfect.  You'll see something fall out at the end of the video.  It's a memory foam pad I made that helps him stay straight in the cart.  Definitely a work-around.  I would most assuredly go for a custom cart if I had this to do over again (which I really, really hope doesn't happen).

Go Ziggy, Go!

We haven't been as diligent as we should be with Ziggy's rehab lately.  Life has been hectic, I've been traveling a lot...  But we are doing "incidental" rehab.  For example:
  • I make Ziggy support himself when he's peeing (instead of the sling holding him up).  
  • I also make him support himself when he is standing outside, and when I'm putting his sling on him.  I'm keen on making him "stand like a big dog" (and, yes, I do say this to him) whenever possible.
  • Instead of letting him scoot to his bed when we come in from outside, I'll often have him stand, then support him between is legs so he can "walk."

Ziggy's spirits continue to be very good.  He even scoots to the front door barking when he hears something outside.  A little IVDD won't keep him from guarding the house :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rip's Training Diary #3: Incompatible for Conformation?

I love training Rip, and I'm really trying to make obedience training as fun as I can.  I'm hoping this fun will transfer into the ring, and the games I'm training now will help us in obedience, rally & agility.

I'm afraid, though, that some of the things I'm training Rip to do may be "inconvenient" for conformation showing.  Oops!

Here are the things I'm probably going to have to apologize to Carolyn and Mandy (and anyone else who may show Rip in conformation) for:

Backing up

Ok, this one I don't feel TOO bad about, as Carolyn told me I should train Rip to back up on command, I'm just not sure this is what she had in mind:

I took on a challenge of training him to back up using the clicker, and it worked!  He now backs up far and fast (Rip likes fast) when asked.

Rip also "offers"(does it when not asked to just to see if he'll get a treat) the back up when he thinks you want him to work.  This offering of the backup became a little inconvenient even for me (hard to pet or leash up a dog when it up when it keeps backing up with a big smile on its face), so I decided to teach another trick to get Rip to come to me.  This led me to training him to...

Go Through my Legs

OK, I taught this one using the clicker, too.  It was so much fun to teach!  It's also handy because, after Rip goes through my legs, he puts himself into heel position and smiles wildly up at me.  So, so, cute.  And useful for obedience & agility!

But, oops, Rip thinks this one is super-fun, too, so he offers it when he wants to work, or if he wants attention, etc.  Part of training this included him really pushing himself through if my legs are close together (so much fun - he really has to work for it!) - so he's not dissuaded by standing with legs close together.

I recommend that whoever shows him in conformation wear a knee-length skirt, or pants.  Otherwise things could get ugly.

Hit the Stantion

This one has nothing to do with counteracting something else I've taught him.  I taught Rip to paw at the station so that we have a game to play to reinforce go-outs later on.  It was a fun thing to teach, and Rip loves it -- you should see the look of glee on his face when he's frantically pawing away.

But it did occur to me the other day, when Rip knocked down 2 sections of my ring gates with his enthusiastic scratching, that perhaps this one isn't so great for the conformation ring.

But maybe Carolyn can just keep him off the rail unless she's really keeping his attention.  Because, oh, did I mention that I clicker trained this one, too, and we both think it's really funny, so he'll offer it from time to time if standing on leash by a stantion.

I think these are the only "incompatible for conformation" behaviors I've taught Rip so far.  Unless you count really fast downs, circles to the left and right, and weaving through my legs as a heeling game.  But I'm choosing not to count those, so there you go.

I AM trying to make up for this by teaching him a useful ring command.  I won't commit to it in writing now, though.  Because either:
A) I want it to be a nice surprise for Carolyn and Mandy (and I mean that seriously)
B) I've never trained it before and I have no idea if it will work

I would promise to not train any other incompatible behaviors, but we're already working on barking on command, so I guess I can't do that.  Sorry!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi: IVDD month 7

We're rapidly approaching month 7 of Ziggy's IVDD disc rupture recovery.  Ugh.  7 months.  But what can you do when you have a slow dog?

Here's the latest...

What's happening now:

  • We're starting to see some real progress!
  • He is getting himself up into a standing position more frequently - though his left leg still isn't cooperating enough to keep him standing, things are improving.
  • He is really pushing himself along with his hind legs when he scoots around the house.  The legs have gone from dragging behind, to scooting tucked in, to (now) pushing while he scoots.
  • He is much stronger on his stands, and can stand for quite a while while in his sling or when placed in a stand for physical therapy.
  • He is driving with both of his hind legs much of the time that he's in his cart.  
  • On his last visit to ISU, his improvement on the underwater treadmill is noticeable.  You'll see in the video below how his right hind is really driving, reaching, and active.  His left hind is doing MUCH better, but the vet student had to place a hand on him to straighten out his spine so the left hind would land properly.   His left hind likes to drift to the inside, and sometimes hits his right hind accidentally.  This happens when he's trying to stand, too, which causes him to fall down.

Ziggy on the underwater treadmill at ISU earlier this week.  
I am SO pleased with is progress.

What we're doing now:
  • ISU Vet School:  Thanks to our travel schedule, Ziggy has spent approximately 3.5 weeks at the ISU Vet School rehab center since mid-May.  He hates being left, but all reports are that he really enjoys it once he's there.  His particular love is cruising around the vet school in his cart, which, apparently, draws lots of nice comments :)  Oh, and everyone seems to LOVE him there - they say he's a great patient, and very sweet.  Way to go, Z.
  • Continuing the basic physical therapy we've been doing for months - sit to stand, standing, range of motion, etc.
  • We've added some electrical muscle stimulation to get him to flex and move his hind legs on his own.  We just started doing this a week or so before his last trip to ISU, but both The Husband and I really saw some nice improvement.
  • Using the cart more often:  We still don't have a great fit on the cart (if I had it to do over again I'd buy a custom cart right away), but we're able to make-do by using a towel to support one hip.  Ziggy seems to love the cart and it gives him an opportunity to see the neighborhood, etc.  He even got to go pick The Child up from his summer program, and got loved by lots of kids, which is one of Ziggy's favorite things.  We're still only using the cart about 10-15 mins at a time, but that seems enough for right now.
  • Continuing with acupuncture every 2-3 weeks
  • Some chiropractic - particularly on his hips and shoulders which seem to get out of whack (thanks to all the scooting, probably)
I must say that in this past month I finally believe that Ziggy will walk again.  Before this last bit of improvement, I hoped he would walk, and really wanted to believe it, and did everything I could to make it happen, but somehow I feel he's really on the path now.  (but my fingers are still crossed)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy 13th Birthday, Maggie (sorry I'm a little late)!

On Saturday my Best Girl, Maggie turned 13.  Even though I'm a bit late on the post, I think every birthday after 10 deserves special recognition!

Here's the Birthday Girl!
I think her grey hairs make her look wise and distnguished!

Maggie continues to be in good health and good spirits.

She still LOVES to:

  • Bark at the neighbor's cattle dog (how DARE he stick his nose through the gap in the fence!)
  • Eat vermin.  She can't catch them very well any more, but this spring she has eaten a baby squirrel she found in the yard and a chipmunk that Rip caught.  YUM!
  • "Work" - whenever I train Rip upstairs, she waits on the other side of the baby gate wagging her tail and staring intently.  I usually bring her in to do some heeling, fronts & retrieves.  She still loves to work!

But she is getting older:
  • She suddenly became "old" about six months ago.  It seems that overnight she went from a spry older lady to an old dog.  She wants her walks to be shorter, and she sleeps more.
  • She is no longer the boss of the house.  Rip has taken over this role.  She sometimes doesn't back down, though, and I get to intervene to break up a "corg-fuffle."
  • I think she might be becoming a bit deaf.  It's hard to tell, though, because she is also very much an old lady who no longer feels compelled to obey commands.  My dear girl who got scores in the mid-190's when earning her Open-level Obedience title suddenly doesn't know how to sit or come sometimes...   I'm not sure how much is hearing loss and how much is "no thanks!"
I am just happy to have such a wonderful girl in my life.  Here's to many more years, My Best Girl!

Monday, June 11, 2012

I'm sorry, Amy the House-Sitter. PLEASE come back!!

As many of you may know, we are lucky enough to have a house-sitter who comes to stay with the pack when we're out of town.  She is a lovely, responsible young lady and  we never have to worry when she's here.

I don't know what to do without her, and I don't know why she keeps coming back.  I've apologized to her on this blog before.  Once when our house cleaners skipped a week before we skipped town.  And another time when I realized all of the things she has to deal with when she stays here.

Apologizing to my house-sitter has become a frequent occurence.   Why am I apologizing this time?  For all of the pet hair.  

We left for our trip to the UK on a Thursday afternoon.  After working in the morning, I decided to vacuum the house before we left.  It is shedding season here, and all 3 corgis were losing their fur in a big way.  Add 2 cats to the mix - including an old cat who sheds in big clumps - and you can imagine how much hair there was.  Despite the fact that we had vacuumed only a couple of days before, some parts of the carpet were fully coated in pet hair.

But I planned ahead.  I had time to vacuum.  What could go wrong?  Let me explain using photos.

This is our main vacuum.  
A Dyson Animal.  

We've had this vacuum for around 5 years, and it does a great job.  Well, I should say that it DID a great job, because it suddenly decided to stop working just as I needed to vacuum less than an hour before leaving to the airport.  

Well, technically it was working a little, but it started to making a noise so loud it could drown out the tornado siren.  Easily.

No problem, we have a vacuum that lives in the basement.  So I went to get it.

This is the basement vacuum.  
It picks up cat litter and pet hair nearly every day.

Unfortunately, the basement vacuum wouldn't work either.  Apparently it only works on hard surfaces now.  It didn't even work on our very short nap carpet upstairs.  Sigh.

But wait, don't we have an old Dyson lurking in the basement, too?  Indeed we do.  I'll go get that one.

Here it is!  Our original Dyson Animal.

I brought it upstairs and tried to start it up.  Then I remembered why we put it in the basement.  It doesn't even work on hard floors anymore.  "Never loses suction!"  Perhaps not.  It now lives in the garage.  Some day we'll get rid of it.

But we have 2 more vacuums.  What about them?

Ronnie the Roomba to the rescue?

Nope.  It wasn't plugged in, so it was out of charge, and probably couldn't handle the layers of pet hair anyway.

How about the hand-held Dyson?

It IS still working, but by the time I got to this option it was too late for me to take the time to use it.  So the house was awash in pet hair when we left for vacation, and there was no way to remedy the situation.

So let me say it one more time.

I am REALLY SORRY for all the pet hair, Amy the House-Sitter.  It won't happen again (well, probably not), because look what we have now:

Another vacuum!
Rated very well by Consumer Reports!

Even though Amy the House-Sitter doesn't know I have a blog, I hope she reads this and forgives me.
I left her a message to see if she can stay later this month and she didn't return my call.  Now I'm worried.  Was this the last straw?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi IVDD: Month 6

 I realize that I haven't posted an update on Ziggy for a while, so here goes.

Ziggy's favorite bed is close to all the action.
Z is out of his crate pretty much all the time we're home now--
it makes all of us happier.

No "big" progress over the past month or so.  We feel like there continues to be progress, but it's really slow.

  • He continues to try and stand.  He often is able to push himself up on his right hind, but his left hind offers no support, so it all ends in a flop.
  • He is pushing off more with his right leg when he's in his sling and when he's just scooting around the house.
Ziggy continues to be very lazy with his physical therapy.  Food works to a point, but when the dog decides he's done and wants to sit, there's not much that can be done.

Right now, while we're out of town on vacation, Ziggy is at ISU for rehab.  As you may remember, last time he was there, the rehab therapist didn't see much progress.  This led us to wonder if anything abnormal was going on, so we took him in for an MRI.  

This time the notes from ISU are better.  The rehab therapist notices progress in his right-hind-leg's mobility and improvements in his muscle tone.  This is very encouraging for us, as I've got to admit that I haven't noticed much progress.

ISU is also putting him in his cart every day.  They've adjusted how he sits in the cart by using a rolled up hand towel by his hip.  This allows him to have both legs placed evenly on the ground.  I'm interested to see their solution in action as we have not been able to get him sitting in the cart very well.  

Apparently, Z LOVES perambulating around the vet school in his cart.  They say he's using his right hind quite a lot to propel himself along, and sometimes he uses his left hind.  We're going to have to get him in his cart more often, as it seems to be good for both his spirit and his muscle tone.

Of course, any bed near the action attracts other Cardis, too.
Here is a rare moment of peace with the pack.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rip's Training Diary #2: We love J & J dog supplies!!

Training a new dog new things is an excuse for me to visit one of my favorite online stores, J&J Dog.  They sell many, many fun things for  "performance" people.  The best thing (for me) about J&J is that they're located in a city about 45 minutes from my house, and they pack and ship quickly so my UPS ground orders sometimes arrive the next day!

My order this time consisted of 2 ring gates with stantions,  2 REAL fleece octopus tug toys, and one stuffing-less beaver toy whose belly can be loaded with treats.

So what have I done with all of this?  We've played much tug as a reward for working, and Rip has become a stantion-pawing fool.

The past week we've been working on:
  • Touching the stantion with our paw.  Rip is an over-achiever here, and sometimes when I say "hit it" he'll paw the stantion with both paws, nearly knocking it over.  I've had to start clicking for less rather than more, which is a bit odd for me after years of encouraging more effort in Ziggy.
  • Retrieving the dumbbell.  I'm using the clicker here, too, making him hold it for longer each time.  I've even started to throw the dumbbell (I have to hold his collar, as the dumbbell is FUN and Rip still has little self-control) - then I call him back to me and have him climb on my lap to deliver it.
  • We've also been working on holding the leather and metal articles.  I'm using the clicker here again.  We're just beginning so I'm rewarding for the pick-up and a very short hold.
  • Heeling games - he's getting better/quicker at circling by my side and goes between my legs when walking with only a very slight hand cue now.
  • Down, and backing up while in down.  I'm trying a new training technique here, as the way I had been working on it was not really producing great results.  Now I'm using a target stick instead of my hand to get him to back up, and throwing the treat behind him when he's correct, to encourage him to move away from me.  Even though his backing while down isn't great yet, his already fast down has become even faster!
  • We've also been playing a bit at finishes, but not as much work here.  He offered an around finish the other day when he wanted my attention, though, which I found encouraging.
Next week I'll continue to work on our current list of obedience games, and hope to add in a bit of agility training a couple of days.   I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rip's Training Diary #1: Rip meets Bridget

I realize that my blog has been very Ziggy-focused lately.  Mainly, that's because my dog life has been very Ziggy-focused lately.  But Z isn't the only dog in the house, and I realized a few weeks ago that Rip will be 2 years old at the end of May.  Hmm, maybe I need to get more serious about his training?

While I train Rip a decent amount, our training thus far has been a little haphazard.  We've done a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  He knows a few things all the way, and lots of things half-way.  I am finding it hard to chart a path for Rip, so I just work on things as the feeling strikes me.  I need help.  I need structure.  Rip has the potential to be a GREAT performance dog, and I don't want to mess it up!

A few weeks ago, I went to another training seminar by Bridget Carlsen.  I went to one of her seminars 2 years ago, and used some of her training ideas on Ziggy.  This latest seminar was even better than the first (and I really liked the first) - I learned a lot, and I really like her motivational training style.

Then it occurred to me.  Bridget only lives two hours away.  Why not have her help Rip and I?  No reason why not to, other than the inertia of my own laziness and lack of planning.  So I did it - I contacted Bridget and set up a lesson time.

On Friday morning, I loaded Rip into the car for the trip to the Chicago exurbs.

The lesson was great!  We worked on a little bit of everything we know so Bridget could get a feel for who are and what we can do.  I say "we" because this is absolutely about training me, too - Rip just does what I ask (most of the time).

So what did I learn?  
Rip has some nice heeling, but he gets bored easily, so I need to keep fun with lots of tricks & games.  Rip really toned down during the lesson - most likely because he was unsure in a new place.  This means I need to work on ways to quickly re-engage him and put him into drive when things are new.  Rip only has 1/2 hour of on task work in him -- meaning next time we'll  split the lesson in 2 parts with an hour rest in between, or we'll just do 1/2 hour.  Oh, and Bridget thought Rip was really cute -- especially when he started to offer random "how about this one" behaviors while clicker training the stantion touch.

And what's our homework?
We left with a long list of tins to work on, including:  dumbbell hold, getting Rip to move his whole body laterally, twist & spin, building value in a target, heeling with tricks, touching a stantion with with his paw, going out to and sitting in a box, driving more in our finish right, and a more reliable kick-back stand.  Oh, and I also want to teach him to bark on command.

Do you think we have enough to work on?

My plan is to keep a weekly or bi-weekly training diary on this blog to help keep me on task...

This is what happens when Rip really has to think and work.
He slept the whole way home.
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