Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weekend and Monday

I headed down to Hamden with Chandler on Saturday, to visit my friend Jenn.
She let us tag along for her youngest dog's agility class, because I wanted to work on Chan's focus.
Her class is held in a covered riding arena on a farm.
It was COOOOOOOOOOOLD, and the temperature was dropping.
Chan was fine in his new coat, and I spent some time standing near some heat-throwing propane torches that they had.
Chan did great, with hardly any whimpering; he's shown tendencies to get overexcited in class.
After we left, we decided it was so cold that we didn't want to head out again, so we picked up dinner fixings on the way home, and tossed together a nice salad and some slow berry cobbler when we got back to her house.

Jen had been getting Chandler's cousin Nixie therapy for whatever issue has been causing her to become very sore whenever she does agility, and apparently Nixie was feeling better. She used to like Chandler, but since having bad experiences with other dogs, and feeling so bad, she's hated his guts. She wasn't totally happy about having him around, but she didn't nail him this time around. They actually ended up crashed on the floor about six feet from each other for part of the evening. Nixie may never be thrilled at having "outsider" dogs around, but this visit made me hopeful that she'll tolerate Chan.

Monday was Chan's 5th agility class, and it looks like the two hours of freezing during Libby's class on Saturday practicing attention paid off.
Chandler was very focused on me (and my cheese), so we only had a few difficulties in class.

The biggest hurdle still seems to be the OCD border collie in class.
We were in line next to him at first...the dog lunged out when the havanese started her run on the other side of the room,
and Chan lunged toward the BC. I caught him and told him that HE WAS NOT TO TRY TO TELL THE BC WHAT TO DO!
(Which I think was what he was doing.)

The BC moved out of line-he was getting majorly stimulated, so things calmed down, except when the BC was running.
Chan gets stimulated by the sound of a dog running through tunnels, but the BC seems to send him straight over for some reason.
Chan lunged out once with his tail slightly raised and a semi-deep bark-but that was the worst of the evening.

The instructor had three tunnels curved and set up in a triangular pattern with a jump in the middle.
Chan's enthusiasm and ability to refocus on me were great, but we need to work on the steering.
He'd pop out of a tunnel raring to go and get confused about what the next obstacle was...
...and then get there after a false start or two and sometimes a twirl to look at me.
I need to get better at signaling him.

However, I was very proud of him for IGNORING the BC on his last tunnel run, as it was bouncing around onleash in the area just past the last tunnel.
(Ok, he might have considered going over there, but he decided working with me on the obstacles was more fun.)


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Rescue Rainbow Bridge (for self reference, and because I like it.)

The Rescue Rainbow Bridge

Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as
a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All the recent arrivals were
confused and concerned. They had no idea what to think for they had never
experienced a day like this before. But the animals who had spent some
time waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was happening and began to
gather at the pathway leading to the Bridge to watch. They knew this was
something special.

It wasn't too long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung
heavy and low with tail dragging along the ground. The other animals on the
pathway...the ones who had been at Rainbow Bridge for a while...knew the
story o this sad creature immediately. They had seen it happen far too many times.

Although it was obvious the animal's heart was leaden and he was totally
overcome with emotional pain and hurt, there was no sign of injury or any
illness. Unlike the pets waiting at the Bridge, this dog had not been
restored to his prime. He was full of neither health nor vigor. He approached slowly
and painfully, watching all the pets who were by now watching him. He knew he
was out of place here. This was no resting place for him. He felt instinctively
that the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But alas, as
he came closer to the Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an
Angel who spoke softly to the old dog and apologized sorrowfully, telling him
that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their
special people could pass over the Rainbow Bridge. And he had no special beloved
people...not here at the Bridge nor on Earth below.

With no place else to turn, the poor elderly dog looked toward the fields
before the Bridge. There, in a separate area nearby, he spotted a group of
other sad-eyed a animals like himself...elderly and infirm. Unlike the pets
waiting for their special people, these animals weren't playing, but
simply lying on the green grass, forlornly and miserably staring out at the pathway
leading to the Bridge. The recent arrival knew he had no choice but to join them.
And so, he took his place among them, just watching the pathway and

One of the newest arrivals at the Bridge, who was waiting for his special
people, could not understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of
the pets who had been there for some time to explain it to him.
"That poor dog was a rescue, sent to the pound when his owner grew tired
of him. They way you see him now, with graying fur and sad, cloudy eyes, was
exactly the way he was when he was put into the kennels. He never, ever
made it out and passed on only with the love and comfort that the kennel workers
could give him as he left his miserable and unloved existence on Earth for
good. Because he had no family or special person to give his love, he has nobody
to escort him across the Bridge."

The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, "So what
will happen now?"

As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the
all-invasive gloom lifted. Coming toward the Bridge could be seen a single
figure...a person who, on Earth, had seemed quite ordinary...a person who,
just like the elderly dog, had just left Earth forever. This figure turned
toward a group of the sad animals and extended outstretched palms. The sweetest
sounds they had ever heard echoed gently above them and all were bathed in
a pure and golden light. Instantly, each was young and healthy again, just as
they had been in the prime of life.

From within the gathering of pets waiting for their special people, a
group of animals emerged and moved toward the pathway. As they came close to the
passing figure, each bowed low and each received a tender pat on the head
or a scratch behind the ears. Their eyes grew even brighter as the figure
softly murmured each name. Then, the newly-restored pets fell into line behind
the figure and quietly followed this person to the Bridge, where they all
crossed together.

The recent arrival who had been watching, was amazed. "What happened?"

"That was a rescuer," came the answer. "That person spent a lifetime
trying to help pets of all kinds. The ones you saw bowing in respect were those
who found new homes because of such unselfish work. They will cross when their
families arrive. Those you saw restored were ones who never found homes.
When a rescuer arrives, they are permitted to perform one, final act of rescue.
They are allowed to escort those poor pets that couldn't place on Earth
across the Rainbow Bridge. You see, all animals are special to them...just as
they are special to all animals."

"I think I like rescuers," said the recent arrival.

"So does God," was the reply.

(author unknown)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Agility update and other stuff...

Last night was Chandler's 5th agility class.

The dogs were all revved up for some reason, so it was a bit harder to keep his attention on me. He kept on wanting to zoom out while the border collie was working; it seems to have a bit more frantic excitement going, so that may be why. The little havanese took off around the room playing "catch me" twice- I talked to her owner and suggested playing "gotcha" during the week, so her dog is less likely to dodge during leashing up. The mudi was barking, as usual. *sigh* I really think that dog has figured out that if he barks a few times and then is quiet, his owner feeds him.

We started off with that weird exercise where the dogs jump on the table then hop onto the adjacent A-frame. Chan was enthusiastic, but really didn't understand why he wasn't just going up the A-frame. He actually did better when doing just the A-frame. However, his enthusiasm was such that he'd run over it when I hadn't told him to do so. (Note to self, work on listening, and STAY.) At least his targeting was better after a week of practice; he didn't really try to play with the targets. I still need to practice keeping his hind feet on the contacts, however. He had a tendency to bounce off.

Then it was off to try the dogwalk for the first time. It was only set to three feet, and he scrabbled a bit while I held his collar for the first try. Ofter that his "I've got it Mom!" attitude kicked in, he zoomed quickly across it on his own. The only problem here was that his front end seemed to be stopping faster than his rear, so one hind leg would pop off the end ramp every time he stopped at the contact to target. For the last two runs over the dogwalk, we then continued on to the tunnel. He ran right through and came out looking for me-the only problem was getting him in, as he would tend to linger by the instructor at the end of the dogwalk, probably trying to mooch more treats.

Overall, a decent night for a beginner with a clueless owner, I think. :)

Other stuff-

Urgh. My car's radiator is leaking coolant when put under pressure. I hate car repairs. I had to borrow my parent's car to get to agility last night; luckily I noticed the "check coolant" light before we got onto the highway.

I'm volunteering one day a month at a local all-volunteer library. It's fun, and will hopefully be good for my resume. Also, there is a chance that I'll be able to help the "official librarian" out with some of the cataloging and other such duties.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Veterinary Updates

Last week:

Ashke went in to check out something that felt like a fatty lump behind one of his shoulders. Lipomas are not so common in cats, and he's 13, so I figured a check was in order. A needle biopsy resulted in mostly connective tissue, and nothing serious. After thought, we tried the microchip scanner, and sure enough, his microchip was in there. We tentatively concluded that Ashke had built up tissue around his chip, and decided just to keep an eye on it for changes.

Chandler went in because he'd been shaking his head to flap his ears, and cleaning them hadn't helped. He had some wax plugs and one of the ears looked a bit irritated upon examination. The vet used some stronger ear cleaner and sent us home with some ointment to use for a week.


Second opinion on Chandler's anaplasmosis issue. After going over the facts, this vet noted that Chandler's CBC results were a bit harder to read because the clinic had used week-old blood, but he was a bit low on platelets, which she found was a possible indication of anaplasmosis. Given my paranoia and the status of my checkbook(being a full time student is not good for it) I elected to do a course of doxycycline with him, and run a titer around June.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Charges filed in Montana Case

I need some hugs after reading this.
I want to cry my eyes out again.

Here's a link to the charges filed by the Yellowstone County Prosecutor against Linda Kapsa.

WARNING. The above link contains very GRAPHIC descriptions of the animals seized and the conditions they were living in.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Agility Class Update

Chan has been to three weeks of beginners agility class so far.

Week one, he was great. He started off a bit overwhelmed-its a large class of about 10 dogs, but really perked up when we took out the jumps and started practicing with them low.

Week 2- Debacle.
After Chan's first run through two tunnels, he broke away with me to zoom around the training center with the dog who went through the tunnels after him. He had a great time, but was so wound up afterwards that he really couldn't focus, kept popping out of the tunnels, and even jumped on top of one. Yeesh...crazy dog.

Week 3- Better.
I decided to keep Chan busy with various "fun" commands while we were waiting. (Pay attention to me...you are not breaking loose and joyriding this week!) It worked really well, and the lesson suffered more from my inexperience and clumsiness than Chan's "vroom" this week. He did really well, except for one little snafu. Chan is too smart for my own good.

About halfway through the class the instructor decided that she didn't want us leaning down to reward the dogs on the target,
because that could become an unintended cue.
So she walks purposefully across the classroom, with Chandler avidly watching because instructors rarely do that.
She goes to the refrigerator that has the REALLY GOOD homemade treats.
( I think Chandler MIGHT have seen me get treats from there once, months ago.)
Now Chan is a bit of a food hound, and he also does things with gusto...
so when it's our turn, he shoots to the end of his leash in overdrive,
much more eager than he'd been all night, although he'd been enthusiastic and willing.
All he wanted to do was DRAG ME to the obstacle and do whatever he can to get those REALLY GOOD treats!

Oh well, it is just his third class.
I think we're going to keep working on focus. ;)