Sunday, April 29, 2012

So far, so good...

Two weekends ago Ashke had a seizure of some type.  He shot halfway across the backyard during one of our outings and collapsed, his body out of control.  A trip to the emergency veterinarian confirmed my suspicions that it had probably been a seizure.  His behavior during the episode, subsequent disorientation, and seemingly rapid recovery were typical for that kind of event.  Of course, by the time we got to the veterinarian, he was his normal self; purring, wandering about the exam room rubbing against things, and loudly complaining that he was missing dinner.  I didn't blog anything at the time because I wasn't sure what would happen.  The vet said it could be the start of something, or a one time occurrence.  I'm hoping for the one time occurrence.

For the last two weeks Ashke has been eating, sleeping, climbing into my lap purring, eating, wandering creakily around the house on his 17 year old legs, and eating.  Yes, I said eating three times.  I think he's putting weight back on.  I hope it is a good sign, given the fact that I dragged him off to our regular vet in March because I was concerned that he wasn't eating enough.  In the meantime he seems happy and in good health, so I'm going to enjoy things as they are for now.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hiking with Laurie

As usual, I'm running behind on my posting.  On April 7th, I invited my friend Laurie and her dogs to join Chandler and me on our weekend reservoir hike.  She has two English Shepherds, Helo and Elvira.  This was their second visit to Buckingham Reservoir, as they had participated in Chandler's birthday celebration hike in October.  Elvira was a young puppy at that time, and she has done a lot of maturing since the last time we'd seen her.  She's bigger, but the most obvious difference is the appearance of her adult rough coat.  Of course she won't really be an adult until she is two, so at this point she's probably the equivalent of a teenager.

...not to mention playing with her is more fun now.

Helo was his usual amiable self.  It was good to see him doing well, because he has been having some issues with chronic Lyme disease and was undergoing more treatments at the time we took the hike.  Despite this, he seemed happy to see Chandler and me and even did a little bit of running during our hike.

Sable much easier to get a photo of even when the light is wrong.
I'd be a black blob from this angle.

The final member of our canine hiking party was Ellie, a little black mix that Laurie was dogsitting.  I'm told she was rescued off the streets of Shanghai China while her owner was working there for a few years, and presently lives in New York City.  She certainly seemed happy enough to have a holiday in Connecticut, and got so fascinated by the sights and sounds of the reservoir that Laurie had to leash her for part of the hike because she kept falling behind to investigate interesting things.

Who wouldn't be happy running through pine woods and on grassy trails?

This was the first time I'd ever circled the entire reservoir, and the dogs all had a great time playing chase and wading into the shallows.  Chandler was the only swimming fanatic in the group, so we spent more time hiking.

They don't know what they're missing.

However, I think Elvira decided that starting a chase game soon after Chandler emerged from the water was a good idea.  As usual, Chan got to be the chasee much of the time.  During one of their games I managed to get a great photo of an English Shepherd "pileup" as Elvira chased Chandler into an ambush from Helo who cut him off.  Ellie was playing too, but I think she's hidden behind Chan in the photo:

Hey, you all are supposed to be BEHIND ME!  Watch where you are going!

The only fubar occurred when Chandler mistook Elvira's alert barks directed at another hiker as evidence of a real threat.  I had to grab him and give him a stern lecture.  Hopefully Laurie will be able to visit again soon so I can do some active training to address the problem.  I'm sure the alert barking is the issue as he hasn't had any issues while we were hiking with other people.  Otherwise it was a great day, both for us and the dogs.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Meeting new friends.

One of the nicest things about being part of a very small breed community are the friendships that form because people have their dogs as a common link. I've met some of my closest friends because of Chandler. English Shepherd owners may drive or fly many miles to be able to attend an English Shepherd Gathering and meet other owners and dogs. However, not all friendships have to span such distances. I recently discovered another English Shepherd owner living in the town next to mine. Last weekend Karen and I finally had the free time to take a hike together.

Karen's English Shepherd is named Patches. He's somehow connected to the Operation New Beginnings dogs, although I'm not sure if he was one of the dogs that was sent away before the raid, or if he was one of the dogs at the Metra. If so, I think he must have been a pup at the time, because he is younger than Chandler and seems to have gotten enough nutrition to grow to his full size. The only other thing I know is that Karen mentioned his foster family was in North Carolina.

Like me, Patches likes to run.

Karen also brought along her foster dog, Monty. He's a Great Pyrenees who is very shy around people. Apparently he comes from a situation where he was neither bonded to livestock nor socialized to people. He's probably similar in a lot of ways to the ONB dogs that needed "taming". Karen is working to socialize him and make him more confident around people. I think she appreciated that I knew that doing my best to ignore him would probably do Monty the most good. Monty quickly started shooting worried glances back at me if I walked behind him and Karen. I switched to walking in front of Karen and Monty for the rest of the hike, so he would be less concerned. He also got to listen to me talk Karen's ear off about English Shepherds, so I hope the experience of being around a garrulous but mostly harmless stranger was good for him.

Monty is handsome, but he got nervous
every time he heard Mom mention his name.

Chandler and Patches turned out to be practically two of a kind. They quickly bonded through the brotherhood of the zoomies, and spent some time running up and down the trail. Chandler got tired first. I think Patches has about five times the energy that Chan does.

Five times the energy? But I'm the one running in front!

Patches adores the water as much as Chandler does. Both boys spent some time fetching sticks out of the reservoir. I think Chan was the faster swimmer, but he's had a few more years of practice.

Here we come with our sticks!

The boys did get into a slight vocal tiff when Patches decided to try to steal Chandler's stick. Apparently, Patches is the bossy one in Karen's house. I'm not sure if he has been growled off before.

Hey! Go get your own stick!

Since Patches and Chan are both good-natured dogs, the little argument didn't do any damage. Soon after emerging from the water, the boys started a game of chase. Both Karen and I had a great time, and I think Chandler and Patches did too. Monty may feel otherwise, but I hope we stretched his horizons a little. I'm looking forward to taking another hike with Karen soon.

Hoppy Easter!