Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The freecycle network is actually quite an amazing thing. It takes the trash that would otherwise find its way curbside and into landfills, into the hands of someone who considers it treasure. Got a box of non-matching glass jars? Hey, here is someone who needs them for a mosiac! In the short time I have been enrolled (have yet to actually post, but rest assured I have tons of potential treasures!) I have seen many interesting items change hands; boxes of baby clothes, office furniture, PC monitors and toys. You can post things you need, as well as what you have. The concept is essentially a positive thing.
Here is where I part ways, however. I do not believe that any animal should be included in "come get it or it's going to the curb" practice. The person giving up the dog could, of course, do a more thorough job of screening the takers but something tells me that if they equate their pet to household trash, it ain't gonna happen. So far I have seen dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs and kittens. Does anyone think that they have gone to good homes? Or care if they have been fed to snakes, or used as fighting dog bait? Nope, they are out of the house and good riddance. Now where is that high chair?
This morning, an opened bag of dog food was posted. The author said her dog did not like the food. For anyone who has been through the contaminated pet food scares, what was one of the first signs of a problem? Your pet did not want to eat the food! Additionally, even in the best of facilities there are sometimes food storage problems, and moldy bags that pass through to the consumer. Your dog will know something is up and probably decline to eat it. So, should you give it away to someone else? If that person was your friend, fed that feed and could trust that this was an issue of a fussy dog and not bad food, perhaps. But to place it on a the "free to a good home" list? I think not. I realize there are indeed folks who grab whatever bag is the cheapest week by week and will happily scavenge a half eaten bag, but I think it is a poor idea. In my opinion, NO EDIBLE items should be posted. What's next, a half eaten sandwich?
You can find chain link and dog crates and bedding at Freecycle and save oodles of cash. But please, do not seek out or place your pet through that site. I'm shouting in the wind on this, as there are now a host of sites where you can sell anything, with few limitations and no screening. This is not even delving into the possibilities of someone wanting to see you or your home or otherwise make criminal activity from your good intentions. There is common sense advice to heed when inviting strangers to your home to pick up items. And since hamsters and puppies cannot be placed at curbside for pick up, that means a person you do not know will be coming to your home. They may even ask alot of personal questions concerning how the animal was cared for, that reveals your daily activities and habits.
I do not believe that edible items or living creatures have a place being posted through Freecycle. Recycle your junk, not your pet.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Most of us who have trained for any length of time can identify our Yoda. Generally your Yoda is someone whose methods you like, and whose accomplishments you aspire to. You would not model yourself after someone who had not achieved the same goals you set for yourself! That would be like wanting to break into a business and following the advice of the janitor. Yes, he works in the same building but he has no personal knowledge of how to get from the Point A to the Point B you wish to.
For newcomers to dog sport, your Yoda could be someone else in the club whose has earned those titles you are working toward, who understands the rules and how to train for that level, who can guide you through the process. Or it could be a trainer that you work with regularly. Yoda's can also change. As you progress in your own training and accomplishments you will naturally seek out someone who has once again achieved more than you.
The problem in not having a Yoda is that you have no one to model yourself after, and the goals become difficult to visualize. You find yourself led in conflicting directions by well meaning advice. And worst of all, you may be receiving advice from people who are the "janitors" of the sport. How will you recognize them? The easiest way to recognize the false prophets is that when everyone else is working dogs, they are standing on the sidelines, either disagreeing with what is being done or giving advice to any victims within range. They always have a better way or could do better, but yet amazingly, have never titled a dog! Maybe they even coaxed a title out of one, but it has never been repeated, or they purchased a trained dog and are now telling you how to raise a puppy. We can all think of someone who meets this description. To us they are mildly annoying, but to a maleable newcomer to the sport, they can be downright dangerous. They monopolize the new member and serve to fracture cohesiveness of a club.
Another means of recognizing these people is through their use of scientific terms. The impression is that they must know what they are talking about, since they use lengthy phrases to describe it. The implication is also that if you do not understand, then you are more ignorant and should pay attention to them. They talk, but they cannot "do". They may also refer to their own Yoda, but knowledge of a well known name does not make them a trainer.
In the example at the beginning of the story, the woman answering said that this man was her Yoda for certain aspects of her training. You may find that you draw from the experience of several people whose work you admire, but for different parts of your training. Becasue people are not always equally gifted in all areas, it makes sense to seek out the most accomplished in each. Or the most accomplished that is accessible to you.
When you audition Yodas, seek out a person in the position you aspire to whose methods you like and are comfortable with. You may not elect to make the same sacrifices as they did to reach that point, but can take the positive aspects that apply to your work. You might determine you cannot ethically do the things that they did to reach those goals. There are some things I simply will not compromise my ethics on, in order to reach the podium. And you might find that you have several Yodas, at different levels of accessibility. This could include a trainer with whom you work regularly in seminar, and your club training director. Understand that someone else may have a different Yoda that suits their needs and goals. It does not make them wrong, only different UNLESS they set out to undermine other members with critcism and argument.
In time you may find yourself in the position to be Yoda to a new member. And, as Yoda said" NOT THINK. DO."
When Jinx initially came home following surgery, she was in the hobble system within several days. I was told that some dogs do not tolerate them, and will tear them off. In addition to becoming very expensive, this would make their recovery more difficult. She had to remain still. That meant being in the crate or on her bed. No bedroom access which would tempt her to leap onto the bed, although for the first few weeks I don't think she felt well enough to attempt that. I was able to send her to her dog bed, where she would remain for hours, or all day, until released. She was perfectly content to lay there and watch the world go by around her. I could tell the change in her attitude at week 3, where she began to move around more. I think she had the good sense to know her body needed to be still and heal. But what if your dog was not crate trained, or resisted being crated? What if you could not tell your dog to lay down and remain in one place? You would have weeks of struggling; again, counterproductive to recovery.
At 12-15 weeks post op, these are the home exercises we are given to do, with 2-3 sessions per day:
- Passive Range of Motion of elbow joint: flex elbow to point of stopping, hold for 10 seconds, relax and repeat. Affected limb only.
- All 4's rocking: Dog standing on all 4's OUT OF HOBBLES. With hands on dogs' shoulders, gently push dog to the side, and then let them go back to center, only pushing 1/2 to 2 cm off center. Continue random pushes as you have been doing.
- Down to stand: 3 sets of 10 reps. Because Jinx learned her "positions" as a competition exercise, and the front feet must remain in place while the back feet change positions, we did have to modify the exercise. Initially the therapist wanted us to do a sit to a down and back up, but Jinx kicks her feet back to sit, and does not slide forward to down, and can do it very easily on 3 legs, so that didn't work.
- Lateral raises (torso/core strengthening) Increase to 2 sets of 10
- Treat to Opposite Shoulder: with dog standing, increase to 3 sets of 10. This is the exercise that we started out doing both laying down and standing, where Jinx had to flex her head to reach a treat at the shoulder. From the prone position, she had to keep her shoulder flat on the ground, so I need a command that would accomplish that. Viola! "LAY" became her command for the flat-on-your-side with head down, "dead dog" position. From there I can flex her. She loves to throw herself to the ground and roll her eyes at me as her head is flat on the ground, which is so hilarious.
- 3 Leg standing (rear only) OUT OF HOBBLES Lift rear leg while patient is in standing position. Support lifted leg at stifle with hip and stifle flexted. Hold as tolerated by patient and repeat 3 times on each side, continue with 3 reps of 20 seconds on each rear leg. Be sure she is standing square! Being square is something we have to work on, as Jinx has become very adept at standing in the tripod position. From the rear, her hind legs are spread wide and the weight bearing leg is in the middle, so you can't even see it when you stand behind her. The front leg is in line with her tail. Now, in all of these, with the physical adaptations she has made, I worry about the stress is is putting on other joints. Like the guy who has surgery on one knee and the other one blows out because it has taken all the pressure. So, to combat her tripod position, I am teaching her "stand". She already has a word for that as a competitive position, so this is a new word. It means to put all four feet on the ground. I physically place her hind legs underneath her, which forces her to put the bad leg down for balance. I still have to remind her "stand" to put that leg down, but once she does that, I mark and reward it. It is primarily a process of relearning how to balance using four legs.
- 3 leg standing, front only: OUT OF HOBBLES. same as above, but life left forelimb.
- Leash walks: OUT OF HOBBLES slow walks, on short leash. Walking in 8 foot diameter circle with right leg to the inside of the circle. Another exercise that was suggested was to find a gentle hillside or roadside back and walk her at a horizontal angle, not climbing up and down. Since our weather has been so awful and muddy yet, we have not tried this. Some days we go to the AKC club building for our walks. We are finally seeing bare ground here, but before that I was afraid Jinx would slip on ice and reinjure herself. I sometimes will walk with her on my right side with a "walk" command which tells her to keep all four feet on the floor as she moves; in the heel position, with her trying to keep in proper position and attention she tends to hop, keeping the right foot off the ground and it is easier to take it out of context.
- Sit to beg: hold the beg for 15 seconds. I keep saying that if Jinx doesn't return to work, she may have a bright career as a circus doggie! She has learned her "sit pretty" command and throws herself into it with the same enthusiasm with which she applies the "lay". Like, look how fast I can do this, can i have a treat now, please? We are working on duration. We are also shaping the "wave" which will be done using the injured limb. Right now it is the "paw" ( I really need to think about the physical gesture and word I intend to use long term) where she gives me her foot. Initially it was a struggle for her to even move that leg and foot to my hand, but now she is doing it much more easily, so that movement will be helpful in rebuilding the muscle mass of her shoulder. Eventually it will become a "wave". A friend told me that she teaches it by placing her dogs on the bed and then tempting them with a treat, and they reach for it with their paw. Good idea, but I have to lift Jinx up on the bed and can't risk having her jump OFF of it, so I think I will put that idea aside.
- Side stepping: both directions, starting with 2-3 steps and increase as tolerated. When Jinx moves left it will be more difficult for her.
- Stepping through ladder rungs or over poles laid on ground: slow walking exercise. Jinx is doing well with this, and raising her feet nicely. She practiced a cavaletti when preparing for her ladder climbing training for USAR and when the ladder is raised off the ground she will walk on the rungs, so I was worried she might attempt it. Held just off the ground, she steps carefully in between the rungs and it has not become and issue.
- This excercise is not one that came from the physical therapist, but from my friend, Sam. Jinx now eats her meals from the floor. I make a trail of kibble through the house and she follows it, walking step by step, and using her paw. Holding her head down like that makes it impossible to hop, so she uses the leg. Great idea, eh? Plus, I figure it will help her in her tracking!! Granted, it is pure sight tracking in the house, but she is motivated to follow the food.
So there you have my Jinx rehabilitation exercises. Crazy, isn't it? I know that there are people out there who just expect surgery to fix things and be done with it, but I tell you what, I am the one doing all the hard work here!! Yes, the surgeon had the skill to make the repair but he worked on her for an hour. I have a commitment that will extend for months yet, to seeing that the money spent on surgery was not a waste, and that she can recover fully. At our last visit, the surgeon seemed to have some reservation over whether there was nerve damage, which would be permanent, or not. Since then I have noticed Jinx using that leg more and more, and I am probably more optimistic than I have been previously during her recovery.
Monday, March 16, 2009
After seeing what the response was to having Michael as a helper (and I might add, the "outs" were exceptionally clean and fast, just as they are on Greg) I decided to move on to other aspects that we have been training in the schutzhund routine. Quinn was the only dog training in schutzhund at the seminar. All the rest were ring dogs. As the ring dogs worked, people photographed and filmed and followed them around the room. When it was Quinn's turn, suddenly it became lunch time. I had no crowd! Now, the negative aspect of this is that one reason you attend seminars is to have groups of people around your dog as you are working, standing at the blind, etc. I did not have that.
Another aspect of working a schutzhund dog at a ring seminar is that the ring routines are quite long, and move from obedience right into protection work. When those guys start their practice, you might as well grab a chair because you're in it for the long haul. Therefore, so as not be be cheated time-wise, I stretched my session out until Quinn tripped on his tongue.
I had the choice of what to do with my second session, and I opted to work young Cooper on the leg sleeves, or jambierres. There were several factors that led to this decision, and was, in fact, the reason I could not decide which dog to work orignally. We have been working on Cooper's grip; having him hold a full, calm grip for extended periods of time. His tendency had been to pull back (huck-a-buck is the term our K9 handlers use), hunching up and yanking backwards. Who knows where he thinks he is going, but he is hell bent to get there and pulls very hard! However, that pull takes him from a full to a 3/4 grip, which is no good. We have worked on having him punch in and keep a full grip. Watching one dog work, I heard Michael comment to an observer that a dog taken to SchH3 without a leg foundation will never be able to reach the upper levels of ringsport if you switch. They need the foundation to feel comfortable and satisfied with the grip, and to understand the gripping style of turning the head properly. Cooper had bitten leg sleeves as a baby but then we moved away from that. I decided it was time to teach him properly so that we have that to return to later, but as a learned behavior. The big question mark-- and the one that would decide if we continued in that vein or not-- was whether he pulled himself off the grip when on the legs.
In the end, I was very pleased with how Cooper handle the leg bites. He turns his head nicely, is bring good activity and power to the grips and did NOT pull himself off of them! Instead, he continued to punch in and want to fill his mouth, so I was very happy with that. Michael would slip the jambierre and we would reinforce the hold and carry or cradle, the same as I had done on the bite pillow, so it was a good transference of skills. Since the time to teach an object guard is before the dog knows a bark and hold, and since he learned to go to an object and turn when he was young, we will revisit that before I teach him the bark and hold. Things are progressing nicely and I hope to have a very well rounded dog. He certainly is fun to work!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The following week it was Roya's turn. Since she was there, the vet asked if I wanted to ultrasound the spleen and see what was going on. Again, it sounded like a good idea at the time. As they shaved her belly, a mammary tumor was discovered near one nipple. Oh damn. What next? Yes, lets cut out the tumor. Nothing significant showed up on the spleen but one odd spot, but no tumors or growths and we will recheck that in four months. The lump from her belly will be submitted to see if it is benign or cancerous. In the meantime, she goes home with stitches on her tummy! If this continues, the dogs are going to boycott vet visits!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
As you can see by the photo, she wears a hobble restraint manufactured by DoggLegs, 24/7. The physical therapist said that some dogs just do not tolerate them, but Jinx has not bothered them at all. They stabilize the shoulder and keep it from splaying out to the side.
We don't know how it happened, and never witnessed a particular injury. Because this type of injury is caused by an impact where one front leg ends up on either side of an obstacle- smack!!-- it is likely that she was running (and my guess is that her head was turned, looking at Cooper) and she ran headlong into one of the PVC septic pipe vents. The height is right. Too little, too late, but my plan had been to create a raised garden to surround those last year but it never got done. It started with the tiniest of limps, barely discernable. Our vet was here on a kennel call, and I asked him to look at it. He manipulated the shoulder and got no pain response, twisting it every which way. He said to try NSAIDs and keep an eye on it, and check back in a couple weeks. The limp had gotten worse, and NSAIDs didn't affect it. Neither did exercise, or lack of. It was no better or worse when she got up, or after she ran around. We Xrayed and didn't find anything and were referred to the orthopedic specialist. Of course, each one in turn twisted on that shoulder and Jinx never so much as whimpered or pull away. Unfortunately, her stoic attitude made it more difficult to assess what was going on.
The ortho surgeon thought it might be a rotator cuff tendon tear. I was told to let her run around all she wanted to see if we could isolate the area of injury. In hindsight, this may have created more problems. I debated whether the best course of action was to go in and look around, or do a scan. I talked to a vet who works with the Iditerod teams about his experience with rotator cuff tear injurys. I visited the holistic vet with her "magic wand" (biocom) and she said she wasn't *getting* tendon tear; she was being shown there was nerve damage, and indicated the shoulder/armpit area. She described to me the type of impact that would have caused that. Oddly enough, it was the same scenario later posed by the orthopedic surgeon.
In the meantime, the limp progressed to non-weight bearing. The muscle tone dimished, the limb atrophied and when we arrived for our scan, the vet examined her and this time, did get a pain response. It was an aha! moment. He recognized what the injury was and suggested we take her to surgery. I am tearing myself up over my reluctance to let him cut her open to begin with, but I simply did not feel comfortable with a very expensive fishing expedition when they were saying they did not know what was wrong. Once he identified the problem, I was on board. Unfortunately, I agonize over whether that delay will ultimately prevent Jinx from returning to duty. Earlier this year, when she was spayed in emergency surgery due to pyometra, I had to face the fact that this exceptionally talented and qualified dog would never be bred. Now I have to consider she might not work again.
At this stage, almost three months post surgery there is still hope. I continue to over-estimate the amount of time that has passed post surgery and think she should be showing more progress. The physical therapist has said that the dogs can generally return to function in 4-5 months, so I need to be patient. In the meantime, we have PAGES of exercises to do for rehabilitation. I asked how in the world you could ever do this with an untrained dog. I think it would be impossible! In addition to simply being restricted, and restrained by hobbles, how many dogs are going to cooperate in the rehab exercises? The therapist said that she does get an "you want me to do WHAT?" response many times from pet owners. If Jinx does not return to disaster work, she will have the training to be a movie dog when we are done, I think! For example, she has to do bending/flexing exercises where she brings her head to her shoulder from both a standing and laying position. In the laying position, she has to be flat on her side and keep the shoulder on the floor when her head flexes. Therefore, I taught her a "lay" command, which is essentially your typical "dead dog" thing, where the dog lays in its side, with the head flat on the floor. Then the therapist said she should learn to sit up and balance on her rear quarters and ultimately "wave" to exercise the bad shoulder. Well, we aren't at the wave stage yet but have added "sit pretty' to our reportoire. She has to balance like a wheelbarrow, with me holding both her back legs in the air as she puts weight on the front. I make trails of dog food through the house, and she sight-tracks her meals because it forces her to move each front leg independently. In fact, I am thinking that tracking is something she can do without putting undue pressure on the shoulder and may give us something to work toward as she continues her rehabilitation.
Jinx is an exceptional dog and I think that requires me to give exceptional effort on her behalf.
- ► 2011 (66)
- ► 2010 (56)
- Freecyle.com-- NOT for your pet
- Jinx Channels Ivan B
- Hooray for Spring!
- Puppy Fever
- Finding Your Yoda
- A work in progress- Jinx's rehab
- seminar photos
- Quinn and Cooper at the Mike Ellis seminar
- Cooper learns to retrieve
- Mike Ellis Seminar
- The Lion Cage
- Good news for Roya!
- Going to the vet
- Jinx in rehab
- Welcome Back!
- ▼ March (15)
- ► 2008 (67)