Monday, July 30, 2007

A Long Weekend

It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but it went a lot better than I’d expected. We NQ’d our first run so spectacularly, I’m pretty sure we couldn’t have done worse if we’d tried. Reyna was completely distracted, and, not even realizing what I was doing, I tapped her going into the first exercise to get her attention. Well, touching the dog except at specific times causes an automatic NQ. Reyna acted like she’d never heard the word “sit” and we ended up repeating 5 of the exercises, I had to repeat commands several times, and we ended up going about 30 seconds over the time limit. So, we officially NQ’d twice, and our score was so low, we couldn’t have qualified, anyway.

Our second run went much better. We requested medical consideration because of her hips and epi meds, and got an extra 30 seconds on the clock. Turned out we didn’t need it, barely. We finished in 3:58, with a score of 191, and got our first qualifying ribbon.

Sunday morning, Reyna knew the word sit, she just didn’t want to do it. The judge actually gave us an extra minute, because she saw how stiffly Reyna was moving. We had to repeat a couple of exercises - including the very first one, because I completely blanked on which way was left and went to the right, instead - and I had to repeat some commands and just wait on Reyna to decide to give in and sit. We ended up NQ’ing because of time – that round took us 5:14. I also touched her just before the bonus, so we didn’t get any points with that, but at least that didn’t NQ us. We had 170 points exactly and would have qualified, if we hadn’t gone over our time limit.

Reyna felt a bit better in the afternoon, but was totally distracted again. The poor girl was completely exhausted. We had to repeat two exercises, and she really wasn’t paying attention to me, but we got through it. Amazingly enough, we passed the “Finish” sign 4 seconds before our time limit ended. After our bonus, we had a score of 190, and actually took 5th place.

All in all, I’d say it was a good first trial. We didn’t title, but we earned two Legs and even managed to place in one of the courses. It was so obvious by the way Reyna was moving that she didn’t feel good, but she got through it, and (eventually) did everything I asked of her. Everyone there was so nice, and cheered for us when we got our ribbons. I’m pretty darn proud of that little girl.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Paws Crossed

This weekend, Reyna and I have our first Rally competition. We’re doing four trials over two days, with one course per trial. If we get 170 out of 200 points on a course, we earn a Leg. If we get three Legs, we earn a Title. We could, conceivably, title this weekend. We probably won’t. But we might. It all depends on Reyna and how she’s feeling, and if I can keep my brain together enough to keep us on the right path. A course is a maximum of 30 exercises – they usually only use about 25 – and we have 4 minutes to complete all of them. Shouldn’t be a problem, except there are several things that could cause us to NQ (not qualify), such as Reyna not following commands, me missing an exercise, or either of us doing an exercise incorrectly. There’s one exercise in particular that Reyna doesn’t do properly. I’ve asked a couple of judges about it, and they’ve said it shouldn’t NQ us, but we’ll definitely lose points. Its called a pivot, and starts with Reyna sitting in heel position. I then step directly in front of her, and she is supposed to stand up, turn, and sit back down in heel. What she actually does is flip her front paws over and scooch her butt around to end up in a half-cocked sit in mostly-heel. Apparently, if I can just get her to show a bit of air between her butt and the floor when she scooches, we should be okay. I think part of it is the pain in her hips, but I’m also pretty sure there’s a chunk of laziness tucked in there. If we’re lucky, they won’t use the pivot in all four courses... The woman who called Reyna dangerous will also be there, so I’m going to do my very best to avoid her so she doesn’t tick me off before Reyna and I run our course. On the up side, Reyna loves her some bunny meat, and she’s definitely willing to work for that treat. Wish us luck!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dermatology Visit

Reyna visited the dermatologist last Friday, and it went pretty well. The vet is a cute little Russian woman, and she’s a hoot to listen to, especially when she doesn’t bother finding all the words for a sentence, but just gives the necessary parts. “Dog only little crazy. Not bad crazy.”

The derm thinks Reyna may have flea or food related allergies, but no autoimmune problems. She was quick to assure me that she doesn’t think Reyna has fleas, but if she’s outside playing and gets bit by a flea, it could cause itchiness and irritation for up to three weeks. She gave me a list of several things to do to help prevent/treat that. Reyna gets a dose of Frontline Plus every 3 weeks (every 4 for Duncan), all year. I’m to use Knockout Spray once a week to repel and kill fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and gnats. That spray can kill the cats, though, so I have to make sure they don’t come into contact with it when its wet, and that I’ve scrubbed down after using it so the cats can’t accidentally lick any of it off me. Reyna gets a bath once a week with a medicated shampoo that's supposed to kill any bacteria on her skin, and I have some new ointment to put on her hot spots twice a day for the next 2 weeks.

To figure out if there’s a food allergy, the derm switched Reyna to a rabbit and potato kibble. Once we start the food trial, she can’t have any other type of food or treat for 10 weeks. If she eats something else, our 10 weeks starts over again. She can have the dry and canned rabbit and potato food, actual rabbit meat, potato pieces, apple chunks, or other veggies. No store-bought treats, no bones, no Frosty Paws. I did find a couple of places that sell rabbit meat, so I’m going to get some and fix it a couple of different ways to use for training treats. Poor Duncan, the restrictions on Reyna means a lot of restrictions for him, too. He’ll continue eating the food they already eat (because I really can’t afford for him to eat the rabbit food), but he also can’t have any treats unless I have something rabbity to give Reyna while he eats his. I’ll have to watch them both during meal and treat times, to make sure she doesn’t snatch something he’s eating. And no big beef bones for either of them, even though they make great long-term snacks.

Reyna’s meds have stayed the same – Rimadyl (hips), Fluoxatine (OCD), and Phenobarbital (epi) twice a day, with the Pb on a 12-hour schedule, and only about an hour of wiggle room on that. The vet also wants me to give her Benadryl twice a day for the itchiness, and we had to switch to unflavored Rimadyl and unflavored heartworm preventative (she’s really serious about the no other type of meat thing).

After the 10 weeks are up, we’ll start changing one thing at a time, and see what happens. With any luck, we’ll be able to get at least some idea of what's making Reyna so itchy, and we can control/prevent/treat it. And the derm wants Reyna off the Prozac when this is over, because she doesn’t think Reyna’s OCD is causing the chewing, rather the itching is kicking the OCD into overdrive. So, we’ll do all of this, I’ll be broke, the dogs will have to start earning a living, and we’ll hopefully get some useful information.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

One of Life's Oddities

Reyna lost her rabies tag a few months ago. I figured it was in the back yard somewhere, but her other tags were still on her collar, so I wasn't sure how she'd managed that particular feat. Of course, we all know she has skills... At any rate, yesterday morning I decided to call the vet's office and find out how much a new tag would cost me, because we're out and about enough that its a good idea for her to be wearing one. Naturally, I got swamped at work, and forgot all about it. And then, yesterday evening while we were outside playing in the rain, what do I see? Her rabies tag, of course. Lying on the ground, just a few feet from the deck. I'm sure the storms of the last two days are what brought it into view, but I think its interesting that none of the earlier storms this year did that. Only the one that hit the day I finally decided to replace it.

Happy Birthday!

Duncan is 2 years old today. Happy birthday, Little Man! There will be cake later, I promise.

Friday, July 06, 2007


As promised, a picture of poor, shaved Reyna when she came home from the vet school... Her leg is also shaved under the blue wrap.

She’s slowly starting to adjust to the Pb, although she still has some trouble most days. If I can convince her to take a nap soon after getting her meds, she seems to do a bit better. Of course, that’s next to impossible, so she generally just fights the lethargy. She’s less clumsy than she was last week, but her hips bother her worse than before. She actually fell out of the truck twice today. I may have to see if she’ll start using the ramp I originally bought for Duncan.

Reyna went to the regular vet on Monday for a blood test to check her liver enzymes. The test came back fine, but shows that her Pb levels are actually lower than usual for a dog her size taking her dose. I had left a message last Friday for the neuro about lowering her dose, but after her test, that won’t happen. And to make things worse, she’s had a few mini-seizures since then. They last about 5-10 seconds, and she seems fine a soon as they end, with no disorientation. Of course, that just makes the neuro want to raise her dose, which I’m against. While she would eventually become “normal” on a higher dose, there’s definitely a difference between normal for her and normal for most other dogs. There’s also a difference between normal for dogs that actually do things (such as freestyle, SAR, and rally), and dogs that simply lie around the house all day. Duncan, for instance, would probably show no significant change in behavior if he ever had to go on Pb...

We have an appointment on the 13th with a dermatologist at the vet school, and I’m hoping they’ll be able to run down her allergy and auto-immune issues. Once they run their tests, I want to sit down with the derm, neuro, and regular vet and decide her course of treatment. I know the derm and neuro want to fix their specific problems, but we definitely have to look at the whole picture, and decide whats going to be best for Reyna. After all, I want to have her on as few long-term meds as possible.

Almost Forgot to Post These….

My baby birds flew away (I hope) a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been a bit sidetracked with Reyna and the new job, but I haven’t forgotten about them. They were in the nest on Thursday, June 21, and on Friday, the 22nd, they were gone. I really hope they flew away, but I don’t think they had enough feathers. So, I’ve decided to go with the theory that they were doing some flight training, and Mom and Dad realized they couldn’t get all the way up into the plant, and decided to take them to their second home. After all, Mom and Dad had to be staying somewhere, and it certainly wasn’t in the plant with the babies.

Their extremely cute "Feed Me, Seymour!" pose...

This one was clearly the most assertive of the bunch.

I still think they look like half-plucked chickens.

Wearing only a few feathers the night before they left.

Who knew you could get empty nest syndrome when the babies that leave aren't your own? I have to say, I do miss the cuties, and I had really looked forward to watching them grow up a bit more.