Saturday, September 26, 2009


Mary, Duncan and I spent the day at the AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day event. We were there to work the German Shepherd Dog Club of Greater Raleigh table, and we shared our space with the German Shepherd Rescue. Duncan was, as always, an excellent ambassador of the breed. He was very well behaved, and was loved on and admired by just about everyone who stopped by. Duncan even took a few minutes to show off a few of his freestyle skills and his very focused “stay.” We did take some time to check out the other booths and watch a few demonstrations. The AKC had dogs showing off obedience, rally, agility, flyball and herding.

Duncan in front of the first table we set up. We ended up moving to a different table so we'd have more room.

Mary and Duncan at our table. Duncan actually has both front feet on my chair.

Taking a break to love on Mom.

Duncan was not the least bit interested in taking a cookie from the strange person in the dog costume.

The day was a lot of fun, although Duncan and I were both very happy to get home. After a quick round of playtime with Reyna, Duncan zonked out on the couch for a couple of hours. Hope he gets plenty of rest tonight, because he’s got herding practice first thing tomorrow morning!

Friday, September 25, 2009

You Know...

New windshield wipers can really change your outlook on life.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good Times

Its so great to have Reyna feeling better again! We had a fun weekend, and most of it, we couldn’t have done (or at least not enjoyed nearly as much) before she got her new hip.

Saturday morning started with an early herding session for Duncan. The poor dog, he was so confused at one point, and it was all my fault. By the time the session was done, though, we’d both figured out what we were supposed to be doing. Of course, he’ll probably retain the information better than I will, but as long as one of us knows…. The trainer and I talked a bit more about working Duncan on boundary herding, but I think we’ll hold off on that until the new year. We’ve got to at least get past the three upcoming trials before we throw in something new. The trainer also mentioned that Reyna might be a good candidate for boundary herding – she could work as much or as little as she chose, and she wouldn’t be able to get close enough to eat the sheep. Something to think about, but again, not until the new year.

After we got back to the house, I decided to take Reyna for a short walk so Duncan could eat his breakfast in peace. I’d intended it to be a short one mile meander since it was starting to get warm, but it didn’t work out that way. Instead of walking through the neighborhood, we went down the shoulder of the main road – I figured we’d do some “leave the car alone” practice while we were out – and on our way back, we saw a road leading into the woods. I know there are several roads/paths that lead into the woods behind our cul-de-sac, so I figured we’d take a more scenic route home. But I forgot to factor in Reyna. We got to a split in the road, and Reyna very intently and deliberately took the left path. Now, I knew we needed to go right to get home, but I thought the left fork might take us to the big sand pit where we typically start our tromps into the woods. Boy, was I wrong. It actually took us all the way around to where we generally turn around and head back home. Of course, Reyna found the only big puddle out there, and promptly covered herself in some nasty, stinky muck. So, two and a half miles and nearly an hour after we left, we made it back home. Reyna wasn’t at all bothered by the long walk (or the bath she received immediately after), and I think that was mostly due to the soft surfaces. She still shows a bit of strain when I push for two miles in the neighborhood, even though she tries to walk through yards for most of that.

Sunday, we went over to John’s so the pups could run in the pasture. I think we were there for about an hour and a half, and it was starting to get a bit warm. This was the first time that it was very clear that, while she’s moving easily again, Reyna does not have the stamina or endurance that she used to have. She ran and played and barked at the Horses!, but she also spent a fair bit of time resting next to (or in) her water bucket.

When it seemed like she was pretty much done trying to aggravate the Horses! (who were almost completely ignoring her), I took the pups for a stroll through the woods behind John’s house. He hasn’t done any clearing out there lately, so we had to fight our way through some tall growth, but we had a good time.

Reyna found the stream, naturally, and managed to get a bit more muck on her.

The sure sign that Reyna was finally tired was that when we got back to the barn, she didn’t make any effort to go back at the horses – she went to the back of the truck, instead, and waited for me to open it for her. When we got home, she actually crashed for almost an hour and a half. This morning, I could tell Reyna was still tired, but she wasn’t limping at all. I really like her tired. The hopeful part of me thinks maybe this will become more common, because she is getting a bit older, after all. The realistic part of me figures its only temporary until she gets back in shape. But I really like her tired.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I know the calendar says Fall doesn’t officially start for a couple more days, but it’s already happening here. Yesterday, I noticed the first leaves of the season on the ground. I am so ready for Fall to really take hold. The cooler nighttime temps of the last few weeks have been wonderful, but it’ll be even better when they drop another 10-15 degrees. And the daytime temps are just too waffly right now – a nice stable 68-70 degree high would be lovely, thank you very much. The dogs love playing in the cooler air, and I’m really enjoying the lower power bill. And as long as the cats have a patch of sunshine to snooze in, they’re happy, too.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fun-Filled Friday

Some of you may recall when I had a cyst removed from my right wrist, back in 1996. It was a very much horrible experience. Along with the pain, the sausage fingers, and the crying, I remember being so mad at Rob because he wouldn’t shut up and let me rest. I had to call Sam and ask him to come back to the dorm, because Rob had to leave. And why did he have to leave? BECAUSE HE WOULDN’T SHUT UP. Sam knew enough to just watch a movie and leave me alone. Then, in 2003, I had a cyst removed from my left wrist. Done by the same doctor, too. Still a very much unpleasant experience, but not nearly as traumatizing as the first surgery. I think the doctor used better drugs the second time. More importantly, I got better drugs, too.

All of which brings me to this afternoon. A new cyst appeared on my left wrist several months ago (in fact, I also have a small cyst on my right wrist, but as long as it doesn’t cause any problems, I’m not going to worry about it). This new cyst recently started causing some pain in my hand, particularly along the line of my index finger and thumb. So, back to the doctor I go. I had to be there at 3:00 for a 3:15 appointment. At 3:30, the nurse took me to an exam room. At 4:05, the doctor decided to pop in for a quick visit. After poking, prodding, twisting, squeezing and manipulating, he determined that, yes, indeed, there’s a cyst on my wrist. He made a very manly effort to pop it, which resulted in nothing more than an overwhelming desire to smack him silly. But I resisted. At 4:10, the doctor was gone and my wrist was being x-rayed. At 4:25, the doctor was back with the x-rays. Apparently, I have the hand and wrist of a 14 year old (a 14 year old with a cyst, but still... And yet, I have the knees of a 55 year old. Go figure.). At 4:33, a nurse was scheduling my surgery. A long wait for a whole lot to happen real fast. The end result is that I go to the hospital October 6 to have the cyst removed during outpatient surgery. They could have done it September 29, but I don’t want my arm in a splint for the herding trial that weekend. Gotta have priorities. With luck, we’ll have a repeat of the 2003 surgery, and not the 1996 trauma. And good drugs. Lots of good drugs.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Working Dog

Now that Reyna’s doing so much better, I’m able to focus more on the fun stuff. In Duncan’s case, that means sheep herding. We’ve been practicing when we can and thankfully, Duncan doesn’t forget what he learned between sessions. He’s been doing so well I’ve entered us into three trials between now and the end of the year. October 2, we’ll be in Denton, NC, trying to earn our Junior Herding Dog (JHD) title. October 31 and November 1, we’ll be in Rougemont, NC, and December 5-6, we’ll be in Sanford, NC. We’ll be working towards our Pre-Trial Tested (PTT) title during the last two trials. The JHD is through the American Herding Breed Association (AHBA), and the PTT is through the American Kennel Club (AKC). So, similar, but different. If we earn our PTT at Rougemont or the first day in Sanford, we might bump up to the next level, which would be Started (HS) – I just have to figure out if I’d rather run Course A or Course B. Eh, well...I’ll worry about that later.

Monday, September 14, 2009

We Has A Happy

I’m not sure who is more excited – Reyna or Duncan. They both got new balls Saturday. Reyna has a shiny new basketball, freshly punctured and partially deflated. She’s more than happy to run after it, but she’s also decided she really enjoys just laying down and licking it. Duncan got a new purple jolly ball, because Reyna managed to destroy his old red one after her last basketball was taken from her. Duncan can’t figure out if he wants to chase his jolly ball or harass Reyna when I throw her basketball, so he runs back and forth, trying to do both at the same time.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Its been a long road, but we’re finally at the end. From surgery to release, it was over 4 months. Nearly 18 weeks. 124 days. A third of a year. Of course, as someone pointed out yesterday, I’d have been really annoyed to spend so much money and have the whole thing over and done with in just a few days. After all, if it was that easy, it shouldn’t be so expensive. But it wasn’t that easy, and it was so expensive. And frustrating. Heart-wrenching. Nerve-wracking. Terrifying. I sincerely hope we never have to go through anything like this again.

As difficult as it was, though, I know it could have been so much worse. We were very lucky in that we didn’t have any major complications. The set-back in July really only cost us a month. I also know this would have been harder without the help and support of so many people. Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to the success of Reyna’s hip replacement, whether financially, physically or emotionally. Reyna may not appreciate what you’ve done for us, but I do.

And speaking of Reyna...she is truly enjoying her new-found freedom. Her first night, Tuesday, was a bit rough, but that’s because she had to relearn a few things. When I told Reyna to go to bed, she was a bit confused because I’d already put her crate back in the garage. It took her a bit to realize that I meant she could sleep on either of the beds, or the couch, or the chair, or even the floor. She also had to figure out that, even though she could see out the kitchen windows for the first time in months, she really didn’t need to bark at every single thing that moved or flickered. That one took her a while, but she was pretty well settled down by midnight.

Yesterday was so entertaining. Reyna met me at the hall door in the morning with her entire body wagging. She got confused again when I took her out the front door to start our walk – she hasn’t gone through that door since the surgery. We spent the evening in the back yard, me in a chair with my book, and the pups running themselves ragged. Reyna and Duncan chased each other around the yard for almost 30 minutes before collapsing for a brief rest. Duncan is so excited that he’s allowed to play with his sister (and that I’m not fussing at him for trying). Reyna also had a great time barking ferociously at some of the neighborhood children, now that she can see through the front door again. All in all, this freedom thing is definitely a blast. But the best part - the absolute best part - is that Reyna isn’t hurting anymore.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


I am pleased (excited, thrilled, ecstatic, overjoyed) to announce that the surgeon has given Reyna a clean bill of health and said that she is free to go forth and be a dog! No more confinement, no more restrictions other than basic common sense (no seven mile treks through Umstead Park until we’re actually in shape). Reyna is allowed to run, jump and play to her heart’s content. I’m sure that will result in some soreness while she gets used to doing those things again, but we can deal with that. The surgeon said that the implant looks perfect, with no shifting or slipping, and that the fissure that occurred during the surgery has closed nicely. Interestingly enough, the surgeon also said that they can tell she’s really using her new hip – they did a muscle atrophy check, and there is now more atrophy in her left (non-surgical) hip than in her right. I’m glad to know the new hip is doing its job.

As a counterpoint to the trazodone video, I took this little clip shortly after we got home today. Its about a minute, but Reyna is doped on the seriously good drugs that they use when they need get those unpleasant hip x-rays so she's moving a bit slower than usual.

As I’m typing this, Reyna is semi-conscious beside me. Notice the tongue...


Reyna’s at the vet school this morning for her check-up and x-rays. The surgeon was upbeat about the likely results, but couldn’t say anything certain until after the exam. So, Duncan and I are waiting, again. Hopefully, we’ll have a definite answer by early afternoon.

Monday, September 07, 2009

"Calm" Is Definitely The Word I'd Use

Reyna's been on Trazodone since her surgery, originally getting 100mg twice a day. The surgeon put her on the drug to keep her as calm as possible during her recuperation. When we had our setback in July, the surgeon increased the dose to 150mg twice a day, which is the absolute most my 75 pound girl can safely have, and a higher dose than most people take. I noticed the other day that the bottle actually says "calming agent" on it. That started me thinking about just how calm she's been for the last couple of months, so I decided to get some of that calmness on video. This clip was originally nearly two minutes, but I cut out about 40 seconds of her staring obsessively at Niko.

Remember...."calming agent."

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Almost There

We hit 17 weeks post-op tomorrow. I’d love to say that everything is going great, but I’m afraid to be too enthusiastic. It seems like every time I get confident that we’re going to make it through, something else happens. I’m going to go with “cautiously optimistic,” I think. That should be safe enough.

The neighbor has been allowed to live. Reyna limped Thursday and Friday last week, but by Saturday morning she was moving nicely. We didn’t walk while she was limping, but we have the last few days, and we’re up to almost a mile per walk. The cool weather has been a huge benefit, and both pups are feeling very frisky. Reyna’s been wanting to play outside a lot more, and I’ve been letting her as long as she doesn’t get too crazy. Course, she’s not really the problem - Duncan is. He wants to play like they used to, and he hasn’t quite figured out what’s allowed and what isn’t. For example, running circles around Reyna and rolling on the ground is allowed, but grabbing Reyna’s back legs and pulling is not. You’d think the distinction would be fairly clear, but apparently not to Duncan.

We have less than a week to go before we see the surgeon. I so hope he releases Reyna to be free and live her doggie life. We’ll all benefit from that (except maybe the cats). We just have to make it through five more days without any major problems. It sounds easy, but...