A Sad Day

Today, I let go of my long-time companion and working partner.

A very young Cessna and I stand together. She is wearing her black leather CVC harness.

Cessna was my third guide from the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. We were matched on May 27, 2005, at which time she was only 19 months of age.

Today, I let go of the dog who taught me time and patience can lead to good things.

Due to her young age and spunky nature, we faced many trials and tribulations during the first couple years of our partnership. With patience and understanding, we were a successful team for about eight years. Cessna retired in the fall of 2013.

Cessna and I posing in the deer park. I'm squatting down and she is sitting, while a dozen or so deer surround us.

Today, we let go of the dog who changed our training philosophy.

Cessna learning to close a cupboard door with her nose.

Cessna had many emotional scars, so the training methods taught by her school did not work for us. I was determined to make our partnership work, so began researching alternatives. Through lessons at Dogs In The Park, a local dog training school, I learned about clicker training and positive reinforcement methods. It wasn’t until I learned this new philosophy, that Cessna and I really took off as a team.

Because of Cessna, all future dogs who entered our home have only known positive reinforcement methods.

Today, we let Cessna fly fast and run free!!!

Cessna running threw deep snow. The snow is flying up behind her as she runs.

On Wednesday night, Huib and I returned home from our trip to Victoria to find Cessna in poor health. It appeared she was going through a vestibular episode (also known as old dog syndrome). Phoenix dealt with this when he was 14, almost fully recovering within a few weeks, but given Cessna’s already poor health and mobility, she just didn’t have the fight left in her – she would have been 15 on the 30th.

So we did what was best for her, our duty as her family, we let her go.

I hope Phoenix, Aspen and Logan are there to meet her at the Rainbow Bridge and help her cross over safely.

Phoenix, Cessna and Aspen lying in the grass side-by-side. Cessna has her ears perked up, as though she is seeing a squirrel.

Until we meet again, fly fast and run free our little firecracker!!!

Away Awhile

Boy, it’s been a while since I last blogged.

The tracking and field seasons have started.

In field, Arizona has finally, possibly, overcome the water issue that has been plaguing us for more than two years!!! We have been training for about four weeks now, and she has not refused to enter once – Good Girl!!!

In addition to our usual Tuesday classes, we have started taking Ari to Sunday sessions in Wyebridge. We can’t do it every week, as Huib sometimes needs to work, but we try to go as often as possible. I think it might be helping her, as she’s working around different people and a variety of dogs.

This weekend, we have entered two junior hunt tests. I would love to finish her title, but I’d be satisfied with even just one good quality pass.

If Ari continues to work well in the water, I would really like to have her do her WC (working certificate) in the US, as well as earn her WCI (working certificate, intermediate) here in Canada.

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On the tracking side of things.

All three dogs are facing challenges, but they still seem to enjoy themselves and don’t give up.

With Rogue, we are going to take a step back, and try tightening up her searching and get her to be more persuasive when she knows she’s right. At times, Rogue goes back and forth in a very wide pattern across the track, making it easy for her to miss an article or possibly even a turn. In addition, at times, she is not a confident dog, so I need to work on this. I need her to feel confident enough in tracking, that when she feels she knows we are going one way, versus another, then she needs to put a good amount of pressure on the line, so know what she is telling me. Sometimes, when she is not completely sure, her indications will be difficult for me to read, so I need this to change. Since we will not be entering any tests until the fall, Laura is going to work with us to fill in these gaps we’ve found.

With Arizona. Now that she has her TD, we are introducing hard surface and other urban features. So far, she is doing well, but finds contamination difficult to work with.

Finally, with Canyon. Huib is seeing improvement, but he is still a bit frantic or overly excited. With lots of practice and repetition, I think he’ll be ready to enter a test in the fall.

*****

Usually in the spring we stop obedience classes, but this year we have decided to continue. Ari is doing well. We are working on fronts, stands and automatic sits when I halt. Her stays are great, and her heeling on leash is coming along. I think our obedience work will help us in the next levels of hunt and field, as she will need to start working off leash when coming to line and honouring while the next dog does their first retrieve.

*****

On the breeding front. It sadly appears as though the breeding did not take. 🙁

We did an ultrasound on day 30, and the vet did not see any puppies. Ari seems to show some signs of possible pregnancy, but not enough to be able to say yes or no.

We are leaning towards no though.

We will retry in early December, when Ari comes in heat again. If that breeding is successful, her puppies will be born on, or near, our 13th wedding anniversary, which I think is pretty cool!!!

Stay tuned.

*****

On the personal fitness front.

I had to buy new jeans a month ago, as mine are getting to be way too big. I am now wearing a size 10-12 in jeans, which is pretty darn exciting!!!

I haven’t been swimming too often over the past couple of months, but I have been walking lots and running when I can get out with my guide. Now that the Cessna stress has calmed down for the time being, I hope to return to regular swimming.

To keep Ari fit for future puppies, we have been taking her for brisk walks that tend to be over five kilometres long. She usually goes biking that distance, but since we weren’t sure if she was pregnant, we didn’t want to have her biking.

I entered a 5k race for June 24th, and I am still considering one on the 21st. I just need to get in some more runs, or I don’t think I’ll be ready to run an entire race…

The temperatures are getting warmer, so my body needs to adjust to that as well.

Before I go, here’s a quick update on Cessna and Canyon.

In my last post, I told everyone about how Cessna’s having some health issues. We have chosen to go with palliative care, as opposed to trying to fix things.

Cessna has been taking 100mg of Gabapentin twice a day, along with Metacam in the morning. She also gets her thyroid medication twice a day and a hormone every few days for her incontinence. We had hoped to only use the hormone once a week, but she seems to need it every three days. For her UTI, we have been giving her colloidal silver three times a day. We will be taking in a urine sample tomorrow, to see if the infection has cleared after three weeks of taking the CS.

Cessna has good days and not so good ones. On her good days, Dad takes her for short walks in the park, where she likes to sniff and run around a bit. On her not-so-good days, we keep her safe and comfortable. For now, her bad days aren’t too bad, they just aren’t ones where she should be going to the park. On the bad days, her hind end gives out more and she is more wobbly on her feet.

As for Canyon and his seizures. He has not had one since April 12th, so we have kept him on the same dose of CBD oil, 6.6mg twice a day. This weekend will be a bit of a test, as we need to leave him home with Rogue, while we take Arizona to her hunt tests. Canyon often gets anxious when we are gone for long periods of time, but we’re hoping the CBD will keep the seizures at bay.

I hope everyone is having a great spring. I will try and write more, especially since we’re getting busier with training.

Cessna Concerns & Other Crew News

An update on the members of the ruled by paws crew.

On October 30, Cessna turned 14. Over the past six months or so, she has begun to have hind end weakness and gastro issues. Added to all of this, her fur has become extra patchy and quite thin in spots. Despite all of this, Cessna’s mood has been good, and her activity level has been pretty high, considering her age.

Saturday, we took her to the vet, for an exam, and for a refill on her thyroid medication. A few days before the appointment, Cessna started to look as though she was declining. She was more unstable on her feet and her gastro issues were happening every day. Not sure what to do, Huib and I decided to stop all meds and supplements that were not completely necessary, such as her incontinence medication and golden paste. The incontinence med is known to cause diarrhea and the turmeric paste contains olive oil and appears to have stopped helping. We also switched her from a raw diet to canned Merrick food and steamed/mashed sweet potatoes. For months, we have wondered if the raw food is becoming too rich for her gaining system. We have played around with it, even moving to a pre-made raw, but nothing worked.

When Bianca came into the exam room, she was surprised by how much weight Cessna lost (she’s now about 51 lbs.) and with how thin her coat has become. We explained what has been happening, and described the changes we have been making over the past several months. Bianca suggested we do a blood test to check her levels in a variety of areas, as well as to have a urinalysis done. Huib set up an appointment for the blood draw to be done on Tuesday, as she did not have her thyroid meds early enough for the draw to be done at the exam. She also felt Cessna looked to be having some pain, so prescribed her 100mg of Gabapentin twice a day.

It has now been six days since her appointment, and Cessna seems to be improving. We aren’t sure if it’s because she is actually getting nutrient from her food, as she has not had problems in over a week, or if it’s the Gabapentin. She is moving around better, a lot less wobbly, and she continues to be interested in taking part in household activities. Since she isn’t taking her incontinence medication, she is having some leakage issues, but we just give her a quick wash and change the blanket or bed cover. We are still waiting to hear about the blood test results.

We are prepared for it to be bad news, but as long as Cessna is comfortable, we’re okay with where she is at. She will be 14.5 on the 30th, so we are not going to take any drastic measures to extend her life – it’s not fair to her. We are just going to enjoy the time we have left together. If the news is good, then that’s even better!!!

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I didn’t have an opportunity to post this last week, so we have the results of Cessna’s blood test and urinalysis. Among other values that are off, which can be explained by her gastro issues, Cessna has a very high cortisol level. Bianca said it is sort of like she is on steroids, but actually isn’t. She is concerned that Cessna may have Cushing’s Disease, so scheduled an ultrasound for this morning. Added to this, it looks like she may have a urinary tract infection, so once we have a better idea of what is going on, Bianca will probably prescribe antibiotics.

At 8:00am, we took Cessna to have her ultrasound. Bianca has an internal medicine specialist come in to do the ultrasounds, so we were hopeful he would give us an idea of what might be going on. After the ultrasound, Bianca’s tech brought Cessna back to us and said the vet would like to talk to us before we left. Huib was worried that something was seen on the scan, as it didn’t take them too long.

The good news, and not-so-good news, is that they did not see any problems on the scan. The doctor even took a look at her heart, which they said looks good. Bianca said we can’t totally rule out Cushing’s unless we do some more extensive testing, but given her age, we’re all in agreement that it’s better to just go the palliative care route, treating the symptoms. Once Bianca gets the report from the ultrasound, she’ll give me a call tomorrow to let me know what our next steps will be.

Before we left, she mentioned possibly putting Cess on Metacam with the Gabapentin (for pain), a low dose of estrogen (for her incontinence), and maybe an antibiotic for the UTI. Her concern regarding the antibiotic, is that Cessna had the runs last night, and cannot really afford to lose anymore weight, so she worries that antibiotics will further irritate her gut. I did some research last night on more natural UTI treatments, and learned that colloidal silver can be used. I am going to mention this possibility to Bianca tomorrow. Finally, she suggested we consider trying acupuncture with Cessna, as it is supposed to be a good treatment for pain, as well as in overall body wellness. The clinic’s current practitioner is leaving after next week, so we are going to wait until their new person starts in May.

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In puppy news. We are on day 18 from ovulation, assuming the AI was successful. We have scheduled an ultrasound for Arizona on May 5, so we can find out if she is pregnant. In the meantime, we’re just making sure she doesn’t over-exert herself, so no biking, and we’re feeding her a balanced diet with the appropriate supplements.

Even though Ari might be carrying embryos (at the moment), we’ve continued her tracking, field and obedience training. We want to make sure she stays fit, so we’ve also begun taking her for long walks (at least 5k) every other day, in place of her usual biking exercise.

I will continue to post puppy reports from time-to-time.

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Rogue and Canyon are both good.

Canyon continues to take 6.6mg of CBD twice a day. He had a mild seizure on April 12 – which means he made it 11 weeks without. 🙂

We decided not to increase his CBD at this time, since there were some factors which may have contributed to the seizure. For instance, Arizona was in heat and our weather was extremely unstable – including an upcoming ice storm. Hopefully he can go another long period without.

I’ve got nothing real special to report on about Rogue. She ran with me and my guide runner, S, yesterday evening. It has been a while since she was out running, as I did the race and then life got in the way of my training. We had some gorgeous weather over the weekend, so S and I made sure to find some time for a walk/run.

I used Rogue’s new running leash with her, and it worked nicely. She was a bit excited at first, so I had to keep her close, but after a bit, she figured it out.

S wrenched her knee Saturday, so she wasn’t sure how the run would go, so we decided to do a brisk walk for the first 1.5k. It also gave me a chance to stretch out my legs, since I hadn’t run in a while. We then picked up the pace, doing a light jog and brisk walk combination for the rest of our route. In total, we did 4.8k. We are going to try and get together again near the end of the week or over the weekend.

S has said she would like to do both of the runs I’m considering in June. The Solstice 5k is on June 21, in London, and then the Big Little Run is on the 24, at Guelph Lake. So far, I’ve registered for the Guelph Lake one, but will probably enter the Solstice 5k soon.

Until next time, enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

Arizona, Race Results and Other News

It’s been a bit since my last post.

On the breeding front. We are still waiting for Arizona to come in heat.

We thought she had started, but when we went to the repro vet on Saturday, we learned that she was pre-spotting – OOPS!!! I guess we learned something new. We had thought it was strange that she wasn’t swelling or bleeding as much, but thought maybe we were just not remembering how it all went.

It’s something she has never done, and the smear had some white blood cells in it, so the vet put Ari on 2-weeks of antibiotics – just to make sure nothing develops.

At least the appointment wasn’t a total waste of time. Arizona did get her brucellosis test done. I got a call yesterday to say the results were negative. 🙂

This morning Huib found some fresh blood on our bed, so maybe now she’s really started…?

We’re going to wait a couple of days, then make an appointment with the repro vet, if the blood continues. Breeding is definitely not a stress-free adventure!!!

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Now, for an update on running and swimming.

I have been able to regularly swim 1000 metres, which is VERY exciting!!!

Over the past week, I’ve been doing a mixture of short treadmill workouts and outdoor runs. I had to keep my muscles loose, while not pushing myself too hard.

On Sunday, I ran my first race of the year, and second race ever!!! It was the Around the Bay 5k.

Once D and I met up, we headed over to the start line. We were a bit early, so decided to warm-up a bit – jogging down to the 30k start line and then back. When the race started, we began with a jog/walk interval. My calve muscles were slightly sore the first 1.5k, so we didn’t want to push things too fast. It’s quite normal for my calve muscles to hurt when I start running, so I wasn’t too worried. At about the two kilometre mark, D and I picked up the pace.

Every once in a while, D checked her watch to see how we were doing, and for the most part, we were staying on pace to finish the race in 40 minutes. Our official time was, 41.07!!!

Here’s a picture Huib took of D and I running towards the finish line.

I was really happy with this result!!! I hope to do another 5k in late June. 🙂

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Miscellaneous news.

Canyon is still taking 0.4ml (or 6.6mg) of his CBD oil. So far so good. It has been about 62 days since his last seizure.

I don’t expect him never to have another seizure, but if we can get him down to having just a few a year, then I will be happy.

Rogue has been running with me and my guide runners about twice a week. She has become really good about staying close to my left side.

I currently use an over-the-shoulder leash with her, but I ordered a leash for running on Amazon. The lead is stretchy, so it should be easier for her to run with her leisure harness, and not have it shift as much. Huib added some padding to the girth strap on her harness, which also seems to be reducing the rubbing on her armpits. Before he added the padding, she got a couple strap burns – my poor girl!!!

I think she is really enjoying the runs, so I hope to continue with my new guides over the summer.

The temperatures have been a bit warmer over the past week, so Huib and the goldens have started biking. It was adorable to see how excited Arizona got when I put her reflective vest on. She was totally calm when the harness and light-up collar went on, but as soon as the vest was done up, she started bouncing around, lol!!!

It’s been a few months since they last went biking, so Huib has been taking it slow. The first trip out was about 2km for Canyon and closer to 3 for Ari.

They have gone out three times now, so Canyon is up to 3km and Ari is around 5, but moving quicker. Huib hopes to take them out a couple times this week, especially with the temperatures continuing to climb.

For Christmas, the goldens each got a light-up collar. Canyon’s is blue, while Arizona’s is pink. Huib says they work really well, so along with their reflective vests, I think they are going to be safe.

Cessna is almost 14.5 years old. She still appears to be enjoying life, but we are noticing an increase in hind end weakness. 🙁

To try and keep her safe, we’ve been closing our bedroom door, so she won’t be as tempted to walk up the stairs without us. We’ve also been keeping the gate closed at the top of the living room stairs. Despite this, every once in a while Cessna decides to go upstairs, or gets past us, and runs down or jumps down the last few steps. Sometimes, sadly not too often, she stays upright, but frequently she ends up sliding across the tile on her side or chest, as her back legs give out. 🙁

It’s tough to watch her age, especially since her mind doesn’t seem to be aging at the same rate. Cessna still thinks she’s young, and forgets to be careful.

I think that’s most of our updates from here. Until next time, try to enjoy the spring weather.

A Mix of Human and Canine

What’s new here? I’ve got a mix of stuff to mention, both human and canine.

You would think I’d learn to stay away from nuts, after my horrible gastrointestinal experience before Christmas, but I guess I’m a slow learner. Back in November or December, Huib and I made a trail mix of: almonds, cashews, peanuts, Craisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and peanut M & M’s. After eating almost half a large container over a few days, my system revolted. I honestly felt like I was dying from the inside out. After almost a week of problems, slowly improving as it went, I felt better.

I decided to stay away from the trail mix for a few weeks.

I then got out a tiny snack container and filled it with the mix, thinking it would be okay if I had just a tiny bit throughout the day. I did this about three times, leaving a day between, before my system said “STOP!!!”

You would think I’d learn, right?

Well, I didn’t…

I kind of forgot about the trail mix for a while. but remembered it a couple weeks ago. With my past gastrointestinal problems in mind, I thought I’d try just having a small amount, ignoring the seeds all-together. I had probably five cashews, a couple almonds and about seven peanut M & M’s. I thought it would be okay, but I was sadly mistaken!!!

On Monday, the second day of my system issues, I felt blah most of the day, but finally began to improve around late afternoon. Thinking it had been a while since I worked out, I decided to do a 30 minute treadmill walk at 3.5. My calf muscles were a little unhappy, but overall, it went well. At 9pm, Huib and I decided to head to the pool for a swim. I did 1000 m.

On Tuesday, M and I met for a run at 8:30am. We measured our final 2.2k loop using MapMyRun, and we did about a kilometre every 10 minutes. This is about the same pace as I was running last May, so I’m not too upset with the time.

At 2:00pm, we took Arizona to a new vet for a repro consult. Dr. Jones is a great dane breeder, who also feeds a prey model raw diet, so in addition to talking about what gets need to be done before breeding, we were able to discuss Ari’s diet. Other than adding 1mg of folic acid, just for prevention, she said to keep everything else the same. 🙂

Dr. Jones examined Ari and said she looks to be close to starting her heat cycle. This is about when we were guessing it would begin, so looks like she is on schedule. Once it starts, we’ll count to day seven and then take her in for her first progesterone and a brucellosis test.

Slowly, we are getting people on our waiting list, so it’s beginning to feel seriously real.

Huib signed me up for the Around the Bay 5k race on March 25th. With the iffy weather over the past couple months, I haven’t gotten as far as I had wanted, but I still think the race will go better than my Ottawa 10k last May. I have just under three weeks until the race, so I am going to work hard, and see if maybe I can get a time closer to eight minutes a kilometre. Even if I need to walk from time-to-time, I would like the majority of the route to be done at a run/jog.

*** My fingers are crossed for more favourable weather until at least the day after the race, so i can get some good outdoor training in. ***

On Friday, d and I got together at 4:30pm for a run. We walked to the trail and then across the street to the second part (about a half kilometre) before beginning a slow warm-up jog. He is trying to help me learn how to warm-up at a faster pace than just a brisk walk.

Once we crossed the third set of railway tracks, which meant we were on the third section of the trail, I turned on MapMyRun.

We tried to keep running the same distance, at a consistent pace, and then briskly walk for no more than 45 seconds. According to the app, we did about 3.2k in 28 minutes, with each kilometre taking around 8.5 minutes.

If I can brush off that 30 seconds and run at a consistent pace throughout the race on March 25th, then I will be extremely happy with my performance.

Yesterday, I did a 58 minute treadmill workout that focused on inclines. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, and was feeling good, so turned the speed up to 3.5, thinking I’d be able to do the inclines there.

I was a little to eager…

By the end of five minutes at incline level two, my calf muscles were very sore, so after five minutes at the usual incline (level one), I turned the pace down to 3.3.

My workout went, level 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3, 1, 2.

My calf muscles were feeling fine after I got through incline four, so I turned the speed back up to 3.5 and finished the rest of it. I completed the workout with a three minute cool down at 3.0.

At 9pm, Huib and I went to Victoria Road for our usual swim. The clock at the pool wasn’t working, so we weren’t able to time my first 500 m.

It was busy for most of our time in the pool, so I was sadly not able to work on rolling to the side to breathe. I am still stopping and raising my head to breathe, which often makes me turn and also makes me lose momentum. I did work on my push-offs from the wall, Huib showed me how to better hold my arms/hands, so I become more aerodynamic.

In total, I did 1050 metres!!! My arms were a bit sore the first 200, but after that, I felt good. I think I could have probably done another 100 or so, but we ran out of time.

Today, M and I ran at 8:30am. We did our usual route with Rogue, encountering only one other dog near the end. Usually, we see at least a few. The woman asked if my dog was friendly, and I said “yes,” but kept Rogue’s attention on me, just in case the other dog was not. When the woman saw me using a treat to keep her attention, she said “oh, you’re training her.” I guess she thought I was using the treat to train, and didn’t realize I was using it to keep her face close to my side, and out of the reach of the other dog. After we were far enough away, M said she thinks it might have been the dog who barked in Rogue’s face a few weeks ago, lol!!!

Rogue wears a casual harness and, right now a winter coat, not her working harness, when we’re running, so people can’t tell she’s a service dog – which is part of why I’m so cautious about what dogs say hello.

Our route is about 4.5 kilometres, which usually take about an hour. Today, we made it back to the bus terminal within an hour, making it to an earlier bus than usual, so we’re guessing our run was faster. It was really windy, especially on the second half of each loop, so I felt as though I might have been slower, but I guess I was wrong.

My legs and calves felt good today, but with the wind, I had more trouble catching my breath between runs. I’m hoping that I will some day figure out how to more effectively breathe while running.

About a month ago, we started Cessna and Canyon on cannabis oil from a place called Farmacy in Victoria, BC. Cessna is taking it for arthritis, while Canyon is using it for his epilepsy. I have slowly raised their dose, and they have been taking about 0.2ml twice a day, which for their bottle equals about 6.6mg of CBD twice a day. We had two bad weather weeks, and even though Canyon tends to have seizures during such weeks, he made it through without one!!! Maybe it was a fluke, but it’s been over a month since his last, so the weather issues would have normally caused him to have a seizure, especially with him being so close to his usual schedule. I will keep updating everyone from time-to-time on how it’s going.

It’s been a week since Arizona’s repro vet consult, and still no heat cycle, so I’m guessing it’ll start any day now. It’s when you want it to start, that they take their time, lol!!!

Wrapping Up 2017: Rogue, Canyon & Cessna

Now, onto the other three canines in the ruled by paws crew.

ROGUE
On the service dog front. Rogue has been an amazing little worker. In early April, we went to Banff for a conference. I presented at the International Working Dog Conference, and Rogue was an perfect example of a well-behaved owner-trained dog. I was a bit worried about taking her to Alberta, given their expectation that all service dogs be trained by an organization, but I shouldn’t have worried – we had ABSOLUTELY no issues. I even had a few store clerks compliment me on my little professional.

Our summer was a bit quiet, with me injuring my ankle and being unable to do much walking. Despite the time off, when we went to Victoria in late-November, Rogue was again stellar!!! She was a complete professional, at both the airport and throughout the city itself. Even though it rained a lot, Rogue worked flawlessly. I was a little concerned about the service dog laws in British Columbia, where teams are expected to be ‘certified,’ but I again should not have worried. We did not run into any problems.

In tracking, we progressed in many ways, but title-wise, we were unsuccessful. I entered Rogue in two tests this year. One was in London, in June, while the other was in October. At both tests we ran into problems on the first leg. I was a bit embarrassed by our performance at the October test, where the conditions were beautiful, but Rogue felt we MUST follow a cross-track. In spite of this, I felt we came out of the test with things to work on, so it was definitely worth attending.

Finally, on the obedience front. Huib and Rogue made their obedience debut in late-June, earning her pre-novice (PCD) title in mid-July.

I was SO proud of them!!!

MY GOALS FOR ROGUE
I would like to enter her into both UTD and TDX tests this spring or fall, depending on our schedule. I would absolutely love her to earn at least her UTD in 2018.

Huib hopes to continue with their obedience training, maybe entering a novice test in the fall or winter. Their biggest challenge will be finding the time and motivation to train together.

I love working and training with Rogue, so maybe we’ll see if there’s another performance venue she might enjoy and excel in.

CANYON
Poor Canyon has sort of been neglected this year. He attends field classes with Arizona from time-to-time, but we haven’t done any real competing in anything since before Ari was with us.

He started tracking training in the spring, and seems to really enjoy it. He can be a bit frantic at times, wanting badly to please us, so we’re teaching him to slow down and focus on the task. He seemed close to being ready to enter a test, but we decided to give him another year to train.

Canyon’s seizures seemed better this year. He has had seven, but he went an entire six months without, so we were quite excited about that. We will continue to follow the zero carb diet started in March, and hopefully his seizures will remain absent for longer periods.

MY GOALS FOR CANYON
I would really like to continue his tracking training, and maybe have him attempt to earn his TD in the fall.

I would also like to see if there is another performance venue that might interest him, as I feel like he could go further than he has so far.

CESSNA
Our little old lady turned 14 on October 30th. She continues to enjoy short walks with Dad and appears to be interested in what everyone in the house is up to. Her hearing is somewhat gone, but we really can’t tell how much or how little she can hear, as she also enjoys ignoring us, lol!!! Cessna’s vision also seems more limited, so we’ve started leaving lights on overnight, and have put a carpet on the stairs leading into the living room, so she can see/feel the stairs coming. In addition, her incontinence has gotten a bit worse, so she is almost on a full dose of her medication twice a day.

Unfortunately, she appears to have moderate to severe arthritis. She can walk okay, but does stumble on uneven terrain and sometimes finds it tough to jump onto or off of the couch. Added to this, she has a very large lump that has been slowly growing under/sort of behind her left front arm. The vet and us have left it alone, worried it will become a real issue if we disturb it, but I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll need to do something by the summer. It has taken two years or so, for it to get to this point, so maybe we can wait some more.

My poor old girl…

I really don’t have any goals for Cessna, other than to have her continue to live a good quality life. If I need to, I will begin pain medication, but for now, she seems okay with just her golden paste (turmeric) and other supplements.

Tomorrow, I will share my own accomplishments and personal goals for 2018.

Celebrating a Birthday

Today, the oldest member of our crew has a birthday.

HAPPY 14TH BIRTHDAY CESSNA!!!

You were an amazing partner, keeping me safe for 8 years as my guide dog. Now that you are retired, you no longer want to come on as many road trips, but you continue to keep us company at home. Thank you for all that you have done, and for all that you continue to do.

I shared a couple new Cessna pictures on Facebook. You can find them here. One is a front view and the other is a side view, so that she could show off her new collar. It is a teal nylon flat collar with a navy blue and white paisley design in the middle.

I know I say this all of the time, but it is hard to believe Cessna is already 14. Time sure flies!!!

It was hard to decide on a good birthday gift for my old girl. Cessna doesn’t really play much, and she already has a nice braided leather leash and a warm winter coat, so I chose a fancy new collar and a package of soft, beef flavoured Merrick treats.

Cessna, over the past twelve and a half years, we have had a lot of wonderful adventures together. I hope we have a chance to create some more memories.

Please help me wish my little partner a very HAPPY 14TH BIRTHDAY!!!

An Assortment of Things

A quick apology before I begin, but this post is going to be a bit random.

On Wednesday evening, Huib and I went to Victoria Road’s 9pm fitness swim. We have been trying to go to the morning ones, but on Monday Huib was too sleepy, and then on Tuesday my migraine got in the way. With the unstable weather this month, my migraines have been pretty constant. 🙁

I wasn’t sure how long I’d b able to swim, as I still had a migraine, but I really felt it was important to do something.

I swam 500 metres in 29 minutes!!! That is the fastest I have swam so far!! I then swam another 100 metres before getting out of the pool.

If I keep improving as quick as I have been, who knows what goals I’ll be able to achieve next year.

*****

As of Monday, it has been ten weeks since my ankle injury. With the continued discomfort, we’re pretty sure it was fractured. To ensure no long-term problems, I have scheduled an appointment with our family doctor on the 7th, so we can talk about a possible x-ray.

Laura said it took about 18 weeks for her fractured ankle to feel completely normal, so maybe it will take me a similar amount of time. Sadly, I’m beginning to think I will not be able to do a 5 kilometre run with Jason on Halloween.

Who would have thought I’d actually be sad about not running….? LOL!!!

I will keep everyone posted on my recovery.

*****

Even though I will not be returning to McMaster this year, I applied for teaching assistant positions in the fall and winter terms. I really enjoy teaching and marking, so I hope I am given at least one of the many classes available. Even one term would be nice.

*****

Yesterday, we took Rogue and Arizona to see Dr. Whelan. He’s a doggie-ophthalmologist. I have been taking my dogs to see him since 2011, when I learned that Cessna has tiny cataracts in both of her eyes and Canyon has scarring on his retinas.

Rogue’s eyes are good. He says nothing has changed since she saw him two years ago.

It is always a great relief to hear your guide dog can see, lol!!!

Arizona is also good. She has been cleared of any inheritable eye conditions – YAY!!!

Dr. Whelan did find a fine linear cataract on her right eye, but he said it is not inheritable and he does not suspect it will progress. I asked him what could have caused it and he said “the cells stopped growing and died.” I asked him if it’s just that “shit happens,” and he agreed.

I was really worried that this would mean no future Arizona puppies, but Anne seems happy with the report – YAY!!!

Our next hurdle is the genetic testing. The Paw Print Genetics kit should be arriving soon.

*****

To try and promote further healing of my ankle, I’m taking it easy today and over the weekend as well. I think I might have over-done it last week, as I didn’t feel as much discomfort the week before. I just get so bored sitting around, and we have lots of training to do, if we want to enter field and tracking tests this fall.

Ottawa

This weekend Huib and I headed to Ottawa with Rogue, Canyon and Arizona. Cessna doesn’t like long car trips, so she stayed home with Dad. I think she enjoys her park trips and Tim Hortons’ drive-thru adventures.

Our friend Jess is moving to Victoria, so we wanted to go spend time with her before she goes. Her parents are helping her pack up her apartment, so we stayed with our friend Jason. He has a nice apartment in a really cool area.

The traffic was busy at times, so we didn’t arrive in the city until about 6:00pm. Once the dogs were settled and our bags were out of the car, Jason made us dinner. The rest of the evening was spent chatting, which was quite relaxing.

On Saturday, Jess had a going-away party. I enjoyed meeting her co-workers, friends and the triathlon guides that I had not yet met. The food was also pretty good. 😉 With our three dogs, there were eight dogs in attendance. Jess had her three and then her two friends had their dogs as well. Other than some minor growling when Arizona got too close to a little dog that wasn’t Jess’, the dogs all got along well.

After most of the party attendees left, we went into the living room to enjoy some music. Jason and Peter, Jess’ friend, both played the guitar, while Jess and some others sang along. I think the best part of the whole night was when Jess’ Dad suggested we make up a song – it was hilarious!! I am not very good about making things up on the spot, so my verse wasn’t great, but we all laughed anyway.

On Sunday, Jason went to help Jess’ parents move her stuff out, while she worked. We went to track with our friend, Michelle.

Huib and Michelle laid the tracks, while I hung out with the dogs. Huib laid tracks for Cameron and Canyon, while Michelle laid one for Rogue and Arizona.

Canyon is really coming along with his tracking. Huib thinks that by the end of August, I should be able to take over as his handler. He laid three separate tracks for him, so that they could work on different things within each. Before Canyon got a chance to run them, two different dogs went all over them, so I’m sure most of the treats were missing. Despite the added cross-tracks, he did a really good job!! Huib put a squeaky tennis ball in the glove on the final track, so Canyon could have an exciting reward when he finished.

Similar to last week, Arizona did a nice job. She laid in the shade at a couple of spots, but otherwise I don’t think she ran into any major issues. Ari doesn’t really like the heat, so I think we need to start bringing water on the tracks, instead of just giving it to them at the car.

Rogue hasn’t done a long track in a while, so Michelle laid an awesome one for her. There were three articles and a number of different turns. I didn’t have to help her at all, but I did have to encourage her to keep going near the end. I really should have brought water for her, but I didn’t think she’d need it – Bad Handler!! The first leg or two were in really soggy grass, so Rogue had to work with wet paws, something she hates. We also tracked beside a ditch and then between two culverts. I was VERY proud of my little girl!!

Once everyone finished their track, Michelle did a little drill with Rogue and I. She showed me how to teach Rogue to move in more of a straight line, especially after finding an article. The track always goes straight after an article, so it’s good to reinforce this point with the dogs. I am going to work on this because I find Rogue sometimes porters (goes back and forth over the track) a bit more than I’d like.

After tracking, we said goodbye to Jason and Jess’ parents before heading home. The traffic was really busy in spots, so I’m glad we didn’t end up staying for dinner.

When we got back, Cessna was REALLY excited to see us. I was a bit worried about her because she was limping. Huib thinks it might just be that Dad took her for too many walks while we were away. Her back left leg seems to be the problem. Huib was able to move her leg without her saying anything, so we’ll see how it is on Tuesday. Cessna takes medication for incontinence that conflicts with many anti-inflammatories, so I will need to talk to Bianca if the limp persists. Even if she feels better tomorrow, I will make her relax. She will be sad not to have a walk, but I want her physically healthy before she goes out again.

We had a really good weekend, but I am sure glad to be home.

Progress and Struggles

On Thursday evening we had another obedience class.

Class started with me working in the ring alone. Susie is trying to help me become more confident with the exercises. She is hoping that by practicing each week, it will become less stressful and require very little thought to complete. I do different heeling patterns, walking forward, stopping and turning in various directions. Susie thinks I am looking less uncomfortable each week.

Some dogs, like Rogue, cue off their human’s body language, so if the human knows what they are doing, it’ll be easier to avoid cuing the dog to do the wrong behaviours.

When I was finished, I called Arizona into the ring and we got to work.

Heeling is still an issue, but we have progressed in other areas. Ari did several sit-stays ranging from 15 to 30 seconds long. She stayed in place until I recalled her, and then she stayed until I returned and released her. I also used ‘touch’ to keep her attention off Susie and Huib as they made “beep, beep…” sounds, so I knew where the posts were for the figure eight.

We will get there.

Rogue and Huib were awesome!! Huib has really worked on keeping Rogue’s attention on him, and it has made a huge difference!! He needs to continue working on having Rogue stay until he returns – she gets up as soon as he comes close – but it’ll come. She just needs to learn that when we cue a ‘stay,’ she’s supposed to remain in position, but if we’re just walking around the house, she needs to MOVE.

To add a bit of challenge to our work, Susie suggested we both come into the ring. She had us go to opposite ends of the room and asked us to follow her instructions. Both girls were distracted by the other team. Rogue was distracted by me and Ari, while Arizona was distracted by Huib and Rogue.

We also did a ‘group’ sit-stay. Both girls rocked it!!

Susie says we will do this each week to give the girls some high distraction work. No one is more distracting than your best buddy and your other human.

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Saturday morning was Cessna’s annual vet check. I was worried about the large lump under Cessna’s front left leg. It has grown since last year’s appointment, so I thought Bianca might say we needed to have it removed. We were pleasantly surprised to find out she was not really worried, but said we would continue watching it. I am glad because she’s almost 13.5, so I don’t know if it would be good to do surgery, and I don’t think I could decide against it. Cessna is really happy, pretty healthy, and appears to have a lot of life left in her.

Bianca asked a lot of questions about what we are feeding Cessna and what supplements she is getting. She also asked about any illness or concerns. Cessna has lost a whole kilogram since last year, so Bianca wants us to feed her more and to bring in a urine sample. She didn’t have any concerns when she did the physical exam, but did voice her distress regarding Cessna’s coat condition. I told her it hasn’t changed in the past year or so, even though we have tried a number of different options. We will not be vaccinating Cessna anymore, but Bianca still wanted to run Parvo and Distemper titres, along with a geriatric blood panel and a test for Heartworm and tick-borne diseases. The results from the tests should come back in about a week.

After paying, we took Cessna back to the vehicle, and then brought each of the others in to be weighed. All three youngsters need to lose about four pounds!!

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In the afternoon, we had tracking with Laura.

Canyon was all over the place for most of his track. He found both articles and did some pretty good work the last 10 metres or so. I think it is just going to take time.

Once he gets the idea, he’s going to be great!!

Arizona was amazing!! She found all of her articles, did some surface changes (crossing over sidewalks), and barely overshot corners. Unlike Rogue, Ari only seems to go a foot or two past her corners before she realizes she has lost scent.

She stopped a couple of times to think, but Laura said that’s normal, so not to worry and not to rush her.

Rogue started off really well, but I think having to relieve herself caused some focus issues. She rarely goes to the washroom when not at home, but we fed them after Cessna’s appointment, so I think her schedule was off.

Rogue missed her first two articles, but found the others. She cut corners in several spots, so I think that might have been why she ended up on the opposite side of the sidewalk from her track at one point.

Rogue has had a really good couple of months for tracking, so it was about time for some mistakes.

I’m thinking about entering her into an urban test at the end of April, so hopefully we’ve got our struggles done for a bit.

Until next time 🙂