Tracking Frustrations

This week we didn’t have obedience because Huib had to work late and I have been dealing with some weather-related migraines.

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This afternoon we had tracking with Laura and others. It was quite a large group: Sandy with Stewart, Mary with Cordelia, Annie with Trixie and Maestro, and then us with Rogue, Arizona and Canyon.

It was a pretty cold day, so Mary brought us all hot chocolate, Sandy brought yummy scones and we brought banana nut bread.

Laura laid tracks for Stewart, Cordelia, Rogue and Arizona before we all arrived, so they would have time to age. She then asked Huib to lay tracks for Trixie and Maestro, while Annie laid a track for Canyon.

Stewart and Cordelia went first. Each of them struggled a bit with their track, but did a good job overall.

Rogue went next. She did a beautiful job on her first leg, but then she got lost on her second and third legs. I’m not sure what messed her up, but it kind of frustrated me. I was probably totally over-thinking things, but I kept wondering if maybe we shouldn’t even consider entering the urban test in April. Laura said the area was quite contaminated and not to worry, and Huib feels the wind might have played a part, but I was still a bit frustrated with Rogue’s work – I’m such a bad handler, I shouldn’t have blamed her for the problems… Rogue did a great job on the rest of her track, so she definitely redeemed herself – good girl!!

I’m still not sure I want to enter the test in April, but I think we have a bit of time to decide.

Arizona was next. She did some great work, but then some not-so-good stuff. She almost missed her first article. Then she got really distracted by a bunch of birds, specifically a fat robin, lol!! I think she also found it tough working close to a fence line.

I’m not sure if it was the cold temperatures or the fact we were working in a school yard, but all of the more advanced dogs seemed to face some challenges today.

Canyon had had a seizure around noon, so we did an easy warm-up track to judge how he was feeling. His last seizure was a mild one on February 3rd. Added to the upcoming snowstorm that is forecasted to hit tomorrow, this is about his regular time for another. His seizure was one of his usual ones, with lots of drooling, muscle tremors, fixed eyes, but totally aware of things around him, and a release of his anal glands. Once it was over, he got up and started begging for my lunch, lol!! The warm-up track went well, so we decided to let him do the one Annie laid.

He found both of the articles and did a great job on the final leg, but he was pretty unsettled. I’m really hoping that as he continues to run tracks, he’ll return to his initial focused working that we witnessed a month ago.

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I’m not sure if it’s related to his unsettled work at tracking, but a couple of hours after we got home, Canyon had a second seizure. This one was short, but about the same intensity as the one earlier in the day. I think it might be the upcoming snowstorm that is causing him problems. I sure know it has been causing me issues, with constant migraines and nausea at times.

For both of our sakes, I hope Mother Nature makes up her mind soon and sticks with some sort of weather for a while before changing again.

Busy Bees

The past two weekends have been good weather-wise, so we have been out tracking at the University of Guelph.

Last weekend Laura laid a really tough track for Rogue. She did an AMAZING job!!

The track was on Johnston Green, where a lot of students cut across to get to the corner of College and Gordon. There were a couple of corners where Rogue had to work harder to locate the track amongst all of the other scents, but she idd it perfectly. She has really improved over the past year.

This weekend’s track was a bit easier, but it still had some places where Rogue needed to work things out. I think the toughest part of her track was having to work through areas of slushy snow and puddles. It got up to about 8 degrees celsius on Saturday, so we had a lot of slush.

I am really glad I bought waterproof shoes last month. They kept my feet warm and dry, while also giving me enough traction to navigate the snow, slush and sections of ice.

Last weekend Arizona’s track was around MacDonald Hall towards the hospitality buildings. Laura and I stayed on the opposite side of the road to watch because Huib and Arizona had to cross the road twice. Arizona did a bang-up job!! Other than a bit of hesitation when she had to cross over the road, she really didn’t struggle at all. I love listening to people describe her working.

This weekend’s track was more about navigating the deeper snow. Laura wanted to see how she’d do with the challenge of finding her scent amongst the snow and other people’s footprints. Huib was able to see the track somewhat, so it gave him an idea of when Ari was checking out a cross track or if she was actually on the track itself. Other than taking the wrong direction near the end, she did great!! Ari had briefly indicated the correct direction, but it was such a fleeting indication, that Huib missed it.

Arizona has only been tracking for a year and she is such a different worker now than she was three months ago.

Last weekend, Canyon did a tough track that included pavement, snow, ice and sculptures. His track went through the sculpture garden at MacDonald Hall. I had to do a lot of encouraging, but he did a pretty good job considering how new all of this is for him.

This weekend, Canyon seemed a bit more unsure than usual. He kept running back to us, so I just encouraged him to continue on. Laura says that this behaviour is pretty common for obedience dogs. Canyon hasn’t really done formal obedience trials, but we have been training for them and he also does other dog events, like conformation, so I think her comment is still valid. She said that a lot of obedience dogs find it tough to work on their own, without constant direction, like they don’t think it’s okay to track.

I think it will just take Canyon some time to realize that it’s okay to work things out and to do things on his own, without any cues from me. Once he gets the idea of it, he’ll really excel!!

It has been really good for me to work with him. He is really a different worker than Rogue. I also find he’s less all over the track, so right now, it’s sometimes a bit easier to read him. This may change as he gets more confident though.

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On Tuesday I had my annual check up with my ophthalmologist. Alain wants to keep a close eye on how my optic nerves are doing, so each appointment begins with an O.C.T. (I just know the ‘O’ stands for optical). The images from the O.C.T. will give him a good idea of what is happening and if anything has changed. He wants to keep this record, so that when stem cell research into optic nerve regeneration progresses far enough, he will attempt it with my worse eye. In my left I really only have light perception, so I wouldn’t lose anything if it didn’t work. From the images he got this year, nothing has changed, so he was happy with the results. I had my pressure in each eye tested, but I didn’t have to have them dilated – YAY!!! My pressures were normal. Alain says he checks pressures because it would be a shame if I lost more vision because of something he could have prevented. He’s a pretty cool guy.

It would be really strange to have my full vision back. I wouldn’t mind having more than I do now, but I don’t know if I would want it all…

Unless I run into any problems, I’m good for another year.

We were going to meet one of my aunts for dinner, so we stuck around London after the appointment.

I needed to get a new CNIB card, since mine expires in March – it’s kind of funny to know that the card expires, it’s not like I’m going to stop being visually impaired. The new card should arrive in about two weeks. I hope the picture is better than my last one.

We went to dinner at Dawghouse with my Aunt Tracey. We haven’t seen her in a while, so it was nice to catch up. The food was great!! I had a vegetable stir fry with spicy teriyaki sauce, while Huib had a turkey club with fries and Aunty had a beef dip with a salad. We had a really large lunch at the Mandarin, so I ended up taking half of my meal home. After dinner we went over to Aunty’s place and they opened their Christmas presents. Last year, we had all planned to do a stocking sort of thing, so Aunty had Huib’s name and Dad had to buy for Aunty. We had an ice storm before our Christmas dinner, so Aunty was not able to make it. Huib got an awesome cushion for his chair at the office or in the car, along with a cute moose toque, a big travel mug and some other things that I cannot remember.

Huib is going to look pretty adorable tracking in his moose toque!!

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Friday was obedience class. Susie was quite impressed with the progress both girls have made.

Arizona and I need to continue working on heeling and sit-stays. I also need to get her used to people walking around her for the “sit for examination,” and making a beep noise when we’re doing the figure eight.

Since I cannot see, the obedience judge will have the ring stewards be the posts, making a “beep, beep…” sound as I approach. Arizona thinks this is pretty exciting at the moment, lol!!

I also need to keep working on ‘leave it’ because she wanted to sniff the floor at times, which really got in the way of my ability to remain in a straight line.

Like us, Rogue and Huib need to continue working on heeling and some stay stuff. She is paying more attention to him, dropping her head less, so that is huge progress!!

I think working with Rogue is good for Huib because it will make him a better trainer. He says that unlike the goldens, Rogue really seems to cue off his body. As a result, he needs to pay close attention to what he’s doing and make sure she knows he’s watching. When he doesn’t pay enough attention to her, she will often start tossing behaviours at him, hoping she’ll give him what he wants and get a reward.

From personally working with Rogue, and listening to them work together, I think the biggest thing he needs to do is talk to her more. I talk to her a lot when we are out walking and also while we’re tracking, so that’s what she is used to. I think she gets distracted or thinks she’s doing something wrong when we don’t communicate with her enough.

Rogue is a sensitive girl, so needs to know she’s doing things correctly. I think this communication is needed most when she’s initially learning things, then he can probably back off a bit.

While the girls were learning, Canyon was visiting his friends Mandi and Maddy. Last time we had obedience class, I left him at home, and he had a seizure. We got home just as it was finishing, but it still made us nervous to leave him again. Dad is usually pretty good at paying attention to him, but I think Canyon must have fallen asleep on the couch upstairs, waiting for us to return. i think the seizure caught him off guard, so he didn’t have enough time to get to Dad. It must have been a pretty mild one because when we arrived, he was still on the couch, laying close to the edge. If it had been a moderate or bad one, then he definitely would have fallen off. His head was up, so it was his usual partial one, but it still worried us. As long as Mandi and family are not busy, they have offered to take him while we are at class each week.

We are SO thankful for these guys!! They are so great with the goldens and amazingly accommodating.

Well, that’s a wrap. As you can see, our week was pretty busy.

Field and Obedience

I apologize for the long absence, it’s been a really busy few months.

Over the past few months, we’ve been doing weekly field and obedience lessons with the goldens, and sometimes with Rogue as well.

We’ve made a great deal of progress!!

We’ve been working on: heeling, sitting whenever I stop moving, walking in a figure eight pattern, stays, recalls, and having the dogs pay attention to my body language because in obedience I cannot talk to my dog.

I still need to work on their heeling and sit-stay, but overall the goldens are doing really well.

Rogue has a great stay, but she seems to be confused about heeling, when I’m usually asking her to lead out when guiding, so Susie has suggested Huib work with her and I continue to work with the goldens. Huib has said he’ll do that and I think it’ll b a good challenge for him and a great experience for Rogue.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, we’ll start focusing on field and our obedience lessons will reduce to once a month.

In field, Arizona is doing fabulously!! She no longer hesitates about retrieving the duck, and rarely feels the need to visit the ‘gunner,’ choosing to return to me as soon as she has picked up the duck. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working on her ‘hold’ because she often drops the duck in front of me instead of giving it directly to me. In order for her to obtain her JH (or Junior Hunter), Arizona needs to be able to put the duck in my hand. For her WC (or working certificate) she can just bring the duck back and drop it near me. In order to reinforce the need to give the duck right to me, I’m starting to ask her to ‘sit’ as she approaches and then continue to ‘hold’ the duck until I say ‘give.’ She’s doing it really well at home, we just need to continue practicing it outside of the home.

Canyon has also been progressing well in field, but with his seizures Susie has suggested we not go for titles because he could have a seizure while swimming. We had been hesitant about the water portion of the test for other reasons, mainly because he tends to get hot spots after swimming, so when the seizure issue came up, we fully supported the decision not to work towards the titles.

The incident that highlighted the seizures as a potentially life-threatening concern, was that last night while Canyon was waiting for Arizona to finish her land retrieves, Canyon had a seizure. Usually his seizures only happen when he’s at home and relaxing, not when we’re out and he’s eagerly awaiting his turn. So, once this happened, we realized that his seizures could create a life-threatening situation.

Canyon still really loves field though, so we’ll give him the chance to take part in the lessons, avoiding the water portion.

Rogue does not hesitate to retrieve the duck, so I am working on her ‘hold.’ Currently, Rogue will run over to the duck, come back and toss it at me. I don’t think it will take too long for her to catch on to what I really want her to do. I am going to start by asking her to help me carry things through the house, like I did with Arizona when I was teaching her to carry things. I think in the end, this training will add to her actual skill set as a working dog.

With the warmer weather approaching, our field lessons will now turn into group ones and become our Tuesday evening activity.

Well, that’s what we’ve been up to in field and obedience. I will keep you all posted on our progress and hopefully I’ll get back to regular blogging soon.

Canyon Update

Almost two weeks ago, I wrote about Canyon having a really bad seizure.

We went to see Bianca, his vet, just over a week ago and after some blood tests and discussion, we all decided to wait a bit longer before medicating him.

Canyon had blood taken to run his various values such as calcium, hemoglobin and other things. Each value came back in a good range and Bianca could not find anything wrong with him physically. She gave us some Valium suppositories to have on hand if he experiences another cycle of seizures, but otherwise we all decided that he is young and his seizures continue to appear the same way, so instead of risking his liver we will wait.

Just under a week ago, Canyon had another seizure, but it was much more mild than his usual ones. He let us know it was coming and I sat with him and hugged him until it was all over. If we took away the really long one he had, then this mild one would be around the same timing of his usual ones that were happening about every 3-4 weeks.

We are hoping his poor brain will give him a break and that we’ll get through a couple of weeks without one. I will keep you all posted.

Canyon’s Seizures

As mentioned in earlier posts, Canyon has partial seizures.. He has been having them for about 4 years now, with them becoming more frequent over the past year or so.

Up until this past month, his seizures tended to happen about every 4-6 weeks, so we had decided to keep him off medication. Last January, we started giving Canyon 100mg of Coenzyme Q10, and we aren’t sure if it really does anything, but it also doesn’t hurt anything.

Over the summer, Canyon went 15 weeks without a seizure and we were optimistic.

In early September he had a mild seizure, followed by another mild one 11 days later, but we were still optimistic.

Then, 10 days later, on October 2nd, Canyon had his normal seizure, we still weren’t too worried.

This morning, at about 1:49am, Huib heard Canyon getting out of his crate and felt uneasy about it, so felt him. We immediately got down on the floor and began the waiting game. Canyon often knows when they are coming, so warns us and we usually have between 2-4 minutes to wait before the real thing happens. Once Canyon’s usual seizure took place, he seemed himself and went to get up, but had trouble – now we were worried. I helped him lay back down and over the next 45-50 minutes he went through moments of trembling, just having a rigid body, and acting himself. Never once during this period of time did he lose consciousness or control of his bowel or bladder. It all seemed to effect his motor skills. After about 35 minutes, Huib put a 1mg tablet of Ativan under his tongue and we waited for it to take effect. He appeared relaxed and ready to move after 10 minutes, so Huib offered him a treat and asked for a couple basic cues, he did them eagerly and then started toward the door, so Huib walked with him downstairs and to the backyard. As he took a step outside, he raised his paw over his head and became rigid again, so Huib picked him up, called everyone back inside and then carried him upstairs. He gave Canyon another 1mg tablet of Ativan and hugging him tightly, we waited for his body to relax again. It did around 2:50am. Huib helped Canyon back to his crate (he sleeps in there with his door open) and we climbed into bed. Canyon slept for a couple of hours and then woke me up to go outside. I followed him and after he peed, we returned to bed and he slept until our alarm, at which time he greeted us with a ball, ready to play fetch.

We think it is time to seriously consider medication. We have made an appointment for 4:00pm this evening with Bianca, their vet. I am hoping she can suggest a medication that won’t make him extremely drowsy and hungry all of the time, but in the end, we just want our golden boy better.

I will keep everyone posted on his progress.

Vet Check

Last week the dogs had their yearly check up with Bianca. Since we always bring the four in together, she set aside an hour and a half for them.

Cessna was checked over first. Bianca was a bit concerned about her coat condition and that she’s gained a couple of pounds since November, but otherwise she said Cess looks good. We already knew something was up with her thyroid levels, so Huib suggested having her dose raised and then do the blood draw two weeks later. Bianca agreed with his suggestion and gave us some new meds to try.

Next it was Arizona’s turn. Bianca hadn’t seen Ari since the fall, so she was quite impressed at how much she’s grown and matured. Ari had no problem letting Bianca check her over, but wanted to see everything and sniff anything Bianca put near her, lol! She also cleaned Bianca’s ears and face, so it was a good exam for her. Bianca had no concerns, so gave Arizona her first rabies vaccine and drew blood for a Heartworm and Lyme test.

Rogue was also due for her rabies vaccine, so after getting checked over she got it and had some blood drawn for titres and the Heartworm and Lyme testing. Bianca had no concerns at all with Rogue.

Finally, it was Canyon’s turn. She wanted to do another CBC as well as titres and the Heartworm and Lyme test, so we let her do them. Canyon had a CBC done in January and his red blood cell count and haemoglobin values were off, so Bianca wanted to check them to make sure they were better. With golden retrievers you have to worry about mass cell tumours, so that was mainly why Bianca wanted the blood test redone. We also talked about Canyon’s seizures and since they seem to be happening every 4-5 weeks she said she is comfortable with leaving him off meds for a bit longer. She isn’t sure if the Coenzyme Q10 is doing anything, but it also can’t hurt, so she wants him to continue taking that. Otherwise she just asked me to keep writing things down and to let her know if things change. We asked her about giving him fish again since his seizures don’t seem to be related. She agreed and said that she would like us to wait until after his next seizure and then try fish to see what happens.

It was nice to know everyone is healthy.

Canyon’s Seizures

Back in May I blogged about Canyon’s partial seizures. I talked about the difficulty we had diagnosing the problem, about the details of the seizures themselves and about what Bianca (our vet) wanted to do about them.

Since May, Canyon has had five more seizures.

they are still the same length and the symptoms are all the same, but unlike other years they are happening more frequently.

One thing I am noticing, maybe it’s just a fluke, but whenever I have my major migraines – the ones that last more than a couple of days – he has a seizure. Twice now that I can think of, Canyon has had a seizure the evening of the second or third day I am dealing with a migraine. Maybe it’s a fluke, as I mentioned, but I’m keeping track of it anyway because it may help us find a preventive medication if one becomes necessary.

On Wednesday we took Canyon to see Bianca. We had already decided that we were okay if she suggested keeping him off medication, but we wanted her to check him over and to do some blood work if she thought it might tell us something.

Bianca looked Canyon over and couldn’t find anything physically or neurologically wrong. She has taken some blood to run a variety of different tests, including a number of different thyroid related ones. Hypothyroidism is common in labs and golden retrievers, so Bianca wants to see what his values are like, just in case his thyroid could be a potential cause for the seizure increase.

I brought her a seizure journal to look over, where I recorded a variety of different things from the time it started, what he was doing before to what happens during and after the seizure. I have also joined a canine Epilepsy group on Yahoo, so I told her about the recommendation of Coenzyme Q10. She said it couldn’t hurt anything and said he can take 100mg a day. We went to Costco on Thursday and picked up some Coenzyme Q10.

We are also filling out a homeopathic intake form and canyon will most likely start some sort of homeopathic regiment following the analysis.

I will keep everyone posted.

Time For Annual Check-Ups

On Saturday the dogs had their annual check-ups with Dr. b.

Canyon was first. He had two years of good titers, so Bianca said we could skip them this year along with the Heartworm testing. She then asked us if we have any concerns and we told her about the episodes Canyon has been having. we told her that we’ve finally figured it out after 3 years, it is not a leg cramp like we had originally thought. It took us (Bianca included) 3 years to figure out what was happening because it is not a typical kind of seizure.

The episodes started in October of 2011. We had recently come in from a long game of fetch and while Canyon was chilled out on the kitchen floor, he started to flip out, as if he was in pain. After struggling to restrain him, we finally figured out that something was up with his left hind leg. he was able to move everything else, and he was totally aware of what was going on, but he couldn’t seem to extend his hip. It lasted only minutes and didn’t occur again until the following october, when they happened twice, about three weeks apart.

Bianca couldn’t make a definitive diagnosis because the symptoms, the frequency and after effects are odd. Other than some increased clinginess beforehand, a slight increase in drooling, some muscle twitching and a release of his anal glands, Canyon is completely normal during and after the seizure. It lasts about 5 minutes from start to when he gets up and grabs his toy to parade around again. he doesn’t loose consciousness, he isn’t incontinent and the muscle twitches only seem to impact his back end, so it took a while for us to figure it out.

This past September Canyon had another seizure, and then at the end of February, end of march and then about a week ago, he had them. Since they seem to be happening more often, we’ve finally figured out what they are. we did some research on seizures and it looks as though Canyon is having Partial Seizures.

Bianca feels as though we are doing everything we can at the moment. She is going to retest his thyroid levels in November because she said the results were on the low side of normal and that Hypothyroidism can cause seizures, but that for now we’ll just monitor things. Since we did note that he had had fish within 24 hours before having at least two of the seizures, Bianca has instructed us to eliminate all fish, except his Omega 3 supplement, from his diet. the only other thing we can also pinpoint as a possible trigger is anxiety and/or stress, so we’re going to try to limit that, but of course it will be impossible to totally avoid.

We are a bit worried about this diagnosis because from our research, it looks as though it is common for Partial Seizures to worsen and become Grand Mal Seizures. Bianca doesn’t want to start Canyon on medication yet, and we agree, because the medications cause liver damage, he’s not quite 5 and the seizures aren’t too severe, so it’s better to wait.

Other than Canyon’s Atypical Seizure Disorder (Bianca’s name for them) we were also a bit concerned about the scar on his eye lid from the surgery back in October. It seems to have grown a bit and it looks as though something is trying to come out. Bianca gave us a homeopathic remedy, Silica, to give him for 7 days and she hopes it will promote the rejection of whatever is bothering the area. Both Huib and Bianca think that it is possible Canyon’s body is rejecting the internal stitches that should have dissolved on their own months ago. She said that if it gets any worse or doesn’t go away soon, that we should bring him back and she’ll probably lance it.

Next it was Rogue’s turn to be examined. Bianca said that we could also skip the titers and heartworm test for her because of previous results. She said that Rogue looks amazing and began asking us questions about where we got her.

after Rogue had finished giving Bianca tons of kisses, it was Cessna’s turn to be checked. She needed her thyroid checked, since she’s already got Hypothyroidism and is taking Levo-thyroxine, but Bianca gave her a pass on the titers and heartworm test.

Bianca was surprised to find out that Cessna is already 10.5. She said that she is in wonderful shape, but that she thinks we should increase her Glucosamine because her elbows seem a bit stiff and her knees are a little crunchy. She said that Cessna doesn’t seem to be in any pain though, so she isn’t really concerned.

this year’s vet visit was pretty successful. all of the dogs are healthy and at good weights: Canyon is 73lbs and both Rogue and Cessna are about 61lbs.