Monday, March 30, 2009

Cap Update

Cap is now 27 weeks old.

My friend DSL in Virginia asked me to take some ILP-style photos of Cap. I had to wait until I went to flyball practice again because one of the other women in the club shows in conformation--I knew she'd be able to get Cap to stack more or less correctly. I didn't have the right leash but you get the idea.

Cap is now just over 15" at the shoulder--not such a tiny height dog anymore! He's gone through a growth spurt in the past two weeks and his frame has begun to fill out. He's now a hefty 19 lbs! That makes him heavier than all but Gracie, who's a very big girl--she tops out at 22 lbs--and Harry, who weighs 20 lbs. In comparison, Cap's play buddy Mimi is only 14.75" at the shoulder and weighs about 16 lbs.

Anyway, Cap is still too young and not yet neutered so I can't submit the ILP application but I thought I would post the photos and ask you folks the $64,000 question: what breed should I try to ILP him as?

I've spoken to some mini aussie handlers at the last flyball tournament and at the most recent agility trial. The agility people get pretty freaked out if you actually say "mini aussie" since even though that is what they do have, they don't want the AKC spies, who must be lurking everywhere, to hear them say it. One woman actually asked if I was trying to trap her! Good grief.

His back end looks like an aussie but his head looks more like a BC. Squished up a bit, but still more BC than aussie there. Here's a head shot my pet sitter took a couple of weeks ago.

The genetic test results (no, they are not back yet; maybe sometime in 2009?) may not be conclusive. Besides, they couldn't be used for the ILP application anyway.

So, dear readers, what to you think? BC or aussie for the ILP?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cats Are Strange (2)

I was at Target today and found this insanely ticky-tacky "Kitty Clubhouse" for $20. Cheap plastic tubes, thin nylon panels. Hmph, I thought, this flimsy thing probably wouldn't last 5 minutes. But still, I was intrigued. And since cats are at best inexplicable, my opinion of this thing didn't really matter--what would my cats think about it?

Assembly took about 5 minutes.

I placed it next to the fireplace in the living room where we like to congregate in the evenings.

The cats absolutely love it! After he chased Lola out of it, Bix has been installed in the bottom bunk--and is in there even as I write this.

It's fox terrier-sized, of course, since they are a bit larger than house cats, so all of the dogs have investigated it thoroughly as well.

It's cheap and ugly but if this thing gives my cats a new place to play and hide and exercise, it's worth keeping around.

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Little Old Man Harry

It's so easy to anthropomorphize when I am around my dogs for so many hours of each day. While I understand quite clearly that they are animals, they still have deep personalities with many facets.

When Iz died last August, Harry entered a protracted period of mourning. No drama, he just withdrew from the household activity, activity which had to continue even though I too was struggling with my sadness. After taking care of the basics like eating and pottying, he would curl up in another room, always away from the rest of the dogs. This went on for months.

Lately Harry has been behaving very differently. He and Cap and I play almost every morning. No, Harry isn't playing with Cap. The only dog he ever played with was Iz. Harry and I play tug with one hand and with the other I either play fetch or tug with Cap. Harry now gets up in the morning when I do in anticipation of our game.

Harry follows me around the house instead of hanging out by himself. I was washing dishes the other morning and turned to find him stretched out on the throw rug in the kitchen. I don't think he has ever done that before in this house, and I've been here almost two years. He and Dyna were curled up on the wondrous Costco dog bed next to my computer table the other night--he's never done that before either.

Harry and Jack often curl up together at night now (they and Dyna sleep on the bed with me). Given their stormy past, that is almost unbelievable, but I often reach out my hand in the dark to find them back to back, sometimes even spooned together if it is a bit chilly.

Harry detests Cap but I can't say that Cap being here isn't part of Harry's change. I also can't know for sure if part of the change is due to the fact that Harry's toenails are no longer hurting him and are in fact growing back in and looking pretty good, if still really stubby.

And I can't say if Harry wouldn't prefer to have Iz back but fox terriers are nothing if not pragmatic. He appears to have decided to make the best of what he does have: a newly noisy household that revolves around a boisterous, trouble-making puppy.

I would give anything to have my Iz back. It is as painful to think of her being gone now as it was eight months ago. But I too have to be pragmatic. I've got a house full of lovely, lively dogs that need to play and learn and be loved. My wise little old man Harry is helping me along.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's Not Just Mimi...

Mimi's vet sent these to me.

Unfortunately, this is not how Mimi's squirrel fight ended:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Flyball Tournament Hijinks

Many thanks to the Texas Twisters and Electric Dawgs for being such good sports.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Harry's Back!

Only a week late, but here's a short video of Harry playing the only game in town: flyball!

He's 10 and a half--doesn't single step on the way back anymore and a bit slow on the start. But he's as feisty and excited as ever.

He had problems with one toenail all weekend. Stubborn thing bled after every run. But Harry's equally stubborn and I let him run, unwrapped feet and all.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sick and Not Happy About It

I'm sick as a dog. Could be sinus infection, could be flu, could be something worse. I was pawing through my medicines in the fridge looking for something stronger than ibuprofen, which I am not tolerating well now after two days of a steady diet of it.

More than 2/3s of the bottles in there are animal meds.

Human meds? I appear to have most of the major classes of pain killer (because I never take them even when prescribed) but no antibiotics nor anything for allergy symptoms or cough.

I have darvocet. I have tramadol. I have vicodin. I have oxycodone out the wazoo. Totally full bottles, never touched. Not helping.

Bleah. Been down for two days, looking at a minimum of two more.

Post Script. I was having troubles breathing and coughing was becoming terribly painful. Worried that the gombu was getting into my lungs, I finally caved and headed to the critical care place down the main road. They gave me an albuterol nebulizer treatment--ahhh!--plus chest xrays (all clear!), plus a shot of an antibiotic and a steroid in me bum--owww! that combo really stings. Plus new prescriptions for my preferred inhaler and Flonase, which is actually my asthma inhaler designed for the nose. Who ever came up with such a thing? And he said get some Mucinex DM. I'm now all dosed up and ready for bed, looking forward to a decent night's sleep for a change.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Off to Flyball (2)

In six and a half very short hours, we are heading south to Austin for Harry's first flyball tournament since fall of last year.

A couple of his toenails are still iffy but we are going to give it a try. He's certainly excited--he knows what packing for a flyball trip looks like and he's not let me out of his sight since I started pulling gear out.

Dyna and Mimi are at the kennel and the house is very quiet, even with Cap and Gracie running around.

I'm also taking Jack with us on this trip. He's not quite back to his usual self. His mouth still hurts a fair bit, I think, and I want to keep an eye on him over the weekend.

Wish my little old man luck! He'll need it!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Health Worries (2)

Jack had 10 teeth extracted today. Yes, that isn't a typo. TEN teeth.

This traumatic dental event was precipitated when I noticed this past weekend that the tip of one of his canines was broken off. Really, it was more like half of the tooth was gone. He was acting like it hurt, and since these fox terriers are insanely stoic, if they act like it hurts, on the 1 to 10 scale, the pain has to be 11.

Jack went through an episode about 4 years ago where he tried to chew through a wire crate. I finally moved him into the plastic crate he still uses now but the damage had been done. He had fractured nearly all of his teeth.

If the fractures penetrate to the pulp inside the tooth, bacteria find their way in and eventually the tooth dies.

As a result of the wire crate incident, quite a few of his teeth (really, the roots of the teeth) had deteriorated beyond repair or salvage and the only option was to remove them.

Ironically, the broken canine was a healthy tooth with a healthy root and it took almost an hour to extract it. He was under anesthesia for a total of three hours which is a very long time even for a healthy 8 yr old dog like Jack (he will be 8 in almost exactly 1 month).

He's not in great shape right now. He did eat some canned food mixed with warm water for dinner (with his meds cleverly hidden inside). But he's leaving bloody drool wherever he lays his head. His eyes don't quite focus. He totters and weaves like a drunken sailor. He's in quite a bit of pain. His face is swollen and tender. He's having trouble staying warm.

In short, he's a mess.

Harry on the left, Jack's nose barely visible on the right. Jack is under three layers of fleece and on top of fleece covering a dog bed on the couch.

It's going to be a long night as I will probably check on him every half hour or so. (He sleeps on the bed anyway so I'll make him a cozy nest next to me.)

Of course, he will get to go to work with me for a few days, the privilege of sick and recuperating dogs. And he'll get to eat super special food for a while too--I bought one of those roasted whole chickens at the store on the way home from the vet.

In other news, it's been raining since 5:30 this morning. It is much needed and appreciated although we are not dealing with as severe a drought as they are in central Texas. It rained about an inch in 12 hours and has continued to rain steadily since I got home from work.

Post Script: Jack is doing much better this morning. Still pretty subdued and his face is swollen, but his eyes look clear and he's getting that fox terrier spring in his step.

Also, it rained another inch last night.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Fox Terriers

Dyna and Iz, November 2002, days after Dyna arrived by plane from a Pennsylvania rescue group

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I'm Gonna Go Eat Worms

It's spring around these parts. And that means that the residents of the nearby development where I like to walk the dogs have begun to regularly overwater their lawns. And that means hundreds and thousands of earthworms struggle to the surface every night, drowning and desperate for air. They make their way to the slightly drier sidewalk and then tragically expire as soon as the hot rays of the sun hit them the next morning.

Other than poor lawn management and an abysmal waste of water, what does this mean? It means Mimi is now in full worm eating mode.

She won't touch the live ones. No, much too squirmy in the mouth. She only likes the dead, dry, crispy ones that she scrapes up from the sidewalk. She has become so skilled at this that she can scrape up worms without breaking stride, crunching them in her mouth as she walks.

I love my dogs.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Catching Up

Mimi, November 2008

(All the photos in this post were taken by FastClicks.)

It's been a stressful, crazy week at work. But this blog isn't meant for my whining about that. Still, all week long I've only felt like coming home and playing with dogs, not sitting at the computer.

Harry still has one stubborn toenail that bleeds when we play ball in the carpeted dog room. It isn't the horrendous ripping off of his entire nail like we were dealing with back in December and January, but it does bleed a bit. Not sure how it will hold up on rubber matting but we've got yet another week for the cyclosporine to work its magic.

Mimi and Gracie are just ripping it up in class. They are still in separate classes but Gracie is showing so much improvement and focus that I hope she can move up soon.

Mimi in November 2008 (The Unfortunate Incident occurred at this trial but at least the photo is nice)

The table and weaves are Gracie's big issues now. I work her on weave-a-matics at home but at class Debbie also uses a set of channel weaves. For a few weeks, Gracie has been struggling with the classic channel failing: she runs along one side or the other but not in the channel. However, I've been patient and have been rewarding her even if she only does 8 or 10, and I especially reward if she hits the entrance. On Wednesday, she managed to do all twelve weaves with a small channel at full speed within a sequence. It was totally awesome.

Her table problem is odd. She'll nail her landing, brake properly, drop into a sit, but won't hold a down if her life depended on it. Tonight, instead of playing ball, Gracie got to go back to remedial down training. I used my "tiny table" that I built for Iz when she was having table flyoff issues. It's only 1 1/2" tall and 2x2 feet in area. It requires the dogs to really focus on what they are doing. Small improvement after tonight's session, but I plan to work on this regularly for a while.

Mimi is my little agility queen. I used to call Iz that but I think Mimi is earning that title too. She is utterly awesome.

Mimi's first agility trial, Aug 2008

Cap continues to blossom and Circus K9 Ruff Love camp continues. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, I refer you to Susan Garrett's book Ruff Love. While she presents a pretty extreme training method in her book, most of the rest of us use a watered-down version of Ruff Love in real life.

I want Cap to be focused on me, to become obsessed with playing with me. He can't decide he doesn't like this toy and suddenly runs off to get that toy. He doesn't get to decide when the game is over. It is the tug or ball that I select or nothing. Doesn't play with the toy I chose, he goes back in his crate. Doesn't bring the ball back, back in his crate. Doesn't grab the tug fast enough or drops it too soon, back in his crate.

But this presents a perfect opportunity to play crate games with Cap, another Susan Garrett training tool. Tonight, I put him in his crate, left the door open, walked to the other end of the dog training room (about 15 feet away), released him, ran to the target board with the X on it, told him to hit it, and as he flipped off the board, I turned and ran back the other way dragging the tug, which he ran and pounced on. This is a game to build drive and focus.

And the crate is not punishment, it's really just a place for a short time out. I might get another dog out and play for a bit but often Cap only has to wait in there for less than a minute before I get him out for another try.

I am also playing crate games with his dinner since he eats in a crate. I usually have him do all sorts of obedience work but restrained recalls are part of the routine as well. I prepare his dinner, carry it to his crate, open his crate, release him, then call him to me at least 6 feet or more from his crate. I gently hold his chest, say "ready ready ready" and when I feel him tense up or start to push against my hands, I release him and say "get in your box!" and he runs into his crate. This game builds drive too. Technically, these are a sort of restrained send since I'm not calling the dog to me but sending him to the crate, but the idea is the same: run top speed to something/some person to get your reward.

Mimi will literally slam herself into her crate from any angle in her frenzy to get her dinner/reward. I most often practice lead outs with her before she gets her dinner. Cap is starting to show the same appreciation for the crate as a super duper reward place.

G. has been asking if Cap chases the cats. He often charges them or pounces at them but they ignore him. They are far too dog-savvy and world-weary to notice something as annoying as a puppy.

Lola may have lost an ounce or two.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Right On Schedule

The vet said 22 weeks, and Cap is right on schedule. He lost his two lower baby canines sometime in the past 2-3 days, and the upper ones are soon to go.

Cap has gotten noticeably heavier in the past week. I think he is starting to put on adult muscle. I'll have to remember to take him to work one day this week so I can stop by the vet to weigh him.

Cap entered the CircusK9 Ruff Love training camp yesterday. He doesn't get to play with toys of his choice anymore and he doesn't get to wrestle with the girls. It is my game and my choice of toys, or nothing at all. Well, not really nothing. If I decide to separate him, I put him in the kitchen with a bone or a rawhide. He's still teething and needs to chew. After 24 hours of not much at all, he was ready to pop tonight when I got home from work.

I got some amazing X turns and tugging from him, and when I brought him out for a second go, he gave me extremely enthusiastic ball retrieves. He is on the verge of consistently catching a ball thrown at his face. Mimi never misses, but this is a skill that Gracie still struggles to master.

This evening, Cap was much more settled and calm than usual. None of the usual assembly line-like, frenetic toy destruction. Of course, all of the toys are now placed on shelves out of his reach, but rather than pace and fret, he settled calmly at my feet.

I'm not sure how you other owners of tail-less dogs handle this, but I got pretty damned tired of bathing him every time he pooped (even normal poop sticks to his duck down-fine hair, and if it's a bit soft--good god, what a mess), so I have started clipping the fur on his butt way back. It looks weird but seems to eliminate those elimination issues.

Of course, I'm used to the fox terriers who, even at their least groomed, have open clearance from anus to ground. It's yet another difference between Cap and the fox terriers.

Cap on the weekend I brought him back from Austin (January 2009)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Houston, We Have Toenails!

I'm super excited! Harry survived the flyball practice with all of his toenails intact. We were outside running on grass mixed with mulch, which is a pretty tough environment for tender feet.

Just in case, I gave him half a deramax with dinner last night after we got home. He was a tiny bit stiff after the long ride home. This morning, I couldn't see any stiffness and he didn't walk like his toes hurt. In fact, when he heard me playing with Cap, which I usually do right after I let him out to potty as part of our morning routine, Harry got out of bed and came running into the dog room, found a ragged piece of some toy, and shoved it at me ready to play himself.

Harry normally is a big slug-a-bed. He'll sleep in until breakfast if I let him. So when he jumps out of bed ready and rarin' to play, I know he is feeling good.

During practice, Harry was running between 5.0-5.3 seconds. Since he runs slower on grass, I expect him to hit some sub-5.0's at the tournament weekend after next. That means Harry is back in the game!

Harry in 2004 savaging a toy

I intend to stick to my plan and not run him in every race though. I just don't think I can get him fit enough by then and I'm afraid that if I run him when he is tired, he will be more likely to make a mistake and tear one of his tender new nails. And as a bonus, this will guarantee one of our up and coming DITs (dogs in training) some mat time. He and his owner have been working hard to get this slot on the B team.