Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Ivy's Agility Debut

I am pleased to announce that Ivy has made her agility debut.  She competed on 03-16-2019 and won both of her Novice classes.  I could not be any happier with her.

I thought there was a chance she might introduce herself to the judge and ring crew, but she was all business on course.
I typically take a year or more to start competing my greyhounds.  I like for them to be more than ready and to quickly work through the Novice and Open levels.  Ivy has quickly progressed in the last nine months.
*Side note - I just can't write as much as I used to.  I have carpal tunnel in my right wrist.  I had surgery in July.  It did great for 5 months, but the symptoms are returning.  Since I have to work on a computer, I am limiting what I do personally on the computer.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Shoulder & Nails - Maddie

I took Maddie for another ultrasound and finally got a good report.  It had been 3months since the last one so it was going to be a big let down if there was not a big improvement.
So she is allowed to trot now.  4-5 days a week she gets to add 3 minutes of trotting to her walks. Periodically, we get to add another set of trotting to each workout.
Maddie was quite thrilled about her first trotting session.  She was all over the place!  I even fell down on a slippery patch of wet leaves.  My friend, Lou, and I laughed so hard we could barely breath.
Unfortunately her nails continue to be an off and on issue.  They are all discolored, crumbly, and they stink when I dremel them.  They are not infected, but have a weird smell.  It reminds of the smell when shoeing horses.  That hoof smell.  
Unfortunately they cause her to be lame off and on.  So we will continue to take it slow.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Up and Coming - Ivy

Ivy and I have been working hard at agility training.......... but also taking it slow.  We have been at it for five months and I think she is progressing quickly.
Ivy's weave poles are fantastic!  She learned them faster than any of my other greyhounds thanks to the 2X2 method.  Her footwork wasn't perfect, so I brought out my channel weaves just an inch or 2 apart to help her figure it out.  It was amazing because I did not need guides. She applied her 2X2 skills and progressed fast.
And despite what Susan Garrett says on her 2X2 DVD, you can absolutely use food for the entire process.  I used one sandwich cheese slice for each training session.  I cut the slice into 9 squares that were very easy to see on the grass.
I finally got some video of Ivy from a few days ago.  The first part is from my backyard and the second part is on a new field.  I thought she did great!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Shoulder Progress & SLO - Maddie

Maddie returned to the ultrasound vet at the beginning of October.  I was scolded for not following Dr. G's program of walking 15 minutes twice a day.  It is just not reasonable though.  I leave for work at 5:30 AM.  My neighborhood is not a great place to walk and if I drive to a park, we are going to walk more than 15 minutes.  I also have three other dogs and a full-time job.  And I am rehabbing her for retirement which is not the most inspiring goal.  Regardless, the ultrasound showed that Maddie was healing (maybe not as fast as Dr. G wanted), but healing nevertheless.  She increased our exercise to 20 minutes twice a day (still not doable) and said to return in 4 weeks to see if she could start trot work.  So obvious we have progressed in the right direction despite my inability to adhere to the plan.
And then Maddie lost a nail and not from trauma because she has been on a leash since June.  And another nail on the other foot was separating from the quick.  Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodytrophy (SLO).  Yay.  Great.
We ran a ton of blood work just to see if it could be something else.  None of it suggested a reason to cause her nails to fall off so SLO is a likely conclusion.

So I am not sure what is in store for Maddie at this point.  We have been able to resume our walks and nosework.  I just want the poor dog to be a dog again.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Rehabbing for Retirement

Unfortunately, I am retiring Maddie from agility.  Her right shoulder is trashed.  I took her to Aiken, South Carolina for an ultrasound.  It was a 3 hour drive, but the best available to us and I would agree that it exceeded my last experience.  The official diagnosis is:
  1. 1)  Right biceps tendon has mild fiber damage.
  2. 2)  Right bicipital bursa and shoulder joint have effusive and proliferative synovitis.
  3. 3)  Right supraspinatus lateral insertion has moderate fiber damage.
  4. 4)  Right infraspinatus has active fiber damage at insertion.
  5. 5)  Right glenohumeral ligaments have moderate fiber damage.
And in layman's terms:

The ultrasound showed quite a few changes probably secondary to a prior (undetected/untreated) injury to her shoulder. Both the shoulder bursa and the lining of the joint showed inflammation which has caused fluid to build up within the joint. Many of the ligaments and muscles showed chronic inflammation and damage. One of the muscles showed active inflammation which indicates the shoulder is no longer stable and is continuing to deteriorate.
The sad thing is that the vet found all that even after I had rested Maddie for 5 weeks.  At one point in the ultrasound I asked "does anything look okay?"  Each area investigated she was pointing out more damage, more injury.  

Maddie is barely 6 years old and I just will not cripple her for more agility time.  I want her retirement to be active like Riley's retirement especially since it could be 3 times longer.  So I will continue with the rest and rehab protocol to heal her as much as possible so when she is 12 years old, she is still hiking too.

So my take aways from Maddie's agility career are 2 things.  One, is that you need to be careful with rehab/chiropractor vets that want to approach every issue with a chiropractic adjustment.  I took my perfect, clean slate puppy to a rehab vet on a regular basis as a preventative measure.  I was hoping the rehab vet would catch problems early so we could address and avoid permanent damage.  The rehab vet did indeed find her shoulder problem early and often.  In fact, prior to the MGL tear finally being diagnosed last year, Maddie indicated shoulder pain at least EIGHT TIMES since she was 2 years old.  I asked the rehab vet why we had ignored it and she said that she was not limping.  Really?  I can wait for limping for free!  The point was to catch it before she was limping!  Each time Maddie indicated pain on her exam, it was brushed off as just a normal athlete ache or pain.  I am so mad at myself for just accepting that as an answer.  I agree that anyone participating in a sport is going to have their issues, but at the very least her shoulder should have been investigated when the shoulder pain presented itself more than once.  
So then after resting and rehabbing the MGL tear last year, Maddie competed for 5 months.  Then in May of this year, Maddie started to show significant lameness when she had rested a few hours after a workout.  She would warm out of it, but it was too significant to ignore.  The odd thing is that we were not finding anything consistent on exam.  

The second take away is that I have always felt like Maddie was holding back a little.  She was slow off the start line especially in Jumpers, had sporadic problems in the weaves, and lacked pizazz at times.  Well, of course she did!  Her shoulder hurt!  So I am sad that I was always wanting a little more from her not realizing what she was actually giving me.  So with that, "Maddie, I promise to do everything I can to make sure you are healed as much as possible so you have a long and active retirement. Thank you." 
Friends, if you do dog sports, learn to examine your own dogs.  The "Care of the Racing Greyhound" book has a detailed exam.  There are videos on Youtube, seminars, and ask friends more knowledgable than yourself to show you.  Since Maddie's MGL tear last year, I had made it my mission to learn how to examine my own dogs.  I am probably still not great at it, but I now have an exam that I have pulled together from a variety of sources.  It is awkward at first, but you get better at it and develop a routine.  Practice on your young dogs and your retired dogs.  The retired dogs will have issues for you to feel and look at.  They are good practice.  But if you are worried about something, it is so nice to be able to put your hands on your dog right away rather than wait for an appointment.  Plus you should know your dog better than anyone.  If you do regular exams, you will know the dog's regular range of motion, temperatures, and overall feel. Leave the diagnosing to the vets, but it is nice if you can arrive at  your appointment being able to say "I am finding pain and heat here".  Or if you are asked, "has this always been this way?" you will know the answer.

Probably not as important with other breeds, but if you work with greyhounds, take pictures of their feet once or twice a year.  Especially when they are young and perfect.  I can't tell you how many times I've referred back to foot pictures wondering if something has changed. They come in handy!
Also, don't let massage and chiropractic care be a replacement for x-rays and ultrasound. Massage and chiropractic care are important, but I wish I had done an ultrasound 2-3 years ago.  

Lastly, keep a journal!  It does not have to be wordy.  Just make a 30 second note about the day.  I use an app on my phone called "My Wonderful Days".  Most of my entries are super short.  Agility training. Or hike at Red Top.  Or day off, nail trim.  Or exam. All good.  I also make note of anything abnormal for the day.  Use keywords you can search later.  It is the only reason why I know Maddie indicated shoulder pain 8 times.... I had written it down. 

Love and know your dogs!  Learn from my mistakes! Happy training!  Hopefully I will be back in the agility ring next year with Ivy.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Introducing Ivy

Introducing Ivy!  I picked her up from the Birmingham track on June 9th.  There were fewer dogs to choose from this time and hardly any females.  Two adoption groups had already earmarked most of the dogs for their programs.  Thankfully one group was willing to let me look at their dogs and indeed I did choose one of them.
Ivy was born in Arkansas, trained in Florida, raced as in Iowa, adopted from Alabama, and now lives in Georgia.  Quite a bit of travel for a 2 year old!
Ivy raced as "Not To Nightdear" a whopping 4 times.  She was a consistent last place finisher except for beating one dog that tripped in one of her races. And then she sat around for a year.

I'm not sure why she then sat around for a year.  On Facebook, her owner said she had a minor injury they rested and rehabbed, but then she was a 2 year old that had not yet won a race so she was retired.  But a year is still a long time. She has been throughly examined multiple times by me and a couple of vets and we find no issues so hopefully it is not something that will pop up again. 
I also took my time adopting her.  I gave her time to heal from her spay, worked hard getting her nails much shorter, and then started training and playing with her.  

I also had a dog fight on day 4 so she was on probation to make sure she could get along in a bitch pack. The dogs and I were out in the mulch potty yard when she and Seven broke out into a full on brawl on their hind legs.  I have no idea why.  I haven't had a dog fight in 15 years so it was quite startling.  Thankfully Ivy was wearing a muzzle and Seven didn't leave a mark. For a couple of days, she was kind of edgy, but it has since melted away.  I don't trust her completely and crate her if I am not supervising, but she really has been great since the first week.

And if you are wondering what happened to Ellie.... I placed her with some friends of mine.  She was doing great, but started to come up a little lame.  Nothing horrible, but just not something I wanted to make worse.  It just was way too soon for her to already have problems.  So a very nice couple I have known for a very long time adopted her.  I could not have been more thrilled.  They are an active home with another greyhound and an Italian greyhound.  She goes for walks, does a little training, caught a squirrel in the backyard, has already been to their mountain cabin a few times, and they love her.  

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Got Her Life Back - Riley

Post tie-back surgery, Riley has gotten her life back!  It really is amazing.  Prior to surgery, I had joined a Yahoo group for laryngeal paralysis to get more information about tie-back surgery.  It was crazy.  You would have thought tie-back surgery was the greatest thing in the world.  It turned out to be just too much information, difficult to navigate, and it was all pro-surgery.... very overwhelming.
Well, so far, the surgery outcome has been pretty great for us so I can kind of understand what all of the excitement was about.  She easily hikes for over an hour and chases rabbits when temperatures are in the low 70's.  A few times a week, I let her play in the backyard once the sun goes down a bit and she plays with her toys.  If I had to do it again, I definitely would at this point.

I would say the main difference is that I am very careful about what, how, and when I feed her.

What: Big chunks of food that she can easily swallow.  Most of her food is 1.5 - 2.5 inch cubes of Fresh Pet.  I used to squeeze it into round meatballs, but now I leave it in whatever shape I cut it in.  She eats 1 pound per day.  And in place of chicken backs, I feed several Instinct medallions.  In the beginning, I split the medallions in half, but now that her throat is healed, I feed the whole medallions. Riley also gets 2 leafy green egg frittata muffins.  I break those into 3 or 4 chunks. 

No kibble. No tiny treats.  No crumbs. No dusty supplements.  I generally use her food chunks as her treats, but also will do 1 inch cubes of cheese.

How:  I hand feed (spoon feed raw Instinct medallions) each chunk, one at a time.  No more gulping down her food from a bowl.  I also feed each meal over time.  I might give her 3 chunks, prep food for other dogs, feed her 3 more chunks, continue preparation, 3 more chunks, feed another dog, feed Riley a chunk, feed another dog, feed another chunk, feed last dog, feed another chunk.  Then I put everything away and give her another couple of chunks.  So her meal might take 10 minutes instead of 30 seconds.

When:  I probably feed Riley 1/3 of her food for breakfast, 1/3 for dinner, and the remaining 1/3 throughout the day.  If she gets a treat for going in her crate, for example, she gets several chunks.  If we go hiking, I bring egg muffins or some food chunks for her recall treats.  I try to use up some food during her strength exercises.  I also have her do our stairs 3 times in a row each day for chunks.  She usually gets the last couple of chunks before bed.

I do not feed her anything significant an hour before or after she runs and plays with a toy.  I have noticed it upsets her stomach and she will sometimes get hiccups for an entire evening.
Everything else is back to normal!  We could not be happier. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Post Tie-Back Surgery - Riley

We are four weeks out from Riley's tie-back surgery for laryngeal paralysis and it is her 12th birthday today.  Overall, things are going well.  She definitely pants quieter and is a little more heat tolerant.
We did have a situation last week where Riley was gagging so hard one evening that she eventually vomited and was desperate to eat grass.  And sometimes she seems to have nonstop hiccups.  She vomited again a couple of nights later. But she has been find again the last several days.
We are back to hiking in the mornings at 6:30 AM. Riley is doing pretty well.  I don't think her breathing is slowing her down at all, but the heat and mugginess does.
I am fighting the polyneuropathy as much as I can.  Her rear end is getting weaker and weaker though.  I still have her do the stairs at least three times a day and other strengthening exercises. We used to have a pretty elaborate peanut, balance disc, and flatwork routines for kibble, but since I don't feed her kibble or tiny treats anymore it limits what I can do with her.  I was mostly luring her through the exercises with kibble, but now I do it with her chunks of food and ask her to do more.  And I back off if she starts panting too much.  So we aren't doing nearly as much as we used to.

Happy 12th Birthday, Riley!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Tie-Back Surgery Completed - Riley

Riley came through surgery fine. My vet does tie-back surgeries first thing before morning appointments so Riley's was started around 7:45 AM.  This allows him to observe her all day in case there are complications.
   Brought her home around 6:45 PM.  She pottied, ate a few Fresh Pet meatballs, and went to bed.
Riley made it through the night with just a cough periodically and a couple of potty breaks. She was definitely feeling perkier in the morning.
Since her larynx is permanently tied open now, I have to be very careful with what I feed her. Soft chunks or meatballs is recommended.
To replace kibble, I am feeding her FreshPet Select. It comes in a roll and can be cut into chunks and squeezed into meatballs.
To replace chicken backs, chicken necks, and veggie mixes, I am feeding Instinct Raw.
It too is easy to pull apart and squeeze into meatballs.
Lastly, to try get some extra veggies into Riley, I cooked up some power greens egg frittatas. When I used to eat eggs, I would make these little muffin frittatas.
I put a dozen eggs into my Ninja blender and several handfuls of leafy greens and blended it all together. Poured the mixture into a muffin tin (each half full).  Cooked at 375 degrees for 17 minutes and out came these little veggie filled egg patties that are easy to pull apart into small chunks.
Drinking actually seems to give Riley more trouble than eating.  I make her take breaks so she does not start gagging.
Hopefully the next few weeks fly by quickly and Riley returns to mostly normal life.  I can tell already that her hoarse, raspy breathing is gone.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tie-Back Surgery - Riley

I changed my mind..... Riley is having tie-back surgery for laryngeal paralysis on Thursday.  I just can't watch her suffocate.
She still wants to be so active, but she cannot run anymore. We are still hiking at 6:30 AM and she often leads the way and trots ahead, but it is starting to get too warm.  Riley even chased deer a short ways a couple of weeks ago.
My plan had been to move our activities indoors (peanut and balance disc work) once the morning temperatures exceed 70 degrees. But I came to the realization recently that Riley was not going to be able to do that either even though she still very much wanted to. She is still in very good shape and has plenty of energy. She just needs more air.
My priority is never prolonged life, but always quality, quality, quality. Today we took one last pre-surgical hike.  It was fitting that it was 70°,  my line in the sand.  I am confident that I have squeezed  out all of the activities and quality of life I possibly can without surgery.
If surgery is unsuccessful, we have left nothing on the table and we have nothing to lose.  But if successful, we have everything to gain and Riley gets her life back.

 Wish us luck!