Friday, February 16, 2018

Agility Nosework - Seven

Seven is doing well despite her chronic left front lameness.  She is still has the highest drive and highest energy of any greyhound I have ever known.... even at 9 years old. We stopped taking nosework lessons and I never did teach her to find a certain odor, but she still loves finding her Plato Salmon Treats.  I hide 9 to 12 pieces on my agility obstacles, fence, bushes, retaining wall, chairs, shed, and patio and send her out on the field to find them all.  She loves it and even looks sort of sound doing it.  I think it is a great way to exercise her in a way that she loves, but that is not too intense.  She hates going for walks and if I were to do a little agility with her or toss a toy, she would put way too much effort, speed, and intensity into it.  Searching for treats allows her to move around, do turns, and change her pace, but it does not reward her for going as fast and hard as she can.  She would miss the treats if she did that.  So this has been a perfect activity for her.  And she drools all over and gets spit on her face.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Winter Fun - Riley

I am making sure that Riley has a blast this winter... just in case.  She is 11 and half years old with progressing laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy.  She is still in great shape and we are taking full advantage of the cooler temperatures.  I'm afraid that summer is going to be very tough, but we shall see. She is just so precious and perfect!  Of all of the greyhounds I have had, I think she has been the absolute most perfect one.  I love her so much!
The agility trials we attended in December and January had agility matches in the evenings.  So I ran Riley on the Jumpers course.  She is still very fast... especially when the jumps are only 16 inches and she still has really good weave poles and loves them!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Introducing Ellie!

Introducing Ellie!  I found her at Birmingham Racetrack and brought her home on New Year's Day!  I had been looking at greyhounds coming through Southeastern Greyhound Adoption since summer, but it had been slow going.  I fostered a couple of dogs, but none of them were quite right.  I expanded my search to other groups and found myself and my friend, Lou, at Birmingham Racetrack New Year's weekend.
Birmingham supplies greyhounds to numerous adoption groups so they have up to 80 dogs available at any one time.  They were very accommodating and we had a good experience checking out the dogs. 
Since food motivation is of the utmost importance to me, we only looked at dogs 3 yrs and younger that had finished breakfast.  We quickly narrowed it down to a handful of dogs who were the most interested in treats and lured around after them with drive.  I also brought a wobble board and the hounds that earned a second look were lured across the unsteady, noisy, 3 X 3 foot board.  Those that willing crossed over the board over and over for treats stayed in the running.
The top contenders were loaded into my van and taken to track office building where we walked them across slippery floors, started them with clicker training in a new environment, worked stairs a little, and startled them with noisy bowls.  Ultimately, I came home with Atascocita Vanya
Ellie came home on a Monday and on Thursday she was sleeping in a tent at her first agility trial.  She was a little stressed for the first 12 hours, but then she settled right in as if she had been traveling to agility trials her whole life.  
She really has been such a dream!  She crates great, is quiet, an excellent traveler, easy going, very friendly, gets a long great with other dogs (especially her new sisters), is a hard worker, and, of course, food motivated.  She is very attentive and responsive already.  I believe I will be naming her "Never Give Way".  She is pushy, but in a steady, methodical way.  She is not crazy and hyper.  Just so very solid and balanced.  I am excited to see where we go!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Back At It

Wow, it has been a while!  So Maddie returned to agility competition in December.  Her shoulder ligament healed without incident.  Taking the conservative course of action seems to have been the right choice.  I confined her at home so she would not jump around and play, but I continued to carefully walk her almost daily.  A second ultrasound confirmed that the ligament had healed.
Since it was summer, I was able to increase her exercise starting with swimming.  Maddie was a so so swimmer and never seemed to like it much.  However, I think she was so thrilled for more activity that she now has an appreciation for swimming and got really good at it.  Then I added some trotting and galloping next to my bike and eventually some agility.
We trialed once in December, January, and February.  So far she has been running clean like crazy in Master Standard, but Jumper legs elude us.  We did earn QQ #16 in one of our trials.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Retirement - Riley

Riley is doing great!  She just turned 11 years old.  The laryngeal paralysis is slowing her down now that summer is setting in, but she seems to be smart about not over doing it when she shouldn't and taking a break when she needs it.
Her normal breathing is quiet, but she does cough and gag periodically and you can definitely hear it when she is panting.  I am only hiking in the early mornings now.  Stephen and I took her swimming a couple of times, but we have decided she hates it.  I am not sure she ever loved it, but she is really resisting it this year.  Maybe it has to do with her breathing understandably.  So we decided we would not swim her again.
Riley is enjoying the new backyard though!  Its so big and flat!  It drains great!  The sand and crushed gravel give it traction and the grass gives it cushion.  And the grass is filling in like crazy!  By the end of summer, I am betting we do not have any patches left.

Once Riley is finished, it is great to be able to bring her into the air conditioning and in front of a fan right away.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Medial Shoulder Instability Syndrome - Maddie

Maddie has a mild tear in her medial glenohumeral ligament in her shoulder.  Also known as Medial Shoulder Instability Syndrome (MSI).  I am super unhappy about it.  I think the rehab vet and I dropped the ball and should have jumped on it a lot sooner. Hindsight is 20/20. I would have liked a second opinion, but my favorite orthopedic vet is on vacation. Arrrggg!
I cannot pinpoint exactly what happened, but per my notes and the blog (yes, I'm that Type A) the first indication of shoulder pain occurred December 2013 when I was teaching weave poles.  And then it showed up off and on over the last few years. Did it start back then and we made it worse over time?  Is today's injury unrelated to back then?  Maddie does not run agility that hard (not like a self-sacrificing border collie) and I really do not train/practice very much so I have a hard time believing its just from repetitive use.... unless a minor injury early on just was not allowed to heal............... I could speculate all day.
Generally, I am gun ho about attacking issues aggressively, but my gut just wasn't agreeing this time.  Hobbles to keep her front legs from moving sideways were suggested.  They sounded awful and likely to cause pressure sores.  It was recommended that she wear them at all times for several weeks.  Maddie is so narrow that when properly fitted they greatly reduced her forward stride, so I just couldn't do it.
I also could have done platelet rich plasma injections and shockwave therapy.  Maddie would have to be sedated for both.  Without my favorite orthopedic vet, I just did not want to to either.  Then there is this orthopedic vet in Maryland that specializes in MSI.....but since its a mild tear, I opted not to go that route.
So I am going with conservative therapy.  Maddie is confined to an ex pen in the house and her only exercise is walking on leash. Lots of brushing, massages, Kongs, bully sticks, and bones to keep her entertained. Hopefully I am making the right decision. It will be a long time before I know though.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Status - Seven

Seven is lame all of the time now.  The remaining middle toe is gnarly and twisted, but she is still the most driven, energetic, and tenacious greyhound on the planet.  She is constantly under foot, in the way, and poking her nose where she is not needed. The limping doesn't slow her down at all. She is on Deramaxx and Gabapentin. I guess it is keeping her from being much worse.
I think Seven runs more in the house than she ever has..... maybe because she does not have agility as an outlet anymore. She and Maddie get pretty wild wrestling and playing bitey face and then Seven zips down the hallway and from room to room upstairs where we have carpet. She is so crazy sometimes! I'm glad the pain does not seem to bother her, but I wonder if she is making it a lot worse much faster than she should. Occasionally we sprint her across the backyard a few times since I would assume straight lines are better than the crazy turns she does in the house. But, she puts her all into every sprint, of course.  I have not figured out a way to get her to lope instead.
Swimming season is here!  We try to swim her twice a week for 15 minutes.  Seven is a beast as long as she has a life jacket on.  I made the mistake of trying her without it recently.  I think she knew better because she hesitated which she never does, but she eventually did as I asked and promptly went under water and had to be lifted out. I think she does something weird with her hind legs and paddles them underneath her body inefficiently.  Whatever, she does.... it does not keep her afloat!  So we won't try that again!
I so miss running her in agility.  All of my girls and Travis are/were nice to run, but Seven was super nice. Ferrari nice.  Fancy, expensive show horse nice.  I'm pretty sure she is missing agility as well. She is pretty frustrated when Maddie gets to train and she does not. I see glimmers of acceptance... maybe.  Occasionally when Maddie trains, Seven will walk off to nose around or eat grass instead of chewing on the fence.  I usually just leave Seven home with a stuffed Kong.  She is accepting of that arrangement.

I rarely take her to agility trials anymore. Only if I have to.  I'd love to tote her around and just let her say hi and weasel treats from friends, but if my husband is home, I leave her with him.  He usually does something nice with her.
It kind of bugs me that Seven was such a super star with filming "Pain and Gain" and with her awesome agility record and now there is nothing.  It was just so immediately over.  At least it doesn't seem to bother her.

Here she is getting beat up by her sister while she sleeps. Seven is a hard sleeper!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Agility Match - Riley

At one of the April trials, the evening match was offering practice in the Jumpers ring.  So I entered Riley at 16 inches and she had a blast.
She still has so much drive and speed.  We both had a blast!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Returning to the Agility Ring - Maddie

Our first trial back after the teeter rehab break was in March.  We practiced in a match Saturday night and then ran in the trial the next day. Maddie earned QQ #13. 

In April, we applied the same match/trial strategy with the same result.  QQ #14!

And then in May, we returned to our first 3-day agility trial with high hopes that teeter issues were behind us. But then... dang it!  She had a fly off. Maddie has never done that before!  She is much too cautious to make such a mistake. Seven on the other hand did it all the time!  I was worried that the fly off was going to scare Maddie and she would be avoiding the teeter all over again. The next day, the teeter was the 5th obstacle.  My plan was that if she did the teeter, we would leave immediately for her jackpot reward.  If she bailed, we would continue the course just so we would not end on a bad teeter.  Low and behold she did it!  Maddie teetered!

And then on Sunday, we double qualified (QQ #15).  I do wish I could speed her up at the start and especially in Jumpers.  I think all in all, she is doing better ringside as I am getting her to tug, be silly, and dig, and she is eating all of her treats.  Spraying her down also helps perk her up.  But I am just so relieved she handled the teeter so well.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Teeter Rehab - Maddie

Just when I was getting Maddie all figured out, she developed a problem with the teeter.  I had a feeling we were on the verge of it since late last year.  I had done some extra work to head it off, but then she encountered a couple of bad teeters early this year.
At the Invitational in December, the event is held on turf instead of dirt.  The teeter boards also have rubber bumpers on each end (probably to prevent damage to the floor).  Maddie did the teeter and when the landing end bounced, she got off of it quickly, the board scraped her leg, and she limped out of the ring.  She refused the teeter the next time in the ring so we left early.
We had some issues at the January trial, but were able to get through it and even double qualified twice. Then in February, Maddie got off of a shaky teeter too fast again, scared herself, and then refused it the next day. So Teeter Rehab began.
Maddie has never been great with wobble boards or movement under her feet.  In hindsight, it is not something I should have neglected. We worked hard on the wobble board when she was a puppy, but I had not maintained her confidence on it as an adult. She was very hesitant to put all 4 feet on it. But with lots of good treats and practice, Maddie will now put all four feet on the wobble board, move around on it, and rock it back and forth. And I will be sure to maintain it this time!
We also took 6 weeks off from agility trials to practice a variety of teeters.  I also made my own teeter unpredictable.  Sometimes it landed on a bouncy balance disc. Other times it landed on a brick so it made a louder noise.  I taped a rattle can to the underside so it was just noisier overall.
And most importantly, I made it unstable by putting a small chunk of concrete under the base so it was off center and would move from side to side when she got on it.  I would move the concrete to different places so the teeter would move a little differently each time.
This strategy worked great! We worked on going to the teeter at speed and also with no momentum.  I would walk her right up to the teeter and then let go so she would have to power through it starting from a standstill.  I also added the cue "hit it" so I would have something encouraging to say to her.
Once I felt we were ready to return to the ring, I started pairing practice matches and trials.  I was lucky that three upcoming trials were also hosting an evening match.  So I would give Maddie some extra teeter practice and then trial the next day.  This worked great and she even Double Qualified two out of the three times.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Precious - Riley

Riley has been doing great and handling retirement joyfully.  Her hock is completely healed and suffers no continued issues from the bad sprain.  She still bucks, spins, and twirls with her toys and never comes up sore.
I'm so happy Riley retired sound.  There is just so much more she can do than Seven can.
The laryngeal paralysis is definitely progressing and she sounds more and more like a smoker, but for the most part it is not giving her much trouble. We spent a lot of time hiking over the winter since since I think we will have to curb it in the summer to keep her from panting too hard.  I am hoping she will still be able to hike early in the morning periodically.
All in all, Riley is doing great and there is not much to report.