Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Goodbye Precious Riley Greyhound

"Life of Riley" means carefree existence. Precious Riley greyhound fully embraced a carefree life to the fullest. She was a tough, plucky, little greyhound who had a long agility career.........still jumping 24" at 10 years old. Despite being accident prone, she always recovered and never had any chronic issues. She retired from agility sound and had an active retirement full of toys, running, hiking, and swimming. Riley is still the #2 Greyhound in AKC Agility for lifetime achievement. She was a joy to love, live, travel, train, and compete with. Riley was always game for anything and content with the plan for the day. In the end, I am not sure what exactly was wrong, but her muscle wasting had taken its toll, she had lost interest in activities, was picking at her food, and summer was coming. She was tired. We said our goodbyes at home with her belly full of canned food... one of the few things she still enjoyed. Goodnight Precious Riley Greyhound! I love you!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Getting Tired - Riley

Riley is getting tired. There has been a noticeable decline in her energy level over the last month.  I can't remember the last time she picked up a toy or rolled back and forth on her back.  I always wished I had caught her back scratching on video.  She is starting to refuse some foods and is eating with less enthusiasm.  Her rear continues to get weaker.  She looks at the stairs like it is a mountain.  I carried her up last night.  She is still walking 45 minutes most days if we get out before it is 70 degrees, but she is staying closer and not exploring as much.  She does not hear as well and when she does hear me, she sometimes cannot tell from what direction my voice came.  The other night she needed to go out at 3:00 AM.  She still shows up in any room I am camped in.... until today.  Her 13th birthday is at the end of June.  Just wanted to post a few pictures from the last few months.

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.