He's Back!!

Ahh, Bubba's back!!!  
Zoom, zoom!
The crazy Schipperke is out of his long term foster home I shipped him off to a few months ago.  They fell in love with him.  His desperate need for love and attention that seemed to annoy the crap out of me was more than fulfilled in the other home.  But now he's been called in for final training.

Actually since he hasn't been neutered yet due to the breeder's wish of getting him back if he fails out, he is back for an evaluation.  Bubba is living up to his breed and will do some alert woofing at suspicious things things.  Like it was when he lived with me, it does not seem to be fear/anxiety related in anyway, just more of a Hey, behave over there cuz I got my eye on you type of watch dog thing.  Our director of training has been taking him home and so far she is finding that he is not doing it at all out in public, just around the home.  So far that does not take him out of the ruling for the service dog program, it just limits him to people who don't live in apartments. And not as a hearing alert dog I suppose!  We will see how the next 2 weeks go.

Only fitting that he gets to meet his replacement, Gracie.


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Lance NADAC

Lance got to be my sole dog at the NADAC trial this Sunday and Monday.  I believe that's a first for him since Vito started trialing!  8 out of 9 cues, I guessed he liked all the attention.

Sunday Lance was self releasing all his contacts.  All 3 in touch n go and even on the aframe in chances where I front crossed right after.  Can I call him naughty for it if he's had more different contact criteria than Starburst flavors?  I decided yes(!) and in Regular I repeated his stop cues for both aframe and dogwalk and gave another wait cue.  I think he got the message as he certainly stopped and waited for me.  Although I did give a "now in the yellow part" plead as he halted right above it on the dogwalk. That can still be a somewhat normal occurrence for him with the aframe, even in practice at times, but never on the dogwalk.  Sadly all of his initial stops where pretty high all trial.

The Regular course on Sunday was odd.  Only 1 actual jump, the rest were all hoops.  It made me sad that NADAC's apparently all too thinly disguised mission of becoming the flat work organization is oozing in.  I do admit Lance was happy though not to have to worry about stuttering over anything.  His jumpers run had quite a few stutters, a definite step back from last weekend's outdoor trial.

On Monday Lance qualified in all but Chances.  It was a pretty easy distance portion too as it was just a 3 jump serpentine at a distance and then a send out to a tunnel.  I stopped moving nicely for the redirect but then started moving again way too soon and he took the off course 4th jump in the serp.  Sigh.

That Chances run was the first run with a contact in, the aframe, and he was going to self release again.  I reminded him to wait a half second before the launch so he folded up and thought about doing a 4 on the floor.  I told him he was silly.  In both rounds of regular I had him hold his 4 on for a bit on both contacts.  Dogwalk stops were lower, but he was still really high on the aframe.

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Wet Agility- Lance

Lance also had a great trial this past weekend!  My hopes were not high since Lance can be really picky about outdoor trials.  He also has a habit of popping out of his weaves when done outside.

So pouring rain on Saturday.  But the corgi not only ran he had basically the same YPS as his trials on dirt!  All 12 poles!  Happy dance!  Well, he did pop out once on Sunday I guess, so not complete success.  His jumping was the best part, very few stutters!  He had one really bad slip on Sunday but thankfully seemed no worse for wear and his jumping confidence remained high afterwards.

 Lance actually Qed  6 out of 8 runs this weekend.  1 NQ on Sunday's Jumpers where I could tell he was getting tired and he pulled off a jump. 1 NQ on Saturday's Chances course where he blew his dogwalk contact (although I forgot which dog I was running and didn't remind him to stop) and then shot into an inviting off course tunnel.

Which mean that he finally got another elite chances Q!  2 down, only 11 more to go :)

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1st Outdoor Trial- Happy, happy Toller!

1st outdoor agility trial of the season!  Saturday, pouring rain until both dogs were done with their 4 runs each at noon, then sunny skies.  Sunday was gorgeous though after an ominous beginning.

Vito had one of his best trials since his anxiety issues started!  So very happy all weekend long for every single run!  Sometimes he even had tucked butt syndrome while warming up :)  Q wise not so great.  But for little things.  The runs themselves were fantastic!  I think Vito broke his start line on 3 or 4 of his 8 runs- yay for being naughty!  And he actually really full speed on parts of every single course and for the most part even kept up speed if I had to do a rear cross!  Even in the heavy rain he actually ran parts like he does when we practice alone.

My favorite run occurred on Sunday's Touch n Go course.  I think we only did 6 obstacles and then he left the ring.  Vito was positive that the toy I left behind the trash cans outside of the ring was his reward for doing such a great running dogwalk!  Jump-dogwalk-Toy!!!  He proudly brought it back to me.  Maybe he was practicing the new go barrel obstacle in NADAC ;)
First 5.5 obstacles were missed on film, but we did manage to catch the lovely barrel wrap and toy delivery



Jumpers on Saturday was a close 2nd favorite.  The way the course was designed it forced several rear crosses.  Just no way to get in any front or blind, definitely not a Vito course.  But he really took off and for the most part only slowed slightly at each rear.  Knocked the 2nd bar.  Maybe because of his broken start line!  Also not caught on tape.  

Runs we did catch on tape:

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Fiona- Diabetic Alert dog

The FiFi had her official graduation!!!  Fi and her mom started working together last August with the added challenge of teaching Fi to alert to low blood sugar with the distractions of being at work; a middle school class room.  Of course the kids are in love with her and Fiona loves showing off her tricks.

After passing their skills demonstrations and public access test earlier this year they waited to become an official team at our spring graduation ceremony last month.

It had been almost 9 months since I last saw my Fiona and I was thrilled to see that she looked great and remembered almost all her tricks :)  Her new momma seems to love her very much and also seems interested in getting her involved with disc dog, at least at home.  It's a good thing I gave her a Super Aero disc for Fi's graduation/ 2nd birthday present!

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Gracie 5 months

Gracie just turned 5 months and has wasted no time embracing her teenager status.  Easiest puppy is becoming naughtier puppy, but not yet at home.  She's all legs now but still weighs a measly 29lbs.

Biggest issue this last month has oddly enough been potty training.  Gracie pretty much trained herself at 8wks of age and with good management from myself I could count the number of accidents she had on one hand.  Then this last month she started pooping in her crate in the middle of the night.  Wouldn't make a peep, and her crate is in the bedroom so I would hear.  Thankfully it was completely solid so cleanup sucked at 2am but it could've been worse.  I shrunk her kennel tiny and it didn't help.  Finally ended up taking away all her bedding and it seemed to do the trick.  Just put the bedding back this week and *knock on wood* no problems yet. 

Things were focusing more on now:
1. Retrieves- The hold training has been started now that she aims for my hand no matter where I put it.  Simply shaping it is working well for her and these last few days I think the lightbulb has clicked as she made a huge leap in time.

2. Switch vs Touch-  Gracie's target is on the wall but not quite at full push plate height because of her tiny stature.  She's also doing a low lightswitch, flipping it up with her nose.  Discerning which picture requires the use of her paw and which requires use of her nose is our current challenge.  She often offers a combination of the two which while it gets the job done, is not what I'm looking for.

3. Visit vs Under-  Gracie knows the head rest to my lap pretty well so in order to work on sending her to visit another person, I'm teaching her to send to a chair.  We're currently working on duration and also added distractions of keeping her head down while my hand with food is moving around above her.  Her added challenge is discriminating the verbal visit cue with her under cue to lie down underneath the chair.  I'm not yet mixing up the 2 in order during a session.

4. Stand- Many days she has a 100% accuracy in her little jump up and landing into a stand.  Then the next day it breaks and it takes her several tries to not jump up and land in a sit.  All days combined, we're looking at maybe a 75% accuracy with her slightly better if started from my side and even better if done with a wall next to her.

And of course throwing in a mixture of other things she knows such as tugging drawers and baskets, going to mat, stays, going to heel and side, etc.  I think I've done the least amount of tricks with her as compared to the other puppies but she sure loves to offer the ones she knows!

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Toothless

The boys visited had a dental appointment this last week.  Lance has had a cracked tooth for some time now and I knew I couldn't put it off any longer.  Vito was supposed to just be a cleaning, with the possibility of an extraction depending on what the xrays showed for one of his teeth.  But Vito likes to go all out when it comes to medical stuff.

After surgery
4 teeth.  Yup, that's how many teeth Vito had removed.  For those that have met the Toller, you will recall that he has already had 3 teeth removed as a puppy due to the severity of his overbite.  Well this week's surgery needed 3 more teeth pulled due to the same problem of them crushing into each other, as well as that bonus tooth that was cracked.


Lance had the 1 tooth removed and thankfully didn't have the ambitions of his brother to ask for any more out.

Due to the majorness of Vito's surgery and the lateness that it ended up being after Lance's, both boys were ordered to spend the night to get fluids and icing.  I panicked and pleaded for the Toller, promising to bring him back first thing in the morning.  I failed.  But reason #958 I love my vet, she offered to take the boys to her house and even let Vito sleep in bed with her as she set her alarm to wake up twice in the middle of the night to attend to them.  She said he was a good snuggler.  Obviously.

Reason #959 I love my vet is that the next day they set Vito up in a large xpen with access to the soft crate I brought instead of putting him in one of the normal recovery crates.  Lance prefered to not be touch.

Vito preferred constant petting.  Constant.

Meditating with Grandma
 Both boys are on soft food restrictions for a month.  I've gotten permission to buy a bunch of small soft toys so Vito can play fetch in a week, but I've promised no tugging or balls.   Hopefully the toothless wonder will feel better and fingers are crossed that it may even be an explanation for his increase in anxiety recently.

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Vito Behavioral Appointment

Vito had his recheck appointment with the Veterinary Behaviorist last week.  His 6 month checkup was supposed to be the beginning of January but due to some emergencies it had to be pushed way back.  Back in January and February I was planning on discussing lowering his medication doses and possibly getting rid of one of the 3 drugs he is on. 

I want this again.
At that time Vito was calm, and even resting his head down quite often, on 95% of car rides.  At work he was relaxing nicely under my desk and I was able to train the service dogs without any thought of how he was doing without me.  His separation anxiety was getting a bit worse if left alone in the evenings, but he was still doing very well if left in the morning.

Unfortunately, and with Vito there always seems to be one, things started to slowly change in early-mid March.  Vito is still much improved from last year, but we are no longer in our blissful state that started to exist in October and was cemented by December.

Now Vito is still doing pretty well in the car, but he is slowly increasing the percentage of trips with light anxiety appearing and actual panic attacks are occasionally coming back as well.

At work Vito is continuing to do a nice job of relaxing under my desk when I'm gone, but his reactivity to people approaching or noises heard is greatly increasing.  Vito used to only react a few times a week but the last few weeks he has been reacting several times a day.

At home, his separation anxiety is almost back to square one.  Thankfully he doesn't need to be left alone very often at all so this is pretty low on our list of priorities.  Although I also feel that not being left alone on a regular basis is also what's preventing him from doing better.  Vito was doing very well with longer absences when he had a few short 1hr absences a week to help build him up.  Since that is no longer possible with our work schedules he now can't even handle 20 minutes. 

And finally, Vito is becoming a problem child when he comes with me to let out the pack of service dogs for their noon playtime.  He has never wanted to actually play with the group of dogs, but for some reason he finds the opportunity incredibly exciting and starts working himself up a good half hour before it actually happens; leaving him behind becomes a no longer valid option.  The new problem is his increasing redirection of arousal to the other dogs.  A month or two ago I suddenly found myself having to leash him while the other dogs were let out or he would charge them.  Now he is calm while on leash but as soon as the leash is removed he sprints off like a rocket towards the other dogs and snarks at any one who dares to get excited by his approach.  After the initial rushing/possible snarks Vito will then calm down and be content to ignore the teenage dogs as he sniffs and wanders on his own.

So our recheck discussion was long.   Changing his shorter acting medications of Clonidine and Diazepam to anything else is out of the question as his Prozac dose is so incredibly high at 40mg.  Getting him on a different main drug is a possibility but one that we both want to hold off on as it could completely rock the boat.  Luckily we do have wiggle room left with increasing how much Clonidine and Diazepam he is getting each day.  Currently Vito takes .3mg of Clonidine twice a day, 8hrs apart, and takes 7.5mg Diazepam in the morning and then a hour before other car rides, usually just a 2nd dose at 4pm.  I really don't want to increase either one for fear of decreasing his drive even  more during training/trials but did start increasing his Clonidine to .4mg.

Other options talked about were trying a DAP spray, acupuncture and food changes.  For now I'm just ordering the DAP.  For the dog rushing, since Vito won't take any treats in the situation we talked about giving him a ball for a few minutes if it won't create too many problems with the other dogs.  Or possibly letting him out with just 2 other dogs for a few minutes to let him calm down and then seeing if he doesn't rework himself back up when letting out the rest of the pack.

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.- Roger Caras

Email: lkwaudby (at) gmail.com

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