Hives, Prozac and Sharks

Heheheh, this title should get some odd hits coming in!  LOL

1.  Hives – Inara has never had hives before but for some reason broke out in them this week.  Fortunately they are confined to her back, just behind her withers (do dogs have withers or is that just a horse term?), so they aren’t hindering her breathing in any way.  That confined location makes me think something touched her that caused a reaction, but for the life of me I cannot think what has changed.  I gave her a couple Benadryl (please always consult your vet before giving meds to your dog) and they’ve mostly gone done.  She still has a couple small ones but I really don’t want to give her more Benadryl as it made her feel not so good.  Even stranger, I’ve had a few other friends across the country say that over the past couple weeks their dogs have also broken out in hives.  What’s going on???

2.  Prozac – Not for Inara this time.  For the cat.  She has always been crazy but her level of miserable-ness has increased exponentially over the past few weeks for some reason.  She growls out the window at anybody that dares to walk by the house.  She skulks around.  And best yet, she’s attacking Inara.  Not just a swat, but full-fledged yowling, swinging paws and chasing Inara through the house.  Kind of funny until you realize that at some point Inara may get tired of this and whip around and nail her.  So Prozac it is.  We’re on day three.  I really hope it works.  I don’t want to think about what to do if it doesn’t.

3.  Sharks – Okay, not really, but sort of.  I ordered something for Inara called a shark line leash.  It’s like super strong fishing wire attached to a small toggle handle, with a light snap at the end.  It’s to help us transition to off-leash work.  Because it’s so light, she won’t realize that she is still on leash, but should she decide to act like an ass (my dog?  NEVER!) I still have control over her.  A lot of friends recommended it to me so I’m kind of excited.  I think it may be exactly what we need to get over our training hump.  Here’s a link: http://www.jjdog.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=3CATSharkLinesSHAL

Finally, a friend of mine has been having some issues with her pit bull, Toby, and has started a blog to chronicle his training.  Today she posted that instead of pushing him further when he’d already had a great day, she STOPPED.  That was such a hard lesson for me to learn, so it made me thrilled to see that she got it so quickly!  So please visit her blog and give her some love!

http://tubular-toby.blogspot.com/

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Between a rock and a dog…

Inara and I seem to have hit an impasse with our training.  Not due to lack of skill, but because I can’t trust her off-leash.  She’s totally ready for advanced rally signs, but even the 2nd level of rally and obedience stuff is off leash.  Ginger and I were talking this evening and we feel she’s kind of hit the max benefit from our Rally classes we’ve been taking.  Ginger thinks I need to expand outwards, into new training places.  That frightens me.  It’s very difficult finding good, positive trainers.  And quite frankly, other places are really expensive ($140 for 6 weeks?  Really?).  And I like Ginger and her style of teaching.

I suggested to Ginger that maybe she can offer “semi-private sessions.”  Her normal rally classes have 6 dogs and are $85 for 6 weeks, so I said that maybe she can offer 3 week sessions, with only 3 dogs, for $85.  It’d be a lot more individualized attention, and if we chose the dogs well we could do off-leash stuff w/o worrying.  Once Inara got used to being off-leash around those 2 dogs, another dog could be added in.  I’m not looking to get her playing with other dogs – I want her to IGNORE them entirely.

I may also just do some private sessions with Ginger out and about in the community, just for the change of scenery.  We all know that dogs don’t generalize, so I do maintain Inara’s training elsewhere.  It would be nice sometimes to have Ginger on walks in the park with me when other dogs are passing in close proximity.  Not because I don’t know what to do, but because my confidence increases with her around *blush*.

Any other ideas for me as to break through this impasse?  I’m going to start working hard with Inara on training/walking w/o relying on the leash to keep her by me, even outside.  It will be on, of course, but only as an emergency measure.  But while we’re doing that, I want to DO something – classes, seminars, something.

Inara with Joe, Big Mike and Johnny O of Rescue Ink.

Hineys, workshops and carnage

Inara has hiney issues.  There.  I said it.  Hopefully she won’t read this or she’ll be embarrassed.  But she does.  A few weeks ago I took her to the vet because she had some weird, hard growth coming out of her hiney.  The vet determined that it was an abscess that had burst, and the growth was actually a scab protruding.  She pinched it off and called it a day.  I took her in again on Monday evening because she had another growth, again coming from her hiney, but this one was fleshy.  The Doc said it was actually a wart and needed to be removed since it was right on her anus and probably making it uncomfortable to go to the bathroom.

So I dropped Inara off Wednesday morning at the vet.  Even for a minor procedure, it was tough leaving her there.  The staff was excited to see her though, so that helped.  They also said I could call at noon and probably pick her up then.  So I called at noon, but young miss gets hit hard by anesthesia so she wasn’t awake enough yet.  I could go pick her up at 3.  I showed up at 3 and walked into the nearly silent vet’s office.  The vet techs were sitting behind the desk and quietly gestured for me to peek over.  I did, and there was a very groggy Inara, barely standing, but still giving kisses and soliciting lovin’s from the techs.  Totally melted my heart.  Especially when she finally noticed me and looked at me with her sleepy little eyes and wagged her tail (nearly falling in the process).  The vet had removed the wart, as well as the big skin tag that had been on her elbow, trimmed her nails and gave her a shot of amoxicillin.  Grand total?  $48.  Love my vet.  And the best part was that because the vet had cauterized them, there was absolutely zero aftercare needed.

So I took the little girl home and had to help her out of the car and up the steps.  Before I could even get her harness and collar off, she staggered straight to the bedroom and just looked at the bed, looked at me, and back at the bed.  I lifted her up and she immediately fell asleep.  I curled up next to her and she napped on me for a couple hours.  She was still kind of unsteady on her feet the rest of the evening, but did eat, drink, pee and poop, so I knew all was good.

I had to work today so she just snoozed in her crate, and when I came home she was rarin’ to go.  She wanted to play fetch and tug with her Alien carcass, so we did that a bit.  Then we had a Tug O’ War workshop at Fortunate Fido.  I hemmed and hawed about going since I was afraid it might make her surgery sites sore, but decided to go.  I figured I’d let her set the pace.

There were 5 other dogs in the workshop, so of course Inara had to announce herself upon entering.  I got her settled and then she only had a few other outbursts.  Pretty impressive since there was a lot of activity going on with 5 other dogs tugging.  It was odd though – if Inara was the only dog tugging, she was a BEAST.  Totally focused on tugging and giving it her all.  However, if the other dogs were tugging, she wouldn’t.  Or couldn’t.  Not sure which.  She could do beautiful obedience with me, but if I asked her to tug she just flat out refused.  I don’t know if she was uncomfortable letting loose enough to play?  She was very relaxed during the down time, either lounging on a hip or totally sprawled on her side.  But she couldn’t relax to play tug if the other dogs were.  Very strange and definitely something I’ll work on.

She is beat.  I think all the tugging was a bit much for her, so I gave her a couple baby aspirin with her dinner and she’s now curled up on my bed snoozing while I’m lying beside her typing.

I shall leave you with two things:

  1. A video of her doing one of her favorite things ever – turning a stuffie into a carcass.
  2. A picture of her amongst her carnage afterwards.

Enjoy!

Oh the humanity! Think of the children!

 

 

Exciting weekend!!!

I know I’m a bit late in posting, but Inara and I had a super exciting day this past weekend!    We were entered in beginner obedience and beginner zoom rally at a C-WAGS trial on Sunday.  I was pretty nervous because I had never been to the facility before, but Ginger told me to bring Inara early so she could sniff around before other dogs got there.  Great idea.

So we get Inara’s sniffing done and do a little training to get her into working mode, and then other dogs started arriving.  I decided that Inara would probably be more relaxed staying crated in my car than crated in the building with all the other dogs.  However, it was rapidly getting very hot so I ended up having to bring her inside anyway.  And miracle of all miracles – she didn’t bark as I brought her in.  NOT ONCE.  There were dogs out on leash, and dogs crated, and dogs barking, and she went by them all to the corner I’d chosen for her.  Whoa.

Our turn to do our first run-through came up and in she went.  She kept pulling towards the judge in between exercises because it was a new person and darnit she wanted to say hi!  Fortunately that didn’t count against us, LOL.  She had a couple bobbles in her routine – she popped up from her down during our position change exercise, and scooted closer to the judge during the greeting portion.  But other than that, she was outstanding!  Her heeling was gorgeous (she did bump me a bit on our left turn) and during her down/walk-around, apparently a dog in the other ring was doing an off-leash recall (possibly over a jump?) and according to Ginger, Inara thought about getting up – BUT DIDN’T.  My goodness, my girl is learning self-control!

So we finished and I was pleased.  My goal for each run-through of the day was just to qualify.  I didn’t care if I didn’t place high, I just wanted to qualify and have fun.  So the judge gathered us to hand out ribbons and says, “1st place goes to team #52, the pit bull.”  I was looking around trying to figure out how another pit bull competed without me noticing when Ginger said, “Liz, that’s YOU.”  Holy cripes we got 1st place.  *insert shocked face here!*

So then we did our 2nd obedience run-through.  Again, a couple bobbles, but over all very nice and I was pretty confident I was going to at least get another qualifying ribbon.  The judge is handing out ribbons, and I hear “2nd place, Inara!”  WHAT???  Whose dog have I stolen and been competing with???  I was totally grinning from ear to ear.

Then we did our Zoom Rally run-through.  That one was tougher because Inara was getting tired and over-threshold.  The first few exercises I just kind of dragged her through, but then she engaged with me and we finished pretty well.  However, I was still going to be shocked if we weren’t NQ’ed.  But oh no!  We got 4th place!!!

We were scheduled to do one more Rally run-through but Inara had had enough.  She lost it at another dog and I couldn’t get her back, so I withdrew her even though we were already in the ring.  It wasn’t going to be productive for either of us to try to force her through.

So now Inara has 3/4 legs for an obedience title, and 1/4 legs for a rally title.  And I’m floating on air.  🙂

This is our 1st run-through, with 1st place:

This is our 2nd run-through, with 2nd place:

This is our Rally run-through, with 4th place:

Silly pet tricks, Part 1

For some reason, I got it into my head that I want Inara to stick her tongue out on cue.  Why?  Why not?  Unfortunately it’s slow going.  For some reason I’m finding this a hard behavior to catch with the clicker.  I’ve had three little sessions and I think we’re seeing a bit more tongue action, but I don’t think she’s realizing that’s what I’m clicking.  You can see that she’s up and down and throwing behaviors at me.  Which also doesn’t make it easier to see when her tongue flicks out.  But we’re trying and we’ll get there!  Anyway, here are the first three training sessions we’ve done.  They’re not exciting, but I thought it would be fun to be able to see any progression.

On a random note, we have our first C-WAGS Rally competition this Sunday, so wish us luck!!!

Perfect trifecta for brilliant behavior?

Could it be?  Have I found the penultimate trifecta that inspires genius in Inara?  That keeps her from over-reacting but keeps her drive up enough to provide a brilliant rally performance?  I’m not sure I should share this secret!  But I will, because I know others may benefit from it.  It has three main ingredients (hence the word “trifecta”).

1.  New treats:  Nothing extraordinary, just a generic lamb-based food roll cut into training treat sizes.  Inexpensive, easy to carry, not messy.  Stinky but not in an offensive way.  However, they must taste divine.

2.  New diet:  Inara used to be on high-protein grain-free kibble.  Last week I switched her to raw, which has about 18-20% protein, about half of the kibble she was eating.  Pertinent?  Perhaps…

3.  Calming collar:  I bought this from Ginger 3 or 4 weeks ago.  I hadn’t noticed anything at first, but last night Inara was such a different dog that I’m wondering if this is one of the key aspects of the trifecta.  Anyway, it’s a possibility.

So what happened last night that made me discover this miraculous trifecta?  We had Rally class.  It’s a new session (last night was week 2) and there are three pit bulls (two of which are reactive), a 10 year old Border Terrier (completely inoffensive but apparently has a target painted on him) and a reactive Lab.  The first week Inara had snarked at the Border Terrier, just to let him know that she was a bitch.  Not that that’s difficult for other dogs to notice.  😉  But last night the Lab broke free from his owner, just one of those horrible accidents that happen, and went after the Border Terrier in a very intent way.  Fortunately everybody was on their toes so the kerfluffle was short and no harm was caused.  However, the noises during the incident!  Holy cripes.  Barking and snarling and more barking from the reactive dogs.

All but one.  Inara whipped around to see the fiasco but as soon as I called her name, she whipped right back and focused on me.  Not a peep out of her.  *insert SHOCKED face here*  That’s right, my dog who still barks upon entering the building just to announce her presence did not bark.  My dog that holds a grudge against any dog that snarks at her did not bark.  My dog who occasionally barks obnoxiously at dogs completely ignoring her did not bark.  Not only did she not bark, she stayed focused on me, eating treats and looking relaxed.  *insert shocked face again*

Short of magic, the only thing that changed last night was that perfect trifecta.  Same seat.  Same dogs.  Hell, I probably had the same outfit on.  Same everything, except the trifecta.

So, gentle readers, there you have it.  Treats cut out of a lamb food roll, new lower protein diet and a calming collar gives you a perfect dog.  Who knew?

She of the trifecta

Can dogs be bipolar?

If they can, I believe Inara is.  And I say that with love as I wouldn’t have her any other way! “But Liz,” you may be asking, “why ever would you think that your sweet, innocent little doggy might be anything less than perfect?”  Well, gentle readers, let me tell you a couple fun things about gorgeous Miss Inara.

1.  Last night we started a new session of Rally.  We’ve taken it several times but each time there are different dogs.  Inara actually started off doing pretty well, a few barks here and there, but just her standard “Hi!  I’m here!” barks.  So Ginger sets up a practice course for us, and off we go.  Obstacle number one?  No, not a rally obstacle – a real-life obstacle.  We have to pass by the seriously non-offensive Border Terrier.  FAIL.  Inara pretended as though she just noticed he was there – RARARARARARR!  Really?  So I smile sweetly, grit my teeth, and pull her back to where her brain can turn back on.  Just like that, she’s with me again.  Alright, off we go to the starting line again.  We start, and again have to pass by innocent Border Terrier minding his own business.  RARARARARARARAR!  *sigh*  Find the magic location in the room that turns her brain back on, and off we go again.  With some fast talking and quick thinking, we make it through the course with only a few more grumbles.  Then our turn comes up again.  I brace for the outburst and…nothing.  Perfect show dog.  “Mother,” I can hear her saying, oddly enough in a British accent, “I have no idea why you think I would create an outburst.  How gauche.  Pish posh, let’s trot along and have a spot of water, shall we?”  I simply shrug and go with it.

2.  Walks.  While walking, should another dog have the unmitigated gall to step on her path and come close, Inara does her most spectacular Cujo impersonation – barking, lunging, throwing the f-bomb, insulting their mother, etc.  It’s charming.  Fortunately, with bipolar doggy, it lasts less than a minute and then off she trots, quite pleased with herself, acting as though nothing out of the ordinary just happened.

3.  Very rarely is she just “there.”  She’s either UP UP UP!  Or asleep.  Thrashing a toy around wildly or snoring on the couch.  Playing tag with me or laying in the sun.  Very few in-between states where she is conscious but not doing much.  Asleep or wild.  On or off.

So yes, I do believe I have a bipolar dog.  Any others out there feel me?  Have any bipolar dogs of your own?

Inara in a rare moment of conscious calmness, with glowing ears.