Saturday, October 27, 2007

I've been seeing other dogs.

Moxie has had her suspicions. First, the strange red hairs on my clothes, then, the strange collar in my car, and finally, the distinctive "canine" smells on my hands. Well her fears have been confirmed. I have been seeing another dog.

This is Bosley and he's stolen my heart.

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He's actually my bosses dog. I pet sit for them when they are away. They want to get Bosley into pet therapy so I've been working with him. He's great in the house but needs some work outside, so I've been taking him for long walks with Moxie and practicing our basic commands. He's getting much better. He's such a sweetheart though. He will sure bring a ray of sunshine into the lives of people in need. Just look at this smile.

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He's at the top of my dognapping list for sure.

Today Moxie and I went to "Bark in the Park" a community event to benefit the Hickory Creek Animal Shelter. My therapy dog group trains on saturdays in the front room at that shelter. The town has been very generous to donate the use of that space. They are raising money to build a new shelter, which is desperately needed, unfortunatly. Don't you wish there was no need for animal shelters at all? In a perfect world....every dog and cat would have a loving wonderful home.

This past week was the week of terrible pet owners at work. Some of the people I worked with don't deserve to have pets. I cry for those poor animals. Suffering at the hands of willfully ignorant, lazy and heartless owners. Sometimes I just don't have the stomach for my job.

After Bark in the Park, Moxie and I went to visit our friends, Kathy and Jally. I visited with Kathy, and Moxie visited with Jally. We all had a lovely time. After that we went over and took Bosley with us on a nice walk. Moxie spied something strange in their backyard. She couldn't quite figure what it was.

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After a short game of "chase the giant hopping rat" We played a game of "leave the kangaroo" that wasn't nearly as much fun according to Moxie. Bosley just ignores it. After all he lives with a lemur. He's already seen it all.

I'll leave the keeping wild animals as pets rant for another post. Suffice it to say, I don't agree with the practice.

But keeping Golden Retrievers as pets is perfectly acceptable!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Training Disaster

So tonight was my first night to teach basic obedience at my local obedience club and boy was I nervous. I have been on edge about this for the past 48 hours. So I pull up to the fairgrounds after work and I notice there are some people inside the building, which is very odd. I waited for someone else from the club (someone with some guts) to show up. Ann fit the bill, and apparently, the fairgounds double booked our building! We've had that building every Tuesday night for the past 15 years, but they gave it to the 4H club.

So that put us in a bind, and our students were beginning to arrive. We set up a makeshift registration in the parking lot. I had left my jacket at work and was freezing. Our first student is a finished champion smooth collie who wants to start on some competative obedience. Nice dog, the lady is going to be difficult. Then the rest of the class shows up. Three families, with FIVE 5 month old German Shepherd Puppies between them. Two of them are dragging small children behind them through the parking lot. Two are barking and lunging at the Collie. The fifth is hiding, cowering behind his owner. Oh brother.

So I explain to the parents that no, their children cannot train the dog in class. The mom informs me that I have the honor of informing her children of this. Great. I'm terrible with kids. So I broke the news, gently I hope. They didn't cry, thats a good sign right? We talked about collars, leashes, treats, class rules, and I talked a little bit about teaching attention. It was too dark to do much else so everyone left and we will extend the session a week.

So I'm thinking I'm in WAY over my head. I have a week to do some research and figure out how I'm going to handle this crew. The training director offered to see if our resident GSD expert would be willing to teach this session and I graciously bowed to experience. I really hope she says she will teach because I am really nervous about this. I mean, these owners with the GSD's are dog novices. Two of them have littermates in the same home. In watching them interact, they clearly know nothing about dog behavior, or basic training. The dogs are 5 months old and already a nightmare. I think they can be helped but I don't think 6 weeks at an hour a week is going to be enough time.

So, Lord help me.

If someone else takes the class I'm going to bring Bozley and put him through his paces every week. He's a great dog, just needs some manners. I've been babysitting the Boz man two out of the past three weekends, and his owners are going away again tomorrow until Sunday. I'll get some pics of him and let you all see how lovely he is. Such a sweet boy.

Moxie and I haven't trained in three weeks now because, first, I was sick, then, last week Moxie had the pukeys, and this week this mess happened. I hope to do some work with her tomorrow so she doesn't lose ground.

Sully is doing great and on NO meds or supplements. Guess what did the trick? the all canned food diet. If he gets into the other cats dry food, or the dogs dry food he gets the squirts, as long as he just gets his canned food, he has normal solid poops. I'm feeding him only the Wellness grain free varieties. He has no complaints about it. I wouldn't have dry in the house except Kobie is being difficult and won't eat enough of the wet and was losing too much weight. Meal time around here is a circus. I have to lock everyone in separate rooms and when I open the doors, dash in and pick up the bowls before Sully or Thurston run in and stick their face in the bowl. Little piggies! But I love them. Sully is getting so big. A little too big in fact. I've cut his rations back as he's a bit podgy already! Actually, I don't think I feed him too much, its all the food he manages to steal. I swear he's taking lessons in being bad from Thurston. Now I have a pack of little thugs terrorizing the house.

I am going to Boston next week! YAY! I'm going to visit Shawn. The kids are staying with Mom, with lots of backup phone numbers. I'm wondering if I should just ask someone to take Moxie for a few days but I just don't know what would be best. Maybe I should board the cats too, so Mom doesn't have to deal with the feeding fiasco. Or just Sully, with his special diet. I just don't know. This is precisely why I don't leave town more often. Any ideas?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Goodbye Hazelnut Latte Bear :(

I'm really sad tonight. Little Hazel, who was doing SO WELL, took a turn for the worse last night. I took her back to the animal emergency clinic when she developed labored breathing and a pounding heart beat, and began grinding her teeth, all signs of pain.

They admitted her to the hospital and gave her some pain meds, then ran some bloodwork. The results weren't good, their were significant changes from Friday mornings labwork. her liver values were about the same, but her electrolytes were all out of whack and her CBC was dangerously off scale. The bloodwork painted a much bleaker picture than I had originally thought for Hazel. We decided to treat her overnight and see what it looked like in the morning.

The doctor called at 10am and said Hazels labs were actually worse this morning, and that things didn't look good. At this rate Hazel was going to need a blood transfusion just to restabilize, and the list of possible reasons for her illness was full of dire prognosis. It just didn't look like she was going to pull through, no matter what we did. So I called Shawn and there was a coordinated effort between myself, the doctor and Shawns parents for a while, then a decision was reached to let Hazel go.

I met Shawn's parents a the ER, and we held her and stroked her and told her how wonderful she was as she slipped away. It was even harder to say goodbye once I saw her. She looked more alert than she had in days, and was managing a weak purr. I cried like a baby. It was like losing Mocha all over again. I feel so guilty for letting Shawn and his family believe that Hazel was going to be okay. I just never saw this coming. I really wanted her to get well. She was such a fighter. She never gave up. What an incredible little kitty.

Run Free Hazelnut Latte-Bear. Give your mom and your brother love from me.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Hazelnut is improving hourly. She is home with me tonight for feedings. Her eyesight is returning gradually, and she is more alert today and able to stand a walk a few steps. She will get better, there is just no other option.

Here she is tonight. Does someone look like her mama or what?
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Here is Mocha mommy and brother Tyler for comparison
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Hazel looks like an old cat after her ordeal. Very sunken and unkept. I can't wait until she returns to her former glory. She was quite a stunning cat before all of this.

All your thoughts and prayers are helping! Keep it up!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007



Hazel was found, ALIVE, one block from her house. She is dehydrated and emaciated but alive! She was taken by her rescuers to the Animal ER where Shawn's parents and I met up with her. I was expecting her to look alot worse than she did. She raised her head, meowed and made several attempts at grooming. She is very weak, just exhausted the poor thing, but very happy to be found for sure. I can't believe it! Two months to the day she dissapeared!

She had some labwork draw. Remarkably, her kidneys are healthy! Her liver enzymes are elevated and she is a little yellow - she probably has a condition known as "hepatic lipidosis" or Fatty Liver disease, common in cats who are overweight and stop eating. Good news, we can beat Fatty liver disease. I think she can survive this. We will see what my docs think in the morning. I'm up for the challenge, I'm just so glad she's been found! I had given up hope! Only just last week, Shawn's parents had given me all of Hazel's things and I never took them out of my car (not because I had a feeling, just because I'm lazy)

So everyone send your best prayers and healing vibes to Hazelnut! She's a fighter though, I really think she will pull through this. What a miracle! An absolute Miracle!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Beating the Drop on Recall Demon

Another breakthrough night at the training club! I'm so excited! Moxie and I have been working on the drop on recall exercise for open level competitive obedience for some YEARS now (though not consistently) and tonight it finally "clicked". I started out by leaving her in a sit stay and walking out about 20 feet. Then instead of calling her, I asked her to "down" in place. (This made possible though years of work proofing downs anywhere, anytime) I used her verbal mark, "yes" and praised then returned to her and gave her a treat. Then I would put her back into a sit, go back out, and ask for a down again. Mark. Treat. Repeat a few more times. Finally I left her in a sit, went out, and called her front then asked her down about five feet out and she dropped like a stone! I was amazed! No creeping. No hesitation. It was an immediate, picture perfect down on a single command! I through a puppy party over it of course. I was very excited about this down, which of course meant Moxie was excited about it, and is more than happy to do it again and again for all the praise and yummy treats.

I just can't believe that was all it took to get her to "get" it. I have tried every which way to teach this skill. I tried using a helper and a leash to stop her while I simultaneously give the down command. She was too smart for that one, she knew when she was tethered and when she wasn't. I tried proofing moving downs, drilled them and drilled them and she would drop on recall, eventually, but she clearly didn't understand what I was asking of her. I tried using her favorite game, fetch. I would throw the ball for a retrieve and as she brought it back to me I would ask for a down and the minute she dropped, I would throw another ball for her. Again, she would drop, eventually, but it wasn't an immediate response and she clearly didn't understand the concept.

But tonight was just brilliant! I was so proud of her! Our relationship grows stronger with each passing day. If only my people friends could read me as well as Moxie can. She's amazing. Other highlights from tonights session include an great improvement in heel back/backup. She is performing the skill correctly more and more frequently and with greater control and precision. We are getting there! Her attention and heelwork is spot on. I wish I had some good video of us heeling to post as it's quite flashy from where I am, I'm sure its fun to watch.

One negative, my new trainer is all about correction, which, I believe correction is necessary in training. Don't get me wrong. But its also imperative that you know your dog, and trust me, I know my dog. I cannot leash correct my dog. She shuts down. Moxie is a super soft touch. She works best completely hands off. All I have to do is change my tone of voice for her to know when she is doing something correctly vs incorrectly. So I use a verbal correction, "eh" or "wrong" in the right tone of voice is all thats needed to get Moxie to reorient to me and try again. So tonight I lost her attention for a split second during a heeling with distraction exercise and my instructor says "correct her!" which I did! I gave her an "eh" and then a command, probably a watch me, or a leave it, I don't remember, but it worked. But no, she wants me to leash correct Moxie. It doesn't work and I won't do it. She shuts down. She cannot be manhandled like that she's too sensitive. Don't get me wrong, I don't disagree with a leash correction as long as it is done properly and not overdone, done out of anger, or done to "hurt" the dog. I just don't agree with leash correcting my dog as she doesn't respond to it.

Fast forward to the end of the night, I asked the trainer to put Moxie through some heelwork as I'm trying to get her used to other handlers so she will be more responsive to the patients during the pet therapy sessions. So she takes the leash and moxie responds brilliantly to her. She was heeling Moxie in a weave pattern through a line of dogs performing down stays. Two of the dogs in the class are less experienced and are still learning the meaning of stay. One of these dogs is friends with Moxie, so when the trainer walked Moxie past her, she broke her stay and tried to initiate play with Moxie. This commotion made the next dog break his stay to move out of the way. Meanwhile the trainer is trying to heel Moxie through the mayhem and Moxie turns her head to watch the dog that is coming up behind her. The trainer leash corrects her. Moxie cowers down and turns her head away (sending her best doggy calming signals) and what does the trainer do, she gives ANOTHER leash correction. I was alarmed to say the least. I mean, all she needed to do to get her back was to say her name and "heel" in an upbeat voice and Moxie would again trot happily next to her. Fortunately, once the other two dogs were back under control Moxie recovered and finished heeling. The whole thing probably only took a couple of seconds, I just couldn't believe the trainer didn't read the situation better than she did.

The positive outcome was that Moxie did work for this other person. She did recover from the correction and we were able to end the night on an up note. So all's well that ends well I suppose.