Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ahem. Happy New Year.

So much has gone down since October 21, when Cooper had surgery to remove fractured coronoid process in his elbow. Oh - did I write about that? I didn't.
OK, so the limp didn't get better. We started tracking, but he got so limpy that a 200 yard track had him limping more noticeably at the end of 200 yards than at the start. For a really fit, athletic dog, this was clearly not a good sign.
In September, I discovered a slab fracture on one of his premolars. So, that had to come out under anesthesia. Since the limp hadn't gone away, he was xrayed at the same time.
And, the xray showed, for want of a more technical term, funkieness and arthritis in both elbows, but the left was much worse. One thing led to another and he was scheduled for surgery to remove bone fragments and clean up the joint. It was made very clear to me that this surgery had, essentially, a 50% chance of success - ie making it less painful. As it turns out he had two tiny fragments removed, but the surgery was, ultimately, not successful.

This is going to be primarily a Cooper diary for a while. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Craigslist photos

Ah! Found the craigslist photos of Fiona in an old email. She was advertised as a Red Heeler mix puppy back in January.
After several months of struggle, her ears now stand up, bat like and quite expressive.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Oh, I almost forgot.

Rock ON, George Thorogood!
Meadowbrook, Thursday before last. Great concert as usual.
Thanks for the very cool, 1982 concert tee shirt, Charles!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

So what's it like to have a bitch in heat in the house?

Most of us have been conditioned for years to spay and neuter all animals in our possession (oh excuse me, all animals we are guardians of) by six months old. It's for the best, they are more manageable, better behaved (I've been uncomfortable with the notion of surgically altering animals' behavior for years, even before I got wised up to the fact that early speutering does in fact carry many risks as well as some benefits.) Anyhow, so I was a good, responsible dog owner (excuse me, guardian, blecchh) for years. I vaccinated annually, fed kibble, and had their sexual organs surgically removed while they were still puppies.

So, much has changed. Thanks to the internets and stuff. Cooper wasn't snipped early, and nor will Fiona be. She went through heat - finally - at about 9 months old.

I was watching for signs of her vulva getting larger and blood spotting. Nothing, nothing, nothing...and then one night walking her before agility class I realise her heinie is definitely swollen, and she is also peeing about every 37 seconds. In class, she spotted blood everywhere so I put a towel down for her.

Over the next week, she got more lovey and affectionate with me. Conversely - this may have been my imagination - Daphne got snarkier with her. That may have been because Fiona was getting more social and in your face with everyone. Increased progesterone, I hear. A calming hormone and at least one study actually suggests spayed bitches are more, not less, aggressive. Apart from some extra sniffing, Cooper didn't pay much attention.

I started monitoring her carefully out in the yard - she was barely out there alone - and no walks in the 'hood for three weeks. After the first night, she kept herself very clean and although I had an old sheet on the bed, I noticed no stains on it, and none in the dog bed in her crate. Or maybe she just wasn't bleeding much after the first night. In either case, no noticeable mess. Yay. I wondered if I would end up buying her a pack of those ridiculous looking bloomers.

Week three, she is ovulating. Intensely social and her brain just shut down. She was hysterical in class because she was so utterly clueless. Also by week three, her interest in food was minimal, she had the attention span of a gnat and she desperately wanted to meet every dog she saw. Also her vulva was really large and almost perfectly heart shaped. Cute!

Also somewhere in week three, the dogs did a lot of fussing and growling overnight. I had this image of the house ringed by amorous loose dogs. That didn't quite happen, but I think there probably was a dog or two hanging around outside on at least two nights. My dogs have a different sort of voice when it's a dog outside, as opposed to people walking past or other odd late night noises.

Day 22, she is mostly done but Less the nice big intact Dane at the dogsports agility trial thought she was mighty attractive (and Fiona liked him right back.) I was sitting on the ground and we were making sure their interactions were chaste, when Less took temporary leave of his senses and hiked his leg on my back. Danes don't just tinkle, they piss. Yuck! Good thing I had a spare tee shirt, and he missed my hair. Oy.

So little Fiona is forever changed, her vulva probably won't shrink back completely to its little puppy size and she now has visible nipples, probably forever. I have been warned she may go through a false pregnancy and pretend to nest and carry puppies around about six weeks after. Vet says to wait two months after heat to spay. Which puts her at about a year old in October, about when I planned on spaying her anyhow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Richfield County Park

So I'm still feeling all sad, so decided to take the Coop-man for a walk at Richfield. Miles of trails, big river, woods, fields, pretty. I thought he was over his little limping episode of Sunday, but within a mile he was obviously limping again. So I let him wander around in the river (he loves that), sniff along at his own pace, and spent some time sitting in a pavilion watching the world go by.
No exercise for the boy this week, and perhaps I wouldn't have been able to run him in next weekend's trial anyway. May take him to the vet later this week and have him looked at, get a letter saying he can't run. Not sure but maybe I'll get my $180 in trial entry fees back - if he's lame, I legitimately cannot run him anyway. Need to check the rule book.
I hope it's nothing more than a simple pulled muscle. His last Friday run was smokin' - he did 14 jumps and a tunnel clean in 20.48 seconds. Maybe he overdid it?

A really hard decision.

The following is what I posted to my dog list and friends today. I have been feeling choked up all morning, but finally came to the decision last night. I am so proud of what Cooper has acheived over the last few years but it's time to move on.
Shit, I still feel like crying though. I do think it's the right decision. I hope so.


After lots of deliberation and talking it over with a couple of people, I have decided to retire Cooper from agility. This is one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in a while and it breaks my heart. I am trying not to cry while writing this, actually.

As most of you know, last May he was subjected to a temporary ban, then probation, for lunging at another dog at ringside during a UKC trial. It would have ended in a lunge, but the D ring broke from the collar and he ended up tangling with another big bossy male dog - no damage, just a lot of drama. Last weekend we had three days of trialing, his first since May. Friday we did USDAA (he ran very well, two firsts and a second placement, fast and clean.) But he lunged at a boxer at ringside. Not good. Nobody seemed to mind and it wasn't a big deal but I was on edge about it. Saturday I was really, really nervous going to UKC. The dog he tangled with was there and Cooper bears grudges BIG time. He never forgets. Plus he will generalise his bad feelings about a dog he dislikes to every dog of that breed, he really does. The other owner was very considerate and kept her dog well out of sight the whole day, it was an outdoor trial so there was lots of room. But somehow, Cooper figured out where they were crated - near ringside - and it messed him up in the weaves every time because he would get fixated on where the dog was. I don't know how he knew, but he absolutely did. He did not run well, probably because I was a nervous wreck, worried he might actually do the unthinkable and jump the ring gating. He was also stiff, I almost pulled him from running on Saturday. Sunday he was stiff again and had a slight front end limp. I pulled him from all of Sunday's runs after talking with the judge - can't run a limping dog anyway, nor would I take the risk. He is after all, not a young dog, he'll be 8 on Jan 2. That's not a spring chicken for a Rottweiler.

Now, I know I'll never get past the nervousness about him having another altercation during a trial and this will affect our performance. I will not put my dog, or the breed reputation, at risk. In classes, I check to see who's going to be in class with us before signing up, and always sit off to the side so he's not close to other dogs. I watch him like a hawk at trials and in classes, but it's impossible to anticipate everything, especially at the busyness and hubbub at ringside. I'm sure he's more reactive than normal because of Fiona being in heat, but his high reactiveness has always been an issue and I've worked really hard to control it.

Plus he is getting older and I've noticed he gets pretty worn out now after a day's trialing. He has bad elbows and I was told to expect arthritis by three years of age, so he's done great, considering. He has had multiple High in Trials, Combined High in Trial and achieved his UKC championship. I am relinquishing my dream of getting his Grand Agility Champion title.

So - we'll start tracking, seriously. I took a tracking class with him four years ago and he liked it, I liked it, and we can go for AKC tracking titles. Little stress on the joints, it's work, and it gets us out in the open. We'll take lots of walks. I am looking for tracking classes and instructors now.

On another note: Politics Matters. After I left the trial site on Sunday, the club president's dog (Malamute) pulled away from her owner and attacked another dog. (Not the first such incident for this dog, who has also gone for Cooper and punctured his cheek, a few years ago, not in a trial. Cooper did not bite her back.) UKC rules state that the dog MUST be pulled from competition immediately and a report must be made to UKC. But I guess when you're club president, and a UKC judge besides, the rules don't apply. She went right ahead and ran her dog. Two people told me about the incident. That's really irresponsible and wrong. I could say a whole lot more about this but not on a public forum.

So. Tracking! I'm really trying to look at this as a "one door closes, another door opens" sort of thing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Photo, 2008.

Aha! I found some photos. All the really cute puppy photos are on my old, dead computer. But some were left in the camera and I downloaded them to the new computer. Fiona and Cooper at Bluebell Beach. Long legs, spots, wonky ears. I am hoping she really rocks in agility.

Woo. Back.

Sixteen months since I posted! Holy shit. I got sick and the task of keeping up with my little blog filtered to the bottom of a dusty pile of Things To Do while I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. Breathe. Breathe. Work, sleep, eat. Play with dogs. Maintain.
Yet dogmuse has been sitting here patiently waiting for...either my return, or an eternal slide into obscurity. Along with billionty seven other abandoned blogs.
I've turned off the comments. Here's something I didn't care for - the quid pro quo of "you leave a comment on my blog, I'll leave one on yours" and the general comment whoredom culture of blogging. It was getting to be awfully time consuming, reading all my regular blogs, commenting, reading comments, leaving comments on commenters' blogs, the little thrill of seeing how many comments one of my posts had received. Feh. I'll write this for me, not for comments. So there!
In February I got a very cool little puppy. Fiona is a JRT x red heeler, and I think will be a great agility dog. She loves it and is very focused in classes. I've also taken her lure coursing and think flyball will be a blast for her.My old computer died recently and I need to get the old one fixed and get all my photos off it. So, no photos right now. She is 26lbs, long legged, white with red spots, with a sweet, aquiline face and ears that can't decide whether to stand up like big bat ears or flop over. And, she is in heat right now. She'll get spayed in a couple of months, but because I've been learning about the risks (sure, there's benefits, but what we haven't been told is there are risks to neutering before the dog has reached sexual maturity; serious risks too) I decided to wait until she was about a year old. She'll be a year sometime in October (I don't know her exact birthday.)
I spent Christmas in NYC with my little brother, which was neat. Next Christmas I'll probably be on the Left Coast in California with aunt Jean and family. I should be thinking about buying airline tickets now, the way they are going up in price.
I did nanowrimo last November, and "won." Meaning I wrote at least 50,000 words of a...well calling it a novel is a bit generous...a story in 30 days. w00t.
The silver maple in front of my house is allelopathic. Meaning, it puts out a hormone into the soil that inhibits growth of most other plants. Which sucks. Not all silver maples do this, of course. Like people and animals, trees have their own specific genetic makeup. Can one DNA trees, I wonder? Even grass won't grow under the tree, and since the tree shadows most of my small front yard it stunts and kills most of what I plant. I've wasted a lot of money and time planting things that are struggling to survive. Maybe a rock garden instead, and give up on my plan for a flowering, butterfly attracting English style front garden?
I thought becoming a petsitter instead of a painter would be an interesting move. So I got a website, insurance, business cards, all that. Then, after building a small base of clients, realised that, fun though it was, I'd have to work from early morning to late evening, driving many miles and spending a third of what I made on gas, to make a fairly paltry living. In other words, I wouldn't be able to survive doing petsitting alone. On September 4 my insurance expires, along with my website hosting. I am renewing neither and continuing to paint. Sigh. Well I had to try it to find out whether it was an option, I guess. But I was going broke. Broker than usual, ha.
Other stuff, lots of it, has happened in the last 16 months. (Sometimes I wrote blog posts in my head, just never got them out here.) Some good, much bad. All in all it hasn't been a great year. But I'm continuing to put one foot in front of the other.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Horrible coincidence"?

Menu Foods CFO sold almost half his stock in the company right before the recall of tainted food.
How convenient.