Why waste a perfectly good bowl of water? I can fit.” Kenai and BB as little tots. Funny BB was goofy from the get go. One of his big ten rules for puppy life: wait not, want not…
Thou shalt not waste peanut butter either…
I got such a chuckle fest organizing the boys’ puppy pictures last week! What a pair of characters, different as day and night. The sheer poundage of silly… I needed a laugh, too; spent the past week cleaning up puppy barf and diarrhea. Dane sized stink times 2 round the clock.
Think zoo poo quantity. The internist started them on a special canned food last week to see if there’s a food allergy to some fundamental ingredient in hard kibbles. He was adamant to stay on this food for a month. Appearantly this food is worse…and since our phone calls weren’t returned I made an executive decision:
(___) on the internist that don’t call back, and his food. I took them to the holistic vet this morning.
As I suspected both boys have SIBO, an overgrowth of anearobic bacteria in the small intestines. BB was much worse off, so he’s still at the vet where he’s getting fluids and meds to stop the bloody stools and vomiting. Poor baby, he cried like an operatic soprano when I left him. Kenai cried louder when we left little bro behind.
BB’s SIBO is much worse, so he’s going to be on metronidazole for awhile. I’m thinking the doxy Kenai’s on for the suddenly up again tick titer was helping him a little. They’ll get a super strength probiotic tomorrow, and hopefully that combined with a grain and starch free diet will tame the belly beasties for Kenai.
That all’s why this post took so long to get up. I picked up some the e coli and crew as well from cleaning up behind the boys, having repeated bouts of nausea and die in the rears this weekend my own self. I’ll boost up on the probiotics and take care of myself now that I’ll have a few hours to rest. (The only good part of leaving a sick buddy at the vet).
Needless to say the living room found itself assulted: all the soft furnishings that wouldn’t run away got sprayed down with disinfectant, all the sheets went in the washer on sanitize, the floors were mopped with bleach solution, and I sprayed lysol into the running AC ducts until I couldn’t breath.
Kenai didn’t like the attack of the washer woman, running him off his comfie bed and stinkin up his living room. He’s pouting here in the kitchen, save for leaping up at every sound to see if it’s Grammy bringing his brother home. Littermates.
He’s moved to his brother’s crate for a nap once the living room was clean and fresh. Poor baby two, all subdued and sorrowful. We’ll have a nice nap together on Grammy’s bed here in awhile, cuddled up and snuggled down. There’ll be less poo but more zoo when BB comes home.
Not to post an all-downer, before the zoo poo started in earnest, BB had himself a really grand time at his training last Friday. I can barely remember that far back, but we spent time on click and play for watching the day care kids across the street, and “back up” when a human sits down.
We made every noise under the sun, and he noticed then ignored all but one: door knocking. So we worked on not barking at that sound. He showed himself to be the bent-bottom-master of down stays, at least once he was tired.
The next training session is Friday, if any of the three of us are up for it. We’ll just take it easy the next few days, rest up and try to get feeling better. I think we’ve earned a rest…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on September 21, 2009
Okay, this post is taking longer than expected to get finished too–what’s up with that? Frustrating!
Trainer/breeder Jane Killion is considering writing a “Pigs Fly” puppy book! Raising a piggy pup requires a thoughtful approach from the start if you intent the pup to excel at higher obedience work. Learned that in about a month from Kenai.
“They” say we ruin our first dog as SD owner/trainers, at least that’s what I’ve been told (accused of?) by some of the more professional and slightly condescending SD owner/trainers. Perhaps so, considering how sideways Kenai’s training’s gone. How much his health has affected is hard to tell.
I knew from the start this boy was all over different, and found out fast I didn’t understand how to work with him. Hindsight reveals many a flaw in my early training of Kenai, and massive black holes here and there in my aquired “skill set”.
I’m not sure I’d take it as far as “ruined” though–maybe “they” just weren’t willing to expend the time and effort undoing their earlier mistakes. Granted it can be a pain to undo, but the undoing is very much a learning experience too. That’s what it’s all about Alfie–learning.
To have a Pigs Fly puppy book would make things remarkably easier for folks though, easier than the trial and error, durn that didn’t work method Kenai’s had to put up with. Not all dogs learn the same way, anymore than kids do. Doesn’t mean they don’t have gifts to offer us.
My piggy pup had his training time last Friday, or should I call it, almost training time. With Kenai pretty much out of commission, our training times are more about play than tasks; it’s what he can give me. While I wait for him to get well, I’m hoping to use BB as my guinea pup starting this Friday.
Training focus shifts from teaching the dog to making a trainer out of me. That way I’ll be ready when Kenai is. BB’s time I hope will be Lisa watching and teaching me: timing, body posture, shaping, reinforcement etc.
For Kenai we focus on play, and the foundations for later formal training are being laid that way. Whatever works. Kenai wasn’t terribly enthusiastic last week, being slightly on the blah side, but we did get a few rises out of him!
“It ate my ball!!” Kenai had to walk on the yellow mat to get his ball back, and with the ball under it, it was all shifty and not solid.
Kenai’s a terra firma sort of fellow, with the habit of picking the solid ground for himself, and leaving me with the shifty…not a good idea!
He piddled about with it, refusing two or three times, then having Lisa on one side and me on the other as ‘barriers’ he walked on the shifty mat.
Yay! he did it, got his ball and had a few moments of playtime with it. Then it was do it all again!
That earned him a good long game of keep away with Lisa, complete with butt bumping so “you can’t reach” and trotting about all smug and happy with his boy self.
We also continued his tight space work, this time, making him walk between rows of chairs to come see me, to get his toys, and being the Kenai that he is, he backed out. That was okay for awhile, then we decided to do a turn around between the chairs.
Oh so disquieting “mom”, lemme just back up! But he finally did it, and had his fun games with the “greenie meanie” monster toy (by his back foot in the pic above left). Greenie meanie made it funner, you see. After two more turn arounds, he got a really nifty reward:
Quintessential Kenai, looking out the window. I must have a hundred pictures of him looking out windows! Surveying is part of his doggy duty he thinks. What a boy.
He wasn’t too enthusiastic, sore legs and upset tummy, so we didn’t really push him to do too much. There were some name games, with tushie rubs and chase me’s for his rewards.
He’s remarkably good at the name games, considering he and I haven’t practiced them much recently. He’s a smart boy–he remembers, even if he tried to pretend otherwise.
And I’ve found a way to let him run loose in the field!! If I walk around the garage while he runs, (no critters around of course) then pull the car out, he comes. Guess a car ride is a high enough value reward?
I may be playing with fire, but he misses the room to stretch out his legs as much as I miss seeing him happy being loose. As long as he continues to come to the car, I’ll continue trusting him that much off leash.
Today is BB’s accupuncture appt. He doesn’t seem to get the same relief that his brother does for some reason. Maybe he hurts more? But it does reduce his anxiety-based behavior a little bit. A little bit with BB is a big relief for us!
Well, I’d better get this post up before something else interrupts and postpones it! Yeesh. You’d think the stars were against me or something this month. Too bad, I’m gonna keep the chin up and the clicker clicking anyway.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on September 15, 2009
Ball? What ball? I don’t see one, do you? Kenai 21 mo
My apologies for getting this post up later than I normally would. It’s been quite the week, running about and none of it for fun, save Kenai’s training time Friday when I got this pic.
I came across a new SD blog, http://servicedogteam.blogspot.com/. I enjoy seeing how other’s lives have been improved by the assistance of a dog. Amazing creatures, dogs, so wholehearted in all they do. This dog’s name is Emma, and it suits her gentle energy.
Kenai had his accupunture treatment Saturday morning, with a twist. Dr Reggiere decided to try an old school technique since he moves about and doesn’t want to be still. Both he and BB move just enough that keeping the needles in long enough can be difficult.
So she injected the points with a small amount of b-12. Not only will he have the effect of the needle (accupuncture), the subcutaneous fluid puts a tiny bit of pressure on the point for a couple of days (accupressure). We’re hoping that prolongs the good effects.
Kenai much prefers this method! Stick, squirt, done. He held perfectly still for it, and quit the whining he did while waiting for her to come in the room. He’s been very whiny, and it’s even getting on my nerves. Insecurity I think, some boredom. Who knows, but it’s starting to grate.
Bless his heart, sometimes he stands at the window and pines away for a long hard run through the field like we did when he was little. He has such a “call of the wild” in him and can’t indulge it, now that he’s taken to chasing and not coming back. The kennel is so small for those long legs.
What I wouldn’t give to have the dough to fence in an acre or so of that field. Then he could run free in a big way, while I sit in the shade. Ah dreams. Maybe when the vet bills die down we could start saving? I’d love that. (So would he)
As I was surfing about I discovered the “Smart Dog University” blog, Talos’ blog on my links, is associated with Karen Pryor’s Training Academy! I knew she was a fantastic puppy raiser, and now I know why! No wonder I’ve been so impressed, right?
In my happy haste I shot off an email before surfing long enough to see the requirements for admission at the Acadamy. Crash. Ya have to already be a professional trainer, vet tech etc to apply, which of course, I’m not.
The chronic fatigue bars me from being a full time anything, save for a full time napper. And crowded conventions, big classes etc just aren’t safe for me, setting off a bad case of the wobbles and/or migraines.
That leaves me with read, read, read, which I’m prone to do anyway. I think I’ll pick one or two articles at a time from good training sites, and see what I can do with them. I’m fairly good at some things, like capturing, but more than rudimentary shaping eludes me.
Mostly because I’m chicken to dive in and get my set-in-his-ways boys stuck in a mistake? Capturing a natural response with a click and treat is much easier! But not everything you want comes naturally to a dog, so it’s “shape up” if you want a certain behavior.
Partly I have trouble thinking four or more “steps” ahead too, which is the essential part of shaping. Shaping reminds me of another game that can be difficult: chess. You make this move, I make that one, always thinking about the end game.
My consistency could use improving, and I’m terrible about variable reinforcement. Maybe I could start following the boy’s trainer Lisa around? Does she need a free part time assistant? Pretty please, with a milk-bone on top?
Of the two boys, BB is the easiest to see results with. He’s my instant gratification, and the mistakes I make show up quick enough to undo. Once Kenai makes up his mind this is how to do it, he don’t change his mind without an act of Congress or memo from Jesus. BB willingly adjusts–he’s not a pigs fly pup.
One thing I have started with Kenai is a head pat reconditioning. He’s shy of having his forehead reached for right now, so I’ve taken to pat/click/treat over and over for several repetitions. Once he stops moving his head away from hands, I’ll have to reinforce only occasionally.
That’s built a bit on the name games of “When Pigs Fly” by Jane Killion. Rather than “priming” the clicker, I’m priming the head rub in a way. Head rubs should begin to mean I-likes rather than I-don’t-likes. I don’t want him too outgoing, but when it’s okay to be petted, at least don’t shy away!
Wednesday morning was a toy time from boy heaven for Kenai. He has no idea that play is “training”, a sideways sort of learning for the both of us. We had a really energetic game of tug, with my big backside on the couch to make it harder for HIM to win.
Then we played hide and seek around the couches, complete with “BOO” and mini zoomies. All to improve his desire to find me when I call his name. Not to mention the great good fun of watching a boy be happy with his puppy self, discovering the hiding “momma”!
We had some major keep away with anything I could steal from him. It goes in the shirt, it hides behind my back, it goes this way and that…I had him dancing, playtime freestyle! Boy wrinkles everywhere while he tried to anticipate my next move. Ha ha, made ya think–variable reinforcement practice for me.
After about 15 min of rest, I introduced him to the joys of plant saucers. Not only do they fly faster than the brown boy streak, they turn upside down and require strategy for a thumbless soul to pick up. There were baskets to peek in, blankets to root under, an empty rice container to chase all over creation…
After much more rest this time, it was wake up Grammy time. Since he’s been blah about his messing with sasquatch games, where he and Mom chatter like noisy jays, a new set of boy wrinkles was in order. A wild tail ball!! It’s a motorized ball that wiggles and wanders, with a fuzzy tail sticking out of one end.
Should’ve had the camera! Hilarious. He’d corner it, or step on its tail, but the moment he picked it up you’d think he’d bit into a lemon. “It wiggles in my mouth, ma!” Spit it out with big eyes, chase it down, pick it up, spit it out, snort and sneeze…I laughed myself silly at him.
Friday I came across one of the best all-positive techniques for putting an end to the ever frustrating drag-your-human-by-the-leash game. http://www.clickertraining.com/node/541 . Not to copy it here, the basic point is to click/reward when the leash is loose, and lure the dog to get (keep) his body position where you want it.
Like most no-correction techniques, the beginning stages are slow going for most dogs. It takes awhile for it to dawn on a dog that pulling gets no reward but not pulling does: the opposite of what they’ve learned. It takes just as long or longer for cross-over trainers like me to get the idea that a slow start results in faster progress later on!
The only thing that I’d add to this article is variable reinforcement, I mentioned earlier. We humans are creatures of habit, so we unthinkingly create patterns. The dog can learn we treat on step 3, 5, and 7 regularly but rarely on 4 or 8. They then learn to loose leash on 3, 5, and 7 but not on other steps because we don’t reward those steps as much.
The idea is to mix up the step you reward on: 5, 2, 6, 3, 7, 3, 5, 1, 4, 8, 5, etc. deliberately. You build up the numbers as the dog learns, such as step 25, 14, 2, 11, 20, 8, 31 etc. The dog doesn’t know when you will reward, so they pay attention all the time. And the treat is dropped either slightly behind you if the dog’s gone forward, or at the side of your foot to keep them in position.
Kenai’s Thursday puppy puncture was the standard needle only, and he went from (oh my) cowering and shaking in the corner to tail up happy in about 15 minutes. I asked for another tick titer, since he’s doing worse overall, and Dr Reggiere thought it was a good idea.
Oh my boys, get well soon! I worry ’bout you when I’d rather be having fun with you.
This post is a bit too long already to write about the Friday training session with Lisa, so I’ll get that in the next one. And I won’t wait so long to get it up, either!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on September 12, 2009
We goin to bed yet, ma? What’s takin so long…Kenai 20 mo
Told ya he matches the kitchen cabinets! Yep, he melds right in, and can be remarkably quiet with them big ol snowshoe paws. I was dumping spam from my emails with my back to him when he snorted at me, that’s how I knew he was there!
Wow it’s been a really busy few days, and so much has happened I sorta took time to “process” it all before posting. And get a few naps in. We’ll start back at last Tuesday.
Mom had her cataract surgery Tuesday, so the boys were crated the whole day. That made Tuesday night cuddle hour, not something I mind at all. Wednesday morning was lots of toy time, bone chewing, and general hanging out to make up for the day before.
Wednesday afternoon had a fun outside play time:
I hears a froggie in there, I do I do!
Which way should I go? I like this way, I like that way too…what is a boy to do?
Unfortunately, before the outside play time was over, little boy threw up some foamy yellow gunk. He’s losing weight again, despite a weirdly normal tick titer and worsening symptoms. I called the vet and he helped us get an appt with a specialist. We had to wait 6 days.
I tried to fill up the time, being so worried. It’s been a full year that we’ve been fighting this whatever it is causing Kenai and BB’s problems, and it was really wearing on me. Guess the blog hasn’t had the same romping fun tone as it did when they were little tots, and that would be why.
We did this and that to keep busy, nothing new or exciting until Friday. Fridays are training days with Lisa, and since Kenai felt poorly, I let him stay home. BB didn’t know whether to sneeze or wiggle out of his hide, having the full attention of 3 people all to himself!
So BB had a full hour of “play” he didn’t know had a purpose: not walking so close he bumps our legs, retrieving practice, and general boy fun. He was tired after about 20 minutes, his damaged leg hiking up higher and higher so it didn’t have to be used. But he didn’t want to stop–boy wanted to play.
We took BB home after the training time and picked up Kenai, heading to Ziggies for some breakfast for ourselves. As usual, the conversation wound up on the boys, and what are we going to do to get them well. I mean heavens, he can wear the SD vest he’d outgrown at 6 mo old, over a year ago.
Tick titer be hanged, Kenai is showing full blown symptoms of the Ehrlichia, as well as GI problems: body pain, muscle loss, bloodshot eyes, loose yellowy stools, occational vomiting, poor coat, weirdly intense fearfulness, food allergies, stress sensitivity, swollen lymph nodes, fungal infections, skin folliculitis, anorexia/excessive hunger, odd head tilting, tendon pain, body odor, reflux…ugh.
The fungal ear infections and bacterial folliculitis of the skin indicates immune system weakening or overload. But the vets wanted to stop the doxacycline because the titer was negative. How does a dog go from 3 whopping positive titers to zilch in 4 weeks and be worse? It doesn’t make sense.
I had reached the point of fear–that unthinkable fear that we wouldn’t be able to get him well. What was I going to do? He has so many problems no one can identify or fix. Could he be dying on me and nothing can be done, was going through my head.
I’d picked up a local pet magazine, always keeping an eye out for new and fun places to take a furry love bud. What should I find in that magazine…OMG a holistic vet that does accupuncture and physical rehab on dogs!
We didn’t even go home to call, just headed straight in town and walked right in. I swear I would’ve run over little old ladies and herds of antelope to get there! Luckily she had the time for a walk in, having just opened her practice. We discover it’s Dr. Reggiere.
As in Dr Reggiere who was the substitute vet during our regular vet’s vacation last summer–she’s the one that checked the boy’s pancreatic function! She remembered Kenai, and was disturbed by his appearance. She’d seen him back before the worst of the muscle loss started, and he was down to 126 pounds.
So Kenai had his first very simple accupuncture session (boy don’t like needles), and I was over the moon with the results! I’d had one dog years ago who had been helped by “puppypuncture”, but the person left and there was no one else in about 300 miles. There is now…
He didn’t show any pain for the better part of 36 hours, which was beyond wonderful. No crying, no chewing at his hind legs, no gimping about to watch and try to relieve with liniment. YAY!! So both the boys are going back today (Tues) for a more thorough puppypuncture treatment.
Then Monday we saw the specialist, who wanted to run a couple tests, and if they didn’t pan out, try a special food, before considering endoscopy on one or both pups. Kenai had dropped to 122 pounds over the weekend. I like this vet–he listens and respects all the research and efforts we’ve done.
Even though BB looks worse on the outside, he’s most worried about Kenai. BB looks like a bag of bones and always has. He doesn’t drop terrifying amounts of weight, but he doesn’t gain either. He hasn’t had any positive tick titers, he hasn’t had the wild personality changes his brother’s had.
But he looks awful, and staggering amounts of food don’t seem to do any good. Kenai’s more “delicate” in some ways–the smallest changes can cause him the biggest problems the fastest. So this vet’s going to focus most on Kenai: if we can fix him, Beebs will likely follow right behind.
The plan is this: full fecal culture of any bacteria or enteric pathogens, panacure in case there’s a parasitic problem like giardia. The panacure could mean another bout of colotis, how Kenai’d reacted last year to it. But we’ll try it.
And wait for the results of the fecal tests. And worry about the Ehrlichia, I think is still very much active and sickening him. And maybe run another tick titer in a few weeks. And treat their pain as well as immune systems with accupuncture.
And that’s alot as far as a plan, but these were alot of worries I’d been carrying around for a year by myself. Nothing was working. I hadn’t realized how desperate I’d been feeling until finding the accupuncture vet.
Kenai had responded well to a treatment, the first time in probably 8 or 10 months something had worked as intended. So big complicated plan or not, I’m feeling very nearly hopeful! I like that. Hopeful is good. Hopeful is very very good.
Okay, so this post isn’t as romping fun as when they were tiny tots either, but we may be on an upswing…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on September 1, 2009