Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Obedience Lesson

So Jen of Never Say Never Greyhounds came to my neck of the woods, here in California, and we met today.  I had my first ever lesson, and am happy to report we're not completely screwed up!

We met at a local park, and my hounds usually don't work outside.  I was apprehensive about their attention span, but determined.

When we met, it was immediately to business.  We started with heeling, and the girls quickly lost interest (if not immediately) in the treats we usually use at home.  We decided to take a trip to the local Albertson's grocer, and up the ante.  We got pre-grilled chicken, peanut butter packets, and tuna cans.

I had never gotten other treats like this because they worked so well for the other cheaper stuff.  However, they wouldn't work outside, ever.  Nothing would get their attention.  That was not the case today!

So we went back to work at a less distracting park (there are so many to choose from) and started with the heeling exercise again.  Success!  My dogs work for chicken!  Yay!  I got to see how to manipulate them to realign their bodies (something I just was not getting whatsoever on my own) to a proper heel position.  It was so good to see Kibeth, who is uncertain about working with strangers and accepting foreign food, perfectly happy to offer all the behaviors she knew for Jen.  Very proud Mama moment.  Also, she was extremely sensitive about her collar being touched when she first came off the track, and Jen was able to do so with no fuss whatsoever.  Awesome.

Next we started working "touch the cup" with the box of peanut butter containers.  I had never had ANY success getting them started on that exercise, but I saw immediately the benefits of doing it once I had an example with my dogs in front of me.  Kibeth already knows quite solidly what happens when she hears that click from the clicker.  Toy!  Treat!  Fun!  Praise!  All of the above!  JoJo, on the other hand, hasn't caught on just yet, despite my frequent attempts.  Today, though, she started to get it, and really enjoyed working.  JoJo has a very short attention span (until real grilled chicken got involved, that is!) so for her to keep working, offer behaviors, and stay enthusiastic was a joy to see.

Finally we addressed stay and come.  I have never had a recall I could rely on with any dog, and I've never been able to successfully train one.  I've seen the YouTube videos, I've read up... Nothing has quite clicked.  Now with our homework and having Rick to work with in tandem, I think I know how!  I was pretty proud of their stays with distractions, but any amount of anything on the leash would cause them to immediately break a stay.

I asked if Kibeth's down, which involves a sit then a down, was acceptable.  Jen didn't think there was anything really wrong with it, but I could retrain it if I wanted to.  She showed me how, by getting Kibeth to bow under her knee.  I had seen that method used before, but had never been able to replicate it with Kibeth (she would sit, down, and then crawl forward) and Jen got it instantly!  Oye.  I know, "higher value treat = CHICKEN, MOM!" - my hounds

Kibeth has a very pretty sit.  I think is Kibeth is very talented, but she's afraid of car rides.  I think we might have even made Jen a wee bit jealous of her sit!  JoJo, on the other hand, has a terrible sit.  It is SO uncomfortable for her, but she has made great strides to improve it.  Jen said that there's not much I can do to fix it, she'll figure out what's the most comfortable for her, and that's what I'll have to live with.

In short, I had a great time.  Jen was very professional, friendly, and a joy to work with.  I completely respected her before I get to see her in action, but now I just love her. <3

Sadly, no pictures from the day, but there's going to be a followup video soon after we practice our homework. ;-)

Definitely my kind of hobby.  THANK YOU, JEN!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Celebrity is Coming to Town...

I got an email from Jennifer with Never Say Never Greyhounds this morning...

She will be in my area soon, and would I like a lesson?

OMG YES! = a much calmer response than the one I gave.  She's in town for work, and then visiting a friend.  While she's here, we will hopefully be able to schedule a lesson for me, Kibeth, and JoJo.

I've been stalking her youtube, blog, and website for years.  She's like my hero.  I love everything she does with her hounds, and can't wait to do it myself.  However, with limited funds and no sense of direction, this is just the push I need to get started.

I am so thankful. You have no idea.

Corneal Ulcer Saga...

Kibeth's eye is not all better (I didn't think it would be, given how she's been looking and acting).  It is improved over 2 weeks ago, noticeably smaller and even more superficial.  I got some more drops (I can tell I'm running low) and we're going to try a less aggressive medical treatment.  $75 today.

The drops/ointment only exist to prevent infection.  The minimum number of times required to do that is 1 drop 2x a day.  That's what we're going to do.  Every time I treat her eye, she holds it shut, telling me that it bothers her.  I can't imagine having drops and ointment, in some combination, put into my eye for nearly 3 months.  Hopefully, less frequent daily treatments and 1 drop not 2 will be more comfortable for her.  I originally thought she held it shut to block out the light, which causes pain in corneal ulcer patients.  However, if treatment stops (like it did this morning so her eye would be open for the vet) she keeps her eye much more open.  It's not the light.  It's the treatment.

There is healing going on.  There's still blood vessels and inflammation.  It should just be DONE already.  We could meet with an ophthalmologist to ascertain there's not something more going on, but Dr. Driscoll really didn't think that was absolutely necessary.  With the budget very tight from the move, and her eye on the mend, albeit slowly, we have decided to stay the course.  With that decision, I cannot in good conscience allow her to be this mopey from the discomfort, so I got some non-steroidal pain pills in a very low dose for her to take the edge off in the meantime.

Please, God, allow the healing to continue and complete in a more timely fashion.

P.S.  While I was there, I had him feel the lumps on JoJo's leg (it's her right front).  He said they're likely something similar to warts, and totally harmless.  To be thorough, we could examine them and have them removed; but as they're not bothering her and likely nothing to worry about, I saw no value in that.  They're not even all that visible to the eye, you can just feel them if you pet her.  YAY no cancer.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dog Walking

I can now proudly say that my hounds are the best at walking with whom I have ever had the pleasure to do so.

I have found my 2nd calling.  Granted Wishes Pets is underway -- I LOVE being a dog walker.  I have two clients, Rosco and Sugar.  Both boxers, owned by completely separate people.  Rosco is a total gentleman, when he doesn't meet his arch nemesis dog(s).  Sugar is a lovebug, who also doesn't really approve of other dogs.  I see Roscoe for 30 minutes Mondays-Fridays; and Sugar for an hour Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  It's getting me fit, and I completely love living in California and being able to enjoy the outdoors in February when everyone back home is complaining of imminent snow storms.

I am trying, and failing, to energize my hounds.  Energize them for training, for activity... I think I may have waited too long in their lifespan to hope for them to be anything like Never Say Never Greyhounds Riley, Seven, or Reagan.  However, I love them dearly, and they are excellent emotional assistance dogs.  JoJo and Kibeth are also learning to tag team to help me with my anxiety.  Yesterday was the first day that they snuggled in my bed without a fireside to entice them.

Kibeth's vet checkup is tomorrow for her corneal ulcer.  Once again, I do not believe her eye to be healed, and it should be.  It's still red, enflamed, and teary.  However, those are all signs that healing is going on, so here's hoping it's just taking its sweet time.  She is ever the terrific patient, but fading fast.  I can see her quality of life diminishing.

I have cancer on my mind, for some reason.  I am paranoid JoJo has it.  She has small, hard lumps in her skin (not attached to anything internally, but under her fur) about the size of a pea.  There are two of them, in one of her front legs.  I'll be taking her to the vet tomorrow with Kibeth, to have him just take a look and see if they're anything worth investigating.  Likely not, as they're not attached to the leg, they're just in the skin.  However, they're nothing like the fatty tumors I've encountered with my other dogs (Kibeth included).