Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dear Doggy!

Little Puppy with a Toy
Big Puppy with a Toy
Little Puppy in the Yard
Big Puppy in the Yard
Somebody turns 4 years old today! Can you guess who?

I've heard it said more than a few times, "we may not get the dog we want, but we get the dog we need." I don't know about that. I know I wanted a dog that I could take anywhere, would love people, enjoy greeting new doggy playmates, swimming, and kayaking. I wanted a dog that would be my enthusiastic agility partner for years and years to come. So, do I need a reactive dog who does not like new people, dogs, or situations? Do I need a dog who does not like swimming or kayaking and is currently too anxious to continue with agility trialing? I don't think so. I don't think I need any of this; I've learned patience, compassion, and how to overcome disappointments in life, so I'm not sure what I'm getting here that I am in such desperate need of. I need a break. I need a money tree. I need ...a lot of things, but I don't need any of what is on poor little Z's list of issues any more than she needs them.

It's okay though - I don't have to need what I get from my dog (although the endless kisses and unconditional love are appreciated). I just have to love and care for her, and I do - very much. It's my job, my duty, and (most days) my pleasure. In the end, I suppose what is important is that each dog receive the owner that they need. 

Where would Zainey be if I did not come across this picture of her online several years back? I can't imagine. All I know is where she is today - safe at home waiting for her birthday cake!

Party on, Birthday Dog!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 4th of July from the Anti-Neighbor!

As I've gotten older, it's become easier to let the unimportant things roll off my back and it is also much easier to speak up for what I believe.
Yesterday was the 4th of July. Happy Independence Day America! I love this country, not a day goes by that I don't appreciate how fortunate I am just to have been born here. So, I am not one to squash anyone's celebration of this country.
While I was out enjoying the day at a chili cook-off with my good friend Michelle, Mike got a visit from our neighbor across the street; they were planning to have a group of friends over and would be setting off fireworks in the street in front of the house. As in, right in front of our house. Anyone with a dog that reacts to fireworks by panting, shaking uncontrollably, and going out of their mind, knows how hearing this news would make you feel. Poor Mike, to be put in that situation. Nobody wants to be the buzz-kill neighbor, but she obviously came over to inform us of their plans for a reason - to hear what we had to say (I'm giving her way too much credit to even assume that she started with any good intentions). Mike is a very reasonable person with a lot of tact when it comes to dealing with neighbors. He kindly let her know that he/we would not be okay with those plans. He informed her that we have spent a lot of time working with our dog and that fireworks are extremely difficult for her, not to mention the fact that fireworks are illegal where we live (a subtle but direct hint that our opinion in the matter does actually trump theirs). Her comment was "everyone up and down the street will be doing it". (Ummm, does that make it legal or okay?) Mike reiterated our position, she left, and ten minutes later she came back to say that they had changed their plans. Good - it's nice to know that there are reasonable people who aren't completely self-absorbed and think of themselves as being above the law. So, come sundown, we hunkered down for the evening in the front room. We had our movie and Z was snug in her anxiety wrap with xanax in her system and her puzzles on standby to keep her occupied should we need them. Yea! We can do this! ...

"Ready for the movie! I've got my xanax, treat-toy, anxiety wrap, and puzzles!"

Friday, June 29, 2012

Agility Retrospect...(part 3)

One Day.
One Mission.
Complete our level 1 requirements by qualifying in Jackpot!
(Oh, and also try our hand/paws at level 2 Standard - as in, perform the weave poles and teeter in public).

DONE! ...and... DONE!

Jackpot, our final level 1 requirement is complete. Yea! ...
It didn't go as smoothly as I (or Zainey) would have liked, for sure, but we did it. Z fell off the A-Frame, or more accurately, she launched off the A-Frame. Whoopsy! One of the people working the ring (I won't say who) observed that it was due to my approach, being such a green handler, that I needed to not 'leave' her at the approach to the A-frame, and that I'll learn how to manage that better in the future. ...<Ahem>... Okay. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that the tire to A-frame approach was at a 90 degree angle and by the time we ran, the non-rubberized equipment set up outdoors on grass was visibly wet from all the dogs that ran before us.  Luckily, this is one of the few courses where the A-frame is not faulted and, while I was prepared to stop our run right then and there, Z bounced right back and was ready to keep on truckin'. Granted, my course plan fell apart a bit at that point and we just kind of muddled though, but we finished strong (no 'sniffy' or other distractions in the gamble portion) and in 1st place! Pretty good for her first time running on an outdoor course where the distractions are tenfold and she had to run up a slippery slide!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Behavior Modification ~ Progress and Follow-Up

In the seven+ weeks since our initial appointment with the veterinary behaviorist, we've been adhering to our training and behavior modification plan, recording our progress, and checking in with Dr. Bain when new situations or questions arise. ...

Part 1 - Help Zainey relax:
DAP (Dog Appeasing Phermone) Collar ~  For the first couple of days wearing this, Z did seem a little more calm. For example, whenever we pull into the driveway after coming home from agility practice, she is up and ready to get out of the car. The day after she started wearing the DAP collar, she remained lying down and completely relaxed when I opened the back seat. After a few days though, that chilled-out state seemed to fade. Since the collars need to be replaced every few weeks, I applied a new one a couple of weeks ago and that night she 'nursed' in her sleep quite a bit. This is something Z has always done mildly, off and on, but that night she was
really 'sleep-nursing'. Again, that effect didn't seem to last.
Anxitane (L-Theanine) ~ I can't say that I've noticed any change in her behavior or anxiety level since she's been on this green tea nutraceutical, so if it is helping her in any way, it's not at a level that I've been able perceive and I believe we're somewhere near the point where if it were to help, we would be noticing.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Zainey Goes to the Shrink!

Timid boder collie mix puppy
First bath in her new home, Oct 2008
Zainey has always had a few issues; she came into our lives a lively yet timid pup and grew to be quite reactive at times despite our very best efforts at training, socialization, and exposure to new situations and people. At the age of two she also started developing slight noise phobias that have since grown into full blown 'panic attacks' complete with inconsolable panting and shaking. As her fears of new people, certain dogs, and various situations have grown, so have her reactions and undesirable behaviors. All the while, our lives have gotten smaller and smaller in order to accommodate her special needs and personal space requirements. ...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Agility Retrospect...(part 2b)

In part2b of the retrospective post of our March 17-18 agility trial, we pick up where we left off in part 2a (duh-really?). Z and I are back at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds competing in our third agility trial. We failed to qualify in Jackpot on Saturday morning which meant moving up to level two was out of the cards for that weekend. However, we still had three more courses to run that day and another three the next. Oy vey - that seemed like a lot to complete (in between a LOT of sitting around) when my hopes for the weekend had just been smashed like a yam on Thanksgiving. ...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Agility Retrospect...(part 2a)

Another title for this post might be "Agility Trial #3: 3rd Time's not the Charm" or maybe even "Our 3rd Agility Trial: Apparently Failure is an option."

I knew when I got started with agility that it wasn't going to be easy. I've heard time and again about people who've gone through all the hassle of registering for a trial, packing up the dog (and dog supplies and car), driving quite a distance, staying in some random hotel, getting up way too early on a morning that's way too cold, and sitting around for the better part of a day (or weekend) - all for the chance of qualifying in just one or two particular runs - only to have it all blown to heck in a matter of seconds. I just thought those types of disappointments would come at a much higher level, not in level 1! ...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Agility Retrospect ...(part 1)

Why the he** is it so difficult for me to keep up a simple blog?! From what I've been told, we all get the same amount of time in a day - 24 hours...right? Well, whatever, just a few obstacles in life, I suppose.

...Hey! Speaking of obstacles, I need to document Zainey's agility accomplishments, so let's get on with it. Since they are so out of date at this point, I thought about covering the past three trials in one post, but since it appears we probably won't be trialing for a while as we instead focus on some behavior issues (more on that later), I am going to really drag these out. Besides, she's accomplished way too much to just shove it all into one condensed blurb.
I'm going to take you back in time now to our 2nd agility trial, all the way back to January 2012. The location is Elk Grove and the mornings are flippin' cold as heck! 

Friday afternoon, checking out the new venue

We ran 6 courses over two days: 2 Standard; 2 Wildcard; 1 Colors; 1 Fullhouse. ...

Saturday, April 7, 2012


So much for staying on top of this whole blogging thing. Oh well. I have my reasons as to why I haven't been keeping up with our writing, but really none of them are good enough when you consider the fact that this is something that I actually want to do versus all the crap that I do because I have to (or at least I feel like I have to).

We're back to our blog and here's a quick summary of our past 17 weeks: