Thursday, March 31, 2011

Back to the (now) big brown boy!

It's been awhile since I posted and my recent ones may seem somewhat off topic. I considered not writing anything about our cat, Millie, on this blog but she was an important part of (Laurel and) Hardy's life so I decided to include her. 
Today is the last day of March and we have snow on the ground again. I've been feeling pretty cranky recently - it's been a long winter and I've been feeling kind of crummy due to an ongoing sinus infection since November. That means we haven't been getting out as much as I'd like and although Hardy and I are working on manners, basic obedience, public access skills and task training at home; I know that isn't the same as getting out and about. 
We made it to a CPE Agility trial the weekend of March 11th - 13th. Laurel had a chance to compete with the teeter and the weaves for the first time which was very exciting! Unfortunately, I developed an uncontrollable nose bleed that went until Monday afternoon. Monday morning we went to my doctor who sent us to an Urgent Care that sent us to an ER. The MD there tried cauterizing my nose but that didn't work so she packed it. By Thursday, I was sleeping about 23 hours a day and the ENT told me that it was due to the blood loss, would take about a month to recover from and that we wouldn't be able to work through the ongoing infection for another month because of the other issues with the nose bleed and packing.
Hardy had a good time at the trials - he is learning about wonderful, quiet, calm crate behavior even in the midst of over-the-top dogs. Brent took him for some long walks around Janet and Scott's beautiful property and he got to work with me in the training hall. He has learned the "What Else Can You Do?" game and has become very good at it. He was wowing people with all the different behaviors he can come up to throw at me when I ask him, "What else can you do?" Each behavior has to be a new one that he hasn't done before during the sequence. 
I had complained to my service dog trainer, Sue Alexander, because it seemed like Hardy might be "marking". When I described what he was doing - urinating occasionally inside the training hall but without any leg raising or other deliberate behavior, Sue said that didn't sound like marking and suggested that I take in a urine sample to check for a urinary tract infection. I made arrangements to do that on Saturday and to our surprise, Friday night Laurel was up from about 3:00 on doing multiple urinations outside. When we collected a sample from her to take with us, it was blood. We were stunned to find that both our Labs had urinary tract infections! Laurel obviously didn't feel well; Hardy didn't seem much affected! They each have a 20 day supply of Keflex! We asked our vet if it was okay to go to the C-WAGS trials at Medina Kennel Club the next day and he thought it would be fine.
I decided to try Hardy in the Zoom 1 class (which has no stationary exercises). We haven't been working on rally much but Hardy can do all the exercises and I thought it would be a good place to see where he is right now. I was fully prepared to take out treats and use it as a run-thru. We went through many of the exercises Friday afternoon and he did very well (but of course, we were at Canine Affair - a place he knows and feels very comfortable at). 
Laurel and I had 4 classes before Hardy's debut and I will admit to being quite frustrated because of some issues with the facility. Keeping in mind that I'm the only person who competes using a power wheelchair (or any type of wheelchair, actually), the fact that the rings were very small and the mats rolled under my chair doesn't really affect anyone else too much. Laurel was obviously not herself (not sure whether it was the UTI or the rolling mats and other environmental issues) but she still tried her best for me and we Q'd in 3 out of 4 tries (our NQ occurred when I got completely lost on course). I'll probably try competing there one more time when I know Laurel is feeling fine and see how she reacts - if she is still stressed, I'll skip those trials with her in the future.

Hardy's class was the last one of the day so it had been a long time for him spent in the crate with some opportunities to come out and visit and work. At the beginning of the day, Hardy had alerted to muscle spasms in my legs and then about 40 minutes before our class, to spasms in my arm & hand (I mentioned it had been a long day, right?!). Hardy was sniffing and wandering around at the end of his leash some during our class but I'm not sure whether that was because there were smells that he thought were too good to ignore or whether he was stressing some about the rolling mats too. Part way through, I couldn't open my left hand due to muscle spasms (that he had alerted to) which made handling the leash difficult. But he had moments that were really lovely and we did Q, a nice bonus. 
I'm really hoping that the weather will break and that the MDs and I will figure out what is going on with the nose bleed/sinus infection issues so that Hardy and I can work more consistently away from the house! I can tell you though, that even with our setbacks; as Hardy's 1st birthday approaches in April, he is a lovely, funny, enthusiastic young man who continues to show all sorts of promise to become my service dog (first as Laurel's partner and then her successor) as well as my dog sport partner!

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