Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A little comfort

This past weekend, we xpened our canopy to give the dogs room to relax.  We tossed beds on the grass, relaxed in our chairs and enjoyed wonderful agility.

Fin, when given a choice, always sits in a chair.  It cracks me up.  We'll leave to walk a course, or help set bars, and we come back and Fin is in a chair.

Today, agility, work, work out, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and now it is time to finish up some dishes and relax on the couch. All the pups are following me around whatever I do except Fin.  Fin is in the barkalounger sleeping :)

Monday, April 25, 2011


Fin and I were on the same wave length this weekend.  Five "Q's".  Yes there were lots of runs where we didn't Q but every run she ran her heart out.
  • 2 pairs
  • 1 snooker
  • 1 standard
  • 1 gamble
There were some missed opportunities:
  • A perfect run in Standard on saturday with a back jump on the LAST jump...Fin keeping me humble.
  • A beautiful GP run after a long weekend and she nailed it until the tunnel discrimination...how she loves her tunnels.
The weather, just wonderful.  It couldn't make up it's mind, cold, wet, sunny, warm, breezy, and one gust of wind that took out a canopy.  But certainly agility weather.  The dogs loved it.

Great walks between runs.  Good friends and yummy lunches summed up our weekend.

I truly am tired today...but a good tired.

Sunday runs:

Pairs with Sizzle and Sue.  I flubbed the batton pass, but ended it just fine.

Gamble.  We need the Gambles.  Fin loves her tunnels.  A missed opportunity on Saturday, but we got Sunday.  Notice in the beginning she back jumps the second jump rather than wrap it?  That was the point that put us into 1st place!!!

Standard.  What a fun course for me and Fin.  I am especially proud of her tight turns.  We've been working on these and don't usually see them at the trials as she is high as a kite and I'm usually late.  But we got some good ones in this lovely standard course.

Friday, April 22, 2011

And we are off...

Soon we will be at one of our favorite venues "SMART" in Prunedale.  A USDAA event extravaganza. 

Fin and I are looking forward to many opportunities to run clean, run fast, and have a great time.  We are hoping the handler runs with confidence and determination.  We are hoping the agility partner takes all the jumps in front of her with joy and abandon!

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When easy is hard

Last night at PowerPaws class it was breezy, cold, but just amazingly beautiful.  The sky was full of angry clouds making their way across the valley towards us, but it never rained.  The first course looked to me to be quite difficult.  Not from a technical point of view, but from a "I can't run that fast and get were I need to be" point of view.

I mentioned this and received some great advice.  If you can't get to where you need, you need to look back on the course and find where the difficulty lies.  In other words, what obstacle are you babysitting and not able to move to get to where you need to be.  In my case, it was the weaves.  If I could have left her in the weaves, I could have easily gotten to the position to serp.  If I babysit the weaves I'm stuck and not going to make it.  

We come back to the theme of my life lately, I don't have confidence that she'll do the obstacle so I hang out waiting for it to be done and find myself behind.  Two things for me to work on:
  • independent obstacle performance for Fin
  • my confidence in her doing her job and me "handling" rather than babysitting 

For another exercise, we were running through a set of complex jumps that required decell.  We were having trouble getting to position and all our dogs were going wide.

Nancy decided to make it simple and set up a short 3 obstacle drill.

Before we did the drill we worked one jump to ensure our dogs understood the idea of a decell cue.  Fin is good at this.  I've worked on it alot.  Where we fail is "me" getting to the decell position when motion is involved before she is committed to the jump.

So we broke it down. Used three obstacles and worked on decell, wrap, and front cross.

The first one was just send to the tunnel, get to position and hold it.  Reward for tight.  If the dog doesn't turn as tight as you want, drop the jump bar and try without any jumping.  Slowly raise the jump bar until dog is jumping over and turning while jumping.

Second was the wrap.  As soon as dog is committed to 3, start the turn to 4 (should be turning as dog is turning), and take off toward 4.  The dog should turn really tight..same as the first exercise.

Third was the front cross.  Begin the FC to 4 as commitment (you should be turning as dog is turning) and then go!

Very fun exercises (I've got to set it up in the back yard and work on both sides as we only did the one side turn last night.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

iliopsoas injury Fin - A summary

I have been contacted in the last couple of weeks by three people whose dogs have been diagnosed with iliopsoas.  So I think it is time to write up a one year summary.

The video above clearly shows:
  • Fin has her speed back.
  • She will still go around stuff during a run.
  • She will also take it with confidence more and more
  • I need to pick up my feet when I'm running ...however, Fin clearly reads my fall as a decell Q and comes back to me.
  • We are close to running clean.

During this long journey, I did write a few blogs about this injury.  Here are the blogs that I wrote during our diagnosis and later rehab:
Today it is more than a year when I first found out that Fin was injured.  Her injury was not a clear "wow, she is hurt."  It was more a "why is she acting this way?" 
Looking back, she first started going around jumps in a trial in January.  I didn't get her to the doctor until April.  Other than going around jumps, Fin had no symptoms that I could see.  It wasn't until after I sought help from massage that I realized that something was actually hurt. If your dog is showing lameness, keep in mind that when they stop showing lameness, it doesn't mean it is cured, it only means that it is hidden.
Some dogs with this injury will limp, some will hold their leg up, some will suffer in silence (this was Fin).
This injury is depressing.  Mostly for the human.  Fin actually got more quantity of one on one time (whether she wanted it or not) than when she is healthy.  When she is healthy, I'll take multiple dogs for walks, or go to the back with the pack and toss the ball and we all play together.  When she was on crate rest, she got individual walks and a ton of "mommy" time.  Many people tell me that crate rest is hard and their dog doesn't like it.  Crate rest is hard on "ME", Fin had a not so bad time cause she got to play with me without any of the other dogs around.  Yes, I know.  She didn't get to run and spin.  But she got lots of other things.  Bones that nobody else got, grooming sessions everyday, massages, etc.  For me, it was about time management.  Making more individual time for her and also know ignoring the needs of the rest of my pack.
MOST IMPORTANT:  rest.  This strain will continue to get worse and take longer to heal if you do not rest your dog.  This means no freedom with other dogs in your household.  You can not expect your dog to take it easy because they hurt.  This is your responsibility. 
Here are a few tips I found.
  • Walking straight only during the rest period.  I walked Fin 2 miles every day.  One mile in the morning, one mile in the afternoon.  As the weeks went by, I increased the length of time we walked up to 2 miles in morning and 2 miles in the afternoon.
  • Restriction at home.  xpens do not work as they give the dog freedom.  EVERYTIME they move quickly, spin, or turn, they are putting strain on their iliopsoas and this causes more damage.  Crate if you are not totally in control.  I used a harness that has a handle.  I love the ruff dog gear.  I don't know if Fin and I could have made it if not for that harness.
  • Don't try to start rehab to early.  Follow the Dr.'s instructions.  I did not use a fancy rehab place (not against it, just was able to do everything at home).  I used freedom hill walking (using a flexi - once again not with other dogs), swimming, balance work, and walking.  I continued to keep her in the harness at home so that I could prevent her explosive movement.
  • Once back on agility equipment go slow. After 1 month of just grid work (and all the other rehab stuff) I introduced her back to sequences.  Once I started competing, I found she wasn't doing so well at 16 so I kept her at performance for the first 5 months as spreads and the higher jump height seemed like a problem for her.  I used grids at home to get her confidence back up on those spreads.
Reading over what I have written, it seems so easy.  It wasn't.  I've been pretty depressed about the entire thing.  I gained weight despite the walking of Fin.  At every hurdle I would feel sorry for myself.  "Why does this happen to me?"  I tried to remain positive on the outside, but on the inside I felt guilty and sorry for myself. 

Overall, the year has passed pretty quickly.  As you can see from the Video, Fin has her speed back.  She still will go around spreads (clear on the video) but she also will take them easily other times.  We've been trialing again, but not running clean.  We are close and hopeful that those clean runs will start to come.

I worry everyday that this injury will resurface.  Fin worries about the big jumps.  We belong together in our worry.  Both of us are gaining confidence and this next year is going to be fun.

A Pile of Logs

Lately my life seems to be full of unfinished business and inconsistencies.

-Wrist is fixed...but still needs maintence
-Fin picks up her toy, but drops it immediately
-Tree is down, but pile of logs remain, no stumps removed, and 2 more trees are not done
-4 weeks off of work, piles of stuff in my office, but not clean
-3 bags of giveaway...sitting at the front door
-Fin running well, just doesn't understand to take the jump in front of her (she has discriminating tastes)
-lost weight, fell off the wagon, need to loose it again
-blog is fun, blog is good, haven't posted in a while
-lots of videos, none edited
-all tax information piled on the table...didn't get them done...had to do extensions.

So today, I am making a list.  It will be a LONG list.  I'm going to pick a couple things off the list.  These two things will be completed.  Then I'll pick a couple more....and so on and so on.

In the meantime, I am very busy and loving every minute of it.  Somehow after 4 weeks off, I've figured out how to do all the stuff I was doing AND work full time.  Never a dull moment here.

Agility trial this weekend.  USDAA.  I can NOT wait.  I love the SMART trials.  More than just my club, SMART is friendly and relaxing.   Set up begins at 1pm on Friday, ends with a big tear down on Sunday.  So much fun packed in 2.5 short days!  Best yet, it is local so I get to sleep in my own bed.