Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Clicker Expo

My brain is both mush and bursting with inspiration.  Today we returned home after attending Clicker Expo  in San Francisco.  We travelled with a friend and her dog and after much thought and research (and worry!) I opted to fly Stella with us.  We drove down to Seattle and flew direct from there as it was cheaper and the plane on that route was much better for the dogs than the flight out of Vancouver.  I am happy to report that she handled both the flight and hotel life very well.  She was well behaved, friendly and worked wonderfully in the learning labs we participated in.  She was also good at chilling out and relaxing during lectures when needed and giving lots of doggy love to other participants who were missing their own dogs.

We attended lectures and working labs with Michelle Pouliot, Kay Laurence, Cecile Koste and Ken Rameriz.  The key note speaker was the amazing Dr. Susan Friedman.  I will post more on the individual sessions as I digest and process the information.

One of the wonderful things about this event is the feeling of joy throughout.  Attendees (approx 500) range from dog training geeks (me) to shelter workers and professional trainers in a range of fields.  Some of them are massively clicker oriented and others not as much but all participants have a love of positive training techniques that help us respect and communicate with our dogs.  This was my second trip and the ten year anniversary of the expo.

Stella was a great breed ambassador while we were there.  If I got $10 for every comment about how calm she was "for a vizsla" it would have gone a long way to paying for some of the conference fees!   I am proud of my crazy little bean as this was a lot to ask for a young dog and she was awesome.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Heading back to normal

Today as I was shuttling Riley to his morning swim therapy and then back home to take Stella out for a walk I laughed to myself and wondered if this is what a "soccer mom" feels like.   This week Stella had a dog class and Riley has had two swim therapy sessions plus needs his six week vet follow up.  We are also headed up to Whistler on Saturday (1.5 hour drive) to see the dog chiro/acupuncture guru as Stella has been limping on and off for a few weeks.  Life usually revolves around a lot of dog stuff but the changes in routine during Riley's recovery has made things seem busier.

For the last six weeks we have walked Riley on leash  3-4 times per day for 5-10 minutes each time for his potty breaks and allowed exercise.   I suppose that is not a lot of time in a day but putting on harnesses and towelling off wet dog every time has given me a new appreciation for my fenced back yard especially on those cold, rainy late nights.  Stella added to the fun and games by having her second heat and needing her regular daily hike and training time.  Riley has been confined to an X-Pen during recovery and the dogs have been kept mostly separate to prevent play.

This week big steps in the return to "normal" have occurred.  The X-Pens have come down.  We installed a ramp for the back yard so Riley is now allowed monitored access (no running and playing yet) for his potty breaks.   I also purchased a bench/storage unit for the end of our bed so he can easily step up onto the bed instead of jumping so he is allowed upstairs to sleep in our room again.  It's nice to have my morning Riley snuggles again!  Once we get the all clear from my vet we can start to slowly increase exercise levels and soon be able to get both dogs back on the same schedule.

I am pretty happy with the results so far from his surgery.  He still has a bit of ataxia on his right hind leg which was the worst limb prior to surgery but I feel that overall he is as good as he was prior to the surgery.  The goal of the surgery was to prevent further deterioration but I am hopeful that I will continue to see improvement over the next few months.    Most of his symptoms were caused by the spinal cord being compressed so it takes a while for things to settle after the surgery and then hopefully some of the nerves will regenerate.    He has started doing some things that he hasn't done in a very long time such as scratching fully back with all four limbs after a poop.  I know my yard isn't going to like that but it does show increased strength and balance.  He is also way better balanced when he lifts his leg to pee on something and scuffs his toes much less than he did.  I will continue the swim therapy for the next little while as I think it is important to encourage the best possible range of motion as he heals.  He lost a bit of his muscle conditioning so swimming will also help rebuild those core muscles.

I don't mind being the dog mom equivalent of a soccer mom but I'm looking forward to hopefully doing more fun stuff instead of all this stressful and expensive medical stuff.  On that note I am headed for Clicker Expo this month and I'm really looking forward to it!

Riley really wishes his fur would hurry up and grow in a bit faster.

Stella dreams of sunshine.