Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just some cute pictures for a random Tuesday

Not too much going on here except for our little Alpha is back to being her amazingly awesome self!! She went back to the vet school last week and they said her urine is back to normal. And I took her back yesterday so that they could re-check her lepto titers. 

Now that she is feeling fine again the only signs we have of her being in the ICU from kidney failure are the random shaved patches:

You can definitely see that her belly is shaved but they also shaved her front right leg and a random patch on the left side of her neck. She looks pretty silly :) 

In other news - the girls got some excellent new harnesses! I had been using slip leads for agility but since Nari had a stiff neck at her last trial I bought some new harnesses to use instead. And I was even able to get them to model the harnesses - even took this picture all by myself:

Aren't they so cute?! I love them so much, the girls look awesome in them. And now for a couple more Alpha pictures just because she is so darn cute: 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tell me Thursday!

It's time for another Tell me Thursday from Crooks and Crazies!! So.... I'm a little late on this one, but it's still Thursday, right? 

Anyway... on to the questions!

1. How do you teach recalls to your dogs?

We play lots of games - chase, restrained recalls, more chase. It's actually a lot of work with dogs that are northern breeds as they love to run wild and chase anything and everything. I did Susan Garret's 5 Minute Formula to a Brilliant Recall this summer. We got through most of the exercises and the girls have a pretty decent recall now. It was a lot of fun, lots of different games to work on recalls and getting your dog to work with you. I think I will always be going over the games in that course to continue the recall work. Especially since Starbuck has an especially high prey drive. 

2. What is your favorite restaurant or type of food?

Cheese curds and frozen custard!! And fresh brats with cheese in them :) 

And that is a picture of a beautiful cheddar brat (boiled in beer and grilled) in front of a tree shaped like a bear in WI!!! Pretty awesome, right? 

Another favorite would be Little Italy in NYC - when I was in grad school I would just hop on a train and spend my afternoons studying with a glass of wine eating awesome food in Little Italy - pretty much the only good thing about going to grad school in NJ.

3. What is your favorite interest outside of dogs/livestock/sports?

Love to go hiking (usually go with the dogs, so I'm not sure this one counts). I also like to make my own jewelry and thank you cards if I have free time.

And what do you think of my fabulous neighborhood hiking gear this evening!! That's right, I am looking oh so stylish in my vintage baggy orange Generac Generator t-shirt, black and white Adidas tennis skirt, purple Mary Jane Crocs and red Swiss Gear hiking stick. And those are white poop bags with orange spots (aren't poop bags supposed to match your shirt??). I know - all y'all are totally jealous of this outfit :) (Okay, so maybe I'm totally lazy when we hike around the neighborhood. I think Starbuck and Alpha are so embarrassed that they aren't even looking at me in this picture.) 

4. Describe your path from where you started out to where you are now! This question was suggested by Pippin.

Let's see... Starbuck was my very first dog (she'll be 4 in Jan.). Ever. There was a year waiting list for her but the breeder said she would move us to the top of the list if we agreed to get an agility title on her. Since I am impatient, I said sure and thus the madness started! I found an awesome trainer, Ace Russell, down here and the rest was history. Starbuck got her first agility title when she was 1.5 years old, then something happened and she refused to do agility with me. Along came Nari (got another dog because Starbuck was lonely...) who wanted to do anything I was doing so she took over as my main agility dog. With Nari, she lets me make mistakes while making sure to yell at me if I do something wrong. Cracks me up. Nari loves agility and she can be quite sassy. 

5. Is there a dog that you raised that, if you knew then what you know now, you would have raised them differently? Question posed by Jodi. 

I've definitely made mistakes with all of them, but with Starbuck being my very first dog I definitely made the most mistakes with her. 

I think I tried too hard and took training way too seriously with her so one day she just decided that she didn't want anything to do with me at agility. Broke my heart. Not because she didn't want to do agility but because I had made it so unpleasant for her. I gave her lots of time off and vowed to never again take training (or trialing) too seriously. We just focused on trick training and having fun, picked up flyball and one day at Nari's practice Starbuck decided she wanted to try again. Well... Starbuck seems to really enjoy agility again. We don't practice that much and she's just starting to trial but she is having fun again and that is all that matters to me.

Alpha says it's great to be alive!!!

A couple of you caught on that Alpha needed a lot of good wishes last week. 

Last week, Alpha suffered acute renal failure. We are so lucky that this happened when we were back home because the vet who literally wrote the book on urology and nephrology is on the staff at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine where our regular vet is. It all started with Alpha throwing up and not wanting to eat food - which is actually not that uncommon for a dog to get an upset stomach every once in a while. But for some reason this time I decided to take her to the vet to get her checked out and I am so very glad that I did. Alpha stayed in the ICU for 4 days - and a couple of those first days they couldn't even tell us if she was going to make it. And then they didn't know how much damage her kidneys had sustained (and kidneys don't really recover). Luckily they got to her soon enough that it looks like she will regain full function of her kidneys!! 

Here is how Alpha is doing less than 1 week after getting out of the ICU: 

She's almost back to her crazy self - except she has a silly shaved belly now! 

Alpha's x-rays and ultrasounds all came back normal and her initial lepto test was negative. The vets do not know why she went into acute renal failure but they suspect she had a kidney infection. They said that 85% of acute renal failures have an undetermined cause. 

We are so thankful for all of the people who helped our little Alpha and took care of her at UTCVM. And we are so very thankful for Dr. Raditic, our regular vet, I have no idea what I would do without her! 

So give all your puppies lots of kisses and I hope every moment you spend with them is full of happiness! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's time for another Tell me Thursday!

That's right - it's another Thursday so that means it time for some answers! And I figured out how to get the button on the post on the first try - YES!! 

Here we go:

1. Who is your newest dog? Where is he/she from, and why did you choose this particular dog/breeding?

Our youngest dog is Alpha and she just turned two in June. She's from Del Mar Klee Kai (Aprilfawn White is the breeder's name) and her 'official' name is PR' Del Mar's Alpha Prime. When we were first thinking about getting a dog we did a thorough search of breeders and went with Del Mar because they were scientists like us (breeding dogs go through extensive health testing, they have a great health guarantee, and love performance sports) and most of their registered names were from comic books (and we're both pretty geeky - husband has a HUGE comic book collection and instead of barbies I had tons of transformers and teenage mutant ninja turtles, seriously!). Picking the breeder was the hardest part - whenever we are looking to add a puppy I just email Aprilfawn and let her pick out which pup is best for us and it has worked every time. All our dogs are so different and each one has taught us so much.

2. What traits drew you to this dog or breeding?

Alpha is special to Aprilfawn because she is out of their foundation female and their favorite stud. But we did not have any special requests when she picked us to take Alpha. We love Alpha because she is so smart and her naughty puppy acts just crack us up. Evidence of naughty puppy acts:

That is what you get when you leave Alpha and a role of paper towels alone for 20 seconds. She is always quite proud of her acts of destruction :) Alpha has also taught us how to properly doggie proof a house because although she is the smallest dog, she can easily reach anything on the counters. Here is evidence of a screaming, pogo stick puppy:

When she was 6 months old she made a 20 feet run for the Christmas ham on the dinning room table and almost landed right on top of it. Oh yeah, and she totally steals toys. Here is a toy that she stole from the pile of toys that were going to be donated to the local animal shelter:

I have no idea how she steals these toys. I swear she can sniff them out of any box/bag and pull them out in under 10 seconds! She always gets the biggest grin on her face when she has stolen goods. And seriously, why does she always want the toys that are way bigger than her head? 

And it's pretty hard work being so naughty, but she sure is adorable! 

3. What's on your feet right now? 

This is probably one of the few days that I am actually wearing dress shoes instead of tennis shoes. Here is proof:

4. What are you reading right now?

I'm not that much of a reader - if I do read it's physics papers and books. The only non-physics book I look at now is 'Four Paws Five Directions'. I do some massage and accupressure on the dogs (as suggested by our awesome vet, Dr. Raditic, who's pretty much the best vet EVER!) and it has a lot of useful diagrams in it. 

5. What upcoming agility trials are you looking forward to?

Let's see - there's one in North Alabama, one in Canton, GA and another I think in Franklin, TN and then it's CYNOSPORTS!!! And I'm really looking forward to running Starbuck this fall. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wishful Wednesday

Wishing all of you puppies and people out there lots of happiness and good health!! 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The story of a girl and her pool party princesses....

Once upon a time (way back in 2008), in a land far, far away (the wonderful and magical dairyland of WI), there was a very cute pool party princess named Starbuck. 

But Starbuck was a very lonely pool party princess. Everyday she would dream about sharing her pool with more pool party princesses. 

But all she ever got were these tiny husky squeaky toys. And everyone knows squeaky huskies aren't very good pool party princesses. 

But one day Starbuck's wish finally came true and she got to share her pool with two more pool party princesses!!

And they were the happiest pool party princesses in the world! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tell me Thursday #4

I saw the 'Tell me Thursday' post over at Crooks and Crazies so I thought I would play along. 
And here are the questions for today: 

1. In agility training (okay, so they had sheepdog training but I think it would be complete chaos if I ever let Starbuck chase sheep...), how do you keep from taking yourself, your dog, your lack of progress too seriously? 

Let's see... typically I tend to trip over myself so my instructor (and/or husband) is there to make fun of me :) Starbuck will jump on me and try to make out with me which always cracks me up. Nari will 'yell' at me when I mess up which is the cutest! And then there is the occasional mimosa/sweet tea vodka and lemonade practice that is always entertaining  - the husband and instructor love watching me during these. After one of those I once tried to show my husband how awesomely agile I was while jumping over a 3 foot high baby gate - he has since remembered to hide the baby gates after a mimosa practice :) 

2. How many crates do you have? For reals. 
Ummm... I have 3 dogs so that means I only have 10 crates :) 

3. How do you keep your dogs in shape?

We do a lot of hiking - probably 2-5 miles a day as long as the weather is nice. Also some fast walking on the inclined treadmill. The girls also like to work on their abs with the exercise ball:

And yes - Nari really is balancing on the exercise ball all by herself! The girls can also jump up on the ball by themselves, I just have to hold the ball steady for them while they get on. 

And of course they love to get in a little wrestling and trick work:

4. Who is your favorite movie/tv star eye candy at the moment?

Currently - Alexander Skarsgard who plays Eric on True Blood - especially good this season! 

5. What is your livestock situation?

The girls quite enjoy herding cats at the moment! Here is Nari checking out a kitty at Petsmart and making sure it doesn't try to get away with anything!

That was fun! Go over and check out Crooks and Crazies post and play along! 

By the way, anyone notice how Blogger puts in all these random spaces? 

Monday, August 8, 2011

The sometimes rough life of a canine athlete

This weekend was a rough one for our little Nar-thlete! 

It was the NC USDAA regionals in Chicago. Nari had been training hard and was looking great leading up to the trial. We had a fun team lined up - our friend Jill and her rat terrier Bozo from DC (we've done team a couple times with them before) and Tracy Sklenar with her young border-staffy Matrix. 

Friday morning Nari was looking good - seemed just a little slower than normal but almost managed to get a Masters Gamblers Q (I totally messed up the weave entry in the Joker). Next she ran Team Snooker - I ran it a little conservatively but we still managed to get 7th/Q - we were beaten by all the fabulous world team people who were awesome to watch. Then Nari started to slow down a little and I noticed that her weaves were pretty slow so we missed the Steeplechase finals cutoff by 1 second. Then Saturday was a disaster - Nari slowed down and refused to do the weaves - she NEVER does that. I had originally thought her slow speed was mental - I was afraid that she just didn't want to do agility with me anymore. 

But our friend Jill said that I should have a chiro check Nari out to make sure it wasn't something physical. So we found Angie Benacquisto (who is an amazing handler, loved watching her) and she introduced us to a chiro who could check Nari out immediately. The chiro looked over Nari and found that Nari had some pain in her vertebrae near her shoulder - Nari even had trouble turning her head to the left. The chiro did some adjustments and Nari had some of her flexibility back so I ran her in the last two team events for the day. Our teammate let Nari borrow their Back on Track coat and Nari was looking pretty happy:

I'm pretty sure Back on Track should use Nari as a model - doesn't she just make you want to go out and buy that jacket? She is seriously cute in that thing! And she would totally just work for a free jacket (cause those jackets are $95!?!). 

After the adjustment was team gamblers and Nari was back to running fast and happy on the dogwalk but still a little slower in general (she was still short striding somewhat) but team standard was a disaster. Not a disaster like we got an E but she was slow and refused the weaves on the first attempt. After that run I took her back to the TOPS chiro team and they worked on her for an hour and shot some lasers at her. (This is kind of random - but when I got into the chiro room they were working on Gator from the Full Tilt BC gang but I was too worried about Nari to say hi or anything...). After TOPS was done with Nari she seemed tired so we took her back to the hotel, gave her some pain meds and put heat on her neck. 

Nari felt much better the next day, still slow, flexibility was okay (not great) so I only ran her in Gamblers, Team Relay and the Grand Prix Finals and pulled her from everything else. Gamblers - she got the Joker but we were over time (totally my fault, wrong place when the buzzer went off!). Team Relay - I just did a couple jumps with her and then passed the baton to Tracy. Grand Prix - she was slower than normal (7 seconds slower than her typically GP times) and she popped the weaves but she was happy. I was just glad that we were both able to end the weekend with a happy run. 

Nari was such a hard worker this weekend and even with her injury she was still the highest scoring dog on our team. Hopefully my happy agility girl will be back to normal soon. I'm always worried that she'll just want to stop doing agility with me someday or that she'll get hurt... 

It was so great to be able to watch all of the awesome handlers going out for IFCS at the trial and we even got to see some of my favorite handlers that I've only ever seen videos of! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's so tired in here!

Alpha - did you enjoy your morning hike?

Nari - you were working so hard on that hike, you must be tired! 

Starbuck, you are looking a little sleepy.... 

Awww - all the girls were so tired from their walk that they fell asleep!