Tuesday, August 1, 2017

So This Happened....

You were probably thinking I was going to announce that I brought home a new puppy.  I REALLY wish that was the update I had to share.  I mean, I'm not crazy enough yet to ACTUALLY want a puppy right now, but I would seriously much rather be dealing with the trials of bringing up another puppy and figuring out how to juggle three dogs versus the current situation.  But I digress.

Mid April I was out for a run on my normal route, at my normal time, doing normal things.  While I was crossing one of the intersections I normally cross, I was hit by a car.  The driver was found to be completely responsible, because he completely was.  The light was red.  Two other cars coming the opposite direction had stopped for the light.  He did not and hit me at 40 mph, sending me 30 feet.  I suffered a concussion, head lacerations, some minor facial lacerations that needed suturing, a fractured nose, fractured T6 vertebrae, broken left femur (from the x-rays, definitely the most impressive break out of everything), broken left heel and broken right tib-fib plateau.  I spent three weeks in the trauma unit with a few different hiccups along the way and four surgeries.  I now have a titanium rod in my left femur and other hardware in my heel and tibia.  I spent two months in a wheel chair after being released from the hospital and am more recently weight bearing on both legs with the aid of crutches.  I hesitated on including this whole ordeal in the blog, but if I want to continue with the blog, there's really no way around it.  This accident has very dramatically impacted my life and will continue to do so for some time to come.  If I want to continue with this blog, there is no avoiding this topic.
As you can probably imagine, there's a whole lot that has gone on throughout this whole process.  However, the focus of this blog is the dogs.  I feel like I could have a completely separate blog going into things just about the accident and everything that has happened since that day, but I'm going to stick to that pertaining to the dogs.

First and foremost, neither of my dogs was with me on my run that morning.  I have taken my dogs running in the past, but due to a hamstring annoyance last year, it was easier on me to run without Miley.  And I have never been more thankful that I left her at home.  I remember very little of the accident itself.  I have a memory of interacting with at least one of the emergency personnel after they had secured.  I remember realizing that something was going on, but not exactly what.  I thankfully don't remember being in any pain at that moment, but I was trying to get from them what had happened.  It was kind of like waking up from a dream and realizing that something was very off and I had not really been sleeping.  Someone did tell me that I had been hit by a car and my first, that I could remember, reaction to that was to make two requests.  The first was that someone had to go to my house because my dogs hadn't been fed yet.  I gave them my home address and stressed that it was very important that my dogs were taken care of.  At this point, I remember thinking that I wanted them to give my roommate a heads up so that he could feed the dogs breakfast and I would worry about them once things were taken care of at the hospital.  My thought was that this was just common procedure and they were required to take me to a hospital to get checked out as sort of a liability thing.  Again, I don't remember feeling any pain, so there wasn't anything that was actually cluing me in to how bad things were.  I thought I would get checked over, maybe they'd take some x-rays and then I'd arrange for someone to drive me home.  No biggie.  Insert HUGE eye roll.

The other request I made was that they contact my work to let them know that I wouldn't be in that day.  Again, I thought this was just a minor incident, but I wanted people at work to not be wondering where I was.  So I prattled off my work number and they did call the lab to give them a brief update as to what was going on.  This seems like a minor request right now, but it does come to play a bigger role with regards to the care of my dogs.  And the people I work with are seriously some of the most amazing people.  Which was only further emphasized throughout this whole "experience."

So the police stopped at my house and roughly filled my roommate in, though they wouldn't given him too many details since he wasn't family.  He then found my parents' home phone number and called them to let them know what was going on.  And yes, he fed the dogs their breakfast. :)

The crew at work were contacted by my mom after she and my dad got to the hospital.  Which started the immediate task of figuring out how to take care of my dogs while I was at the hospital for a duration of time that no one knew.  I seriously cannot stress enough how AMAZING the people I work with are!!  Everyone in the group is an animal lover.  Everyone knows how important my dogs are to me and they all stepped up to figure out how to cover their care for as long as I needed.  One of the ladies in the lab was the point person on coordinating the dog care.  She has two dogs of her own and a full house and wouldn't have been able to take in either dog.  So she coordinated which dog went with who and the picking up of their food from the house or the store.  No simple task since I feed raw and was actually going to be picking up a three month supply of food for Miley that week.  My roommate was able to watch Miley during the week, but was out of town on the weekends, so different people from where I work stepped up and took Miley in on the weekends.  Dominic went and stayed with the couple that he has stayed with every time I'm out of town and they were willing to watch him long term.  With that aspect of things out of the way I could focus on dealing with what I needed to while I was in the hospital and focus on getting well enough to leave.

There were occasional offers of maybe bringing one of the dogs in to visit me, but I thought it would be more confusing for either of the dogs to see me in this very strange place and not in great shape.  This stay away from the dogs was unlike any other separation I've had from them.  Obviously it was very unexpected.  When I'm going out of town, there's a pattern to the way that I prep myself and them for me leaving.  This case had none of that preparation for what was to come.  I thought it would be best to wait to see them until I was home and we could start the process of establishing our new normal.  Plus I wasn't exactly sure how either of my dogs were going to get into my room unnoticed. ;)

So that was the hospital stay.  Three weeks of thankfully awesome people making sure that my dogs were well taken care of and that I didn't have to worry about them.  The next phase of this process was coming home and being in a wheelchair for two months.  But I'll leave that for the next post. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rose City Classic, Day 1

I had this whole grand plan of doing all this videoing today of the process of getting to the show and all the neat things at the show.  But that went completely out the window when I had to deal with unanticipated, stupid traffic.  It took me an hour and a half to go 24 miles.  This isn't LA people!  I budgeted for an hour, which I felt was generous given that I was hitting the road at 6:00 am.  I wanted to make sure that Dominic had a solid hour to acclimate to the show grounds and all the hubbub.  That didn't happen at all.  We got there so "late" that I was debating even setting up his crate.  But it was still good practice for him and I did want to be able to watch as much of the rest of the danes as I could.  So we worked with what we had.

Dominic is still really great in his crate.  He is also less distracted outside of the ring.  There is still general squirreliness and distraction while inside the ring, but that'll get better with more handling classes.  And that's the key for him.  He needs the distraction and commotion of a handling class in order to learn how to work regardless of it.  Last week I was hoping to go to two different handling classes with him, but both were understandably cancelled due to the weather.  This week I wanted to stay at home in the evenings because Miley got spayed and gastropexied on Monday and I wanted to keep an eye on her (she's recovering like a freaking champ!).  So my plans for added preparation for Dom were a bit foiled.  But it's four days of shows and I'll be sure to leave extra early tomorrow morning.

I did video a little bit of my traffic frustration, some of the best of breed ring for danes and then Dom and I burning off some energy after the show.  The numbers at the show today are definitely down.  With some highways still closed, many people are struggling to get here.  Today was probably the quietest day at the show and the chaos will only increase.  Thankfully we show at 8am all four days and, particularly on the weekend, we can show and get out of there before it gets to be too crazy.

Without further ado, here are the video clips that I did manage to get:

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dominic - Learning the Ramp

And now for Dominic.  I go through the same process with him.  Starting off with the ramp flat on the carpet.  Then I add a little height by using the aerobic step to rest it on.

He's never really had the opportunity to use the ramp, so he doesn't have any negative associations with it like Miley seems to have.  The only thing he knows is that she is hesitant around it, which I think has given him some confusion as to what he's supposed to do with it.  Otherwise he handles it pretty well.

A couple of "fun facts" from these two videos.  I actually watched myself this time and realized that I'm wearing the exact same outfit in both videos, even though they were shot on different days.  Scandalous, I know!  I have a habit of just throwing a hoodie on over whatever I'm wearing when I get home.  This video is a perfect case in point. ;)

The other little caveat is that the carpet is not the first location that I tried putting the ramp on.  Initially I put it on the kitchen floor.  I chose that surface initially for a couple of reasons.  One, the ramp has been sitting in the garage and was otherwise used in outdoor locations.  So it's not super clean and it has some cobwebs and such on it.  It's much simpler to just sweep up anything that comes off as opposed to vacuuming up.  And secondly, it allowed for a little more space.  I thought the kitchen floor had enough texture to keep the ramp in place, but it didn't.  Dominic's first time on it he came excitedly up and pounced his front feet on it and sent it scooting across the kitchen.  Which, of course, also unnerved Miley, who was holding a down stay on the carpet behind us.  So yeah, I recommend REALLY testing out the soundness of the surface that you're practicing on.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Miley - Relearning the Ramp

I don't know how it happened, but Miley became afraid of using the ramp to get into and out of my vehicle.  She'd been using it since she was a puppy and had no issues.  She definitely hasn't taken a spill off of it and I can't think of any negative incidents that would cause her to dislike it.  The only timing I can come up with that somehow ties in, is the passing of Heffner.  It wasn't until after he was gone that she started disliking using the ramp.

At the time, with only one dog, it was just easiest to load her up in the cab of truck, and later the minivan, than work on actually getting her back to being comfortable with the ramp.  It's lazy, I know.  But sometimes it takes me getting irritated with something or mentioning it a few times before I realize, oh yeah, I could train that.

With the host of winter events that we've had and me going back to relying on the truck to get around, I came to the realization that I need to get on it and get the dogs used to the ramp so that I can take them out to run around in areas that are only accessible by the truck.

For Miley, I had to REALLY break things down with the ramp.  Initially (unfortunately I didn't record these sessions to show where we started at) I had to just put treats on it and get her comfortable just being near it and taking treats off of it.  That's how bad her aversion to the ramp was.  I finally got her up to the point where she was okay walking on it flat on the carpet.  In the clip below, you can see her gradually getting more comfortable as the session goes on.  That's a pretty regular occurence for each of her sessions with the ramp.  She starts off hesitant, but gets more confident as the session progresses.

The clip after that is of her first session on the ramp where I added some height.  I used my aerobic step as a nice solid base to add just enough height to give the ramp a little of the bounce it will normally have, while keeping it at a low enough height that neither dog should feel uncomfortable.  Here's the video:

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Snowpocalypse 2017 - Or Enough Of This Already!!

I'm looking at the last few things I've posted about and for crying out loud, the damn snow is in all of them!  Enough already!  Can we please stop with the bloody Game Of Thrones (props to you if you actually read that series before it was ever made into the show and subseqently became popular.  And if you did, lets chat about other authors, such as Robert Jordan, who are much better.) "winter is coming" reference already?!?!  Enough is enough!

But seriously guys.  We got a lot of snow.  I realize I was complaining about how the city shuts down with one inch.  And then there was the freezing rain incident.  But this was serious snow.  Depending on where you measured in my yard, I had between 6-8".  There were 10" at work.  And other areas saw a foot or more.  All of that happened in less than 24 hours.  Actually, it all happened in slightly more than 12 hours.  It was nuts.  For that I will agree that the city shutting down was appropriate.  Actually, I feel like there was less chaos this time around than there was for the last major winter "incident" that resulted in people having 5+ hour commutes.  So props to that.  I'm also still really pleased with how my city handles the snow and actually plows/sands the major roads.  That was much appreciated.

But I digress.  ENOUGH WITH THE WINTER IS COMING JOKES!!!  It's already flipping here and a lot of us are tired of dealing with it!

In order to calm my rage at something that is not substantial enough to kick in the proverbial gonads, I took pictures.  And video.  I put together a little video of snippets of Miley and Dominic's Snowpocalypse 2017 fun.  And I truly hope that this is the last time I use the term snowpocalypse or snowmageddon for at least the rest of this year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Of Dumbbells And Things

I have started, sporadically, working with Dominic on his dumbbell retrieve.  It's all well and good for him to excitedly chase after a thrown dumbbell and bring it back without much structure, but I would like for him to have a solid understanding of the full retrieve and feel confident in his understanding.  So we're starting off a little boring and beginning work on the hold.

As you can see, he's not really clean on what I'm trying to get him to do.  He has a general understanding that he is supposed to mouth the bar, but we haven't worked on him really clamping just yet.  He's on the cusp of understanding to put more pressure on it with his mouth, but not there yet.  I usually warm him up with simple mouth grabs from a variety of heights so that he refreshes his understanding that no matter where the dumbbell is, he should put his mouth on it.

I've been gradually working up to trying to hold out for rewarding after I hear his teeth make contact with the bar.  My timing isn't always great and I also want to keep him from getting frustrated.

If he's standing up and I place the dumbbell on the ground for him to pick up, there's currently a lot of pawing.  So I've started having him down and then worked at removing my hand and having him only mouth the bar with no pawing.  It's a work in progress, but I am seeing at least a little bit of progress each time.

Every time I do one of these progress videos where I sort of jump into where we're at, it always get me wishing I had videoed our very first session, to give a better comparison of where we started and where we're at.  One of these days I'll actually think to do that....

I also took some video of Miley doing some beginning article work with the metal articles.

Miley has already been through learning to retrieve a metal article.  So she's got that understanding.  Now we get into the process of teaching her to discriminate a particular metal article in the article pile.  To do this, my instructor had me start working with tea infusers and I am totally a fan of this method!

Within the specific infuser that I want Miley to search out I place treats.  Once she retrieves the correct one and brings it back to me, she gets the reward contained with in and starts pairing the article containing the treats with the article that most strongly has my scent on it.  And therefore the correct article.  I warm her up with one infuser that she gets to see me toss as though it's a retrieve.  Then I work up to having it placed out in the "pile" and having her retrieve it.  Then I add one empty infuser (I need to get some tongs for this.  For the time being I'm using the directed retrieve glove to touch the "wrong" articles.).  Since this session, we've added a third infuser to the pile and she is still pretty quickly successful.

I also apologize for the angle of the camera.  Unfortunately you can't see things completely as she's figuring them out at the pile, but you get the general idea.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow Day Continued

Of late, I have a tendency to really pack in my schedule.  To the point where I actually have to schedule out when I'm going to go grocery shopping each week.  The scheduling of all things has become a habit and has transferred over to my time with the dogs.  I schedule out how their daily training sessions are going to go, what we're going to do for training and exercise on which days and so on and so forth.  Overall this doesn't seem like such a bad thing, but my god, when your entire life becomes a bunch of things that need to be scheduled, it can get to be a bit much.  At least it can for me.

Now enter our home bound snow weekend.  Yes I have a capable four wheel drive truck that I could get around in if I needed to.  But I haven't needed to.  So I've stayed at home.  I didn't even need to go into work at all this weekend.  Because of the weather, ALL of my plans for this weekend have been cancelled.  It's amazing!  I took advantage of this unexpected free weekend to not plan or schedule in ANYTHING.  I feel like being a bum on the couch?  Done! I feel like making waffles with red velvet cake mix?  So totally done!  (side note:  I don't recommend overfilling the waffle maker with the cake mix.  It makes a bloody mess on the counter.  See what I did there? ;) ) I have done ZERO training with the dogs.  Zero.  And felt zero guilt for it as well.  I took full advantage of this snow weekend to absolve myself of the routine scheduling of my days as well as the resulting guilt that usually comes with not scheduling everything out.  It's been glorious!

This morning, after I got the email officially notifying me that I wouldn't be needing to go into work this morning, I opted for curling up in bed with the dogs.  Just as I was wrapping myself in the warm fuzziness of how great it was to curl up with my two munchkins on a chilly, snowy weekend morning, Dominic popped me in the eye with his paw.  Thanks for keeping it real bro.  I feel like that moment belongs on one of those expectations versus reality memes.  

Granted, the dogs are starting to climb the walls a bit, but being a slacker this weekend has totally been the mental health time that I needed.  We'll get back to regular training tomorrow.  Barring the weather continuing to poop out, I've got a private lesson with Miley and we'll do more of our normal Monday night training routine.  In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy more of these red velvet waffles and probably aim to do some oggling of Captain America later tonight.  I did do something productive today and put together a few clips of training bloopers from videos I have sitting around.  

Happy weekend everyone!!