Happy Maizey and Healthy Magnus

If you read last June and July it’s all about limps and anxiety. Ironically this April and May would have been all about limps and anxiety too, but a totally different story. This years story is about progress and recovery.

June 25, 2011

June 25, 2012

May 15, 2012



These photo’s from last year clearly show that Maizey was feeling stressed even in the front yard. As I read through posts from last year my sadness and frustration all came back to me.

This year is is a totally different story, as I think the photo’s show. She still has a long ways to go, especially when it comes to other dogs, but her general level of anxiety is much, much less. Hooray! Her recovery time is better and even on high stress days she can still enjoy getting out for a short walk as long as she has her stroller.

Last year she couldn’t even be in the front yard without her stress level sky rocketing, this year she’s not only enjoying being out there, she’s doing so quietly! Since we’re not fighting with the anxiety I started using timeouts for her barking at the fence and she almost never does now. A funny side effect is that when I say, “That’s enough”, her timeout warning cue, Magnus comes running. He thinks it’s good recall cue since if she comes off the fence with the warning she always gets a treat and of course so does he. That boy just cracks me up.

I’m worried about fireworks season coming up so we’ve added Amitriptyline to her Fluoxetine. We did a two week trial which wasn’t long enough to tell anything so we’re trying another two weeks. I hope to be able to use it on an as needed basis, for just the most stressful times. We’re still using Composure Liquid and it’s a life saver. For the first time I feel hopeful about my girl.

I appreciate how many tools we have in our anxiety tool box now. Not only is her stress level lower, but we have many more skills and resources to draw from on the bad days. As a trainer it’s something I’m always advocating for shy dogs- train a variety of skills and try a variety of supplements so when you need it you have options. One thing that was so frustrating last year was not having enough things to try when things got tough.

On top of all that good news Magnus is doing great! His back is all clear, we’re back to training, I even let him zoom at the park the other day. It was his SI joint that was out, but now I think this all started last June with a pulled hamstring. That’s the only thing left that’s sore on him now. So were still seeing Tena, the physical therapist who he LOVES. Now that we’re actually down to what we think was the original cause of all his back problems I hope we can clear it up for good.

As if all that good news weren’t enough I passed my CAP 1 certification. I can’t remember if I really posted about this, but before Magnus got hurt I was taking a class to earn a certification for Kay Laurence’ Clicker Trainers Competency Assessment Program. When his health fell apart in March we had to put taking the assessment on hold until he was healthy again. I’m happy to say the delay between the class and the assessment didn’t hurt me as I passed with distinction. It’s a huge honor to be able to take this class in person, there are only a few assessors in the states. I’m very pleased with passing and even more pleased with how great a team mate Magnus was.

It’s nice to have good news and happy pictures to post. And now in a bit of shameless self-congratulations I have to post a copy of my CAP certificate.

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The Roller Coaster Ride of Life

I know when I’m getting tired from the daily do’s- I always end up writing as a way of sorting out all the going-on’s. Really it’s just a fancy sort of procrastination.

The pup’s are doing well. I’ve been so busy, but we’re getting in a ton of training time. I’m taking a CAP class. CAP is The Competency Assessment Program by Kay Laurence. We have one of the only accredited instructors in the States working at my training center so it’s an amazing chance to get to take CAP class in person. If you want to improve your training skills I’d highly recommend it. I can’t believe the things I’ve learned in just two weeks. I think we want to train all the “sexier” things, tricks and Rally and stuff, but CAP has taken me back to basics and since it’s really about what I’m learning not what the dogs are learning I’m using a lot of foundation behaviors to practice with. The result is I’m cleaning up a lot of things in their training that I let get sloppy and when we train the funner things they’re doing so much better. I LOVE CAP class!

I have three classes of my own now. I have a 12 different dogs I’m teaching and boy does it push my brain! Dog training is amazing. Each dog is an individual and has individual needs, but you also have the handlers needs to consider then it gets really complicated when you start adding in families and family dynamics. 12 dogs represents way more than 12 students when you put it all together. My biggest class is only 6 dogs and I really appreciate the chance to work in more depth with the smaller classes. It sure presents challenges in dog training I’ve never run into.

My dogs each have their own set of talents and challenges and the dogs I teach are no different. I have to say there’s a huge difference between studying and writing up a behavioral plan and actually teaching someone how to apply it. Dog trainers need to think on the fly and adjust second to second as the dog responds. It’s not as easy as it looks!

Then there’s the amazing amount of paperwork that comes with training. You’d never believe the behind the scenes stuff that goes into a class or session. Rosters to maintain, lesson plans to write, lesson plans to adjust to each classes needs, issues to research, the list goes on and on. Writing it all out sounds sorta droll and dreadful, but it’s not! It’s wonderful and though I worried the more I trained at work the less I’d train at home, it’s exactly opposite. Of course my dogs end up being Guinea Pigs, but they like it, it means we play a lot more games.

Magnus gets to go to work with me sometimes now. He makes a very boring shop dog, but boy does he love it! You can see in the pictures the main job he wants is napping! Everyone that was worried about the torturous snoods will be glad to know he doesn’t hate it anymore. Association is a powerful tool in the dogs brain and now he’s diving into it, just like Mary Beth said he would. He even brought it to me the other day like, “MOM! Here’s the good snood now where’s my good stuff!” He just keeps me laughing.

I’m still keeping up with everyones blogs, just don’t have time to comment much. We’re still here though. Just adjusting as life changes. Isn’t life like a roller coaster that never ends? You strap in and there’s no getting off. You just take the highs with the lows and ride the ride. Scream loud when it gets too crazy and try to take a breath in between. At least my life. It makes me love the quiet moments with me Monkey’s snuggling close and keeping my company.

The most exciting news is we get to shoot with Seth Casteel of Little Friends Photo’s. He’s hard to miss lately as his underwater stuff has gone viral and is everywhere, I saw his stuff on GMA this morning. We get a couple of hours with him and I’m just thrilled. I’m worried about how Maizey will handle two hours of that much stimulation, but it was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. Can’t believe it but our shoot is next friday so I better start getting prepared!

All in all we’re good. Taking the ride as it comes for us and hoping it wasn’t designed by a maniacal roller coaster builder. It’s a hope I think we all share!

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