Blepharitis, Corneal Dystrophy, Distichiasis and a Reactivity Triumph

Yesterday Maizey went to the ophthalmologist. We saw a very nice doctor, who had not so nice news for us.

"Who said my eyes were broken? They're beautiful!

Not the worst news we could have got, but still a little worrisome.

First the good. . . strike that. Amazing. . . strike that. No, this is stunningly exciting, I am the proudest crazymomlady in the world news.

Since I knew we were going to a new clinic I figured there would be plenty of opportunity for Maizey to be stressed and react. Safe assumption going to the dog ophthalmologist that there will be dogs there, right?

The clinic shares a waiting room an emergency care clinic so yes, there were dogs there. Lots of them.

I went prepared. Her thunder shirt went on an hour before we were supposed to leave. (Although it also had to come off and get dried when the pups decided a roll in the snow was in order 20 minutes before we did leave.) She also got a dose of Rescue Remedy about that time.

High value treats in the treat bag, her mat, a high value chewy to keep her occupied, a calm Crazymomlady and we were ready for anything!

So how did she do?

In the parking lot it looked ominous, as there were three big dogs getting in and out of their cars. So I waited until the coast was clear to get Maizey out of her carrier. It’s not unusual for her to react from inside the car and I just didn’t want to start the visit that way.

As we headed inside I could see we were awaited by not one, two or three dogs, but four! At this point my blood pressure started to climb. When you have a little dog on the end of your leash whom you are pretty positive will soon become a barking, lunging vision of fear it tends to up your anxiety level a bit.

So I took a deep breath, and kicked in our skills. She was quiet so I started to mark her with, “good” the soothing reward marker we have conditioned, and shoveling in the biggest treats we had. I always like to fill up her mouth, I figure it might be harder to bark that way.

We took our time. One of the most useful things I have learned is that if I get hurried I don’t think of all the little skills that will keep her focused on me and not on reacting. So we did a sit at each door going in, with high reinforcement of course, another sit on the door mat as soon as we were through the doors, with “watch me’s” thrown in for focus and soon enough we were at the counter getting checked in.

Now my lack of mentioning one reaction from her may have led you to believe I had magically wished those 4 dogs away, but no, they were all still there! At this point I started to think someone had kidnapped my Princess Of The Shrill Bark and replaced her with a normal dog, but no, it was just my little girl using her skills and making me so proud!

Long story not as long, we were in the waiting room with other dogs coming and going, barking and rustling around for about a half hour and she never barked one time! Not one!

She kept her brain engaged by doing basic skills, and for the first time we successfully and consistently used her “show me” cue. This is loosely based on Leslie Mcdevitts’ LAT. I ask her to “show me” what ever she appears stressed at and she looks and then reorients to me. Reward comes if she does so with no vocalization. She did so good!

The crowning moment came when we were checking out and there were two big black Lab mixes waiting. Black Labs are Maizey’s nemesis dog. I have never seen her not react to one. And still, not one bark! At one point, when I couldn’t back away for more space, one of them came and sat about two feet from us, she actually turned to meet that dog. She was worried, but she acted like she would try to say hi. I could have cheered I was so proud.

Now I won’t try to say that she wasn’t stressed. I saw the signs of worry in her and at one point, when a pug in an e-collar had a little fit behind us, she startled right off her feet. Honestly that one startled me, no offense to you pug lovers, but they are already a little strange looking and put an e-collar on one it’s a startling sight! But even then she settled right back into working for me.

So what was the difference? I would like to think all of our practice is starting to pay off, the Thunder Shirt and Rescue Remedy are helping her. I do think that, but I also know a lot of factors could come into play, such as it being a new place, maybe she was a little shut down, oh just a whole list of things. But for now I am just going to bask in the joy of our success and hopefully keep building on it!

As for the Blepharitis, Corneal Dystrophy, and Distichiasis you will have to check back later this week for low down on those diagnoses about her eyes. Not to worry it is nothing too serious and hopefully will clear up in a few weeks.

Until then a 4legged lesson for us all: if you love a reactive dog take heart, progress can be made and if feels oh so sweet to see your hard work help your pup!

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Maizey’s Level 2 Video-Part One

Time for the L2 video of Maizey’s Training Levels progress. She has tested 8 out of the 16 behaviors. So we are half way there.

She tested her first behavior on April 1, 2010 then the last behaviors we tested were on June 6, 2010 so 8 behaviors in 2 months is pretty good. Keeping good records, which I admittedly am not great at, does help. It’s quite encouraging to look back and see how fast her progress really was.

The video shows the tests as outlined for L2, I view it as sort of the basic foundation to build on.

Then after you lay a firm foundation the levels outline a “Continuing Education” section. We are working on much of the continuing education skills for the skills she has already tested. These are some of the great ideas:

COME: call her with my back to her, and recalling her and gently grabbing different parts of her body helps her learn to be caught.

DOWN: work on using other forms of payment. Try a back scratch or Maizey loves it when I clap for her, apparently she loves applause! A toy, or before being released to go through a door are some other ideas.

PARK IT: This has been a really fun one. Part of it is too move the mat around and teach them to figure out where it is and go to it. One time her floppy lion was a few feet closer to her and in front of the mat so she ran over and pounced on it in perfect park it position and just grinned up at me like, “How ’bout this? good enough?” Such a silly girl! This has proved a very practical skill also to help with her reactivity so we have been doing a lot of mat work out side and in many locations.

CRATE: Location of the crate becomes very important now and so far she has learned to be crated outside in our yard, at numerous other peoples houses, at a training field, and in the car to name a few.

To really understand the depth of the levels you really have to just visit Sue’s Training Level book and dive in, but it is a great program, especially if you aren’t in a position to do a lot of classes.

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Mugged By A Herd Of Small Children

We went for a walk this evening. In 25 minutes we made it four houses away.

Not an auspicious start to our “walk X number of miles in 30 days plan.” It’s X number of miles because I haven’t got that far in the plan yet to decide how many miles we’ll do.lol Apparently our walking log will look like: Day 1: 400′

Oh well, it was all for a good 4 legged lesson.

So what happened four houses down? We were mugged by herd of children! No, don’t be alarmed no one was injured or too permanently traumatized, they were a very nice herd of children. It started with two, then another little girl came out with her mom. That was interesting because the mom says to me, “Can she pet your dog with out getting her face chewed off?” By that point the first two kids were giving the girls treats and pets so I ‘m thinking, “I hope so or these two little kids are in some serious trouble!”

Slowly three more little kids trickled out and joined the party. So here is me, Meeka, Maizey and FIVE kids all kneeling down on the side walk. Did I mention I don’t have any kids? Yeah, me:no kids. I find when I’m by myself kids really aren’t interested in me, apparently I’m pretty boring. But me and my girls? Now that’s quality kid entertainment!

It went like this: us walking, Meeka perfect loose leash, Maizey on her new harness being a maniac because we are walking toward a scruffy black dog in a fence. Here comes two little kids, running, of course! I see them, I stop, put Meeka in a sit-stay and the kids of course run right up into the girls space, waving their hands and shouting, “Can we pet your dogs? Can we pet your dogs?”

Now here’s is where it get’s interesting. Maizey is still boinging  around and shouting at the scruffy black dog, the scruffy black dog is boinging around and shouting back, the kids are boinging around and shouting at me, Meeka is sitting, but wiggling, a lot. Cute girl.

I answer the kids, “You can pet them, but you all have to be nice.” I don’t think they realized I meant them and the dogs.lol So I told them to ball up their fists, hold them out and put them under the girls noses, then they could pet under their chins. I had to keep reminding Meeka to sit, but she would. Meanwhile. . . Maizey continues her crazy act.(sigh)

So I told the kids to back up two big steps, think “Mother-May-I-” in reverse. It worked! The kids backed up and then I told them to stand still (is that a stand-stay for kids?) and I backed up until Maizey was under threshold and could sit and do a glance “watch”. Then I told the kids to come forward very slowly. I kept cuing the girls to sit and marking it w/ a yes/treat. Soon enough the kids were giving the girls the treats and, thank goodness, everyone was a LOT calmer.

By this time the other kids had trickled in so I asked every one to squat down and we played a crazy game of “hand zen”. Picture the girls in a sit, and 5 little hands held out palm up just out reach above their heads. I place one treat in each little palm and tell them to immediately close their hand. Then I had them sit still with hands closed and when the girls sat and were calm, not nosing towards the treats, one of the little kids would open their hand and the girls could take the treat. If things started getting too wild (of course they were wild! Five kids, two dogs and a me is not a recipe for calm!lol) but if they started getting too wild I just told every one to close their hand and cued a “leave it” to my girls. They did so good! And they had a blast.

Then the kids wanted to see some tricks so I put Maizey on a sit in the grass and showed them Meeka’s wave, and hand shake. That really got them going because then they all wanted to “shake her hand.” So I told them to all get in a single-file line and one at a time they came up and put out their hand for a Meeka hand shake and gave her a treat. It was adorable. Meanwhile I was able to keep working Maizey on being calm and maintaining her sit-stay. The kids kept saying, “Can Maizey do tricks?” Little did they know she was learning the hardest trick of all-self control!

All in all we didn’t get our walk, but their truly was too many great 4 legged lessons to list. For the pups and kids!

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a little work at the park

Today it was finally sunny and warm enough to spend some time at the park. We worked a few recalls, L2 sits, L2 downs, and lots of L2 loose leash walking. Both girlies did well on everything except recalls were really quite weak. So we will definitely be working on the L1 come game over the next while. It is hard w/ Maizey since she can’t be running around too much.

This series shows one of her better recalls.

“Maizey!” 

“yeah mom?” 

“Here!”

“I’m comin’”

Here is a good down-stay, though I didn’t catch them watching me.

And finally a good girl sit-stay

 And of course a  click and a treat!

 
They are both such good girls, and so much fun!
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