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!


Magnus and Agility for Fun

Seems I haven’t been able to put together a coherent sentence lately, thus the lack of posts. . . Come to think if it I’m not sure if this is a coherent sentence!

Oh well, I have exciting news, so you will have to bear with my lack of coherency.

Tough Choices
Since this Saturday is Magnus last Puppy Prep class I have debated what to do. Obviously his age makes him prime to move into Wonder Pups, the next level of puppy class at Calling All Dogs.

But they also offer what seems to be a great class for reactive dogs. It is a class I feel will be wonderful for Maizey and I am anxious to have her take it.

So the debate began.

I know realistically I can only take one class at a time. Money of course is a consideration, but time and energy are resources I am constantly short on, so I must consider that too. And for me one class at a time is what is realistic.

That leaves me in the uncomfortable position of choosing which pup needs it more. Not something I was happy to choose. But Magnus age, and class availability had me convinced to move on to the next puppy class with him.

Magnus the Brave Goes to Agility for Fun
The assistant to his Wednesday night class teaches a course called Agility for Fun. It is an agility foundation skills class. I would never have considered him for this class since the prerequisites require him to complete the class he is in plus one or two classes past his.

But then a very exciting thing happened.

The Agility for Fun instructor asked us if we would like to join her class! I was floored. And honestly more than a little proud of my little guy for being such a brave, smart boy that she felt he could handle that level of class.

So of course that settled the debate once and for all. I will continue to work with Maizey here at home and use this opportunity to continue Magnus’ education and socialization. I am quite excited about it, and yes. . . a little nervous. (You wouldn’t honestly expect me to be not be nervous by now would you?)

It is a great way for me to learn clicker skills, and for him to learn confidence and focus. Did I mention I am excited?

A Simple Task
Magnus loves to tug, but I have had little experience teaching a release.

Maizey came with a built-in release: “This tug thing is boooring crazymomlady, so sure I’ll give it to you.”

Thus I beg the wisdom of your experience. What foundation skills did you find most helpful? What skills do you wish you spent more time on now? Do you have a favorite method of teaching focus, tug drive, and a release to tugging?

Growth is a continual process and this is an opportunity I hoped to have with my Princessface, so I am very excited and determined to learn all I can and bring it home to her. Hopefully this will be yet another confidence booster for all of us!

"I'm goin' to agility, cause I am Magnus The Brave!"


Another Trip Finds Another First For Maizey

On a lighter note, we went up the canyon to see family who were up camping. It was a fun night with plenty of opportunity for training too.

Inspired by the awesome pictures I see on all of your blogs of your pups all together I have been working on posing the girls and having them wait for photo’s. It’s hard to get a really good picture of them when one is so small and one so big, and black dogs are hard to get good light for.

In the process the girls are getting a lot of practice at waiting in pretty much any position, anywhere.

"I already know how to pose, just give a rock and I'll perch right on it!"

Meeka, "what do you think you're doing lil'turbo? Didn't you hear her say wait?"

Maizey, "do you think crazymomlady knows how hot it is right here?" Meeka, "Just smile nice and be real still and she'll let us run in the river in a bit!"

Another fun part was getting to hang out with our part time boy, Charley. He is a very funny boy and usually doesn’t like to get the water, but that afternoon the water was more appealing than the heat.

"Wow is it hot out here! And I'm black you know!"

"Ahhh. . . nice cool river"

Some people are proud of their job, their house, their kids. What am I proud of? My sense of dog toys! Yes I know, not the normal thing people are proud of, but I love to find a toy that will be the perfect match for each pup. Thus this next shot of Charley and his double bubble. I found it for him and he loves it so much we have one for his house and one for mine.

Yup that's my double bubble, I never leave home with out it!"

Even after a year and half I am still finding new things that Maizey has never seen before. This trip found two: the public bathroom with stalls (don’t worry no pictures of that) and the camp fire.

I always watch her very carefully to see how she will react. She was very unsure at first, but the simplest thing we can do is make sure our pups are safe and then be confident ourselves. If I am not worried, she learns quickly not to be worried either.

Uhh crazyhumanguys??? There's a big fire right there!"

"Uhh. . . the fire's still there. . ."

"Nobody else seems to mind the fire so I guess it must be okay."

Apparently having my 4legged friends around really wears Charley out. By the end of the night he was exhausted!

"You might want to find out if he's still breathing, I think the river water may have shocked his system!"

"See? Camping is fun! And fires make what my crazymomlady says is "interesting light for pictures.""