My agility instructor for Noodle messaged me and had a last-minute opening for a private lesson today, so you'd better believe I jumped on it! Our 2 on-2 off contacts had really fallen apart last night in practice, plus her focus on me was near zero
We got a lot accomplished tonight. My instructor found that i was losing eye contact when she was hitting her contacts, and as soon as I broke eye contact she would come off the contact. We practiced a bunch with me looking at her, and even moving past the obstacle while keeping eye contact and that made all the difference!
We worked on doing longer sequences of obstacles 915-18 at a time) before rewarding. I was really happy with how she was acting, my instructor even said she "looked like a seasoned dog" - a HUGE compliment for me!
As for our trial tomorrow, she told me to do my best to make it successful for Noodle - don't do huge long lead-outs at the beginning, stay close to the contacts and keep eye contact and "help" her be successful at them. I love that she formulates a plan for me that I can do. I also love that she has faith in us. Noodle certainly isn't the easiest dog to train, and it would have been so easy for her to just wash her hands of us. I am so thankful.
Excited for tomorrow, and a bit worried, as usual...
Oh what a day!!!! We started off (after having to wake up at with Noodle'svery first Novice FAST run. We started off with a very good moment - 2 jumps right into 12 weaves PERFECTLY!!! Then another jump, and to the send bonus. the send was just a tunnel to a jump. Well, never a tunnel sucker, she bypassed the tunnel (since I wasn't able to support it by getting close to the entrance) and went on a tour, visiting the wall and the judge. Finally on the third try I got her in, but she blasted out of that tunnel NEVER even looking at me and missed the jump in the send, thus missing our qualifying score. She did a lot of zooming around, so we managed to hit the final two jumps and ended on that good note.
We waited ALL day (and I do mean all day!!!!) to run our last two runs. First was Jumpers with weaves. What an awesome feeling it is to run this little girl! She ran this jumpers course absolutely perfect, but she did knock two bars. One bar was in the corner and I think she just misjudged her stride. The second bar was the very last bar, and you can see in the vide she turned to look at me (I was behind her) and knocked the bar because of that. But MAN...what a run...so fun! She started right on course with me, never once losing her focus. Wow!!!
Last was Novice Standard. I was really focused on having her stop on her contacts. that was my #1 goal. GOAL ACCOMPLISHED! We had three mistakes - a refusal (where she missed a jump and I had to circle her back), and a table fault - she had so much speed going to the table that she just couldn't stop fast enough and had to hop off and get back on. I am SO proud of how she nailed her weave entrance - it was so impressive! The best part was...WE Q'ed!!!!! Our very first AKC Q. I am so so so happy. I just love her drive and enthusiasm, and her focus today was GREAT for a 19 month old dog!
You know what was the best part about today? Having people come up to me and talk to me about how nice of a dog she was, and how good our runs looked. You have no idea how that feels - after YEARS of being the object of pity for the most part when my runs were not very good, it was so nice to be able to be proud of myself again. I feel like I finally have accomplished something, and this feeling has been pretty much absent from me since last summer. It's good to be back!
Redirect! That might end up being my theme for 2018. Don't give up - Redirect instead! I am a goal-oriented person. Yeah, that's putting it mildly. A more accurate description would be that I am obsessive about setting goals and working towards them. Sometimes, though, ya gotta face reality and re-purpose your drive into a new or different venture. Easier said than done? Well, just watch me!
So guess where I spent this afternoon? In the emergency vet clinic again! I was outside with Noodle in the agility area setting jumps when I looked over and saw her mouthing something. I opened her mouth, and there was a rock slightly bigger than a quarter way at the back of her throat. I tried to grab it, but she swallowed it before I could get a hold of it. Off to the clinic we went! they gave her some stuff to make her throw up, but no rock appeared. They then did x-rays, and sure enough you could see the rock clearly at the bottom of her stomach.
The vet said there was a good chance she could pass the rock, but we were to keep an eye on her for the next couple days and go through her poop to see if we could see when the rock passes. If it doesn't pass within a couple days, she should go get x-rayed again at our own vet to see if it has moved at all. Damn. Always something.
It's Pretzel's 6th birthday! Can you believe he is 6? He is my old soul/puppy all rolled up into one. The "man" who truly changed my life forever (for the better, of course!). Without him, I would have never met Mark, I would have never met all of these great friends I have, I would have never discovered my love for conformation and agility, I would have never accomplished my goal of being #1 in the country in something. He has been a great challenge, a major joy, and a fountain of love for me.
Pretzel got to celebrate by being forced to war a birthday hat alongside Noodle, and they got to eat some grey-iced Weimaraner cookies. The cookies consisted of pumpkin, whole wheat flour, eggs, peanut butter, and some other little random bake-y things like baking soda and stuff (can you tell the kitchen is NOT my forte?). The icing was made from solidified coconut oil with a dab of black food coloring to make it grey.
In other news, Noodle made another trip to the vet today. The rock she swallowed on Sunday has not shown up in her poop, so I needed to have an x-ray taken to see if it had moved at all, and if it was in a position to cause any problems. Before you ask...YES...we have been going through her poop very carefully. I believe there was only one pile we might have missed. Good times.
The vet took x-rays, and found...nothing! He did see some small mineral particles in her intestine, so either she passed the rock completely, or she managed to digest and break up the rock into pieces. This, of course, was great news. I am very relieved we don't have to worry about surgery, or going through any more of her poop.
While the rest of the world was either asleep or chilling on their couch, Noodle and I were doing our late night training session! We had the facility to ourselves (go figure, who else wants to train at 10pm?)
I worked on doing longer courses with rewards coming at the end of the course. I am happy that she nailed every single 2 on-2 off contact but one. She also nailed the tough weave pole entry that Pretzel and I worked on yesterday in class (and she actually did a lot better than him).
I am trying to not get too excited. Of course she was a rock star...we were the only ones in the building and there were ZERO distractions. But I can't help feeling pretty good about what we were doing. It's got to start somewhere, right?
I feel kind of bad...a friend texted me to ask if I was getting excited about Corky's upcoming foal, and I said Nope, not even thinking about it. This is true. I really am not thinking about it. I mean, I am doing the necessary things like getting her vaccinations done, etc., but I am not letting an ounce of emotion get in the way of what I am doing. Maybe if I don't get excited, nothing bad will happen? 24 days...
Today I spent the day doing field training width Pretzel and Noodle. We really need the practice, the hunt test is in a little over a month!
Today, Noodle gets the rock star status. She actually behaved better than Pretzel, for a change! Granted, it was marginally better. Both dogs have a problem with hunting way too far away from me, and then flushing the birds on their own before I can get to them. We worked a bit with the bird on a string to train the "whoa" command. As usual, it was a ton of fun, and the weather was perfect. we are coming back tomorrow!
We went back for more field training today. I think we made a lot of progress today! We put the quail in these little baskets and planted them, worked on Pretzel and Noodle holding their point. It worked a lot better today. Then we ran a mock hunt test for each of them. Pretzel was braced with Mia, a German Shorthaired Pointer bitch. Pretzel hunted hard, and scared up two birds while he was running, but he never got a solid point.
Noodle was braced with a 7 month old weimaraner puppy. She hunted HARD, unfortunately she grabbed a bird without pointing, and then pointed several spots but couldn't produce a bird. So...if this was a real hunt test, but my dogs would have failed. Boo. We have a lot of work to do! On the good side, both of my dogs hunted hard and paid virtually no attention to their bracemates, which is a BIG deal (especially for Noodle!). that was a very good sign.
When I got home, I pulled Noodle out of her crate in the car and noticed she wasn't putting any weight on her right hind leg. There was a huge bump on the side of her leg. She must have injured herself on that last run in the field. We headed to MedVet, where they x-rayed that leg first to see if they could see a bone injury. Thankfully, they saw nothing that was broken. However, this looks suspiciously like a possible ligament or tendon tear. That is serious. I had to make an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon to do more investigating.
To say I am devastated is an understatement. This could be 6 months of rest and healing. I am so worried and upset. There goes our agility year, all of our plans, her big Futurity show next month. All these plans...possibly gone forever. I am terrified.
Today we had an appointment for Noodle at MedVet with the orthopedic surgeon for a consult. I went in to the appointment with my hopes already smashed. With my luck, I have a lot of experience preparing for the worst and getting just that. The first thing they did was take Noodle back for more x-rays. There is another swelling on that same leg, on the opposite side and higher. I am not sure if that has been there all along or is a new development. You really only notice it when you compare the two legs side by side.
Well, the findings were a but muddy, but better than expected. The vet was not sure if that "new" swelling was an old injury or not. They did a separate x-ray of that joint, but of course the expert radiologist was not available to read it today so I will have to wait another day to get the expert diagnosis on that. However, the original injury seems to be something that might just heal without surgery, only crate rest. She said there are a few tiny bone fragments from the ligament pulling off the bone. These fragments are too tiny to remove or re-attach. The vet recommended 2 weeks of crate rest (oh boy!) and then we will go back for a re-evaluation.
Amazingly, she said that if they re-evaluate in 2 weeks and find her healed, then I can start gradually back to work. Although the next 2 weekends of agility are out, there is a very slim possibility that we might be able to do the trial and futurity in Perry, Georgia in mid-April. We also have our first hunt test the following weekend. It is not definite, but there is a tiny sliver of hope.
Even if she doesn't make those events, it does look like we might be able to get back to agility later this spring. I am so relieved!!! I just have to be patient...and deal with Noodle in a crate all day. Yeah. that's NOT going to be easy. She is such a high-drive animal that loves to work. Inactivity is not her friend. But you know me, I will do ALL that i can to keep her happy and healthy. Whatever it takes!
I had already paid in advance for the rental of the agility training building for the next 4 weeks, so tonight I decided to bring Pretzel and give him a little one-on-one time. I think he enjoyed it. He started off rather unmotivated, especially when I tried doing some complicated stuff with him. I took a step back and ran some very bog, open, flowing courses, and he got his mojo back. By the end, he was really running well and with enthusiasm. I gave him lots of attention and praise. It was a fun night with my boy, bu man, I sure miss running Noodle with all of her unbridled enthusiasm.
Day #4 of crate rest. I am trying to get creative in keeping Noodle occupied. Lots and lots and lots of peanut butter bones, marrow bones, treats, and training that can be done with her in a laid-down position.
So, today I worked on touching a target, finding a treat hidden under a tennis ball in a muffin tin, holding an object in her mouth,
and the ultimate - telling the difference between a fork and a spoon. I remember years ago trying to teach Pretzel this very same thing when we were bored on a snow day. Yeah, that didn't really happen. But hey,
it's something to do, right?
Overall, Noodle has been a pretty darn good patient. I thought she would be tearing the walls down, but as long as I am sitting at my desk next to her crate, she is tolerating it OK. that's not to say she doesn't complain about it often, but at least she isn't damaging anything. I just hope and pray that she recovered quickly and completely.
My friend brought her two dogs up from Cincinnati to practice conformation with me. I am kind of excited I get to show this handsome guy in the Futurity next month. Hopefully I can get him more comfortable with me, and trained a little bit. I SO miss showing. Miss it like you wouldn't believe. Now that Noodle's agility has been put on hold, I feel very drift-ish and direction-less. That is not a good feeling for me. My driven personality makes it really hard for me to enjoy the down time. I hate that about myself...why can't I just relax and enjoy the moment?
So, doing what I do best, I went and looked at Pretzel's lifetime NOHS points. He is sitting well into first place with 2710 points. So I start thinking to myself, "What if I could hit a cool 3,000 points? Wouldn't that be really awesome to sit in the record books with that massive number?"
Oh dear... you know what that means. I am thinking of pulling Pretzel out of retirement, just slightly, just enough to try and earn that extra 290 points. Just hit a few shows here and there, just for fun, to keep my hand in it, and have something to work towards. Hmmm...
"Nobody got anywhere in the world by simply being content." - Louis L'Amour
I packed up the dogs in the car and escaped to go check on Corky. She is looking especially pregnant, the baby has dropped. Unfortunately, no milk or wax yet. I have this sinking feeling that she will foal when I am out of town in April. I have some show commitments that I cannot get out of in April. Ugh. If she goes the same as last year, she should foal on March 31st, which would be perfect. But for some reason I am thinking she doesn't look like she will be ready. Who knows, she certainly has fooled me enough times last year!
It was a gorgeous day, unfortunately I was trapped in the house most of the day watching Noodle on crate rest. She was not cooperative today. I think she is sick of her confinement. I don't blame her! I put her outside i the ex-pen in the sun to enjoy some fresh air...that lasted about 10 minutes before she started jumping on the pen wanting to go out and play. *sigh*, back inside we go. I have another whole week of this. I hope we survive.