Monday, June 29, 2009

Fight or Flight?

Boston is exhibiting her puppy stage of "fight or flight", when dogs are alarmed or become uncertain about what can sometimes be the silliest things. I've noticed it a few times recently when she has become alert to situations that until this point have been a common occurance in her life.

Yesterday I was vacuuming and heard Boston barking. Now that is unusual for her, as she is generally quiet in the house. It wasn't her "I have to go outside" whimper, but a full blown big-dog bark.

At first I ignored her. When she continued to bark I decided to turn off the vacuum and investigate. Had someone gotten into the house? No, I didn't think so since the front door was locked and Richard was in the back yard.

She was looking into the bathroom, looking at me, and then back into the bathroom. Bark-Bark! I rounded the corner when, horror of horrors, the bath mat was rumpled on the floor. How did that happen?! When did that get there?! This object, which is normally lying flat on the floor had now taken on a life of its own.

Once Boston had my attention, presumably to save me from this monster that had invaded our house, she tentatively approached it. We're trained to "make it funny" and laugh to diffuse the situation. Which is not too hard to do, actually, when you see how the dogs will approach and almost scare themselves.

After a few belly-laughs and click-treats to let her know this was a friendly monster Boston went happily on her way.

I can't wait till she notices the head mounts on the porch wall.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Good News for Boston

Boston has been having challenges in the past couple months that I have referred to lightly in previous posts: she cannot tolerate dog food. She's a shrimp, which I could see but was confirmed the night of the After Party when I saw her next to her siblings. Other than her food intolerance she acts like any other pup - energetic, happy, alert, terrorizing - and you wouldn't know she has issues.

Boston's been on a diet of chicken and rice flavored with FortiFlora or pumpkin for some time now (Richard said if we added cream of mushroom soup it would be hot dish and we humans could eat it too). Every time I try to transition her to a dog food she gets diarrhea. After trying the fourth brand of food and getting the same reaction her veterinarian had me bring her in for further testing.

Over the course of a few days, we ran an "overall" blood test to check her general health, (I apologize to those trained veterinarians out there for my lack of medical-speak) and a separate blood test to check for a pancreatic deficiency. The initial results came back with anemia, low pancreatic enzymes, and low in B12. When the vet requested the lab do additional analysis she was told these results were "inconclusive" and we had to take Boston in for another blood draw.

We left the clinic with medication for hook worm, which is a common cause for anemia, and the prescription drug Metronidazole, fondly called by me the M-drug, to help with the diarrhea. The veterinarian also mentioned a prescription diet might be necessary.

The days of waiting for the test results were hard. What if she had something wrong with her pancreas? I'm told if there is a deficiency it is for life. There is a food supplement available, but can get expensive. In my mind I projected this, in addition to a special diet, as a deterrent to her eventual placement. Would she be able to be placed as a service dog? Could it narrow the list of persons that would be able to care for her? Eileen, our Program Director, in her usual supportive manner told me not to go there but to focus on the short-term right now. Still, I couldn't get it out of my mind - it was upsetting to me.

I had a message from the veterinarian Saturday and the pancreas test can back negative. Horray!! What a relief that is. While it doesn't explain why she cannot tolerate food, we're happy to know her pancreas is OK. There was no anemia, so if there was hook worm the medication took care of it, the B12 was normal, and all blood counts are good. Am not sure why the initial report showed all these abnormal results and am going to talk with the doctor about it tomorrow.

Next steps for now is to follow her out on the M-drug and hope the worming medicine did some good. If not, I suspect we will do a food trial with prescription dog food. I would like to see her tolerate a commercial food to make her care after placement easier, but it could be worse.

In the meantime, while I'm writing this, Boston chewed up her first rug.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Class Outing After Party

I've been a bit remiss in timely posts to Boston's blog and am going to work on that.

Our class had an outing Monday night to do public training at the PetsMart in Richfield. This was our first outing and I think the training went well for everyone. It can be challenging working with your dog in a new environment. You almost have to take a step backwards in the expectation of what your dog is going to do. Seems like the mantra with every dog I've had is, "...but h/she does it [the skill] at home for me!!"

It's easy to get frustrated, but what the foster homes reminded each other after class is these puppies are so much better trained already than most pet dogs their age. We have all received comments and praise from individuals when we're out with our dogs on how well-behaved they are. Sometimes it's hard to see when you live with the dog every day, and you want so badly for them to be perfect. All of the foster homes in our class have been working so hard, and it shows.

Since we live about 5 miles from PetsMart we planned a play date after class. Even though it was a hot steamy night almost everyone came - Richard and I were thrilled! It was so much fun with eight of the ten golden pups running around the yard. Dempsey would have made it but he was on vacation. We filled the pool so the pups could cool off. It was a fun time for the foster homes to get to know each other better. It's hard to visit at class since we're all so focused on our dogs.

Here they are playing in the yard.

Rugby led the charge through the grasses. He was the ring leader in all that the puppies explored.

After everyone left I realized I didn't take pictures of any of the humans. Sorry everyone - next time!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

City Dog Visits the Farm

We attended a high school graduation party for our great-niece, Megan, last weekend at a hobby farm-type place in Andover called the Eveland Family Farm. It's really nice, with a shelter for the party and is a working farm with many animals and equipment.

What a perfect training opportunity for Boston! She socialized with a lot of people and did very well. Richard and I took her on a walk around the farm. Boston met many animals, and wasn't too concerned about any of them. The goats caught her interest the most, I think because they are the closest to her size. She gave the donkeys and pigs the smell-test. She smelled the pigs only once so was a difficult photo opp.

Below are pictures of Boston on the tractor, and with the many animals she made friends with that day.

Here's a picture of Megan and our great-nephews Aaron, Ty, and Alex. We have a tradition of taking their picture with each dog we have trained. It's been fun to watch them growing with each dog. Looks like Boston was getting pretty tired by then.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rainy Day

We took advantage of today's rain to do a little umbrella training. Boston doesn't mind the umbrella but she doesn't especially like the rain - it does a job on her hair, making it all fuzzy and kinky. Mostly around her ears which makes her face look fat.

Seriously, she won't go outside in the rain so I accommodate her by holding the umbrella over her. In the meantime I get pretty wet.

The things we do for our dogs!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Really Reliable Recall

I think Boston has this one down.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Transfer of Affection

We had a big breakthrough - Boston went into the bathroom and left the toilet paper alone! No more pulling it off the roll and through the house. Finally.

Boston has picked up another fetish though. Shoes, and many of them. She drags them from the bedroom into the porch. On this day Boston accessorized with a handbag.

My kinda gal.