Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi IVDD: Month 15

I realize I haven't done a Ziggy post for a while.  Progress seems really slow.  Wait, that's because progress IS really slow.

Here's what's happening now:

  • Ziggy continues to use his legs vigorously in when he's in the cart and in the harness.
  • He is really trying to stand up more on his own, and is often able to get into a crouch position.
  • We've started to take him to the local rehab vet again.  She is now working her clinic full time, and is willing to have Z stop by for the day.
  • At rehab, he gets electro-stim acupuncture once a week, a chiropractic adjustment once a week (on different days), gets a couple of PT sessions each day, and gets to hang out in his cart or an ex-pen the rest of the day.

The Laziness continues:

Ziggy continues to be very lazy about his rehab.  He just doesn't seem like he really cares about walking or standing.  It's a lot of work, you know...  We've been putting him outside in cart, allowing him time on his own to perambulate around the yard.  Unless there's a squirrel to chase, he normally just stands in one place.  And saying that he stands is generous.  He often stands on his front legs and just lets his hind end hand in the sling on the cart.  Sigh.

I can't help but think that progress is slower because of Z's laziness.  The positive side of the laziness is that mentally he doesn't seem to mind his life as a couch potato at all ;)

Ziggy getting acupuncture last week.
It's just too hard for a corgi to stand up for that long.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Day in the Life of the Old Man Cat

Today is the 19th Birthday of our old man cat, Duncan.

Duncan is an indoor cat, 
but always enjoys a supervised wander around the yard.

It's wonderful to wish Duncan a Happy Birthday - especially since he's lived 4 years since the vet gave him one year to live (bad kidneys).

Wonder what life is like for a 19 year old cat?  
Here's a day in the life of Duncan (in descending order of time spent on each activity):

15 hours => lay on heated cat bed next to heater vent

7 hours => sleep on bed at night with humans

1 hour => wait in bathroom for someone to turn on the bath tap to get a drink

40 minutes =>  look for a place to puke.  do this multiple times per day - deciding whether to make it easy on the humans and puke where the dogs will clean it up OR puke where the dogs can't get it so the humans must clean it up.

10 minutes => eat cat food to puke up later

8 minutes => pee just outside of litter box

2 minutes => run wildly around around the house - preferably where the humans can't see you

We love our snuggly old man cat.  Here are some of my favorite pictures:

Snuggled up with Maggie on one of our 
cross-country trips.

Duncan is a good car cat.  
He loved to sit in the back window of my Honda.

Always the helper cat. his younger days.

Always the helper cat.

Happy 19th Birthday, Duncan!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

More Trees for Wagmore!

I love trees.   When we bought Wagmore, the property had some great trees.  Unfortunately, many of these great trees were planted very close to the house.  Big trees close to the house = bad.  Still, it was hard for The Husband and I when we had to take down those trees.

Then  My Dad mentioned to me that the Washington state foresters association has a seedling sale every year.  I was in!  I placed my order with My Dad, and sent him some cash.   Apparently, the seedling sale is rather like Black Friday deals, with seedlings going fast, so My Dad went early in the morning, and was one of the first in line.

All the trees I wanted were available, so we ended up with 42 baby trees.  I only ordered 40, but since we were buying so many, they threw in 2 extras.  So nice!  My Dad came home with 3 different types of cedars, fir trees, hemlocks, 2 ginkos, and 3 giant sequoias.

Since the trees were tiny, My Dad planted them on the property, in the area that was formerly the garden, and watered them over the summer when things got too dry.  (HUGE thanks to My Dad for all he's done for our baby trees!)

The Tree Nursery.  Hello, babies!

These are the smallest of all the baby trees.

Cedar - can't remember which type.

Baby fir tree.  

Now that the baby trees are starting to grow, it's time to think about where we'll put them.  Our plan is to put them in their permanent homes in late-April or May.

I spent some time yesterday thinking about the property, and learning about what type of environment each of the babies like.

Here's my draft tree plan:

The screen trees will be 2 of the types of cedars (deodar and incense) plus some older, fast-growing trees that we'll buy from a nursery and mix in.  I want the screens to look natural, not just a long line of trees.

The choice of the screen location in the front of the property is to screen a rather junky barn, bus(?), etc. that our neighbors have.

On the side of the property the screen will be "preemptive."  The next door 20 acres is for sale.  Right now zoned for one house, but you never know.

In the back of the property the screen will be used to block the view of a giant house on the property behind ours.

The other trees will be used to fill in an area that already has some trees.  I want it to be more of a forest  -- with room for a galloping lane running through it, of course.

Here's a view of the forest as it is now.  
All deciduous trees, and needs to be thicker to be
a real NW forest.

I'll do a post when we do our planting.  Oh, and if any of you in the SWWA area want to help, just let me know!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Obedience "must train" - The Nose Touch

I've had a number of occasions lately to be thankful that I have taught my dogs to touch their nose to my palm -- something I call the nose touch.

What is the nose touch?

The nose touch is when I say "touch" and the dog firmly presses their nose into my outstretched palm.

Why do I find it useful?

It's a great way to maneuver a dog without having to pull on the leash, grab the collar, lure with food, pick them up, etc.

With Ziggy:
  • Ziggy is a sweet dog.  He is also rather lazy, and has a bit of a stubborn streak.  If he doesn't want to go somewhere, a pull on his collar only leads to a dog who puts on the brakes even more.  No fits.  He just anchors himself into place and gives me a completely impassive look.  
    • But the nose touch gets him to move!  It frees me from having to beg, pull, or push him into place.
    • The logic seems to be touch = food = something I can do to get a reward!
  • The folks at the ISU vet school rehab center also appreciate the nose touch, as it allows them to get Ziggy to do his rehab exercises more easily.

With Rip:
  • I use the nose touch A LOT with Rip.
  • I use it to get Rip where I want him to be.  
  • I  ask him to "bounce" - or come off the ground in front a bit - to touch, which he finds very motivating.
  • The nose touch comes in handy when teaching him things like finishes.  I have him bounce up to touch my hand, to get him to move left or right, then I use the touch to bounce him into place.
  • I'll feed Rip his dinner as a reward for touching my hand (Touch = a small bit of food from my hand), so Rip is very motivated to touch.  
  • I'll even use "touch" in place of "come" from time to time.  I seem to have built more rewards into touch, so Rip almost always barrels towards my hand.  But that's probably more a fault of my recall training than a benefit of "touch."  ;)
  • I ask him to touch a lot when we're heeling.  
    • I have him touch to get his attention.  Rather than correcting him when he looks away, I ask for a series of hand touches to get him back in focus.  
    • I have him do a little "bounce" touch to get more drive when heeling -- like during the transition from slow to normal pace.

With Maggie:
  • Oh, heck, let's face it - Maggie is an old lady who is deaf and gets to do what she wants most of the time - but she still remembers that touch is high reward, and she'll gently press her nose to my hand if I hold it out there for her.  And she always gets a treat for it!  :)

(Maggie was at rest during my "nose" photo shoot, 
so I just took a nose picture of her snuggled up in her bed)

How do I train "touch?"

Touch is a fairly straightforward thing to train.


When I train the nose touch, my criteria are that a corgi nose is firmly pressed into my open palm.  I don't want teeth + nose.  I don't want near touches, or gentle tap nose touches.  I want a nice, firm nose touch, wherever my hand may be - close to the floor, behind my back, above the dog's head, etc.

Initial Training

The nose touch is easy to train if you're clicker training, or even if you're not.

I clicker trained Rip and Ziggy to touch, clicking for ever-closer progression toward my palm, and delivering the treat from the hand that I've asked them to touch.  Using the clicker to train touch is now my favorite way to train it.  It's a great thing to train when just learning to use the clicker, as dogs tend to catch on very quickly.

Maggie I trained without a clicker (this was before my clicker days).  She is hugely food driven, so I had small treat in my hand, and rewarded when her nose came in contact with my hand -- which it naturally did as part of trying to get the treat.  I think it took her about twice before she figured the game out.


Though my dogs know "touch" very well now, I continue to offer a high rate of reward for it.  I'll often just do touches for treats, or touches for bits of their meal so that it I have a lot "in the bank," allowing me to use touch without it becoming boring, or low reward.

I hope you and your dogs enjoy the nose touch as much as The Pack and I do.  I am regularly thinking of new ways to use it!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Well, I had a plan

About a month ago, I finally decided to get plans together for Rip's obedience and Rally debuts.  Two of my favorite trials take place here on consecutive weekends in late March/early April.  One of the trials offers the "regular" obedience and rally classes; the other trial offers those plus the optional titling classes.

My plan was to do 2 days of Novice B Rally at the first trial, then 3 days of Rally and 3 days of Beginning Novice obedience at the second trial.  Hopefully, and ok, maybe a little optimistically, this would gain us two titles in two weekends.

In order to meet this goal, I started taking Rip to Rally practice once a week (when I was home), and I signed him up for a CGC class as well.  He really needs work around distractions (too much practice at home!) and work on his "stay."

All was going well (or well-ish, depending on how wild Rip was on a given day), then about a week and a half ago I messed up my knee by slipping and falling on some ice while taking Rip for a walk.  Not Rip's fault at all -- he wasn't pulling or being naughty -- I just hit some ice hidden under snow.

So now I'm doctor-imposed rest, ice, brace, etc.  I'm hoping to find out early next week what I can expect for recovery time and activity levels.  At this point, though, it seems that my goals for Rip's first titles might have to be postponed.

I'm trying to do a bit of training each day, but since I can't move much or quickly, my options are limited.  Any ideas for tricks I can train while seated with my knee elevated?

In the meantime, Rip is going on snowy, woodland adventures with The Husband and The Small Human.

Scouting the woodland for small creatures

Channeling his friend, Irie the Adventure Corgi
(Rip says she's lucky that she gets to hike so much!)

Working on natural agility

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