December 26, 2009

The Merriest of Christmases

So much has happened in the last few days.

Christmas Eve Marley had his follow up with the Neurologist. Steve and I were filled with anticipation as we drove him to the Doctor. We brought the wonderful staff a bunch of home made goodies for taking such good care of our boy.

Dr. Stevenson removed all his staples and talked to us about the Seroma. She was very pleased with how he was doing and predicted a full recovery with just the slightest "swagger" to his walk that just Steve and I would notice. Marley was given permission to sleep in bed with us as long as he wore a harness and a lead which would be tied to the headboard or one of us. Dr. Stevenson released Marley from her care and he only needs to come back if things should head South. Oh happy day!

Now Marley spends quite a bit of time up on the couch with us wearing his TTouch step in harness and a lead so we don't have to worry about him trying to leap off the couch. One really nice thing about Marley having couch time is I can to TTouch on him throughout the day.

We are allowed to spend more time outside with Marley too. He has earned more freedom but still cannot spend time outside his crate without one of us right there until he can walk well enough that he doesn't fall down. Time to get working toward that goal.

Christmas day we got the best gift possible. Marley walked on his own! No support and he walked about 12 steps!!

Our next step is to meet with his new Vet, Dr. Claire Sosna
Dr. Sosna will develop a complete rehabilitation plan for Marley. We can't wait! But we do have to wait until the 30th of December.

December 23, 2009

Marley Stands!

Marley had an interesting day today.

First off he isn't sleeping through the night and gets up to go potty or just because. Last night was one of those nights. Steve stayed up with Marley while I went back to bed since I had to go to work and he was on vacation. When I got up Marley was excited to see me and stood up on his own in his crate for about 30 seconds! I was so excited.

Today when Steve and I got home I noticed a lot of swelling in his spine area! I emailed photos to the hospital and they said it is Seroma which is a fluid build up.

We are to do warm compresses tonight and of course I added in some Raccoon TTouches to reduce the fluid. Right now it is working like a charm.

Here is the HUGE news of the day.....Marley stood for several minutes on his own to eat his dinner!!!

We are so proud of him and I just love the way he stumbled at one point and was quickly able to regain his footing.

Tomorrow we go to his follow up and get his staples out. I won't be sad to see the "zipper" removed from our boy's back one little bit.

Another recent milestone is I've figured out what to do for his rehab. I finally made a decision about his therapy!! I found a holistic Vet with hours I can make that does diet & supplements, physical exercise, weight bearing exercise, Hydrotherapy (deep pool and underwater treadmill) and also acupuncture. She offered large packages of sessions that will make it more affordable for us and you can mix and match services. Marley will go for his initial consultation on 12/30.

Things are really moving along nicely. I'm still holding out for my Christmas wish of Marley taking a couple steps on his own sometime Christmas day. Even if it doesn't happen Christmas day it is is getting more and more certain that he WILL be taking those steps sometime soon.

December 21, 2009

Homework for Iggy

I think I have taken Iggy as far as I can go without out the introduction to a leash. Ground work is out if I can't give him signals with a lead of some sort. He does fine walking with Ben and I off lead but we need more.

Shana, a TTouch PiT suggested I try to acclimate him to a lead by first adding only the clip and then as he gets used to it to switch it out for one with a longer piece of lead on it until we get to a regular sized leash.

During the time I'm focusing on Marley I don't want Iggy moving backward. Yesterday I took his foster parents a bag with all sorts of leads & clips donated from friends at work.

Before leaving I clipped the lightest weight clip with no lead attached. Iggy wasn't sure about this and froze. I got him to eat treats and took the clip off and put it back on again.

Hopefully he will become more accepting and further along his journey when I see him next.

This is the sweetest boy and I look forward to the day he is more confident.

December 20, 2009

Marley "walkin" in his sling

Steve and I are so happy that Marley's personality is coming back and he seems more and more like our little boy.

He is eating his meals out of his regular bowl all by himself. His potty habits are almost back to normal schedule and he is getting stronger with more leg mobility. Even his constant licking has returned.

Marley gets Passive Range of Motion exercises up to 3 times a day. I say "up to" because we aim for 3 times but right now we won't fight with him to get him into the proper position. We're afraid of him resisting so we do our best and try to catch him lying on his side.

I continue the TTouch on him but I haven't been as good about wraps as I should. As he gets stronger in back I'll be more comfortable putting the wrap on him. Right now I have to balance him, keep his back straight and supported and then have at least one hand left to put the wrap on.

Today we got some video of Mar outside in his sling. It also shows how we keep repositioning his feet and shifting weight to the back so he gets used to the pressure on his feet.

We have a tentative appointment to start his swimming & hydrotherapy for December 26. I'm really looking forward to it on several levels. I'm excited to see what it can do for Marley, I think he will absolutely love the water, and I'm curious for myself too.

In the meantime Marley has been most patient with his required crate rest and his brothers are always near by keeping a close eye on him.

December 15, 2009

Something New Every Day!

Sooo, everyday "something" has improved.

  • Sunday he finally ate;

  • Monday we figured out how to make it easy for him to drink;

  • Today.........he poooooooooooo'd!!!!
    Not only did he poo but Steve was upstairs changing clothes and heard a whimper downstairs and thought it was Pierre complaining about having to stay downstairs. But NO it was Marley whimpering. Steve took him out and he wanted to go to his "poo spot" and the rest is history!

  • Tonight he got so excited when I came in the front door he stood up and moved in his pen! Keep in mind that is on a foam mattress!!!!

  • He ate his dinner from a bowl all by himself. No hand feeding :-)
I have decided where I want to take him for hydrotherapy. Through all my local doggie contacts I keep getting pointed to one location about 30 min from our house. As soon as we get the "okay" from his surgeon Marley will begin 6 weeks of hydrotherapy!!! Swimming and under water treadmill. :-) He is gonna love it.

Steve and I decided Marley needed some cuddle time outside his pen. I turned on the fireplace in the bedroom and laid out a quilt on the floor.

We had a TTouch session that included some additional touches that Robyn suggested to me. We did Tarantula Pulling the Plow. I loved seeing his skin react and him turn to look what I was doing. I also tried to "candy cane" his legs with a 1" wrap but I don't know I did it right. He wore his scrunchies on his feet a bit too. Another thing I did that felt good to him was brush him with my Jelly Scrubber. We did touches with the big bumpy side and lots of strokes with the little bumpy side.

I don't know if it makes sense but I keep having a vision of actually moving the feeling and responsive areas into less responsive areas with touches and stimulating strokes. Kinda how people pass a cold or H1N1 I think I can "spread feeling". It is something I keep seeing in my mind so I'm going with it.

After our TTouch session I put him on the bed with me, pillows surrounding all the edges, and we "spooned" and cuddled for a long time. Each time he would snore or stretch his back legs I would smile.

Earlier today I had a talk with Marley and explained his pain and the surgery. I talked about how good he is being and all the fun he will have at water therapy. I reminded him he is perfect how he is and always will be our Perfect Marley Man regardless of how this walking thing turns out. But I know he is gonna walk again. Marley won't have it any other way....neither will we.

Go Marley, go.

December 14, 2009

Yeah! We have the Water figured out!

Our biggest concern (other than the obvious) was finding a way to make it easier for Marley to drink water. Today my friend, and breeder of my other two Frenchies, Joyce came up with a perfect solution. Back to the crocks that screw on the side of the crate but she found ones that are big enough for a flat face dog!

We also started a little Passive Range of Motion exercises for his legs. His big, strong, beefy legs are already starting to atrophy. Amazing! Just a week ago he was running and we are dealing with helping him drink water and atrophy muscle.

One one of his potty breaks I put the terry cloth scrunchies on his ankles. I don't think he noticed. I put them on again tonight during his TTouch session and his exercises. You never know when these nerves are gonna kick in and he will notice. He watched me as I moved his legs. Wonder what he thinks of all this.

I continue doing zig zags while crossing over his top line. I'm trying to "connect the dots" for him because I know he has feeling in some areas and I'm not sure about some of the other areas. I guess I think I can move the feeling from one area to another or that the area with limited feeling will "accidentally" feel something in the process. I do Python lifts on his legs and Abalone lifts on areas I feel may be tense. He enjoys the special attention from Momma but we keep the sessions short.

Marley sleeps a lot which is so healing for his body. Steve and I are so thankful that he is not in pain and is so calm and peaceful.

Next hurdle to jump is getting Marley to have a bowel movement. The doc said it is not a concern unless he still hasn't "gone" 5 days after he started eating normally. The clock started last night as Marley is eating like a champ...and as of tonight he can drink water at will.

Hopefully both those things will help us jump that next hurdle.

My next steps are to research where we can take him for Hydrotherapy and Acupuncture.

December 13, 2009

Home from the Hospital


Today our little guy came home from the hospital!

Marley has taken up residence in his hospital bed that I built last night. He is quite comfortable.

We had a couple great things happen today. The first was when Marley "walked" out to see us at the hospital. His surgeon, Dr. Stevenson, had him in a figure 8 sling and his little hind legs just went to town.

The other good thing is we've had trouble getting him to eat anything but baby food licked from fingers. Tonight we tried a little can of Wellness Puppy food and he ate about 5 ounces!

We are still struggling with getting water into him since he can't stand and drink. His posture options are laying down or sitting on his bottom with his feet outstretched in front and his back hunched over. None of these are conducive to drinking water.

We have added a water bottle to the side of his crate and he has drank a little this way. Problem is that the darned thing drips! It is also very slow to produce any significant amount of water when he licks. But it is something until we come up with a better resolution.

We had an idea to buy a cement cinder block and put it in his crate with a bowl on top. That will be a chore for tomorrow.

Today Marley had several short TTouch sessions. Lots of Raccoons, Abalone Lifts and Python Lifts on his legs.

He is able to lay down and rest more comfortably.

Tomorrow I'll try some scrunchies on his ankles.

December 12, 2009

December 12 - Marley Update

This morning we visited Marley and were so happy to hear that he pee'd on his own! He is not yet standing but with support he is starting to put a little weight on his feet and getting a little stronger.

It was really nice that we were able to visit in a exam room rather than in ICU.

Since he hasn't been eating I did some gentle Belly Lifts to see if that would stimulate his appetite a bit.

We offered him food and he ended up eating a small jar of chicken baby food by licking it off my fingers.

I do different touches all over him. Raccoons close to the incision, Abalone touches with a lift to relax the body, snail tails to help with pain, and python lifts on his legs. I don't know what he feels on his legs by my intention is to focus the body's healing energies on the damaged nerves and I'm also asking any dormant nerves and his healthy ones to take over and do the job of the broken ones. Right now I'm just letting my hands move on their own accord and with love all over him.

We spend a lot of time talking with him and telling him how proud of him we are. WE can't wait to get him back home with us.

Soon Marley is tired and we kiss him good-bye and promise that we'll be back later.

Today was spent figuring out how we will house him when he gets home. We created one scenario after another. Just as we got one idea perfected we found a major flaw and had to start over. We want everything perfect and don't want any mistakes.

I think we pretty much have it set now.

When we visited again tonight Marley looked fantastic.

He was spunkier but we were unable to get him to eat. This concerns me but the doctor said it isn't a big deal unless they go 5 days without eating. 1-3/4 small jars of baby food don't sound like much to me.

We did more touches,

more talking and lots of cuddling.

Then Marley was tired again and it was best to let him go back and sleep some more.

December 11, 2009

Marley's First TTouch Session Post Surgery

Tonight Steve and I visited Marley in the hospital. He looked really good for all he has been through the past couple days.

He was taken outside today to see if he could stand on his own and if he could urinate by himself. So far he cannot stand on his own. The staff supported him and started putting some weight on his feet. They did have to use a little bit of pressure to get him to start emptying his bladder but once things started he was able to finish on his own. We are encouraged that he is close to being able to go potty by himself!

At this point he has no interest in food. He has not eaten in the last two days at all. The doctor says they don't even start to get concerned about not eating until after 5 days. Thankfully he is getting nutrition via an IV.

Steve offered Marley licks of baby food from his finger and he did take a tiny amount.

Then it was time for some TTouch. Marley will be getting many short sessions a day. Tonight was the first.

We did some Abalone touches...

....Some Raccoons to try to bring about the body's healing fluids...

...and some Ear work to help regulate his breathing.

When I first started working with Sam from the shelter I used distance work ("Phantom Touches") since I couldn't touch his wounds. I used that technique on Marley tonight since I was unable to actually touch his incision area.

It was when I reached this point on his back that he twitched.

The plan is for me to split my time between working in the office and working at home next week so I can give Marley TTouch throughout the day. Steve already had Christmas & New Years week off so he will be he primary care giver then.

So Steve needs to be comfortable doing TTouch on Marley also.

Judging by how relaxed Marley looks I'd say Steve is doing a great job!

Marley goes down in the back!

Spine injuries can happen quickly and can go down hill in a very bad way very quickly. Two of our Frenchies have had spine issues in the past 15 months.

Sammi was first. He woke up one day wobbling like a drunken sailor. He IMMEDIATELY went to the emergency hospital and was seen. In his case we were given Pred and strict crate rest. He also received numerous TTouch sessions and was fine 2 weeks later. No further treatment was warranted and no PT required.

Marley's path started off similar but had a very different result.

Our first indication that something was wrong with Marley was Tuesday morning when Steve rolled over in bed and bumped Marley. (red flag #1) Marley let out a sharp cry. Immediately we felt him all over and tried to repeat the problem...we got nothing. Chalking it up to Marley's tendency toward the dramatic we figured he got scared and left it at that.

Tuesday evening when we got home he has trembling a little and seemed "off". We took his temp and it was a little low so we put a towel in the dryer to get hot and I did TTouch on him through the towel and he and I hung out alone in the bedroom where he slept (red flag #2 Marley does not rest voluntarily).

After a restless night of Marley not being comfortable and keeping all of us awake I took him to ER at 5:30 am. He endured a very detailed exam of physical manipulation and a rectal exam since impacted anal glands can also result in hind end discomfort. Marley passed these tests with flying colors. Only one time did he actually flinch a little. While at the doc he started to favor his right hind leg EVERY SO SLIGHTLY. We decided on an Anti-Inflammatory and pain med with crate rest. I was to call the doc with an update after supper.

I dropped Marley off at home, gave him his meds and went to work.

When Steve got home Marley didn't want to play and would only chew a bone (red flag #3). When I got home and greeted the dogs I picked up Marley and he let out a blood curdling scream and I put him on the couch. He was very upset with me for causing him pain and jumped off the couch with no pain reaction and went about his business.

The after dinner call to the vet resulted in us increasing his pain med since he was walking fine with no signs of neurological impairment.

Marley woke up about 12:30 am and again jumped off the bed with no pain reaction. I did notice his back feet were knuckling under ever so slightly. I called the same vet from that morning was just starting another night shift and he made me a 10 am apt with the Neurologist but said to call him at 3am and let him know how he was doing. The entire family slept down stairs on the couch so Marley may be more comfortable.

Marley was so uncomfortable he could not lay down but would rather sit. Finally at 2:30 Marley found a position where he could lay comfortably and he fell asleep......we all did. We slept through his 3am foot check. In all honesty if I hadn't fallen asleep I doubt I would have woke him up 30 min in to the first sleep he had in almost 24 hours.

At 6:00 am we got up and Marley was paralyzed from the waist down.

Back to the Emergency Room and one look at him and the same poor vet from the day before was on duty again and he said lets plan his surgery. His Neurologist was called in early and a team assembled.

I had really hoped that if he needed surgery I'd have time to transport him to a teaching hospital in Los Angeles because they can do the Spine Surgery for about $2,000 or so. There was no way we had time for any of that. If we wanted Marley to have a chance of walking again we had to move quickly.

By 11 am Marley had his Myliogram to find the rupture and was in surgery from 12 noon until 4:30 pm! The rupture was severe, on the back side of the disk. The rupture was so violent that it hit the spinal column and threw that into something else that caused deep bruising on the opposite of the spinal column.

We won't know his prognosis for a while yet. We've had some good signs in that he has regained deep pain sensation to his back leg that didn't have it before and he may have urinated on his own during the night. Or, it may have been an over full bladder leaking. Time will tell.

December 6, 2009

Becca goes to the Park

Thankfully the promised rain hadn't come by time time I met Kerry and Becca at a park.

The plan for Becca today was to get her used to being away from Honey and doing a little experimenting with the Confidence Course. We started slowly with cones and (2) 3' pieces of ladder.

I traveled light thinking the sky would open up at any moment.

After we got the cones & ladders set I walked Becca through the cones using the Balance Leash Plus and she did really well with those. The ladder was a different story and she would much prefer to walk around it. There were people doing a photo shoot not far from us and this concerned her. Becca walked more freely with them to her back than she did walking toward them.

We decided to see if she responded better with a wrap....that I left in my trunk. As I ran off to get the wrap Becca was anxious that I had left her newly formed pack.

Becca did well wearing her wrap and did not protest. We did several touches trying to relax her and headed to the course again with Kerry leading her. Again she did well with the cones but had reservations about the ladders. With tuna fudge strategically placed she would do a step or two.

I decided to try to guide her with the TTouch wand so that resulted with another run to the car leaving the pack. Again Becca was concerned but Kerry was able to get her to go through the ladder using treats~ Yeah Becca.

A couple rounds through the course with the wand showed me that this wasn't the answer I'd hoped it to be. At one point she did start to follow it into the ladders but caught herself and did a fancy side step to avoid it.

Another session of touches and Becca completely relaxed. I did ear work, lying leopards on the body and on her legs. At one point she even laid down.

We took her through the course again and then called it a day. There had been a lot of stress for her and she didn't freeze up and even relaxed for some of it.

Kerry said she slept for 90 minutes straight when she got home.

Our next visit will be where we can set up a full confidence course and find different parts she can do more comfortably and start building up those successes and her confidence at the same time.

Even Chance Rescue

Recently I was asked to work with a couple Pit Bulls with Even Chance Rescue. These two are a little different from others I've worked with.

Both of these dogs have compromised immune systems.

Nico is a little girl with a family waiting to adopt her. She has had a rough go of things. In her short lifetime she has had Kennel Cough and Demodex Mange. Nico is an active little girl that came in to the shelter as a stray and hasn't had much guidance in her life. She is adorable and full of energy.

With Nico, since her Demodex is just a couple small break outs I was able to put a body wrap on her to try to calm her but still she bounced. I pulled the back end of the wrap down over her tail in an effort to "calm the tail, calm the dog".

We also did "walking touches" where we would walk around the living room and stop for touches and walk some more.

Nico had moments of calm during our session but you needed to be observant to really appreciate them.

I found that saying "good girl" even on the calmest of voice was enough to set her off into a happy dance with ears bouncing. What worked better for Nico was a very slow and light Zig Zag touch.

Working with dogs is so much fun because each is a little puzzle to figure out. What works for one dog ("good girl") will not work for another. The challenge is learning what each dog needs to be successful.

An interesting thing happened. When Nico went back in her crate and it was Brogan's turn she was very calm and even napped. Nico's foster mom is going to continue doing some touches on her and I also recommended a book by Nan Arthur called "Chill Out Fido!: How to Calm Your Dog".

More than likely Nico will have gone to her new family by the time can see her again but her foster mom is already doing a wrap on her and more touches tonight. I have the BEST people to work with and I love how they really want their dogs to succeed.

Now meet Brogan.

Brogan came into the shelter a mess! He had Yeast & Staph infections in addition to a very serious case of Demodex Mange. His foster mom told me that thankfully his Yeast & Staph are all gone but his poor immune system is shot.

First thing we talked about was diet. Fortunately Nicole is totally on top of things and feeds a dehydrated raw diet by Honest Kitchen. Good nutrition is critical to boost the immune system.

For Brogan's regime I used a sponge you would use to apply auto wax and did lots of tiny raccoon touches all over his body.

He was quite interested in the sponge so we gave him toys to work with during his session. I also tried to use a soft paint brush but that was too stimulating for him and we were unable to take his focus off the brush. The polishing pad was perfect.

We kept Brogan's session short so we didn't over tax him in any way.

I think Brogan liked the work. What do you think?

Brogan will be going to a new foster home this week and I will also work with them to make sure they know how to do his touches! Did I mention what a super sweet boy Brogan is? Even with his raw skin he is full of love and joy.

A Better Day

Yesterday I revisited the handsome Zorro and we had a much better session.

Zorro had been to his socialization class earlier in the day and was over stimulated. I was glad to see he was able to leave that behind him and was far more relaxed and calm with me.

This time I worked with him alone in the back yard for a bit. He wore his TTouch Body Wrap and was fitted with a Step In Harness. Zorro was still an excited boy as we worked but with touches and a couple quick time-outs he was a willing student.

One way I worked on calming Zorro was to do some walking Touches. He was too excited to hold still so we'd walk and do a few touches and walk some more.

I'd set up some cones for us to use and a small ladder to step through. Zorro did really well with the cones and needed some coaxing to go through the ladder.

Toward the end of the session Jan came out and I showed her how to use the Super Balance Leash.

We talked about options for making his walks more thoughtful without having to use all the cones & poles. Jan is able walk him around trees and rocks, over different textures and do things out of the norm.

Today I got an update from Jan and she has incorporated a lot of what we talked about already today. I think Zorro is really set up on a path for success!

December 4, 2009

Iggy - Session 3

Tonight we continued to stretch Iggy's comfort zone.

I set up the backyard before Iggy came out by spreading a blue sheet on the ground and tossing a lead and a body wrap on it. These are things Iggy is not comfortable with and were certain to get a reaction from him. In addition to the sheet, his Foster Mom had a friend over that works in the rescue with her. So he had 3 people to keep an eye on.

We were all hanging out on the back porch when Iggy came out to join us. As soon as he noticed the set up in the yard he did his slow laps around the fence line. This is a typical nervous behavior for him. During this time I tossed treats on the sheet and some more on the scary things (wrap & lead) and I went back to the porch to talk.

I watched as Iggy ate the easy treats and tried to lean over to get others without actually stepping on the sheet. Soon he gave in and walked on the sheet to get treats. I was pleased to see him walk on a new and different surface.

Dobby was out with us and we all moved to the sheet and settled in. Iggy would come to me and get touches and treats. I held the wrap in one hand and asked him to touch. He'd touch the wrap with his nose and then get a treat from my other hand. I would make the wrap bigger each time by dropping more out of my hand, making it longer. We continued the game and at one point Iggy ran away but quickly returned.

As frightened as Iggy gets he is also just as curious. This curiosity confuses me sometime. Last week he was super curious about the lead and after some time we clipped one to his collar only to have him freeze. Tonight something similar happened. He was curious with the wrap. I did touches on him with the wrap folded in my hand and he also touched it with his nose for treats. At one point I draped it over his back a couple times and he was fine with it. Then I took the end and wrapped a 1/4 wrap and he was okay for about 5-10 seconds. Just as I was about to take it off he ran. I gave him a minute or so to come back but he didn't. He stayed hidden behind the patio. I went behind the patio slowly and talked softly while removing his wrap and encouraged him to come out and join us again.

Iggy came back to the sheet and allowed touches. At this point I gave him a complete break and we brought out his buddy, Ben. Ben was fitted with a harness and the Super Balance Lead and we walked around the yard. Iggy walked with us. Ben would stop and Iggy would stop. We would walk and so would Iggy. He interacted with us and sat for touches. He would interact with the lead while it was on Ben. Iggy will be a perfect "off lead" dog when we are done!

The session ended with Iggy getting lots of touches~ He allowed touch all over. I did mouth work, raccoons on the feet, python lifts and a little tail work. When I stopped for him to process he made it clear he wanted more! If I didn't know better I'd have sworn at a few points that Iggy was cuddling with me! He was really leaning his body into me and also would walk away and come back seconds later.

Although he isn't okay with a wrap or lead yet I'm amazed at how well he is responding to the TTouches! I wonder if the effect on his central nervous system will help him become more confident and more accepting of a wrap and lead down the road.

As we booked our next appointment I'd switched gears and was focusing on Nicole and reached for my day timer. I'm not sure which I notice first, that I'd made a fast move with Iggy close by or the fact that he didn't react. He came over and looked at my book and was fine. This is the same boy that was frightened of a pen not that long ago.

When it was time to leave Nicole had put the dogs in their crates in the living room. As we talked she mentioned that Iggy wasn't barking at me. Apparently it is his custom to bark at people while in his crate. Tonight he was lying in there completely at rest and peaceful.

I'm learning so much from Iggy and can tell there is so much more that he plans on teaching me.

November 28, 2009

Plan "C" ??

We have all heard how important it is to have a Plan "B". This is nothing new.

Today I needed my Plan "B".

Plan "A" was to work with Zorro on some ground work at a near-by grassy area. Yesterday they forecasted a 75% chance of rain through the end of today! Nooooo! Not rain when I want to work with Zorro outside!

Well rain it did...and it rained hard, it hailed and we had thunder. Common sense said we should reschedule. My desire to work with Zorro jumped at the opportunity to "do what we can" in the garage.

I loaded up the truck with poles and cones and off I went in the pouring rain. Thankfully the sun had broken through the black clouds, somewhat. I set up my star and cones and then put a wrap on Zorro and fitted him with a harness. All of this was fine with Zorro after some initial jumping. Keeping in mind the reason I'm working with Zorro is because he is a very exuberant boy I didn't put much stock in the jumping and mouthing.

About the time we were ready to hit the mini course we noticed a Chihuahua running off lead through around the neighborhood, right out in front of the house where we intended to work. Zorro was quickly whisked away to the side yard while Jan, Kathy and I try to round up the rogue Chi.

When we bring Zorro back we find he is way over the top excited. He is jumping, spinning, mouthing and completely out of balance and out of his body. Thinking the star was too much for him I broke it down to a simple zig zag on the grass. That did not resolve the issue.

Realizing that ground work in the front yard was counter productive we decided to take him in the back and repeat the leash work that was so successful last time.

Zorro still was highly agitated and nothing I was doing was calming him down. Thinking maybe too many of us were with him Jan and Kathy left me alone with Zorro. He was not standing for the lead at all so I tried to calm him with slow touches and some easy walking in the yard without a lead. I rewarded him for calmness when it occurred.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize things weren't going well so I called it quits for the day. Calling it quits was Plan "C".

In discussing what was different this time we realized that the thunder really upset him and then the excitement of the loose Chihuahua and add to that our own stress levels about there being a loose dog on the street. Zorro did not have things lined up for him to be successful. It made sense to call off the session and let him recoup.

We will get together and try again next Saturday. If we have more rain and thunder we will reschedule :-)

United She Stands

Honey and Becca

Have you ever seen a sweeter pair of sisters? Though they look similar they couldn't be more different. Honey is a very confident and outgoing girl and Becca is more timid and unsure. When Becca is with Honey she is very comfortable and functions quite well. If you remove her from her sister she struggles a bit.

Becca will be 8 years old in March and came to live with Kerry when she was only 5 months old. Adopted from a local shelter her exact background isn't certain but it is believed that she ran free as a feral dog with her momma those first 5 months.

Kerry has worked very hard with Becca. There was a time she was so frightened she had to be carried outside to go potty. She is afraid to be in the car and to this day will lay on the floor board with her head under the seat as far as it will go.

This is how frightened Becca used to be in the car,
she is stuck under the break.

Becca is so bonded with Honey that Kerry has concerns what will happen to her if the time comes that they no longer have Honey in their lives.

Yesterday I had my first session with Becca. We meet once before at a TTouch one-day workshop I hosted. Kerry and Becca met me outside the house and we reacquainted. Inside, we visited with both Becca and Honey.

In order to progress with Becca we put Honey in another room. Because Becca was unsure of the wrap I progressed slowly. First draping the wrap across her body and then a loop here or there until she actually wore the wrap. I did some slow touches on her and then invited her to go outside on a walk.

Using a Balance Leash Plus I led her outside and we took her normal and comfortable path through the neighborhood. Becca was stretching, she was stretching her comfort zone. Not only was she away from Honey but I was walking her rather than Kerry. I asked her to stop and go along our walk and she did fantastic. During the stops we did touches and had a treat or two.

Kerry decided to stretch Becca a tad more and dropped behind on the walk to see what would happen. Becca did really well. We walked on quite a bit, stopping and starting, before she discovered Kerry was pretty far behind. When she did notice she was not visibly upset. Becca kept turning and looking to make sure Kerry was there but was not overly concerned and still willing to walk with me.

Many times when a dog is overly stressed they will have an "Anxiety Poo" but that never happened with Becca. We finished up our walk and headed back in the house for lovin' TTouches and reunited Becca and Honey! That was enough for one day.

Our next step is to find somewhere we can set up the Confidence Course and let it work its magic with Becca.

November 27, 2009

You gotta stretch!

Iggy and I

No, I'm not teaching yoga classes :-) To grow and improve you have to stretch beyond your comfort zone.

I've been thinking of Iggy and wondering what would be the best and safest way to get him to stretch a little bit without setting him back. One idea kept popping up over and over. Iggy loves dogs and has many friends in his foster home. What if I worked with his friends and he observed? I'd think of it as successful if we could do this without him running around in circles and hiding. But if he did I needed to be ready to step back and try something else.

The other thing I rethought was my equipment. Usually I bring a suitcase on wheels with everything I might need. Last time I left it in the kitchen and went to the yard to meet Iggy with only my treat bag. This time I'd stretch it just a bit. I packed a few things in my net bag. A camera, a couple wraps, a harness & lead.

One of the first dogs to greet me was Dobby. She is a "Compassion Dog". This is a new term to me and I learned it is a dog that was slated to die at the shelter. Maybe it is a behavior issue or maybe medical...or both. In Dobby's case it is age and a neurological issue that keeps her from walking correctly and she falls down when she gets excited. A Compassion Dog is pulled from the shelter and they live in a loving foster home until it is time. It may be days, weeks or longer. But they know a home life and have a good time before they go.

The other dog was Darla. A very loving girl that enjoys lots of kisses.

Together we all went into the back yard to greet Iggy. To my delight Iggy came right up to me to see what Darla was getting out of my treat bag. He looked at me, took a treat and halfheartedly ran away. I smiled.

The first new thing for Iggy was my net bag and he wasn't concerned with it. Next I put scrunchies on Dobby's back feet to see if it would help her walking any. That meant I had to pick up the bag, dig through it and pull out something else that was new and put those on his friend's feet. He watched all this.

After putting scrunchies on her feet we put a body wrap on Darla. Iggy watched all we were doing.

To get him used to my small camera I held it out to him with treats on it! He came right up and ate the goodies right off the camera. After that I was free to take his picture.

Nicole recently took in 4 puppies that had been dumped at the shelter. They are skinny with big wormy bellies. One of the pups is full of attitude and has a very intense personality so into a tiny 1" wrap he went.

But first, I had to bring the dreaded suitcase out of the car an into his yard. Who knew I'd need a 1" wrap? Know what? Iggy was okay with me bringing in the case.

Off and on Iggy would come for pets, cuddles and treats and then off again.

Nicole and I start talking about the harness and lead configurations we use in TTouch and I asked her to bring out her best shot. She brings me Big Ben :-) He is a bouncy bundle of energy.

First I walked him in a Balance Leash Plus and he did fantastic (after I got him to stop spinning).

He is a very smart boy and got my signals very quickly. Next I put him in a Super Balance Leash and off we went.

He would stop and start right on cue looking at me for direction.

Guess who else was looking? Iggy! He was very curious what we were doing. Many times Iggy was walking right along with us. Starting when we did and stopping when we did.

Here is where I'd have done things differently. Iggy was so intrigued by the lead that I asked if Nicole would like to put a leash on his collar and she agreed. He froze. The leash came off immediately and he ran and hid for about 15 seconds. We quickly recovered with an offer of treats and an invitation to join Ben and I under the tree.

I wanted him to make friends with the lead like he had the camera so I coiled it on my leg and hid treats in it. Iggy was happy to hunt for tuna fudge! The leash didn't scare him.

With that we called it a day for Iggy and put everyone in their crates to process what just happened.

Now it was Gigi's turn. She is a rescued fighting dog that loves people! She is so tender and sweet and loves to give kisses. Nicole applied what she had learned and took Gigi through some poles I added to the yard after Iggy left. Both Nicole and Gigi were quick studies!

I'm blessed to have such a fantastic group of dogs to work with all in one session!