back in the land of running dogwalks

So the dogwalk has been set up and we had our first session last night. One end was an obvious curved-tunnel exit, and the other was a straight bar. Her striding to the curved tunnel exit sucked and she certainly wasn’t giving it her all, but the exit to the bar was beautiful. Then I pulled out the hose and started jackpotting with hose chases so HOPEFULLY she puts 2 and 2 together and figures that running the dogwalk fast + going through the tunnel = hose game. It should also mean that her arousal level will be higher as she loves the hose game so much, so should imitate a competition a little closer, too. I’m hoping that the crappy striding is also just a side effect of her ‘getting back into the swing’, running in  a new location, etc.

I’ve also been playing around with different techniques for keeping her focused and enthusiastic. Last night I wanted her to do a start from on the top of the dogwalk but it gave her a good view into the paddock next door and all she could do was stare and look for rabbits. So I calmly walked her off the dogwalk, attached her to the lead, and had a play with Loki. She cried and barked, and then got another go. A bit more focused, but I didn’t try her on the top plank again. I was also doing some one-jump stuff where I would wait for her focus, when she gave it to me, I’d verbally tell her how good she was, say, “ready, ready!?” and then do ONE JUMP, and then reward her, and then release her do go sniff. By the end she was like; I DON’T NEED TO SNIFF LET’S GO AGAIN! And although she wasn’t giving 110% (and maybe she won’t ever in a training situation), she was heaps improved on how distracted she was earlier in that session.

We have a pretty big competition coming up at the Royal Melbourne Show. I entered before I found out about her injury and didn’t try cancelling the entries because the time-frame meant it would be 8-9 weeks after she started rehab. From what the rehab vet said, she should be back to full height and bending and weaving 3 weeks from the monday just gone…. which is exactly when the show is. So I think I’ll scratch her from one event that has weaves, giving us 3 runs on the day – 2 with weaves, and just make sure she gets a good stretch before and after. It’ll just mean that she’s had NO weave training for the last 2 or so months, so it’ll probably be a bit hit or miss I guess.

 

Loki’s plank running is going well. We’ve done 3 sessions on the flat now though yesterday was a bit ‘meh’ as I think he was slipping off the plank or something. It’s giving us a fantastic opportunity to practise cik/cap and hitting the foot target to take off really close to the bar, and I always try and mark that with a verbal to let him know he did good.

Anyway. That’s where we’re at. Good but not good. Time, but no time. Training but not.

 

 

twisty

I haven’t been posting much over the last week because we haven’t had internet on my computer and posting from my phone wouldn’t be so fun but also because I’ve been feeling all dark and twisty.

Dark and twisty because I’m sick of not being able to do things with Lu. I think the vet is going to OK her for agility tonight but I’m not sure what that means. It certainly won’t mean jumping back into competitions. It will probably mean a slow build-up on low height jumps and no weaves for another few weeks and not too much bending for a while. I’m sick of being paranoid every time she’s racing around with Loki in the yard (which is happening a lot now) that suddenly she’s going to be on 3 legs again. I’m so frustrated that the State Trial was on and I couldn’t go. Well, I could have gone, without Lu, and that just made me sad, so I didn’t go at all. I’m dark and twisty because this whole year basically has been a write-off, and she turns 2 tomorrow and we’ve only done like, 4 trials and haven’t been training in months and I don’t know where we’ll be when we start again. Seeing people have success while I have to twiddle my thumbs upsets me. We have the Shape Up Dogs seminar in October and I put us down for the advanced level because I’d assumed I would have had many months to prepare and train her up. Looks like I might have ONE month to work on all those skills. I’m trying to not be down and angry and jealous, it’s just gotten to me lately – I think the house settlement and moving and everything was so damned stressful that I’m feeling so burnt out and horrible. Bring on the holidays (week and a half to go and then 2 sweet weeks of hiking and adventuring and training with my guys).

 

I’ve made a plan for both my dogs, to keep me focused on what I want to do, following Justine Davenport’s foundations, while throwing in some Silvia stuff and other things I feel are good. I took Lu out this morning and with bars on 200mm worked on threadles and independent sends to the backside of the bar. It was really nice – I did 2 or 3 reps/goes then told her “Ok, have a break!” and during the break she was allowed to sniff and disengage. I’d go over to my bag of toys – as soon as she saw me there, she came flying over and was ABSOLUTELY ready to work. It was lovely. Even if she hadn’t run over I would have sat down and waited for her to ASK me to work. And while I wanted her to work she was happy and connected and engaged, and then I let her go again, let her sniff, changed toys, and had another go – probably about 3 times doing this routine. And then that was it, all done!

Loki I’ve started running contacts now. He could absolutely care less about what’s under his feet, as I suspected. It’s more a challenge to keep him on the plank because, duh, it’s faster to run NEXT TO the plank. I just have to build an elaborate fence system for the next few sessions until I start raising the plank. I’ve also started using a foot target mat when doing cik/cap, and interestingly, I don’t know if HE’S targetting it specifically, but it helps me SEE when he takes off close to the bar because the mat gets all scrunched up. So I am better able to let him know if he’s wrapped well or not, and he can use the mat to help figure out why or why not.

 

I promise I’ll finish my 30 days of Mal… they just won’t have been consecutive days of Mal.

typical

Yesterday, after we moved-but-not-moved (because we found out as the removalists were halfway through loading the truck that we wouldn’t actually be settling today which means we would own a house with no furniture and not own the house with all our furniture) I decided that since the dogs had been cooped up in the boot pretty much all day, that I would let them romp together in the yard. Lu has been doing rehab for 3.5 weeks and is looking REALLY good, her flexibility has improved 100%, she no longer pace-walks, she’s been on no-running-or-playing for that whole time- surely one little romp with Loki and Mal in straight lines in her new yard would be ok on this most shitty of stressful days right? Well they’re romping and it’s wonderful, there’s chasing and body-slamming and Mal looks happy and they’re drinking through the fence because we don’t have a water bowl set up yet and Lu is looking at the cattle way off in the distance and I’m hoping the fences are high enough to keep her in when they get closer, and they’re running some more and Loki is working Lu and they’re all puffing and we’re feeling so happy, and Lu wanders over… on 3 legs. Holding up a rear leg.

And I just loose it because damnit, it had been a shit day and we were going to have to go back to our empty house with a shitty mattress and blankets and set up on the floor, and I’d been so good about keeping her calm and I just wanted to let her run around for 5 minutes and I felt for sure she’d gone and done more damage to her iliopsoas than before she even started rehab.

Anyway, I massaged the whole area looking for pain and she just seemed pretty chuffed even if she wasn’t putting weight on it. I walked her around a bit and she was walking a little weird at first but then it looked ok, not pacing, and I stretched her to the side and she still had her normal range of motion – gave her another bit of a rub later and still no pain so maybe she just stood on something or something.

Lesson learned. Need to ask our rehab lady when she’s actually allowed to run around- I thought it was 2 weeks of quiet rest but I might have made that up. We’d actually started stretching out the time between rehab visits so she was going to have this week off but I think I might take her in anyway, just incase she needs more lasers. MORE LASERS!!!!!!!

 

In other news we finally got to take them to the bush reserve 5 minutes up the road and it’s awesome. Perfect off-trail walking (though too many roos around for Lu to be offlead), perfect stick-throwing bush for Loki, little horse/mountainbike tracks here and there, it drops right down a hill to the Aqueduct track and will just be a lovely place for a daily walk. So that was some good news.

Lus face

iliopsoas

We finally got Lu to the rehab vet guy last night. He had come highly recommended by some friends so we drove the hour + out of town to the very fancy vet practice. He asked what was going on and I told him: “Nothing really, just a feeling. She walks funny, doesn’t seem free of movement, jumps weird, pace-walks often, Oh, and I noticed recently that she can’t bend.” 

So we walked up and back in their rehab area, and went in and out of some cones (and can I say, her FOCUS for this was incredible??? I didn’t have food on me, we were in a completely new place with so many distractions, and I was basically asking her to heel… and yet, she was prancing along, nipping my sleeve, jumping and bouncing… she probably thought I had treats so hopefully wasn’t too disappointed when I didn’t provide!), and then they laid her on her side to check her out (and she HATES being forced onto her side). Then BAM – found a SUPER sensitive, super painful spot.

“Typical iliopsoas sprain,” the vet says. And I instantly remember reading that these take at least 6 weeks of rest to recover. Great.

So he says we can either do laser therapy twice a week for 2-3 weeks, and rehab stretches and exercises, or do a longer period of rest and anti-inflams. I’m all for the ‘get it stronger for a permanent solution’ so I’m going rehab and laser. In the meantime, I have to try and avoid her bending – so, no wrestling with Loki, no running around off-lead… Nice on-lead walks only. Oh boy. But the stricter I am now, the faster it will heal, and given that we’re moving house in a little under a month it’s actually probably the ideal time to have to do this as I can dedicate weekends to packing or driving to the new place with stuff rather than training. 

Not that we’ve been training anyway. As I thought about it on the way home, I figured out that we’ve probably had 2 good weeks of training since January. Because she got sick in January- then had about 6-8 weeks recovery before we started anything. When we started it was only backyard stuff and only weaves. When she was able to do courses again, I sprained my calf muscle so we had about another 4-6 weeks of only light/no training. Then my calf got better and the ground has been so soggy and slippery that we haven’t been able to train very much/at all, OH! And then she got desexed so was out for a couple of weeks there, and now she needs another (???) weeks rest off. Yes, I’ve been going to the training club some Saturdays but I hardly think that once a week running a sequence once or twice and doing a dogwalk a couple of times counts as training. So, oh well. What the hell is another 6-8-10 weeks hey? Might as well try and see out the year at this rate! 

But at least now there’s something to work on – I don’t expect it will fix her jumping style, I have a feeling that’s just how she is structurally, but it should certainly help her be able to turn easier, and move freer (that’s a weird word, just saying) and maybe therefore run faster and weave better! Maybe that’s why she was having so much trouble with her weaves, too!! 

And I’m glad I wasn’t just paranoid or seeing things that weren’t there, too.  Time to do some research and take these dogs for a nice on-lead walk (except Loki, who needs to RUN daily).