Archive for June, 2011

The fact that I don’t know my right from my left is not usually a problem. Oh, yeah, I might say the wrong direction when giving driving instructions. Or I might put the dish in the right hand cabinet after being told to put it in the left cabinet. But anything like that can simply re-done. No big deal.

But as I discovered in last Sunday’s Obedience fun match, that is not so easily done in an Obedience competition.

Take a look at the performance in the YouTube video below:

In this video, you can hear the judge say “left turn” or “right turn,” and then see the dog and handler execute the specified turn perfectly and without hesitation. In fact, this performance won a perfect score of 200.

In contrast, during Team Cooper’s turn in the fun match on Sunday, the judge said “left turn.” I then stopped in my tracks for a couple of beats to try to figure out which way is left. Cooper then also stopped and sat, which is what the dog is supposed to do when the handler stops.

But really, neither of us was supposed to stop. We were supposed to keep going and turn left together. And more frustrating, this happened every single time the judge said either “left turn” or “right turn.”

If that had been in a real Obedience trial, I suspect we would have NQ’d (not qualified). Sigh…

I need to work on it, probably on my own without Cooper so I don’t confuse the boy. But after many several decades of not knowing my right from the left… I don’t know.

Maybe I’ll get Russ out there with me to play judge, and when I do it right, I get a treat. That’s it! Positive reinforcement might just work for the handler, too.

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Good breeders make sure their dogs are healthy before breeding. With Irish Water Spaniels, breeders typically get the dog tested for healthy thyroid levels, hips, elbows, and eyes, usually done after the dog is 2 years old.

I am not a breeder, but Colleen, Tooey’s co-owner is. Tooey is 2-1/2 years old, and it’s 4 months after she last went into heat — perfect timing for hip x-rays. (Apparently, a bitch in season has relaxed hip joints to get her ready for the birth of puppies, making an x-ray at that time of less value for evaluating the soundness of the hip joints.) And she hasn’t had any vaccines since last year, making it a good time to test her thyroid levels.

So last weekend I loaded Tooey up and took her to the vet for her thyroid tests and hip and elbows x-rays. We decided to take her to the Steamboat Animal Hospital in Olympia, Washington — the same place we took Cooper for his x-rays.

Since I posted Cooper’s hip x-rays earlier on the blog, I thought I’d post one of Tooey’s elbow x-rays in this post.

canine elbow x-ray

The event ultimately went well, but parts were scary. First they took the blood to test her thyroid levels with. That went fine.

Then it was time for x-rays. To keep the dog perfectly still when the x-rays are taken, many vets (but not all, I discovered later) give a bit of mild anesthesia. That’s to prevent the dog from moving when the images are taken. Movement would blur the image, and the person reading the x-rays wouldn’t be able to tell if there is anything wrong with the joint or not. And the amount of anesthesia is determined by the dog’s weight. In Tooey’s case, unknown to everyone, she needs less anesthesia than most dogs of her weight.

But no one knew that, so I became very worried when they walked Tooey out to me. She could walk, albeit drunkenly, but when she stopped walking, her back legs collapsed underneath her. I told them to take her back immediately and find out what was wrong. No way was I going to take her the 2 hours home to Portland before I knew she was OK.

And about an hour later (a very l-o-n-g hour later), she was fine, just a little sleepy. She stayed that way for the whole day, but the next morning, she was rip-roaring around the house, chasing Cooper and jumping over the couch.

Three days later, I received the results of the thyroid tests — perfectly normal. She’s already had and passed her eye exam. And then today, I received a copy of the x-rays. Now we’re just waiting for the radiologists at the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals to read and rate her hips and elbows. Let’s hope for Excellent or Good ratings. With that, and with her general health being good, she’ll be ready for breeding and puppies.

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I need to learn how to do this retriever training stuff, and my plan last night was to take Tooey out and practice a T-drill. She knows how to do them, having learned with Butch. But I didn’t have a clue.

Then Russ had a great idea: Why not practice with Cooper, who knows how to do this even better than Tooey.

Russ made a video, using his new GoPro HD video camera:

If the above doesn’t work, you can go to YouTube and see it there: http://youtu.be/_S-_iDAWd-E

And you’ll probably note that while Cooper knows how to do this, he still wants to play by his rules and go for the bumper he wants to go for. There are places in the video where you’ll see I sent him straight to the pile (marked with a white flag), but he decided to go off to the bumpers at the ends of the crossbar of the T.

I just called him back and did it again. Silly boy.

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