Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's been a while... so catching up.

Several times I have come to my blog to write and realized I didn't have anything to write about. We aren't taking any classes right now and haven't even been getting out and doing much of anything with the impending holiday. We did meet Shana and Pixie at the practice barn last Friday and enjoyed about 45 minutes of practice. Instead of working a course or more than short sequences, I did a few specific exercises with Vegas.

In trying to continue working her from a distance, I tried something very simple. Shana and I had set up 4 jumps evenly spaced down the center of the barn. For Pixie, she needs to work on her jumping, and jumping higher. For Vegas, I wanted to send her over the jumps. She did really good getting right about to jump 3 then she started looking for me. I tried continuing to call out to her, giving her the 'go jump' command but she just hasn't progressed to a place where she trusts to go that far. However, there are times she surprises me like random sends in trials. However, the 'go jump' exercise we'll have to keep working on.

Dog Walk
Vegas is not afraid of the dog walk but I still want to continually push for speed. The last couple of times at the practice barn we've just pushed for speed running over it and, at the same time, I ask for end behavior as reinforcement. She tends to forget end behavior in trials and I am trying to get that back so that we don't start missing contacts, too.

Weaving & Correct Entry
The last thing I really worked on with Vegas was weaves. She doesn't mind doing them in practice but tends to act like she's never seen them before in a trial. I need her to correct that quickly as we have a full trial schedule the next couple of months. The barn happened to be set up with two sets of 6 about 8 feet apart. I was having her do both sets which gave me two opportunities back to back to have her take the correct entry. Low and behold, she was doing a great job and only messed up a couple of times. And little to no pop-outs - yeah!

Vegas had allergy testing yesterday which was interesting, enlightening, and a relief. She's been itchy for about a year and a half and I've been doing food elimination diets for her to try to determine if it was food related. I finally gave up on that theory recently based upon our lack of success with any commercial diets and even switching to raw and trying single proteins.

Last week she got worse than she's been in a long time with raw spots up and down the back of her legs, scabby spots on her poor nipples and lower belly, red, inflamed armpits, and scabs behind her ears from scratching. That's not even to go so far as to talk about how annoying/gross/distracting/disgusting it is to hear her lick/gnaw/chew/scratch all day and night. My poor baby. So I had made her an appointment with the regular veterinarian to at least get a steroid shot to make her feel better temporarily but canceled it when I thought it through because I didn't want another band aid for her. Instead, I called Animal Allergy and Ear Clinic and got her in to see Dr. Randall. There were a couple of things that made this visit fantastic (and it wasn't the small fortune I left behind...!). One, Vegas was comfortable in the exam room. It was set up with 3 wooden chairs and a rug in the middle of the floor. When Dr. Randall came in, Vegas was sprawled out on the floor and she got right down there with us. Second, Dr. Randall heard me out about all the food trialing I had done and agreed that her problems were most likely environmental. After going over what she would be doing, they presented me with an estimate and I left Vegas for the majority of the day.

When I came back, I heard all about what a drama queen I have. She gave them an earful about how she is assuredly NOT a dog and that being in a kennel was quite an insult. Regardless, she was happy to see me. They did a couple of things with her while I was away. The took scrapings of some of the sores on her tummy to make sure they weren't infectious or bacterial. Fortunately they didn't have much bacteria so they did not feel antibiotics would be necessary at this point. The next thing they did was to shave a 3x4 square on her side behind her left shoulder. Here they injected 66 antigens into her to test for allergies to dust mites, insects, weeds, grasses, and trees. She showed a reaction to 37 of the 66 antigens. Each reaction was scored between nothing and 4, 4 being the most reactive. A picture of her test site and the test results are shown below.

Lastly, they drew blood and sent it off to the lab. The results of the bloodwork will take 2-3 weeks and they hope to see the bloodwork come back and support the findings of the skin testing with double positives. At that time, they will develop a serum specifically suited to Vegas' allergies and we'll begin treating her. I'll post on the specifics about that when the time comes around. In the meantime, she has been given Temaril-P to control the itching.

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