Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Two Steps Closer

Yesterday I was approved for Care Credit and I made an appointment for a surgery consultation for Monday June 5th.  If all goes well at the consultation Delilah will be going straight into surgery that day.  I'm very nervous.  But we're now two steps closer to a more active and pain free life for Delilah.

For anyone not familiar with the blog, Delilah has bilateral Grade 3 Luxating Patellas.  That's a big reason why we stopped agility.  She sometimes has trouble with walks too.  She hops around a lot on three legs.  She's only about 2.5 years old, and if we don't do surgery her knees will probably get worse and she'll develop arthritis.  She will likely be having both knees done during surgery.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The AwkWalk

Through Meetup.com I discovered a support group for owners of fearful and reactive dogs.  They do group hikes that they call "AwkWalks" which are basically a structured group activity where you can practice training and counterconditioning your dog in a non judgmental environment.  Delilah and I went, and there was one other dog and owner, and then the organizer came without her dog.  Anyone's allowed with or without a dog, and the dogs wear color coded bandanas- blue if they're friendly and yellow if they need space.

Delilah did so well and the other dog was very lovely too (I actually know her from the daycare I work at).  It was really nice to be able to talk to other owners that face similar challenges with their dogs as me and Delilah.  We also talked about the different trainers we've worked with in the area and training classes we've done.  We're definitely looking forward to going on more of these hikes in the future!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Some Hiking Photos

Here are some photos I took of the hikes Delilah and I have been on over the past week.

Unfortunately this weekend looks like it's going to be too cold to hike (it's in the 40s right now!) but we were able to get a couple in at the beginning of the week.  We've seen plenty of signs of spring by now- lots of wild flowers are blooming.

I carry compressed air with me now to deter aggressive dogs, after Delilah almost got attacked a few weeks ago.  So far I have not had any more issues with off leash dogs.

Delilah's recall is going very well, a few times now I've called her off in the middle of chasing a bird or a leaf, which is pretty impressive considering how high her prey drive is.  I still don't trust her enough to be completely off leash, but she now has leash dragging privileges.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Reactive Rover Graduate!

Last week Delilah graduated her Reactive Rover class!  I'm so proud of her, she tried so hard to focus and work during class, even when she got stressed or anxious.  She was such a good girl!  I'm really glad we took this class, it was so interesting and gave us a lot of ideas and exercises to work on.

I talked to the trainer after the last class and asked him if he thought she was ready to take "normal dog" classes.  I was specifically interested in his recall class.  He said she might not do well in the recall class because there are some points when the dogs are off leash in class and he wouldn't want her getting trampled by bigger dogs, but that he does drop in class that teach the same skills, just on leash, that he said she would do well in.  So we might end up doing those.  Or we might just go straight back to sports.

Obviously, before we do any more training, she going to need to get surgery for her knees.  She has grade 3 luxating patellas and they have been getting progressively worse.  So the next thing we're going to focus on with her is that. 

After, if surgery goes well, we may do private agility lessons with the goal of being able to take agility classes if she is able to handle that environment without getting too stressed or overwhelmed.  If surgery does not go as well as I hope, we may start taking some nose work classes instead.  There are a few classes in my area and I've heard it's a good, low key sport for anxious dogs.

So proud of Delilah!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Run Free Sophie Bunny

A couple of days ago I had to euthanize my rabbit, Sophie.  She had been a little lethargic and "off" in the afternoon, and when I came back in the evening from picking my boyfriend up at work, she got progressively worse that night.  I took her to the emergency vet and they thought she had an abscess or a tumor behind her eye.  She was suffering.  She would have been 8 years old in May, so she had a long life and was very healthy up until the end.

One day she was burrowing in the pile of laundry.  I heard the pile collapse and I turned around and just saw her little nose sticking out.

The trio- only Delilah is around now.  Sophie was "just one of the dogs."

One of our Easter photos BD (Before Delilah).

Sophie playing with bubble wrap- she loved it!

Meeting Delilah when I brought her home.  Delilah thought she was a dog!

Sophie loved the dogs.  She was always so sassy and feisty.  Mia was scared of her, and sometimes when Sophie got bored and Mia was sleeping nearby she would thump and then watch Mia bolt up and run away.  If I was eating something that she wanted me to share with her, she would beg, and sometimes nip me if I didn't share right away!  She started out as a family pet that my parents got for me and my sisters when I was in high school, but after I moved out she came with me and lived with me in three different apartments.  Once we had a roommate who had three other rabbits and a cat.  Sophie became BFFs with the cat- they would chase each other around the apartment and just hang out together.  I'm really going to miss her.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Reactive Rover Update and New Diet

Delilah's Reactive Rover class last Friday went pretty well again.  There were three dogs including Delilah- it looks like one of the dogs that missed last class won't be back.  We expanded upon the Look At That game and now we're naming the behavior "look" and clicking and treating after Delilah looks at the trigger and then looks back at me.  I could tell she seemed a little more stressed with the third dog but she was able to work through it well.  At one point I knelt down and she walked up and stared me and I scratched her neck for her.  When she gets stressed she stares at me when she doesn't know what to do and she's trying to hold it together.  She's a very good girl, she tries very hard.

In other news Delilah has about a month left of her Zignature kibble and then I'm going to switch her to a BARF raw diet.  I'm very excited to try this and see how it goes!  I just joined my local pet food store's Raw Club so I'll get 10% off of meat and raw food and if it's on sale they'll double the discount!  I've also been scoping out my local grocery stores looking for different organs and proteins.  I'm primarily going to feed her chicken, beef, and turkey but there's also fish, rabbit, bison, goat, and more around her that I can occasionally throw in!

My main concerns are about feeding the correct amount and proportions for her small size, choking on bones, and if eating meat on a regular basis will lower the value of food used for training.  I bought a couple of books about feeding raw diets called "Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats" by Kymythy R. Schultze and "Dr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats" by Beth Taylor and Karen Shaw Becker.  Both books have A LOT of information on nutrition as well as some recipes and diet plans that I could follow, so that's really helpful.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Reactive Rover and Homework

Delilah's second Reactive Rover class last Friday went really well. One dog is no longer coming to class and another didn't show so it was just Delilah and the black dog who has also been pretty good so we were able to get a lot of one on one attention.

We did the Look at That game for a lot of the class and the trainer started it by moving around the room and making different noises and movements to get the dogs' attention and we clicked and treated as soon as they looked at him. Then we took turns where one owner would walk their dog around the room and give them lots of praise and keep them moving while the other dog sat and got clicked and rewarded for watching the owner and the dog that were moving.

Towards the end Delilah started getting stressed again and started looking for spots on the ground. I was able to get her focus for the rest of class and I asked the trainer about it. He said not to drop her treats on the ground because that might be why she's looking for the spots. It's going to be hard bending down to give her treats in a timely manner lol. But I'll give it a try. Small dog problems haha.

We had some homework to take the dog out to different places (or around the neighborhood if they're reactive on regular walks) and play LAT with triggers.  Overall Delilah did really well on her walks and also at a few places I took her.  She had a couple of issues.  Once when I took her to a pet store.  It was a weekday morning so it wasn't busy at all and she did really well with the employees there.  But then when I was at the register paying for a Pet Corrector (to deter the off leash dogs I mentioned in my last post) a woman came up behind us and bent right over Delilah and started talking to her.  She reacted snarling and lunging immediately.  The woman was still trying to pet her!  I stepped in between and asked for space but Delilah never recovered from that so we left the pet store after paying.  I noticed Delilah doesn't like people leaning over her, talking to her, or making direct contact, but is perfectly happy to greet strangers that act neutral or make themselves small (standing sideways or crouching down).  Basically she does better with dog savvy people.

The other time we had an issue is I met a friend for a walk that Delilah hadn't met before.  She barked at first but we quickly got that under control and she was comfortable walking with the friend when we were outside.  I invited the friend in the house and Delilah started barking when she saw the friend was going to enter "her territory."  Since I was trying to be social and didn't want to work with Delilah while I had a friend over, I put her outside on her tie out with a raw marrow bone for her to chew on and she seemed happy about that.

We have another class tonight and I'm very excited!  Delilah doing really well in general and I hope this class is helping her.  It's certainly very interesting and I'm glad we're taking it.

Monday, April 10, 2017

First Hike of the Season and Off Leash Dogs Rant

First: Pictures!

Disclaimer:  This is a rant, sorry for being negative.

We went out looking for signs of spring but all we found was mud and ice!  It was beautiful though- in the 70's today!  First we went to the middle school's athletic fields and I jogged a mile on their track and let Delilah run around off leash (she must have sprinted 2 or 3 miles at least).  And then we went hiking at Indian Brook, a park across from my neighborhood.  I was hoping it wouldn't be busy on a Monday morning, but it was very busy!

They have a rule posted all around the park- only dogs under voice control are allowed off leash.  We must have run into 8 or 9 dogs, and all but 3 of them blew off their recall and charged up and scared Delilah.  She's very friendly and gets excited to greet other dogs but as soon as they start jumping on her that makes her scared (imagine being tackled by a stranger 10x your size!)  I try to body block or grab their collars.  The owners are usually idiots: "Don't worry, he's just playing!"

There was one dog that ran towards us, stopped with his hackles up, and hard stared and growled at Delilah.  The owner was calling but of course he didn't listen.  I stepped between him and Delilah.  I yelled at him to go away.  The owner called "Don't worry, he doesn't bite!  He's a good boy!"  He charged at us and I picked up Delilah and blocked him, kneeing at him to keep him away.  The owner grabbed him and said "Sorry, he's not used to little dogs" as if the situation were MY fault for hiking with a small dog!  How about you don't let your aggressive dog off leash?

So even though Indian Brook's only half a mile away from us, unfortunately I think we're going to have to drive to other towns to go hiking in less populated areas.  There are just too many irresponsible owners out there and I don't feel like I can keep my dog safe around them.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

First Reactive Rover Class

Well we finally went to Delilah's first Reactive Rover class- the last two were postponed due to snow and icy roads. I really enjoyed it! I gave her a hemp oil treat before class hoping to take the edge off of any stress or anxiety she might feel during the class. She had gotten her fluoxetine earlier that morning.

The trainer taught us a handful of exercises to use to engage our dogs- some basic things like default sits, hand touch, eye contact when you say their name, etc. Delilah already knew these things pretty well. We had missed the previous class but I don't think they covered anything new for us in that class.

But then we applied them in some activities, and this was really helpful. There are four dog students with their owners and we each got our own corner of the room to work in (with a gate to block their view if needed). One activity we did was we took turns taking one step at a time towards the center of the room- the point was to use our voice and the exercises to keep our dogs engaged and non reactive as they moved closer to triggers. The trainer watched their body language and had us return to our corners before any of the dogs went past their threshold. 
The other activity was we all walked clockwise around the room and at each corner we came to we practiced a different activity that we had learned.

The trainer really emphasizes using a happy voice and praise and NOT verbally or physically correcting the dogs. Also a lot of clicker training so far.

Delilah did really, really well. I had no idea how she would react in that class. In the beginning she did bark at the trainer a few times but he tossed her chicken throughout the class and she liked it so much she even touched his hand when he asked her to touch. She's worked well with our agility trainers in the past but she's never worked with a male trainer before. 

She focused on me the entire time and did everything I asked (I had some really smelly tuna treats so I'm sure that had something to do with it). I could tell towards the end she was starting to get stressed but the class ended shortly after so she never got to the point where she would have lost it. It's at a dog kennel and there was a lot of hair and dust on the floor- when she gets stressed she starts fixating on things like that and that's a big problem we had during agility lessons. Towards the end she started looking at the hair on the floor but didn't chase it and was very easy to redirect, so that's good at least.

There's another little black dog there that was similar to Delilah- he seemed nervous and shy but the owner has done a lot of training with him so he knew all of the exercises too and didn't seem to react to anything. And there were a couple of other dogs and those two seemed to have more trouble in the class. One was pretty engaged with his owner but the other seems to be a very reactive dog and has a low threshold so had some difficulty with the activities. And when she starts reacting the other would sometimes bark and lunge back. I'm not judging those dogs and owners at all- Delilah used to be much more reactive herself so I understand. Delilah seemed a little unsure and worried by the reacting dogs but she didn't react to them herself- just watched.

I'm so proud of her- she tries really hard to be a good girl, it's just harder for her than it is for other dogs. She did a really good job last night.

I really like this trainer too and I saw he offers a recall class. Maybe if Delilah does well in this class we'll be able to take that one next. She still needs knee surgery before she can get back into agility but it would be nice to focus on foundational skills like recall, impulse control, etc in the meantime.

Whew that was a lot of writing- here's an obligatory Delilah photo!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring Finally Here?

Today is beautiful out!  Delilah and I went on a walk and I wore a short sleeve t shirt and neither of us got cold!  We did some training outside too.

I'm hoping it continues to get warm.  Last week there was a really gross sleet/snow storm and our Reactive Rover class got postponed.  Same with the week before.  We are still waiting to start our first class because it keeps getting pushed back on account of terrible weather and icy roads.  And then of course a few weeks ago was that monster of a blizzard.  I just want it to be spring!

We just moved to a new town.  My parents had moved to MA and so we're renting their old house (my childhood home) in Essex.  It's so nice, so much space, a big yard.  Delilah loves it.

My boyfriend had a friend over last night.  Delilah only barked a few times but overall was under control and seemed much more relaxed than in the past.  Our theories are she feels more comfortable and less claustrophobic/trapped in the bigger space, it's a new house so she may not be feeling territorial about it at all, and she was wearing her Gentle Leader for the first time during training.  I had a leash attached to it for the first ten minutes or so but when it appeared she was relatively relaxed I put the lead on her harness instead.  But I've heard dogs have a pressure point on their muzzle that promotes calm and compliant behavior, so I wonder if this tool has an affect on that area.

Conditioning to wear the Gentle Leader

Anyways, she only barked a few times but was easy to redirect and was calm and quiet for most of the evening.  The friend even brushed past her a few times and she didn't react.  This is huge!  I'm so hopeful that she will continue to improve!

Lastly, it was my birthday since I last posted.  So obviously that means I got some cool Delilah-themed gifts.  My grandma got me a dog bed that Delilah loves, where she can go under a flap and stay warm.  And my boyfriend got me the greatest gift- an amazing portrait of Delilah!

Custom portrait by Karin Viko

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Happy National Puppy Day!

Facebook told me that today is #NationalPuppyDay!  While Delilah wasn't a baby puppy when I adopted her, she was 5-6 months old and still had some puppy-like behaviors (in fact, she still does at 2 years old).  In this video, she discovers cat toys for the first time.


Baby Delilah before I adopted her.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Winter Storm Stella

Delilah and I hope everyone on the east coast is staying safe and warm!

Yesterday morning I walked some shelter dogs before the roads got bad.  Just as I was wrapping up my boyfriend texted me.  He needed a ride home because they were getting out from work early.

I walked Trudy again- she is such a good girl, I wonder why no one's adopted her yet!

I also met a handsome lab named Marley.  

Delilah was NOT a fan of the snow.  She screamed at it from inside the house, but would not go outside.  Right now she's refusing to poop.  To be fair, it's higher than she is when she stands on two legs though, I can't really blame her.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Walking Shelter Dogs: Week 1

Last week I finally was able to start walking dogs for my local shelter!  I met some very sweet pups looking for homes.  They have such a variety of different personalities and breeds/mixes there, I love meeting all of the different dogs.  My goal is to volunteer 100 hours this year.  So far I'm at 13 hours.  Most of those hours have been cleaning rather than dog walking.

This is Crockett.  This handsome goofball basically looks like a giant Dachshund.

This is August.  She's very cuddly and snuggles up against me whenever I kneel down.

This is Gus.  He's a very high energy, intelligent dog.  He'd love agility, jogging, hiking.

This is Chloe.  She's a very sweet, playful girl and is getting bored in the shelter.

Delilah and I haven't really had anything too exciting going on.  It's starting to get cold again so we haven't done much outside.  We do start our Reactive Rover class next week though!

Friday, February 24, 2017

It's Been Warm Out!

After a long few months indoors, yesterday it was finally warm enough to take the tiny terrier outside!  Hailing from Tennessee and being only 6 lbs with a short coat, Delilah can't stand temperatures below 50F.  Yesterday got up to 63F!  She still hated it though, the ground was all wet from the melting snow and she hates getting her paws wet.  

Mom, it's wettttt.

Soon it will be spring though, and warm all of the time!  And we can start adventuring again.  We're moving at the end of March to my childhood house.  It's right across the road from some really nice hiking trails so that will be fun to hike and swim every day!

I also signed Delilah up for the Reactive Rover class in March.  It's going to be an interesting class, I'm looking forward to learning some new things and practicing with her in a class environment.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Update: Luxating Patellas and Behavior Modification

Welp, it looks like Delilah is going to need surgery for her knees.  We went to the vet recently and she was officially diagnosed with grade 3 bilateral luxating patellas.  We talked about treatment and management options and it was recommended that she has surgery in the next 6 months since she is young, fit, and it hasn't become inflamed yet.  The estimated cost of surgery for both knees is a little over $3,000!  I'm definitely going to be applying for care credit.

We also talked about increasing her fluoxetine to see if that will help with her Canine Compulsive Disorder.  We've been seeing some progress with Delilah's anxiety and behavior, but not really any improvement with her compulsive behaviors.  She's now on 5 mg of fluoxetine and we're also trying some CBD dog treats (made with hemp oil) as a supplement.  I was particularly interested in seeing if it would help with her anxiety, but CBD's supposed to be helpful for a number of ailments including arthritis and joint pain/inflammation, so I'm hoping it will help manage her knees as well until she gets surgery.

In terms of behavior modification, she is continuing to improve slowly.  My boyfriend's sister stayed overnight yesterday and it was the first time Delilah's experienced a "stranger" staying for so long.  At first she was very reactive and loud but I had her on a lead and did some counter conditioning and impulse control exercises with her and she soon quieted down enough to even relax on her bed in front of the fire place!  She was very interested in his sister and would go up to her, sit next to her, and even try to give her kisses, but then Delilah would remember that she was a "stranger" and get freaked out and run away barking.  She definitely wants to interact, she just gets so anxious.  But overall she did very well, she was very manageable and tried her best to listen to me and calm down.

In the morning we stayed in bed until his sister left.  Delilah would alarm bark if she heard her talking downstairs but easily quieted down after.  This is a huge change from before the medication and behavior consult, when she couldn't quiet down at all, and would just bark and scream until well after the guest had left.  

On a separate note, I just found out a trainer's offering Reactive Rover classes in my area.  I've been talking with him to see if the class would be appropriate for Delilah.  I feel like a class tailored to dogs with special needs like that could be a good step towards taking agility lessons again.  And maybe I'd learn some new techniques and ideas for helping Delilah manage her emotions and impulses.

I put Delilah's bed in front of the fireplace where it would be most comfortable for her and also give her some space from the "stranger."  We started "place" after she calmed down enough to work.  It took about an hour of counter conditioning (dropping treats) to get her to stop reacting and be able to focus enough to work.

Right now she is still nervous and alert but staying in her "place" because I asked her to (and because she's getting a lot of chicken).

After about 20 minutes she finally relaxed and napped by the fire.  This is incredible progress for her.  This is where practicing "place," Karen Overall's protocol for relaxation, and counter conditioning and desensitization to strangers is paying off!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Call to People Who Are Halfway Decent with HTML!

My blog is looking a little rough.  I had made a drop down menu on the previous layout, and ALL I did was change the background picture for the season, and that drop down menu kind of exploded.  I'm not sure what happened, I'm using the same template, literally just changed the picture.  I'm really bad with technology.  But anyways, bloggers reading this, if you feel like you're skilled enough at web design to clean up my blog then I will paint a portrait of your pet in return!  I haven't really posted yet about my animal portraits, but I am an artist and I enjoy painting animals and landscapes.  Here are some examples of my work:

"Windsor" Yellow Lab

"Jayne" Beagle

"Charlie"  Chocolate Lab

"Chloe" Whippet

I usually do dogs, but I can do any animal!  I just painted my sister a portrait of her hedgehog for Christmas.  So even if you don't have a pet but you have a favorite wild, prehistoric, or fictional animal that you want me to paint, I can do that.


- I would like my blog to look neat and somewhat professional at least, so I'm cool with you changing the layout and template.
- I only ask you keep the current picture for the banner, and the content/pages the same.
- In return I will paint one portrait containing one or two pets (an $80 value).  
- I will need at least one good photo to work from.  You can choose the background color if you like, I usually only do solid backgrounds.
- Shipping will be free if it's staying in the US.  However, I just can't afford international shipping so if you live outside of the US, you will have to pay for shipping.
- Portraits typically take 1-2 months to complete.
- Email me at peaveyjaguar@gmail.com and we can talk!