We've spent 4 straight days taking the boat out to various island beaches. The weather has been incredible. It's almost surreal to think about the cold and snow back home. Pretzel and Noodle are having a blast - running and swimming and running and swimming...
Accepting my limitations is sometimes the hardest task I face. I don't like to believe something is impossible. This has driven me for years, but sometimes you have to step back and be realistic. Realism sucks! But in being real, one can re-focus on a new goal with a new purpose. So 2019 will be a year of re-focusing. Setting my sights on new things, accepting my changes in direction, and being happy for the joy of the moment. Sounds good, doesn't it? well...we shall see!
We took a break from the beach for a couple days to do a conformation show in Davie, Florida. Davie is near Ft. Lauderdale, straight across Florida from Goodland (where we are at).
Noodle was on fire this weekend. She not only won best of breed owner-handled over competition, but went on to win an owner-handled Sporting Group One! This is her very first group win! She showed like a rockstar. The best part was the large number of people that came up to me afterwards (and the next day) to tell me how great she showed. Made me so proud! Very proud, because it felt nice to show all the naysayers that she IN a beautiful, talented girl!
The next day our competition didn't show up, so we got OHBOB again and went on to an owner-handled Sporting Group Three. OK, NOW I am getting pretty excited about her. We still have a long way to go, but I see great promise in our future.
Today was our last day in Florida. We spent the morning running the beach, then came back to pack up. I took a couple shots of Noodle stacked near the water, just for fun. You just can't find that kind of backdrop at home! My ugly duckling has turned into a swan for sure.
Now we head home to the snow and freezing temps and plan the next few months. Doing a little agility, a little conformation, and a little hunting. Kind of cool that I am doing it all with the same dogs. Versatility is what it's all about!
I was chatting with a friend about Noodle, and how far she has come in her training. I tell you, this dog has made me into a much better trainer. I learned so much about behavior training and focus. She has definitely humbled me. I thought I was a pretty awesome trainer with Pretzel, but boy did I have a LOT to learn!
More exciting news: a very very special breeding that will be happening on Wednesday. This hopefully will result in my next puppy...a Pretzel puppy! I am sitting hard and squashing my excitement right now, until everything is confirmed. Stay tuned...
Today was a day of ups and downs. I started off the morning with a vet appointment. Noodle is great (she lost 5 lbs since her visit a month ago, thanks to not eating), Pretzel, not so much. We are seeing a specialist tomorrow. I fear his earlier t-bone accident last fall with puppy Maizey has left some permanent damage. Say a prayer, and stay tuned.
Today I sent Tango off to Wisconsin to live with his new family. It was time. It was really hard for me to let go of my last link to Taylor, but he really needed a job. Now he has a little girl that loves him and a wonderful family that will do great things with him. Can't ask for more, right? I haven't sold a horse since 2002, which is really crazy, I guess. I forgot how hard it is!
On a good note, I finally was able to go see Cadence today...haven't' seen her since before I left for Florida. She looked wonderful. She was a bit wild on the longe line, which was to be expected. She settled down, and then someone came into the arena to ride and that blew her mind. I see I have a lot of work to do in the desensitizing department, as she could hardly concentrate because the person riding on that horse's back just freaked her out. We had a lot of farting and bucking. I was able to take some time to walk her over some heavy ground poles. She was really resistant at first, but once I got her over them she walked over all of them multiple times without any problem. I like that she is very clean over the poles - almost never touched or nicked them with her feet. that's a good sign - love a clean, careful mover!
Oh yes, I measured Cadence today. She grew! She is now an even 15' at the withers and 15'1 1/2" at the hip.
I also squeezed in a couple agility run-throughs with Noodle. I would grade her a B to a B+ on her runs. one quick "visit" to the judge, and one weird moment when she dared behind me and missed a jump, and went off sniffing (shades of Pretzel). Other than that, I was pretty happy with her focus. Not too shabby seeing as she has run wild on the beach the past week.
Pretzel had an appointment with a specialist today. He goes for an MRI on Tuesday. I am praying for less-than-bad-news, but the vet's initial prognosis is not good. That's all I can say right now, because I am trying to hold it together until i have a definite answer.
I got Cadence out to longe today while someone was finishing up their ride. She was wild. The bucking was insane. Seriously crazy. After the rider left, I turned her loose and made her run around the arena a little bit. Then I put her back on the line and she longed perfectly. I must get her over this craziness whenever someone is riding in the arena! It is getting worse, not better.
But, things got better today. It was finally sunny and above freezing, so i walked her over to the trailer and figured i would entice her to put her front feet on the ramp and stick her head in the trailer to eat a little sweet feed. lo and behold, she just tromped right up into the trailer! I stood inside with her and fed her a bit, then backed her slowly out. Once is by chance, twice is by training, so i asked her to walk back in again, and she did! She ate a little more, then i backed her out and called it a day...a good day!
I have the back divider still out of the trailer from when I hauled Corky and Cadence to the vet for Corky's feet. I think this is helping as it is nice and open for her to walk inside. I might leave it out for a while and get her more comfortable with loading.
Oh yeah, I also had a rally lesson today with Noodle. I think it went pretty well. I have several things I need to work on, mainly getting her to heel straight and sit straight in heel position. I can't fault her enthusiasm...it is so fun to work with her! But in the back of my mind, I am stressing deeply about Pretzel. I cannot even put it into words right now.
I dropped Pretzel off for his MRI early this morning...and then went home to wait...and stress. In the afternoon I headed to the barn to work with Cadence. BIG progress here! A wonderful person at the barn agreed to help me out by getting on her horse and walking around the arena while I walked Cadence next to her and got Cadence used to having a horse with a ider nearby. Big steps in training today! Then we headed outside, and plop plop she loaded right in the trailer again. Fantastic!
While I was there, I received a phone call from the vet hospital asking me to come in and discuss the MRI results. The vet found a degenerated disc in his neck that is pressing on the spinal cord.
Prognosis is either good, or terrible. Pretzel is on strict crate rest for 2 weeks, and on high doses of steroids. If he shows some improvement after 2 weeks. then he will be a candidate for surgery where they will get the disc away from the spine and he can hope for a full recovery. If he shows NO improvement after 2 weeks, then the disc has developed too much scar tissue that is attached to the spine. Removing this scar tissue is extremely risky and can cause him to be paralyzed when he wakes up after surgery. If he is unable to have the surgery, he will eventually become paralyzed as the disc presses more on the spinal cord. As for how long this will take, the neurologist has no way of guessing. I know this sounds devastating, but this is actually much better news than i had feared. The neurologist had thought it was something else, which was progressive, and would give Pretzel only 6 months to a year before succumbing to paralysis, with no treatment possible. Having a possibility for surgery and treatment is wonderful! I have hope, and that is a beautiful, beautiful thing. I never realized how beautiful it was until I had a moment where I had none.
Thankfully, this is a completely NON-genetic issue. Could it be from one of his agility accidents, or being t-boned by his puppy this fall? We will never know. Pretzel always lived life on the edge with very little self-preservation, so possibly his enthusiasm finally caught up with him.
We took a video of him today, and we will be comparing it in 2 weeks to see improvement. I am praying SO hard that he shows improvement and is a candidate for surgery. I have been a complete basket case for the past 4 days waiting for these MRI results. I imagine I will be a complete basket case for the next 2 weeks while waiting, and I am sure Pretzel will be a basket case from being completely crate-bound for 2 weeks. If you are the praying kind, please say a little prayer for him, because I truly believe that can help.
For educational purposes here is a video of him today. I will re-video the same thing in 2 weeks. if there is improvement...then you will probably hear my screams of joy from wherever you are residing.
Amazingly, today was very peaceful. Trazodone is a wonderful thing - it made Pretzel chill out and sleep all day in his crate with nary a peep. I took him with me to my mom's house, and he slept in a crate in her kitchen all day while we baked cookies. Wow, if this crate rest thing goes this smoothly for the next 2 weeks, I will be in heaven!
Noodle can't understand why her best friend won't play with her. I did some agility training with her in the morning, and that helped get her mind and body doing something else. It was another peaceful day while both dogs slept. I actually got a lot of work done!
I had a rehearsal in Dayton tonight, but when I returned home I found out from Mark that Pretzel had thrown up his dinner. In looking at it (yes I am weird, and I looked at it in the trash), it looked fairly solid and had a lot of carrot chunks in it. I was chopping up carrots to add to his food to make him feel fuller without adding calories. Hmmm...will have to keep an eye on him tomorrow.
Pretzel threw up his breakfast, and threw up three more times during the day. I called the vet hospital, but the neurologist is gone for the next 10 days and the vet techs weren't much help. We decided to cut out the trazadone, as many of my friends have reported that their dogs often get sick when being on that drug.
In the evening, we gave his medicine after he was done eating instead of before (that is what the tech recommended). No throwing up the rest of the evening, thank goodness.
I cannot begin to describe my frustration, and complete depression. I have worked so hard with my agility training for Noodle. I swear, no one on the planet has worked harder or tried more things. Today we headed to Dayton to a CPE agility trial. I was feeling kind of confident - Noodle's run-throughs have been going pretty well and she has been absolutely stellar in class and training for the past year. This trial was perfect for her - very low key with almost zero distractions around the ring (the ring was fully enclosed without even any waiting dogs in the same building!). It didn't matter. She had moments of over-the-top losses of focus, and this made her run over to the judge and jump on her, and even grab at her sweater! She was just beyond over the top with her excitement level and it was as if she couldn't even handle her own brain. I tried and tried, but could not get her through this. The things that she did do (agility-wise) were spectacular. However, I cannot tolerate her jumping on the judge because there will be a judge some day that will get offended by this and oust her (thankfully this judge was wonderfully patient). I am at such a loss as to what to do. I have trained and trained, brought in strangers to my training, tried everything I could think of, but in the end I am failing as a trainer.
I got home and pulled Noodle from all further trials I had entered this spring. I don't know what to do. I feel like I am drowning with bad news. What is next?
I'll tell you what is next - I have the freaking stomach flu now. That tops off my already horrible week. Thanks, man. Pile it on, I can take it!
I seemed to have solved the nausea issue for Pretzel - by pulling him completely off of the Trazodone (sedative) and giving his other medications after he has eaten his full meal, he has been able to keep things down. I started coming back to the living today after the stomach flu. We both are quite the pair! Surprisingly, Pretzel is really handling his crate rest well. Does he understand that this could determine the face of his entire future? I don't know. He is a smart, in-tune dog and I think he knows this is very important to me so he is doing whatever it takes to make me happy. that's my boy.
Thankfully I felt well enough to take off on Thursday with Noodle to head to Jackson, Tennessee for a conformation show. Mark stayed home with Pretzel and his dog Sieben, who just had hernia surgery on Monday. I am so lucky to have a partner to run the Weimaraner Hospital for me so I could head to the show.
I will say I had a really enjoyable three days with Noodle. I felt like this one on one time really bonded us even more. She was fantastic for me traveling, and in the hotel. We had a blast finding various new places to go hiking after the shows were over each day.
We showed 3 days. Friday wasn't our greatest show - Noodle didn't show well. She was overly interested in something about the judge, and kept turning around to smell her while the judge was going over her. Saturday and Sunday went pretty good, and I felt like she showed really well for me. We are still a work in progress, and we keep improving. Bummer that we really didn't have much success in the rings this weekend. You know how dogs shows go - one day you're in and the next day you're out! I couldn't buy a win this weekend. I should probably be more bummed about that, but I had SO much fun with her that I don't regret the long drive at all. It renewed my spirit and made me ready to face this next week's challenges, including Pretzel's progress check, and one other major important bit if possible news that could change my life this year...details coming soon!
It's been 2 weeks. Two long weeks of crate rest for Pretzel. High doses of prednisone, lots of worry and stress, and endless hours of pottying on leash in the rain (of course it has rained nearly every day for these two weeks). I got Pretzel out this morning and tested him over the plank, just as i did two weeks ago (scroll up to see the video from March 12th). he was a little more wound up this time after being crated with no activity for 2 weeks, so was slipping a lot more on the plank. We put a rug down on the plank to help with his foothold, so the comparison isn't exactly equal, but I hope you can see the difference. Watch the video below. he starts off a little wonky, but each time he walks up the plank he gets more and more surefooted. the biggest difference I see is that when his right foot comes off the plank, he is able to pull it back inward to stay on, unlike 2 weeks ago. Am I just dreaming? I watched this video so many times and with such hope, that I honestly have a hard time being completely objective. I think I do see improvement, however slight.
I have a call in to the neurologist, waiting for him to call back so we can discuss this. This feels like hope, maybe?
Well, the neurologist called me back. Actually, his tech called on his behalf. He feels that he sees some improvement in strength, but only a little. He would like to see two more weeks of crate rest and prednisone before making a decision on surgery. I could cry. OK, I'll admit. I did cry. 2 more weeks... how on earth will I be able to keep Pretzel happy? My heart is breaking a little bit, but I keep telling myself that this is what we MUST do if we are to have any hope of fixing him. Hanging on to hope by a very thin thread at this point. It's exhausting.
Ride the painted pony, let the spinning wheel spin
Noodle was a turd today in agility class. She proved to me that although I thought I was making progress with her, in reality she was just snowing me. I am seriously the worst dog trainer on earth, because I cannot for the life of me figure her out in agility. So is so freaking talented, and she loves it so much. That is the ONLY thing that is keeping me from outright quitting. That, and my determination to prove everyone wrong. Being stubborn has its benefits, but it also is a hard hard road to travel.
Cadence was stellar today. Stellar in her own special way, of course. She had a few moments of bucking and farting, but since we were the only ones there it was minimal (she only really acts yup when she has an audience, of course!).
Everything is right on track with her longe line training. She has a wonderful whoa and reverse now. the biggest issue I am having is getting her to consistently take the right lead. left lead? Easy-peasy. Right lead - very inconsistent. I would say at this point she is taking the wrong lead about 75% of the time. Hopefully that will gradually improve.
She walked on the trailer several times. Mark was with me, so I had him close the trailer door for the first time while we were inside. She was a little nervous with the door closed, but relaxed after a few minutes and continued eating her sweet feed. I unloaded and re-loaded her after that, and although she was a tiny bit hesitant, she walked right in again. Progress, baby!
Introducing the newest member of our family = "Apollo" - a 2019 Ford F-350 truck. Cadence is going to ride in style to the shows. Well, technically, I am the one that is going to be riding in style, since she will be in the horse trailer. But the ride will definitely be more stable, and a heck of a lot more reliable!
I bit the bullet, bankrupted myself, and mailed in my entries to the Tom Powers Futurity today. The costs for that show are ridiculous (I mean, WHO charges a $50 office fee???). But, Cadence is only a yearling once, and I have struggled so much to get to this point...and I feel she is talented enough to deserve the chance. So now it's time to get serious! Yeah, as if I wasn't already serious!
Pretzel is tolerating his crate rest, I am tolerating keeping Pretzel on crate rest. Noodle is going crazy with inactivity. It's a mess at my house!
I worked Cadence today. Her right lead was still very sticky - 25%. I measured her today, she didn't grow much at all this month - 15' at the withers and 15'1 1/2" at the hip. She is shedding buckets of hair, it is spring!