Friday, December 29, 2006

Winter Wonderland My Ass

Last week's blizzard was a nice novelty but enough already. I spent 1/2 hour last night shoveling 3" of snow off the driveway only to spend and hour this morning removing a foot of snow from just half the driveway. I slid off the road just a few blocks from my house on my way home from work yesterday when I tried to turn onto my sidestreet. Luckily I was going about 5 mph and managed to steer clear of the stop sign so there was no harm, I simply slid to a stop and got back onto the road with no problem. I didn't even try to go to work this morning, huge SUV's and pick-up trucks were sliding all over my street and I decided it wasn't worth it. I just finished a project a week and a half early and I'm way ahead on my other project so I didn't feel too bad working from home. Looking on the bright side, Eldora ski resort got 16" of new snow so the cross country trails should be wonderful tomorrow. Whether the road up the canyon to get there will be so wonderful is another matter. I suppose I shouldn't complain, my mom called last night and said she had no power for the last 8 days because of terrible wind storms. I guess that's the downside to living on a small remote island.

Aside from the general pain in the ass to daily life the snow has prevented me from any agility practice. The indoor drop-in practice at Boulder County Fairgrounds has been cancelled for 2 weeks because of the holidaze and Biscuit Eaters is buried as is most of my yard except for a few paths that Jonny dug for the dogs. My house is too small to practice indoors so I'm out of luck until classes & drop-ins at BCF start back up a week from next Monday. The USDAA trial next weekend will be interesting. I pulled Lola from the trial because of her injury so it's just me & Cody. We'll see if I'm any more focused/less frazzled with running only one dog. I really wish I could practice though. Even in winter I seldom go weeks without practicing before a trial as what little snow we get usually melts in a few days at most. Oh well, no use fretting over something I can't do anything about.

I finally got Lola in to see Antke for a physical therapy evaluation. She did an exam similar to what the vet did and found a latissimus darsi strain in her right shoulder (the ortho vet didn't even check her right side since she was limping on her left). She couldn't find any problems with her left bicep tendon but that was likely because of the cortisone shot. It's not healed by a longshot but now she has no symptoms so it will be harder to judge her recovery. Antke agreed that the cortisone shot was not the best thing but what's done is done and she won't get any more. On top of the evaluation, Antke showed me how to do some massage and stretching of Lola's shoulders and recommended having her balance on the Buja board while I move it for strength training. That will be difficult because Lola's not used to standing still on the Buja board. It'll take a little work to help her figure that out. Her stretching/massage routine takes me 1/2 hour and I'm supposed to do it twice a day on top of 2-3 fifteen minute walks on top of training and exercising the other 2 dogs. I have no idea how I'm going to find another 1 1/2 hours out of a day that already has too few hours in it for all I have to do but somehow I'll have to work it out. Thankfully Strummer is nearly 2 and finally calming down a bit so he doesn't need quite as much exercise and attention as he did at this time last year. Still, I'd like to get him going with his agility training and finding time for this will be tough. At least the days are finally getting longer so once the snow melts I should be able to fit some practice in after work. However by the time all this snow melts it will probably be time to set the clocks forward anyway.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


The sun came out and the main roads were clear at 2:30 so I headed over to North Boulder Park for some cross country skiing. I haven't been on skis since my knee surgery last Feb. so I only went out for 35-40 minutes but it felt great. The Boulder Nordic Club grooms trails around the park for the skate skiiers and there were 2 sets of tracks for the Nordic skiers (that would be me). I was surely the biggest dork in the park, stopping after one lap to wax my skis at the side of the street. This is my first pair of skis that require waxing and I have no idea what I'm doing or when I need to do it but the skis didn't feel 'grippy' enough so I figured it couldn't hurt. I think the problem was that the snow was a little icy, yeah that's it, nothing to do with my crappy form. I heard people griping about the trail conditions but I thought they were fine. Sheesh, how many cities have groomed Nordic trails you can ski on for free right near the heart of town?? Boulderites are so spoiled. Back to work tomorrow, ugh.

Snowed In

I measured 20" of snow on the table on my deck this morning and the snow is still falling. I left work yesterday at around 1:00 pm and it was slow going but still my 20 minute drive took me only 40 minutes or so. I lucked out and got right behind a plow for a good portion of the drive and the rest of the way had magically been plowed with the exception of my side street which was just passable. There were buses and cars stalled and in ditches all over the place so I was very lucky to get home with no problems. A bus got stuck going up a hill on a main arterial 6-7 miles outside of Boulder and traffic was backed up all the way into town. Luckily I was going the other way.

Today I'm working from home and what a luxury that is though it's a little hard to concentrate with a hyper Border Collie and husband, both with major ants in their pants. They've gone off for a snowshoe hike around Wonderland Lake. Later I'll go skiing, probably right out my front door around Wonderland Lake. North Boulder park usually has a groomed ski trail but it's about a mile away and I'm not getting in the car. I doubt I could get out of my driveway and down my street anyway. I've yet to see a car come down my street. I can't wait for the weekend, the snow up at Eldora will be awesome for cross country skiing.

Poor Lola missed her PT appointment AND she can't play in all that gorgeous snow, one of her favorite things. She's in a major huff. Poor girl, I hope I can get her moving soon.

Monday, December 18, 2006

So Lame

I've decided to go with the person I know for Lola's PT rather than the fancy pants place. She's got an appt. for Weds. night, we'll see how she goes. She's still limping here and there, for a while she was worse than before the stupid shot, and she seems a bit depressed & fed up but just a couple more days then we'll see what she's allowed to do.

I'm afraid I'm not doing much better as far as running goes. I had a good run on Weds., 3 mins. running/1 min. walking for a total of 15 minutes running. No problems, felt great. Then tried again on Sat., upping the running to 4 mins. and my knee started feeling crappy in the same area that was hurting a couple of weeks ago after only 3-4 minutes. I went back to 2 mins. running then got up to 4 by the end of the run (16 mins. running) but I felt tired & gimpy afterwards. Then tried biking on the trainer on Sun. since it was cold & nasty but managed only 40 minutes. I tried doing a shorter, higher intensity workout since the trainer is so boring and the PT had suggested this would be the best way to build up strength but after a few sprints, a 5 min. seated hill climb and a few more sprints my 'good' knee was complaining, probably compensating for the bad knee. I suppose 40 minutes isn't so awful when I think about how little I've been riding and how I haven't been doing speed work but still, it seems pathetic. Swimming is going well though, if only I could get my butt to masters more than once a week I'd probably even see a little improvement.

Sunday afternoon I took Strummer out to Biscuit Eaters to work on his foundation jump training and his weave poles. He's to the stage in the lessons where I'm walking him through the field and rewarding him for taking jumps we walk past. I'm also rewarding him for walking with me and doing front & rear crosses on the flat before and after jumps. I also sent him into the occasional tunnel just to break things up. He did really well, the only problems being that he backjumped a few jumps and knocked a couple of bars because he was focused too much on me and not paying attention to the jump. He was also starting to jump with a little too much extension. Right now he's still supposed to be jumping with a lot of collection. I suspect he's going to be a very flat jumper if I don't train him properly in the beginning so I'm going to stay at this stage for a while and maybe even go back to the single jump for a bit.

We're still working on his weave entries with 2 poles though I do have the 2 sets of 2 poles side by side. I was working my way around the entry in a circle and he was great for the on side entries but started having problems when I got near the 12 o' clock position (right in line with the poles). I had to stop before he got too fed up.

Table is going great, he hops right on and gets in a down with no cue from me. He sniffs the table and pauses a bit before lying down but I think that will stop once he's really clear on what to do.

Chutes and tunnels are no problem. Tire jump has to be low for now and I have to step in to direct him or he runs through the space between the frame and the tire. After a few reps. he got the idea and I could back off of the frame a bit.

I stood by the baby teeter to see what he'd do and the crazy dog jumped up on the high side and rode it to the ground. He looked a bit startled but I gave him lots of praise & treats so he wouldn't freak out. I lowered it way down and he came back and pushed the board down with his nose & paws. That's exactly what I want right now. I don't want to teach him the teeter formally until he's solid on the dogwalk. I finally painted the boards I'm using for contact training as well as his Buja board last weekend so now I have no more excuses to not get going with his contact training.

In all, a busy week/weekend with little down time. While it feels good to be productive I'm looking forward to the 3 day weekend.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

I've gone from puzzling over how to deal with Lola's rehab to having a couple of good options to choose from. A fellow agility friend suggested Alameda East (the vet hospital featured on Animal Planet's old Emergency Vets show) down in Denver. It turns out they have a state of the art canine sports rehab facility and a PT with lots of experience in rehabbing canine athletes. Then there's another agility friend who has started a career in canine sports rehab and works at another rehab facility that also has fancy equipment. Not sure if it's as fancy as Alameda East's though. So I have to decide and it feels a lot better having to choose between 2 really good options than having no idea what to do or where to go. Do I go with the friend who doesn't have a huge bank of experience but who knows Lola, competes in agility so knows exactly what stresses are involved with each obstacle, and is a very bright, competent woman? She's gone through some kind of training program and been certified, she's simply lacking the hands on experience that the other person has. On the other hand, Alameda East sounds pretty cool and their PT has tons of experience healing injuries like the one Lola has. Their Biomechanics Lab seems way more high tech. than anything I've ever seen at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine for crying out loud. I like the idea that they could pinpoint her ailment in a more scientific way than the vet did. On the other hand, I feel bad not going to my friend and in the end I'm sure she'd do a great job. It's a huge plus that she knows Lola and I completely trust her in handling Lola. What will I decide? The suspense is killing me.

Lola seems much better finally. She had a terrible reaction to the sedatives, both the ACE and something else (Butorphonol? I'm going to find out for sure). She finally seems her old self, now the challenge is keeping her quiet for a few more days. She was limping yesterday, way worse than before the stupid shot but she seems better today. The vet said that would be normal but still.

I took Cody all on his lonesome to Biscuit Eaters this morning for course run throughs and I felt terrible leaving Miss Lo behind. Then when I got there one of my former teachers and a really great person who's helped me tremendously through the years broke down into tears over her Border Collie. He has epillepsy that's been under control for several years but now the drugs aren't working anymore so he has to start on more severe drugs that are going to leave him doped up all the time. On top of that he has an enlarged heart and is on medication for that so she's in constant fear that he's going to drop dead from a heart attack. Needless to say she's had to retire him from agility but what she was really broken up about was that the drugs are going to alter his bright, alert personality. It's heartbreaking, esp. since he's such a wonderful, happy dog always full of energy and life. He adores agility and it's so hard for her to retire him. And on top of that she's such a nice person that she feels bad for feeling bad about this in light of some of the other terrible things some of her friends are going through and the horrible things going on in the world at large. A couple of us tried to comfort her and assure her that she surely is entitled to her pain and we totally understand, but there really aren't words and I know because if it was me I'd be inconsolable. No it's not tragedy on the scale of Darfur or Iraq but it's still very painful and she's certainly entitled to feel however bad she wants to feel as we all are about the various crappy things life throws at us.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I've spent just about every spare moment researching bicep tendonitis treatments, prognosis, etc. and I'm having big regrets about letting the vet give Lola that cortisone shot. He never even mentioned ultrasound, accupuncture, etc. as a possible treatment avenue and I can't believe it didn't occur to me to ask about, esp. considering all I've been through with my own ITB issues. I wouldn't let the doc near me with a cortisone shot, why did I let him give one to Lola so easily? On the other hand, I did some research on this vet and he's had a long, distinguished career full of accomplishments and awards and he's even co-authored a book on orthopedic injuries so why can't I just calm down and trust his judgement? Surely it's occured to him to review all the pro/con research on these shots and treatment of this ailment? I have to admit to getting lost in some of the medical jargon of the articles I found and got tired of googling every other word so it's possible I'm misinterpreting the data. Nonetheless, I'm against giving her any more shots and I'm trying to look into some other options.

The vet admitted he knew nothing about agility or how/if she would be able to do it again. He said I would have to cut down long term on her activities and as an example said if I was running 5 miles with her I could now run only a mile. An 80% reduction in her physical activities???!!! I'm sorry but that's crazy, it's like those doctors who don't deal with athletes and tell you never to run ever again when you have a simple injury. Or maybe not. Maybe it is that serious, I don't know. I don't want her to develop arthritis. I did find one person whose agility dog had a couple of bouts with this and he was able to cure it completely with ultrasound and other non-invasive treatments. The dog is currently doing agility with no problems so that's encouraging.

Agility aside, I can't retire Lola to the couch at 6 years old. Her big love in life is chasing tennis balls and I can't deny her that for evermore. Hopefully I can find a vet with more experience treating canine athletes because there has got to be some way to rehab her so she can still play.

In the meantime I've decided to step away from the computer for a bit because there's no point getting in a tizzy over a bunch of medical articles I may or may not have understood correctly. Really, why DIDN'T the vet provide me with any sedatives?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Happy Birthday-Not

It's Lola's birthday plus or minus a few days and she got a rather expensive and not too much fun present in the form of a trip to an orthopedic specialist up in Loveland. On Sunday morning Jonny heard a 'yipe' from the yard where she & Strummer were probably playing and after a session of hard running out at the Rez she ended up limping by afternoon. It was a faint limp, I had to videotape it to be sure, but it was there nonetheless. I thought I'd noticed the same slight limp a couple of weeks ago and she's been gradually slowing down in agility (though this could be due to age, difficulty of courses, motivation issues, etc.) so I decided to have her checked out sooner rather than later. I went through this with Cody who had even less clinical signs of trouble and he ended up having shoulder surgery.

The 50 minute drive up to Loveland this morning brought back all the bad memories of Cody's surgery, recovery etc. It was successful in the end, Cody's doing great at 8 1/2 years but it was a whole year process that was not easy on him or me.

Of course, Lo wasn't limping today but I showed the vet the video and after a thorough exam he diagnosed her with bicep tendonitis and recommended a cortisone shot today with a possible second shot in 3 weeks. If that doesn't work the next step is arthroscopic surgery, which is what Cody had. Ugh. I was leery of letting him inject her with cortisone but he assured me that simply resting her likely wouldn't help and would take a very long time so in the end I agreed. She was so good for the vet and didn't need to be sedated for the exam (Cody, ahem, did indeed require sedation for his) or an x-ray (that was clean, phew) but since the shot was going to be painful they gave her a mix of painkillers & sedatives including the dreaded ACE drug which I truly dislike. She's lying under my desk in a zombified state that's rather disturbing but I've gone through this before so I'm pretty sure she's o.k. Every few minutes I have to look down to check her breathing which is very slow and there's a tiny moment of panic while I wait for her chest to rise then she takes a tiny breath and I know she's o.k. Frankly, I think they should have given me the sedatives.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday Bloody Thursday

The cold snow/ice that won't seem to leave has been wreaking havoc on the dogs' feet and today Strummer finally tore a nail on our early morning walk. I noticed some blood on his foot about a mile from home but couldn't do much about it and since it wasn't gushing I didn't worry too much about it. When we got home he went tearing around the icy yard in his regular post walk state of demonic possesion and I had completely forgotten about the bloody paw. I rushed him in the house so he wouldn't hurt himself or Lola only to find him leaving a trail of blood all over the house. Trouble was he was still flying around at warp speed and was completely out of his mind. I called him to me and he came flying full bore like a freight train into my shins, then kept on going for several laps all over the house, blood flying everywhere. It looked like Freddy Kreuger had been fingerpainting on my floors. It didn't take too long to get him under control, clean up the paw and put him in his crate but yeesh, what a mess. Somehow the blood managed to come out of the carpets, probably because I caught it right away, but it seemed like I was on my knees scrubbing forever and it was not the sort of thing I wanted to be doing before a full day of work.

On a more positive note I went running with Cody at lunch time and managed 15 minutes total pain free running doing a 3 min run/1 min walk pattern. I was up to 21 minutes total last week but I was trashed after that and decided to scale back a bit, esp. since my poor quads have only just recovered from last weekend. I went on a dirt/gravel path that circles a soccer field by my work which was booooring but I was able to let Cody off lead and didn't have to worry about making pit stops for him. He was SO happy, flying around full speed with ears pinned back and a big stupid grin on his face. He looked so fit and fast for an 8 1/2 year old dog.

Hopefully the snow will finally be gone this weekend so we can practice some agility and I can hit the trails on my bike.

Annie Get Your Frisbee

Sibling Rivalry

Monday, December 04, 2006

Losing Contact

Let me just say, spending the entire weekend cooped up in a dusty horse arena really sucks. I don't know why I signed up for every possible class (5 per day). It seems like fun when I'm filling out the application forms but somehow by 3:00 pm I've had enough. I should have gone home in between the longer events (ie standard) since I was only 20 minutes away, I'm sure I did that last year, but somehow it didn't occur to me this year. Even if it had, it's not like I can do much of anything with just a couple of hours and it was so freaking cold this weekend I would have spent the time indoors on my butt anyway so I guess I should quit my whining.

I was hoping for some speed and enthusiasm this weekend and boy should I be more careful about what I wish for. Cody was absolutely flying all weekend long which was great except that Mister Hyperpants felt it a waste of his time to hit his contacts. Most of our blown Q's were because he was launching & flying off contact equipment left and right. Silly boy was so amped up he couldn't quite keep it together. On the plus side he was more or less paying attention to me on most of his runs, didn't seem stressed out in the least the whole weekend and was having a yeeha time running those straight open courses. Lola seemed to be having fun as well though she wasn't as speedy as Cody. I'm starting to fear that she may have an injury. She was having some trouble with the weaves during one of her runs and it should have been fairly straightforward. She was poking through them during the warm up for the same run so maybe something was sore. I thought I saw her limping for a few steps early last week so I'd been resting her all week and hadn't seen any other signs of lameness but I know how well these dogs hide their pain. I may try a chiropractor before going to the full on orthopedic vet.

The Elite courses were really simple even by NADAC standards yet we still managed only one standard Q for Cody and none for Lola. Mostly this was due to the various distance challenges as most of them involved contacts and neither dog will handle contacts at a distance during a trial. Cody sometimes will, but not this weekend. Both dogs got Q's for both their Jumpers runs, Cody was booking so fast he even mananged a Q despite a refusal and wide turn. He finished up his 'Outstanding Elite Jumpers' title (100 points or 10 clean runs at the Elite level), whoop de doo. Even the Chances courses which are the distance tests were fairly easy, I was surprised Cody didn't pull them off. Even Lola managed to get a Q. Lola had a beautiful Tunnelers run but I walked the course wrong and left out a tunnel, DOH. She had a nice Touch & Go run too (all tunnels & contacts) but she launched off the last A-frame just a tunnel away from the finish line. Argh.

Overall, I was pleased with speed & motivation for Cody. Lola was faster than she's been but still lacking the drive she used to have. I'm going to have her checked out just to make sure nothing's wrong physically. She's getting older and she's a big dog so it's natural for her to slow down a bit but still I'm a bit worried. I was not at all pleased with Cody's launching contacts fiasco though Lola had a few nice dogwalks. Still some balking & barking on the A-frame though. This will need to be my main focus in training for next month. I felt very unchallenged by the courses, even for NADAC. They seem to be getting so easy, I'm not sure how much more I want to do. I'll probably do a few classes and only one day of the NADAC trial next February just to keep in practice for competition. I wish we had more USDAA!!! Can't wait for the USDAA trial next month but then there isn't another one until April. I suppose it's just as well, I should be spending more time practicing anyway.

Friday, December 01, 2006

10 Things I Like About NADAC

I have a NADAC trial this weekend and I'm actually a bit excited for it. I've gotten really down on NADAC over the past few years and after attending NADAC Champs. and USDAA Nationals I've decided to try to focus more on USDAA even if it means driving farther. However, there are limits to my insanity and given the choice of driving 7-8 hours over the Continental Divide in December to Utah for USDAA or less than 20 minutes to Longmont for NADAC, well, it was a no brainer. I don't hate NADAC that badly. Also, it will be a nice mental break after those challenging USDAA courses at Nationals since NADAC courses are usually pretty easy by comparison. Lots of flat out running for the dogs with a handling challenge or 2 sounds good right about now.

Going to NADAC trials in the past with a ho-hum, I could care less attitude has proven to be not very productive so I'm trying to think of all the things I like about NADAC and put aside the many things I don't. I've paid a lot of money in entry fees, it's important to go in with a good attitude and a plan for what I want to get out of it. So in light of that, here's my list:

6. We've got our Elite Standard & Jumpers titles and I don't care about anything else so there's no pressure to qualify and I can try handling moves in trials I normally wouldn't if I was worried about a Q.
5. I get to run a lot more so I'll get a better workout
4. Easy-ish courses means I'm less likely to get lost
3. Tunnelers-yee ha
2. No stinkin' table!!!
1. Dogs love to run those relatively straightforward courses

O.k., so I can think of only 6 things. Goals for the trial:

1. Mainly to work on speed & motivation. Let's see how fast these pups can fly and still keep their heads about them (me too).

2. Try some handling moves that are going well in practice but I wouldn't normally risk during a trial, if the opportunities present themselves. I'm not going to do anything that isn't going well in practice.

3. Work on those contacts. I'm going to try not babysitting so much, except for maybe Cody on the dogwalk because that stinker has bailed almost every dogwalk in the past year of NADAC trials. I want Lola running over the contacts, no stopping or creeping. I'm letting her run through the bottom right now until I can get some speed and retrain her stop properly.

4. Mayyybe practice some longer lead outs for some runs, then start right from the line on others.

That's it, best to keep the list short & simple. In general, I'm interested to see how they'll do stress/attention wise after being at Nationals, esp. Lola. I was thinking that Lola would probably be great at a local trial after working through her issues at Nationals (she was running pretty good the last 2 days). We'll see.

Have a great weekend.