Friday, May 31, 2013

8 Months, 3 Weeks: Training - Day 108

I saw this again just after a quick interaction with Jack.
This is Thursday's blog post.  There will be no Friday blog post because Emma is going to the groomers first thing in the morning, so this is the last blog post for the week.

What a tiring week.  Emma and Jack got in less than 20 seconds of play with Emma bouncing up into Jack's face and low and behold I saw the left rear leg pull up for a step and her hop away when I split them apart.  I continued to watch her leg and I could see she wasn't putting full weight on the leg and she was just toe touching with it - poor thing, she strained it a bit in that 20 second interaction.

I called the vet and asked if they wanted to see her that day on or Monday after she finished her medication and was asked to bring her in on Thursday.  I had suspected as much.  Though her leg is getting better, she shouldn't have been limping like that after just a brief few seconds of play.  How lucky she is she strained it and didn't tear it and how lucky she is she is young and her tendons are more flexible than they would have been even a few months from now, but the injury at this age is hard on her.  She simply doesn't understand why she can't play and run and be a puppy when she doesn't hurt THAT bad.

I had been watching her leg for most of the week and noted if she got into her horse rearing mode, which seems to be her default way to express happiness, she would stand with that leg shaking afterward.  In order to limit that type of activity I have been working on her sitting when I picked up the leash.  Leashes and harnesses send her in cataclysmic spasms of horse rearing and bouncing and body twisting and NONE of that is good for her knee.  As a matter of fact, when her owner came Tuesday evening to drop of her medication (she had been rushed and forgotten it in the morning) I had not brought Emma out because she goes into uncontrollable bouncing spasms when she sees them; that and it's very hard on her to see them during the week and they then leave after a brief interaction.

 My goal all week has been to protect that knee while it recovers and to keep Emma sane during her recovery.  Not an easy goal with an active and bouncy puppy, but we've gotten to high vibration sits when I pick up a leash as her default behavior and walking at my side and not launching out the front door as a default when exiting the house.

Her vet visit went well enough, but the vet could see the same thing I did.  She's tentative on the leg.  It's hard to see because it is so subtle, but the vet was pleased I was so aware of her normal foot placement that I was aware of when it was even slightly off.  Her knee is not longer floating to the side, he can't get it to do so anymore, which means the float we saw when I took her in last week was due to the stretched and injured ligament.  She has the normal looseness of joints that come with her age and he suspects they'll tighten when she grows older, which is fantastic news.

What he does see is she's still easily over doing the knee with very little activity.  I told him the extremes we are going to to keep her quiet and calm while the knee heals, but he's concerned that she may have pulled something in her hip also and would like to do an x-ray on Monday to see how she's doing.

He placed her on the schedule and said that he would prefer to do the x-ray without her sedated, but if he needs sedate her he will.  This means she can't have food after 8 PM the night before and no water the morning of the procedure.  I had intended to call the owners and let the know what we discovered and what the plans for her care were, but when I got home Dieter was in so much pain I was focused on his care and couldn't get him comfortable until it was too late to call her owners.  I will call her on Friday morning after I drop Emma off at the groomers and I have made my visit to SCC.

The lump the owners found on her cheek may simply be a fat tumor, which I had suspected when I finally found and felt it.  He's not terribly worried about it nor am I.  He wants to keep an eye on it's size and if it grows in the next 2 weeks he'd like to do a biopsy on it and insure it's just a fat tumor and not anything else.  We both suspect, due to her age, that she may have accidently injured her face there in play with another dog or by herself and caused the fatty tumor to happen.

So, she's on continued restricted activity until she's released from the vet to normal activity (which will happen in stages) and scheduled for an x-ray to see how the entire joint system in that leg is to check and make certain she didn't injure the hip when she injured the knee.  A minor injury in the hip can result in a major injury to the knee.

Oh, and he's impressed with her tolerance of having her body manipulated while being examined.  She has a very loving and tolerant personality and is a dream patient when working with the vet.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 4: Step 1 Retrieve.  In this step Emma is to go to three different types of objects on the floor.  In the book it states to not stay on this step too long and for the first time we are actually ON this step and not a half-step ahead of it.

Today I brought out our old friend the pencil.  I tethered Jack, cued Max to stay by me or the front door (ie, out of the way) and placed the pencil about 3 feet away from me on the floor.  I shaped Emma to look at, go to, touch and finally mouth the pencil (Step 2) and to my amazement she picked it right up and carried it back to me (Step 3)!  What a good girl!  She brought me the pencil 3 times.

I then went and got a metal spoon and started the process over - after I got it back from Max who picked it up and brought it to me.  Sigh.  I cued Max to stay by me and let her work and shaped her to the spoon.  She did okay with this, but wasn't willing to mouth or pick up the spoon at this time.  That is fine, we'll work the spoon one or two more times next week and then move to a cloth item and redo this part of the Retrieve process and move up to Step 2 and Step 3 (actually bringing the item to me) and build her confidence over time.

She is still working with small, light items, right now to build up confidence and make it easy for her to figure out what I am asking of her.  Once she's solid with retrieving those I'll start adding such things as shoes, slippers, pants and shirts and when her confidence in that grows teach her how to pick up cans and bottles and other objects until she's solid on picking up whatever we ask her too.

Her confidence with the pencil is high, thus her retrieving it and bringing it, but her confidence with other items is low, thus her needing a bit more practice with it.  It won't take long, but I don't want to rush her at the same time.

Emma is learning her first serious service skill and I want it solid.  I did ask her, when she brought me the pencil a second time, to put her feet up in my lap, wait a second while I got my hand in position, and then give her the release cue before she gave it to me.  I can't ask that too much because of her knee, but she's starting to get the idea of what I am asking of her and what the final picture will look like.  Emma did what I asked and I was very pleased with her hold and her willingness to do what I asked of her.

Emma is progressing nicely on this skill.


Emma is bored and feeling stress from pent up energy because she can't just run it off.  She is restricted on her activities, so mind games, such as sniffing out and finding treats in a limited area or learning a new trick which is easy and interactive with people will be good for her.

She needs to be kept quiet most of the time and a good bone or chew toy should do that, but a bit of mental stimulation would be fantastic for her.  Retrieve training adds stress, so I wouldn't suggest that currently, but would maybe suggest working on a wave (she loves to raise her front feet) or high five or teaching her paw (left) and mepaw (right) paws for her handing them to you when you put your hand out.

Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step Completed Completed Completed Completed Completed

Level 2
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step Completed Completed Completed Completed Completed
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 3 2 2 1 1
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 1 Completed 1

Level 3
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 3 2 0 0 1
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step 0 0 0 Completed 0

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step 0 0 1 0 0
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Handling Communication

Step 0 0

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