Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Good news, bad news

Good news-my knee didn't hurt during the race on Sunday. Yay for physical therapists. So far anyway. 

Bad news-my foot has hurt since the race. The rest of my normal post big race soreness has resolved. Foot still hurts. 

So although I am not opposed to spending a few evenings plopped down on the couch watching TV, I hope not to spend a few weeks doing this. 

Always seems like as soon as I get really fit, I get hurt. At least I got a 10k and half-marsthon PR out of it first. But I have several races planned in about 3-4 weeks and had hoped to run well in them-still trying to get a 5k under 24 minutes. So I'll be bummed to miss out on training but I'd be even more bummed to not be able to run them at all. 

Either way, looks like more TV tonight. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Run, Rock, and Roll

We concluded our vacation by running the Rock N Roll Half-marathon in St. Louis on Sunday.  Isn't that how everyone finishes up vacation?  Anyway, my goal was to run it in under 2 hours.  Not only did I do that, but I beat my previous personal best by 14 minutes.

And yes, I hurt today.  Also, go Cards.  And no, I don't want to talk about the MIZZOU game.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Driving through a post card

Eventually, when our new computer arrives (the one that is replacing the new, broken computer that replaced the old, dying computer) I may post some of the pics I took with my actual camera. But for now-here are a few more from my phone. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


We are spending a few days in the Smoky Mountains enjoying the fall colors. Here are a few photos from our hikes today. These are all from my phone so not sure if they will look good blown up or not but anyway...

Monday, October 21, 2013

We ran Dogwood

Yesterday we did our first trail race, the Dogwood Canyon ( 15k trail 
run. There was also 25 
and 50k option for those more ambitious. 

Trail racing is a lot more exciting than road 
racing.  But more challenging and slower 
going. In fact it was quite grueling at
times and required some "hiking."  It 
reminded me of cross country but rougher. 
I averaged 11 minute miles which is way 
slower than my average, even for a nine
 mile race. 

I also got stung by a some kind of bee about 
halfway through. Naturally it was right in my 
arm pit where I continued to sweat into the 
wound for 5 miles. I also saw a huge, at 
least 10-12 point buck cross the
trail. Biggest white tailed deer I have ever 

Other than the bee sting we all finished 
unharmed, collected our fancy
finishers medals and enjoyed a free hot lunch. 

I ended up 6/31 in my age group. I thought 
that was pretty good for a first trail run. 
I've already signed up for another one next 
month. And I think we will plan on returning
 to Dogwood next year as well. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pain in the arm

You may remember from last year that I was forced to get a flu shot to continue volunteering for pet therapy at the hospital.  This year was no different, except a bigger hassle.

You have to call and register first.  I have no idea why, since it's required, but whatever.  I called.  I left a message.  It took 4 days for someone to call me back.  Ok, yeah, two of those days were the weekend but still.  Last year I was able to go the wal-mart near my house, at my convenience to get the shot.  This year you have to go to the employee health center at the hospital.  Oh, or you can go to what is arguably the busiest wal-mart in town and get it there, with an appointment.  I chose the hospital.  Although the person who registered me seemed unable to tell me where the employee health center was or what the hours were.

There is construction going on at the hospital which makes it virtually impossible to park.  When I finally got in the door I found that the employee health center was at least easy to find.  The ensuing conversation went something like this.

 I'm here for the required flu shot.
 Did you register?
What's your name.
I give my name.
I can't find you.  Are you sure you registered?
Yes.  I talked to (person) from volunteer services.
So you are a volunteer?
Yes. I have a badge.
You are not even in the system as a volunteer.
Does this mean I don't need a flu shot?
No. How long have you been volunteering.
Would it be under a different name?
Let's just register you again.

And now, my arm is sore.

Again, much of my irritability from this stems from the ridiculous fact that the thought of a needle in my arm makes me light-headed.  But I think I have some valid reasons to be annoyed.

On a somewhat unrelated note when I compare hospital facilities to some of the places I have worked, factor in the increased salary and decreased chances of getting urine and feces on my clothing (especially as a clinical pathologist) I sometimes wonder why I did not go to medical school.  I think it had something do with puppies.  But puppies poop a lot...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Adventures in tracking

Legend's class continues to go well.  Sometimes I think it's not going so well but the overall consensus of the instructors is that she's doing great.  So we'll go with that.  Every week I get good feedback with a few tips on what to work on.

 You need a lot of space to track.  Which has led to me inspecting every piece of property we pass for tracking suitability.  Fortunately I have found several empty lots, churches and schools around town that afford enough space as well a a variety of different landscapes.

It also continues to be a huge time commitment.  We are now to the point of aging track.  Which means they need to sit anywhere from zero (pending my available time and daylight) minutes to about an hour.  Eventually more.  This is not a big deal when I track in the neighbors yard.  But for a number of reasons that is not an option every day.  I try to plan it such that I stop somewhere on my way home from work, running, or whatever, lay track, go home, get dog, return to run track.

We are also now to the point of weaning off flags at the turns.  Which is good and bad.  Marking your turn with the flag is super quick and easy.  The downside is that your dog leans to rely on the flags to find the turn.  Also you have to back and pick up your flags later.  Picking them up as you go can be cumbersome, especially if you have, say, a very "active" tracking dog.

So, I love not having to spend time and energy going back after flags.  But, that means making maps.  Which takes more time on the front end than does planting flags.  If you find a field with lots of "stuff" then it's easier because you can just make all your turns at landmarks (trees, rocks, poles, clumps of flowers).  But if you are tracking in a large, open, monotonous area  then you have to make a more detailed map, aka more time consuming.  In fact the only thing not time consuming about tracking, is actually tracking.  At least with Legend.  True to her name she tracks like she does everything else in life, in fast forward.  But we enjoy it.

Other things that happen in track laying is you find out there are parts of the field that have thicker vegetation or rougher terrain than you had anticipated, but it's too late to change your plan.  Also there might be an area that is  not vegetated at all.  Tonight we hit a patch that was mostly mud and rock, which is more difficult to follow a scent on.  But, if I have have any intentions of pursuing TDX or VST training then I might as well start facing these challenges sooner rather than later.  And I think I would like to do this, it's just the thought of the time commitment for those is overwhelming!  I can see now why people must choose between tracking and other sports.  You can spend 5-10 minutes on obedience or agility and have that me meaningful training.  Not so much in tracking.  But, we muddle on.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Champs Video

Here are some of Legend's champs videos (I won't make you watch them all!)  However, I did spend half the night figuring out how to add music so please at least watch part of it!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Senior Center

With Lyric's seventh birthday all of our pets (not including rabbits and one pig) became "seniors."  Granted a lot of them are "borderline" but still, it's a bit depressing.  Although the only one that is really geriatric is Zodiac.  And for the most part he seems to be doing well.  I had recently started him on Previcox as he seems to be having a little trouble getting up and stairs continue to be a bit of a challenge.  I had hesitated to do this as I think the Rimadyl had previously given him an ulcer.  But we tried anyway.  He seemed to be doing well on it but I happened to have him at work after a week of being on it and decided to run his senior panel and it again showed evidence of an ulcer.  I can't be sure but it seems the most logical cause for the bloodwork abnormalities.  And I'm not really willing to do a lot of invasive diagnostics on a dog that feels fine.  So we stopped the Previcox and started Prilosec.  We will just have to muddle along with Tramadol, Dasuquin, and j/d for now.

The other two will get bloodwork later this year and Icy in the spring.  Good thing I'm working so much to support all these old folks!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Agility Injury Study

The most recent issue of JAVMA (Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association) included a study on agility related injuries.  This was a retrospective study based on internet surveys filled out by owner/handlers.  Some of you may have participated.  Evidently I did as I got an email telling me the findings had been published.

Anyway, retrospective studies have a lot of pitfalls in their usefulness and interpretation (don't get me started on some of the conclusions being drawn from recent studies that are currently being spouted as gospel truth), but I still thought it was interesting and will share some highlights.

  • Of 3800 dogs 32% were reported to have had some kind of agility related injury
This was a voluntary survey so it's possible that handlers who have had an injured dog might be more likely to respond.  
  • Of 1523 injuries 349 were in the shoulder, 282 in the back, 189 in the neck and 202 in the phalanges (toes)
  • 807 were considered strains (muscle or tendon), 312 sprains (ligament) and 200 contusions (bruise)
Of note, not all pets were seen by a vet and certainly not all were seen by specialists so some of these injuries were only perceived to be in the above locations and this does not account for any misdiagnosis.

  • Of 1602 injuries ( not sure why this number is different) 260 were associated with bar jumps, 235 with A-frames, and 177 with dogwalks
Again, these are the perceived obstacles where the injury occurred.  It's possible that the obstacles exacerbated an already existing or sub-clinical problem.

  • Border collies were at increased risk
But, border collies are also over represented in agility.

  • Dogs with warm-up and/or cool down routines did not seem to be any more or less at risk than those who had no such routines.
  • Dogs who received alternative treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage therapy seemed at greater risk for injury.
This seems counter intuitive but it's very likely that dogs started these therapies after being injured and owners of sound dogs did not pursue these avenues.  

So, for what it's worth, those were the highlights for anyone interested.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

What went wrong here?

When I left my job it was to work less (among other reasons).  And I did.  Depending on the time of year I worked what I would consider part-time to almost full time.  It was great.  I had lots of time during the weekdays to do the things I wanted.  I usually got my running and dog training done before evening and had that time to just relax. The house was usually clean.  Everyone was happy.

Then something happened. Apparently relief vets are very much in demand around here right now.  I am scheduled at least 4, often 5 and a few times 6 days a week until the end of May.  My waking hours (especially the daylight ones) are consumed with work, running (as the half-marathon gets closer) and tracking (with class advancing and in full swing).The house is often a mess.  I finally resorted to paying a friend to clean it.  Which actually is working out well for everyone.  Although I may be worse off than I thought as she texted to ask if I also needed help with laundry when she arrived to clean and saw the state of my new laundry room!

Working this much is not great for my mental health or temperament.  As the week goes on I get progressively easier to agitate.  In particular if I end up dealing with lots of wackos.  This week I set a new record of 5 clinics in 5 days and had to deal with crazy people, rude people, idiots, bad pets, problem staff and one police officer.  I may or may not have made a reference to some people needing cyanide in their coffee or other beverage of choice.

I realize I could just say no and only work 3-4 days a week but in theory there will be times when I don't have as many offers.  So I take it when I can get it.  Something's got to give eventually right?

On the flip side the money is good and I have 2 vacations, one 4 day weekend and a mini-trip planned over the next few months.  And they are largely paid for.  So, I guess it could be a lot worse.  But I sure am tired!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Product Review: Merrick Jerky Strips

This month our review was for Merrick Jerky Strips.  We are always up for jerky around here since it often makes such a good training option.

First off, all the dogs loved these.  The cat passed.  They did not seem overly smelly or greasy but were strong enough to interest the dogs.  They were also relatively easy to break off into small pieces and were not so fragile that they broke when you didn't want them to.  They were however a little tough to break into pieces small enough for Lyric.  Not that she couldn't eat the pieces, but I just didn't feel comfortable with her swallowing that size whole!

No one got sick from these-always a plus.  They are pretty limited on ingredients and come in several flavors.  They are mid-range in price so a nice all around treat option.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The aftermath

So now we are home, mostly recovered and unpacked.

The rash on my leg is gone.

The fleas are gone.  But, interestingly I had treated Lyric with Frontline and Legend with Vectra prior to leaving.  Withing 24 hours of coming home Lyric was flea free.  After being home 48 hours Legend still had fleas all over.  So, not impressed with the Vectra.  A capstar and a bath has remedied the situation.

I no longer feel like I need to be working my dogs which is a huge relief as daylight fades, tracking class continues and the half-marathon looms closer.

I briefly considered going to Utah for champs next year but then reminded myself I was on a super agility high and in reality there is no way I am going to Utah.

But if champs returns to Springfield in 2015 I will consider it.

Legend ran so well that I'm a little sorry we are not trialing much the rest of the year.  But again, as the agility high fades I'm sure this will too.

I'm still looking forward to getting Legend's NATCH but after that I cannot even think of an agility goal to set for her!  She has already done so much and I don't want to put pressure on her or me to do things we may not actually get such as qualifying for AKC nationals again or getting a PACH.  Those things just take so much time and if her A-frame issue resurfaces at it usually does then it will be near impossible.  I think we will still be focusing on tracking for now and doing agility "for fun" when the trials are convenient.  I enjoy seeing friends and running my dog so will continue as long as it is fun but for now at least on a less frequent basis than we have in years past.  We have enjoyed the lighter schedule this year.

Should we attend champs again I will plan on taking off monday.  Not because we would expect to make the finals again (if we do that's great) but because it's nice to watch everyone run and participate in the awards ceremony to support the winners.  And to not be so tired on Monday!

I failed to mention yesterday we won a few things in the rescue raffle so the dogs are stocked on treats and toys for now.

Cade is glad Legend is home to play with.

Professional video and photos coming in the next few weeks.

Before lunch

Here is how my Thursday morning went, in case you wondered. 

When I arrived at work I found out my first task was to decapitate a cat for rabies testing. 

After removal of the head we had the requisite conversation about whether or not zombies can get rabies. 

I flung blood on my pants during surgery. 

I spilled tissue glue all over my hands. 

At least there were cupcakes. 

Who says being a vet isn't glamorous?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The whole story

 We finally left Springfield, MO at 7:00 PM Wednesday night.  This put us into Springfield, IL at midnight.  By the time we got checked in and unloaded and settled down it was closer to 1:00 AM.  Naturally I didn't sleep well and we were back up at 5:45.  Most of the day I was too busy to be tired.  First up was briefing, walking and unloading at our stall.
Our crating stall

Next up, time to run! As I mentioned before Lyric ran ok but didn't weave well or do any of the mandatory distance lines.  Each course (except one-I'll get to that later) had a distance line similar to a chances course (not an elite course, more like novice or open).  If you tried and failed it was a 5 point fault but if you didn't even try it was 10.
Waiting with friends to walk the course
Legend, as we all know was a rock star getting off to a great start with 2 clean runs and 2 eighth places.  Already my experience was worthwhile as we accomplished my two goals of a clean run and a placement.  Already better than last time.  But it was not without a bit of a struggle.  While taking a short walk prior to round 1 the building next to the arena was getting roofing work done.  Apparently Legend is terrified of nail guns.  All she wanted to do was run and hide in our crating area.  But once we got in the arena and way from the noise she settled down and ran great.  Nail guns continued to be an issue until the work week ceased Friday afternoon.

It was a late night and even though I had hit a wall in the afternoon by the time Round 2 scores were posted I had perked up again.  Linda worked the last class and we did not leave the fairgrounds until after 8 PM.  By the evening I was seeing fleas on my dogs and suspected the hotel.

Day two was very similar to day one.  Legend continued her streak of clean runs and picked up two fifth places.  The more clean runs we got the more relaxed I should have been, but instead I felt the pressure to continue the streak!  But it was a good kind of pressure.
Legend and one of her 5th place ribbons

Lyric ran about the same as the day before.

We also had team competition today. Legend, BC Chaney, and Aussie Kruzer formed a veteran team with more than 20 agility championship titles between them.  "Furever Young" had a clean round 1 but we didn't find out until the next day that we placed seventh.
Furever Young

Legend, Kruzer, and Chaney

Day three things really started to get interesting.  Legend took her first off course in round 5, placing her out of the ribbons but it did not net her a disastrous score.  The afternoon round was an Extreme Games Challenge course.  This was the course with no distance line. We have never done EGC but maybe we should as it favors Legend's running style.  The course was all hoops and tunnels and was judged strictly on speed and flow.  Flow being the most direct/smoothest line between obstacles.  You got faulted for every step the dog took out of flow such as spinning going wide, turning back to look at the handler, etc.  This gave Legend an advantage as she is not a crazy fast dog.  She also has a relatively fast handler and is used to running smooth courses as she has an AKC background where refusals are scored regularly.  Legend rocked this course ending up 2nd in our group of 16 inch veterans and a lot of the other faster dogs struggled.  Long time friend and competitor Kiely and Hugo took first.  This course really helped Legend move up in the standings.  Lyric ran well in this too only missing one hoop.  Normally you would correct the missed hoop but going back to fix a missed obstacle will net you more out of flow faults than just skipping it will.

Team round 2 was also today and before the end of the day we found out we had won that round.  With the team competition going well and Legend unbelievably having a shot at making the finals I was flying higher than a kite by the time we headed back to the hotel.
Team ribbons

Day 4 came with lots of excitement, anxiety and emotion.  I knew we needed to run clean in this round to stay within reach of the finals.  She did, but not without a scary moment at the end.  This course ended with dogwalk, jump, left turn to a jump and then right to a tunnel.  Legend (as I predicted) ran past the jump since she thought the course was over and I had to call her back. She ran past once more before I got her over and through the tunnel.  Our part was done.  The rest lay with the other dogs.  The dog I needed to catch, also a friend, had 2 bars down but was faster.  In the end we finished 2 points behind them.  But our assumption about 25% making the finals ended up being incorrect.  When we gathered in the arena for the announcements of the finalists we were told that the top third of each class would make it.  One of the ridiculous things about NADAC, you never know these things in advance, Sharon just makes them up as she sees fit.  Anyway, that meant Legend did make the finals.  Six dogs from our group went and Legend was seeded 5th.  Four of the dogs in our finals group were friends that we compete against all the time including 1st seeded Hugo so we all thought that was pretty cool.
Some of the Midwestern finalists

Anyway, before the announcement of the finalists there was Team round 3.  We had a good clean but not totally flawless run in this and ended up second.  Then we just had to wait until the awards to see how it all shook out.

Lyric had her best run of the trial in round 7.  She even weaved!  Had it not been for a dropped bar she would have placed!

On to the finals!  I was surprisingly not nervous about this.  I just wanted to enjoy being there.  I knew that realistically we could not change our overall place much because the scores were cumulative.  If we started with a fresh plate then I would have been more nervous because in that case anything can happen.  As it turned out, Legend didn't get the distance challenge start so I crossed the line and got a 5 point fault.  Then it went well until the weaves where after 2 failed attempts I just went on.  Several dogs struggled with the weaves on this round, not sure why.  After that I just let her have fun.  She jumper her a-frame contact and missed a few jumps but then got back on track to finish strong. It would have been nice to have a better run but all in all we really could not have a better weekend.
Legend in the finals

We had not anticipated making finals and so we hit the road shortly after Legend's run.  I found out on the way home that Team Furever Young took 2nd overall in the Veteran team competition.  One of my teammates is mailing the huge ribbon that comes with that.  I was sorry to miss the award ceremony where we got our team ribbon and many of my friends received their awards for higher placements in the finals.  But if that is my biggest regret of the weekend than that is not bad at all!

We had a great experience this week with all of our friends.  Everyone was very supportive of each other and happy for each other's accomplishments.  And everyone seemed to do well with many of the people we trial with locally earning placements, getting clean runs, and making the finals.  And even thought it was long days, little sleep, plenty of sweat and even a few tears (happy ones, from lots of us) it was totally worthwhile.

But mostly I am so proud of Legend.  She went above and beyond what I expected and gave me an amazing championships experience.  She did every contact fearlessly, ran with speed and enthusiasm, fought through fear, and gave 110% all week long.

"...the best damn thing I lucked in to?
That's easy girl, mine would be you"
                                                               -Blake Shelton, Mine Would Be You

Rock on merlie girlie.