We went back to the vet and we think we found the problem this time. There was a muscle injury but also a knee issue. Soda's patella luxates ever so slightly in the extended position, and only in the extended position. It's also smaller than the L patella. The slight luxation has probably been irritating the tendon and has caused tendinosis -- patellar tendinopothy.
We redid xrays and they still look good and the vet was awesome enough to include her hips in the view and they look pretty good. Her L hip looks "slightly subluxated" but there is no degeneration of the joint, so that's really good. She had a surgeon review her xrays and the surgeon said it's not a surgical issue (Yay! Cause I can't afford it anyway! LOL) and my vet said when she asked "what the heck is wrong with this dog?" he replied "only time will tell" but I feel pretty comfortable with this current diagnosis. I have been very pleased with the level of communication the vet has had (we've exchanged probably a dozen emails) and the dedication she has shown to figuring out what is wrong with my dog.
I did four days of Previcox and her limping has gone waaaaaaaay down. It's barely perceptible right now and she may not even be limping sometimes. We've got some exercises that we're doing. I use a therapy band on her leg for some static exercises, and square sits, and "sitting pretty" and walking backwards and stretching her leg backwards. I go back on Wednesday for a follow-up appointment and I think the vet is looking into more exercises to build up the muscle. She said there is a research paper on a human soccer player with a similar issue and they discussed"eccentric loading exercises" and I think she's going to find out if they've adapted any for dogs. She said she really suggests getting some laser light therapy done so I'm looking for a place. It's pretty pricey and as the bf so kindly pointed out, in total so far this has cost more than $500. So I'm bargain shopping.
I still don't have a timeline of when she'll be able to be her normal running nutty self so I'm anxious to get that. I'm also going to have to get tips for how to support that tendon so we don't have another bout of lameness. it seems like the kind of thing that if it happens once, it'll happen again, which I totally don't want!
On the behavior side of things, she totally hates the band exercises and I have no idea why, but whatever, I make her cope. Everything else is super fun because it's a game so that's good. She has become way more reactive to moving things because she's had no outlet. She's going level 10 at skateboarders, birds, goats, whatever. I feel sorry for her. I try to play quiet games in the house and teach her new things but she gets so excited and amped up it gets hard sometimes.
I'll update again after our follow-up on Wednesday.
No updates in a bit, I know but Soda is laid up with an injury. I'm super sad about it but I'm also kind of stressed out about Soda being in pain/uncomfortable.
A couple of weeks ago, actually about 3 now, she had some foxtails between her toes and I was pulling them out and she and I got into a fight about it and she tried to pull away from me and I didn't let go of her foot so she was sliding around. Then she went lame on her back right leg and I was *sure* that she blew her ACL.
We went to the vet the next day and her knee is good. WHEW. The vet said soft tissue injury, NSAIDs and a few days of rest and you're good to go. Great news, I thought! So, we did as she said and then Soda was fine.
Then, the next week after a couple of tough days of work/play, she started limping again. I was pretty upset! Then I had the vet at work look at it and she was able to narrow down the injury to a muscle injury on on the back of her leg, but wasn't sure exactly which muscle it is. So I made an appointment with a veterinary physical therapist and she was great. She was able to identify which muscle it is and gave me a plan of attack.
THEN after just a day of PT Soda became significantly worse, so I emailed the vet and she said back off a bit with the therapy. Fast forward to now and Soda is now tripoding a lot. She much worse than before.
So frustrating! I have an appointment with the vet again tomorrow, but she wants me to see another therapist, but she's only available on Tuesdays which is totally not convenient for me and I can't take more time off work so hopefully she'll call me back and we can work out another day but until she calls me back, I'm going to keep my appointment with the first therapist and see how it goes.
I'm really bummed about missing this trial, of course, but also, I want my dog to feel better! I wanted to do lots of dog beach and hiking trips this summer and I don't think it's going to happen. So, our stockdog career is on hold until Soda is sound again and I'm not sure how long this is going to take.
Terry hauled out to Poway last week for some "big field border collie practice." I'll tell you what, that place is so beautiful. I so wish I could live out there! I saw 202 acres for sale in that area. So, all I need to do is win the lotto...hmm.... or marry a millionaire. I hear Arnold has low standards. Pretty sure I'm better looking than his mistress, so there's a possibility.
Sort of. ;)
Anyway, it started off as pure crap. Soda was all "nah. don't wanna" and blowing off flanks--and I do mean blowing them off. She just didn't do them. And then she started the whole sticking-her-head-in-gopher-holes thing and I lost. my. shit and had a not-so-quiet discussion about why we were out there and what exactly was going to happen if she didn't stop fucking around (it involved some fatal plus, I'll tell you that much) and I discussed this with her at great length and volume and I gave her a good shaking.
Wouldn't you know her attitude changed pretty quick after that. She did a few really big outruns and was taking the flanks and stops and it turned into a really productive and great session.
I was holding the sheep for some of the other students/keeping the sheep away from other students' sheep up on a hill and there was a water run off crevice that the sheep would run down but it was really hard for Soda and me to cover so they were able to get away and I was stumbling down the hill for damage control, thinking she'd lost the sheep and who do I see coming back with her 4 sheep but my Soda! She stopped them, without direction, from getting to the other sheep and brought them back. I was pretty proud.
I figured out another route up the hill that would allow us to bypass the crevice and down to the cow pond. Soda parked the sheep and hauled ass to the pond and plopped down in and drank and drank. I was surprised. I always have to send her to the water!
Then I had her drive the sheep down the water and allow them to drink. Then, Terry asked me to drive them up away from the water further up the hill because she was setting up one of her young open dogs for a huge outrun. Soda did a great job against some pressure (the sheep didn't want to leave the water and didn't really want to go up hill) and I was VERY proud of her. It was one of those "my dog is my partner" moments. If you've never had a moment with an animal (horse, dog... whatever) where you are both working together and trying accomplish the same goal, you're missing out. It really is something when you achieve a true partnership. Soda and I don't always have them but more and more we are becoming partners.
Terry sent her young dog and I just stood on that hill with my dog wading in the pond, with the mountains against the background and the beautiful green field and the lovely pond below me and I thought "wow, how lucky am I!" I watched her dog, and helped Terry keep track of her while she went up to fetch the sheep. She had a bit of trouble because the purpose of the exercise was navigating obstacles (in this case a fence) and it was pretty cool to watch her try to figure out where she needed to be.
So, we ended the lesson on a great note with practical work and I was very happy with Soda.
This week we were back at Terry's place. We used an adjacent field and I had Soda drive some sheep out--and she drove them quite far! I think it was about 50 yards and she actually did a great job. Then I sent her out on an big outrun, I think it was about 125 yards. (I'm so bad with distance). And she swung wide and it was beautiful and perfect and the fetch was fast but straight. I was pretty happy with it. We set up again and I sent Soda and again, beautiful, then we "turned the post" and drove away and then cross drove--each leg about 40 yards or so and Soda kept them on line pretty well and took the inside flanks like she needed too. We penned them well, but she kept wanting to come in really tight and put a lot of pressure on the sheep. She really likes to pen and gets very strong eyed around the pen. I had to very forcefully kick her out and be very stern about taking the flanks, but she did as I asked and after one turn around the pen (is there anything more frustrating than ring-around-the-pen??) because as I was shutting the dog one ewe popped out at the last second and bolted. Bitch! So I had let everyone else out and two of the sheep went around the pen but we successfully penned them the next go round. I shut the gate faster. Ha!
Anyway, Terry was watching this and when we went up for water she said "so, you're entering Pro-Novice, right?" and I was like "uh, no. Ranch" (Ranch is frequently N/N out here) and she said "Aw, no. I really think you're ready for P/N." Holy Shit.
I'm pretty amazed to hear that. She said to me "I'm really proud of how far you've come really in the last 6 months. You've made tremendous leaps" and I was very very proud of myself and my dog at that point.
I seriously never thought we'd even do Novice and here I have Terry saying go for P/N!!
She said that she wants us to continue working on whistles (nothing like screaming at your dog when she's 150 yards away...) and speed on the outrun. Soda has a patented outtrot and that simply will not do. That will give them a chance to break and run for the top. I believe we can do it. Hell, even if we blow it, at least I got to the point where my trainer thought we could do it!
So, look for our P/N debut at the Highland games in Vista this year at the end of June. (this is a smaller course, so whether we'll be able to do any other P/N courses will remain to be seen)
Good lesson today! We worked on some pretty basic shedding concepts and she did really really great. I was very surprised and pleased. First we shed two groups of lambios and they were hungry and the grub was good so they were happy to stay separated.
Soda worked one group, keeping them from running to join the other group and I'll be damned if she didn't truly understand what she was supposed to be doing! Then we shed off 1 lamb at time to join the other group and that was hard for her and she *almost* gathered the whole group, but took my redirect and kept the rest of the lambs with me. I was pretty frickin' impressed--more so that she seemed to understand the concept of what we were doing. It was really exciting.
We worked on whistles more, and she is so sulky about it. I don't really know why or know what to do to help. I think it may be busting up her confidence or she hates drilling? I don't know. But we're working working working on it and I hope in time she'll get it, so I don't have to scream 100 yards away.
After our real lesson was done we sat around and watched the other lessons and I got it in my head that I wanted to see what Soda would do in a pen with cattle. Terry has a about 6 super duper ultra dog broke calves and I thought "what's the harm?" So I asked her if I could throw Soda in (after checking to make sure they were super dog broke and weren't going to try to stomp her to death) and Terry said "sure... why not!" Now, I don't know if anyone remembers the last time Soda encountered a cow, but it was pretty damn funny.
Soda's a much different dog and a lot more confident so I thought the results would be different and they were!
We went in the pen and Soda just looked like "what the hell, dude?" and I made the cows get up--they were lazing in the sun-- and pointed at the cows and said "get 'em!" Soda looked at the cows, looked at me, and then wistfully looked at the sheep in the pen next door. I don't know if you've ever seen a dog look wistful, but it's HILARIOUS. She was being pretty clear that she would much rather be working the smaller, lighter, much less scary sheep next door. I laughed, then made the calves move some more and gave her a flanking command. She did and got close and was like "O. M. G" but kept working (with a slightly worried look on her face!). She had trouble getting them off the fence because she was afraid to go between them and the fence, and I can't blame her, one took a quick cow kick at her and she got nailed, so I did the best I could to draw them out.
She really wanted to head them--that make her a lot more comfortable. One of the calves put his (her? not sure) head down and I let Soda grip him and she said that was super scary but also kind of fun. She took a couple of FAIR! shots. I let her move them around some more and practiced a little fetching, but it was a small pen--think round pen sized--and they kept going back to the fence.
Soda got kicked and rolled by one of the calves but she wasn't hurt nor was she doing anything wrong. I think they kind of figured out that Soda is puss and doesn't really know how to work cattle, but we ended on a positive note and I let her head them to hold them to me and that made her feel good.
Honestly, I think we may try it again. It was fun and new. I don't think Soda could ever be on rough or unbroke cattle, but this sort of thing may be good her. It really let her practice being assertive without sending animals flying everywhere. Terry said "Well, that didn't go too bad! she went around them!" Not too bad indeed.
We worked on driving distance and straightness today and I got into a battle with Soda but I won. :) I was trying to get to push the sheep through posts (as a goal for me) and she would. not. go. straight on the walk-up. It went something like this:
1.) Walk up!
2.) LIE DOWN! GO BY! (back to where she was so she can push the sheep through the posts)
*tries not to take the inside flank and tries to come ALL the way back around me
3.) NO! LIE DOWN! GO BY
*Takes the inside flank.
4.) Walk up!
5.) NO! LIE DOWN! GO BY! (Back to where she was)
*may or may not take the flank... wherein I may have to repeat step 3, depending
6.) Walk up!
7.) NO! LIE DOWN! GO BY! (back to where she was)
*may or may not take the flank....
anyway, no joke, I must have done this whole thing like 15 times and each time she wanted to bend to the pressure and then finally... magically, she figured out I wasn't going to give up and walked up straight into the sheep and pushed them through the G.D. posts! Then I called her off and got her some water as it was hot as balls today.
Then we started (seriously) adding whistles and she was very sulky about it! I don't really understand why, but she was all bent out of shape about it. In an attempt to get her moving a little bit I rustled a sheep up a bit and then she flew in to bite (I can't do this like I used to be able to. She's not afraid to nail a sheep anymore!) and bit the holy hell out of her own tongue! It bled kind of a lot and I was a bit worried, but there were no chunks missing and I was reassured that it will be okay. Yay!
It was a good lesson, if for no other reason that Soda learned a hard lesson that I'm no longer letting her get away with stupid shit just because she finds it a little uncomfortable or because it's not what she wants to do. This was a battle of wills and I'm proud to say that I won! w00t!
We worked on looking for sheep today and it is way worse than I thought. My trainer had a student take some sheep up a hill outside her property and I was to have Soda watch her take them, while encouraging her to get excited about the sheep and right then, I knew it was going to be a challenge. Every time I said "watch 'em!" or "LOOK!" she would start looking at the ground for critters. I don't know where this came from as I've never encouraged her to do it before.
The sheep were put in position and I sent Soda out and she obviously didn't know where she was going. I redirected her several times and she took them all really really well and finally I landed her right behind the sheep and she flanked around them and even moved them and then.... just kept running. She didn't stop to pick up the sheep! I lost her and it took a minute to find her and when I did, we realized that she had just kept running in a giant arc and it didn't occur to her that since she found the sheep, that she needed to lift them! Flabbergasted. (Let me add, that if she was looking for the sheep, she could see them from where I sent her. This isn't a blind outrun but she isn't looking for them)
So, she ended up on the other side of the sheep and I flanked her back towards the sheep (again, had to redirect her a few times to get to the sheep) and then laid her down behind them and then walked her up and let her lift/fetch them to me, which she was happy and keen to do.
So obviously she did not understand the exercise. We knew that we would have to direct her several times to pick up the sheep but the thought was that if we did this in several places, a bunch of times, she would figure out that she needs to be looking for sheep, but apparently, if you're Soda, just because you find them doesn't mean you need to get them.
So, we simplified the exercise a bit next time and had two sets of sheep, on at the top of the field and one we put in a freestanding pen. I would have her drive the free sheep up the field a bit, call her off, then turn 180 degrees around (myself) and stare directly at the other sheep, then tell her to LOOK! and send her over to the pen where we would then pull them out. After a few minutes she got the game, but I don't think she got the concept behind the game.
I think we need to do more looking for your sheep exercises where she is sent out to strange places and asked to fetch them back. I can handle her pretty readily and she takes redirects pretty well as long as they don't come off as angry (another reason to get the g.d. whistle going!)
I still can't get over her coming right behind the sheep and she just kept going like ... I don't even know... it wasn't her job to pick them up. Why the hell else would have told her "Go by"? Go By = Sheep (or other sort of animals to move). I've never used on a ball, or on dogs or some other nonsense. Always just sheep (and occasionally chickens).
I really wasn't expecting that reaction (or lack of) from her!
We've only trained in a few places and Soda is pretty accustomed to seeing sheep out in the open and easily accesable to her.
Anyway, we wanted to work on her fetch and stopping on the fetch so it's not like a freight train of insanity. We went up to the bottom of the hill in her neighbor's pasture and set the sheep out on her property. The plants (weeds?) were pretty high and Soda could see over them if she looked. I sent her out and she had no idea what she was supposed to be doing. It was pretty clear that she didn't know that she was supposed to be looking for her sheep.
I walked down a bit, then resent her and still nothing. Walked down a bit more and resent her and she STILL didn't them! Finally, when I was pretty far down I sent her and she saw them and was all pouty because I'd kicked her out a few times.
I was pretty surprised but also glad. I think this has been an issue for us at other trials on different fields. She doesn't know where the sheep are "supposed" to be so she gets all wonky. Hopefully this will solve a lot of that.
So the plan is next week to make her start looking for her sheep so she learns "look." We'll see how it goes.
Let me update you. Things were pretty dire for a while. It was so bad that I was actually considering quitting. We had a really bad training session that left me in tears on the way home, eating a cheeseburger for comfort (why am I fat, again??) and thinking about Terry's last words of the day "Paige, when it comes down to it, you need to quit messing around and MAKE her do it. She can, she's able, she's keen enough, but she's saying 'Fuck you, don't wanna' and not doing it."
So, I thought about this and resolved that since I had nothing to loose anyway, then I would do it. So, the next week we went out and I gave her the flank and she said "nooooo, that's uncomfortable" and I walked her down and had a come to jesus meeting about why that wasn't acceptable and sent her on her merry way. Soda said "oh shit" and tried to blow me off agin. Again, I walked her down and my trainer said "That's okay if it takes you 20 minutes because then she'll have 20 minutes of mad to deal with" (LOL). It took about 10 minutes and I caught her, repeated my come to Jesus meeting (with a bit more bamboo this time), and asked her to do what I had asked before and
it worked. Not only that, but I had a keen, biddable dog who did what I said, without question, quickly, keenly (man, she was on fire!) and she did it right. I was so happy. It saved us, and allowed us to move up to the next level.
So, we went to a trial and I had some glorious, sent from God moment where I worked my dog solely without looking at her. I just kept my eyes on the sheep and gave her the cues and she did them and we had a beautiful run. I had people asking "Oh, who's dog is that?" "did you see that little dog running? wow, that was really nice" and I was so proud I almost died. We tied for 2nd and took 3rd on the cross drive. We would have gotten an even better score if the outrun had been better.
Since then we're working on finishing advanced A (one leg left, would have finished the title at the last trial but I had a repeat judge, damnit) and then getting CH points and going to start intermediate B course and have begun working on our AKC-level shed. That is actually going about a million times better than I expected it to. We also starting working in the big field again with much more success and more confidence. I don't allow her blow me off anymore, pinning it on lack of keenness. She has to work, period and if she doesn't, then she gets corrected. May be controversial, but I can't argue with success.
We had our first lesson in about a month and half today and it was blah. Soda was still in vacation mode and definitely back to her old "Idon'twanna" attitude so we did some tuning up, reminding her that it wasn't really an option. I made it fun as could be and we got to do some real work, which brings me to the title of this post.
She used to have trouble getting some sheep out of the pens and the sheep would say "naw, don't wanna come out" and Soda would stand at the back of the pen, going googly eyed, wringing her paws saying "oh, okay. well, then what do I do, mom?" It's been getting better and better and for the last few months she's been walking out of the pens on her own. I used to have go back there with her and walk with her out because the pressure of walking into the sheep was too much. Anyway, I sent her to the back the pen to push them out and the sheep said "Don't wanna, and you ain't gonna make me, border collie" to which Soda dropped her head, turned on that border collie stare and said "Oh, but i am going to make you, so I'll ask one more time, please get of the pen." The sheep dropped her head too and said "Yer bluffing" and with a "Get up there!" from me Soda flew in and gripped that ewe right on the nose and the ewe said "oh, okay. you DO mean it" and she and 3 of her best friends listens and shuffled happily out of the pen. :) These were big heavy wooly puppy sheep for new dogs who just stand there and let the dogs circle them or move slowly when they practice wearing and my little wussy dog put on her big girl panties and showed them what was up.
Soda was so happy and proud of herself. I could feel her body tense up, and feel her eye turn on, and feel her watching the muscles of the sheep to make her next move. It's good for her to be in charge. It's so good for her and I was so proud. She has had some other "badass moments" and they've gotten more frequent when she stands up for herself but this was the cleanest, most in control moment we've had. Out of all the progress we've made, I think this makes me the proudest. It's wonderful watching her feel like a proper border collie and what needs to be done when the situation calls for it.