Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kennel Cough or Canine Influenza

Well, Roo has finally gotten past the majority of her noise anxiety (she still tries to rush past or avoid busy intersections and is not a fan of loud firecracker- type noises). We had been going back to the dog park for about two weeks, doing amazingly well, even surviving a couple of firecracker blasts one night last week. But sadly, we are once again avoiding the dog park. Saturday evening after returning home from her hour long retrieving session, I noticed she had started to cough. She occasionally coughs after drinking water, she drinks too fast and then chokes on it. But this was different. By Sunday morning the cough was getting worse, so we decided not to go to the Race For the Rescues at the Pasadena Rose Bowl- one of my favorite annual events. The cough was getting worse and worse, she was bringing up foamy liquid all day, in greater and greater quantities. Her energy was still good, she was just very confused by the cough. Sunday night, she kept trying to roll onto her back, a position she loves to sleep in, but every time it would ignite a 5 minute session of hacking. She didn't sleep very well Sunday night....neither did I.
I've been through kennel cough before with several foster dogs, and I know in many cases they can just let it run its course, especially if they have been vaccinated (which functions like the human flu vaccine- it can't stop all strains of the virus, but often lessens the intensity). But the cough was so painful to hear, and I discovered on Monday morning that every time she had hacked overnight she had brought up small amounts of her Sunday evening dinner, that I thought it was best to pay a visit to the vet in case she had something more serious going on.
My vet, the wonderful Dr. Sunada at North Hollywood Animal Care Center, explained to me that in some cases dogs cough so hard they actually engage the gag reflex and bring up a little bit of food water. Roo's symptoms were suggesting Kennel Cough, HOWEVER, Canine Influenza often starts off like kennel cough, but then can progress after several days. Dogs with influenza will become lethargic and lose their appetite, on top of the coughing fits, which can then lead to pneumonia. These symptoms can take several days to show up, so we're keeping a watch on Roo, and in the meantime she is on meds. The cough suppressant and antibiotics seems to be doing the trick. Her cough is not as severe, and is only exacerbated by excitement/pulling on her leash. Roo still has all the energy of your average two year old whippet pit mix and doesn't understand why we aren't going to the park or the Zoom Room. In short, she is driving me nuts! :)
Her big brother has not developed any symptoms, but to be safe, I spent the day on Monday washing and disinfecting all toys, bedding, bowls....anything the dogs touch. Going forward we will be more careful about bringing in our own bowls and water to the dog park and finding a way to keep Miss Roo out of the mud pits it would be nice if we could just get rid of the mud pits, but I realize I am asking for a lot there.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Holy Cow I can't believe how long it has been since our last post!
Well, we've been working hard on Roo's noise anxiety. It is getting there. She still occasionally hides in her crate when I get ready for an afternoon or evening walk, but once she's out she seems to be fine. I have to be on guard for any and all sounds that might upset her, and then make sure I don't react- I can't even look at her, especially if I know she is reacting. Can't say a word, just have to keep moving on. This small thing has been the most successful. Seems like common sense, doesn't it. I realized that what I was doing before that was making things worse, was getting frustrated every time I heard something that might affect her. Getting mad even. Over silly irrational things. Someone would be hammering and I would be pissed off at them. Another person would wheel out their trash cans too loudly and that would make me mad. A garbage truck would be emptying a dumpster and I wanted to shush it. We live in a loud world and there isn't much to be done, and no use getting upset over it. My being annoyed and frustrated was affecting Roo adversely as well. So we are progressing.

She also completed and graduated from Agility 1 at the Zoom Room and we are now in Agility 2. We started last night. I was hoping the class would stay just our little group of 3 that we had become accustomed too, but no, there were 3 additional dogs in class that we didn't know, making it a full 6 dog class. This was a bit tough and stressful for the first 20 minutes and I was worried we might have to leave. But it got better. And I reminded myself that the whole reason I am bringing her to these classes is so she can improve her social skills, and this is EXACTLY what we need. Also, the other dogs were wonderful. It was Roo that was being a jerk. Hopefully after a few sessions she will get completely used to them.

On the flip side though, she really is quite good at agility. She is so focused and while other dogs will try to skirt around jumps 2 or 3 of a 3 jump series, she flies over them and goes right to her table for her treat. She loves going through the tunnel. And she is even becoming friends with the infamous teeter. :) I think having something we can do proudly together really helps her.

Roo hasn't been to too many new places recently. She did however host and befriend a wonderful dog from Angel City Pit Bulls named Handsome Dave (who is looking for a forever home!@!!) Come meet Davey at this Sunday in Sherman Oaks!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Roo's noise anxiety part 2

Well, another week has gone by, and while hings aren't back to "normal" in Roo's life, we are definitely making progress.
Our trips to visit the pet supply shops and boutiques have been very limited, as most of these are in high traffic areas which have the potential to send Roo into her fearful mode. For the time being I want to avoid that, so we don't take a step backwards. But we can still visit prime pet spots in LA!

Since her old favorite dog park, Whitnall Highway Park (well, maybe it wasn't her favorite, it was just convenience and we've built a nice list of friends there) is kind of "ground zero" for her noise anxiety, we've been avoiding it. Which is a bummer because you all know how much she LOVES to retrieve a ball, and since we live in an apartment we rely on dog parks to really do this (indoor tosses just don't count). Fortunately, LA does have other dog parks and two or three of them are still fairly close, depending on the time of day and the traffic. Despite the heat on Saturday, I decided to load Roo and Duval in the car for even just a short trip to the park at Victory and White Oak- The Sepulveda Basin Dog Park. This is actually a really wonderful park. There are THREE separate parks here. The main big park which is meant for all dogs- large and small (though it's preferred that mostly large dogs come here, for safety's sake). There are close to 5 acres in this large area, with some large trees on the perimeter for shade. For the little ones ( 20 lbs and under ONLY) there is a .5 acre park adjacent to the large dog park. And on the other side of the lot there is another 1-1.5 acre area meant for older, smaller, or more timid dogs. Both of the smaller parks are also quite well shaded.

Roo, Duval and I stayed on the large side. She was quite excited to retrieve, and despite a loud bang from some construction equipment on the way in, she was able to shake it off and start playing rather quickly. It was quite hot so I was not throwing the ball very far and made sure she took plenty of breaks. During one of her breaks another park visitor stopped to chat, and some sort of noise bothered her at this point. But she took it in stride, and while she wouldn't retrieve her ball, she did not sprint for the gate, he just laid down and relaxed until she forgot what she was afraid of. We visited the park again on Wednesday- she retrieved for about 20 minutes that day and spend the next 20 in slight fear mode after someone banged the poop scooper on the metal trash can, BUT again she did not run for the gate and just rested under whatever table or tree I was near. it's not the old Roo but it is progress!

On Sunday evening we met up with some friends and their foster dogs at Weddington Park. Weddington Park is a beautiful park with lots of space for dog walking and/or jogging. However, many people use it as an "unofficial" dog park, despite the fact that it is not completely fenced in and rests very close to Universal City, the 101, and busy Cahuenga Blvd. Generally I've found that the folks who bring their dogs to this park off leash are aware that others prefer to enjoy the park with on-leash dogs and do not wish to be bothered by off-leash dogs, and so they are typically good about calling off their dogs. Most of the time...we didn't have any real problems Sunday night, just one goofy lab who looked intent on catching up to our 3 leashed dogs until one of my friends yelled for the guy to call his dog back. Before my friends arrived Roo was having some anxiety about noises coming from nearby Universal City, but she seemed to perk up at the sight of her friends William and Lily. (Click on their names for more info- these two gorgeous pups are looking for forever homes!)

Monday we were back at the Zoom Room- week 2 of agility, still going well. I also brought her older brother Duval to the Zoom Room on Wednesday for Senior Stretch and Agility, which, by the way, is a wonderful class for the older kids who just need a little mental and physical stimulation.
Today, Friday, Roo and I were in the mood for a hike. The tough part about having a dog with noise anxiety is that it limits where you can go and hope to have the best experience possible. We love Franklin Canyon, but there are some homes high in the hills under construction, which means loud construction noises occasionally echo through the canyon- not good for Roo. Runyon usually means parking on the street, so she could be freaking out before we even hit the trail. Same with Griffith Park. So we chose Tree People/Wilacre, and hiked the main trail down and on one of the single track offshoots on the way up. I am always nervous about rattlers on the single tracks. I am told there is one who lives up at the top of the single track we usually take- I've never seen him or heard him, but am always looking for him! Thanks goodness we did not find him today either!
Anyway, I am happy to report that we haven't really had any major freak-outs in the last few days, and though she sometimes heads to her crate when I am getting ready to take her out, she no longer shakes and hides in there and will come out to be leashed. Sometimes at night she only goes out to pee and poop and then right back to the door, but I allow it. I'd rather she have positive experiences than try to force her to do something which could end up with her freaking out 1/2 mile from home.
I have ordered some new tools to try, stay tuned for an update.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Zoom Room!

For the last few years every time I've fostered a new dog I fantastized about taking the dog to agolity. I'm not sure why exactly, I guess it just looks like a lot of fun. And the two dogs I had prior to 2010 [Duval- our pit bull who has no interest in anything that requires activity, and Alex, who was just old and cantankerous ] just weren't good candidates.

Roo and I have visited the Zoom Room Hollywood a couple of times in the last year and have always enjoyed ourselves. So, when she started acting territorial while on our x-country trek, I decided she needed to enroll in a class that would challenge her both mentally and physically, as well as expose her to working around other dogs. Agility was the perfect fit. So I signed us up for an agility 1 class. Yay!

Day 1 of class was Sunday. We arrived early, and there was another class wrapping up in the training area. So, Roo had to hang out in the store, while the other class attendants arrived. This was good practice for her, though I started to worry I was going to use all of my treats keeping her focused on me before class even began! There was a litte Jack Russell terrier who barked at her as soon as she walked in. We managed to stay away from him long enough to remain calm. However, I noticed a couple with some huskies waiting outside the door, and had a feeling there was going to be a little trouble.

I love huskies- always wanted one in fact. And I bet they are awesome at agility. But I also know that huskies have a certain energy that a lot of dogs find difficult to handle. Sure enough when class started, those two dogs had a tough time handling all of the other dogs around. Which meant Roo had trouble, as did another mixed breed dog. And the Jack Russell was just being a typical Jack Russell. :) So out of 6 dogs on class, 5 of them were on and off losing it. Fun!

It was the class from hell and I truly felt for the poor trainer, who had lost her voice earlier in the day. Fortunately for Roo and I, they offered to move us into Monday's class which was much smaller. We attempted to sit through Sunday's class, but after 20 minutes, it was clear that having one less dog might make it easier. The gals at the Zoom Room said they have never had a class like that- usually it works out that they have one or two reactive dogs in a class, but not a class full of them!

So, we came back Monday night and joined Bonnie, a black and tan standard Dachshund, and Mouse, a Papillon/Terrier mix. We all admitted our dogs could be a bit reactive, but the 3 gals did very well together.

Roo loves the attention she gets in Agility Class! Actually she is a bit of an attention hog and would prefer to spend more time kissing up to the instructor than me. But when I ask she does what she is told. She is learning to sit and focus on her table. She LOVES the A frame and even tried to jump ahead and do the dog walk following the A frame even though we don't learn that til next week (show off!) She is OK at the poles- it will take time. And she was fine with the short tunnel and the tiny jump that we did.

The A Frame did get her all wound up when the other dogs went over- something about their scrambling feet and excited-ness got her barking, but we worked through it just fine.

When class was over, she did not want to leave..for real. Her noise anxiety surfaced and she did not want to go outside where she knew the traffic was noisy. And we had to push past a couple of people waiting for the next class.

Great news though- so far today (the day after class) she has not been afraid to go out for walks. She has come to the door 3 times already today- no shaking in her crate at the sight of the leash. We'll see what happens tonight....

And we look forward to class # 2 next Monday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Roo's Noise anxiety

Hi everyone! Well, it has been a while since we posted. We completed our cross country adventure....all the way from Los Angeles, CA to Belfast Maine and back! It was a wonderful trip and Roo exceeded my expectations all the way. She was amazing in the car (though she did start to look a little depressed towards the tail end), she was well behaved off leash in the countryside, and she adjusted well to new surroundings. Her only downfall was that she did become a bit protective of her new home turf and was not so nice to a doggie friend. But it was a learning experience.

On the way we did get to try out the Thundershirt during a few short storms. I found that it worked by calming her down and putting her to sleep. And that was all I could ask- I'd rather she sleep through a storm than tremble.

Our first week back in LA was great. She went to the dog park and was happy, playing fetch, going after long balls, none of the former fear issues that had cropped up in the month prior to our trip. But then, it changed. All it seemed to take was a couple of poorly timed low level crackling sounds which could have been firecrackers or bubble wrap, and she became scared at the park again. She was hiding in her little bunkers under the picnic tables (dogs have dug deep holes under these tables and they are the perfect size for Roo to hide in. However, she would come out for people she knew, and a few throws and we'd be back in the game. Then her noise fear started to pop up in walks in our neighborhood, which hasn't happened before. When this happens there is nothing I can do to make her turn and focus on me. She just wants to get to the end of her leash and run as fast as she can back to home or the car- or anywhere she can go indoors. If we are nowhere near home this gets tricky, as it is not fun to try to make a scared 40 lb dog heel. On one or two occasions, I picked her up and carried her for about a block until we could turn onto a quieter street. But that is not ideal. And then it got worse. There actually came a time when I asked if she wanted to go for a walk and she ran into her crate and stayed there shaking as if a walk was the most horrible thing in the world. This broke my heart. It seems to happen more towards the latter part of the day- in the morning she is still feeling good and will go for a long walk.
So, today was our first day out on our little networking route since my return two weeks ago. It's taken on a whole new meaning with this new problem- there is quite a bit more at stake here. The great news is, she is happiest going into stores. But walking in between the stores, the tail is often down and any small thing will set her into fear mode. Our first stop today was Chipotle on Sunset- where we met up with a sitter to exchange keys. Anytime there is a person who wants to say hi to her she is happy- friends are very helpful! Next stop was Tailwaggers. She got lots of treats from the friendly staff who were very concerned about her problem. Unfortunately I realized when I parked my car that I had spent so much time packing my bag full of business cards and doggie treats that I forgot my wallet! So we couldn't do any real shopping.

We drove away from Tailwaggers and parked at West Hollywood Park. My intention was to walk through the park and then over to Petco. All was going well, she stopped to say hi to a young boy and was happy as a clam. But then I needed to get her attention, and she wasn't listening, so I did something I have always done- a very light tap on the side of her back leg. Apparently I must have timed it to coincide with a sound she didn't like, and this sent her into fear mode. We slowly worked our way back to the car and drove to Petco.

At Petco, once again she was in her element. She was absolutely adorable with a chihuahua puppy- so sweet and gentle ( I haven't seen her interact with small dogs much so this was great). Her tail was up and we did several laps around the store so she could feel confident again.

Then I knew we still needed more exercise. The dog park was out. Franklin Canyon was a maybe, but there had recenely been a lot of echoing hammer sounds due to home construction in the area, so I decided to park across the way at Tree People and take the short upper trail (which I learned has been dedicated to Michael Jackson) just to get a little extra exercise. For the most part she did well here. There was one small sounds which seemed to briefly upset her, but she walked calmly on the leash and I was pleased with that.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Transcribed from the road, Wednesday July 13th

Somewhere in that stretch of Utah along I-70 where there is NOTHING- no gas, no services, just this.


Up all night paying fetch in the hotel wearing her thundershirt (we were supposed to get severe weather but didn't)

Vail Bike path- obsessed with the stream.

We’re a little bit belated in updating our blog. Between 4th of July and Carmageddon prep has kept me pretty busy with Fetch! Pet Care. In addition to that, I have also been getting ready for a cross country road trip from Los Angeles to my parents’ home in Rochester, NY. I apologize for the delay. I actually have 2 or 3 blog installments pending but just haven’t wrapped them up and finalized for posting. However I do want to give you our current installment since we are traveling cross country. It’s just Roo and me; Will and Duval stayed home in LA. So, Roo is going many places this week.

As I record this for transcription on Wed July 13th, I have just passed through Omaha, NB and Council Bluffs , Iowa, so we’re driving across the state of Iowa right now and we’re on our 3rd day of the drive. Going backwards in time- we stopped in Omaha- I had heard there was a good dog park in Omaha, and sure enough I mapped it on our way across the state of NB and saw it was just a few miles off of our route (I-80). It was quite a nice dog park, a big dog park, nothing fancy but very spacious and Roo was DESPERATELY in need of some retrieving time. She hasn’t been to the dog park since Sunday evening, (it is now Wednesday) and last night she kept me up pretty late in our hotel room playing with the ball: losing it under the bed countless times, crying when it was lost under the bed, pacing and crying if I took the ball away and even barked at me once at around midnight. Somehow I finally convinced her to get on the bed and pass out so I could get some rest. Hopefully tonight will be better now that she has had an opportunity to wear herself out with lots of long retrieves and no distractions. She looked pretty tired.

The dog park also came, as any good dog park will, complete with a lovely mud pit in the middle. When we arrived there was a German Shepherd running around who had clearly enjoyed himself in that mud pit- splashed me with mud from his tail and got mud all over Roo just from trying to get on top of her. Unfortunately Roo later discovered the mud pit as well. She hates water but loves mud pits, don’t know why. Despite my yelling “no mud,” which is a command she knows, she just walked herself right in and as soon as she walked in she sunk about 6 inches. It was a pretty deep mud and mushy mud pit, and I had t step in to pull her out and ended up with one foot covered in mud. Thankfully it was just that one dip in the mud bit, and she ran off most of the mud and is reasonably clean at this point- not that it really matters because the car is filthy anyway.

Before Omaha, we spent the night in North Platte, Nebraska. I found a really nice little trail. We were staying at the Motel 6 (always pet friendly and cheap) which was right along the river, and I discovered a nice little paved walkway which followed the river. We went through a beautiful park, and it looked like there was a dog park inside of the park, but we were on the wrong side to get in the park and it was a little too late at night to figure out how to get in and spend any time at the park. But we enjoyed a long 45-60 minute walk along the path.

During the day yesterday (July 12th) we were mostly within Colorado. About halfway through our day I noticed a nice little bike path running along I-70 in the mountains around Vail, and decided it would be great for us to access that and take our long midday break. It was cool and overcast so great for a little hike at several thousand feet. Not sure if we were supposed to be pedestrians on the bike path, but no one complained and it didn’t really feel like we were in the way. Roo really enjoyed the raging stream flowing along the path, especially when she saw the chipmunk scurry across. It was a beautiful path and we could still see snow on the mountains even in the middle of July!

We had spent the previous night in green River Utah (also at Motel 6). Not many places to walk in Green River- we walked up and down the main street just before dark. Unfortunately someone shot off a gun at one point and she was so upset and I was worried she would either hurt herself or snap her leash so I carried her the last 50 or so yard to the hotel. I then put her thundershirt on and she chilled out for the evening.

Earlier on Day One we had also stopped for a long walk in St. George, Utah. We didn’t have time to search for the dog park that is supposedly there, but we enjoyed our long walk anyway.

We had made a quick stop in Nevada earlier, so Roo has touched the ground in quite a few states already:

Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska.

At some point this afternoon she will step foot on Iowa soil and then we’ll be spending the night in IL.

So that’s it so far this week for all the places Roo will go. Tomorrow we’ll hit Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and finally NY, which is our final destination and we’ll be there for a few weeks….and may even head up to Massachusetts and Maine! She is one well traveled little pup!