Today I write of many things for several reasons. Today is Wednesday and it has been 14 days since I took the dogs out to do agility anywhere – training or trialling. We leave Thursday the 8th of June for the Nationals in Sydney. I will get some training in on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Who knows if this is enough or not – I mean seriously can one ever get enough training in whilst holding down a full time job? I think not. My head hurts, my nose is running a marathon and my throat and voice have decided that the husky gravely sound with the daggers in the back is the best state to be in. The dogs are fine – fully recovered from their bout of Infectious Tracheobronchitis and bouncing out of their skin to get out and do some training. I’m keeping them away for several reasons 1. Cy is probably still infectious although he stopped coughing 5 days ago. 2. I am paranoid that some mutant strain shall reinfect them before we go. 3. I feel sick and would not be a good trainer right now anyway. So the dogs are ok (she says touching every piece of wood in arm’s length)…I am half way through reading “The Other End of the Leash” by Dr Patricia McConnell. Whilst it does not contain anything surprising and new to me it certainly refreshes my “dog’s mind” perspective. I forget sometimes that these furry creatures are indeed not of the bi-pedal human variety. The expressions they convey sometimes are so subtle yet so clear in their meaning that it is hard to remember they are a completely different species to us. It is a good read though I thoroughly recommend it. The chapter on puppy farmers/mills certainly outraged me suitably and refreshed my determination to see that none of my friends and colleagues patronise these establishments – pet shops have a great deal to answer for with this equation as well.
I was asked today if I had any kids. I gave my reply and the next question was a surprised “How come?” I said “Well I’ve got dogs.” The next question was “So are dogs better than kids?” My answer simply was “Yeah they’re easier to train”. I work with teenagers five days a week – it is enough “nuture” time for me. I do not find myself yearning for that baby at all. Maybe I’m missing a gene but maybe that’s evolution…humans are starting to realise that the planet we live on is not endless in its resources. Someday this planet will no longer be able to sustain life and yet in terms of evolution every single species on this planet comes born with the instinct to reproduce life. To me it seems an obvious paradox. “But” I hear those good Catholics protest, “how will you be able to leave your imprint on the world if not through your children? It is God’s will that you have children.” I’m quite sure that it was God’s will that we don’t go around destroying other species, their habitats and generally exploiting every resource on this planet either. Human beings procreate out of pure selfish motives and there is no hiding that, indeed there is no other reason for procreation and thank goodness for these selfish tendencies of our species or else we would not be the advanced species we are today (and I most certainly would not be here.) Somewhere along the line though if theories of evolution are to be trusted then we will evolve to not have an instinct to produce offspring as that instinct will be our own self destruct button. Species who like to live and thrive will, in a restricted space, will produce only single offspring or not produce any offspring at all. But I digress – this train of thought is kind of getting a little weird.
Well here we are with less than three weeks to go till the Nationals. We’ve had two trials since I last wrote and Cypher has done very well winning both Novice Agility and Novice Jumping at both trials! Meaning he finished off his Novice Agility title in fine style on the 14th of May in Bunbury. So his fancy name is now Nahrof Quick Change AD JD. On the bad side I suppose (if there ever is one when it comes to the fun of this addictive sport) is that Raven has had only very valuable (yet financially expensive) practice runs!
We’ve had a ripper time with Jon Watts – a youthful UK agility instructor who has been like a much needed kick in the pants and breath of fresh air injected into what was a “starting to smell stagnant view of how agility should be conducted.” He didn’t muck around, didn’t sugar coat anything and made it his personal mission to ensure that absolutely everyone got something out of the sessions. Jon is an up front guy when it comes to being in this sport – he believes that everyone, no matter how new they are to the sport or what kind of dog they have, likes to win and so he focuses on you personally – what do you do in your handling that you can do better. He’d watch us run through a course or a sequence – ask us what we thought of it and then give detailed and individualised suggestions about where we could improve. There were no blanket statements like “You all need to push into that turn” it was specific ie I had to work the turn to get it a bit tighter coming out the tunnel another person needed to be more certain, firm and loud with their weave commands. He also got across and brought home the importance on not training/handling around our problems but rather training through your problems (ie if your dog doesn’t like you working in close to them you train to overcome this, if your dog needs you right next to them to hit their contact then train them to nail contacts with you at a distance, if your dog can’t keep their bars up if you are making a noise train them to understand that they keep their bars up regardless of the noise you are making) There are some pictures from the weekend seminar that I have posted.
Next trial after that was the Bunbury one and Cypher finished of his AD title with a first place. That makes all three of his legs first places – so I am pretty pleased with his progress so far.
For the last 4 or 5 weeks the WA agility community and no doubt the dog showing/trialling scene at large has been hit by a round of kennel cough or rather Canine Cough technical term Tracheobronchitis. Dogs have been coming down with it and have been taking out of circulation/training and isolated at home whilst it has been happening. Unfortunately dogs can incubate this infection for between 3 to 7 days before showing any signs of it – thus unwittingly exposing any dogs they come near to the infection as well.
People here in Perth who are frequent agility trainers and competitors are getting more than a little concerned about it due to the fact that it is now less than three weeks for most of them to fly out to Sydney for the 2006 ANKC Nationals. People seem to be under the misapprehension that if their dogs do not show any symptoms they are fine. This is a perfectly logical and common sense conclusion ONLY if your dogs have not been anywhere near dogs who have had it. If you have multiple dogs living at the same address and only one of them has the actual infection then to be on the safe side you must assume that all the other dogs either are incubating it (and will eventually show symptoms) or carrying it. It can be a real pain in the butt infection to have especially for the youngster puppies – however if people just do the right thing take the right precautions and do not bring their dogs back out to trialling or training until they are absolutely 100% sure their dog is clear of it then it will stop the cycle of the infection. Raven started to cough around 1am Friday morning – therefore I am not in Geraldton this weekend. Cypher has not shown ANY signs of this infection but if I was to still go to Geraldton and take just him, as far as I am concerned I would be absolutely negligent in my responsibility as a dog owner – it would be the equivalent as if I had taken Raven to Geraldton. JUST BECAUSE YOUR DOG DOES NOT SHOW SIGNS OF CANINE COUGH IT DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE NOT INCUBATING OR CARRYING THE INFECTION. Thusly the seemingly “unaffected” dog can be responsible for perpetuating the cycle of infection.
I am keeping both mine home for at least two weeks. Cypher is on the same treatment as Raven despite not showing any signs because I truly believe even if he doesn’t show symptoms he is still harbouring the infection. If I treat them directly now – targeting the infection with antibiotics then I know we shall be clear for the Nationals. Trust me people risking your dogs and other peoples dogs’ health is not worth it for the sake of chasing that 1st place or clear round. Ok here the sermon has endeth. Look after your dogs, because you know better.