Halfway Point

Raven is now halfway through her chemo treatments. She has had 8 and has 8 to go. On Tuesday they will do a FNA (Fine Needle Aspirate) on her lymph nodes to confirm she is in remission and then start the 4 weekly cycle again – Vincristine, Cyclophosphamide, Vincristine and Doxyrubicin, she has a week off and then the final four weeks. At this point she has come through chemo very well, in remission by her 5th or 6th treatment and with relatively few complications. She missed one treatment due to low WBC, has had a few minor vomiting effects and has a couple of short lived episodes of diarrhoea. Apart from the 15 day dose of Clavulox for an infected toe and this recent cut to a toe pad she has been incident free.
Her tiredness on the day she has treatment is visible and she does sleep more on those days/nights but within 24 hours she is always keen and eager to go out with the others on walks, runs, trips in the car or to training. She has been apathetic about food on maybe three occasions and is always back to her usual appetite within 48 hours. She is heavier now than prior to her chemo treatment starting and I now need to just make sure she maintains a slightly more than usual competition weight. Ideally in agility you do keep them very lean but in her case she needs that extra covering so I have found a balance between the two. She is still on 80% raw and 20% kibble diet; she is being slowly switched over from the Advance Chicken biscuits to the Advance Puppy Growth which is higher in calories/protein yet less in carbohydrates than the Chicken variety. Her raw consists of chicken necks and frames, turkey wings, BARF lamb patties and gravy beef mixed in with Mundella natural yogurt and processed veggies plus fruit. She also gets sardines a couple of times a week and her supplements mixed in. In training she still has a mix of treats ranging from 4Legs to cheese to cooked sausages.
Ken Wyatt is very pleased with her progress and insists on her living as normally as possible and participating in all her usual activities. Since this includes training and trialling I have been keeping up with that.
If anything she is just as fast (sometimes faster) than she usually is on course and with me letting some of our training issues slide in recent trials she is having an absolute blast out on course. To watch her run you would not know that this was a ‘cancer dog’ as I fondly refer to her now. She’s blasting through contacts, giving me grief with her start lines and still insists on a “hanging off the edge” table behaviour. She’s had a few bars down as well but when you put things in perspective as I did I was just thrilled to have my girl out on course again! So now she is feeling much better and is clearly in remission I think I better start reinforcing the ground rules again! I need to think optimistically and positively about our agility career which doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate every chance I get to run a course with her but that I’m also treating her like I’d treat ‘pre-cancer Raven’. So we’ll work on our start lines and reinforce the bar issue – though I have to say on Sunday she did not knock one bar in all four of her runs so she definitely is still aware of her job in that department – so that we can still be a team that tries to be as accurate as possible whilst still being competitive. Speaking of competitive Raven won her first class since chemo treatment began on Saturday. She did a great run in Open Agility and took 1st place even after a couple of wobbles (one hers and one mine!), then Sunday she finished 3rd in Masters Jumping which gave us another Agility Champion leg so that was icing on the cake of a good day.
Cypher has been a trooper recently and pulled in 6 cards this weekend, with 2 legs of Open Jumping (both 5th places), 3 legs of Open Agility (Two 3rd places and one 4th) and a leg of Masters Jumping (5th Place). He’s picked up a couple more numbers this weekend and his whole name now reads;
Nahrof Quick Change ADM JDM2 ADO3 JDO3 SPD GD. Hopefully in the next few weeks we can pick up his SD and SPDX title and a few more legs of GDX. There are still lots of gaps in our skills together though; some we discovered on the weekend include;
*Slow Seesaws in trials (still!)
* Pull throughs on a straight line of jumps with more than 4m distance between them (this cost us a pass in 1 time fault!)
* Smooth off tunnel entries using the pull
* Keeping bars up when accelerating out of tunnels
* Weave entries from a table
The good thing about the weekend is that I noticed we didn’t have any obvious off courses/refusals where he was thinking about other things instead of the job at hand, and he responded well to all my verbal come or name commands. It’s good to see progress in that respect. He did provide some entertainment for the judge on one course (I think it was Masters Agility – we’d stuffed the weave entry from the table). I finished the course doing the a frame – telling him ‘Contact’ as per usual and I kept running on forgetting to say ‘Ok” to release him. When I went to say ‘Hup’ to get him over the jump I noticed he wasn’t there! He’d done his full 4 on the floor contact and was waiting for the release – the judge thought him very cute! I released him and laughing we finished the course. He’s a great dog to run and quite easy compared to Raven and whilst I know this has a lot to do with speed I think it also has something to do with me actually training the foundation skills better!
I’ve started entering him in more as I think the ring experience will only help improve our teamwork.

Yay for Cypher!

He was such a good lad at Rockingham trial today – he had four runs and ran clear in three with his handler messing the 4th one up by over handling him into the wrong side of the weave poles. 2nd Place in Masters Jumping again! 3rd Place in Open Agility and 6th place in Masters Agility (with his handler micro managing far too much!). I just took him today as Raven has a small cut on a toe pad that whilst it doesn’t bother her, needs to heal for next weekend’s trials. So he had a good day and listened well and was just generally a pleasure to run today.
I ran borrowed Sheltie Rumour in Open Jumping for a 4th place and she did a nice run in Open Agility I just took one step too far towards an inviting off course tyre that she couldn’t resist.
It was nice weather and a small entry (most likely due to the cost of them, at $10 they are the most expensive as well as the big day yesterday) and the trial ran very well.
I’ll put some of the sequences up we had over the weekend soon and discuss the different ways of handling.

ACWA Trials…Saturday July 14th

Yesterday was our club’s Double Agility and Jumping trials held at Canine grounds.
Some hard luck stories for Raven, a couple of successes for Cypher and some achievements with my ‘borrowed’ dogs.
Raven was again feeling rather good and had a bar down in Masters Agility combined with a rather speccy seesaw fly off and in the second trial we had an off course due to a lack of quick thinking by handler! In Masters Jumping I was so pleased with her, she kept all her bars up, was flying round with a quite probably first place time when handler did not get into the right spot quick enough to push her out for a bar. Cross with myself but well proud of how she ran – what cancer? In the second Masters Jumping her last run of the day we also did well but had a couple of bars down.
In Open Agility she felt that she knew the course far better than me and had an off course when she put a couple of paws on the dog walk. The second go we had an issue with the distance challenge which eventually resulted in another dropped bar. So whilst no passes for the Rave she still had a ball and was raring to go.
Cypher had more success – a 2nd place in the first Masters Jumping trial was his best result so far in that class and finished off his JDM2 title. He followed that up with a 3rd place in Open Jumping (same result as last weeks trial!). He did a cracker run in the second Masters Jumping course and I didn’t realise till after we finished that we had missed a whole entire jump! Still he didn’t know at all as he was playing tug madly with me after the run! In the first Open Jumping I think I let him out of my peripheral vision for half a second and that was enough, he decided to chuck an extra jump in on the way to the tunnel! Very pleased with how he ran in general in the afternoon, much improved on the morning where both he and I made mistakes that cost us – in fact I stuffed both Masters Agility runs for him and he stuffed both Open Agility runs for me with a bar down in one and a complete selective hearing issue in another!
Here are some pics from yesterday;

Raven – yes the tail hair is growing back *slowly*

Surprisingly enough this was one bar that stayed up!

Cypher – doing the broad

Cypher – doing his “already stuffed up so doing a slack dogwalk”

Cypher – leaving himself a fraction more margin for error
than Raven does

Cypher – the best tyre shot of him yet!

Raven – “where the hell is that woman running off to now?!?!”

Dexter my ‘borrowed’ red and white BC –
3rd Place Excellent jumping

Emmy my ‘borrowed’ GSP –
1st Place Open Agility and 1st Place Masters Jumping


Rumour my ‘borrowed’ Sheltie –
1st Place Open Agility and 3rd Place Open Jumping

Doing Fine…

So Raven is doing excellently well right now. Last Tuesday her WBC was up over 6, she got her dose of chemo and was right as rain the next day. She had an absolute blast on the weekend reverting right back to her young feral self, being a complete b&^%h to me on the start line in Masters Agility forcing me to move out onto the course with me maintaining eye contact, looking over my shoulder the whole way. It was about a 5 jump lead out and she let me get nearly to 4 before she stood up and was not sitting down again! Needless to say she did a superfast run and took 3 bars down! We’re working start lines this week! Open Agility was a nice course, she knocked one bar in the distance challenge and I was so amazed by her running contact I forgot to say ‘come’ to pull her over the next jump and got a refusal. I was just thrilled she was feeling so good. Masters Jumping I wisely decided not to go with the lead out and just run as fast as I could, it worked quite well. My handling caused a couple of knocked bars this time which was a shame; it was a lovely, challenging, flowing Masters course. We finished off with Excellent Snooker and I totally disconnected from her in the weaves as we were doing the Super 7 and she popped the last pole on our second go through them, I decided to keep trying anyway for the qualification as I’d like to get her up to Masters this year. So we did the weaves (7 points) twice and then closed and we ended up with the Q card. Again she was doing just blitzing running contacts she would have cleaned up if I had been more committed to them darn weave poles! She went in on Tuesday last for her 7th dose of chemo – Vincristine and her WBC was still in the normal range (above 3) so she got the treatment. They blew a couple of veins on her front legs so she’s now got a shaved patch just above her hock on her back left leg. She is starting to look a bit like a chemo dog now! She’s already over the Vinc and will come to training tonight (we’ll be working Start lines and bar stuff!).

Cypher was a star on Sunday – he picked up his second leg of Novice Snooker completing the Super 7 and finishing in 2nd place 0.7 of a second behind 1st. He also qualified in Masters Agility in 6th place and went clear in Open Jumping for third. He would have had a very nice quallie in Masters Jumping except for his idiot handler who thought she was getting in this wonderful front cross for him, she turns, he’s right there but there is a gap of about 10cm between her and the jump, poor dog had nowhere to go but bless him, he still knows he’s supposed to jump something so he does a little leap into midair! So handler error big time cost us that one but as he madly played tug at the end I’m sure he was none the wiser! I was very pleased with his 3 from 4 passes.

So that was our Sunday – good fun but not enough runs!! Luckily I have around 26 lined up for this Saturday so that will keep me out of trouble, then Raven’s in UD Sunday morning and they’ve both got a couple of runs in the afternoon.

Ups and Downs and Roundabouts

Well it’s been ages since I last posted. Real life has gotten a much firmer grip this last week or so. The weekend before last I took the dogs for a long walk out at Jandakot Regional Park. It’s a massive area full of natural bush and dirt trails to follow which are sometimes lined with limestone and more clay like surfaces but are mostly soft dirt. We went Sunday afternoon and Robyn found us eventually and joined us with five of her Border Collies. So there was a pack of 8 Border Collies running through the bush, Raven a very happy and contented member of them. We walked for about an hour and a half, then the rain set in. I took home three tired, happy, wet and dirty Border Collies who didn’t harass me that night at all for games. I went again Monday afternoon after work, just because I knew they’d enjoy it and it certainly helps me get some much needed exercise. This time I walked the entire perimeter of the park….I haven’t looked up how long that is but it was bloody hard work and it took us nearly two hours! Again Tim and I had a nice quiet evening in front of the telly as the three of them were zonked. Next morning (Tuesday morning; Raven’s chemo day) Raven was limping slightly on her front leg. I went over her as carefully as I could, checking in between pads, pressing in muscles trying to find the source. She didn’t give me any clues so I assumed that it may have been from our bush walk the day before, she took off like a bullet after a bunny she’d seen and I figured she could just have some muscle soreness. I took her into Murdoch, told them about the limping but that everything else was just fine. Picked her up as usual after work and was told that she hadn’t received treatment today as her WBC was down to 0.8!!!! I asked the Oncology Nurse if they knew why and he told me it could be a couple of things, she may just have been fighting an infection we didn’t know about, sometimes they tend to fluctuate but that it was not commonly attributed to the drug Vincristine (her last chemo treatment a week ago). I asked if they’d noticed anything wrong with her paw, toes or leg and they hadn’t. He told me to just keep a close eye on her and bring her back next week, not to be too concerned. So we duly did so and I noticed as we walked out to the car she was still limping. I took Spryte and Cypher to training that night, Raven seemed tired and grumpy bout something, plus I figured she needed crating for her limp to improve. By the time I got home Tuesday night she hardly wanted to put her left paw down and was limping much worse. It was late but I was determined to find the source of her pain. She got up on my bed and brought a halogen light over to see better and then quite easily I saw that the toe she had injured around 4 weeks ago was red, hot to touch and swollen and when I checked the nail closely there was a fluid oozing out from underneath it. Definitely infected and quite painful for her, she normally tolerates all my investigations quite stoically but this one she wasn’t having a bar of. So I contacted Ken via email (again!…I had emailed when I got home asking about 5 different questions regarding missing a treatment, low WBC and about a trip to Kalgoorlie for competition we had planned.) and asked what I should do. He recommended bringing her in and getting her on some antibiotics, he wasn’t at Murdoch on Wednesday but he told me to talk to the Intern Amy Lane. So I did so and with Tim’s help by lunchtime Wednesday she had commenced her 15 day course of Clavulox. Ken seemed to think she’d be fine with the low WBC to go to Kal and compete but due to the toe thing I decided against it. By Saturday and Sunday she was moving fine and the toe looks good, no sign of infection but I just felt it would be better to play it safe now that to run the risk of putting her already compromised immune system under any pressure. So the toe, the low WBC and my car slightly overheating Tuesday afternoon decided it for me, no Kal for us. Disappointing but in the end my decision was very lucky. Tim took my car to the mechanic Thursday, turns out there was a small hole in the water pump and I may have reached Southern Cross if I was lucky but no further! That combined with the shocking weather made me quite grateful in the end we weren’t going! So we just did some UD work on Saturday and Spryte and Cypher got some agility work. Sunday was really bad weather wise so we stayed indoors and I worked away on the catalogue for ACWA’s upcoming double trial on Saturday July 14th.
So here we are at Tuesday. I’ve just dropped Raven off at Murdoch with the hope her WBC is great (but not too high!) and that she receives her cyclophosphamide treatment today. She’s put on half a kilo and weighs 17 kilos now! I’m laying bets that it is 2.5. We’ll see, they have strict instructions to phone if she can’t have treatment so that Tim can pick her up. She really is not a fan of the place, whining when we get there now, wanting to leave. She gets all happy to see Geoff the Onco Nurse though so that’s something, he no doubt spoils her. Fingers crossed the next post will be about how brilliant she’s doing and how much fun she had on the weekend at Sunday’s trial.