The week that was…

Since my last post things have been a tad hectic round here. Last Saturday CAWA held its 30th Anniversary of Independence events (Shows, Obedience and Agility Trials) with a couple of Eastern states judges being contracted. Raven went in UD and was doing quite well up until the signals where she faded and then missed the signals in position altogether. Cypher had his first taste of the CCD ring and passed with a 92 (out of 100) losing some points in the heelwork for some tugging on the lead and a missed position. He was happy and up so that was good. He didn’t have a great introduction to ring stays with a rather large male GSD getting up in the sit stay just as we about turned and getting fresh with Cy giving him a thoroughly rude sniff. To his credit Cy held his stay for quite a bit before he decided that was enough, by that time the steward finally pulled the Shepherd away and Cy changed his mind. The GSD was withdrawn and the stays got rerun and he didn’t move a muscle.

Agility was in the afternoon and Raven was third in order for Masters Jumping and decided that bars #2 and #3 could just be taken out. I stuffed Cy on this course moving off too early on a tunnel and he went in the wrong end. We then had Open Agility and Cy did a nice clean run on that and Raven took another two bars out – when the second one fell I withdrew and we didn’t finish the course. We then went in Open Jumping and she did a lovely run for 2nd place behind Kriszty’s Terra. Cy also ran clear in OJ finishing in the top 6. Masters Agility and Raven got called on her contact (it was a running one and one I don’t think the judge was quite ready for) and she then dropped a bar as I hesitated a fraction so I withdrew again. Cy ran a great course in MA clear, he unfortunately got stuck in a flexi tunnel when the top of it closed over and it took him a good second or two to get his butt out of there. He tied for second place and then in the run off took the wrong jump on my lead out. That sucked but hey it’s still a leg of Ag Ch if he ever gets good enough for it. So not a bad day in all, Cy quallied 3 out of 4 with a third place and Raven came 2nd in OJ.

Next day was ACWA’s Teams and Strat Pairs. Our first go in Masters Strat Pairs. The team did ok we came 3rd but with the fastest time and least amount of faults (apparently we should have won but the rules were interpreted a little differently). Cy had one clear in Agility and one bar down in Jumping (very unlike him). Raven who was the reserve was a total delinquent in Jumping with at least 1 DQ and a bar down, however did a cracker run in agility just tapping the third last bar. Masters Strat Pairs for the first time was pretty much a wash out for me. The course was massively spread out with forced change overs each dog limited to three obstacles in a sequence. Even one error was enough to put you over time as you had to cover so much ground to fix it. Oh well Ces’t La Vie as they say.

Tuesday Raven was due (for what I thought was the Vincristine) for her chemo. Tim took her in for me. Had a minor freak out panic attack that day – her WBC was down to 0.4 so no treatment. This in itself is not necessarily a big deal. But then after I had paid,the nurse was looking on the computer saying she was due for Doxorubicin next week. I said no she’s due for Vincristine, that’s what she should have had today. He’s saying no she’s actually due for Dox because she had Vinc last week (when the computers were down and all I got for a receipt was scrappy little handwritten receipt that said “Chemo treatment – $300”). I said “She should have had Cyclophosphamide last week”. He’s like “Oh….hang on I’ll go get her”. At this point alarms are going off in my head with thoughts along the line of “Oh my god they’ve got her treatment wrong”. A good 25 mins later out comes Raven with different nurse – Geoff. He’s saying sorry she got the Vinc last week, I’m saying wasn’t it supposed to be Cyclo, he says yes I know and I’m going to get my arse tanned for this, I’m looking at him thinking I really couldn’t give a rats about your arse mate this is my dog’s protocol you’ve stuffed up and if you had just checked with me last week about what she was due to have instead of blaming this all on a computer glitch we wouldn’t be having this convo. Anyway I just left, I had to leav otherwise I felt sure I’d say something a little irrational and no doubt rude. Got on the email to Ken as soon as I got home and asked how the hell this kind of thing happens. Anyway I had to leave to go to ACWA’s AGM and left taking Cypher and Spryte for some training. There was a long email from Ken when I got home (very quick response) apologising for the angst and confusion however Raven did not get the wrong drug last week, Ken is the only one who decides what drug she gets and he’d decided to keep up the timing to get the doxorubicin in on time (the most important of the 3 drugs she’s on) that he’d give the Vinc last week. Unfortunately no one told Reception to tell me that information about the change when I paid and they were also not made aware of the fact that Raven does not get booked back in the week after Vinc because she takes longer to build her WBC count up again after having the drug. So apart from her having a whole unnecessary day at Murdoch with a pointless blood test no harm done thank god. I can tell you I was pretty agitated. Ken said they’ll knock the fee off my next bill and have now put in a few extra markers to inform reception when a dog’s protocol timing changes. So that was a bit of drama I could do without! Ken is currently using pics of Raven in his lectures at the University to show how well a dog can do on chemo, this is good to know but I’m not so sure Raven is a typical case at all! I think most dogs with a 0.4WBC would surely show some symptoms (tiredness, lack of appetite) however without a blood test you wouldn’t have a clue with Raven if her WBC’s are low or not. She behaves exactly the same – regardless. Whilst this makes me appreciate what an awesome dog she is it also worries me somewhat that perhaps she is one of these dogs who will be on deaths door before giving any sign that something is seriously wrong. I find myself watching her very closely a lot more than I did 6 months ago that’s for sure…and this is of course a good thing. Looking forward to another bash at Strat Pairs Masters this weekend and a regular trial.

Cy stuck in the tunnel

I’m free at last!!


Game ON!

Yesterday was a Games trial day – two chances for passes in each of the three games (Snooker, Gamblers and Strategic Pairs).
Raven – In the morning:
1st Place Excellent Strategic Pairs with partners Nifty and Sue and our title!
2nd Place Excellent Gamblers (for pass #4)
And in the afternoon:
1st Place Excellent Strategic Pairs with partners Nifty and Sue
1st Place Excellent Gamblers for her title!
Qualified Excellent Snooker for her title!
Cypher – In the morning:
Qualified 4th Place in Excellent Strategic Pairs with partners Sage and Nicola for our title!
3rd Place Novice Snooker and his title!
In the afternoon:
Qualified Novice Snooker
2nd Place Excellent Gamblers for his first pass of GDX (you need 5)
It was a long day but worth it in the end as we picked up 5 titles altogether and this means we can move up to Masters. With so few games trials it’s good to try and get passes each time we play.
So despite missing chemo last week due to a 0.8 WBC count Raven is feeling *really* good. The oncologist has decided to make a change to her protocol as the low WBC had occurred at the same stage as the last low WBC did. The week after her first drug Vincristine and the week she is due to have cyclophosphamide.
So it means her 5 week cycle now becomes a 6 week cycle – Week 1:Vinc Week 2: No treatment Week 3: Cyclophosphamide Week 4: Vinc Week 5:Doxorubicin Week 6: No Treatment.
This week is a Week 3 of her cycle and then she has one more cycle to complete after finishing this current one. Still in complete clinical and cytological remission she has not slowed down one second during training and trialling. She did 6 runs yesterday and did not drop a bar. The last run of the day for us Excellent Gamblers was one of those really smooth runs that keeps me ever motivated in this sport. It’s those runs where there is not a single extra stride and contacts are run straight through. There is minimal verbal volume and she and I are in sync. I think there may have been two single bars left on the course that we didn’t score points on. It was a good feeling to finish the night on and I was so proud of her after that run – Raven is definitely my once in a lifetime dog and there will never be another like her.
Have posted a pic of Cy on his way to his Super 7 Novice Snooker pass and Raven having a ball on her Super 7 Excellent Snooker course.

At two and half tender years of age my boy has come a long way!

That look in the eyes – if I didn’t know better I’d be scared!

Nifty – Raven’s trusty partner who shares Raven’s dislike of
any kind of stopping business on course!

Sage – Cypher’s very Excellent partner!

Sheepdogging fun

Spryte got to play with the sheep again today and demonstrate whether she had an instinct to herd sheep. I decided to enter her in the Herding Instinct Test (HIT) on the day and so we travelled down Mandurah way to check it out. All the herding trials were first – which involved both sheep and ducks and three dogs (a Border and a couple of Aussies) having to put them through different courses.

We then went up to the small pen to do the Herding Instinct Tests and a Herding Test (HT). Spryte’s Mum Marnie (Ch Danari Dramas Bananas) went first and didn’t put a paw wrong – she has a lovely style on sheep, Robyn may have found her forte! Then Spryte went in and she did really well, didn’t stop for a sniff or a roll once and maintained her focus on the sheep the whole time, for the most part trying to keep them with me. We then repeated the two tests with a different judge and again Marnie showed good interest as did Spryte. So together Mum and daughter gained their HIT and can now train for and enter the HT. Spryte will need quite a bit of practice and I will need to work hard on getting her to drop or stop when told to. It was nice to watch both Brydie (Ch Winpara Soul Desire ADX JDX – who picked up her HT today and passed one leg of PT) and Marnie work their sheep quietly and unhurriedly. They put speed on only when they had to and kept the sheep fairly settled throughout the whole test.
There is a lot the handler has to learn to about body cues and where to go. If I have the time and the opportunity (ie it doesn’t clash with any agility stuff) then I probably will pursue some titles but I’m not fussed if we don’t progress too far. If I lived on 5 acres and had my own sheep I’d definitely be more motivated to start getting involved with the herding trialling scene, it certainly makes it more difficult if you live in the ‘burbs as they say.

Photos by Tim of

Going to fetch her sheep

Keeping an eye on them, waiting for me to send her

Good News in Threes!

Wednesday I got the best email ever! A note from Dr Amy Lane (Oncology resident at MUVH) to say that Raven’s results from the FNA (Fine Needle Aspirate) came back clear cytologically – there are no lymphocytes in her lymph nodes currently. This combined with her clinical remission is considered full remission from cancer. This is an email that will be kept forever! She still has 7 more chemo treatments to go however currently she is as well as she can be. It is not a cure of course, by it’s very nature a cure is often not identified until the dog dies at a normal old age of natural or non-related cancer causes. I’m of course hoping for the best and thinking positively – Raven and I, in a combined vigilant approach via her chemotherapy/nutrition and other supplements/alternative therapies, will beat this monster back for many years to come. Whilst I can take a very relished delight in her wellbeing, Tim and I both know that we cannot let up for a second on doing everything we can to help make this remission permanent! I examine Raven every day (and whilst she is incredibly stoic about it I know she’d rather I didn’t!) for any kinds of changes in her – from her lymph nodes to her commonly itchy areas to her nails to her skin to her joints. She saw Liz Franks Monday and Liz was absolutely amazed at how well she was doing. When she asked about whether she was competing still, I very proudly informed her that just that previous Saturday Raven had run in Masters Agility and won, coming 2nd in Masters Jumping. She was obviously feeling very good and responding well to all that we were doing for her.
So that has been a number of positives this past week:
Saturday at the GSDA Trial Raven wins Masters Agility and Cypher comes 2nd!
Raven comes 2nd in Masters Jumping – both passes help inch us that little bit closer to Agility Champion.
Cypher also runs clear in Open Jumping and Masters Jumping.
Tuesday – Cypher is the sire of 10 brand new bouncing baby Border Collies (6 boys 4 girls) to Hotnote Good n Sassy (a litter sister to Karen’s 3 yr old Riot – Hotnote AsGood Asitgets ADM JDM ADO JDO SPDX GD SD ET)
Wednesday – I get the email informing that Raven is in full clinical and cytological remission! So good news all round….we also managed (via Tim’s ability to get on the internet at just the right moment) to secure two 6th row tickets to see The Police in Feb 2008! I, having been a fan of Sting and The Police since I was 14, never dreamt that I would ever be able to see The Police live. They broke up well before I was of rock concert going age and of the financial means to do so! They never looked like they would ever get back together! So to say that put a smile on my dial all day was an absolute understatement!
Wednesday afternoon I took Spryte and Cypher and we bundled into Robyn’s van and went down Mandurah way to play with the sheep. This was the first time my two had ever seen them and I had no idea whether they would show any interest or not. I must admit we made it a little difficult for Cypher – he was made to travel in a crate sitting right next to Brydie who had just come in season the day before so I did not have any great expectations for him! Spryte went in first and after she had carefully accessorised her ruff with the latest most recent Eau de Sheep Shit (a lovely dark green/brown colour it was too) which took the first three minutes she noticed these woolly things I was playing with actually looked quite interesting. Within another five minutes she was circling around them, watching them closely and completely mesmerised by these sheep! Yep she’s got the instinct! So after another couple of dogs had a turn I took Cypher in. He spent a bit longer then three minutes checking the pen out I must admit. He decided he needed to pee and poop first (numerous times) and then he finally noticed I was getting very excited about these funny looking animals. He showed bursts of interest I suppose is how you would describe it. He’d want to chase them for a minute or so and make them move and then he’d go sniff. To be honest I was pleased just to get this as I did have a sneaking suspicion that he wouldn’t have any interest at all! By the time he had a third go he was showing more consistent bursts. Considering he spent most of his down time lusting after Brydie I did end up having hope for him! By Spryte’s third go I was having to figure out how to walk, which way to turn and what I should use the rake for. I am still in two minds about whether I should go the herding route. I know it would be fun and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it but I’m still not sure about the Herding Vs Agility thing. I think one could get addicted to Herding quite quickly. My first passion is (and always will be) agility. I love it, love training it, love trialling it and everything to do with it. I want to be good at it; I want my dogs and me to be the best that we can be at it. Does this goal conflict with playing at herding at the same time? I’m not sure. I will no doubt probably try and get some herding titles on Spryte at least and maybe Cypher. I’ll play it by ear I think and see what happens. I still have so much more work to do with Spryte’s training and yet I have to be careful not to overface her in this training. There is a herding trial this weekend, Steph (our herding instructor) told me I could enter her on the day if I wanted and she would pass her Herding Instinct test no worries. There is nothing else on, I must admit I am tempted! We’ll see though, must get some piccies, if it is nice weather maybe I can talk Tim into coming with me and taking some herding photos.