Update #1

It’s lucky I am a fairly positive sort of a character really. Most of the time. Otherwise I feel sure by now I would have just about been contemplating some serious drug usage or other potentially high risk escapism behaviours. It seems Raven is a bit of a dramatic attention seeker. Either that or she is just really one of the unluckiest Border Collies in the world. She had her final weekly blood test around two or three weeks ago. She only needs to visit Murdoch once a month for blood tests now. So quite clearly Raven felt like life was a little dull, or distinctly lacking in some veterinary attention.

On Saturday Raven managed to dislocate her right hip whilst running in a Masters Agility course. Albeit the ring and the grass surface in general was a bit wet and soggy but well over a hundred dogs ran in that ring and NONE of them managed to dislocate a hip. She had done her usual running contact on the dog walk gone over the next jump and turned the less desirable way around (it was a 180 degree turn back to a tunnel under the dog walk) so I stepped in to shape her line to the tunnel which it turns out she didn’t see till she was running flat tack and realised it was there at the last possible split second and tried to throw her little body in said tunnel. Most sane dogs would have probably just gone past it realising what a futile exercise it would have been by that stage. Her ass end went out from under, she hit the ground and landed on her right hip let out an almighty yelp and then peered round the tunnel at me as I turned back to her with her right back leg well off the ground.

I think at this point all the blood drained from my face as we soon established this wasn’t something she was going to walk off. We had no idea if it was a foot, hock, knee or hip issue at this stage so I carried her back to the car and started icing that leg and rang home for Tim to bring the 25mg tab of Rimadyl I had left over from her BMT. I gave her some food and some Rimadyl and we gave her a half hour lying down to see if that helped. She initially kept the leg tucked up fairly close to her body and were concerned that it was cruciate damage.

Within an hour and a half of the accident I got her into the local VetWest where the Vet had a look, by this stage she had stopped her intermittent shaking and her leg was dangling. She showed no signs of pain on the cranial draw test of the cruciate ligament and none on palpation of the hip but she would not let the vet extend her leg back behind her at all.

The vet suspected dislocated hip and wanted to do a GA asap in order to xray and replace it if indeed her suspicions were correct. Once a hip is dislocated the quicker it gets replaced the better and it’s virtually impossible after 12 hours. She explained what she would do and that she would strap it and that the strapping would be on for 10 to 14 days etc. She topped up Raven’s Rimadyl dose with an injection and then gave an injection of Temgesic (Sp?) which is a more powerful painkiller drug.

Then the Nurse is there getting me to sign the form and waiver and they are working up an estimate of the cost and I’m trying not to laugh hysterically as I explain to them exactly what Raven has been through in the last year and after sixteen thousand dollars worth of treatments for lymphoma I really don’t think an extra few hundred is going to make a difference somehow. I must admit I was pretty upset by this stage and worried about her going under another GA as it was less than 2 months since her last one plus she had eaten that morning, but with a friend’s help I managed to pull it together, give them my mobile number, leave Raven in a cage out the back (by this stage she is looking somewhat pissed about the change in environment) and drive back to the trial grounds.

They would call me as soon as they knew what was what. So I get a call around 2.15 explaining that all has gone well, Raven is awake from the GA, they x-rayed and it was a dislocated hip and it was put back in without too much trouble, can I come pick her up at 5.15. Of course I asked if it could be any earlier but that was a no go. So I was there at 5.15 on the dot and saw the vet who had treated Raven. She took me through and showed me the x rays. I have included them below, the last image is obviously after the hip has been replaced. The vet informed me that this was a rather unusual dislocation as rather than up and above the pelvis the ball had been pushed down out of the socket.

Typical Raven always does things her own way! So we looked at the x rays and she told me that it went back in easily and didn’t cause any problems with popping back out. This is the risk apparently with dislocated hips. That they can pop back out at any time during recovery period. Usually the dogs are strapped to the point that it can’t physically pop out (so they are on three legs) and everyone holds their breath at the end of the two weeks when the strapping comes off but because Raven’s was different she has all four legs on the ground and is weight bearing. Right now completely normally weight bearing I might add. The dog wants to trot everywhere and the hobbles don’t stop her from doing that! She can still cock that leg on that hip when she wants to pee as well! So I am going to try and get a referral to an Ortho specialist and try and confirm whether this strapping is doing the job or if it needs modifying. Also to enquire about her recovery therapy and what I can do to make sure it’s the best she can get. It’s a little different when you are talking about a sports performance dog as compared to your average pet dog I think. Long story not so short I don’t know at this stage if she will be going to the Nationals. Looking at her right now I feel 70% confident that she will be sound by then but you just never know. I will not be making any decisions at this stage. So that was my drama for the weekend. And now Raven is bored out of her skull and wondering what all the fuss is about. Below is one of the xray images they took.

Raising Awareness

Been a while since I’ve updated and I have a fair bit to blather on about so feel free to skim and scan as they say. So the Fundraising trial hosted by Eden Hills Dog Club actually managed to raise over $600 for Dr Ken Wyatt and Murdoch Veterinary Oncology Research. Plus they gave me a very generous donation of $570 towards Raven’s treatment bills which has helped more than they know.

The day was an excellent success due in no small part to the hard working and extremely giving instigators of this idea – Nicole Ford and Sandra Yearsley and their band of club supporters. These two ladies went above and beyond the call in terms of putting their own time and efforts into this event and I shall always be thankful to them.

The weather was beautiful and we had a good turn out of nearly 20 teams demonstrating that the WA Agility community fully supported the cause. There were many donations for prizes and cash donations on the day towards the research. Ken and his wife attended and they were fascinated to actually watch the machinations of an agility trial and were surprised about all the different breeds in attendance. Raven initially said a rather reserved hello to Ken, clearly remembering him, but then started to turn on the charm once she realised he was not taking her anywhere for some injections or any other physical examinations.

Ken spoke to the group gathered about exactly what kind of treatment Raven had been given and one phrase that stood out for me was that he said that the bone marrow transplant she had been given is essentially the best treatment in the world currently available for Canine Lymphoma. It’s heartening to know in the end that we have managed to give Raven the best possible chance to beat this disease. It wouldn’t matter if we moved to Europe, the States or anywhere else we were fortunate enough to have access to the latest and most successful treatment on the planet. He explained about the research, looking into the genetic maps of dogs with lymphoma and the chips that contain the data on each dog costing around $500 each due to the extensive genetic mapping that had been done. They’ve compiled data so far from around 50 of these chips and the more chips they can purchase the better because it will give them very specific and detailed information that will allow Oncology specialist to better diagnose the stage, advancement and which particular drugs will be most effective in treatment. It will allow them, in the end, to give very specific treatments and drug doses designed just for that particular dog alone based on the knowledge they can glean from this massive database. So he expressed his thanks on behalf of himself and the other specialists involved with this research and stated that these funds will help the cause in a significant way.

Raven enjoyed herself too that day. She did a run just for Ken because he’d missed her first run that morning and was having a ball. It was hard not to smile at the thought that I had my Raven back…Raven pre May 2007 that is. She got lots of treats and pats that day and was quite impressed with herself by the end I think, managing to con many a hand into a pocket for even a little something with just an alert and persuasive expression on her face as she looked at each person expectantly.

I enjoyed the day for many reasons, it was good to see the people I choose to hang out with on a very regular basis at agility trials come together to support a cause, it was great to play agility again and even better I got to run a healthy and vibrant Border Collie who will never understand how amazing she is simply because she has an attitude that never quits. Raven is my heart dog and always will be. We took a few shots of the day and I have posted a couple or three here.





So that happened back in June and then we had a two week break from trialling. Of course it dawned on me that really there is now less than eight weeks till the Nationals. A rather large WA contingent will be attending which is fantastic I must say. More so than even Adelaide last year and this time we’re all getting shirts to show our team spirit. When it comes to Individual events here in WA the competition is always very strong and we like to push the bar for our sport. However get us in a group over East and we become a very unified and loyal bunch that wishes nothing but the best for our fellow competitors against the rest of the country. But back to the rather looming fact of less than 8 weeks to go. Due to the different time frame it’s not really logical to swim the dogs like I did before last year’s Nationals so we have been walking and semi-hiking I suppose you’d call it, up sandy hills and across bushy and scrubby terrain at the Jandakot Regional park. We’ve found a sand quarry that’s very useful for climbing to the top of and letting the dogs run up and down it in search of the never –ending fetch a stick game. Great for rear end muscle development and fitness…of course if I had a personal trainer then I’d probably be the one running up and down sand hills. Oh well. At least I try and walk briskly, in soft sand that’s no mean feat! I wonder if I could add that to my resume? Personal Trainer – Canine Specialist.

July commenced and it’s trials just about every weekend starting with last Sunday at Cloverdale. It felt like we haven’t trialled in ages. Raven was first up in Masters Agility and it was a nice course which ran well but she just tipped a bar. I didn’t stop her and withdraw because I didn’t hear it drop till she was over the next obstacle. I nearly got Deb’s Jasper around too, I am handling him in Masters right now as she is just hanging out for his last leg to title. But I think he knocked the same bar as Raven. Cypher was the most frustrating – not because of him, he ran really well and was focused but the third last bar from home he took out the spread. It really is a momentary annoyance when that happens. Next up was Open Agility and this time both Cy and Raven had bars down…it seems I have not been doing enough grid work with them. Cy did lovely contacts though, very pleased with how he is running them now. By then the Masters Strategic Pairs course was being set and I had Cypher in that with Steve and Nicola Thompson’s girl Sage, and Raven was in with Nifty. Steve and I managed to walk the course in between runs but Sue and I never really got to walk it together and by the time we were both available to walk the course I had not really got my plan fully in my head and neither of us felt like rescuing so we made the decision if a bar goes to just quit. Well it was a bit of a stuff up! I ran straight into Sue’s path trying to get out of her way, Raven decided Nifty had to be chased in case he thought this was his course for a second, and the Nifty dropped a bar so we both said stuff it and retired! Cypher and Sage got round for another pass and third place but we still have heaps of passes to go before finishing the title. I think we’ve had two shots at Strat Pairs this year and that is it. WA would have to be one of the most least practiced states when it comes to games it’s quite a surprise that they do so well at the Nationals in them!

By that time Open Jumping had been run as well. I had been on first with Spryte. She was in competitively and I wasn’t expecting a pass really as there were some tricky angles. I didn’t handle her the most efficiently either but we still got round for a pass and came 4th or 5th overall so I was very happy with her. She really looked like she was enjoying herself too. Cypher did a lovely run, very happy with his run, he ended up in 7th or thereabouts and we had a great game of tug at the end. He had been on the ball the entire course and did not lose focus for a moment. Raven was going great till I did a crap handling move and caused a refusal on a jump then we retired after she knocked a bar. I’d be pretty safe in saying that she is indeed back to how she was like prior to the cancer. Back to the I have to go so fast I can’t possibly slow enough to keep every bar up attitude. We’ll be working on that for a while again I think.

Spryte was up next in Novice Strategic Pairs and we ran that with Cathy Snook’s Snazzy (Guirmere Snazzy). We had a plan and it mostly was followed apart from a slight hiccup where Spryte thought they were her weavers not Snazzy’s, I think one rescue was required which took all of two seconds and other than that it ran quite well and most of all was absolute FUN! Turned out we won that class.

Photo by Robyn Evans

So Spryte has her first SPD pass and two passes towards her JDO now plus the two JD passes. She was in Novice Agility next. I can’t think why I entered her competitively when she is in all three trials at Geraldton soon for competition. So she did a lovely opening with a great two on two off on the a frame and then we were at the table when I realised we may go clear here. So I gave her a pat for dropping on the table and then continued on our way. Her dogwalk contact was nearly there. Just a few centimetres more and she’d have had a two on two off position. Other than that very pleased with her run.

Masters Jumping to finish and Cypher was up first going very well until some awkward spacing on a fast curve of jumps was his undoing and he knocked a bar. I dropped him, replaced the bar and withdrew. I know he is not a chronic bar knocked like Raven but still I think he needs to know that we can’t continue if a bar drops. He is not the type of dog to get all soft and sulky over that, I’m not sure if he gets why we leave, but I do know that he realises we stop because a bar drops. Whether he cares about that is another question entirely. But I don’t believe in letting them go ever….unless you have a dog whose temperament will shut down if he/she gets worried about making mistakes. Some dogs really don’t like making mistakes but neither Cypher or Raven fit that category!

And that brings us to this week. First week of the holidays and here I am at Friday already. Why the hell don’t the weeks pass this fast when you are at work I ask? It’s ridiculous how fast time seems to be moving sometimes. For brief foray into non-agility related matters we went and saw Hancock last week and I liked it. I liked the humour and I liked the premise although it left me asking questions about back stories that never got answered but I’m thinking this was probably deliberate. Saw a new trailer for The Dark Knight as well and was surprised when I felt a pang of sadness when watching Heath Ledger’s Joker on screen. It just seems like such a waste. The man had such a talent and so young as well. I’m sure this swansong will be a fitting tribute. There are a few others on the list though – Wall-E is supposedly the best ever animated film from Pixar/Disney and I have heard nothing but praise for it. Wanted – a completely indulgent action sci-fi flick that looks to have some very cool CGI, plus James McAvoy, I’ve heard he’s good. Then there is Prince Caspian – which I am not sure I’ll get to before it leaves…plus a couple others. And I have books to read like it is going out of style. I may just have to ring work and postpone my return until I get all my holiday reading out the way, in between training, trialling and walking the dogs of course.