Thursday, 18 October 2012

Today was a little odd

Today was a little odd yet I can't really tell you why.

We had a busy day today as poor Alex was off and we had a full house!  I do feel very proud we cope even when the unexpected happens so we went to the field with me getting there first.

This gave me the chance to see how Elvis was after a weekend off after his first week.  Oh he was so pleased to be out with us again!  Despite being scared of cars after having a car accident as a young dog he was quite happy to get into the van and this time didn't try and pepe le pew his buddy.

Lola was completely wired and combined with Yipyipyip Tallulah and the sealion sounding Wobbily I decided their next walk would be on lead!  Esther and Elvis paired up which is a great combo as Esther is very clever at games and introductions and wouldn't be overly concerned if he was a little over the top.  Well I didn't take into account she might fancy him so there was one time out when Elvis tried out his famous hip rudies on my watch thank you guys.

Leyla was on fire enjoying a good dash about and gad about with Truffle when she wasn't playing with Esther.  Roly was tipping over the edge a little which is very him but he tried which is all I can ask.  Poppy however made no effort whatsoever and pretended to be completely deaf whilst digging up the local critters, once she did come back she lucked out by spending boring leader time whilst her mates and critters played.

Rez the vizsla pup has been a little star, thankfully drinking whilst out and about, eating well and toiletting like a pro.  He is still clingy but it all takes time.  We have worked on getting him desensitised to noises with a cheery laugh everytime he get is startled by anything new it is working a treat I have to say.

Norman made me laugh as he had his hackles up at Elvis yet was pretty giddy chatting him up and doing those funny little bum slaps he usually saves for his bestest friends, he is such a steady lovely dog its nice to see him being a little silly.

Once Sam came loaded with goodies ( human rather than Canine) we swapped some of the dogs and only Archie fluffed by bullying the second he came in the field which was a real shame as he greeted me beautifully and enthusiastically for the first real time .  A leader walk after a cool down in the van worked a treat and we worked on him walking quietly even whilst his pals played around him.  With three entire males and an entire girl we kept a close eye and other a little posturing from Fergal I was very pleased with them.  Winifred laps up the interest and is learning good doggy manners and behaviours an important thing to any dog but even more important for small or oversized breeds.  Too much adoration from Hunter had her dipping her shoulders and stopping, an instant change from Hunter had her swaggering in delight!

Hunter and Bobby were much better matched today with Bobby enjoying having the freedom to say TOO MUCH to Hunter and it was effective.  I can see subtle changes in Hunter for the better yet we have so far to go I'd say he has the most to learn of all our dogs.  Bobby continued to impress us by playing with a rag toy with no signs of possessiveness and he was rewarded not only by us but by increased attention and play from the guys.

Megan is coming on leaps and bounds even deciding new boy Elvis was a little scary but well worth a good romp with yet still listening when we asked her to recall.  Her and Fluffy whirled around in complete delight and you can't help but go awwww at two friends enjoying each others company.

Elsie and Molly Mc Dolly were no bother and as Molly is on a strict no ball throwing rule to protect her delicate shoulder she was happy to mooch and hunt whilst joining us in the group to have a good sniff or attention from us.  Elsie and Stanley were on planet Wilkie which was great for us as it inevitably involved dashing off full tilt racing each other before wheeling round and heading back how about that for tiring everyone out.

Tash and Sophie are a miss Sophie was always so full of bounce rolling in everything nasty, smelly or dirty that wonderful canter she had I can't help but look for her and Tash well Tash would have loved the labrAdoring from the two entire boys and to see her skip about like a young'un was always a delight.  Introducing new guys is both exciting, hard work and sad you miss the guys before them but it is always great to see what they have to teach you and entertain you.

Murphy still has ongoing tummy issues and these are still being investigated by the vets, Danes can be so delicate and even his special diet is no longer maintaining him.  It is such a worry and he has lost weight.  He makes up for it though by being completely hyper and spending most of his time i the air rather than on the ground.

I think depending on weather next week will be a decent training week with calm( boring for them hehe) steady walking on lead mixed with some off lead as I felt today they are building up too much adrenalin and an assumption their time out walking is fun fun fun.

Well time for afternoon widdles so I look forward to more doggy time.
More videos uploaded on YouTube!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Welcome young Elvis

Elvis doesn't know it but he has been waiting for this to happen for sometime.  He was wanting to come on board quite sometime ago( about a year ago) unfortunately as usual we were full then as luck would have it they asked just as the last space was available and finally Elvis has joined PetNanny.

Now as you may know we tend to give our guys nicknames often this is necessary as their names have so many bad habits linked to them....their names just tend to happen and this is how Elvis received his somewhat longwinded nickname.

After an introduction and assessment today was his first day and he was buddied up with Truffle.  Not by mistake Truffle is small, feisty and very good at getting her point across without being stressed about it.  Now Elvis is rules by his Gonads and soon did his best to chat her up a move he obviously had done many times before on any passing dogs.  I know this as I have been here before so many times.  He trots past his owner, ears up, tail up trotting that smart trot that catches the eye.  Despite an arrogant air I have no doubts his heart is beating fast and he approaches with his best Lothario smouldering looks.  The strangers dog rebuffs him and with a flick of his black ears he cocks his leg on the nearest bush with a devil may care attitude.

How do I know?  Cos I watching his get in chat up Truffle and when he was rebuffed he cocked his leg ....on Truffle.  Mmm not the best way to endear yourself to your new love interest!  Somewhat bemused he sat down and Truffle looked at me and was promptly washed, given a hug and a bit of chicken and dizzy dora gonad brain did the exact same thing again with a now slightly pee'd off ( excuse the pun) Truffle ready to pull up her sleeves and bop him on the nose....I swear she stepped out the cage and looked at the shower and chicken as if to say hurry up. I was more than a little surprised when she asked to back into the same cage....( Truffle likes the middle or bottom cages she does DO the top cages if she has a choice which most weeks is the case) this time she walked straight up to him waited till he sat in a sheepish kind of way before the familiar sexy whine came from the back least this time he widdled where he was needing to sit!

Elvis Pelvis Pissy Pants ( well come on it had to be) didn't pee again and after changing the bedding we stayed pittle free hurrah( whether that will be the case next time is a different matter).

Once at the field the usual battering ram problem was apparent when I opened the door to let his buddy( we buddy up the new dogs with a dog the should get on to help show them the ropes they speak the same language so they learn quicker)Truffle out and lets face it she earned her first dog out privilege!

Well this move has been perfected over the years he was somewhat bemused to find himself back in the cage facing the middle.  So he jumped out again and found himself back in the cage again this time facing the exit.  It was my turn to be surprised as he looked at me, looked at Truffle and then sat door open field there for the taking!  Clever boy.  So out he came with a perky invite and he trotted around completely unaware of his line tied round his tummy loose but knotted so it couldn't tighten.

Amazingly he realised Truffle should be treat gently and he was a picture of virtue and continued to be so until Sirus came out....Like many labs ElvisPPP just didn't really see the small dogs so when he saw one the same size as him he lost his mind to his you know whats.  If you know Sirus you don't automatically think patient.  I often say he has a spot for every naught moment he has had.  He has a lot of spots!  Yet he managed Elvis ppp very well with some supervision from us.

Once we realised he wasn't at all phased by a few dogs we introduced a couple more so he wouldn't obsess over one and the majority of the time it worked though he was quite smitten with Sirus.  He did attempt a couple of times to roughhouse( play) with a couple of the quieter ones only to find out they aren't that quite when you badger them, again this had a brilliant side affect of him heading to me for reassurance so he not only learnt some manners he learnt a safe spot was right next to us...fabulous!

I imagine him now flat out at home, legs furiously going in his sleep absorbing and sorting out the jumble of experiences he had and tomorrow is a whole other day!

Wish Elvis and us luck and hope you enjoy the journey with us as you have with many of our others.

Working on stuff

I once was told by someone I know that she had overheard( don't worry it isn't as complicated as it sounds)someone saying that THAT Petnanny just lets all her dogs out of the van and they just run around and sh*t everywhere.....I remember being very upset and then I got to thinking.

Just because that is what people see doesn't mean that is what was happening.

We do indeed let dogs out of the van and sometimes most of the dogs together.  We also let them sh*t.  They definitely run.

What they didn't see was we let them out once they have fulfilled a few simple requests.  They mix, a mixture of mostly trained educated dogs with the odd uneducated one in order to learn.  They obviously don't see us picking up their poop despite it being our main occupation.  They run because they can, they stop when they are asked and so it goes on.  Oh and of course it is our own private field.

So then you get the photos.  We all have opinions on what we see even if we aren't fully aware of it.  We see a muzzle and what do you think? You see a dog ears flat to their head crouched down and what  opinion do you have?

If you see group photos do you think wild pack or fun friends?

Anyway today was a big day in my mind.  In order to walk as we do, me with my dogs, Sam with hers( they mix and are all our dogs but here I mean the ones we have on any given walk) Alex with her we need not only a degree of obedience, a modicum of manners toward each other, us and the public in all their forms.  But then don't forget we have to throw in the mix the social mix, the moods, the hormones and how they feel.  Of course Nannies also have their moods, their worries and their preferences.

Oh a forbidden subject!  Working with dogs rarely means you like every dog, every breed and every type it tends to affirm your opinion on the type of dogs you like and most definitely what you don't like....We all know my love of Flat Faced F*ckers as my friend calls them, my love of pointy hounds and of course pix n mixes.  Whilst I don't dislike Labradors I do wonder why there is such a strong following, why they are the most popular dog of the moment.  Can I hear a collection of gasps?  It is the truth yet I can also tell you I would jump into a flame or dive into a cesspit for everyone of our labs no hesitation( been there done that with Tyler the husky( cesspit) and gone into a seriously dangerous house( to save Florrie the spaniel and Geordie the cat).

What we have is a blessing.  A fenced off field, where we can test, assess and teach our charges.  It is also a place we run too when we are under the weather( therefore less able to be on guard and fully aware).

Today was such a day.  Lucy is a large lurcher found wandering down a durham main road as a pup.  We rescued her and rehomed her.  Oh she is rough, a default setting rather than learned behaviour.  She has a big gob and despite having a great temperament she hurts!  Then we have Archie he is a bit of a bully with a high drive to chase and a low desire to select his quarry.  Hunter is a young hoodlum, cheeky rude and cute as a button.  A pocket rocket whippet who grabs, tugs and generally uses his brother and anyone who will tolerate it as a real living rag toy.  Bobby is a spaniel who was always a toy guarder and a sufferer of selective hearing who unfortunately recently had a thumping form a terrier.  His temperament means he now tries to get in there first before he is hurt.  Poor lad.

So where do we start.....what do I want them to do rather than what they are doing now?

Lucy is just with us this week( the perks of being a Petnan rehomed dog) so we just wanted her to be as gentle as she could.

Archie needs to learn that bullying not only stops his games it also might just land him in trouble.

Hunter needs to not use real live dogs as ragtoys.

Bobby needs to not eat little dogs on the off chance they want to thump him.


Bobby has had a head start and we were now moving onto a non muzzle day.  We have shown him what is allowed and what isn't, loads of praise and fun for first avoiding terriers and now we have progressed to ignoring screaming yipping running terriers to actively sniffing greeting and then moving on without altercation we will have to work on coping with terriers having toys in his presence but for now we have managed other small dogs with toys with him and terrier without with great success.

The advantage of having no muzzle on means we can encourage him to say 'no booger off' to his live in pest of a brother.  Of course he is too soft so he is having to learn this in the meanwhile we physically stop hunter from grabbing by muzzling him.   We can and do stop him manually ourselves but by wearing a muzzle we can allow him to enjoy the running and interacting without him actually being able to get his adrenalin hit from grabbing and holding on( poor Bobby).  We also mix him with strong personalities that are not overreactive and willing to say ' Booger off yippet' without eating him a delicate balance needed with experienced dogs who enjoy the right kind of play.

Hunters progress will be slow due to the limited days we have him and of course the sheer delight he gets from doing it.....

Lucy wore a muzzle today so she would remember to rein it in a little something she did which just goes to show how they retain training if there is something in it for them!

Archie was interesting today because he was picking up the heightened atmosphere, he was actively choosing dogs like Tips who he could bully.  His progress has been good, steady which usually means it is retained though today was a big step up and we had to step in, steady him up and let him experiment with what was allowed and what wasn't.  He is also learning that doing it slightly further away doesn't mean the rules change!  Despite what many people think not all dogs will jump in and get into trouble if there is an altercation yet I would say Archie would be one to have a sneaky dig whilst he had the chance...Makes perfect sense if you are a dog and I certainly don't hold it against him or the other dogs who are the same.

So with lines and muzzles it allows us to teach the guys, let them learn, experiment and change what they do.  I would much rather have a dog who knows what it is doing rather than one who just happens to do the right thing.

After all the work we only had to stop each dog maybe three times from rough inappropriate play, Bobby didn't need us to step in even once, he had one attempt at play with Truffle which was a little rough but every terrier interaction just made me happier as the walks progressed!

This leads me promptly to our guys the back up team.  Sirus was simply perfect for today.  He was the object of Archie's run down technique and a simple immediate emergency stop stopped all that play, he was so consistent Archie gave up and tried Lola....Lola soon dealt with that with a swift loud furious swearing session( I sometimes thing I can actually hear swear words coming out of that pretty mouth!) and he moved onto Poppy feral puppy only to be chased with a flea in his ear!  Their whole demeanour was how very dare he without any tension and a jaunt to their step.  Each and everyone of them ( sorry not Lola who has incredible self belief) glanced briefly at us for permission.

Hunter did exactly the same with the same results with all but Sirus.  Just hilarious with Poppy running past him practically wiggling her tushy at him taunting a reaction.

Soon we had a very happy bunch of dogs teaching, learning and best of all having fun with each other.

Elvis shall have his own post just in case you have fallen asleep!

The little people didn't have to work quite as hard as we have stepped up their training after noticing things had slipped and we had fallen into the trap of accepting their foibles!

Minnie was a dog we worked hard to make her an individual rather than Mickeys side kick and with her new found confidence came her own formed opinions.  This usually meant she wanted to choose if she wanted that particular walk and who she would walk with!  So we have been working on stripping everything down to basic obedience being easily achieved and any sit down protests meant hard is working and treat and she soon found out if she hurried up joined in she not only had more fun( thrashing Fluffy mostly) she also could ask for a carry which she got for trying hard.

Megan had to learn not to be a dizzy dora and we are really progressing.  In part down to her love of Breeze and his steadiness and her inability to turn down Fluffy's endless requests to play.  She has grasped the concept of staying with us, of looking up to see if there is the human she came out with once she has had a good sniff and mostly she makes the right decisions.  Sit stays have come on a treat which means we have a way of keeping her safe and I am sure soon we will be able to walk her on all walks off lead without a babysitter.

Before I sign off it is very easy to rely on keeping dogs on leads( remember leads aren't infallible) put muzzles on to get over a problem without dealing with it and use lines forever it is a lazy head in the sand kind of training.  Use them for a reason but don't use them to save on effort.  Many dogs should be muzzled for aggression and will always muzzled for aggression but with a dog in a muzzle there is a huge responsibility toward that vulnerable dog.  Lines are a wonderful device to help with recall or inhibition training again long term use means your training is working!  Flute might be the kind of hound who has to wear a tracking harness and line( holding not dragging line ) forever in high risk areas(he will chase foxes if they bolt in front of him) yet I will never stop training him.

So I hope you enjoy the photos enjoy really looking and seeing what we see, enjoying the friendships, the new introductions and the mistakes along the way.

Friday, 5 October 2012

The Nitty Gritty

Vet visits are a regular part of our work, simple things like injections are usually done by owners however repeat consultations often mean they are a struggle to fit in so we are often booked in to step into the breach.  On this occasion we were required to drop off a dog for surgery as the guilt the owners felt was too much to bear ( those sad eyes boring into your soul for leaving them so vulnerable in the arms of strangers, you know that look!) so better to get Nanny to be the wicked one!

So with a blissfully unaware, slightly grumpy pug in my arms( well she had missed her breakfast) I walked into the specialists practise.  The atmosphere was a little harassed and buzzing with three receptionists discussing, pulling faces and dealing with real humans, phone humans and other staff.  Did I mention that they hadn't my appointment on their books so I had had to contact not only the referring vet but also the owner and the specialist.  Once this was all sorted I said I was here as the conversation was becoming more heated so I sat down.

My impression was of a hotel reception with a huge very expensive sculpture gracing the sweeping staircase, a big flat screen tv on the wall with a coffee maker for use whilst waiting.  Smooth lines, modern designs and all meant to impress.  The place buzzed with movement, noise and fear.  Dogs and cats sat wide eyed and whining, shaking and snuggling in longing only to go back out of the automatic doors to freedom.

Puglet sat on my knee transfixed with all the goings on snorting loudly in order to get the attention all pugs deem necessary to survive.  A gsd sat watching her every time she snorted he turned his head taking all that sound into his large ears, his eyes never left her.  We waited and I tried my hardest( well ok I didn't try hard at all) to not listen to the conversations the receptionist were having with each other, clients( human) and with consultants.

Soon it was our turn to go in and we sat down in a small but pristine room computer at the ready with a window not unlike chat for talking to reception( maybe I peeked).  The specialist came out and we discussed Puglet's eye ulcer and he said surgery for the ulcer was not required due to its improvement and a simple change of drops would suffice.  He did however say that pugs have entropion and she needed this corrected.  I was shocked as I have wonderful close up eyesight, was aware of the condition so was disappointed I hadn't spotted it.  Now this particular Puglet  has a serious fault in her windpipe where it joins her lungs so anaesthetic is very risky so I asked if our Puglet had entropion.  He repeated that all pugs had entropion.  I was starting to feel my pig headedess showing through so I continued I am not asking about pugs I am asking about this Puglet.  Nothing.

Trying to be calm I insisted he agreed that this Puglet would not be operated on if she had no entropion and said I was happy( I was not) to leave her if he would guarantee to leave well alone unless absolutely necessary.

So once I vacated the building I spoke to Puglets owners and said the specialist would ring them.  When I picked her up she had been operated on and nope not for entropion but a non necessary elective surgery to tighten her as suspected no entropion despite ALL pugs having it and a dog having an operation despite having no permission to do this particular surgery.  Mmmm.

We also left with a note which I did of course read.  They suggested that Puglet should have an operation to widen her nostrils, trim her elongated soft palate and something else I couldn't read cos I succumbing to the red mist!  Why?  Because Puglet had actually had all these done last year( baring nose widening as it is not required) by a specialist who advised they had had to be conservative with the surgery as her windpipe was so dangerously small they didn't want to solve one problem only to put at risk an even greater problem that was not fixable and far more dangerous.  Puglet was so much better after surgery that everyone was delighted that she had had a marked improvement in her quality of life without tipping the balance on her restricted windpipe.

By now it wasn't the bright modern lights lit up in my eyes but pound signs.

I don't actually believe in the good ol' days as the good ol' days are now in a few years time.  I don't believe all vets were James Herriot and worked for the love of it in the past.  Yet I do believe things have changed.  A shift that makes me feel uncomfortable.

Vets work blooming hard without doubt.  Stressful, emotional work that should be paid for appropriately.

As dog owners what are we paying for?

I once helped a wonderful friend during one of the most traumatic times of her life with her beautiful horse Cai and what struck me most was she was offered a mind boggling array of diagnostic tests both non invasive and invasive in order to find out what was wrong with her beloved mare yet even when we knew she was fatally damaged they offered more tests.  I whispered to my friend to ask the vet what they were likely to find, if they could do anything with those results and the response from the vet made me want to weep.   Not only was there nothing that could be done but it was highly likely that the results couldn't be interpreted fully as they hadn't the knowledge to understand all the machine had to reveal.  There is nothing wrong with learning all there is to learn whenever possible but shouldn't this be transparent and reflected in the bill?

I was always lead to believe a vet's caveat was ' FIRST DO NO HARM'.

So how far is too far, how much is too much.  Has animals medicine been reduced to procedures with little thought to what this actually involves, to preserve life at all cost yet how often do they preserve life how many times to they do more harm than benefit?

Vets are required to have everything possible at their finger tips yet who should pay for these super machines?  Do they pay for them in small increments with all their services or when they are used?  I don't know the answer.

What I do know in all certainty is each animal, each situation and each family or individual should be treat as such.  Not judged on a perceived problem.  For a vet when should emotions come into play?  Surely a vet should have a good 'bedside' manner but be the voice of reason a clinician who provide information and advice when asked for it....advice on the best for that individual, what is best for that animal not what the practise has available and certainly not on what that person is willing to spend.

We as owners need to take responsibility for our guys and gals, take advice, listen to the options but don't allow past fears, experiences and emotional blackmail to sway your choices.  First do no harm.  Sometimes the best treatment is rest, wait and always try and do less before you do more.

When I walked into the specialists I wasn't impressed by the opulence I saw an ego pleaser, a mirage much like the church, done to create awe.  I would rather the thousands spent on that spectacular sculpture be spent on research to prevent many of the issues our pets face or on extra nurse hours to reassure and nurse the vulnerable animals.  As for the treatment I saw a practise with excellent skills, very clever sales technique and a firm directive.  Make money whilst also treating animals.  Elective surgery is just that.  If an animals comes in for surgery and that surgery is not required it is morally correct to do an alternative surgery because the animal was there?