Puppy Toes.


It’s been mentioned online, but not formally announced here: I’m getting a puppy.

Yes, there will be the patter of puppy toes, as someone put it! And the chatter of puppy teeth. Lots of puppy teeth.

This is a Doberman puppy, a near relative of Laevatein and from the same breeder (Ascomannis). I have a preference for black, but I don’t know yet if my puppy will be male or female. No wagering, please.
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Recall Roundup

This entry is part 22 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

Black Labrador Mindy in her green service vest beside an enormous prickly pear

Last November — yes, I’m more than a little behind on posting — Mindy took a trip with me down to my aunt’s ranch in Texas. I knew this would be an exciting trip for her for a variety of reasons, not least of which that the ranch is a seriously cool place for puppies to explore, with lizards, snakes, rabbits, deer, boar, turkeys, and many other things. (Some of these are fun to watch or even chase; some should be explored by sniffing their tracks only.)

The ranch is big, but not so big that a dog couldn’t find her way off it and get into local trouble. I would never have allowed Laev off-leash even for a moment there, if I’d ever taken her; Laev would have tangled with a rattlesnake and then chased a rabbit or deer straight off into a neighboring sheep ranch. There’s a ranch gate on the road which for years has been decorated with the hanging bodies of the latest coyotes or dogs which had been shot while hunting or harassing their stock. Continue reading

A Farewell to Laevatein

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight
happiest little Doberman on earth in this shot

happiest little Doberman on earth in this shot

I wanted to write a new post for the new year. This wasn’t what I wanted to write.

Today, I lost Laevatein. She had a great morning of playing in the snow as I unloaded dog food and running about the house kill-shaking her toy dinosaur. She jumped in the car I was unloading, ready to travel even though lately we’ve been going only to her chemotherapy, and was generally happy and enthusiastic. I left her out to enjoy the yard in the comparatively warmer temperatures, but when she didn’t return I went out to check on her. I walked over the entire fenced yard, looking see if a drift had made a ramp over the fence or anything, but when I returned to the porch by a different angle, I found her lying on it. Continue reading

Laev’s Progress

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight

Time for another update, though I’ve been kind of putting it off….

First, the Bad News

So. Wednesday was supposed to be Laev’s last chemo treatment — except that her lymph nodes were enlarging again, and while she achieved clinical remission pretty quickly, her oncologist isn’t happy with her latest progress and the lymph nodes. So I’ve been worrying a bit. Continue reading

Autumn Fun

It’s autumn, perhaps my favorite season, and I’m keeping an eye on the Dober-thermometer (the tightness of a Doberman’s sleeping curl indicates the overall temperature). So far it’s been mild and lovely, but I expect to see tighter sleeps in the coming week. First snow might be Wednesday. I’ll have to stock up on firewood.

Laev is NOT LOOKING at the caramel apples off the right side of the picture.

Laev is NOT LOOKING at the caramel apples off the right side of the picture.

We took a trip to a local orchard, just for fun. Laev was walking happily beside me until we got the caramel apples. Then she sniffed the goodie-laden air, got excited, and promptly flattened herself to the ground. “Look at me! Look at how not-pushy I’m being around the yummies! Do I get one?” Continue reading

Dice as Training Tools

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Training Tools

To train an animal, you really need only two things: a marker it can recognize, and something it wants as reinforcement.

To train an animal efficiently, you need a way to track and plan your sessions, or you’ll waste time in moving too quickly (confusing your learner) or moving too slowly (frustrating you both).

Dice five

(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

There are many ways to do this, of course, but I just got home from Gen Con, the world’s largest gaming convention, and I thought I’d mention some less common planning tools you might not have seen. Continue reading

Updates on the Dogs

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight

And here’s your irregular update on Shakespeare and Laevatein….

Laevatein has no idea she’s sick. Aside from lethargy about 36-48 hours after her chemo — during which she’s merely sleepy, and doesn’t seem to feel ill except for just once — she’s living a totally normal life. We’ll hope the chemo does its thing and pushes the lymphoma into remission. In the meantime, we are so very glad we did our relaxation work with the mat before now, because I don’t know what our frequent clinic visits would be without it!

For Shakespeare, we’re just looking for as many good days as we can get — but so far, we’re getting more than expected! Yesterday marked FIVE WEEKS from his diagnosis with a prediction of as little as three weeks to live, so we’re very pleased. His jaw is distorted and swollen, and he’s having to work harder at eating and drinking, but the pain meds seem to be doing the trick and his attitude is pretty good, his routine pretty similar to what it’s been for the last year.

And I was told that his appetite would be the primary barometer of how he’s doing, that we should start making the tough decisions when he feels too bad to eat. (The cancer is in his jaw, so pain while eating is going to be a big factor.) But this is what Shakespeare looks like at suppertime: Continue reading

Waylaid by a Rimadyl Overdose

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight

Normally, the Rimadyl wouldn’t even have been in the house.

A 100 mg Rimadyl pill bought in the United Sta...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I personally don’t like carprofen for my dogs, due to the potential liver damage (which, I’ve read, Dobermans may be more susceptible to than some other breeds), and we tend to use other anti-inflamnatories when necessary. But Shakespeare was given as little as 3 weeks to live, and living long enough to develop liver problems would be a win anyway, so I brought home Rimadyl to keep him as comfortable as possible.

It didn’t even occur to me to ask if it came in a non-flavored version. My dogs are , and a regular capsule would have been much safer than bringing a liver-flavored drug into a house with Laev on prednisone, giving her chronic munchies and motivating her to new heights of counter-surfing. Continue reading

Our Cancer Fights

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight

So I’m making this a series, so we can connect all the cancer-related posts for anyone interested and in case it helps anyone later on. I really, really wanted to call this series “Kicking Cancer in the Teeth,” but I thought that might be tempting fate a little too viciously. But it’s the attitude I’m bringing, just the same.

First, thank you for all the prayers, good wishes, and support. I really appreciate it! Continue reading

Sad news: my sick dogs

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight
Cytology from a needle aspiration biopsy of a ...

Cytology from a needle aspiration biopsy of a lymph node of a dog with lymphoma.

Not quite sure how to start this one, so I guess I’ll just jump in…. Laevatein has terminal cancer. Lymphoma.

She was just diagnosed, when a vet found somewhat-enlarged lymph nodes during a routine exam. “I have to mention the c-word,” she said, “but she really doesn’t present like a cancer dog.” Indeed not; Laev is 8, but she’s quite active (she spent about 4 hours Sunday night circling and jumping, trying to work out how to reach a critter in a tree) and looks sleek and shiny. We figured some sort of tick-borne disease was more likely and ordered panels to test.

But the biopsies came back as lymphoma. Two weeks later, her lymph nodes are already large enough to visibly distort her silhouette in front and rear. Monday we met with the oncologist, discussed options, got further tests (cancer has likely spread to spleen and lungs, but not liver), and started chemotherapy. Continue reading