Thursday, August 30, 2012

Week 5, Day 6

First conditioning routine in about a week. We've been busy doing other things and I wanted to make sure that Gata wasn't working too hard after her mild collapse early last week. So we've been playing around at Schutzhund stuff, some jumping grids, etc. Plus she has been making the change over to the Royal Canin 4800. That process should be complete by about Labor Day.

The only big change that I made today was to make sure that the dogs had recovery water at the end of each set. Gata drank easily and was happy to have it. Tor doesn't really see the point of this yet. I imagine that he will get better about it as he becomes more accustomed to it.

Start time: 5:50 am; 65-degrees F
Program: Walk to park, 3x5, Straight sets. Gave Gata some short throws in set 3; Recovery water at the end of each set, before the break.
Total time: 42 minutes
Status: Both dogs tired; Tor seemed a bit more tired than Gata, perhaps because he doesn't drink as well as she does at the end of each set; Took 500 ml of recovery water - came back with 100 ml, Gata drank probably 2/3 of it; Both dogs handled the work well, recovered well. Walk home uneventful. No signs of drunken sailor walking or any other early signs of collapse.

Really pleased with the session this morning. Nice to see both dogs working that hard and also recovering that well between sets. I admit that I have always loved to watch Gata move and feel the same way about Tor. Interesting how my perspective has changed over time. Prior to Tor, Gata seemed quite large, now she seems sort of small. I still think Gata's movement is more correct but also love the "lightness" of Tor's movement, even if it isn't as ground covering.

I think they will rest well while I am at work today :-)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lots to Think About ...

and write about tonight ...

I'm not even sure what all I want to write about. Definitely want to write a quick update on weekend activities with the dogs. I also want to write about my thoughts on nutrition before I become deeply entrenched in Monica Segal's books, which arrived yesterday.

I'll start with weekend training activities. Went out to club yesterday to do OB only as Marty was out of town. Since there was a fair number of people there I asked for help with preparing Tor for the BH. From what they have told me in the past, the normal temperament test portion is is quite a bit different than what we have done or seen in California. Judges tend to have the crowd of people circle and crowd the dog in the handler's absence. That's quite different and I wasn't quite sure how Tor would respond to that. He's basically a social dog but he definitely has an edge of aggression. And I want to make sure that I don't forget that as I am training him and preparing him for competition. He's really a very cool dog, but I need to remember who he is and train him accordingly. Anyway, he had no problems with that at all. The only time he even twitched in his down was when I walked around a vehicle in which the dog barked at me. He definitely looked up at that point. But I took it back down a notch and he was great. And as far as he was concerned those people walking circle around him while I wasn't at his side were simply interfering with his view. Other than that, he paid absolutely no attention to them.

He also did very well with a strange dog hanging out very near him, though we did not go any farther with that. Then I took him out and did a bit of OB on the field and a bit of bark and hold on the platform. The OB work was mostly about the jump and wall for the retrieve. He's an interesting dog, because he can generalize some things extremely quickly and easily, and then there are other things that don't generalize so easily. I guess I shouldn't be surprised - it took a little bit of effort to teach him to jump to start with. I'll definitely have to make a little more effort to work on the retrieve and jumps in different locations. The wall is just something that I'll have to figure out a way to work him on it often enough to build the pattern. He's such an athletic freak that getting over it is no problem at all, just need to build the pattern. Goof ball that he is, he could easily go over it in one direction only and put on quite an amusing display with his antics.

Hi bark and hold on the platform at the field is a bit perplexing. He locks up quite badly and his bark is truly pathetic. When I practice the bark & hold on the deck in the back yard, it is really quite nice - very strong barking, for sure, though he doesn't really go into any sort of a seated or crouching position. But his position is very stable, no moving about. At the field he is constantly moving back and forth, and side to side, and even coming off the platform. So, I guess I need to take my little platform around and work the bark and hold in different locations on that, too. I'm not particularly worried about - he has a very strong natural barking behavior. I just don't really want him to be practicing a poor version of it too often.

On other fronts, his launching behavior, jumping for a bite is getting very good. He seems to be a little more confident catching a pillow or sleeve presented to my left rather than to my right. So, I'll have to be sure that I give him plenty of practice on the right side. But he is flying over the jump with great speed and power. I think that Gata may still carry a little more speed and power than him in this exercise, but not by much.

Gata, on the other hand, continues to do pretty much everything just the way you expect her to in training. The use of the platform in barking has increased her intensity and duration, and reduced the stuttering that she had gotten into the habit of doing. I still need to work on her long down and her out of motions. But, none of that is surprising. Thinking about working on her out of motions a different way. There is no question that they have gotten better and faster over time. But it is the one set of exercises that are consistently less than excellent with her.

So, I'm considering using a method that I have seen Frans use for the back transport - essentially pulling them forward and making them work to keep back in position. This is something that I would start with very differently - probably while  practicing position changes. I would have her wearing some sort of harness and put a line on the front ring of it. To make it even clearer for her, I might put her on the platform or back deck.  As I ask for a position, I would pull on the line a little, encouraging her to work harder to stay back.

With all the uncertainties regarding her collapses, I'm not sure that Gata will ever compete in Schutzhund ,or anything else, again. But, she's definitely not a dog ready to retire from training, so we'll keep playing around at various different things. Who knows? Maybe we'll compete in something again someday.

Now on to the nutrition part of things. I am really looking forward to reading Monica Segal's books. I was very impressed with her approach to the issues when I talked to her about what is going on with Gata. She is in no way stuck in a single approach. She simply tries to figure out a solution for the dog, regardless of what it takes.

That is one thing that I find so incredibly tiresome in dogs - people become so entrenched in an ideal that they simply stop thinking. I see this in training as well as nutrition. Well, let's be honest, I see this in just about all facets of life. You don't have to hold an extreme opinion to be an extremist - you just have to hold any opinion extremely. It's just most obvious when you hold an extreme opinion extremely.

Anyway, I digress. There are a few things at this point that I feel pretty strongly about:
1. Feeding raw is more "natural" and therefore better for dogs. This whole idea that feeding dogs the same way that wolves would eat is a farce. Dogs have long since split from wolves and become far more specialized to co-exist with man. Plus, I certainly do hope that my dogs will live a great deal longer than the average wolf. Who's to say that the stress, illnesses, injuries believed to contribute to the relatively short lifespan of wolves aren't in some way linked to nutritional stresses or deficiencies or ???

2. The concept of "Balance over Time" is entirely wrong. If I am going to be asking my dogs to perform various different things on a daily basis then I better be feeding them appropriately. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in ever again thinking about balance over time. I will do my damnedest to give my dogs a balanced diet on a daily basis.

3. Carbohydrates - The whole mantra that dogs can't digest grains or grain products is wrong. I'm not sure that all dogs need grains, but I am absolutely sure that most dogs can use them (though not necessarily all types of grains). And I am equally sure that there are some dogs, like Tor, who really benefit from a steady supply of grain-based carbohydrates.

4. Fats - These still confuse me. I totally get the concept that Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are required and that dogs require more Omega 6 fatty acids than Omega 3s (about 5-10 to 1). But I don't really get understand the basis for some of the more current fads in oils - like coconut or borage oils. Everyone is so high on coconut oil and yet it has a VERY low poly-unsaturated fat content. Thus a very low amount of either Omega 3 or Omega 6 fatty acids. Whereas corn oil has much more poly-unsaturated fat than saturated fat and that poly-unsaturated fat is primarily Omega 6 fatty acids (7224 mg) versus Omega 3 fatty acids (157 mg).

So, now I guess I need to pay attention to saturated vs. unsaturated in addition to Omega 3 vs. Omega 6.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Eyes Have It :-)

We're all taking the day off today, mostly because I've had meetings all day, starting early. So not really enough time to play around with the dogs in the park. But, at least I worked from home, so the dogs got to go in and out as they wanted.

So, I'm going to post a couple of pictures instead - fun shots :-)   The top shot is Gata, the bottom one is Tor :-)   It gets a little freaky having those eyes staring at me all the time ...  :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Week 4, Day 5

So, I wasn't exactly sure what to do with the dogs this morning. Since I don't know what time the guys did the yardwork yesterday I didn't really want the dogs on it in the early morning dew. Maybe tomorrow, but not today. I normally don't work Gata at all the day after a collapse. But since I was taking them both to the park, I decided to try a little bit of work to see how she handled it.

The temp was about 65-degrees, nice and cool, not overly humid. In addition, I put the ice vests on both of them.

I did a couple of short interval sets - 2 sets of 3 throws, each set followed by a break (about 5 minutes) to check out the park, go to the bathroom, etc. After the 2nd set and break, I did a short session of obedience with each of them, Gata first. Obedience lasted about 5 minutes each. I then did 1 more set of 3 throws. Gata handled it fine, but I sensed that she'd had enough at that point and finished for the morning. 

The morning session lasted 36 minutes.

Once I got them back home, I gave them both a recovery meal. Then I finished up a couple chores and got ready for work. Before leaving I gave them both breakfast - raw for Tor, a roller ball with Royal Canin for Gata. She wanted Tor's food! Hmm, I hadn't counted on that potential complication. Hopefully, she'll start to like the Royal Canin more ...  

Crazy dogs :-) 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Week 4, Day 4 - Mild Collapse

I knew that the schedule was going to be a little topsy turvy for the dogs today. I had a new lawncare service coming in and they intended to use Round Up (or something like it) to get some of the weed overgrowth under control. So, I planned to load the dogs up and take them to a park as soon as I got home to avoid any potential exposure. So our morning work out was just a nice long walk with both of them.

The weather has cooled significantly this week and it was a relatively nice cool 72-degrees when we got to the park. It had just gotten dark. I decided to do a typical interval routine in the dark. It would be a little more difficult than usual because Tor has a tendency to lose his ball in the dark. What can I say he get much more excited about running and forgets to listen for the ball (I use Whistler balls and you can also hear them bounce). So, after she finds her own ball, Gata goes and helps find Tor's ball. He usually loses his ball on the first throw of each set. Then he starts to pay attention again.

Anyway, I threw 1 set of 5 for them. Bot did well. We took a break and walked around the park. Both dogs went to the bathroom and we continued with the break period. Started a second set of 5 and Gata collapsed, very mildly, after the 4th throw. She recovered pretty quickly and walked out around the park and back to the car. I watered both dogs and headed home with them.

Gave them a recovery drink meal with egg, oatmeal, corn oil, salmon oil and meat mix. Both dogs seemed fine once we were home.

Gata also started the transition to Royal Canin 4800. Her meal before I left consisted of a chicken leg and 1/3 cup of Royal Canin in a roller ball. She managed to roll it under a piece of furniture while it still had about half of her ration in it. So, though I am trying to minimize mixing raw and kibble in a single meal, I'm glad I gave her a little raw this morning.

My intention is to continue with a recovery meal after their morning workout. I will feed them a small meal before I leave for work. For Gata, that meal will be Royal Canin in a roller ball. I intend to work her up to about 1 cup in the roller ball in the morning and stabilize her on that over the course of a week or so. Once she seems stable on that and her stool is good, I will start to transition her evening meal over to Royal Canin, as well. I expect it will take about 2 weeks. Hopefully, she will make the transition easily and her stool will stay OK. I expect that the amount of stool that she passes will increase but, hopefully, we can avoid any diarrhea or other signs of GI upset.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Week 4, Day 2 - Exercise & More on Nutrition

Program: Walk to park, 3x5, Straight sets; Short throws for Gata on set 3
Total time: 38 minutes,
Status: Both dogs did well. I made sure that they both drank between sets. Walk home was easy but both dogs were clearly tired. I have to figure out a better way to get water to them between sets. It clearly helps them to both cool down and continue working. But I don't want to give too much. Will work on that.

Checked stools today. Both dogs have been stable on 3T corn oil + 1T salmon oil for about 1.5 weeks. The stools are well formed but a little soft. I may try to reduce the amount of corn oil to 2T and see how that goes.

I also listened to a Jean Dodds webinar today. It was quite interesting though probably too broad brush and on too many topics to be particularly helpful. Still, it was interesting that she is very anti-corn oil (and corn, in general) and pro coconut or borage (??) oil. Particularly ironic given that I have made the decision to try to transition Gata to the Royal Canin product.

I'll have to think about this. Of course, I just bought 2.5 gallons of corn oil at Costco yesterday!

Forgot to mention - I have added 400 IU of Vitamin E to their evening meals.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions ...

I've been wrestling with the impossible for the last few weeks - trying to figure out a way to make a raw diet that is the equivalent of the kibble diets to which the vets at Auburn are most accustomed. It has been cross my eyes and rolling them around backwards in my head and sending steam out of my ears and everything else. It has truly seemed impossible. Yesterday, a friend of mine suggesting spending the money to have a telephone consultation with Monica Segal. THANK YOU, MICHELE!

It was perhaps the smartest thing I have done since taking Gata down to the vets at Auburn. I just bought the basic 1 hr telephone consultation, but it was such a relief to have someone to talk to about the entire situation, not just one aspect of it or another. Her perspective was more or less the same as mine - let's figure out a way to help the vets evaluate what is going on with Gata - regardless of what the outcome is in a couple of months.

Aside from the difficulty of trying to formulate a raw diet that is the equivalent of the high performance kibbles that they are accustomed to using, I have been less than certain that if the change in her diet doesn't get rid of her collapses that we would ever be able to move on from the potential complications of a raw diet. Monica felt the same way, although not as much about creating an equivalent diet.

She strongly encouraged me to at least try to get Gata onto one of the raw diets that they routinely use. If I can't get her transitioned over without issue, then we will try to create a raw diet that is more or less equivalent to those diets.

Then the next question is, what about Tor? Since he looks absolutely fabulous with the addition of some carbohydrates and fat to his diet, I am going to leave him on raw. We'll see how both dogs do and they will, to a certain extent, serve as a basis of comparison. I don't really like experimenting on my dogs, but I think that this one is for the best.

So, what am I going to feed Gata? Royal Canin 4800 - 32% Protein, 30% Fat. The list of ingredients kind of makes me cringe, but that is almost certainly based on what I have been told to think by the media and lots of other folks, not any scientific studies about the nutritional value of different ingredients to dogs. Potatoes somehow seem healthier than corn, but I'm not sure that is true for dogs ...

I also ordered her 2 books on nutrition. So, I guess I'll be learning about nutrition all over again. All I can say for sure right now is that I no longer believe in balance over time, unless I define "over time" as being determined by the individual dog's energy and metabolic needs. And, I don't think very many of us can determine what that is. So, even if we go back to raw in the future (assuming that a change to a complete, balanced kibble fixes Gata) my approach to balance will definitely be very different. It will almost certainly be something very close to daily balance.

Stay tuned ...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Week 3, Day 6 - Negative Reinforcement

Played with the dogs last night and this morning. Did more or less the same thing both times - mini blind work and obedience. Continuing to work on Tor's accuracy in heeling and just having fun with Gata. She's probably crowding my leg a little more than she should, so working on that. We have to deal with that every now and then.

Unfortunately, for Gata, she has gotten into the habit of squeaking at the set up for blinds. Since I don't really like the idea of losing points for stuff like that, if/when she ever trials again, we're working on it. Plus, it is just a really good opportunity for me to try more negative reinforcement. Something I've never used very much but suspect would be good to have more comfort with.

So, I'm working on discouraging her mouth, whenever she decides to use it. I'm sort of fluctuating between 2 different, but similar, responses to noise from her.
1. Tell her "No", put her in a down, step away and let her wait about 30 seconds to a minute before she gets to try again
2. Tell her "No", put her in a down, step away and let her wait while I do a little something with Tor before she gets to try again

Trying to balance the impact on both dogs in this sort of situation. If I give her too many tries using the first approach it becomes pretty punishing for Tor. Alternatively, if I use the second approach it is probably too punishing for her, plus too many of those in a row and Tor starts to get tired. But, I'm not sure that she would understand if I put a number on it, for example, after 3-5 back to back repetitions of #1, then she would have to wait while I worked Tor a little.

This stuff is not easy ...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Week 3, Day 5

Decided to give both dogs a little bit of a break today. Tor seemed raring to go again, but my objective is not to over work them on conditioning work, either. So, we all went for a long walk - 27 minutes. We haven't gone for plain old walks together in awhile, so I took one of the shorter routes to see how long it would take. Will probably take a longer route next time. It was long enough though to get them both walking in a more relaxed, almost flat footed, way by the time we got home.

Tor pulled a good one last night. The bathrooms in this place are pretty small - too small for both dogs to join me. So I have gotten into the habit of having them wait for me outside the bathroom. Tor charged in the bathroom, remembered himself and downed, but still in the bathroom. I told him to back up. So he gave me his most shitty grin and scootched back a little. I smiled at his ingenuity and told him back again. He crawled backwards. I chuckled and told him not far enough and back again. By this time he is doing the military crawl backwards. I told him good boy, probably said goofy boy and laughed at him, which resulted in him jumping forward to come bother me for attention again!

So, he did it all over again. What a goofy dog he is ;-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Week 3, Day 4

I decided to work the dogs separately today. Gata seemed totally wiped out yesterday and early this morning. And, I think she has been a touch stiff over the last few days, more noticeably yesterday. So, I just gave her a nice long walk this morning. It was sprinkling a little when we got up. But by the time I took the dogs out for their fun, it was just plain old miserably humid. The temp was in the high 60s, but humidity was just shy of rain.

Since I had Tor by himself, poor boy, I decided to test his endurance a little bit more than usual, but consistent with our regular program and our goals.

Program: Walk to park, 1x6, Break then Obedience, 1x4, Break, 1x5 then Obedience
Total time: 48 minutes, though some of that was spent on loose leash walking reminders on the way to the park.
Status: Didn't use an ice vest on him today. I probably should have. It was raining lightly when we started out, but stopped on the way to the park and just seemed to get hotter and more humid as we went. It was kind of funny to watch his reaction to working by himself. On 1 throw of each set, he did a run by past me on the return and checked out the park to see if Gata was joining him from somewhere. At the end of the work out he was TIRED! He seemed fine, though tired, on the way home and seemed to finish recovering well once there. Gave him a nice recovery drink, with an egg in it and he is resting up to get me later :-)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Week 3, Day 3

Decided to mix things up a little more today. We stayed home and worked in the back yard. I did a bit of work on the mini-blinds. Both dogs already know the mini-blinds but I like to reinforce the Figure-8 pattern that I have them run. I do that by just setting up 2 mini blinds and running them, multiple times back and forth, and reward at random places. They are set up far enough apart to allow the dogs to clear the blind, make eye contact with me, and then I send them on to the next blind. They both like these types of games alot and are VERY fast and tight to the blinds.

I know that many people really worry about having their dogs look in every blind. I don't really work on that too much. It's been my experience, and I admit my experience is very limited, that judges are so pleased with fast and tight that they assume the dog looked in. But, I've also found that once the dogs are fast and tight on the blinds that I can get them to look in pretty easily by moving the helper around occasionally.

I like the idea of clipping a ball to the blind and having the dogs snatch it out of each blind before coming to me. But I haven't done it. I'm also not sure that I want to be futzing around in the middle between each blind that much. Partly, that's just because my dogs are pretty ball crazy and I would almost certainly have to stop them to get them to drop the ball between the blinds. And, I just don't like the idea of that.

It was quite interesting - we haven't worked blinds in quite awhile. But we have been doing the Bob Bailey exercise. And though, in some ways, it is the exact opposite of running blinds, it has similar principles and the dogs both ran very fast and for extended rounds right away. Tor made one mistake on entry the first time I sent him to the left. But that was it for both of them. They were both very fast and very sure of themselves - no hesitation at all.

Program: 2 sets of blinds (4 or 5 reps for each dog/set), OB between and after sets
Total time: ?? minutes
Status: Didn't use ice vests today. Interestingly, Gata seemed to have the better endurance of the 2 of them for blind work. I don't know if it was because she gets in the stock tank and lays down (Tor just stands in it), or if it was because I started with her and Tor was already frustrated by the time he got to run, or what, but I'll definitely be keeping an eye on it.

Our obedience work was nothing fancy, just heeling. OK, well sometimes that is pretty fancy with these two ;-)   With Gata I was just working on precision with her left turns a little. With Tor, I have allowed him to start to develop a bad habit that I need to get rid of. If he doesn't see a toy in one of my hands he tries to forge and wrap around my body a little bit. I'm not sure what exactly he thinks he will accomplish with this. But I guess it must have worked once or twice when I carried a toy in my right hand or something. Anyway, it's not very bad ... yet. And I don't want it to get worse. The body position isn't as bad as the head position, the lack of eye contact, and the lack of movement due to the different head position.

A fun morning was had by all. They sure do like running blinds :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Week 3, Day 2

It felt cooler to me this morning, but we got to the park a little later than usual. There was someone else walking their dogs on the shady end of the field so we went to the other end, which is in the sun. By the time we finished the first set and some obedience they had left and we moved back to the shady end. But, I think the sun was enough to cost us 1 throw on the first set. And since I am starting to build their obedience session a little, we got 1 less throw on the second set, too.

Program: Walk to park, 2x4, OB between sets - 2 quick sessions for each dog
Total time: 37 minutes
Status: Both dogs tired; Gata continued to heat up a little and showed a little bit of drunken sailor in the park and while on the way home. She also did more rolling in the park, which I interpret to mean that she is trying to cool herself off by rolling in the cool, wet grass. It doesn't help as much when she is wearing her ice vest. Both recovered well and completely once home. Gata recovered quickly enough to convince me to throw a ball for her a few times in the back yard.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Nutrient Guidelines ...

As I'm working to get the vets at Auburn to supply me with some specifics to design the "best" basic diet for Gata, I find that I am at a loss as to what all should be included and at what levels. For the purposes of jump starting the discussion with them, I have decided to use the AAFCO Dog Nutrient Requirements, originally from the Merck Veterinary Manual.

At least, it will give us a starting point. Hopefully, they will be able to point to specific items listed and tell me whether they need to be adjusted for performance dogs. We'll see ...

For those interested, here is a link to the list that I will be sending them:
  AAFCO Dog Nutrient Guidelines

It's quite interesting to note how different their recommendations are just for fat and protein content. I suspect there will be some other significant differences...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Week 2, Days 4 & 5

Meant to post yesterday, but got too busy.

It has been incredibly hot the last 2 mornings. I check the temp before I go out and gear up me and the dogs, so roughly 5:15 - 5:30. The last 2 mornings the temp at that time has already been 73-degrees F and steamy hot.


Program: Walk to park, 2x5, Straight sets
Total time: 25 minutes
Status: Both dogs tired; Gata continued to heat up a little and showed a little bit of drunken sailor walking on the way home. Both recovered well and completely once home.

Prework: 1 square Pemmikan each, about 40 minutes before we left


Program: Walk to park, 1x7 + 1x3; Straight sets. I wanted to check their endurance a little bit given the heat. It seems improved, but too early to tell. Need more data. Need to take the time to add more sets, documenting recovery and number of reps in each to full evaluate. Will continue this sort of testing of sprint endurance.
Total time: 35 minutes (significant portion spent on loose leash walking on way to park)
Status: Gata tired before Tor today, but not bad; But both dogs clearly tired by the time we got out of the park. Walk home uneventful. Both dogs completed recovery uneventfully once there.

Prework: 1 square Pemmikan each, about 40 minutes before we left

Evening: Obedience work with both dogs.
Gata: 2 sets alternating between heeling and transport. 1 set of the Bailey exercise - totally gets it but would really rather be practicing send outs. Silly girl :

Tor: 2 sets working on intensity without the toy in my hand - had it (frisbee) tucked into the back of my jeans. 1 set of the Bailey exercise - he totally gets it, too.

Thanks goodness I got home early enough tonight to work the dogs again. They are feeling so good these days, that not working them again in the evening is just asking to be annoyed.

Have to say, Tor is looking amazing. I really need to get some good pictures of him. He finally looks like an adult male. And besides the new shine to his coat, it has also grown in very thick. I stripped his coat too much before I realized it. Since his coat is so much shorter than Gata's it is growing back in a little faster. And, I also stripped him down before Gata. But, to be honest, I didn't actually realize what I was doing until I started stripping Gata's coat and it became more obvious. I'm still glad I stripped Gata's coat. I think it has helped to cool her a little in the heat and humidity out here, but it's definitely not pretty!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Week 2, Day 3

OK, it was kind of a crazy weekend - work bled over into my personal time (imagine that!) and it was bloody, damn HOT! So the dogs got a bit of a modified schedule. Rather than doing much conditioning work, we worked primarily on agility types of activities and exercises that required them to use their minds as well as their considerable physical abilities. Good lord, are they feeling good!

It's definitely still to early to draw any conclusions, especially since I didn't do any sort of conditioning work with them in the heat this weekend. But, I am absolutely sure that they are benefiting from the new diet. Whether or not it will eliminate Gata's collapses, I can't really say.

Exercises/Activities we worked on over the weekend:
1. Bob Bailey exercise - Both dogs have it, poles are about 5-feet apart now. Both dogs work for a ball ...
2. Broad jump - working on form and distance for both, also working on going straight to a target upon completion.
3. High jump - OK, Tor has totally freaked me out on this. Freaky boy can jump 1-meter from a stand still! What have I gotten myself into?? But, he still occasionally has trouble when adding movement or a dumbbell into the equation. So, helping him with his form under those circumstances by putting a smaller jump just on either side of the high bar.

Diet Update:
1. Moved up to 3T of Corn Oil per day per dog
2. Recovery drink is 1 scoop Revive + 1 cup Sugar in 1 liter of water. Each dog gets 200 ml mixed with other goodies (meat, egg, oatmeal, pemmikan, corn oil, etc.) after exercise. They usually get this in the morning, since it has been so hot in the evenings. They both clean their bowls with this. It took them a day or two to get used to it, especially when I started adding Sugar to the mix, but it is a big hit. They wait for me with great anticipation. This may sound normal, but it's not unheard of for either of these two to prefer a ball to a meal.
3. Still waiting to get the recommendations from Auburn regarding dietary ingredients. I am starting to compile a list using other references, just in case. It may be easier to get Jay to respond to my list than to provide one of his own or from Dr. Gillette's documents.
4. Overall, the dogs are looking GREAT and acting like they feel GREAT, too. Tor's coat is developing more shine than I have previously seen on it. His coat is quite coarse, so I just thought it was the texture. I was wrong. Gata's coat still looks a little rough from me stripping it too much. But her eyes and personality are even brighter than usual. I can't really explain it, but I feel their energy level and overall vitality increasing.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Feeling Better??

OK, I don't know anything for sure yet, but I am inclined to think that both dogs are showing evidence of more energy, faster recoveries, and I'm pretty sure that Tor's coat is showing more gloss.  Plus, when we went out training last night our helper said that he thought Gata was stronger.

It's hard to draw any real conclusions. I am able to condition her this summer, which I wasn't able to do last summer. It's been hot, but not nearly as hot, and not for days on end. By the time we moved out to Poolesville, she had lost quite a bit of conditioning. And between her collapses, the weather, and my lungs, it was pretty much the holidays before she started getting any sort of consistent work. Then we were doing the biking and all of that, until she wiped me out.

But, I certainly feels like they are stronger. I definitely notice that they really want to work at night when I get home. Previously, if I gave them a solid work out in the morning before work, they would be pretty relaxed when I got home in the evening. But that's definitely not the case now. And I think Tor's coat has more shine to it as well. It's harder to tell with Gata - she's always had plenty of shine and she is getting more charbonne with age.

Jay is supposed to get back to me on Monday with their desired nutrition numbers. Hopefully, he will. In the meantime, I printed out bunches of stuff to read and got a new book from Amazon today. Everything is about conditioning and nutrition for the performance canine. So, I guess I have plenty to keep me busy :-)   Hopefully, in a few more weeks, I'll be able to say without any uncertainty that the dogs are stronger and fitter and that there have been no more collapses or evidence of them.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Week 1, Day 6

Morning workout: 5:45 am
Program: Walk to park, 1x5, BwOB - Finishes (G), Fronts (T), 1x3 (G), 1x4 (T)
Total time: 33 minutes (significant portion spent on loose leash walking on way to park)
Status: Gata tired before Tor today, but not bad; Walk home uneventful

Prework: 1 square Pemmikan each, about 40 minutes before we left
Recovery Meal: Revive + 1/2 c sugar (200 mls each) + 1 T corn oil + 1/3# meat mix + 1/3 cup oatmeal +1 egg given within 30 minutes of end of exercise

Breakfast: Knuckle bone when I left for work, about 30 - 45 minutes later

Temp in the low 70s, high humidity, heavy fog. Dogs recovered well and looked good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Week 1, Day 5

No conditioning program work today. I have to figure out if/how I am going to bike with them again. But I don't want to do too many days of sprint endurance type of conditioning in a row.

So today is a fun day. Various training activities will include:
1. More work on the exercise from the Bob Bailey seminar
2. More work on proprioception
3. Work on retrieves and hold
4. Basic positions - Tor seems to have forgotten how to hold a position for more than a minute except in very specific scenarios. So, I need to go back to that.

Normal feeding schedule (no recovery meals):
Breakfast: meat mix + equal amount oatmeal +1 T corn oil + RMB
Dinner: meat mix + equal amount oatmeal + 1 T corn oil +1 T salmon oil + Genesis + Kelp