Oz Working Dogs - Assistance & Working Dog Equipment

For assistance/service dog equipment, as well as guide, therapy, detection, search & rescue, police and dogs in training equipment check out my website http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au - I make and sell vests, capes, belly bands, harnesses, handles and more... and will post to the world!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A middle of the night update, Apollo is home and thriving!

Apollo: 9 weeks 5 days old
Knightley: 1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days old

My very cute and fluffy boy.
So, Apollo is home and has been for the last 3 days. He is everything I could have hoped for and more. He's very enthusiastic, a quick learner and very physically agile - much moreso than Knightley at that age, which I hope bodes well for his hips.

They are getting along very well although Knightley sometimes plays a little rough and I have intervene. Apollo is so small compared to him! It is hard to believe that Knightley was ever that size. Having said that though, Apollo at nearly 10 weeks old is probably the size of Knightley at 8 - or even 7. That doesn't necessarily mean that Apollo will be a small dog, but it does make it more likely. Knightley is a big boy afterall.

A bit wet from playing in the paddling pool... he LOVES water!
It's nearly 4:30am and I just was up taking both dogs outside for a wee. Apollo has been sleeping in the master bedroom with me for the last three nights in a little fabric crate, but when I came back inside after the dogs had done their thing 20 minutes ago or so, I decided to put Apollo in the big metal crate. He will have to get used to it as I have two medical appointments later today, and he'll be left in the crate. I had one on Monday too, but since that was Apollo's first day with us, we took him along to the appointment in a crate. He just slept (yay!) in the reception area. Anyway, so I just left Apollo in the big crate out in what has slowly become 'the dog room', then went back to bed. After nearly 25 minutes he has FINALLY stopped barking and whining like the world is coming to an end. Poor little thing, he sounds so very pitiful, but if I give in and go to him he'll learn that it's a surefire way to get attention. The best idea is to only go when he has a break from whining.

Such a cute little darling. And so small!
So he's already pretty attached to me - and Knightley - which is good because I was a little worried that he would just bond with Knightley a lot and so he and I wouldn't have a close bond. So far though he is well aware of who mummy is. Probably because I supply the food! On the subject of food, Apollo is doing fantastically well with his new raw diet - barring a little grain free kibble and a few splashes of puppy milk every day. I started him with two meals of chicken with bone (he's on four meals per day) and his stool was looking great, not loose at all. It is much easier to swap puppies onto a raw diet, and Apollo had already been eating beef and chicken mince at the breeders which made my next decision to try him on beef heart easier. I figured if he had been eating beef mince for a while he would likely be ok with beef heart, even though it's quite a bit richer. And he has indeed been fine with the heart. I am still giving quite a bit of chicken/bone to ease the transition, but he is doing just great. Takes a good while to eat his food - his teeth are so small and his eating involves a lot of shaking the food to get bits off. He also finds it hard to get through skin, so I sometimes take that off for Knightley. He is getting plenty of fat with the big fat caps on the beef hearts.

Knightley and Apollo together. You can see Apollo's ears are
quite dark, I think he may turn out a little darker than Knightley.
Other than that they look very similar.
I'm currently focusing on housetraining (not even one accident yesterday!) and basic manners, although I have taught sit, which he absorbed like a sponge. I am not sure how I will manage doing the training with Apollo as Knightley always wants to be with me when I am doing interesting things with Apollo (and food!). Apollo comes really well to his name as well, frankly, better than Knightley sometimes sigh! This is thanks to the breeder who used their names all the time and played come games with all the pups. I think he is going to be a very quick study!!

A happy little lad
So despite still struggling to get over these infections everything is going rather well. I have more work than I can handle from Oz Working Dogs, but I guess that is better than not enough. Can't wait until Apollo grows up a little more and we can start taking him outside some more. Since he got his first vaccination quite late (9 weeks old) he won't be good to go out places until at least 13 or 14 weeks, and won't be fully vaccinated and completely safe until 17 or so weeks. Annoying for socialisation reasons! I want to take him places right now!

It's weird having two dogs now, but Apollo is a happy intelligent chap and learns quickly! So everything going well here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Apollo comes home tomorrow!

Knightley: 1 year, 3 months, 1 week and 6 days old
Apollo: 9 weeks and 2 days old

Apollo on the right. This was taken yesterday after three pups
had already left to their new homes.
Well, the day is just about here, that Knightley gets a new little brother. I'm very excited, despite the fact I have a triple bacterial infection, sigh! But tomorrow hubby and I drive up to Sydney to pick up our ball of fluff and sharp little puppy teeth. I could have pneumonia and I'd still be going!

I'm going to give him a couple of days before we start training in earnest, but the first couple of days will be dedicated to house training and general manners. I am so looking forward to see what happens between him and Knightley. They should be well matched in personality.

Apollo a couple of days ago. This and the following pic are our
formal puppy pics from the breeder! He looks good.
We still have a bit of puppy proofing to do, but I've set up our 'dog room' back to how it was when we got Knightley. Currently we don't have a big crate for Apollo - he's got a little fabric one, and we have a big fabric one too.... but I haven't got around to getting a wire crate for him yet. I will though, it's useful and that's where I feed Knightley, and I'd like to have Apollo with his own. It'll make sure there is no squabbling over nice fresh raw food. I'll have Apollo sleeping beside my bed in his little crate for the first couple of weeks until he can hold his bladder all night, but after then he'll spend nights in a wire crate - so I'll have to get one before then.

Apollo age 9 weeks, face shot!
Definitely looking forward to diving into Sue Ailsby's levels from the beginning again. I'll have to get my books out soon and re-read level 1. From what I can remember it teaches a basic sit, zen (leave it), down, come and target. While you are supposed to do the steps in order when doing 'the levels', I found working on target really helped Knightley 'get it' as regards clicker training. I'll be interested to see how the first training sessions go with Apollo. I'm a much more confident clicker trainer, for a start, and I'm also really really hoping for a more food motivated pup! It was always so hard to get Knightley enthused in his training because he really doesn't care much about food. Hoping for a massive food drive with Apollo.

I am thinking of getting a dehydrator so that I can make my own jerky for Apollo (and Knightley) our of the lovely beef hearts I buy in bulk. That way if I need some extra good treats with Apollo, I can use raw food, or even a little cooked with parmesan or garlic. That is the only problem I've found with raw feeding - finding treats that don't cost the earth for your dog, but are good nutritionally. I feed a lot of beef heart - they come from near here and are from grass fed beef, so I am reassured about the quality. Knightley loves them raw.

That's the other thing I'm looking forward to with Apollo - starting him on raw from day 1 with us. He has already had a reasonable amount of raw in his diet, although it has only been minced beef/chicken. It's much better than nothing, but doesn't offer all the great benefits of feeding a proper raw diet. I plan to use a bit of Artemis dry food in addition (very high quality grain free stuff - I don't believe in feeding dogs grains). Eating raw should slow down Apollo's growth and make hip dysplasia (HD) less likely. I do wonder what would have happened if I had fed Knightley raw from the beginning - would his HD be as bad as it is? It would probably be a little better, even though I did a slow growth plan with Knightley.

I'll be starting Apollo on raw chicken - just a whole chicken cut up into Apollo sized chunks (about 180g, four times a day). Because he's had some raw already, and because he's so young, we won't have to stay on plain chicken for long. Hopefully he'll be eating beef heart by the end of our first week together with no tummy repercussions (heart, while it is counted as muscle meat and not organ, is quite rich for a dog not used to it).

Anyway, tomorrow is going to be very interesting, especially seeing them meet each other. We'll be going up and back to Sydney in a day, so we'll be back just after dark tomorrow. I'm pretty excited!!!

See ya later internetland, will try to upload some Apollo and Knightley pics soon - hopefully showing how well they're getting on!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Internet, meet Apollo!

Knightley: 1 year 3 months old
Apollo: 7 weeks 3 days old

So, in two weeks times we are embarking on Downunder Assistance Dog: Mark 2. The temperament testing last week went really well. We travelled up to Taree without a hitch and met the lovely breeders and their adult dogs. Then finally, we met the litter. They were so lovely, lively and happy. It was great to see what a lovely area they had been brought up in. I was pretty nervous and worried, because we'd come a fairly long way to find a new assistance dog prospect, and I really wanted to succeed with this litter.

I was also there to help temperament test some of the girl pups for a family with a boy with autism, to make sure we picked one that would fit well with him.

Our puppy on the right.
We set up in the shade because it was a very hot day - especially for us Canberra people!! So, the first dog we started with was a boy, with a green ribbon around his neck. He was extremely curious and affectionate on my lap which was great. He was happy to get attention at my feet. Hubby moved a couple of metres away and called him over and he sprung towards him eagerly - despite the heat. The other puppies were still milling around a bit at this stage, but 'Greenie' focused on us, it was very impressive. We next tried him out with our squeaky toy, which I had got specifically for our new pup. He was very curious, ran around after it eagerly. Then we tried a retrieve test, throwing a mini tennis ball and he brought it back, to my hand, twice... despite all the distractions around. We were very impressed - and the very first pup we tested! He watched the umbrella open suddenly but didn't draw back at all, and couldn't care less at loud sounds. The pinch test was great - about 9-10 seconds, meaning he wasn't particularly physically sensitive. A good thing when a dog is going to be wearing a harness/vest etc. He seemed a very friendly, happy and well balanced puppy.

We tested all the boys after that. They were all pretty good, none of them flinched from the umbrella, they all were interested in the squeaky toy - but only Greenie retrieved.

Meet the Internet, Apollo.
We tested three of the five girls for the breeder. Two of them were very good for bombproof-ness, probably the most important aspect for a pup going to a house with an autistic child - or any average family really lol! One of them actually wanted to investigate the umbrella/loud noises. I thought that was great. The other one was the only other retriever of the litter. If they had been wanting a full on assistance dog, I perhaps would have recommended this one, but the other one 'Dark Pink' was just so bombproof and loving I thought she would be the better match.

So it was obvious to us which puppy we wanted. While the others were pretty good, Greenie retrieved and that is often a big indicator for trainability as an assistance dog. So, he is ours!!! We racked our brains for a name for a few days and eventually (thanks for the suggestion, mum!) came up with the name Apollo, for the Roman god of healing. We pick up Apollo two weeks today.

The litter today, getting fluffier every day!
Knightley is well, we continue to do a reasonable amount of training. I am keeping up a little bit of his public training because I want to use him to train Apollo in what is expected of him in terms of public behaviour. I feel sad when I do take Knightley out as he really is well behaved, and I wish that we had been able to be the team we were meant to be. At least he will now have a best friend to play with - and very soon!! Knightley is currently undergoing treatment for his hips in the form of Zydax injections weekly for four weeks, and he'll get that every six months. It should stop his cartilage degrading too fast from the osteo-arthritis that goes with his hip dysplasia. Now it is warming up we hope to have him swimming regularly soon.

This breeder has been a real find, and it was really exciting to see the litter, and all the adult dogs. Their mother is a gorgeous Golden, quite dark and very delicate looking especially in the face. Although I like having male dogs, a part of me wants to own one of those feminine beauties.

So the pups are growing very well, and Knightley is as well as can be expected. Oz Working Dogs is growing and doing well, and I'm considering buying a new sewing machine. I've been pretty busy with it.

So that's us for the moment. We're up to Sydney next weekend for a wedding, and Knightley will be going to my parent's place again for the weekend. Then the following weekend, it's time to pick up Apollo. Can't wait!!

'Til later, internetland.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Don't faint, it's a new post!!! Temperament testing the litter this weekend!

Knightley: 1 year 2 months 3 weeks old
Possible puppy: 6 weeks 1 day old

I know, I'm a very bad girl. It has been so very long since my last post. Hah, that sounds quasi-religious.

The reason, once again, is Oz Working Dogs. When I started it I was rather tentative about its prospects of suceeding, but now it is very obvious that it is taking off in a big way. Especially this last week I have been working very hard - probably too hard - and I'm exhausted. I am stocking all sorts of things now, toys, first aid, dog cologne, and making quite a few vests, capes etc. I am happy that I am making others happy with the equipment.

I've also had several bouts of sickness since my last post, including one big whopper of a migraine coupled at the same time with some sort of flare in my primary illness - fever, bad rash, joint pain - which had me as close as going to a hospital as I've been since I spent my 29th birthday in ICU. After that horrific experience I swore I wouldn't go back unless I was half dead. Last week made me reconsider, but I did get through it.

The good news is that Knightley and I have been getting back into training some more. We're working hard on his recall, and it's improving - even at the dog park, gasp!! He's very good at coming at home, even when he is doing something fascinating outside. We continue to work on Level 3 of the Sue Ailsby Step to Success Levels, but without the urgency of before. If I get a new puppy, I plan to take him back to the beginning with the pup. Sometimes I realise how much Knightley does know, especially the indoor manners that are so useful in turning a dog into a nice companion.

Ready world??? Here we come!!
So the big news is the litter of puppies I talked about in my last post are old enough now for temperament testing to see if they are up to assistance dog quality. While temperament testing gives you just a guide of how good the puppy could ideally be when it grows up, it is a valuable tool to rule out puppies who are definitely not going to make it. I am very excited to meet them. The breeder has continued to send photos of the puppies daily - to the point I feel like I already know them somewhat. I'll also be temperament testing some of the girl pups. One of the families getting a pup has a high functioning autistic child, and they're getting a girl. The breeder wants my input to make sure they get the right pup. I've had a chat to someone who is very involved in autism assistance dogs, and with my own knowledge of temperament testing I think I'll be fine to find the right girl for the family. Or maybe two, and then I'll get the breeder to judge which one the child bonds better with.

A small part of their awesome puppy yard, completely with pipes
to crawl through, little seesaws, all sorts of things that blow in the
wind, balls, toys, objects hanging from ropes... just so many thing
that contribute to making a scare proof well balanced pup.
We leave for the trip up to the breeders later today, and it is a long drive - about 7 hours including breaks.... so we are splitting it up there and back over three days. First day will be about 4 hours driving or a bit more, second maybe 5.5 and third 5. Not a bad split. We'll be testing the litter on the second day. I am pretty positive about finding a good prospect in this litter - even perhaps two. These pups have been brought up extremely well, with an amazing expansive puppy yard filled with all sorts of interesting objects. Compared to how the first litter I tested (very very timid litter) was brought up it is just completely and totally different. These puppies have every chance of being amazingly well adjusted dogs. The breeder doesn't let them go until they are 9 weeks old as she vaccinates late, which is fine by me as an extra week with their litter and mother is good continued puppy education and socialisation for the pup. They are a touch over six weeks old now, and will be just about 6.5 weeks old when I test them. 7 weeks is meant to be ideal, but next weekend just wasn't going to work out. They'll only be four days off the ideal, so I think that will be fine.

If there is a puppy in the litter for us, we will have a few purchases to make as I have held off getting things like a crate, bed and mat, although I will be able to make all the leads, collars and harnesses that I desire. The main thing I want, with the whole of my being, is for this puppy to be healthy. If we had another pup with hip dysplasia I would find that extremely hard to accept. We will get PennHip done on this puppy, early, so we know what we are working with.

The puppies exploring the spray from a hose leak. It's so wet!
Knightley will be staying with my dad while we are away, as my mum is also away down on the coast. So I think that will be a bit challenging for him!! He's hoping to engage my brother as a helper to tire Knightley out and babysit him a bit. It's a good idea. My brother lived with us when we first got Knightley, and even though he has grown up a LOT from the lanky adolescent he was when my brother moved out, my brother is still more familiar with him than my parents.

So this weekend is make or break time. Cross your fingers and toes for me as I desperately want to get back on the assistance dog train!!

Will give you the news soon internetland, as to whether Knightley has a new best friend.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chance at another litter and fun times for Knightley

Knightley: 1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days old
New prospective pup: 10 days old

Wow, more than two weeks without a new post! What a very bad girl I am. I have been very busy, is my only defense. I've been doing a LOT of work on my Oz Working Dogs website, adding more and more products to it. It's coming along well, and I'm just about to have a sale in a bit. I've been selling fairly well, wouldn't mind business picking up a bit more .... but it'll get there I'm sure. I learnt from this blog it takes a while for a website to get popular and start really being read, so I'm expecting another couple of months before the hits really get up there.

Poppy and puppy
So, the good news is that there is a chance at another litter. It has four males, but we don't have first pick. However, the breeder certainly seems to really try to raise confident pups, so I live in hope of finding a suitable prospect. Unfortunately, the litter is all the way up in Taree, which is a pretty long drive from here. Slightly longer in distance than we went to get Knightley, but about the same in time.... about 7 - 7.5 hours one way. We'd have to do it twice too, one to temperament test at 7 weeks, and then two weeks later picking up the pup at 9 weeks, as the breeder doesn't let the pups go til then. I don't have a problem with waiting until 9 weeks (apart from having to contain myself), as they'll have better bite inhibition from being with their litter and mother for another week anyway. Which is a GOOD thing when you consider those nasty little puppy teeth. I was so pleased when Knightley lost his puppy teeth and got his big blunt adult teeth.

Poppy the tired milkbar
The litter is currently about a week and a half old, and looks little more than creamy slugs with squashed faces and little tails... LOL. Despite that, they are rather cute. There's quite a variety of colour within the litter, from a light cream to a few very goldy goldens. While I'd prefer another lighter golden, I don't have the luxury of choosing on looks. The mother of the pups, Poppy, is a lovely gold colour. I wouldn't mind her colour. The sire is lighter, like Knightley... and in fact looks very similar to him. These pics are from the last four days or so, some of them are just from yesterday.

Awww how cute. Not long until they start opening their eyes now.
So that is good news, even though it will be a big drive which hubby is NOT looking forward to. We have worked out that we will be going up to Sydney for a wedding the weekend we were going to pick up the pick (if there is a suitable one). So we've decided we'll likely just go onto Taree from Sydney, which at least saves us doing a big drive all in one go on the way up. On the way down with puppy in tow we'll just do it in one long fell swoop.

Knightley getting a bath last weekend so he'd be
gorgeous for today!
Today Knightley had a bunch of fun. Our vet had an open day, and people with their dogs were invited. There were stalls selling things, a stall from the Golden Retriever Rescue people, dog/owner look alike competitions, and all sorts of bits and pieces. Knightley was VERY excited. We had a good chat to the golden people with the rescue organisation, who absolutely loved Knightley's looks (why wouldn't you!). He got a lot of attention, people saying how beautiful he was and trying to give him treats (he turned his nose up at every one... I did tell them he was picky!). We also bumped into the vet who broke the news about his hips and she was amazed anew at how well he moves despite what is going on underneath. We gave him a good bath last weekend, and I even clipped his paws, legs, tail and ears neatly afterwards to make sure he would be gorgeous for today.

One more puppy pic! One of the puppies after its very first nail cut.

Knightley also had a heap of fun yesterday with our neighbours dog, Jet. Jet is a minature schnauzer who was terrified of Knightley when she was a little puppy, but recently has become a lot more bold! She and Knightley had a massive romp in the neighbours backyard, so much so that when I got Knightley home he just lay on his side panting hard but refusing to move. It's like having a dog park on tap!

So all is going ok here, things are a bit up and down but we are getting through them. I do spend a LOT of time on Oz Working Dogs stuff, but expect more blog time with the new pup. If we don't find a suitable pup up in Taree, there's a litter in Sydney due to be born in about 10 days from a breeder hubby and I really took a shine to that may be the answer. We'll see.
Knightley, happy at my parent's place.

Knightley has been going over to my parent's place quite a bit recently, he spent a trial night over there, as hubby and I were meant to go to the snow together. Of course then I got sick with laryngitis so it didn't happen, but they took Knightley for the weekend anyway because I was pretty sick. Knightley is feeling quite at home there, and seemed to enjoy his time lazing on this chair on their expansive deck! I can't wait to see how he goes in the pool this summer! Especially with having another dog. I think craziness will ensue.

Until later internetland! I'll try to not let it be so long next time.

Friday, August 31, 2012

No, the world still hates me

Knightley: 1 year 1 month 3 days old
Puppy that is going to someone else: Nearly 8 weeks old

So, we don't get the puppy. Getting that puppy, or even just testing it, was contingent upon a puppy buyer changing her choice from "the one" to one that had suddenly become free. The breeder did her best to change the person's choice but it just didn't happen, which she didn't expect, and felt really bad for leading me on. The one that is free is just not at all what we want apparently. So it has all come to nothing.

Hubby had got half the day off today so we could go up to Sydney this afternoon and bring back the pup tomorrow. So he still has half the day off so we will do something nice together because life has been just a bit lacking in nice things of late!!

We both really felt that the pup was already well on the way to being ours, they called him "Red" due to his collar colour, and we were fairly upset about losing Red. I hope Red has a fantastic life, despite being a little bitter that it won't be with me!!

Anyway, the search continues. There is a big golden retriever show on this weekend apparently and the breeder of Red, who is really really lovely, is going to ask around for me. I've also contacted yet another breeder. It is possible we may wait for the next litter of Red's breeder, which is due to be born the end of September. That means not bringing a pup home until the end of November, but it may be worth it.

I've just got to hang in there. It's hard at the moment.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Exciting!!! Possibility of a puppy! WOW!!!

Knightley: 1 year 1 month 2 days old
New pup: 7 weeks old??????

Just as I was moaning at the world that life wasn't fair and nothing was ever going right for me, overnight there is now a possibility of bringing a puppy home in TWO days.

Wow wow wow..... He is from a breeder in Sydney, who says this particular puppy is very confident, comes when called, and is just a standout pup. It is very likely we are going up to Sydney on Saturday to see him, temperament test him, and possibly bring him home.

Talk about sudden! I hadn't contacted the breeder previously due to her profile only wanting buyers from the area, but it seems I count. She has had a cancellation from this litter, and thinks that one of the pups is exactly what I want. Talk about exciting. Of course the pup may not be quite what I am looking for.... but please everyone, hope really really really hard for me. I am really quite overdue for something nice happening.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Yes, I am alive! So is Mr Knightley!

1 year 1 month old

Woah, so long since I did my last post! I am sorry my devoted (and not so devoted) readers! That will at least change when we find a new puppy. This will be my least posting month for over a year. Shocking.

There are four or so reasons I have been so tardy in my postings. Firstly I continue to be pretty rocked by the whole situation of 'losing' Knightley in that way, and then losing the choice of that last litter was upsetting too! It is hard to find another litter that I am happy with. Secondly, not much has been happening really. I do some training with Knightley but probably not as much as I should, and no where near as much as I was doing. In a way I'm just waiting for the new pup. Thirdly, I've had a nasty bout of laryngitis for the last week, although antibiotics have helped me get over it much faster than I would have otherwise. And lastly, I have been doing a LOT of work on my Oz Working Dogs stuff, specifically the website. I used to work in the website industry quite a few years ago and my skills are very rusty, but they have been just enough for the package I have been using. Unfortunately my skills are extremely out of date. However, if I was to pay for the site I now have to be done professionally it would cost thousands of $$.

I also now advertise on Google for Oz Working Dogs, and Facebook, and that takes some time as I learn those ropes. On that topic though, go to the Oz Working Dogs Facebook Page and like me! You'll get discounts from being a friend of OzWD and can keep up with new products.

Knightley with his head chopped off in my new no pull
harness. It comes only in black - apart from the handle which
is red and black and quite sturdy and semi rigid. This was my
prototype and I am going to change the design a little but by
and large I am extremely happy with it. The straps are wide
enough to sew patches to.
In addition to vests, capes and harnesses I am selling all sorts of other bits and pieces now, from leather collars and leads, to Musher's Secret (protective paw wax), treat pouches, clickers, dog whistles and more. You gotta check it out for yourself to see! I've also developed my own no pull harness, which also doubles as a working harness. It has a handle, and O ring on the back, and is made of wide belt material. I'm also soon going to be selling patches from my site, which for many Aussies will be a great relief I am sure as they are very hard to get in this country.

So you can see why that has been taking up a good deal of my time. I very much enjoy developing new products, especially ones that work well and I can use! I have stopped using my Easy Walk harness in favour of my own.... not because I just want to use my own stuff, but because it works better for us. Actually I should come up with a cool name for it. I find the versatility of it makes it much more useful. We use the handle to help him up into the car, and I use the back O ring quite a bit, such as on his Flexi, which you don't want to do on the front O ring.
Another photo of my working no pull harness.

Knightley continues on his supplements and by and large is doing ok, but we overdid it a couple of weeks back and he limped out of the dog park. Very upsetting to see but it's hard to manage so he doesn't get himself to that level. I am a little worried about his elbows now too. His hips are cracking regularly and I thought I had heard his elbows occasionally cracking too but it's hard to ascertain which joint is cracking sometimes... but tonight he was on hubby's lap (and mine too partially, he's a looonnggg dog!) and hubby said his elbow definitely cracked. Sigh, here's hoping he doesn't have elbow dysplasia too.

He had a new meal tonight as part of his raw feeding diet - wallaby tail! It was a big hit. Sometimes I give him a large amount of meat and let him 'self regulate', ie eat as much as he thinks he needs and then he'll stop when he has had enough and I'll remove the rest. So I put down 1kg (2.2lbs) of wallaby tail tonight and it all went! And this was AFTER having maybe 200g (a little under 1/2 a lb) of pork earlier. So it seems wallaby tail is a go. It is important when feeding raw that you give your dog as much variety as possible, and wallaby is something very new.

I probably shouldn't have given him that much when giving a new meat for the first time - but there was a lot of bone in the meal and bone is a constipating factor so it should take care of any runs that may eventuate. I think I'll try to source some entire kangaroo tails. These wallaby tails were chopped up - not so small that Knightley would choke, but smaller than I liked. I would love some entire roo tails, although freezing them could be a challenge!!!! I am assuming you know what a wallaby is by the way. It is similar to a kangaroo, just smaller with different colouring. Some are endangered, but some are not. That is why a larger roo tail would be even better, if I can find them somewhere. Surely a farmer somewhere must want to get rid of some tails? So long as he took the skin off first though........ lol.

A photo from last year up at the snow. We were
at the very end of the ski season last year hence
the patchy cover. I had been looking forward to
seeing the surrounds with a proper dump of snow
on them.... but oh well. Everyone gets sick but I
can't risk getting sicker. Next year hopefully!
One major annoyance from being sick was the big snow trip I had been looking forward to was off the cards for me. Hubby went up without me, and it was really really snowy this year. I am sorry I missed it. I was pretty ill though, and my parents had planned to take care of Knightley while we were freezing our butts off at the snow, so they ended up taking Knightley for two nights anyway. So I was extremely lonely all weekend without my pup and my hubby. It was great having both of them back, although it was right having Knightley leave while I was pretty under the weather..... I was really too sick to look after him. My parents seem to have got on well with him, so it's good to know there is always someone who can take care of him if needed. He can be a bit troublesome, but he is a lovable dog when all  is said and done.

I am still trying to find another litter to temperament test for a new puppy but it is easier said than done. Of course there is always the option of straying away from the Golden Retriever breed....... but well, I would rather wait. I have my reasons, and I love them too!

Anyway readers, take a look at the OzWD site, and let me know if there are any products that need adding, or ones I could develop. I'm going to have a go at for both my vests and for normal guide dog harnesses. Is there anything else the assistance/service dog world needs?

Take care all. I'll try to post more often.

Monday, August 13, 2012

An upsetting setback, canine first aid, therapy dog requirements and bonding time with Knightley

1 year 2 weeks 3 days old

So, there's been a bit of a setback in getting the new pup. As I've been struggling with a migraine on and off for a week or so now, I sent her an email instead of phoning the breeder again. Email did seem to be her preferred contact method on her website anyway. I didn't anticipate a problem, I had offered to put a deposit on the pup, so she knew I really wanted one of them. In my experience many breeders are rather poor about returning emails, so I rather assumed she had got the email but hadn't returned it. Anyway, I finally get a response from her today saying she has already let people pick puppies from the litter and there aren't many males left! So much for first choice. She said she'd been away at a show over the weekend, hence not getting the email. But that doesn't wash because I sent it well before the weekend. I'd also told her I couldn't choose until I temperament tested at 7 weeks when we were on the phone, and yet she went ahead and let people choose at 5-6 weeks of age. Very shortly after we talked actually. GRRRRR. I tried not to respond with an angry email but I was very upset. I don't think I was too rude at least!

Knightley snapping at the water from the hose. We've changed
our routine a bit since his diagnosis and since his symptoms are
becoming still more obvious. We spend a lot more time playing in
the backyard, and our walks are shorter so that if he looks like he's
tiring we can come home quickly. He loves the bite the water game.
Is this a dog that should be put down?!?!
Maybe it's for the best. I didn't get a 100% good vibe from her, especially when I told her about how bad Knightley's hips were.... she said "you know what you should do with that dog?" and I said.... "what??", and she replied, "you should put him down now." Pretty final huh. She thought that he would never really be happy as he'd always be in pain to an extent. Talking to my hubby later he made a good point which I should have thought of at the time and pointed out to her, that I'm always in pain but should I be put down?? Knightley may be showing a lot more symptoms, but he still has a LOT of fun, and is a very very happy dog. I wouldn't even think of putting him down until that completely changes.

So, now it's back to the drawing board. I gave a golden breeder/golden showing steward a ring earlier this evening who lives here in Canberra and we had a really good chat. There's a possibility of a litter way up to the north (Taree - for those Aussies), even slightly further north than we went for Knightley, although it may be slightly quicker on faster roads. But instead of having the pup in 2.5 weeks time, it'd be more like 3 months as the litter isn't even born yet. It may not even have enough males to get a good choice. I had a really good talk to the Canberra woman though, and she is going to ask around the golden networks for me and see what litters are coming up. I am acutely aware that every month more I have to wait is another month without that increased independence I was beginning to glimpse. It's just so very annoying.

On the other hand, it means that we won't be going away this coming weekend, and there is a pet first aid and CPR training session that I would like to attend. There is really only one organisation that does this training, it only happens once every six months or so, and I've watched this date come closer and closer. I was quite annoyed when I realised that the testing of the puppies was going to stop me from going. No longer I guess. I'll see if I can register for it tomorrow. I think that people who own working dogs who have a higher chance of being hurt because they are out in public more often should know a bit more about dog health care, especially first aid/CPR. Also, because I feed raw - and the new pup will be on raw from day 1 - I'd like to know how to clear obstructions etc, just in case. I am careful to feed big chunks of food, rather than little things like chicken necks which are quite dangerous for all but the most tiny of dogs, as they can rather easily get stuck and be choked on. But very very occasionally a dog can choke on a bigger bit. Or even a toy. So that's another reason why I want to go.

Several days ago I looked up a bunch of info about training Knightley as a therapy dog and getting certified through the Delta Society Australia. He looks like he'd do great on all the temperament testing part, and pretty well on the skills section. However, he needs to be able to heel perfectly in just a fixed collar and lead, and also come on first call with other dogs around in a new place.... and I think those two things are his biggest challenge at the moment. Just because he so wants to be with other dogs/people he pulls too much, and won't come to me in case I take him away from the exciting place lol. Other than that we would be fine. So I know what we have to work on in the next 6 odd months before he is old enough to take the test. I never did do enough recall (come) training with him from day 1. I really needed hubby's help with that one, to play what Sue Ailsby calls the "Come Game". It helps fix come in the dog's mind as the greatest most fun thing ever throughout every level of training. Knightley is good about coming to me if there are relatively few distractions, but we continue practicing with distractions. He's too friendly for his own good!! All the sociability training I've done with him will stand him in very good stead for those parts of the tests.... like being patted by 4 people at once, being patted by someone very clumsily, being bumped into, walking through a crowd, having someone throw their arms around and yell in a very loud and upset voice right in front of him and so on. All that early public training will pay off. I have been doing loose leash work with his fixed collar on and he is pretty good outside .... until a dog turns up, or a bird, or the postman....... *melodramatic sigh*

My beautiful furry boy only a couple of days ago. He's been lying
down outside chewing eucalyptus sticks a lot recently. I think it's
because his 1yr wisdom teeth have been coming in, and sticks are
quite soothing. I also have a sneaking suspicion that he quite likes
the taste of eucalyptus, and at least it makes his breath smell
quite nice!
Knightley and I are spending some good time together bonding at the moment. I am quite aware that sooner or later we will be getting that new puppy, so am making the most of my lovely loving Knightley. Also, because I've been pretty unwell with migraine, fever, and lots of joint pain, I like to have him on my lap for the comfort. Not that much of him fits on my lap anymore!! It really doesn't seem like that long ago we brought him home... and yet one just has to look at that great big furry beast to know time has indeed raced on! He is becoming an extremely furry golden, and still has a couple of years until his coat is fully grown to its maximum length. It remains beautifully soft from his raw diet and regular brushing (the brushing in attempt to slow down the rain of fur that goes EVERYWHERE... especially on any black clothes we are tempted to wear!).

He's a good boy, my Knightley, and continues to pick up things for me in the home. I just miss him terribly when I go to the shops and he never comes along for a training run anymore. His hips are making more and more clicking noises, proof of his hip dysplasia if I needed it... and while he doesn't seem all that uncomfortable I know I am doing the right thing by having him take it easy. It's just very difficult to lose the independence I just began to glimpse.....

Must find that new puppy!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Knightley more active, looking forward to testing pups and trying to move!

1 year 1 week 4 days old

It has been a very long time since my last entry, I know. My health has been up and down, and I am still... struggling with Knightley's status change, from assistance dog to be, to medically retired - or 'washed out' as people say in this industry. It was so sudden, when everything had been working out so well. The most recent Assistance Dog Blog Carnival passed recently, and I had initially intended to be a part of it. However I just couldn't bring myself to write anything cogent. Having to wash your dog out for medical reasons is an owner trainer's worst nightmare and to be around people (even virtually!) who had functioning dogs was too much for me. I didn't even read them. :( Maybe when the new pup arrives, whenever that will be, I can go back.

Anyway. Knightley is now getting a raw egg nightly (!!) mixed with a joint supplement, fish oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and kelp. Eggs are acceptable for dogs on a raw diet, and it's a great way to get supplements to your dog. I also add a small drop of 'puppy milk'... lactose free milk for dogs, just to liquefy the mixture a bit more - and the extra calcium and other vitamins don't hurt. As regular readers will probably remember, Knightley has never been a fast runner, and we've never had much of a problem with him jumping up on us. With this in mind, I think I have seen some improvements in his running speed and willingness to jump and lie down. I have him on a high quality joint supplement, and I do think that it, and the other junk I'm feeding him, are actually doing something. On the other hand, I never used to hear his hips crack, and recently I've been hearing them a lot. He sounds a bit like me really! I've noticed other things now too, his left foot points slightly outwards (which is the side with the much worse hip dysplasia) and twists even further outwards as he steps. There is also a slight bulge on his left 'haunch' that isn't on his right, which I actually think is partly his hip ball. It freaks me out when I think about it, but the ball sits outside the socket and it is his muscles, tendons and ligaments that keep his hip in place and moving pretty well.

Speaking of muscles, recently I found out that I have problems with a few of the muscles in my hip region. My right hip is much more painful than my left, and originally the diagnosis was tendinitis - and it still is to an extent. However, I had an appointment to discuss the results from the ultrasound which my hip injections were done under (about 7 weeks ago now) and it seems I have two muscles which are so inflamed and surrounded by fluid my musculo-skeletal specialist said that they almost may as well have been torn. Another muscle is almost atrophied to nothing. He also spied arthritic changes in a bone scan I had done a while ago that no one had previously noticed, in addition to the changes in my large joints. Nothing much to be done really though, I have some exercises to help and I stick to my muscle meds. I wonder why individual muscles are playing up like that.

Anyway. Onto happier things other than canine and human hip problems! If all goes well, hubby and I are going up to Sydney (unfortunately the far north of Sydney, when I live to the south) in about a week and a half to temperament test this new litter of puppies. I'm guessing it will take 3 to 3 1/2 hours to get there, if we drive without much of a break. Much better than the 7 1/2 hours it took to Knightley's litter!! I've been revising the post I made a while back about how to temperament test puppies for assistance/therapy etc jobs. I think I've done a good job with that temperament test, with a little revising of how I used it with Knightley. Knightley has sure turned out well, so I know it works! It'd be 3 1/2 weeks from now until we brought home the furry bundle, as hubby and I are going up to the snow with his work on the very weekend the pup will be 8 weeks old and available to go home. Annoying. I would happily not go, but after all the organising that has gone into it, I guess I have to put on an appearance.

Temperament testing again I will be looking for the same things, but with so much more knowledge now to back it up. Knightley was a natural retriever (or perhaps I should say fetch) at age 7 weeks, and I will be looking closely for that, as well as willingness to be recalled, curiosity, problem solving and sociability. He'll also have to be completely unmoved by loud noises, people making strange movements and sounds, and strange objects appearing suddenly like umbrellas. It is quite possible that with a litter of 6 males we won't find a prospect, as Knightley was the only satisfactory puppy out of 6 males, although there were another two males already taken. I am rather dreading going through puppyhood again, but at least we know what to expect from a golden puppy now... and I am counting on Knightley tiring the pup out!

As for names we really don't have a clue. We've had a couple of ideas but nothing solid. Hubby's come up with some silly ones, but has vetoed Darcy (named after Mr Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, as Knightley is named for Mr Knightley in Austen's Emma). However, I think that is because Colin Firth played Mr Darcy in the very well known BBC adaption of the book, and hubby is not a fan of him at all.... unlike me. ;) So I think we may just have to get the pup and see. I am expecting his colour to be darker than Knightley. For English style goldens, the breeder has bred some quite dark ones, although she has a real mixture. The litter is apparently is a mixture too, but obviously colour is the last thing I would choose for!! Perhaps colour may give us a name.... I wonder what 'gold' is in a few other languages for instance...

I actually felt quite well this morning, and Knightley and I had a good romp outside - playing in his birthday sand pit, his paddling pool (water is filmed with ice but he doesn't care!), and chucking sticks back and forward. However, sigh, as I usually do when I feel better than usual, I totally over did it today. Knightley spent a couple of hours on my lap (well, part of him was) in the evening as I tried to not dive head first into a migraine. I actually pulled out our Nintendo Wii. Before hubby and I went to England to get married I was quite well comparatively and used to exercise almost daily with the Wii, but when we came back to Australia I had a real dip in health - and then we got Knightley and I haven't got back to it. It is perfect exercise for those with a disability as you can do small movements or big movements to get similar results, there are many exercises you can do sitting down, and since you've not gone anywhere you can just stop if there is too much pain or stiffness. I played some tennis for a while, as well as doing some hula hoop - really good exercise for someone as unfit as I am now. The tennis is what did me in though and I'm on the edge of a migraine now, sigh. The funny part was watching Knightley's reaction. He accepted me doing the hula hoop ok, but when I started waving my arms around, he found he had to come and investigate. It took a lot of zen, and me having to repeat 'leave it' quite a few times before he realised the idea of the game actually wasn't to eat mummy's hand whenever it came within reach. I wish I could blame my continuous losing whilst playing tennis to the dogface, but he just made my score worse but I still would have lost! It was a bit disconcerting trying to play when every time my hand reached Knightley's head level I got the feeling of a tongue, or a cold nose... or even gentle teeth!! Still, very amusing. I am trying to hurry my weight loss a bit you see - it is very hard to lose the weight I need to in order to keep the obstetrician happy without any exercise to speak of.

We continue to do a bit of training every day although it isn't hugely focused. In many ways I am simply enjoying my time off with a quite adult dog who has pretty good home manners before the whirlwind of a new puppy hits. Knightley is by and large well behaved, and we certainly get along well together. He spends a lot of time as a lap warmer. There will be no more sleeping in once a fuzzball arrives home, so I am trying to enjoy however many weeks of relative freedom I have left.

So that is more or less what has been going on, in the shortened version. I also have some new products up on Oz Working Dogs, although my checkout system has some problems at the moment so if you want anything you'll need to contact me for an invoice (my contact page on OWD is probably best).

I hope everyone is well out in internet land, and that all our wonderful furry friends are well too.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Knightley!!

1 year 1 day old

So, Knightley is officially not a puppy anymore! Wow! What an amazing last 10 months it has been, and what a lovely dog and member of the family Knightley has become. It is extremely harsh that he is not going to be able to completely fulfill the job I have been training him for - even with surgery - but he is a lovely dog and we hope will be a wonderful therapy dog.

Knightley has had a wonderful birthday weekend. We were out for a lot of his birthday day - we had a trip to the Australian War Memorial with a Navy vet who is a client of my hubby's business, and who gave his company including us the VIP tour. So poor Knightley had to be left alone at home. I've been very sore of late, so had to go in my wheelchair, which was absolutely the right decision. I couldn't have managed it on crutches.

Anyway, after our tour of the War Memorial hubby and I went and bought Knightley his new paddling pool and a whole bunch of sand to dig in. We had to get a pretty shallow paddling pool, there wasn't any choice at this time of the year. He has a much deeper better quality pool for his water pool. So maybe when summer comes along we'll replace his sand 'pool'. Anyway, he got SO excited when we were filling up the pool (from here on in called a pit). Hubby moved the sand in tubs, and didn't actually have to empty them..... because Knightley did that, frantically digging the sand of the big tubs into the pit again and again. So funny. So far the sand pit has been an absolute hit. He loves it, and the sand comes off really easily.

As soon as we got there, checking out who is there and making
friends. A very different setting to our normal dog park!
Today we carried on his birthday weekend, and as we hadn't had the chance yesterday to take him anywhere special, went back to the dog park where he got completely horribly muddy. We'd only been there once before but it's very different to our usual dog park and a much more exciting visit for a birthday dog.

So much to see and do!
 He was obviously very happy to have a good run around. It is important that he does get these chances to run to keep up his hip musculature. I look back now and see lots of little signs that in hindsight tell us about his hip. He has never been a fast runner, and I thought it was just puppy clumsiness. Then several weeks ago, just before we found out about his hip dysplasia, we were at the dog park and another golden came in who looked very similar. It ran much faster than Knightley, and I asked how old and it was 8 months old... There was a flicker of worry inside me but I pushed it aside. Now I really do notice he is a much much slower runner than every dog out there, and tires much more quickly. Why did I think it was just him being a puppy?!
Flying dog!

 Anyway, back onto happy topics. He has really got a lot more furry over these last winter months, although I believe goldens don't get their final coats until about three years old. I find it rather hard to tell whether his weight is right with all his furriness. Especially on his chest and belly... it just means I can't see his outline at all. It makes what is already a very deep chest an extremely deep chest. It is only when he is wet I get a reasonable idea and even then I am usually quite distracted - with keeping the pup there!!
Being 'hugged' by a sweet little kelpie.

He had a really good play with some of the dogs there. This young little kelpie in particular was happy to play and give him lots of hugs! I really wonder what it is going to be like with two dogs and how Knightley will adapt. I wonder how we will adapt too! I bet Knightley will want to play all the time at first. I've checked out the potential puppy's bloodlines more carefully and am still interested in them. Due to our trip to the snow with hubby's work, we'd pick him up (if one passed the temperament test) on the weekend of the 1st of September. He'd be 9 weeks, instead of the usual 8, but that isn't a bad thing.

"Hello, who are you?"
Knightley gets on well with all dogs, but quite a few of them seem to find him annoying or something. Too happy and enthusiastic? He has never ever shown aggression, but there have been a good couple of handfuls of dogs who have had a bit of a go at him. This short haired border collie seemed to find him a bit annoying and was making "I don't like you" noises at Knightley, although here you see them meeting. I think the fact Knightley is yet to lose his bits is one of the reasons random dogs just seem to not like him!

So he had a great birthday visit to the dog park, and seemed to really enjoy going somewhere different. I'm going to do another entry tomorrow and put some photos up of Knightley in his sand pit having fun. 

I can't believe he's a year old. Time really has raced past, but he has turned into a lovely special member of the family. I wish nature hadn't been so cruel to give him bad hips, but such is life. Now he gets to have a friend. I wonder what the next year will bring. This last photo *is* my lovely Knightley to a tee. Reveling in the space and the speed at which he's going, almost completely airborne, and just enjoying himself because he's alive and he's an awesome dog! I hope there are many more years for us with Knightley.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Knightley's little brother? Therapy dog work, new items at Oz Working Dogs

11 months 4 weeks old

This is a short-ish post to report that after contacting several breeders I may have found Knightley's little brother. I have first choice on a litter with 6 males due to go to their homes on August 22nd, so they are four weeks old at the moment. There is a small chance the breeder may keep one of them, in which case I would have second choice, but it is relatively unlikely we would want the same puppy. The parents have excellent hip scores....... but so did Knightley's parents. Sigh. The breeder was quite dismissive of Knightley's sire/dam which is interesting (when she heard about his hip dysplasia), as they are usually considered rather pre-eminent in the region. She says she has never heard of any of her dogs with hips problems, and has certainly never had hips problems in ones she has kept. She breeds Australian Shepherds and Border Collies too. She must be very busy at the moment as she has three golden litters all at once although one is about to go home and one was just born. If there wasn't a pup for us in the 6 male litter, the next litter has 4, so that could give us another chance.

The sire of the litter I am likely going to temperament
test for our second puppy. Definitely got the happy
Golden grin, but far darker in colour than my Knightley.
So cross fingers this could be it.  Her lines are not as beautifully light coloured as Knightley is, although some of them are lighter in colour and it says on http://www.dogzonline.com.au (the main register of breeders and litters for sale here in Australia for pedigree dogs) that there are all colours available in the litter. We are definitely more likely to end up with a 'golden' golden this time though. I certainly can't choose for colour unless two of those boys are completely evenly matched in every other way.

I have found the last week pretty rough. I pulled up very sore after my fall and am still getting over it. My knee is still ridiculously sore to the touch. I wonder what I did to it.

I am also still coming to terms with no more public training with Knightley. In my mind he was already my partner, so it is such a harsh pill to swallow. I used to take him up to our local shops on training runs quite regularly, if I had to just pick up a prescription or something. It is within my abilities to walk there on a good day, and it was good training for him. Now I don't want to go to the shops without him. I suppose while part of me is mourning my lost dreams for Knightley, part of me is mourning the loss of my already increased independence. Knightley had already made a big difference to my confidence in public when alone. To lose that so suddenly is very painful.

Happily however, I've had some good positive reactions to my plan to turn Knightley into a therapy dog. I know from my time in hospital, which was quite extensive before they had a clue what was going on with me, that even a short visit with a happy smiling dog would make all the difference in the world. If Knightley can't be my assistance dog, he can still do a lot of good in this world. Frankly, having a visit from a dog like Knightley while I was at my worst and unhappiest in hospital would have made an absolutely huge difference. So I will try very hard to have he and I become a therapy team, knowing the potential difference it could make to someone's day or even their week.

One of my new Oz Working Dogs products. A personal favourite!
I've a few more products on my Oz Working Dogs website. One of my personal favourites is this neoprene handled leash. It is fantastic for those with hand strength or coordination problems, those with hand pain, or textile-sensitive autism. I really enjoy using it myself, and so does hubby whose hands are absolutely fine! It is just so comfortable to hold. I love making products that I can use on a daily basis!

I'm about to start working on a range specifically for tiny assistance dogs, so look out for that.

It's also Knightley's birthday in two days time. I am going to get him the paddling pool and fill it with sand, as I discussed. After his massive digging session on the beach he won't stop digging in the backyard, so I need to give him an acceptable digging space. I am sure he will love it. I'm going to get a whole bunch of balls that I can bury in the sand too, and for fun in the backyard.

So, life does continue despite the relative lack of posts. I'm just finding it all a bit tough at the moment. Hopefully Knightley's birthday will be fun. Maybe I should bake him a cake! You can find doggy cake recipes.... Will let you all know anyway. Take care everyone!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Planning Knightley's Birthday plus more, searching for a pup, a nasty fall for me

11 months 2 weeks 6 days

Knightley wet from his paddling pool as a 16 week old youngster,
cooling off from the summer heat. A photo in a million.
So, Knightley is coming up for his 1 year birthday, and I want to do something special for him - especially considering everything that has been happening to him. I'm looking for ideas, but I do have a few myself. He always LOVES playing in his paddling pool in the backyard, even when it is a freezing winters day (then I only let him get his face and feet wet), and loves the storm water drain when he's allowed to frolic in that. So one idea is a bunch of water toys that he can get off the bottom of his paddling pool (loves sticking his head under and blowing bubbles through his nose), and can float on the top and more.

Knightley blowing bubbles with his nose many many months
ago, 16 weeks old. Still has his puppy fluff.
Another idea is another plastic paddling pool, but to this time fill it with sand as he absolutely loved the chance to dig whilst on the beach. I'd also get some other toys to round out this idea as well..... maybe ones I could bury in the sand, different balls of every type imaginable and all sorts of other bury-able toys that he could dig up. Both of these plans would work well in terms of sharing with a new addition.

If anyone else out there has any further ideas for birthday presents for my gorgeous boy, let me know! I think after being retired before our lives together have barely started, he deserves it. Not that he'll really understand.... just he won't get to go much anywhere to exciting places anymore.

One more thing - if any of you out there have become attached to Knightley over the weeks or months of reading this blog and wish to share in his birthday, we would welcome birthday presents. Or, if you would rather, you could contribute to some puppy toys for the new puppy when it comes! We weren't expecting the expense of another dog, and simple things like toys would be appreciated by Knightley and the yet to be named (and found) pup! So, if you are interested in sending anything to us, and it doesn't matter if it gets here a little late for Knightley's birthday (28th July), contact me via either:

  • info (at) ozworkingdogs (dot) com (dot) au or
  • downunder (dot) assistance (dot) dog (at) gmail (dot) com

You don't have to by any means, only if you want to!

Anyway, Knightley's limp has improved vastly. Obviously despite the severity of his hip dysplasia we will have at least some time in hand without a default daily limp - I was worried for a bit there that the x-rays had set off something more permanent! We had a lot of fun together in the backyard this morning, and I let him do quite a bit of running around and barely saw him favouring that hip at all. It is important that he doesn't lose his fitness and muscle bulk, as that will make his hip problems worse. So there is a fine line to be found between letting him run, and stopping him before he makes himself lame. Today I rode the line perfectly and he was happy to come inside and sleep after our fun together. I do wonder what having another puppy will be like. It will change the dynamics completely. I have never had more than one dog, and it does make me wonder whether my bond with this second puppy will be as close as it has become with Knightley - as when Knightley was a baby he had only me to play with, but with a new puppy, Knightley will always be there to bond with first.... and only then me. I will have to make sure we have a good deal of time together alone.

The breeder I said I emailed isn't going to be breeding another litter for a while yet, so I have emailed another two breeders, one of which has a litter who is four weeks old now - with 7 males. I don't know how many of those males are still available, but it one of the breeders I originally emailed, and if you have possibly read my very early posts, it was the breeder of the bitch whose mating didn't "take"..... to be polite, heh. Looking on the online Golden Retriever breeding database, k9data.com, the hip score background of sire and dam are pretty good - back several generations it is all good or excellent, but a few more back there are some worse scores. Despite having mostly really good scores my experience with Knightley tells me that you just don't know what recessives are still lurking in breeding dog's genes. Hip dysplasia is hard to breed out but it can be done - it was done very successfully with racing greyhounds. I really think they need to change to PennHip even though it is a lot more expensive and very rare here in Australia. BVA is obviously just not doing the job, sigh.

Anyway, if the breeder with the 7 males happened to have a suitable boy, which would be relatively unlikely but possible.... it would be coming home mid August. As for a name for a new male puppy, I have absolutely no idea. From early on I wanted to call a puppy Knightley as I always liked the character Mr Knightley from Emma, and while I also very much like Mr Darcy from Pride & Prejudice I very much doubt the hubby will stand for that!! It needs to be something that sounds quite different from Knightley to avoid problems when you call the names out. So, I need my thinking cap on. You can't quite make up your mind until you've met the dog though, can you?

I've been thinking a lot about how all our plans for Knightley have changed, and I have decided something... if it is possible that is. From the beginning I intended that if Knightley had the temperament for it, and they let me do it with my mobility problems, I wanted to do therapy dog training with him. He definitely can't be a mobility assistance dog with his hips the way they are, but perhaps he could be a therapy dog?? I think he'd be really good at it, he is such a friendly, happy dog that people just can't help smiling when they see him.... anyone would cheer up to see that golden grin. The local training people don't allow dogs to start therapy  dog training until they are 18 months old, so I think I shall concentrate on training towards that, and also concentrate on getting a good joint supplement regime going to stabilise his hip. It makes me feel significantly more positive that we could work towards being a therapy dog for Knightley. It means he won't get to miss out on all the dreams I had for him. In many ways he will bring as much hope and happiness this way, it just won't be just to me.

Anyway, I had a rather nasty fall today. Thankfully I was inside, but even so it was pretty awful. Somehow I tripped over my own feet.... I swear something makes me clumsy these days. I fell down really hard almost full length, landing on the knee of my 'bad' leg and bruising it pretty badly, jarring my badhip, bruising the other leg and hitting my head hard. It was such a shock I just lay there and gasped for a while, but Knightley was a bit confused.... I think he was wondering if it was some sort of new game, but at the same time he seemed worried. Eventually I managed to pull myself up and inspect the sore bits which are swollen but not broken, and I think then he realised I wasn't playing but was serious and he became all licky and clingy.... trying to even lick my knee .... (owwwww). He crawled onto my lap after I hobbled off to get ice and seemed to try to reassure me that everything was going to be ok. What a good pup he is. Expecting my knee to be very sore indeed tomorrow. :(

Knightley in a large tracking harness, also
with the euro leash which does everything
you would ever wish a leash to do!!
My new cape with pockets is now for
I also have a few more products on Oz Working Dogs - and if you missed the announcement, am selling to overseas now too. There's a cape, with or without pockets, a 3m/10ft euro leash, a lightweight but super strong comfortable collar, a very mobile mat that can be strapped to the back of many of my vests and bands, and a multipurpose tracking harness. I'll soon be selling clickers, safety vests for dogs, flashing lights for collars/vests, and small water bottle/bowls that can fit even in handbags - plus more.

So, despite everything life does continue.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Back from weekend away, what an adventure!

11 months 2 weeks 4 days old 

A photo of the Pub Hill Farm homestead area, that is all fenced
off and available for dog romps. Knightley adored it.
Well, Knightley, hubby and I got our weekend away on the coast. It was a beautiful place to stay, very close to Narooma, and I highly recommend it for anyone from Canberra, Sydney or Melbourne. It's a B&B called Pub Hill Farm, and is amazingly dog friendly. They have five border collies, one 11 week old puppy, and a mix of sweet gentle older dogs and still vigorous young dogs. All absolutely lovely dogs who are well used to getting along with guest's dogs.

The beautiful view from the homestead down to the tidal inlet
which had hundreds of oyster beds. If you know anything about
oysters you are likely to know they only like clean water. The
water here is pristine and so clear.
There were another two dogs belonging to other guests, and then Knightley. The whole homestead area is well fenced off so Knightley got to romp with all the other dogs. Unfortunately the x-rays done of his hips, aside from delivering their awful blow, seem to have irritated Knightley's hip - maybe did some soft tissue damage - and gave us a glimpse of what is to come. Within about 45 minutes of romping with the other dogs he was badly limping, so we had to restrict his romping time, much to his disgust. It was heartbreaking to see him limping like that - but it MUST be due to the x-rays as Knightley was completely without any limp even after an hour at the dog park. Still, it was just a great place to go to, and at night the sky was breathtaking as we were 10-15 minutes away from the nearest town and that was a small town anyway, and the sky and air were absolutely clear. You could actually see our galaxy, the milky way, as a pale .... well, milky.... band across the sky. It was just stunning.

Knightley had a bit of a restless first night there, possibly reacting to our stress. We were of course thinking a lot about the discovery of his severe hip dysplasia and what it means for him, me and us. We have more or less come to the conclusion that we will get another puppy and throughout the weekend we talked it over quite a bit - the pros and cons. So we were all still quite a bit in shock when we got there on the first night, and I didn't sleep much at all. Neither did Knightley, he kept on coming up to me and pushing his nose against my face during the night. It was kind of cute and maybe he heard I was restless.... but it didn't actually help my mind turn away from Knightley and his hip! The conversation I had with the vet on the phone just kept on playing through my mind again and again.... "and now for the hip results.... I'm really sorry but they were terrible...." .... again and again. My poor beautiful Knightley.

Enjoying the new experience of the beach, with new sights,
smells and sounds! He simply adored it.
Anyway, the next day, after a lovely breakfast with the other guests, and a chat to the lovely people who run the place we were off to walk along the boardwalk that runs over the lovely clear water of the bay and little fish and sometimes stingray. Knightley was keen to see everything and was very adorable! We then went off to a dog friendly beach, and it was there where the real fun began. As I don't really trust Knightley's recall (must fix this, must concentrate from now on on turning Knightley into a perfect pet), we kept him on his long line which actually went fine, along with a very non-restrictive tracking harness. 

Knightley going backwards as the edge of the water comes up
towards him... he couldn't work out what was going on for a
while. I think he thought the waves may have been alive!
Knightley had never been on a beach before and at first ran backwards when waves were coming in, then chased them back out. It was very funny. By the time we left he had got the hang of it though and hubby and I were the ones running away from the waves as it was VERY cold, being winter. We could see him tiring, and starting to limp even more, but he was loving this new environment - snapping at the waves, scratching at the sand.... but it was when he started digging like a mad thing that we just didn't have the heart to curtail what was obviously bliss to him.

Knightley having a serious digging session. He got so deep
he found it hard to get out of the hole each time, and we had
to help as it kept on caving in at the sides. He definitely
has a fixation for digging!! Maybe I should get him a sand pit!
He ended up digging a hole about as deep as he was, although we did help him a bit which seemed to set him off to even further efforts. He was an extremely good digger... half rabbit or wombat perhaps! Eventually he lay down in the enormous hole he had dug, rested for a while in the cool sand, then started using his head to dig and move sand. He looked quite the fright! We knew by that stage that with his hip the way it was (his left is much worse than his right, although his right isn't good either), he was going to pay for all this unusual activity later, but it just didn't see fair to drag him away from something he was so enjoying.

Look what I did!!! Aren't I a clever dog!!? That's me with my
hand on his back.
We rested for a while together, enjoying the beach ... trying to persuade Knightley to take a break from his exertions. He lay in his hole looking very pleased with himself. Eventually he went in for another dip and this time didn't run away from the waves. I think if we were to go back we'd have a enthusiastic sea dog! It certainly was a beautiful beach, and it's a dog beach 24/7 even in summer, which is great. A lot of beaches in summer only are allowed dogs at certain times of day to make space for tourists during the prime swimming times. I'm sure we'll be back to Pub Hill Farm, and back to that beach. Hopefully with a puppy.

Comfortable in the water shortly before we left.
Knightley sitting after the day on the beach and more. You
see his bad hip pointed towards the camera. He is sitting like
this more after the x-rays stirred things up... tucking his leg at
a weird angle under his body. Usually when a dog sits you
expect to see their back paws. But you can't see Knightley's,
it's like he has to tuck his foot under to stop his hip flapping
or something. It looks rather unnatural to me. He does this
lying down too - but has done that for about six weeks and
I had been concerned about it.
We had a relaxing afternoon, had a nice little snooze as Knightley needed the rest and so did I - we were both very sore from all we had done. I had lovely local Kingfish for dinner, and Knightley even got a bit from me, plus a few chips (fries for my American readers). After our respective naps, Knightley had really tightened up and was walking like an old dog with a very pronounced limp. It was obvious that the day had taken its toll, but I am not sure if I would have done it differently, given the chance. He had such an amazing time seeing all the new sights and smells on the boardwalk, and then the beach was amazing, and romping with the other dogs and especially the tiny cute puppy was just wonderful for him. It was heartbreaking though, to see him hobbling so badly. We have been home a little more than 24 hours now and I have kept him more or less on bed rest, just very short calm walks, and as I had guessed it would, the inflammation is going down and he only has a slight limp now. I am sure the x-ray caused the hip problems to be exacerbated and the limp should go away - for now.

The following day after another lovely breakfast we left Pub Hill Farm after a lovely chat with the owners about dog health, Knightley and the overbreeding of pedigree dogs. We were very much on the same page, and they said they hoped to see us again. I am sure they will! What a fantastic place for dogs.

Knightley having nice break on our trip home. He was much
admired as usual with people always wanting to pat him.
Our trip home was pretty uneventful. We stopped on our way back at a place called Bateman's Bay, which many Canberran's will know as a popular and rather close holiday spot. Knightley got lots of complements, and people telling us how beautiful he is. Now when I hear that, I have a desire to tell them that he may be beautiful on the surface but you should see how ugly his hip x-rays are. :( But, I just thank them and move on. He is still a very beautiful boy, despite that appalling hip which has so torn up my heart.

Me and Knightley, pardon the quality of the photo. It always
makes me extra sad in those moments when I see how very
beautiful Knightley is, but know that he is now to live a life I
tried so hard to have him avoid. It's like there is a dark, awful
secret hiding under all that beauty.
He enjoyed peering at the seagulls and boats, but seemed to think it was a good idea to climb down the rocks towards the boats lol. I don't think so Knightley!! He was quite well behaved though and I kept catching myself thinking "oh I should have brought his vest and I could have done a bit of training".... before it once again dawned on me, once again like a pile of bricks, that that part of my relationship with Knightley is over - at least the in public part.

It has definitely been a very hard pill to swallow, for both me and my husband, but we are working on accepting what the fates have served up for us. In the meantime I have contacted the very first breeder I ever contacted, who I really liked the look of, but whose litter I was interested in was born all girls, and then the next one would have been a long time away. So I sent an email to her and am waiting to hear back. Ideally it won't be all that long until we find a new pup. I don't want to be pregnant with an untrained pup!!! 

Knightley wanting rather badly to scramble down the rocks. Bateman's Bay
turns into the Clyde River which was an important tributary in this part of
Australia before there were roads in good repair. Many little ferries and pleasure
craft can be found plying its waters.