6 months 3 weeks 1 day old
Knightley has had what looks like a little hot spot (a fungal infection that develops after a dog gets wet and doesn't dry quickly enough to stop the fungus from forming - Golden Retrievers are particularly susceptible to it) on one side of his muzzle for the last couple of days, and I have tried hard to keep it as dry as possible, although there was little else I could do. The common household remedy suggested for hotspots online isn't available in Australia (Gold Bond Medicated Foot Powder - the stuff used for athletes foot, the powder keeps it dry and also treats the fungus), but it seemed to be slowly getting better, and it was tiny anyway. I had noticed a very small mark on the other side of his muzzle, it just looked like the fur was slightly thin there, but had paid it no heed because the hot spot (or whatever it was) was so much more obvious. Anyway, today the pinkish spot looked a bit worse, so I actually felt it. Imagine my surprise when it was actually quite a firm large lump - about the size of a baby pea. This has pretty much freaked us out. Golden's get a LOT of cancer (hubby is calling this the 'c' word) and I have to say, this is what I thought when I finally actually *saw* this lump properly. He is surely too young though? I have heard of a year old, but 7 odd months? The lump is pink and shiny and the hair has fallen out on top of it. I am going to phone the vet as soon as they open tomorrow, and get an appointment. Cross your fingers for us, let's really really just hope it's a simple benign lump that won't even need any intervention.
Before the hubby and I started getting stressed about the lump I first took Knightley up to the local shops for some socialisation and training (they are very close, so it's an ideal socialisation trip). It is like a mini mall, a complex of shops built into one building, so we took a walk around the whole building. We stopped at the entrances in order to just sit and watch people going in and out with a nice loose leash, and also get even more used to automatic doors (we've done this quite a bit already). We did some nice heeling, and I asked for a range of cues in a quieter place in the shade. It was pretty hot! It makes me aware how hard it would be for him to work at this time of the year for a good chunk of the day, unless he was inside. There's a sports bar that has tables outside and serves alcoholic beverages I go past on my way to and from the shops, and today there were two dogs tied up outside it and they go quite aggressive as Knightley and I went past. On the way there Knightley found it hard to focus on me, despite repeated 'leave it' cues that only worked for a couple of seconds..... the dogs really looked and sounded legitimately aggressive and Knightley doesn't have much experience with that, so I wasn't surprised he had trouble focusing. However, on the way back, the dogs did the same thing, but Knightley virtually took it in his stride. He did turn to look at them once as we were leaving, but a 'leave it!' go him back to heeling nicely. I was impressed! If he can have one new experience on every socialisation trip then I am happy.
He actually had two, as the party I mentioned in my last blog entry was a birthday party, and there was a big shiny banner blowing around in the road this morning when I was walking him up to the shops. Knightley was very suspicious of it, I think mainly because with the wind moving it, it looked potentially alive. So we backed up to where he wasn't acting spooked, and every time he looked at it I said yes! and gave him a treat, then took a couple of steps forward. Before we knew it, he was happily standing in front of it. Then a big gust of wind blew it around and he danced back several steps in surprise. So I picked up the banner, and cued 'touch!' and suddenly he forgot his issue with it and came forward and touched it with his nose. I gave him a whole handful of treats, and he completely relaxed. When we returned it was still blowing around (the hungover party-ers did surface and clean up eventually), but Knightley completely ignored it. Success!
Anyway, Knightley and I had a hour or so to recover from the heat, and then he, hubby and I went out to the local fresh foot markets, which we have been taking Knightley to since he got all his shots at 14.5 weeks old. It has been a while since we last went though, so I was interested to see what would happen, especially in light of yesterday's cafe practice. We went to have coffee at one of the cafes there, and after sitting down, Knightley immediately went into a down of his own accord. I was really really happy and impressed with him! I guess he remembered the down jackpot from yesterday.... either that or he was still tired from the walk to the shops. Either way, he got another jackpot. He did get up several times - there was a potato chip (fry to you North Americans) that I kept having to remind him to 'leave it' as it was within reach of his down and really must have been quite torturous to lie next to - but it was good practice and he always went back into a down, usually of his own accord. I had his 'please pat me' patches pinned to his harness, and he had some good attention, and he was nicely polite - although he rolled over for tummy rubs to one of the people sigh. I have to work on him remaining in a sitting position. We walked along the length of the markets, past people eating and having coffee, and Knightley didn't try to jump up on them or bother them - although he was pulling a little, sometimes suddenly. This is the situation I need the Comfort Trainer for, just until he learns that not pulling is a universal requirement.
A short time later we were walking past a particular book shop at the markets that I know to be a friendly shop, and I asked if I could come in briefly with Knightley. The young guy at the register said sure, so Knightley and I walked around the shelves. He was really great! The leash was nice and loose and he was very polite and didn't overtly sniff anything. I got him to sit and down - the down took two repeats of the cue but not too surprising in such a new place. Overall it was a great visit to the markets. It was at the end of the markets that we realised that the mark on his muzzle was actually quite a significant lump and started stressing, so it ruined a good outing a little. Nevertheless, it has been a productive weekend in Knightley's socialisation, and he is doing great!
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!