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, June 27, 2012

A busy weekend, some rough days, shaping, and a new vest for Knightley!

10 months 4 weeks 2 days old

Last weekend was pretty busy! We had winter solstice celebrations and art markets at our Art Centre, and I volunteered there for five long hours. Got a bit chilled too. Ended up doing a pretty full on (for me) 11 hour week there, as there was so much to get done. However, it all came together and was a great success.

I was really tired on Sunday though, after the stress of the obstetrician appointment on Friday, then the long day on Saturday. I guess it wasn't much of a surprise that by early Tuesday morning, my body was in serious pain - too painful to even stay in bed as contact with the mattress was just too much. So I got up super early and went and spent time with Dr Knightley, who did help with his furry happy enthusiasm and long adoring looks. He was a really really good boy actually, and was very gentle and spent a good part of the day on my lap keeping me warm. It's kind of odd how much of a lap dog he has become recently! We weighed him just a few days ago and he is a whopping 34.2kg (75lbs)! Pretty heavy for very nearly 11 months, and particularly heavy for a lap dog!  I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up 36kg (80lbs). He is pretty slim right now too, so it isn't from being too plump although he is a solidly built Golden.

I woke up this morning once again very sore but was able to get back to sleep despite the pain. I have skin rashes on my face, neck and chest too, mostly just really dry tight flaky skin, but some puffy red as well. Just not going through a good patch I guess, and like usual there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I hate feeling so powerless. My skin got so bad about 18 months ago I would only go out with a hat pulled well down over my face. Thankfully it only tends to last for a week or two at most. I had some scans fairly early in my illness that suggested that my heart and lungs were affected too as I had fluid buildup around them, so I suppose during these bad periods that could be some of the pain I am feeling.

Anyway, Knightley and I did some free shaping the other day. I have a little shower stool that ended up being too short for me, but I use it often as a useful little stool, especially as something to sit on during training. This time I used it for some training practice for Knightley. As we started getting into our shaping I made the decision to train him to put one paw up on the stool and started clicking for any interaction with the stool, looking at it and nosing it. He liked being clicked for nosing it and started putting his chin down on it, I clicked that but probably shouldn't have.... because it wasn't really any closer to what I wanted and he then developed an obsession with putting his chin down. I couldn't help myself because it was so cute and clicked it again, and then decided to move on and ask for more interaction. Of course he put his chin down again and when I didn't click straight away he got annoyed with me! Barking at first, then just sitting looking at me sulking. Then he started looking at the stool again and we were away. He nosed and prodded it, and I just kept on clicking, trying to tell him that yes it was something with the stool. Eventually he prodded it with his foot and instead of just one treat after the click, I gave him like five and a bunch of pats. He got that message! After then it was all about trying to extend the amount of time he kept his paw on the object. He did well. Even though my description sounds like it went on for a while it was pretty quick and he did well. I've thought about turning it into a trick where he pats things on command, and actually lifts his paw up and down. I reckon that'd be pretty cute. Training tricks will really improve your skills as a trainer, especially if you use techniques such as shaping which relies on timing, and an understanding of basic clicker theory and canine body language.

Knightley's new mobility vest, which is 99.5% finished.
I am very happy with it and think it could be a very good
seller. I'm thinking of making a few of them and putting them
on eBay just to get a bit of income coming in!
Before I went into this flare I managed to finish - more or less at least, before I ran out of thread, again - Knightley's new Y chest mobility vest. I am very happy with it! I can think of an improvement, but only one and I need some new hardware for it - which I have ordered but it's coming from Canada!

Knightley seems to find it really comfortable which was the main aim really. He just didn't like his old one from Active Dogs, especially when it came to relaxing under a table. This vest is by far the most complex I have made so far and has got me thinking about making a full on mobility harness with solid handle. That will really be the challenge. The wadding I am using is reasonable for what I am using it for, but for the stiffness of a small stable saddle that needs to take part of a person's weight I will need to source something else. The thing is, many of the mobility harnesses around are made of leather, so the leather itself gives it much of its stiffness.

Seeing the vest spread out on the floor. I made the chest pad
just a bit too big, but I will know for next time.
When Knightley is fully mature I will myself be wanting a mobility harness so it's worth developing something! I'm thinking some thin plastic cut into strips, something like PET, may stiffen the saddle... at least where I won't be sewing - because while my sewing machine is managing pretty well so far, it couldn't cope with several layers of webbing, cordura and plastic! Anyway, feel free to suggest ideas people.

I have been thinking a lot about my obstetrician appointment quite a bit since last Friday.  He really was quite negative about the idea of me having a baby but we really are going to try. I have also been thinking about Knightley and our training, in terms of when we are going to try for kids. I would really like to get Knightley to a really helpful point, AND to a really reliable point in six months if at all possible, as that is when we are aiming for, for baby try time. If I've lost enough weight by then, in the obstetrician's opinion! I put on quite a bit when I was on steroids, lost a bit of it, then gained it back when I was put on another medication. I'm also lacking in appetite a lot of the time, probably because the most exercise I get these days is my slow walks with Knightley. So I eat nothing, then probably make up for it too much - not so much the wrong sort of foods, just eating at the wrong times and not often enough. Add in my medications and it is so easy to put on weight. :( So I want Knightley to be able to really help by the time I will possibly becoming pregnant because it would be a difficult, painful and potentially risky time for me - so anything he could do to help would be really great. Realistically it won't happen when we start trying, but I'd like Knightley's training to get more serious soon. He does turn 11 months old tomorrow afterall! (and it's my Dad's birthday). I just need to make sure Knightley learns to walk REALLY politely on the leash before that time so I don't risk getting pulled over. Staying pregnant is going to be a huge challenge.

So that's what has been going on with the gorgeous muttley mutt and myself, and why I haven't been doing many posts! Hope everyone is well out in internet land.


  1. I read your post about your beach trip. I was so near tears so many times. To see one of mys pet in pain near me. Really hurts. I have joint pain and I can't even imagine the pain he is in. I have had subluxed joints...just awful. My dgt. has joint birth defects...she is in constant pain. Dogs cannot speak...but his eyes speak volumes. So sorry to hear of your lost of a such a lovely service dog. I hope he transitions to pet dog easily for you. Maybe having a female service dog would give him a nice companion to have around. I hope your search for a new puppy comes about soon.

    1. Unfortunately this is just the very beginning of Knightley's pain. I too have a lot of joint pain and have joked that at least now I can have company when limping.... not a very funny joke but sometimes you need to make light of a situation or it will crush you. At the end of the very active day when we were away, Knightley's eyes were definitely telling me how very uncomfortable he was, it was heartbreaking to see him moving so painfully. It is already a difficult transition, but I am sure he will be a great big brother to whatever puppy I find. Thanks for your comments, to know other people are out there thinking about my poor Knightley helps more than anyone knows.