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!

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.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Devastated: Knightley has severe hip dysplasia

11 months 2 weeks

During a vet visit for a stomach problem that has been intermittent over the last week or so, the vet decided that Knightley needed an x-ray to check out his gut. I asked if she could have a look at his hips while she was at it. I had been a little worried about his hips - he has developed a real 'waggle' to his walk, and no longer likes lying in certain positions. Anyway, his gut issues are still possibly not good, but the devastating news is he has severe hip dysplasia - to the point he won't be able to be my mobility assistance dog.

The vet phoned me with the results after Knightley had been at their hospital for a couple of hours.... she asked if I wanted the abdominal or hip results first.... and in my ignorance, I just assumed the hip results would be ok. After all I have done all I can to prevent hip dysplasia, from finding great lines, to slow growth feeding and not letting Knightley jump or run too much. So I asked for the abdominal results first, which were so-so, and they wanted to do an ultrasound for further information. Then she said "and here are the hip results.... I'm really sorry to say, but they were terrible". I just couldn't say anything at first, I was completely stunned. I managed to choke out enough words to ask if she was joking.... but she said that the left hip was worse than the right, but both were bad and that he already had the beginnings of arthritis. I was extremely upset when I got off the phone, so very very upset. I contacted hubby and my parents, and then the vet phoned back to say the ultrasound was fine, although they are still worried about him (there is a big gas bubble in his intestine which may be caused by a blockage of some sort).

So we picked him up this afternoon, and saw the various x-rays. His hip x-rays are pretty shocking, the ball of his left hip is barely in the socket. I was appalled. The vet said his hips are the worst hips she had ever seen and the fact that he hasn't been showing symptoms until recently (but really not much at all) is because I have been doing all the right things - no running up and down stairs, no jumping, fish oil, slow growth etc. So at least he has had a pain free puppyhood.

The important point though is that Knightley can no longer be considered a viable prospect for a mobility assistance dog. Of course I am completely and absolutely crushed and devastated. I haven't really taken it in yet. I don't know whether to just stop doing all task training with him, or what. I think that he can still help me at home? I just don't know. Do I immediately stop all public training?? The vet thinks we may have a couple of years of reasonable function left, but he is the worst she has seen, so really, who knows how it may go.

Hubby and I have talked just a little about what we are going to do. Knightley has a permanent home with us, no matter whether he can work or not. But ideally we are going to look for another puppy if we can.

I am beyond upset. Knightley is home now, and is completely exhausted. We are not sure if we are going to the coast at the moment, it depends how Knightley is tomorrow morning and if he eats tonight. Frankly I think we should be cramming as many awesome things as possible into Knightley's young life while he still has good mobility. I'm also going to start him on a joint supplement, and he will be getting regular special injections to improve the quality and fluid in his joints.

Anyway, that is my bloody awful news. I am still in shock.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Knightley's raw nose, Oz Working Dogs is live, a weekend away!

11 months 1 week 6 days old

Knightley at the dog park when he just started
going and made enemies with AJ. Wow, seeing him
there reminds me of how skinny and furless he was!
Now he is so bulky and is covered by a luxurious
mat of silky fur.
Poor Knightley got attacked at the dog park several days ago by a boxer who just doesn't like him. 'AJ' the boxer has disliked Knightley from when they met when Knightley started going to the dog park at 5 months of age. Now that Knightley is getting so very close to full sexual maturity, AJ dislikes him even more, as AJ is 'intact' as well. I think it was over access to the water which you can see in the photo - Knightley assumed it was his turn to drink and AJ went nasty on him. It was all over in a matter of seconds, and we thought Knightley had got away without a scratch - he was wagging his tail!! AJ's owner told us to check him over because last week AJ took a big chunk out of another dog's leg. Eeek. I felt him carefully but didn't see anything, then a minute later looked at him, and saw a bleeding gash on his nose. Poor puppy, although he didn't see to notice! It's healing well now though, I've just been keeping it clean (or trying to) with plain water.

Frankly I think dogs like that shouldn't come to dog parks, especially after repeated incidents - but what can you do?? Maybe they should be allowed to come, but in muzzles. I don't know.
The poor puppy back at our car with his nose gashed up!
Thankfully it was pretty minor but it could have been so
much worse. AJ is pure muscle. Click on the image to see
the poor pup's nose in more detail.

I am very bad for not having written for so long but I have been VERY busy getting http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au set up and all working. In the time I haven't been doing that I've been sewing quite madly, and in the rest of the time I've been farewelling my old boss (booohooooo) and trying my best to stay healthy. Oz Working Dogs is completely open for business and I am able to mail worldwide. Please pass on the information that we are open for business. I am happy to make one of a kind items too - as long as they are not hideously complicated!                

Some of my new gear for sale on Oz Working Dogs, A) mobility
vest, B) belly band, C) basic small vest, D) patrol vest, E) summer
belly band, E) spine vest.
I went volunteering today and could barely keep my eyes open and am having real trouble now lol..... So I hope you can forgive the shorter post but it really has been hard for me to get to. Starting a small business means a lot of bits and pieces to do, and while the website isn't exactly vast, getting it working has been quite a battle. It's just so awesome to have it working, and a couple of days after going live I am waiting with baited breath for my first order!

My weight loss is going quite well - it continues to go down and that is what really matters. I watch babies a lot - I really can't help it - and I wonder if hubby and I can be successful . Who knows really, but we sure do have a few cards stacked against us. We'll do our best though and just see what happens... Knightley adores kids of all shapes and sizes so he would absolutely love having one around slightly more!

So I'll try to write a more newsy entry soon, but this will have to do you for now. Rest assured we are both alive and kicking just *busy* and very very tired at the end of every day. Thankfully hubby, Knightley and I are going down to the New South Wales south coast this weekend for a short break (only three hours drive), and I absolutely can't wait. I haven't got away since we picked up Knightley 10 months ago. It's to a wonderful working beef farm, right next to the coast, which is pet friendly (with four border collies apparently), and several dog friendly beaches nearby. Hubby and I went there not far into his first trip to Australia, and it has the clearest blue water you have ever seen. We kayaked on the bay and out towards the ocean. That was before I was unwell though, obviously. It will be nice to be back, although this time we are staying about 8 minutes outside the town. Knightley is going to have a ball - I'll try to get a bunch of photos. I need this weekend so very badly.... I'm just about running on empty at the moment! It will be good to give him some experience focussing in a place he has literally never had the ca

Take care internet world - until next time!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My new website, new vest complete, hormones, our postie, outside training!

11 months 5 days old

So it's been a while since my last post! There are reasons though, so I am sure that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

The main reason it has been so long is......trumpet rally and drum roll...... I have a new website, http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au which I've been doing a lot of work on!! You still can't actually buy equipment on there but we are getting very close! Take a look and see what you think. Of course it's only a start, but I have to start from somewhere. It has taken a fair bit of work just to get it to that stage. It's only a day or so away from when people can actually start ordering products. I need to get my 'sewing room' in order just in case!

My other excuse is that I got conjunctivitis a few days ago. I woke up at like 4am with my eyes glued shut and went and looked in the mirror at a red eyed angry beast. It was actually slightly better at 8am when we arrived at the free (got to love nationalised health care) drop in clinic, but I've been putting drops in for the last couple of days and while they are mostly better they still feel a bit sandy. Not very pleasant, but I know I've been going through a low immune period with all the aches and pains and funny skin rashes that come and go in a matter of days or even hours.

Knightley's new vest! You can purchase it from
http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au It has a Y shaped chest with
a padded chest plate which you can't see in this photo because of
all Knightley fur (and his leash), but have a look at the website for
more photos. Oops at cutting off his nose.
Knightley seems to really like the new mobility vest I've made him,and my other designs which I have been busy testing out. We've had several training trips into public, some really great, some lacking a bit in focus. By and large he continues to do really well. I've started to do some more work on his retrieve, which I just haven't been using enough as it isn't perfect yet so sometimes it is easier to hurt myself by picking things up instead of calling Knightley over, especially if he is drowsing. So we are doing a bit of a refresher course on his assistance retrieve, which seems to be quite needed! He is great at holding things though, really just awesome. I did some work with a knife the other day - just a blunt butter type knife - as he isn't keen on metal in his mouth and despite not wanting to hold it at the beginning he was happily holding for up to 10 seconds by the end of the short session. Good boy!

He remains completely full of energy, bursting at the seams every morning... and very hormonal too. Hubby went out to a movie with a work friend last night, and the work friend dropped by our place before they went out and said hello to Knightley. Well, let's just say that Knightley was *very* hormonal..... He does very occasionally hump hubby, but never me thankfully. 34kg + (75lb) of dog clinging onto my already sore leg does not sound very pleasant to me and maybe he realises that. Or maybe he realises mummy is not to be messed with ... at least, I hope so! He was very very excited to see someone new, or more or less new, so I think that was part of it. Still, I was quite shocked!! I think I should probably try to get people around here more often that Knightley doesn't know and work on his manners. Because last night they were quite atrocious.

The uniform posties wear in Australia - although this one is not
'our' postie and appears to be a postwoman, which is certainly
rarer! You can see why I was bursting with pride when he was
14 weeks old and happy to have that thing with the yellow creature
on top roaring right up to him. What a good boy he is.
Speaking of people Knightley knows and doesn't know.... Knightley has a favourite postman. Here in Australia our 'posties' deliver our mail from lightweight Honda motorbikes. Our postie has a real thing for Knightley and we get along well too. It has meant that since Knightley was a little puppy he is not at all scared of motorbikes, because they mean one of his favourite people! He won't flinch at all as our postie rides straight up to us, and will jump straight up onto his hind legs to say hi to his favourite postie. It's pretty impressive when you consider the noise, smell, heat and the uniform and visibility clothes our postie wears. I am so proud of my pup at times like that, he really isn't scared of anything! Saying that though, a funny thing happened a couple of weeks ago. We were out on one of our walks, me walking sloowwwlllyy with my crutch, and Knightley dashing around me in circles on his flexi lead (still can't trust him if he sees another dog or a flock of parrots), and our favourite postie appeared going down a nearby street, across an expanse of grass from where we were. Knightley was curious but not instantly transfixed like he usually is if the postie is anywhere near our house. Anyway, our postie saw us, and after delivering some mail to a few houses, came blaring across the grass area towards the trees where we were walking. Knightley just didn't recognise him and was a little unsure.... tail down, moving closer to me, until the postie talked. Then suddenly it was like he slapped himself in the face and said "OH!!! It's HIM!!" and became a different dog, racing towards his friend. It was very funny, he just didn't see him as the same person because of the different environment. Dogs really are poor generalisers.

I did some recall and focus training outside on our walk today with Knightley. Boy does he need it. His 'work' such as it is is much less attentive when he is outside, and when he isn't dressed and I allow him to just run around outside he likes to virtually pretend I don't exist. If I have an interesting object in my hand I exist straight away though! All the smells, dogs and people in the distance exist a LOT. So we did recalls with the reward of ROAST chicken (naughty to get cooked meat, but it did the job), and did eye contact (focus), but he was so hyped up and usually is in the morning for his walks, that we couldn't get passed a second or two. So I switched tactics, and for the rest of the walk, gave him chicken every single time he looked at me. That worked nicely and I should be doing it much more. Do I need to bold that for myself??? Lol.

So it has been pretty busy getting this business stuff done, getting a business registered, getting the name registered, getting a business PayPal (only way to pay so far, sorry), then getting hosting for a website, buying the domain name, and finally making the website and actually getting the shop working. Phew, but it's nearly done - to a rudimentary level. Let's hope it isn't all for nothing!!

I have an event to go to tonight at our Arts Centre. Our Executive Director of 3.5 years, the one who has been so good to me and given me casual work, is leaving suddenly and has a farewell tonight. I am pretty sad about it, it won't be the same without her, and my loyalty to the place slips a bit. If my business does take off, it means I have less reason to put in as many hours, as there are really only a couple of people I push myself to go in every week for - aside from the work itself. That is, when it is only volunteer work and not paid! Either way, I am very sad. I am wearing a nice black dress that should easily fit as I bought it when I was at my biggest and I have now lost a little over 6kg (nearly 14lbs) on my mission to become well enough and fertile enough to conceive and prove that doubting obstetrician wrong!!

Hope you are all well - or as well as can be. Take care, hugs and enthusiastic doggy smooches from Knightley.