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!

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.