Saturday, April 29, 2017

Coming Down

I am not a naive person and while I like to think of myself as an optimist, I am a realist.  Even so I would have been hard pressed to have predicted just how crappy my 2017 State Agility Trial would be.  It was a warm weekend, just shy of 30 degrees on Saturday.  So it wasn't a huge surprise that Cassie didn't want to do agility.  To her credit she came off the start line like a cracker in all of her events but on the first day it was just too hot for her and she only managed a few jumps before running and hiding in the tunnels.  The second day it was the same for her first run but thankfully she was happy to run in her last event.  It wasn't a pretty run and I didn't handle her that well but she was happy and running fast.  It was a nice way to finish her weekend and while I'm disappointed that we seem to never have a great State Trial the most important thing is that overall she is going really well and no signs of ring stress.

All photos by Brett Sandells
 Veto was average at best on Saturday and progressively got worse over the weekend.  His Suprelorin implant was due to wear off in March.  In my "wisdom" I had decided to not re-implant him and see how things went with him as an intact dog.  Big, huge, stupid mistake.  I'd noticed at the end of March that some of the gross boy behaviours such as marking EVERYTHING, amongst other things had returned.  Then at the Cloverdale Agility trial at the beginning of April he was extremely distracted, wanted to pee on everything and really struggled to give me any focus because he was so busy keeping an eye on all the other dogs.  Cloverdale can be a challenging trial anyway just because it is held on a suburban oval so a strange ground coupled with a lot of different smells.  But his hyper-vigilance to all the other dogs (especially boys) and then reactivity if they stared at him made it a pretty unpleasant day.  With the State Agility Trial two weeks later I had a big dilemma on my hands.  There was no doubt in my mind that the testicles have to go.  Getting surgery done before the States was out of the question but I knew I had to do something immediately.  In the end I decided to go with another six month implant for now and then look at castration mid year.   As things transpired I should have just had him castrated and not worried about the States but I didn't realise just how bad he would be.

Unfortunately the implants take up to four weeks to work.  I had thought it was only two weeks but no, it's four...  Because I had allowed the last one to wear off it was pretty much like starting all over again.  The two week mark is normally when the testosterone levels are at their highest and guess what, that was the weekend of the States.  Because we were at Dogs West, a grounds that he is very familiar with, I had thought he might not be as bad as he was at Cloverdale but he was a nightmare.  His first day was the better of the two.  First run was pretty average, but the next three events were not bad with just one mistake in each.  But he was not with me at all.  I had zero focus because he was so concerned about the other dogs around us.  Every time I tried to warm him up he was constantly looking around for other dogs worried that they would be staring at him so he could amp up.  It was not my idea of fun.  To make matters worse his reactivity in the back of the car was off the scales.  He isn't a dog who likes strange dogs to come near his crate as a general rule but he was going off at anything that came anywhere near the back of the car.  We did our best to keep him covered up most of the time but it was incredibly painful to deal with.  I know he's only doing all of this because he's worried and he think he needs to protect himself but seriously.....

So whether I like it or not I have to put a plan in place and get this sorted.  Firstly I need to see the implant start to take effect which will be fairly obvious even from his behaviour around at home.  I had already entered him in the trial this weekend.  I'm judging in the morning but my intention is to spend some time walking him around to see what his responses to other dogs is like.  At this stage trialling him isn't an option at least for a few weeks so I might as well start working on creating distance and rewarding calmness around other dogs.  Then working towards him relaxing around other dogs again and being comfortable enough to refocus on me.  And of course deal with his reactivity in the back of the car.  I'm currently teaching him to love the Manners Minder which I never bothered to use with him before.  I didn't use it for his running contacts like I did with Cassie.  He initially thought it was an alien which had arrived from out of space but with chicken added is slowly coming around to realise that maybe its kind of OK.  Then I'll be able to put it in the back of the car with him so when dogs come past pair that with the food coming out of the MM and see if we can turn it around from a negative thing to a positive thing.

On the positive side out of this debacle at least I can move forward with his agility training at home.  He really loves his agility training here in his nice safe, no scary dogs he doesn't know environment.  This morning I took him for a walk around the property thinking he would enjoy some new smells and stretching his legs but when we got back he grabbed his toy and ran out to the training area.  He was most annoyed when he realised that I wasn't going to train him.  So I can continue to work on his agility skills at home and when I'm at the club grounds can purely focus on him being around other dogs, remaining calm and rebuilding his confidence *sigh*...  

No comments: