Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thanks Iris

Dear 2011, the residents of condo C1 kindly request that you give us a break  Just for a little while.  We'd really appreciate it.

It's starting to get a little ridiculous.  If it can go wrong this year, it pretty much has. 2011 has been just one long string of back luck for the three residents of condo C1. Job losses, health things, totaled cars...  The latest is a broken dishwasher.  It seams minor compared to everything else, but it's still resulted in a mountain of dirty dishes. And with everything else, washing dishes has been a fairly low priority.

This morning I decided to clean the kitchen and wash everything since we're having company tonight.  I was stacking the clean pots/pans on a towel on the floor next to me, and I had a pretty good stack of clean dishes going. I figured I could get the whole house clean by lunch, which would give me the rest of the afternoon to get some work done.

Instead, Iris just walked over and puked all over the pile of clean pots and pans. Sometimes you have to laugh at life.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Training, Trials, Seizures, Etc.

On Saturday, I took Iris over to watch some of the NADAC trial.  I really wanted the opportunity to work with her around other dogs in a fairly controlled environment.  Given all of the problems we've had with other dogs around the condo, I fully expected to work well away from the other dogs to keep Iris under her threshold.  Instead, Iris did awesome!  She was able to be fairly close to the other dogs and even stayed pretty quiet while I chatted with some friends.  It seems the good news is her issues with other dogs in the condo complex are not transferring to other environments.  I was very proud of her!  I was really glad I decided to head down to the trial.  Good training session with Iris, a chance to catch up with some agility friends and talk dog for a bit, and I even managed to get the camera out for some photo practice.

Early Sunday morning, Iris had a couple of seizures.  Damn!  So she went 15 weeks, 4 weeks, 3 weeks.  I'm not sure what that means.  Other than the 15 weeks stretch, she's always been in the 3-5 week range.  I'm wondering if bringing her to the trial was too much?  I think stress can be a trigger for her, although she didn't seem overly stressed at the trial.  She had four seizures Sunday morning (typical) and then was fine all day.  At about 11:00 pm, she had another seizure and then a couple more in the middle of the nigh and early morning (unusual).

She's been fine all day other than just being generally, strange and crazy.  It's not unusual for Iris to act weird for about a day after her seizures.  Today, she's been obsessed with going outside.  I have no idea why.  After taking her out a few times only to have her just stand there in the grass, I started ignoring her.  Not easy when all she wants to do is walk from the door to me to the door to me.... She gets fixated on the strangest things.  After a time out in her crate she seems to have settled down now.  Tomorrow she'll be back to normal, but today she was definitely weird.

Speaking of weird, Iris has a seizure smell. After she's had a couple seizures, she has a very distinct smell.  My roommate thought Iris smelled funny on Saturday night (before Iris had any seizures) but didn't really think much of it.  She's going to pay attention to it in the future to see if maybe Iris starts smelling weird pre-seizure.  It would be interesting if she does.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Dog is Weird - 14/52

Iris is lying on her back looking at the camera in the photo.
My Dog is Weird - 14/52

Iris loves being upside down.  She loves having her belly rubbed, she loved sleeping on her back.  Sometimes I think she just likes seeing the world upside down.  Upside down Aussie is a pretty typical thing to see around here.

Yup, still upside down.  Not much variation to the photos if she just wants to see the world upside down.

Oh hai!
Another photo of Iris lying on her back looking at the camera.  She has her head tilted in the other direction.

So just when I thought I was finished with this post, I looked over at my sleeping Aussie. She was actually sleeping right-side up like a normal dog!  Oh wait.  Look closer.

A photo of Iris asleep on the couch.  If you look close, you can see that her tongue is sticking out.

She's still weird.

Window Watching - 13/52

Window Watching - 13/52

If Iris could have her way, her usual view of the world would be through the window. She's the self-appointed supervisor of our condo complex, and she loves watching the world through the window. Since the bedroom is on the third floor, she can see the parking lot, lawn, and street.  It's probably the best view in the house for watching the world go by.  Iris is not really supposed to be supervising, but lately she's been able to look without barking.  So I've been letting her get away with it. She thinks I don't notice...

(Playing a little catch up here.  If you follow my photography blog, you've already seen this one!  But I want to keep all 52 weeks of Iris in one place).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Housing Complexes and Reactivity - Part 2

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post titled Housing Complexes and Reactivity - Part 1.  Which sort of implies that there should be a part 2.  I always had the intention of writing a part 2.  I even had it partially written!  But life sort of got away from me.  A run in with Iris' new least favorite dog yesterday reminded me that I meant to write this.

So there definitely seems to be a cycle of reinforcement for reactive dogs, fueled by too many clueless owners and poorly behaved dogs in too small of a space. So what is the solution? I don't know if there is a good one.  Even if you do want to actively work with your dog, it's not an easy place to work in. And there's no way to avoid it. I have to walk Iris outside multiple times every day so she can relieve herself. And very often, she's barked and lunged at, which reinforces the idea in her head that she needs to bark and lunge at other dogs. Since it seems like everyone's solution to the problem is "just keep moving," all the dogs learn is that barking works! The other dog just keeps moving on past and away. It's a hole that everyone just keeps digging deeper and deeper.

To really make any progress, you'd have to get all of the dog owners here to start actively working with their dogs all the time and really respecting other dogs' boundaries. Is it realistic? I don't think so.  I wish it was!  I would LOVE to have a professional trainer come in and run a mandatory class teaching everyone what to do when their dogs encounter another dog outside.  I'd have everyone participate regardless of whether their dog is friendly or reactive.  Everyone could use a refresher course of why not to run up to every dog you see.

In some ways, the friendly dogs are just as much a problem as the less friendly dogs.  I've had people walk up with their bouncing, barking, pulling dogs because their dogs really want to say hi to Iris. Even though nothing about Iris' body language says she wants to say hi. How can you train that calm behavior will result in other dogs keeping their distance when that's just not true? The fact is, people do stay away better when Iris is acting like a bitch. If she's not exploding, people refuse to believe me when I says she's not friendly.  It blows my mind.

We've had a few near misses recently - some loose dogs, some leashed dogs. Most of the time we don't. Often we can go outside and be perfectly fine. But I admit it, I've started checking out the window before I take Iris outside now.  She's going to tense up every time she sees another dog because she's right, that dog will bark and lunge at her.  For potty breaks, I try to take Iris out right next to my car.  If we do see a dog and Iris gets barked at, I can shove her behind the car to block the dogs' view of each other and they both quiet down. It's not ideal. It's certainly not making Iris less reactive. But it does prevent the situation from escalating, which seems to be the key right now.

I'm torn between just how much work I want to do with Iris.  I was leaning toward mostly management (cars as barriers, exercise outside of the complex), but now I'm not sure.  A recent bad experience, which really deserves it's own post, has Iris and another dog really looking for a bitch fight.