Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 Wrap-up and 2012 Goals

Well, I didn't set too many goals for 2011 at the beginning of the year. My disc-related goals were to add distance to my long throw and get better at "just playing" in freestyle. And I actually accomplished both--though neither ended up doing me much good. Lok got sick in July and spent all my money, so I did not get to travel to many Quads this year and I didn't even get to play in our local long distance competition. 

Jun and I had the best freestyle we have ever had this season. I decided to get rid of vaults since she had so much trouble with them. I focused on keeping sessions very short, not drilling, not getting frustrated, going onto the field to just "jam" as often as I went out with a training plan and focusing on smooth sequences and highlighting our strengths vs. trying to throw everything we could "sort of" do into the routine. And it worked! She was drivier than ever this year, played happier, jumped higher, flipped better, and we were more connected. However, I retired her from disc at the State Champs in September. She ran off the field and went after a person during our last freestyle round and I now know I just can't trust her in that situation. I don't think I blogged that at the time. I was pretty upset, since I have now retired 2 out of 2 disc dogs at the age of 3. She may come out of retirement if I can get a handle on her issues, but I am not currently counting on it. For her sake I need to think of her as retired, rather than taking a break, since if I think of her as taking a break (like I did for most of the summer) I am sure I will try to play her again before she is ready. She may get to play in smaller, local, well-controlled comps. But we will not be playing out of state anymore. I've made peace with it now. There are lots of other things I can do with my dogs (that I am better at anyway).

My other 2011 goal was for Elo to get his CGC. That didn't happen. But we did get closer to functionality!

Which brings me to the rest of 2011, "The Year of Behavior Modification." In January I decided Jun's fear issues had gotten so bad that I needed to actively try to fix them. We met with a trainer who put us on a behavior modification plan. We focused a lot on calming and relaxing and Jun started to do pretty well. And then Spring hit and all of our progress seemed to disappear. So in May we decided to go to the UofM and start working with a behaviorist and get on meds. Seven months later, we are still trying to find the right med combo for her. Currently she is on 75mg of Trazodone twice a day, off Sertaline entirely, and just started on 25mg of Clomipramine twice a day. Overall, her pacing and clinginess have drastically decreased, making her much easier to live with in the house. We have gone through several behavior-modification plans to try to work through her fear of people and hypervigilance, but have not made much progress. Currently we are taking it very, very slowly, introducing her to new people every weekend through disc play but not requiring (or even asking for) any interaction, and taking her to a couple of classes a week to keep people in her life so she doesn't get even more sensitive to them over the winter. Hopefully between meds and b-mod we will find some solutions for this issue in the new year. I'm not asking for much, really. I'd like to be able to take her for an on-leash walk around other people and have her relaxed and happy.

Elo took a reactive dog class and worked on looking at other dogs in public and has improved greatly! At the beginning of the year, Elo could not tolerate tag sounds, barking, dog smells, or the sight of a dog no matter how far away it was. He can now handle dog sounds and smells most of the time and is doing SO MUCH BETTER with being in the presence of dogs! I am so proud of how far he has come! Surprise dogs are still a big issue, but I can get him very close to stationary or slowly moving dogs and he can even do parallel walking at about 10 yards! So maybe a CGC is in the forecast for this year!

We did a lot of work on obedience and really improved both dogs' heeling in hopes that someday they might be able to actually compete!

Lok made it through 2011, and that is saying something! Managing his health issues is an ongoing challenge, but he remains reasonably happy and content, for the most part. He never got past the first steps of IYC that I posted about a couple weeks ago. We started over at the beginning every day for 5 days, and he re-picked it up every day, but never seemed to remember the next day. And then he had another round of seizures and his mental capacities regressed. I still should do training with him, cause I think he likes it, even though some days he doesn't understand sit. So I think that will be my goal for 2012. Train Lok three days a week and take him for a walk (if he wants to) once a week.

As for 2012 goals for the other two, I am not sure. I'd obviously like to continue to improve Jun and Elo's functionality, though I am much more certain of making progress with Elo than with Jun. Fingers crossed that we'll hit upon the magic drug combo for her. I'd still like Elo to get his CGC--but not only that, I want him to get it in a location where he's never worked before with other dogs he's never met before (yes, I am an overachiever). We will keep working towards that.

I plan to continue to work on obedience skills in case the dogs can ever compete. Other than that, I don't have any major goals for the year. The dogs are in several classes right now and I hope to keep that up, since it gives me things to work on with them.

1 comment:

  1. Sigh. 2011 was not the year for our "special" dogs. Here's hoping things continue to look up for Jun and that the right combination of drugs is found.

    Elo will be ready for the big time in no time. When the dogs are finally ready you can sail from novice to utility!