Lack of exercise…lack of sleep!!!

IMG_20121203_174755

Bear is alert, ready for action.

I suppose if I were to sit around the house for two days straight, sleeping away the light hours, I wouldn’t do to well when it was time for lights out.  Yesterday marked the second day in a row that Bear had minimal to no exercise.  I took him on three short walks, following the doctor’s orders of walks to relieve bodily functions, no running, no jumping.  I can take care of the first request of limited walks.  But no jumping and running is more difficult to limit.  Bear takes things into his own paws, racing around the house, jumping up on a couch or bed, completing a couple of 180 degree turns, jumping back off, and repeating the circuit five or six more times.  However, Bear’s self instituted exercise regiment does not come close to the energy expenditures needed for a seven-month old puppy.  Enter night-time, the time most mammals get some shut-eye.

Bear began the night in Dec’s room.  He seemed to be settled on his bed when I left the room, but thirty minutes later Dec had let him out, and Bear was sauntering up the stairs (another no-no according to the doctor’s orders).  And this is where the internal debate begins.  First, I think Bear simply needs to settle down, and that a couch might be a good place for him to settle down.  Of course I come to this conclusion after he whines to get out of our room.  So I let him out of our room.  Two minutes later he is peeking into the room, whining to get back inside, for some reason unable to push the door open another three inches.  Out of bed again, this time leaving the door open for Bear to come and go, hoping he will find a place to settle down for the night.

Two minutes later he is whining again, this time out by the door.  The internal debate changes sides, siding with the “Bear needs to lay down for the night in one spot.”  I lament the fact that his crate is down in Declan’s room, wanting to lock him in there as I begin to countdown the time to the alarm sounding in the morning.  Bear continues whining by the backdoor.  I get up again and let him outside.  He relieves himself, which takes longer than usual as he completes a traveling-poop that covers each corner of the yard.

Back into our room, I put him on his bed, thinking that this will settle him down, though I can hear Bear wondering why we don’t let him up on our bed the way Declan does.  Directing him to his bed does little to nothing in settling Bear down.  He is up and around the room, banging into things with his cone and attempting to scratch his ears.  One of the negative effects of the cone is the inability to relieve an itch.  Another negative effect is what it does to noise.  It acts as a gramophone, amplifying sounds.  I can actually distinguish each nail hitting the cone as Bear attempts to scratch an itch.  What futility.

And then he lays down with a “Harumph,” the signal of settling down.  I hear the deep breathing.  I take a breath of relief.  At that same moment I hear Ashleigh’s meow and scratch at the door.  Though not an old cat, or a grumpy cat, Ashleigh (he came with the name) can be extremely belligerent, bringing out the worst in people.  From past experience, I know that Ashleigh will continue his request to enter the room until action is taken.  I quickly take action in hopes that Bear will stay settled, but that boat has sailed.  Bear is now quite intrigued by the banging on the door.  I open the door enough to grab Ashleigh, take him to the backdoor, restrain myself from throwing him into the bushes, and simply let him outside (somewhat gently).

Bear is back up and scratching his ears.  This time I hear the Velcro rip and the cone fall to the floor.  I am relieved for the cease of noise, and the internal debate begins afresh in my head.  Without the cone, Bear can relieve the itch, getting comfortable and settling down.  He probably doesn’t need the cone anymore.  Can he even reach those staples with his teeth?  I’ve seen him lick it, but that just cleans the wound, right?  As long as he doesn’t snag a staple with a tooth, yanking it out, it’ll be fine.  Sure, it’ll be fine.

But maybe not.  The other side of the argument listens closely to the scratching, and licking, and gnawing.  What is he gnawing on?  Is that the staples?  I jolt up to see Bear gnawing on his back leg.

Damn fleas!  Why did we spend all that money on the Trifexis?  I don’t think it is doing anything.  It’s like a dollar a day for that medicine.  If you don’t count weekends.   We pay a dollar each business day for that medicine, which does nothing.  He is gnawing at the fleas.  Now he is licking.  What is he licking?  Is it one of the incision sites?  I bolt up and Bear is licking at the stitches, but stops when he sees me.

That’ll do it.  He just needed some redirection.  Now he will settle down.  Wait a minute, what is he gnawing at?  What is he licking?  Time to quiet the internal debate by putting the cone back on.  And maybe it is time to surrender, get a book light, and start reading while Bear strolls around the room.

Bear settles down…for a few hours.  At two he is at it again.  Whining to go out.  Up again, I take him to the backyard, making sure that Ashleigh doesn’t sneak back in.  Another traveling poop, I begin to wonder about parvo.  Can’t be, too much energy.  Back inside, Bear takes a good forty minutes to settle down, letting us know that his ears itch.

Bear takes a "selfie" while laying under the chair at the orthodontist.

Bear takes a “selfie” while laying under the chair at the orthodontist.

And then it was morning.  Though running at half capacity, I am determined to take Bear everywhere today.  There will not be any jumping or running, just a lot of visiting and traveling.  We’ll go to the orthodontist’s office; we’ll go out to lunch with Maggie after the orthodontist; and we’ll go into school to pickup and drop-off Maggie.  And we will be tired this evening.

 

Cone: It is showing its age.  It has two large cracks in it.  And it is too small for Bear.

Bear improving at laying under chair, becoming small.

Bear improving at laying under chair, becoming small.

Concerns with scent training: They continue.  I believe that he recognizes the scent, but signals on visual cues instead of scent.  Last night I began placing scent samples on the kids as they did homework, throwing a party when Bear signaled (many treats and vigorous petting).  I continue to do the scent training we did right at the beginning with just holding the scent and clicking when he signals.

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Stir crazy

How did the couch move over here?

How did the couch move over here?

One week ago Bear went in for his surgery.  We biked to school with Declan and then Bear got dropped off at the vet’s office.  After one week of minimal running outside, really minimal time outside, Bear is taking things into his own hands.  After returning from a leisurely walk this morning (“limit walks for peeing and pooping” the post-op instructions said), Bear began moving furniture.

He took a few mouthfuls from the weeble-wobble food dispenser and then was off.  Running from the living room back to the office, into the kitchen, leaping onto his couch, completing a 180 hop, pouncing back on the weeble-wobble, another lap, and then repeat again, and again.  In the process Bear’s couch slid to the wall, blocking a door.  A few gulps of water and Bear is down for the count.

IMG_20121204_075552IMG_20121204_080712I fear how this will play out on a day I’ll be out all morning.  He’ll wear the cone of shame, which in one week has become too small.  With the cone and some quiet, Bear should settle down to his preferred four-hour morning nap.

SIDENOTE: Last night before bed Declan had a low.  Tried have a “low party”, but Bear gets very solemn and serious with the lows.  He did signal with some prompting.  And the other person with diabetes had a low before she was going to bed, which is long after Bear and Dec are asleep.  She volunteered to have swabs taken for low-scent samples.  This may not seem like much, but I am hoping it is a glimpse of more help from the teenager.

Still trapped

IMG_20121130_100746Bear longs to run outside.  Other than sleeping, he spends most of his time looking out the window.  He has calmed down a bit from the first few days of post surgery, but he still jumps up and is ready to play at the slightest instigation, like Declan jogging by.

Prior to the surgery we were in a good routine of biking to school every morning and biking to a dog park.  Bear adjusted quickly to the increase in activity.  He slept a lot less and was more alert.  Since the surgery he has had a harder time adjusting the activity level back down, but he is getting there.

With less time running around outside, I have gone back to some basic scent training.  I don’t doubt that Bear recognizes the scent; I just wonder if he is signaling on visual cues instead of scent.  For instance, if I held the clicker and vial in the same hand he learned that that was the “NO SCENT” sample and he would wait for a treat with no signal.  If I put the vial in a pocket or sock he knew it was time to signal.  Similarly if I held the vial in one hand without the clicker, he knew to signal.

Last week I worried about Bear signaling based on how the vial was presented as opposed to the smell from within the vial, so I presented a scent sample in the same hand as the clicker.  Sure enough he disregarded the vial, turning to my other hand for the treat. Similarly, I presented the “NO-SCENT” sample in a hand without the clicker and he was pawing at me right away, before I could click for NOT signaling.

So we’ve gone back to the basics.  I present the scent in hand with the clicker.  As soon as he signals he gets a treat.  I also do some of the “NO-SCENT” training, but am a little nervous about it.  This morning I had the treat ready to go before I even presented it, which might be another visual cue for him.  I’ll have to slowly move away from that.

Bear and Declan continue to bond.  Bear sleeps with Declan, taking up half his bed.  Yesterday Bear signaled a low after Declan checked with his meter.  I am hoping that at some point Bear will signal before Declan (or Maggie) feels the low.

SIDENOTE: Went to a Gales Creek Camp fundraiser on Saturday night.  At our table was a family that also had a “Dogs Assisting Diabetics” dog.  They didn’t bring their dog, but there were two other dogs at the event.  One of the dogs was a litter-mate of Bears.  She was being taken home for a sleepover for the first time.  I couldn’t help comparing her to Bear and thinking how much better behaved she was than Bear.  But I am sure Bear would behave so much better in a brand new situation with brand new people.  Right?

Cone of shame

Cone_LeighDriving to a meeting yesterday I saw a “Cone of Shame” bumper sticker.  After six blocks of following the yellow VW Bug, I gave up my attempt to get a picture of it.  But several of the kids decided to model the cone in the first day of Bear’s recovery.

First it was Emma and Sam who modeled the cone.  Emma said, “It smells like Bear in hear.Cone_emma

Cone_samSam had difficulty breathing with the cone on.

When I am home I relieve Bear of the cone.  Though our human minds might think wearing a cone is emotionally straining for Bear, I am not so sure.  He certainly looked sad when I first put the dish on, but since then he has adjusted quite nicely to it.  He just barrels through the house.  He forces his way under the table.  He pushes past chairs and tables with the cone bending and snapping as he goes.  And now when I put it back on him, he doesn’t even flinch.

IMG_20121129_065641Since Bear can’t talk, I’ll speak for him.  He doesn’t mind the cone so much.  It is a bit of an annoyance, and the cats aren’t sure what to think, but because he gets long stretches with it off, it isn’t so bad.  He can lay and relax at Declan’s feet.  And the need for the cone diminishes with the scars decreasing in annoyance.

The biggest challenge during this recovery will be the low activity needed to ensure the staples stay intact.  It is day three of recovery and Bear is chomping at the bit.  I take him for short walks a couple of times a day.  This is not nearly enough stretching of the physical limits.  This morning Dec was getting on his bike to ride to school and Bear was so excited to run to school.  He ran and jumped along side Dec for half a block until I could reign him in.  (The vet warned against any running and jumping for the next 12-14 days.)

Trapped inside, wanting to run.

Trapped inside, wanting to run.

Training has continued.  In fact, the kids take part in a lot more of the training.  Emma and Sam tend to put Bear through some drills every morning.  Declan does some exercises with Bear every day.  I can tell when Declan has done some training because Bear’s collar is missing.  Declan thinks the collar is uncomfortable for Bear.  I believe the training from different people is very helpful.  It is important for Bear to receive both commands and treats from people other than me.  Not only does it condition him to “listen” to others, but it also gives him permission to signal low-blood sugars to other people.  In fact, this morning Bear signaled Dec, and he was indeed low.

Lack of hormones or shame?

Veterinarians will tell you that neuter your male dog calms them down.  They say that the hormones associated with being intact makes them more aggressive.  Now that Bear is back from surgery, I believe there is an alternate theory.  I believe that having to prance around in the “cone of shame” for two weeks significantly destroys the confidence of the “detached” dog to simply make the intact dogs aggressive only in comparison.

Cone of shame

It’d be interesting to put the cone on an intact dog for two weeks and see the result.  It is “purchased” for the price of an xBox wireless controller, but is useless after the two-week period taps confidence and all sense of pride from your dog.  The original cone, the one Bear wore when we picked him up, the one he was wearing as he walked past a pit bull mix (probably intact) in the waiting room, jutted out four inches past his snout.  He banged into everything.  I expected him to be skittish after banging into things, but he just kept at it, pushing through the waiting area, past the door, and eventually into the car.

Declan consoling Bear.

At home Bear kept running into things and began whining.  I couldn’t take the enormity of the cone any longer, so with Dec standing guard making sure Bear wouldn’t rip the staples out of his belly, I took the cone off and cut it back three inches.  With the condensed dish, unable to receive dish-network channels, Bear can navigate through the house a bit better.

Feeling free without the cone.

Bear gets two pain pills a day.  He is already eating and drinking normally.

Questions

  • How will this affect his scent training?
  • How will we survive two weeks of low activity?
  • How much training will he be able to withstand?

    Scar from hernia repair stapled shut.

Last day of completeness

Bear snoring in the kitchen near the end of the long day.

Bear went in this morning.  Yesterday was his last day of being intact, of having a pair swinging.  So we made the most of it.  It might have been due to the experience at the Holiday Inn (see previous post), or it could have been just trying to get the most out of cyber Monday.  Whatever the reason, Bear had a busy day.

The day begin with the now usual ride to school with Sam, Dec, and Emma.  He is getting better, but still needs some training.  I am also getting a bit better at sensing when he MUST take a poop, when he is yanking to get to some grass.  I’ve learned to simply let go of the leash and get a bag out.

After getting back home, Bear’s usual three-hour morning nap was cut short to sign papers for our refinance (have you seen how low rates are?).  At this point I realized that I could have easily left Bear at home.  The decision to bring Bear was a combination of the Holiday Inn experience and Bear’s increasing maturity.  He is much calmer and able to hold it together for longer periods of time.  At the same time I am more aware of how people react when they see the “Service Dog” vest.

We rode the elevator up to the 14th floor.  Bear laid on the floor while we signed.  He was very still with the help of my foot on his leash, but he didn’t struggle.  We visited the Men’s room.  There was someone else in the restroom.  Luckily the stall was vacant.  At this point I realized that Bear hadn’t drunk any water and was likely very thirsty.  I waited for the other occupant to exit before letting Bear drink from the commode.  (It’s a well-known fact that the water from a toilet is cleaner than the water in the washing machine.)

After the Title company, there were some errands to do.  In particular, we had some stores to visit.  Before shopping, though, I needed some food.  So we went to one of the best places: Chipotle’s.  Bear got to practice his Army crawl while we inched forward in line.  Then he got to lay quietly below the table while Heather and I ate.

Then it was off to Nordstrom, then to Costco, and finally to Wal-Mart.  In general, people ignore the fact that I am walking around with a dog.  I suppose that this occurs when Bear is really behaving himself.  It may be that comments are more common when I have to correct him, put him in a sit, or redirect him.  People say how cute he is, or the fact that I am training him, or ask if it is difficult to give the dog up when they are grown.  I used to respond to these comments, but now I usually smile and nod.

Once home Bear plopped down in the kitchen where dinner was being made, but he quickly fell fast asleep, snoring on his side.  Again his nap was cut short to ride to Sam’s and pickup Dec.  On our ride home we stopped at a field for Bear to run off leash, and then back home.

He slept soundly.    This morning it was another ride to school before being dropped off at the vet’s for the chopping block.

Questions

  • How much will this surgery set Bear back in scent training.
  • How much do we want Bear to be with us when we are not at home?
  • How many Hanukkah presents will Bear destroy?

Chewing

  • Lord of the Flies from Fiona’s English class.

    Dec demonstrating the consumption of Lord of the Flies.

  • Another set of earphones.
  • Dec’s slipper.
  • A plastic Army soldier.
  • Dec’s walkie-talkie (I hope it still works).