Progress

Bear watches Dec prepare his kong.

Without guidance from the expert, banished from her property because of the dreaded parvo, we have made progress.  Training sessions have become less frequent, though the routine remains pretty similar.  Skills that remain since the beginning of time, from Bear’s perspective, are sit, down, stand, and circle.  Skills from nearly the beginning of time are scent signals (pawing, doorbell, and the dongle), leave-it, nice-walking, and watch me.  Skills introduced in the last two sessions pre-parvo include army crawl (Dec’s favorite), rollover, stay (Bear is nailing this one), nice-walking without leash, and go to bed.

Upward Trending

Walks have been enjoyable for the most part.  Aside from the occasional distraction of the dog across the street or the leaf in the middle of the sidewalk, Bear gets the mullet walk.  If the leash is in the left hand, then it is all business.  He walks at our hip, matching our speed, and sitting down when we stop.  Impressive, I know, but keep in mind that he is getting clicks and treats along the way.  When the leash transfers to the right hand then it is time to sniff and roam around a bit.  To be honest, I was a bit skeptical of this set up, but I see Bear looking back to check and see what hand the leash is in, and going to business or party mode depending on left or right hand.

During the walks we’ll stop two or three times and do some drills.  This lets Bear know that reacting to commands is not done solely in the living room or our home.

The sidewalk repertoire includes sit, down, circle, stand, and stay/come.  Of all these, “down” is the most difficult for Bear.  Unless he sees or smells the treat in hand, he glances at me while I give the voice and hand command, and looks away in disinterest.  If he senses the treat, then he will cock his head to the side, as if asking me what is this “down” word you say.  I’ll repeat the command, lowering my hand nearly to the ground.  This is when he usually makes it to down, putting a paw on my hand as he goes.  Bear is best at the stay command.  At home or on the sidewalk he’ll watch me from 20 feet, waiting for the okay to be released.

Not the best picture, but Declan is getting Bear’s Kong ready, putting peanut butter on the inside of it, before taking it to bed.

At the opposite side of the activity level from walking, Bear is spending more time in Declan’s bedroom at night.  Dec goes to bed earlier than everyone else, and Bear will follow us down to his room, settling into his den under Dec’s bed.  Dec tells us he moves between the den (under Dec’s mattress), the trundle bed, and Dec’s bed throughout the night.  Bear will wake Dec up around five most mornings.  Dec was low one of these times, but I think Bear is getting into the habit of moving around at five, and Dec is accommodating Bear, bringing him upstairs at that time, whether he is low or not.

Holding Steady

Walking without a leash with the pointer clicker, and go-to-bed have not progressed.  I’m afraid that we have missed the next step of these skills and he is learning something entirely different.  For instance, the go-to-bed command is meant to get him onto the “bed”, which is a blue-foamy mat with paw prints on it, that feels like a yoga mat for animals.  To condition Bear to go to bed, we lay the mat out and stand so the mat is between us.  As soon as he touches the mat I click and give him a treat.  At this point he goes into a sit before getting the treat.  To release him from the mat, I throw some treats on the floor and say “okay.”

We have done this drill a lot.  And now we say “Go to bed” as he approaches the mat.  However, I think Bear may be conditioned to go to the mat only if it is between us.  If I release him with treats on the same side as me, then he’ll saunter around, checking out what Ashley is doing, or look out the window.  It was my understanding that if the mat was on the floor then he would automatically go to it, yearning a click and the treat that follows.

“Go to bed” is a crucial command for Bear.  In school, at a restaurant, in a theater, or in a plane, the mat will be put down on the ground with the command, and Bear will plop down on it, staying there quietly until released.

Downward Trend

Unfortunately, the pairing of a low scent and signalling for the scent has digressed.  Pre-parvo Bear was a star at seeking the scent hidden in a pocket, tucked under a sleeve, or stuffed in a sock, and then signalling with either a paw or grabbing the dongle.  Now Bear finds the scent most of the time, but he will mouth it, trying to grab it.  We have had to go back to holding the scent sample in our hand, presenting it to him, and getting him to paw after.  The dongle and door-bell signals have gone to the way side in the pairing.

Bear is very lackadaisical with this work, often times plopping to the ground or looking at his favorite couch while I try to engage him to pair.  Heather and I have to remind ourselves and each other to keep it fun for Bear.  It is very frustrating when he puts his head down.  It feels like a personal affront.  What we’ve found is that simply moving him to another room and giving him energetic pets and tussles puts him in a more receptive state.

Falling off the Cliff

Not sure why, but Bear has taken to making a couple of deposits in the basement each week.  I am unwilling to accept that he is finding the basement a better place to poop than outside.  He sleeps in the basement with Dec most nights.  I cling to the hope that Bear is finding a second best place to poop.

Two nights ago Bear left a pile in the laundry room and one in the common room (both in the basement).  After cleaning it up, Heather found a small piece by the back door.  That small piece gives me hope that he was trying to get outside to the preferred spot.  Unable to get outside, Bear found the laundry room, which probably feels like a good place to make a deposit to him.  The laundry room has a concrete floor.  In the middle of the floor is a drain.  When the pump decides not to pump, then water spews from the floor drain.  Though we can’t smell it, Bear might pick up some septic smells from times when the pump quit working.  I am holding on to that logic.  I do not want a dog that feels comfortable pooping inside.

Bear and I go to a lesson this afternoon.  We are not meeting at Kristin’s place, but we found a park in between that we can meet at.  I have a lot of questions about how we have been doing and what direction to go.

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And then

We could go back pretty far to find the root of all the events which occurred in the past 18 hours or so.  Could be last March when we decided to dive in and get a service dog.  It could go back to when we were finishing our basement and we decided to go with the pump to get the waste water up to the main stack.  We could go back to when we started having kids, which would then have us digging out the basement (with 5-gallon buckets) to make room for our growing children.

After winning the first game of the tournament, Maggie’s soccer team had just lost six to nil in the second game.  It was a triple digit degree day, and still hot driving home at 830.  I looked forward to a cold beer and an early bedtime.

And then (1)

Walking in the door at nine, I was happy to find leftover burritos in the fridge.  Normally not one to be an audience of boys playing Xbox, I quickly learned why Heather was in the TV room with Declan and two of his friends.  “Declan has lice!”  Have you seen Declan’s hair recently?  The lice had hit the Trifecta, the Club Med for Lice.  Vacation for the lice is over and just in time for our vacation to begin; we are set to fly to visit family in San Diego in just over a day.  Note to self: call and tell sis that we are traveling with some unwanted baggage.

And if you are one of those people who gets grossed out by the mention of lice, then you are probably in the group that either has young kids or no kids.  Just wait.  And don’t freak out when it comes.

Heather was toiling over Dec’s scalp after the treatment, nit-picking, literally (that is where the term originated).  I was trying to enjoy my luke-warm, half-eaten, chicken burritos, trying not to overheat as the heat of the day did not relent to any evening cool breeze.  It was as if we were back in Arlington, VA.

I noticed Bear was conspicuously absent from the scene.  It being so hot, he might be down in the basement where it is slightly more inhabitable.  What garbage was he finding?  What shoe was being torn apart as he played unsupervised in the cool of the basement?

Finishing the burritos, I search for Bear in the basement and actually felt a slight chill in the cool air of the basement.  Bear was nowhere to be found, however.  He was not in his crate that he has begun heading to on his own for his incessant naps.  He was not in Maggie’s room, a favorite of his with hidden snacks all over the place.  He was not in Declan or Fiona’s room.  Turns out he was upstairs sleeping in our room.  And he had a little throw up on the carpet earlier that Heather didn’t have time to clean up.

And then (2)

Bear was clearly not feeling well.  He turned his head away when offered food and water.  After witnessing Bear dry-heaving, bringing back memories of college, I tried to feed a Pepto-Bismol to settle things.  It worked for me back in the day.  However, he doesn’t even take the cheese wrapped Pepto-Bismol that he normally dances for.  Could it be that he’d moved up to larger Lego pieces and the 2×4 piece was now somewhere stuck?  More memories of retching to get every last drop from the evening help me empathize with Bear attempting to expunge something from his body.

Bear does settle down a bit, goes to the bathroom outside, and is ready for a good night’s rest.  Nit-picking is complete, Bear settled on his bed, and we are ready to call it a night, finally.

Bear dry-heaves again and I decide to call the veterinarian.  After being told that things can go downhill pretty quick with a dehydrated puppy, I pack up and take him across town to Dove Lewis pet-hospital.  They tell me that we should go in the side entrance as there could be potentially dangerous germs to keep Bear away from.  This is what I heard, but on reflection I realize they wanted us going in the side door to protect all the other dogs that might be in the main lobby.

After a quick physical, the vet says there may be something blocking his intestine.  He was in a lot of pain in one particular spot in his lower intestine.  “Is there anything that he could have eaten recently?”  she asks.  Legos and Nerf bullets run aplenty in our home and are available like food at a Las Vegas buffet.  Damn it, he got into the Indiana Jones set and was able to force a figurine down.

Bear being 14 weeks old and having already received three of the four Parvo vaccinations, it is unlikely that it is Parvo, but the vet needs to rule this out.  So a swab of stool is tested.

A mere twenty minutes later, slightly longer than a pregnancy test, but looking just like a store-bought pregnancy test, the Parvo test is positive.  This is when I realize that we were brought in the side entrance for just this situation.  Parvo is an extremely resilient, deadly virus.  High and low estimates are presented for Bear’s stay in the isolation ICU.  I ask if this will keep him from going to Kristin’s to be boarded while we are away in San Diego.

The enormity of Parvo has not hit me, and I wonder if I’ll be able to pick him up before Maggie’s 1030 am game.  The timing and location of her game was perfect.  We’d take Bear to the game, which was way out in Hillsboro, but very close to Forest Grove, where Kristin lives.  The vet very gently lets me know that it is unlikely he’ll be released later in the day (it being 130 in the morning by this time, game time is a mere nine hours away).

After nearly maxing out my credit card, Bear is taken to isolation ICU.  Before leaving I have to dip my feet in some solution to shed the Parvo, if any remained on me.

As the reality of Parvo sinks in, and the explanation of the danger of it and how it is transmitted, I manage to send an email to Kristin to let her know that Bear is Parvo positive.  It’s possible that other puppies he has played with have Parvo.  Bear could have gotten it from them, or he could have given it to them.

And then (3)

After each training session with Kristin, Bear goes on recess with his litter-mates and other dogs that she is training.  The favorite by far was Calvin.  Super mellow, Calvin would saunter up and lean up against you, nosing your hand to give him a pet.  He was the Mr. McGoo of the group.

Kristin’s message back at 730 the next morning is concern for Bear, hoping that he will pull through, and that Calvin was in a drug-induced coma, and that she might have to put him down.  She did have to put him down, and a large brain tumor is believed to be the cause.

Big bummer.

And then (4)

Declan and his friends are up, having breakfast and getting set for a day of Xbox and swimming.  Heather and I are trying to pick up the pieces before heading to Maggie’s game, then to visit Bear, then back to another game, and then back home to pack and get ready for our 630 am flight.  Still unsettled is where Bear will be when released from the hospital.

I send the boys down to brush teeth, hoping that Declan will find the tooth fairy’s gift.  He lost a tooth while I was at Dove Lewis. As I’m packing Bear’s pen and bed up, I hear the boys screaming that the bathroom is covered in water. F***!!

This goes back to digging the basement out and having the pump eject waste-water up to the main stack.  Intermittently, the pump will be on but not pumping anything out.  This causes water to back up out of the floor drain in the laundry room, and in this case the toilet never switched off after a flush.  The turn off valve never switched off, so the water just kept flowing, and with nowhere to go, it flowed over onto the tile in the bathroom and out into the hallway.  The good news is that the water flowing in the basement is clean, straight from the tap, almost.

Not sure why this gets the pump to work, but I merely have to unplug it and plug it back in and then it is able to work.  Every towel in the house is down soaking up a small portion of the water.  Did I mention that we are going to San Diego the next morning?

After several times wringing out towels in the bath and reapplying to the floor I have the stroke of genius to borrow Aaron’s steam cleaner to suck up the water.

It’s 1015 and we have to leave to catch some of Maggie’s game, which happens to be a mere five miles from Kristin’s house, where  Bear was supposed to stay.

On our way home we visited Bear.  He is not doing that well.  A cone around his head and an IV in his leg, he struggles to keep his head up.  The tech said that he was better in the morning, and even ate a bit, but after a giant diarrhea, he was clearly feeling worse.  He has not hit bottom.  We are hoping a bottom occurs that he climbs out of.  At this point they can only support him, providing hydration and nutrition.  He is also on some pain killers.

We are hopeful that he rebounds and is able to be picked up by friends who will care for him until we return.