Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring Break

Zephyr with his first BFF, Friday.
I was on Spring Break a couple weeks ago, March 12 -16, and Zephyr, Astro, and I had a lot of fun.  I'm finally getting around to sharing pictures of our fun.  Last year during the same week was when Zephyr got really sick and we ended up in our emergency situation.  So this year really rocked!  For the first time in a couple years I actually enjoyed my Spring Break.  I never mentioned this on the blog, because it really sucked, but the previous year (2010) I moved during Spring Break because of a divorce.  Those of you who had been following the blog then may have noticed the subtle and quiet change in the appearance of the house and backyard and were so kind not to mention it.  ;-)  So 2012 is already seeming like an excellent year, let's keep it up!

"Oh my gosh Zephyr, this is so much fun!"  "I know Friday, it's just like when we were puppies!"
Zephyr started the week of with a play and hike date with his buddy Friday.  This was their first outing together in over a year.  It was so great to see them having fun again.  First they played in the yard and rekindled their bond.  As younger pups they would go nuts together, racing around and wrestling.  Since both boys have had illness or injury in the past year, Friday had a pulled shoulder tendon that has healed nicely, we were happy that they didn't go 100% super crazy, only about 85%.  ;-)

Two peas in a pod.
Our hike was really nice, most of the snow was gone and it wasn't very muddy.  Friday and Zephyr took turns initiating play.  They did get to run in the forest a bit too, but the pictures came out blurred.  Zephyr seemed really excited to be out in a new area and was looking and exploring all around.  Can't wait to do it again.

Spring Poppy
Astro's week started with a trip to Sedona to practice Rally with friends and then a hike in Woods Canyon.  It's really starting to warm up down there and the flowers had started to bloom.

"I love mud!"
Astro had a great time on the trail with his friend Ursa.

"I also love shade."
It was pretty warm, 70s maybe, for a boy who's used to snow and has no fur to protect him from the sun.  That didn't stop Astro from exploring though.

Ursa did lots of exploring too.
Kicking up the dust.
On the way out Astro found a rabbit to chase through the trees.  After he lost it he had a big case of the zoomies and Ursa joined right in.

By the end of the hike I'm pretty sure Astro had a bit of a crush on Ursa.  We had so much fun on Spring Break that I'm going to have to share it in a few posts.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Astro, Mr. Rally Novice!

Super Love This Boy!
Astro and I had an awesome weekend at the Scottsdale and Superstition Kennel Club shows March 3 & 4.  Astro and I earned his Rally Novice A title on Saturday with a perfect score of 100!!  Oh my gosh, I never thought that my little guy and I would do such a thing. It's two weeks later and I am still so excited and proud of him!

Keeping him happy before our turn.  He almost looks like he's in the conformation ring.
In the weeks after our first trial I did some practice with Astro at home, at agility practices in between our turn, and I took him out in town one day.  I wanted to have him practice with a lot of distractions around and have him play with me in different areas too. These shows are outside and pretty big.  I thought there would be a bigger chance of Astro getting distracted because of everything going on at the show and being outside he can see all kinds of things going on up close and it the distance.  The obedience rings are in the back of the site, but there's still lots of things happening around us.

Here's our run.  Thanks to Eric for this video.  My parents were able to come on Saturday, which was really nice.  I'm pretty sure Astro is throwing stars and sparks from his wagging tail.  Also, did you see the little halo floating above his head.  ;-)

And because who doesn't want to see that cute boy again, here's the same run a little closer.  Thanks to Chris for taking all the pictures and this video, and for a great weekend!

That's us, Team 9.  Did we really do that?  WOOHOO!!  I'm pretty sure all the Novice A teams qualified on Saturday and Sunday.  Yay!

The nice orange ribbon is for finishing our Rally Novice title.  This is the first time that I've trained and worked with my dog to earn a title.  Zephyr has his Field Championship and I had to make sure he was is shape for that, but I didn't have to tell him how to course, he knows exactly how to do that.  :-)  Astro and I finished Rally Novice in three trials with three first places.  It's so exciting and unexpected to have such great success.

Let's Go!
We had another great day on Sunday.  It was warmer, about 80, but Astro hung in there.  I had taken Astro back to his crate to stay in the shade and rest because there were still a lot of Novice B dogs to go and then Novice A.

Doing a little sniffing of the grass.

Then I saw the dogs that I knew were right before us were up and I hurried to get back over.  They were going out of order.  It turned out we still had a few dogs before us, but I was a little thrown off of our routine and flustered.  I think Astro sensed this and it effected his focus at first.  He was looking around a little at first and sniffed the grass some.  But, then we got into it and he did great.

Hi there cutie!  Thanks for waiting while I checked the sign.

Finishing the Spiral.  Now we're in our groove.

The Sit then Down.

"Okay Astro, get ready for the long Slow."

Whoa there pony boy, keep it slow all the way to the finish.

Excellent Job Asty!

Let's Play!

This is so fun!

Astro did it again, a 99 and 1st Place!  I think he's consistent. :-) 

"A Pupcake For Me!"
On Saturday night some friends and I went to Sprinkles, a cupcake store.  Yum!  They also have cupcakes for dogs and I had to get some.

"And Me Too!"

"Holy Cow, these are Scrumptuous!!"

"Um, are you gonna share?"
Of course there was some shopping that occurred at the show.

"Sweet dreams, Astro."
Zephyr had a great weekend too.  He stayed at the grandparents' during the day while we were at the show and had fun playing in the yard.  He was pooped when we got home.

"Sweet dreams, Zephyr."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fluffy Puppy

A happy and healthy Zephyr one year after getting encephalitis.
It's been 1 year since Zephyr came down with immune mediated encephalitis.  If your not familiar with what happened see March 2011 in the blog archive and lots of posts throughout the past year.  I'm so happy to say that Zephyr is doing awesome!!  We have not seen any signs of the encephalitis and it's been over 4 months since a seizure (and I think the last one might have been because I missed a dose of Keppra soon after he started it, so maybe a withdrawal effect).  Luckily, Zephyr's brain was able to recover from all the inflammation and he has no signs of permanent brain damage, except that he might still have seizures if he wasn't on Keppra.  I've waited to give an update on how he's been doing partly because I didn't want to jump the gun.  He's been off all procarbazine for almost 2 months and he's now down to only 2.5mg of predisone once a day, a tiny amount for his size.  I've been worried about how things would go and if the encephalitis would return as we removed his meds.  To say that I watch the boy like a hawk is an understatement.  :-)  The only thing that I can say I've noticed is that he continues to feel even better.  He is one happy, goofy, healthy boy!

Fur starting to return in December.
 When Zephyr started the chemotherapy treatment to suppress his immune system and to control (hopefully get rid of) the encephalitis I read that dogs don't loose their fur like people loose their hair.  Not so for Zephyr.  I think he lost about half of his fur, he was basically bald from about his shoulder down and his skin became very thin and dry.  I think some of this could have been caused by the prednisone too.  Once he switched to the procarbazine, especially to every other day in November, I really noticed his fur starting to return and he started to have a lot more energy.  The picture above was taken at Christmas when his fur was starting to grow in and the first picture was taken in early February.  Hopefully you can tell that his fur is filling in and the color is a little richer.  His skin is also less thin and dry.  This makes me so happy because I think it means that Zephyr's body and immune system is returning to normal and working well.  I'm also so thankful for all the support that I've had from you all.  It's wonderful how a few words from someone you've never really met can help so much.

Super soft shiny fur!
Zephyr had a spinal tap in mid-July and they shaved a rectangle from about the top of his ears to the bottom of his ear lobes.  Back then I asked if anyone wanted to make bets on how long it would take to grow back.  Well, it's been 8 months and it's almost filled in 100%.  You can still see the slight outline of the shaved rectangle.  

I also have great news about Zephyr's blood work, which I had checked back in February.  His liver enzymes have all returned to just about normal as we have continued to remove his meds.  The only one that wasn't normal was the alkaline phosphate, it was about 190 and normal is 150 or below, way down from the 1,300 it was at in September.  It's probably still a little high because he was still taking 5mg of prednisone a day then, but now it's 2.5mg so I expect this to continue to improve.

"Mom, I feel so good and I love you so much!"
It's amazing to me to think about how much Zephyr went through and that he remained his strong happy self through it all.  I'll never forget those days at the neurology center when I didn't know if he'd make it and when I told him that it was okay for him to go if the fight was too hard. Ugh, that was hard to write.  Luckily he would have none of that.  I'll also never forget bringing Astro in with me to see him and all three of us laying together in a room for hours.  And then, at the first sign of improvement, Dr. Knowles and the Vet Techs lifting and carrying him outside, Astro and I running in front of him when he could barely see shadows and couldn't walk, with them moving him along just above the grass while Zephyr moved his legs in the air trying to run after us while everyone clapped and yelled to encourage him.  What an awesome boy!

"Hee, Hee, Hee, Hee!"
Zephyr wants me to tell you that, luckily, there are a few advantages to being sick.  One is that even a year later Mom often cooks some beef or chicken to add to meals.  Best is that you get to learn bad habits like begging and you don't even get in trouble for it, even if you do it in the kitchen, in fact you often succeed.  Mom will also let you do things like lick plates, and then you come to expect it and of course you get it.  You also get to perfect your thievery skills.  For example Mom thinks it's great when you walk by the fridge, stick your nose in the gap between the wall, grab a plastic bag, and run off all giddy like and proceed to tear it up.  You also get lots more bed privileges.  Like it's often okay to get under the covers at 2:00 in the morning and of course your little brother can come too.  We have all learned to appreciate life and every day a little more too, because unfortunately it can be gone in a flash.  I am so fortunate and happy to still have Zephyr, he is my heart.  Hug and kiss your hounds!!