Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Luckiest Day

Six years ago on March 17, St. Patrick's Day, this little guy came into my life.  He was 10 weeks old.  Definitely one of the luckiest and happiest days of my life.  To celebrate I thought I would share some pictures from Zephyr's puppyhood. 

Zephyr was the happiest puppy from the first day.  It's really hard to believe that he has been with me for six years.  Time goes by too fast.

 He still loves his tennis balls.

Zephyr was my first puppy and my first dog in over 20 years.  Oh the mistakes I made when raising him that I wish I could go back and redo.  That's how all first time parents feel, right?  ;-)

 But, he made it through.  Zephyr was a really good puppy.  I hear that some people think greyhound puppies are a handful.  I guess I don't have anything to compare to, but I don't really agree.  Zephyr never destroyed anything that wasn't paper.  He was, and is, well read.  I do remember being very tired with midnight outings and making sure he got plenty of exercise and play, but it seems like all puppies need that.

 Right now this big puppy is sleeping upside down on the couch leaning on me.  I'm so lucky!

 Two years ago on March 17, St. Patrick's Day, I checked Zephyr into the Veterinary Neurology Center in Phoenix and found out he had immune mediated encephalitis.  It was not a happy day at all and what transpired after that was horrible.  But, I do consider it a very lucky day because if I wouldn't have got him to the Neurology Center he wouldn't be here today.  It kind of feels like it was his second gotcha day and like somebody was saying, "Oh wait, this is a mistake, it's not this one's time yet."

 Zephyr finished his chemotherapy treatment for the encephalitis last January and stopped taking prednisone last summer.  I don't know what caused the encephalitis, his neurologist once said that she thought he probably came in contact with something, but who knows what.  I still worry about it just about every day, but luckily he's shown no signs of the encephalitis and is super healthy. 

 Since our big snow storm one week ago we've had above normal temperatures and most of the snow has melted.  This has made for some nice hikes in the forest.  To prevent more injuries I've been keeping Zephyr and Astro mostly on leash.

 Yesterday I let them off leash one at a time so they could stretch their legs without running completely full out and crazy together.

They ended up very happy muddy puppies.

After three rounds each of being off leash I was brave enough to let them off at the same time.  We had a nice calm wander through the forest on the way home.  Once again I was feeling very lucky.  Wishing you all lots of luck and happiness this St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Astro's Been Busy

Love his tail and ears in this picture.  Fiesta Cluster, March 2 &3, 2013.  Thanks to Denise Titzler for this picture.
 Astro and I have been having fun entering some agility trials in Phoenix this winter.  In December and January we entered some USDAA trials and did well with a couple qualifying runs.  We were entered in an AKC trial in late January, but it was rained out.  In late February we went to the USDAA Southwest Regional trial and were part of a young dog team and tried out the Master Agility Dog challenge courses.  Our last trial was the Fiesta Cluster where we were also entered in Rally Advanced for the first time.

This collage is actually from our first AKC trial , Valle Del Sol Golden Retriever Club trial, back in October.  I was so happy to be able to get lots of pictures from our first trial.  Again I really love his beautiful long tail and how he uses it when jumping and turning.  The shot of him going through the tire jump was the last obstacle on our first Standard run, which was our first AKC qualifying run.  :-)

This picture is from the same trial and is the last jump of our last run.  We were also the last team to run at the trial.  We didn't qualify on this run, but I thought it was one of our best Jumpers runs.  I love this picture because I remember the moment exactly and we both look relaxed and happy.  I was watching Astro jump and thinking of how much I love him and how happy I was that we had entered our first AKC trail and made it through with happiness and success.  Hard to believe that Karen DeLong caught it on film.

This collage is from the Good Dog Agility USDAA trial, January 5 & 6.  We had a great trial and qualified on both runs, Standard and Gamblers, on Saturday.  I was really happy with how well Astro did at a brand new location.  We were both a little tired on Sunday, but it was still a good day.  I have to say that I love Astro's weaves.  Sometimes he really rocks it through the weaves, and that weekend he definitely was.

The USDAA Southwest regional was lots of fun and very challenging.  On Friday we ran the Master's Challenge courses.  We were part of a novice dog team and entered just to have fun and try out the courses.  I was really happy with how well Astro did on these curvy tight courses that aren't really designed for dogs of his size.  We were able to try and do some handling that we'd only done in practice.  Another big thing for me was that we ran in rings that were not fenced, only posts with a ribbon around the ring, and not once did Astro think of leaving the ring.  I had always worried about this because, well, he's a Greyhound who likes to kick it out and zoom occasionally.

Here is our Team Jumpers and Standard runs.  Please remember these were super hard courses, some top agility people were there running them, so we were far from smooth.  Also, please ignore my high pitched voice, I was a bit nervous.  :-)

 USDAA Team Jumpers (Sorry, I can't get this to center on the page.)

USDAA Team Standard

Our last trial was the Fiesta Cluster AKC trial.   This is a really big trial with confirmation, Obedience, Rally, and Agility.  So lots of action and things for pups who need to pay attention to get distracted by.  :-)  We entered Rally Advanced which was a challenge with Astro being off leash at this level.  I had to work really hard to keep him close to me and in general heal position.  We didn't qualify on Saturday, I don't think any of the Advanced A teams that day.  On Sunday, again with a lot of work and patience, we were the only Advanced A team to qualify.  Our score was 84.  At the end both the judge and I started laughing.  I laughed because I was so relieved to have made it through and I think she did because she knew we had worked hard and could probably feel my relief.  I actually didn't think we had qualified, you need a score of 70, and was really surprised to see we had.  I think we are going to get out and practice in some different locations before entering another Rally trial.  The main thing we need to improve is just keeping Astro closer to me and in position for doing the exercises.

Our Saturday Novice Jumpers run.

Agility went well too.  We had a qualifying Jumpers run on Saturday.  We did have a refusal when Astro missed a jump.  Jumpers has been harder for us and I really want to improve my handling when I need to turn him.

Our Saturday Open Standard run.

I was really happy with our first Open Standard run.  With one exception, Astro has decided he wants a running contact (does not stop at the bottom of the A-Frame, Dogwalk, Teeter) most of the time in trials.  Because of this I pulled us from a trial we were entered in this month to give us more time to proof contacts.  I'm sure the problem has to do with not getting a lot of practice because of winter weather and probably some ring adrenaline and nerves on both of our parts.  Winter is dog show/trial season in Arizona, which is great if you live in most of AZ.  But, when you live in the small area of Arizona that actually has a real winter and gets a lot of snow it makes it really hard to practice and stay ready for trials.  Astro actually makes the contacts most of the time even if he doesn't stop, but being a big dog I think it's likely that he would miss a lot of the contacts if we switched to a running contact because his stride is longer than the yellow contact area. 

I think we are mostly caught up with the events of the past few months.  I'm really looking forward to spring and getting out for some fun hikes and agility.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Zephyr recovering from his forest accident and trip to the veterinarian.
On January 31 I took Zephyr and Astro out for a forest hike after work.  At that time the forest was mostly covered in snow, but had some areas that were clear of snow.  When we reached an open area I let them off leash to have a run.  It's area that the boys have run in many times.  They had a grand time zooming through the forest and playing in the snow.  After a few minutes Zephyr came up and I looked down to see a huge laceration on the front of his hock.  I immediately knew that we were headed to the vet's office and called them right then to tell them we were coming.  However we were about a mile into the forest and had to walk home.

I quickly looked at the gash and saw that it was down to the muscle and tendon with a flap of skin and pocket below the open part of the laceration.  I'm sure he hit the front of his hock on a log or rock when he was running.  Luckily it wasn't really hurting Zephyr and he could walk with no problems, so we booked it home.  At first the goofball still wanted to run and play on leash.  As we got closer to home he did start to limp.  We made it to the vet's in 45 minutes.

That's a really nice wrap job you've got there Zephyr.  His foot was bandaged for two weeks, with changes in between.  He didn't have any trouble with rubbing of toes or skin.
After the Dr. looked at it she really thought he needed to go under anesthesia so she could clean it out and check the muscle and tendons thoroughly.  This really freaked me out because Zephyr hasn't been under since his last MRI and spinal tap for the encephalitis.  I worry about everything with him.  After I expressed all my concerns I did agree to let her put him under.  She was nice enough to let him come home that night, which, believe me, was better for them because Zephyr needed his seizure pill at midnight and he has a tad of separation anxiety.

Zephyr had no problems with the anesthesia and ended up with eleven stitches and a drain.  Luckily there was no damage to the muscle or tendons.  When I picked him up he was still very drowsy and needed a little help walking and climbing into the car.  They had given him a bag of fluids so he really needed to potty when we got home.  Then he fell asleep for few hours.  When he woke up his foot was a bit tender, and the next morning too.  But, he wanted to eat before going back to sleep.

Ya, that's right, I messed the bed up and look how cute I am.  Don't you like my duct tape?
Thankfully, his foot was not painful after a day or so, and healed really well.  I did have to put a plastic bag or bootie on it to protect it from snow every time he went out, but that worked out okay.  The worst for Zephyr was that the antibiotic, clindamycin, gave the poor boy very loose stool. 

All healed up and ready to go.
After the stitches were removed he still had to wear a bootie to prevent him from licking it as the area continued to heal.  As usual Zephyr handled everything and healed really well.  I just wish we could avoid these episodes.  It could have been worse though, a friend's dog broke a toe doing the exact same thing just a week later.  Needless to say there are a few less dogs flying through the snowy forest in our area.

Oh, I just need to roll around and kick it out in this fresh new snow.
But, that does not include the snowy back yard.  This weekend we got over a foot of new snow and Zephyr had a great time romping.

Look Mom, I'm a Pharaoh Hound!
I'm done Zephyr!
Geez, he can be a pest when he's feeling good.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Very Happy Belated Birthday, Zephyr!

Well I must be the worst mom ever.  Months have gone by since Zephyr's 6th birthday, two to be exact, and I have not properly celebrated it with our blog friends.  Obviously I've been a little out of touch.

January 6 was Zephyr's birthday.  It's hard to believe he is 6 years old.  Zephyr says six is the new three and he wanted his birthday post to show him in all his glory.  So, he's giving you a peak at his new layout that will be in next month's issue of PlayGrey.  ;-)

Cute and Coy.

What a tease!

Seriously handsome.  (We'll explain the bandage later)

Playful too.

Enjoying a tasty birthday treat.

Cares about others and shares.

How is Zephyr such a sweet hottie at 6 years old?  Lots of beauty rest.