Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Today is pretty special for our little family.

1 Year Ago:
My childhood friend, Nick, moved from West Virginia to New York City and needed a place to live while he searched for an apartment.  Today, we are lucky to spend New Year's Eve with Nick again, but this time he brought his boyfriend, Chris, and their standard poodle, Nigel.  Luna is enjoying the company and having a very polite doggy friend to help ring in the new year.  (Will they share a kiss at midnight?)
Nigel looking handsome. 
6 Months Ago:
Mike and I adopted Luna.  We are so happy that we have her and can't believe that only 6 months have gone by.  It feels like Luna has been a part of our family forever.
Our brown eyed girl.
1 Month Ago:
Luna's accident was exactly four weeks ago.  This past month has been a really crazy emotional roller coaster.  We've gone from thinking we would lose her to seeing her walking and enjoying more adventures.  To show how much she has improved, here is a video from yesterday's physical therapy session.  Notice that all four feet are placing well, but the left side is slow.  We've got some more work to do to get her back to 100%, but we are well on our way.
video

2011 will definitely be a year we will remember.  Who knows what 2012 has in store for us, but we hope it is a year of happy (and healthy) memories.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Christmas Miracle

Mike and I were away on vacation this past weekend and left Luna with fellow greyhound enthusiast, Mary Pat.  She has three other greyhounds to keep Luna company (Opal, Emerald, and Tanzanite).  We were very nervous leaving Luna because we didn't want her to be a burden, but our fears were quickly put to rest when we received a phone call the night we dropped her off.  "I just wanted to let you know that she has been walking around the house unassisted for a few hours."  This was just the start of our Christmas miracle.

Every time I called to check in we had another fantastic report on Luna's progress.  First, she was walking around unassisted.  Then, she was trotting with the other greyhounds.  By the end of the weekend she was basically a normal dog with a funny gait.  She can now do a slow run, go up and down the stairs (but she is very nervous about them), and walk outside for her potty time.  The best part is her helicopter tail has returned which makes us so happy.

It is amazing that we dropped off a dog that could barely move and in just five days we picked up a totally different dog.  I really think that the other greyhounds inspired Luna to get up and move.  They helped her forget her limitations so she was eager to keep up with the pack.  We will definitely need to visit again so she can hang with her buddies.

A big "thank you" to Mary Pat and her loving pack for taking such great care of Luna.  We can't imagine a better place for her to stay.  Below is a video Mary Pat took of Luna.  Notice that everyone is relaxing, but Luna won't let anyone rest because she's got places to go.

  video

Friday, December 23, 2011

Stay Tuned

We're on vacation this week so we'll have to share Luna's updates when we get back. We've already seen some incredible progress in just a few short hours. Stay tuned for the full story. Until then, have a great weekend and happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Physical Therapy Round 2

Last night was Luna's second visit to physical therapy.  We got there early and stayed a little late so she actually had almost 1.5 hours of therapy.  Boy, was she tired when we got home!

We started with stretching the legs and practicing standing.  Afterwards, we spent a lot of time encouraging her to walk around the room.  Her back left leg was showing progress, but she was having trouble with the front left.  She did not want to use it and would keep it braced as long as possible until it knuckled over.  The physical therapsit has some more tricks up her sleeve to encourage her to work the front left if she still doesn't want to next time.

Since Luna was showing progress with her back left, the therapist wanted to see if we could get more from her with the underwater treadmill.  Instead of supporting her with the pool noodles, we suited her up with a life jacket.  It helped her stay afloat while forcing her to stand on her own.  Another therapist worked her front left leg, but as you'll see in the video, she did awesome!
video
I'm glad she got a chance to walk and that her back left is improving.  Hopefully, we'll see some progress with the front left and get to spend more time in the tub at our next visit.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Camping at Home

Thank goodness I bought a new air mattress this past summer because we've been using it every night.  Our bedrooms are upstairs and there is no way I am carrying her up and down those stairs just to go to bed.  It is too risky.  Until Luna can navigate the stairs safely with our help, we are camping in our living room.  The room gets pretty cold at night so we have added an electric blanket to our pile of three to four blankets.  Luna also gets bundled up at night just in case she gets cold.
Can you spot Luna?
It is hard to sleep on the air mattress every night so Mike and I take turns.  I enjoy sleeping in my own bed because I'll get a better night's sleep, but I do like falling asleep next to Luna.  When I was in 4-H my dog club would host a sleepover at the 4-H center for members and their dogs.  We would stay up late training our dogs, playing games, and getting to know each other.  When it was lights out we would settle down with our puppies next to us (ok, some of us would stay up).  Sleeping next to Luna in the living room reminds me of how much fun I had at those sleepovers with Eris.  It's kind of nice to spend some bonding time with Luna.
Luna is all tucked in.
Goodnight Moon...I mean, Luna.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Early Christmas Parties

"What is this doing on my pillow?"
It was another busy day for Luna.  Mike's family was celebrating Christmas early since everyone will be away for the holiday.  There was no way we were leaving Luna out of the loop so we packed up her gear and headed out for the party.  Luna was very nervous at first and had a hard time relaxing.  I spent most of my time sitting nearby so she could see or touch me.  If I got out of eyesight she would begin whining.  Maddie, the resident Golden Retriever, was very concerned when Luna cried and would come running from all corners of the house to check that she was OK.  What a good host.  After some time Luna settled down with her yogurt filled Kong and took a nap.

Next, we headed out to Mike's parents' house for Christmas part two.  Luna was very agitated here and would not settle down.  The specific reason for her acting up is unknown, but we guess that it was due to her desire to get up and follow people around.  She seemed upset every time someone left the living room.  I think seeing Amber was comforting for her, but also a reminder that she could not get up and follow her like she did a few weeks ago.

At one point, she stood up and refused to lie down so we just let her stand for a few minutes.  She even took a couple of steps which was great.  She probably stood for more than five minutes and was finally tired enough to lie down and take another nap.

Speaking of Luna's mobility, she is really progressing well.  She can now get herself up in to a stand and can take steps with her right feet.  Her left is weak and that is where we are focusing her physical therapy.  I think it is working because this evening she took a successful step with her back left leg!  Got to love progress.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Grand Day Out

What a busy day it has been.  This morning Luna visited the vet to check in.  The doctor was very impressed with her progress and was grinning from ear to ear.  She said we totally made her day.  :-)  The doctor's recommendation for the next step of recovery was hydro therapy.  We located a rehab place that had an underwater treadmill and got an appointment for this evening.

Luna did way better than I had expected.  I figured she would be terrified by the whole experience (and she was pretty freak out at first), but once the cheese treats came out she forgot her fear and focused on getting the food.

"Mmmm...cheese!"
Basket muzzle just in case she got scared.

"I'm liking this thing."
We did some work on her legs while she was lying down, worked her while she was standing on a peanut ball, used a laser to help the muscles, and tested out how she would do on the underwater treadmill.  At this time she is very good at standing and she really wants to move.  The problem is her flexer muscles in her left legs are not ready yet.  The underwater treadmill was no good since she couldn't step with her left legs so we will have to focus our rehab on those muscles while she is on dry land.

video


Her time at therapy showed me how much she has improved in just two weeks.  She can curl herself up into a ball, move herself so she is lying on her stomach, and stand on her own as long as she has the strength.  We have another physical therapy session scheduled for next week.  In the mean time, Mike and I have a lot of homework to keep us busy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Increased Mobility and Increased Stress

Ugh.  This evening was tough.  On the plus side, Luna has improved so much that she is now able to get herself into a stand!  She can stand on her own if all four feet a flat and she has enough strength.  Don't leave her on her own for too long or she'll come crashing down.  Thank goodness we practiced our "stay" command before the accident so she knows to stay put when we walk out of a room.  She has already tried to follow us and now that she can get into a stand she can really hurt herself if we aren't there to catch her.

On the stressful side, Luna really made a mess of herself this evening.  We gave her a sponge bath, but it wasn't enough.  That meant we had to carry her up the winding staircase (something I was hoping to avoid for several weeks) and give her a bath.  Luckily, we have a walk in shower with enough space for her to lie down in.  We also have a shower head that can be detached from the wall which makes bath time a lot easier.  However, since all our crummy towels were being used to keep Luna comfy and she peed on them, we didn't have any towels to dry her off.  I guess we'll be asking Santa for some new towels to replace our former "good" towels.  At least she's safe, clean, and comfy.

Tomorrow morning we are visiting the vet for her first check up after the accident.  I am really looking forward to showing the doctor how far she has come in just under two weeks.  I think they will be very impressed.  I know I am.

Thank you for the continued support, advice, and comments.  It really lifts our spirits to read your comments and tell Luna she's got a lot of people (and puppies) out there rooting for her.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Every Day a Little Stronger

Mike gives Luna plenty of cuddle time.
Things are going really well.  Luna is improving so much that it is hard to keep the posts current.  I'll do my best to sum up where we are at this time.

Luna has been sitting up on her own regularly and will even put herself into a sit when we are getting ready to take her out for a potty break.  All her legs are growing stronger, even the back left which has been the most trouble.  She still knuckles over on both left feet, but she is able to put some weight on all four legs.  In fact, tonight was the first time I tried taking Luna outside for a potty break on my own.  I was surprised at how well she was able to hold herself up if I got all four feet flat and let her lean on me for support.  I'm so proud of her!

Another great improvement is she is now able to sleep most of the night without waking us up.  When it was the worst, she was waking us up every forty minutes to be flipped.  Two nights ago she only woke me up twice with two hours in between.  Last night she woke me up once for a quick flip.

We have done some light training with her to keep her mentally active.  Her favorites are "paw", picking up her dumbbell, and giving me "nose" (she bops my fingers with her nose).  I will try to get a video of us training.  In the mean time, here is a video of how we flip Luna from one side to the other.  Sorry for the strange background noise.
video

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Clarification

The grapevine is not exactly a reliable place to get a story from so it is no surprise that many details of the accident have been altered during the retelling.  Part of the problem was that I only had my side of the story.  I could only report what I had heard and saw.  Now that some time has passed and I have heard other perspectives from that day, I would like to share the story as accurately as possible.

Luna was running at an LGRA event close to the NJ/PA border.  Luna and the other dog weigh about the same and this was their second time running at an event.  At an LGRA event, four dogs wearing basket muzzles are released from a starting box and run straight for 200 yards after a lure.  This is a race so whichever dog crosses the finish line first is the winner.  After crossing the finish line the lure and dogs come to a stop. 

This was the second race of the day for Luna and the other dog.  Luna crossed the finish line first, but was going too fast to stop at the lure.  She ran past it, then ran back to attack it, placing herself perpendicular to the course.  The dog in fourth place did not stop in time and ran face first into Luna's right side.  Both dogs went down and rolled for several feet.  The other dog got up, but Luna did not.  I'm going to stop here as far as the crash because I really don't want to describe how Luna looked.

Before Pam and I took off for the vet, someone shouted to us that the other dog's basket muzzle was shattered.  I had assumed that the dog's face would have been cut up or there would be some kind of injury since the crash was so violent.  In reality, the other dog was fine.  She had no cuts of any kind.  It appears that the basket muzzle actually saved her by taking the full force of the blow.  Based on how the muzzle looked, we guess that the other dog hit Luna with the lower part of the muzzle and the force blew the top off.  This probably saved the other dog's face and eyes from being injured from the plastic shards.

The vertebra that were affected are located between Luna's shoulder blades and under a lot of muscles.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  It's a tricky location to do surgery, which thankfully we were able to avoid.  On the other hand, it is a well protected spot which was probably helpful when we loaded her into the car and now during her recovery time.

I cannot emphasize enough that this was an accident and no one is at fault.  Luna and I forgive the other dog because we know she did not want this to happen.  I am thankful for the amazing people who helped us in the field, at the vet's office, and since we've brought Luna home.  I hope this has clarified any points of confusion, but if not, please let me know and I will do my best to answer.

Keeping Up the Good Work

Just a quick post to say that Luna is continuing to show progress. Today she was able to hold herself up in a sit for quite awhile. We did some training with the dumbbell and found that she can manuver herself pretty well. I am testing out some new trick ideas to keep things interesting. We'll see which ones we go with.

Today was my first full dayback to work in a week. Everyone at work has met Luna before and want to see her come back to work soon. Until then, she has to stay home but she cannot be alone. We are very lucky to have family and friends who can stay at home with her right now to keep her safe.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ready to Greet Visitors

It was a big day for Luna.  We had some visitors come to check in with Luna and wish her a speedy recovery.  I met Mary Pat and her greyhound Opal at the LGRA race the Saturday of her accident.  They brought her a Kong filled with chunky peanut butter which she devoured.  We really enjoyed talking greyhounds with Mary Pat and Luna enjoyed sniffing a fellow grey.  Opal not only is adorable, but she is sooooo soft.  Imagine petting a dog made of rabbit fur.  Soft.  She totally won Mike over because he let her climb up on the couch to take a nap.
Opal keeps a close watch on Luna.
Another reason Luna is sleeping soundly this evening is she can now sit up!  This is very exciting, and very stressful for Mike and me.  It is really hard to trust her to be safe alone in a room because she keeps trying to get up, but she doesn't have a lot of control.  I'm so scared she is going to crash onto the hardwood floors.  It may be time to put all her beds and crib mattresses together to make a safe zone.
Look how pretty she is!

It is really awesome that she is not only able to sit up, but she really wants to get up and move around.  Every time someone comes through the door she tries to get up and greet them.  Such a good host.  Every day she can do something new so who knows what she will come up with tomorrow.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Our Fur Baby

Luna is doing well.  She's been a little extra whinny today (soreness? feeling needy?), but overall she continues to strengthen her legs, keep in good spirits, and eat well.  I mentioned before that she was rolling on to her back periodically.  Yesterday, she suddenly completed the roll and successfully flipped herself!  Today, when we were getting ready to pick her up to carry her out for a potty break, she was able to prop herself up into a sit!  That's our good girl.
Luna working on flipping herself.

Now, I will occasionally refer to Luna as our baby, but the last week has really taken it to a new level.  Who would have thought we'd have a 55 pound baby on our hands?

Luna is like a baby because...
  • She can't be left alone
  • She needs us to feed her
  • She needs our help with potty time
  • She can't walk (yet)
  • She cries (a lot)
  • We can't understand what she is trying to tell us
Luna is NOT like a baby because...
  • She can bite (but I guess babies can too, but she has some really bad teeth)
  • She weighs a lot
  • She's a lot hairier
The good news is that Luna is progressing quickly so hopefully she will learn to walk, go to school, graduate, and get a good job.  Wait, let's just stick to walking. :-)

Birthday Party/Get Well Soon

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I will give a full report later today, but here is a quick update.

Yesterday was my birthday and it certainly wasn't what I had been expecting. We invited a few friends to come over and play games so we could still take care of Luna. She did awesome with the group being there. She stayed quiet unless she wanted to be flipped and did not try to get off her pillow. We gave her a bone filled with frozen yogurt to enjoy and my friend Ashley brought her a get well cookie. Ashley also brought her shih tzu, Chewie, to keep Luna company.

It was a good evening and I think Luma knew how important this was for me so she was on her best behavior.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On the Move...Sort of

I think Luna is really making some great progress.  It's making things a little more complicated for us, but I'm all for healing.

Last night I again slept on the couch (I'm definitely trying the air mattress tonight.  Why didn't I think of that before?).  I woke up at 1:30 because somebody was whining.  Now, she has a tendency to whine for attention so I tried ignoring her.  Then I told her to be quiet.  Finally, I had to open my eyes to see what the problem was.  To my surprise, Luna was not on her pillow!  I panicked.  How can a paralyzed dog not be where I put her?  It turns out she managed to push herself off her pillow and onto the floor.  When I saw her she looked up at me as if to say, "um...sorry to bother you, but I seem to have fallen and I can't get up."

To prevent this situation from happening again we have pushed her pillows into a corner so she has two walls to keep her in place.  We also moved an arm chair on one side and the old air conditioner (covered by blankets) on the other.  It's worked pretty well today, except if she is agitated enough she is able to spin herself around on the pillow and could possibly make it onto the floor.
Luna on two pillows surrounded by a crib mattress, blankets and towels.

Another big surprise happened this afternoon.  My friend, Ashley, came over to dog sit while I went to a work meeting.  When I returned we were sitting on the couch chatting and out of the corner of my eye I saw two sets of paws go up in the air.  Luna was roaching!  She had rolled herself onto her back.  At first I was concerned that she was going to hurt herself, but she brought herself back down with plenty of control and repeated the action several more times.  Maybe she'll be able to flip herself over soon.

The final piece of good news I have is in regards to her left rear leg.  I have been working hard to flex and stretch each of her legs, but I spend a few minutes on this leg helping to remind her how to put weight on it.  The first time we took her out to potty she knuckled it over and it was pretty much a dead leg.  I couldn't even get it to straighten out so I could plant it flat on the ground.  Tonight, she had it flat on the ground so I added a little weight.  I'm very hopefully that she will regain some use of this leg and be able to hold herself.

I'm feeling so much better about our situation after the last two days and I hope to see more improvement as the week continues.  Thank you for all the comments.  I read each of them to Luna so she knows what people are saying about her and we discuss your suggestions.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Settling In

It was a little tough today, but we got through it and I think we are starting to settle in.

Last night, I didn't want Luna to be alone downstairs (especially since she gets upset when I leave the room) so I slept on our couch.  Our couch is great for sitting and watching tv...not for sleeping on.  It kills my back.  So at 3:30am Luna started whining and wouldn't stop until 6:30am.  Ugh.  Not only did my back hurt, but I wasn't feeling so well rested.  I'm sure Luna wasn't feeling so great either.

I took the morning off so I could help Luna get comfortable with the new set up.  We had a rocky start to our morning since I couldn't recognize her signals for pain, bathroom, and general neediness.  By noon we had figured things out so we were both comfortably watching tv.
Sock monkeys make it all better.
Later, my dad came over to watch his grandpuppy (his wording, not mine) while I ran to work for a few hours.  He reported that she didn't stop whining until about an hour after I left.  That's a little depressing because I can't be with her all the time and I know it will be annoying for anyone who stays to take care of her.  Hopefully, she'll learn to relax and trust that I'll come back.

So day one went well.  We are learning how to read her signals and she is learning to put up with our inability to read her signals.  She's so good to put up with us.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Luna's home!
Our princess on her mountain of pillows.

We brought her home tonight and we can tell she is very happy to be back.  I think she's a little nervous since she is used to following us from room to room and now she has to trust that we will return to her.  We have her set up in the living room which includes the tv, front door, and ratties (another form of entertainment).  It's going to be hard for her to sleep downstairs by herself, but we hope she will get used to it quickly.

Luna's mobility seems to be improving.  Her right front leg is very strong.  Her back right leg and front left leg are pretty good too.  The back left is still useless.  She impressed us tonight by moving her head, neck, and a bit of shoulder when I left the room.  She was upset so she was trying to follow me.  She's also eating well and it is hard not to keep feeding her treats.

We were given a lot of instructions on how to care for her, but nothing too complicated.  Basically, we need to keep her muscles in shape by stretching her legs several times a day, helping her go to the bathroom if needed, flip her every few hours, and keep her clean and comfortable.  It's like brining home a baby.....a baby that will hopefully start walking very soon.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to read about Luna and offer advice and well wishes.  I can't begin to tell you how much your comments have meant to us.  It is so nice to know Luna has cheerleaders everywhere.

To wrap up, here is a video of Luna a few minutes after we brought her home.  Thank goodness I had just finished teaching her "paw" before her accident.  It will make therapy work a lot easier.  Oh, and the pig nose trick...that's Mike's favorite that he wan't Luna to learn (thanks Jennifer).
video

The Morning Report

I called the vet this morning (I'm such a nuisance) and heard Luna barking her head off in the background. At first I was scared, but I realized that the doctor would not be talking to me if my dog was in trouble.  "Can you hear your baby?" she asked.  "We've had her go to the bathroom, fed her breakfast, and fluffed her pillows.  We think she's just upset that no one is paying attention to her because she stops when we come over."  That sounds like my girl.

Luna's status is about the same as it was last night, but it sounds like she is able to support herself a bit more on her three legs.  The left rear remains a problem, but I think the left front is getting a little better.  Judging by her barking, I'd say she's frustrated that she can't get up and move around.  The doctor says she can push herself off the pillow if you put her feet against the wall.  Good to know.

I had hoped to bring her home today since I took the day off from work (we had a department meeting and I just couldn't handle being around so many people).  Taking her home today is still a possibility, but the doctor is on the road today and won't be back until late tonight.  She wants to be the one to give us home care instructions so we need to wait for a good time for her.  We may have to wait until tomorrow when she is back at the office.

It's a little frustrating to have to wait, but I'm going to spend the day preparing the house for Luna's return.  We'll need some safe and comfy beds prepared, plenty of towels and blankets, and all the clutter picked up so we don't trip while carrying her.  I'd better get started.

Thank you to everyone who has visited and left words of encouragement.  It means a lot to me to have so many people and dogs rooting for her.  A special thanks to Bunny and houndstooth for sharing our story.  I thought this was going to be the end of my blog, but I'm glad to keep it going to share her updates.  It's a nice way to document her progress.  I will post again soon and hopefully will have a picture or two to share.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hanging in There

We had fully expected to say good-bye to Luna today.  Her early morning report wasn't great and Mike and I were preparing ourselves for the worst when we went to visit her this evening.

We were surprised to find an alert dog who looked very happy to see us.  She can bear some weight on her front two legs and on the right rear.  The left rear is not too good yet.  Her front left is not very strong, but the doctor thinks we can improve the strength.  Her front right is the strongest and she was actually using it to ask for attention.  While we were there, she ate at least a cup of food.  She is not completely in control of her bladder, but she does let the vet techs know when she needs to go.  

I spent a long time massaging and flexing her legs and we told her what a good girl she is to keep up the fight.  She is staying another night and hopefully we will be able to bring her home soon.  We are now switching our thinking over to how to help her recover at home.  I will continue to let you know how she is doing.

Thank you again for the support.  I truly believe it has made a world of difference for Luna to have so many people rooting for her.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Terrible Accident

This is by far the hardest post I've had to make and I really don't want to, but I feel that for the few of you out there that read about Luna's adventures you should know what is going on.

I took Luna to run at another LGRA event on Saturday.  It was turing out to be a fantastic day.  Sunny (yet cold), tons of greyhounds to compete against, and Luna was placing 1st!  We were having a wonderful time.

At the end of the second race, Luna was in 1st place (my good girl).  When the lure stopped, she stopped to attack it, but the dog behind her did not.  It was a T-bone collision at full speed.  I wish I could forget how she looked after she finished rolling.  It will burn in my mind forever and it causes me great pain to think about it.

The other dog's basket muzzle was shattered and it's mouth was cut up, but otherwise it was fine.  Luna, on the other hand, struggled to breath and could not get up.  I was certain that she was going to die in my hands right there in that field.

Someone said we needed to get her to a vet and that snapped me into action.  I ran to bring my car around, we loaded her up, a wonderful lady named Pam (who I had not talked to yet) jumped in the car to drive so I could hold Luna still.  It took us 30 minutes to get to the emergency vet clinic, but it is an amazing clinic with a terrific staff.  It is the best possible place we could have taken her.

X-rays show that her first two vertebrae were affected.  When we first brought her in, Luna could not move her front legs, but she could feel pain in all legs.  After a few hours, she was able to move all four legs.  We decided to skip the risky surgery and use the wait and see method in the hopes that she would continue to improve on her own.

While she had been improving yesterday and last night, there has been no change since then.  She is not getting worse, but she is not getting better.  The most healing occurs during the 48 hours after the injury. At this point, she cannot control her bladder and cannot stand, but she still feels pain in her legs.  The chances of a full recovery are small, but we are going to give her the full 48 hours to see how far she can come.

Please keep your fingers crossed for Luna.  I will provide an update tomorrow when I know more.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Teacher's Pet

One of my favorite things about dog training is teaching kids how to effectively communicate with their dogs.  As I've mentioned before, I grew up in the 4-H dog project and was a club trainer and leader after graduating the program.  Today, Luna and I returned as guest presenters to the Doggone Crazy 4-H club to share some training tips with the club members.

While I did most of the talking (ok, all of the talking), Luna enjoyed the attention from the club members.  After speaking with the members about the different learning styles in dogs and different forms of motivation, it was time for Luna to demonstrate her skills.  The highlight was her dumbbell retrieval.  I explained to the members that Luna naturally has no interest in the dumbbell.  To get her to retrieve, I broke the task down into baby steps and made it a fun game.  Now, when the dumbbell comes out, she is all excitement for our game.

The kids had a lot of good questions about how to motivate the dog and how to correct the dog when they do the wrong behavior.  I plan to return later in the year to demonstrate some silly dog tricks to the club members.  I want them to think of training as a fun experience for both dog and handler and silly tricks (play dead, roll over, shake, etc.) are great ways to do that.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Six Months to Real Dog

I've always told new adopters that it takes about six months for the dog to feel comfortable in their new home.  Until that time they are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I've seen it with Eris, my cousins' dogs, and my fosters.  They just can't believe they're in such a great place forever until about six months has passed.

Luna has just about hit her six month anniversary and she is starting to blossom into a real dog.  The last time we visited Amber, she tried to get Amber to run with her (with no success).  Over the weekend, she really tried to get Ginny to play with her by offering play bows and playfully nipping at her shoulders (also unsuccessful).  At the dog park today, she felt comfortable enough to have a couple of sprints even though there were other dogs in the park.  It is awesome to see her coming out of her shell and realizing this is her home and we are her people.

Ginny and Luna...partners in crime.
Another great improvement is her attachment to me.  While I am flattered that she clings to me like a preschooler on their first day of school, she can be a bit too needy.  Recently, she has started following other people around and exploring new areas on her own.  She still checks in with me, but she is definitely braver than she used to be.

I'm glad she is finally relaxing enough to show us her true personality and I just love how happy she appears.  We are going to have a lot of fun together and I'm glad she's excited for the ride.

Friday, November 25, 2011

First Thanksgiving is a Success

Luna did awesome today!  She handled the four hour drive beautifully, became fast friends with Ginny, and behaved herself during dinner time.  I did restrict her movement during dinner to keep her well away from the table.  Early on in the day she started getting a bit too familiar with the pies so I wasn't about to take any chances.  After a few whines she settled down and patiently waited for us to finish our meal.

"This is mine too right?"
Luna and Ginny played musical chairs with their dog beds.  It was pretty funny to see Luna on Ginny's pillow which is a third of the size of her bed.  They also performed their plethora of tricks for the family.  It just so happens they both know spin and paw so we were able to get them to do it on cue together.  So precious!  We also experimented with Luna in a stay and Ginny going under Luna.  Very cute.


I had mentioned in my previous post that we were going to bring Luna's crate.  Well, we did, but we haven't set it up yet for two reasons.  One is that there really isn't any space (we've got a full house).  The second is because she is really behaving herself very well.  We don't plan to leave the dogs alone so there really is no reason to set the crate up.  I have to say I am impressed with how quickly she became comfortable in the new setting with a new dog and new people.
"We can help with those leftovers.  Please let us help."

Tomorrow we will take the dogs to the local dog park for a nice run.  Since Ginny and Luna have become so comfortable with each other I'm hoping Ginny will be able to teach Luna to relax at the dog park and enjoy playing with the other dogs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Can Luna Be a Good House Guest?

We will be staying at my aunt and uncle's house during Thanksgiving which will be a lot of fun for all of us.  Luna will get to meet Ginny, their hound mix, who loves to play.  We've been talking about taking them to the local dog park which is by far the best dog park I've been to.  Luna will also get to enjoy a whole new group of people interested in giving her attention.

I am a bit nervous about her stay since this will be a very new environment and my family is used to the way Eris behaved when visiting.  Eris was so comfortable in their house that she could be left out of the crate when we were out.  She enjoyed lounging in front of the fireplace, snoozing in the dining room, and resting in the bedrooms.  Can you tell she was pretty laid back?  Eris took vacationing to heart and really made the most of her time at their house.

Luna, on the other hand, loves to be involved and will follow people (especially people carrying food) from room to room.  She can get herself into trouble when she noses around the kitchen.  She will cry and bark occasionally when we leave her in the crate.  Basically, I'm worried that Luna will annoy the family and get herself in trouble.

To help her be the best house guest possible, Mike and I will make sure she is not left completely alone in the house and if she has to be she will be in the crate.  We will also keep a close eye on her to correct her anytime she looks like she's getting into trouble.  I'm sure she'll be fine and I'm looking forward to posting a good report later this week. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Greyhound Craft Show

Renny is happy to meet Luna.
Don't they make a cute pair?
It turns out they're related!
Mike and I have been eagerly awaiting the annual Greyhound Friends of New Jersey Craft Show.  We were excited to show her rescuers how well she is doing, do a little shopping, and meet more greyhounds.  Mike's coworker and his girlfriend were there with their rescued greyhound, Renny.  He was a real sweetheart and seemed to enjoy meeting a cute girl like Luna.  I was blown away by how much smaller Luna is than most greyhounds.  She was so petite compared to the males and many of the females.

Luna did really well at the craft show and seemed to enjoy all the attention, sights, and smells.  She received many cookies and showed off some of her obedience skills.  My favorite part was checking out the adoptable greyhounds.  I follow their stories online and root for them until they're adopted.  For me, it was like meeting movie stars.  "Oh wow!  It's Oak's Kid Sister!  And over there is Tipsy Pocket!"  The best was actually petting Regal Lightning, a drop dead gorgeous male who came into rescue in the late spring.  His picture convinced Mike and me that we needed a greyhound.  As much as we loved him (and still do) he was not the right fit for our family so we were forced to pass.  I learned at the craft show that he was adopted about a month ago to a nice family and he is doing great.

Luna made out like a bandit.  It's completely obvious at this point that we are spoiling her, but who cares!
Luna's new winter coat.  Bright yellow to help the cars see her.

Her new blanket.  It says "Bow Wow" all over.

Her new winter collar and necklace.  Silvery white with gold snowflakes.

To wrap the day up we stopped by Mike's parent's house for a visit.  Luna showed us how happy she was by running laps around the yard.  She even chased a tennis ball a few times!  When Amber came out to see what was going on, Luna tried to get Amber to play.  Amazing considering Luna has never asked a dog to play before.  Even though Amber was not interested in playing chase, Luna enjoyed a good deal of running.

Monday, November 14, 2011

First Sleepover

Mike and I went to my cousin's wedding this weekend which meant that Luna needed a place to stay for two nights.  Knowing this trip was on the horizon, we started bringing Luna over to Mike's parents' house to get her used to the environment and to meet Amber, their lab mix.  Amber is not a fan of other dogs and has tendencies to guard Mike's mother.  To get both dogs ready for the sleepover Mike and I started introducing the two dogs months ago.  Here is a quick overview of the steps we took:
  1. On a walk, but plenty of distance from each other.
  2. On a walk with Luna in front so Amber could smell her.
  3. On a walk next to each other.
  4. In the backyard with me, Mike and his father.
  5. In the backyard with me, Mike, his sister and parents.
  6. In the house for an hour with everyone present.
  7. In the house for a few hours with everyone except me present.
  8. The sleepover!
I am happy to report that both dogs did fantastic!  Amber was relaxed with having a second dog in the house and Luna felt comfortable with her surroundings.  When Amber was feeling stressed she was able to escape to the upstairs for a little break while Luna followed family members from room to room.  When outside, Luna would follow Amber around the yard.  She can be a little clingy, but I'm glad Amber tolerated her so well.

The best part was that Luna did not seem very upset with Mike and me for abandoning her.  Last time I left for a conference she punished me all evening by ignoring me.  This time she happily followed us around the house and was very generous with her leans (a.k.a. greyhound hugs).  It is nice to know that she can feel comfortable when Mike and I go away.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sleeping Beauty?

Luna is really tolerant of letting Mike and me manipulate her when she is lying down.  This works well for clipping nails, but it also a lot of fun to play with her.  We like to get her into that classic roach position and pose her.  It works even better when she is so exhausted from a day of running.
Falling asleep with her mouth open.


Silly dog.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Office Dog Becomes Guard Dog

I like to take Luna to work with me every once in awhile especially since my end of the hallway becomes a ghost town in the afternoon.  I work on the side of the building where there are several empty offices and a co-worker who works part-time so it can get pretty lonely.

Usually, Luna is a very well behaved guest when visiting my office and is the perfect example of why every day should be Bring Your Dog to Work Day.  However, I had not counted on the maintenance crew inspecting the fire alarm system today.

I could hear the guy coming down the hallway and spraying (I think smoke) from a canister to test the alarms.  Apparently, Luna did not like this sound and was concerned about the strange man in the building (the office population is mostly female).  As he turned the corner to come into my office she jumped up with several loud barks and stood guard at the door.  You could tell she wasn't interested in attacking the man, but definitely wanted to let him know that he was not welcomed.  Thank goodness the man was not afraid of dogs and had a good sense of humor.  He suggested I take Luna out of the office while he tested the smoke detector which was very thoughtful of him.

Later in the day we were told the fire alarms were going to go off as a test.  Everyone was concerned how Luna would react to the noise and lights.  It turns out that sitting calmly through the alarms was enough to let her know that there was no need to panic.  She had her ears up and looked around for the source of the sound, but after checking in with me and seeing no reaction she just ignored the noise.

While I am a little embarrassed by her out of character behavior, it is nice to know that she would defend us if she felt there was a threat.  So all you men with spray cans beware of the dog when entering my office!

Monday, October 31, 2011

First Snowstorm, First Halloween

When we adopted Luna we received a lot of questions about how she would handle the New Jersey winter.  This weekend we were surprised by a freak snowstorm that brought trees down, power outages, and my parents back to our house for warmth and electricity.  (Sigh)  On the plus side we got to introduce Luna to the world of snow earlier than expected.

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Based on her reaction to the cold, wet stuff, I'd say we have a long winter ahead of us.  At least she is learning how to do her business quickly when we go outside.

Another first for Luna was Halloween.  She sported her bandanna and eagerly greeted all the strange characters at the door.  We did not get too many visitors which was disappointing.  At least she got to show off her outfit a bit.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Passive Aggressive?

Last week was the first time I have left Luna for a long period of time.  I had to travel to a conference and was gone for five days.  Mike reported that she was a pain the first day (which we expected) but quickly adjusted to only having Mike around.  She got a little clingy with him which helped them bond but made doing chores difficult.

After years to dog sitting, I have seen the many different reactions dogs have when their owners return.  Some forgive and forget easily while others punish their owners for abandoning them.  My favorite was a greyhound named Cleo who enthusiastically greeted her owners for about 30 seconds and then ran off to her pillow and refused to move.  The owners literally carried her out of the house because she would not walk.

I experienced my own punishment last night and this morning.  After happily greeting me when I walked through the door, Luna followed Mike around from room to room.  When I called her over, she just stared at me as if to say, "Why?  So you can leave me again?"  I was sad to see her giving me the cold shoulder, but I knew that this would pass and soon all would be forgiven.

Apparently, Luna still had some mixed feelings this morning.  On one hand she was happy to have me back evident by her asking for pets, offering me play bows, and following me around.  On the other hand, she seemed to need to show me that my actions would not go unchecked.  She took to placing herself in ways that would cause me some harm.  Just something subtle.  This morning she body slammed my knee causing me to nearly fall down and stepped on my foot as I went up the stairs causing me to trip.  I'm sensing a little residual annoyance towards me.  Hopefully, I can remedy this by spending the day with her and taking her on some errands.  Still, I'd better watch my step for the next few days.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Taking 1st

Today was a big day for Luna.  There was a Large Gazehound Racing Association (LGRA) meet about an hour from our house and they said Luna could not only run, but compete, too.  We packed up the car and headed out for a day of fast paced fun.
Luna keeps a lookout for the lure.
Unfortunately, Luna was the only greyhound so she could not earn any points for her races.  As if points matter to Luna.  Her first run was a bit slow because she was not quite sure what was going on.  After the lure stopped I called her and she immediately ran over to me, completely forgetting about the lure she had been chasing.  What a great recall.
Muzzles are worn to keep the lure from being shredded.
In between runs, we practiced loading into the boxes and chasing the lure.  She definitely does not like the boxes so we will have to work on that.  Her second run was a lot faster and the third even faster.  The box operator said Luna kicked up so much dirt as she took off that the operator got a mouth full.  Everyone was very impressed with how well she ran and how quickly she caught on to the game.  Because she was the only greyhound she placed 1st in her breed so she got to take home a blue rosette and a stuffed animal moon.  A moon for Luna.  How cute!

We will definitely go to another one of these events as soon as possible.  Not only does Luna get a chance to run and meet some new dogs, but she is also completely exhausted for the rest of the day.  Bonus!

Friday, October 21, 2011

All Dressed Up

I've often said, "What's the point in having a greyhound if you're not going to accessorize?"

Luna was just made for accessories and we are taking full advantage of her good looks.  We've already purchased her first new collar, new coat/sleepwear, and plenty of bandannas.  She even has a handmade necklace to compliment her fall collar.  Check out the pictures of Luna modeling her fancy new outfits.
Red stars bandanna
Pink sparkles bandanna (hard to tell in picture)
Ready to greet Trick-or-Treaters
Her fall collar and necklace
Not everyone can look this good.

No matter what she wears, Luna always looks beautiful.  We are lucky to have her.
Thanks to our friend Jess for the photo!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jammed Packed Weekend = Sleepy Puppy

This past weekend kept Luna busy.  She traveled to new places, made new friends, and enjoyed plenty of quality time with her people.

We kicked off the weekend with a trip to a local lure coursing event.  Everyone we met was very interested in watching Luna run, but she would not get a turn until about four hours later so we decided to skip the run.  Instead, we watched the only greyhound compete and he was fantastic!  Luna went nuts when she saw him take off after the lure and she could not follow.  She barked and whined to the point where I had to remove her from the area.  Based on her reaction to the lure I think she would really enjoy lure coursing.  The participants we spoke to believe that she might be good at it since she is small and really wants to chase the lure.  Mike and I are checking the calendar to see when we might be able to take her to another event to be tested.

After the lure coursing event, we stopped by the local dog park for a quick run.  Luna was not interested in being around the many other dogs.  You could tell she wanted to go back to her sight hound group.  She did give us a few runs across a field, but it was obvious she was done.

We then visited Mike's parents' house.  His parents own a yellow lab mix who has a history of being protective of her property and people.  We have been slowly introducing Luna and Amber on neutral territory and this was the first time we brought them together in the fenced in backyard.  Amber was a bit on edge, but overall both dogs behaved well.  We will try the backyard play dates a few more times before progressing to the house.

On Sunday, I took Luna for a nice hike in a local park.  She definitely enjoyed the wildlife in the woods and was very interested in the small birds in the bushes.  We came across a few people and a biker who stopped to admire her which she enjoyed.  To wrap up the weekend, Luna and I spent time with my friend Ashley and her newly adopted Shih Tzu, Chewie.  Both dogs got along great and really enjoyed cuddling on the bed as we crocheted and watched movies.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Luna Has an Off Day

Luna is a pretty perfect dog for the most part.  Every once in awhile she has her bad dog moments, but they tend to be few and far between.  Today was an exception.  She really was out of character and had some bad behavior all day.

When I left for work I realized that I had left my cell phone in the house and had to turn the car around.  I had been gone for less than five minutes and came home to hear her yelping and barking so loud I could hear her from my car in the street. Not only is this bad behavior embarrassing, but my adjacent neighbor has a five month old baby that I do not want to risk waking.

This evening, Luna made her dinner time very difficult.  Sometimes she gets so worked up about her dinner that she starts to circle, whine and when she really freaks out she will bark.  I call this "panic mode".  Tonight was full panic mode.  You would have thought this dog was starving and hadn't seen a meal in weeks based on the way she was carrying on.  Every night I make her work for her dinner and when she goes into panic mode I remove the food and sit down while I wait for her to calm down.  I do not like to reward her for obsessing over meal time.  Most nights she gets the message in one sitting.  Tonight, it took over a half hour to feed her.

She completed the evening with constant begging at the dinner table which Mike and I had to scold her for as well as a terrible training session.  It was very obvious she had her own opinions regarding what we should do and what she should be rewarded for.  No new lesson plans tonight thank you very much.  I finally declared "game over" and stopped training before we both got any more frustrated.

Let's hope she got all this bad behavior out of her system and she will be much better the rest of the week.  If she's good (and maybe if she isn't) Mike and I are planning to take her to see a lure coursing event this weekend.  I'd love to see her reaction to the lure.  Maybe a good run will get this crazy behavior out of her system.
"You can't be mad at me, I'm too cute!"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Look What I Can Do!"

Luna is continuing to retrieve her dumbbell like a champ.  It is so funny to see how excited she gets when I bring out the dumbbell.  Tonight I tried introducing her to other objects (dog toys) to retrieve.  She did not generalize very well, but after breaking it down to the basic level she quickly caught on.  The funny thing is, it seems she would prefer to pick up the dumbbell than the fluffy toys.  Maybe the fur bothers her tongue?

"Please tell me we are going to train."

"I'm ready!"

Anyway, below are some videos of Luna retrieving her dumbbell.  I apologize for the shaky camera.  It is really hard to film, throw and take the dumbbell, click, and treat with just two hands.
video


video

For the last video Mike decided he wanted to try his hand at training Luna.  He did pretty well, but I think he needs a bit of training too. :-)  I'll admit it was kind of stressful to watch and I tried to hold it back, but I think you can hear it in my voice.
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Monday, October 3, 2011

The Amazing Retrieving Greyhound

Wow! She was really thin and ripped when we first got her!
Sits, downs, stays, and now retrieval?  Is there anything this dog can't do?  We've only had Luna for three months and already she has learned so much.

Before adopting Luna I had decided that I would train my next dog to compete at AKC shows.  Not a bad idea if I had adopted a retriever or shepherd, but I gave myself a real challenge by selecting a greyhound. Greyhounds can be difficult to train for obedience (but why do they need it when they are already perfect?) and for this reason many people believe greyhounds cannot sit let alone retrieve.

I had never successfully taught a dog to retrieve.  Eris did not want any part of the experience and I blame myself for her dislike towards dumbbell training.  I really had no idea what I was doing and after awhile Eris gave up and refused to look at the dumbbell.  I recall telling my trainer that "Greyhounds don't do retrieval" and resigning from obedience shortly afterward.

I had to eat my words after watching the videos on Never Say Never Greyhounds (http://neversaynevergreyhounds.blogspot.com/search/label/Retrieving).  Here were retired racers who clearly loved the retrieve game.  I studied the instructional videos and decided to give dumbbell training another go, this time in a positive and game-like manner.  The results are fantastic!

Here are the results of just a few short weeks of training.  I hope to capture some better footage of us training in the near future.
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