Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Promoting Greyhound Adoption

The rescue group that we adopted Luna from hosts a Meet & Greet at our local pet store the fourth Saturday of each month.  This past Saturday was the first time eight months that I was finally able to attend.  I have not worked a Meet & Greet in years so I was very excited to join and I knew Luna would be a fantastic representative for the breed.
Eagerly waiting to greet shoppers.
For three hours we hung out with fellow greyhound enthusiasts and their greys while encouraging shoppers to stop and check out the dogs.  Luna was the smallest greyhound there and for most of the time she was accompanied by two very large males.  Shoppers loved to see how tall and small the greyhound could be.  They also loved their mellow personalities and sweet nature.
Each grey took turns resting their heads on each other's backs.
Luna and I were a dynamite team.  If someone stopped for just a second to take a quick look at the dogs I would say loud enough, "Luna, would you like to say hello?"  This would break the ice for the shopper and Luna would eagerly walk over for some love.  She freely hugged every person she could (even a small kid who I was worried would not be able to support her).  The hugs Luna gave melted their hearts.  The icing on the cake was a demonstration of a few of Luna's tricks including spin, sit, and paw.

I'm very pleased with Luna's performance and hope that we will be able to attend another Meet & Greet soon.

Girls Night Out

Mike came across a fun Friday night activity last week for my friend Ashley and me.  Not too far away from my office, a dog training facility was hosting a event called "Gals and Their Furry Pals Night Out".  It was a fund raiser for "Dress for Success", an organization that gives people business clothes to help them on job interviews. Ashley and I decided to take Luna and Chewie for a night out.
Decked out in pink, these girls are ready for a night out.
The first thing we did was get Luna and Chewie's portraits done.  I think Luna's face came out a little too pointy, but I still think it is cute.  Next, we shopped at the many vendors' tables.  Eventually, we wandered over to the agility equipment and introduced Chewie to the jump and tunnel.  Chewie was not interested in the jump until she saw Luna walk over the four inch high bar.  Suddenly, it was ok for Chewie to go over.

The biggest piece of equipment that they had out was the A-frame.  We wanted Chewie to give the A-frame a shot, but she wasn't having it.  To encourage her, we had Luna try the A-frame (very slowly and carefully) and she had no trouble.  Almost instantly Chewie started up the A-frame and seemed quite pleased with her accomplishment.
Very carefully Luna went up and over.

Chewie had no trouble when treats were readily available.
We then headed over to the spa section and got Luna a clover bandanna and two pink bows for Chewie.  The evening was wrapped up with a short walk on the treadmill.  Luna had no trouble with the treadmill since she has been doing the underwater treadmill in therapy, but once again Chewie was not interested until she saw Luna on it first.  We had to turn up the speed on the treadmill because Chewie kept trying to sit and we were afraid she would ride it to the end.
Ready for St. Patrick's Day and all 4-H events.

Chewie on high speed.
It was a very successful Girls Night Out and I'm glad we were able to do so much as a group.
Plenty of cookies for everybody.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Commercial Inspired Trick

One of the Super Bowl commercials had a small mutt named "We go" who would fetch a beer every time someone said "Here we go!"  I loved the idea of having a dog fetch a beer (who doesn't love stupid pet tricks?) so I started introducing Luna to the idea.  She already enjoys holding a variety of items for me (pencils, duct tape, leash, etc.), but how would she feel about picking up a cold, heavy beer?  

As always, I broke the task down to help her learn the trick.  First, I asked her to take an empty beer can so she could figure out how to hold it in her mouth and get used to the feel/taste.
video

Once she was comfortable taking the can from me, I placed it on the ground and asked her to pick it up.  It took her awhile to figure out how to pick it up with her long nose in the way.  Next, I gave the can a little roll so she had to pursue the can and grab it. (Notice in this next video how bad her "sits" have become.  Part of this is due to her weakened left side, but I think another big part is her spoiled mind set.  We did not ask her to sit for over a month so she doesn't think she has to any more.)
video
We're not quite ready for a full can (and we may never get there since it is heavy), but she is well on her way to showing off at our next party.



The Big Tank

At Luna's last physical therapy session she was put in the larger of the two underwater treadmills.  The actual treadmill is the same for both, there is just more room on the sides which allow the dogs places to "cheat" or place one (or two) paws so they don't have to walk.  Luna figured out how to cheat almost instantly.  Clever girl.  So we had to add some floating toys to her tank to keep her away from the edges.  I had to keep an eye on her though because if things shifted enough she would try to sneak onto the edges.
video
video

She is doing really well with her tank time.  At this point she is walking a solid 25 minutes at a good speed.  I think the next step will be to lower the water level, making it more difficult for her to walk since she is less buoyant.  They tried the lower water level for about 15 seconds at the start of the session, but it was obvious it was too hard for her.  I'm confident she'll get there.

By the way, we finally got Luna's new harness.  She is now sporting her lovely rose pink harness by Wiggles, Wags & Whiskers.  Thank you Mary Pat for letting us borrow your teal one for so long.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Playdate

Since I did not have work on Monday (Presidents' Day) Luna and I decided to visit Mary Pat and her three girls, Opal, Emerald and Tanzanite.  These are the girls who inspired Luna to get up and move while we were away for Christmas.  We had not seen them since Christmas so we were due for some catching up.

We took the dogs for about 1.5 mile walk along the Delaware river.  It was obvious that Luna was enjoying her day out with her fellow greys.  She was so excited for the walk that she was really pulling me at the start. Towards the end of the walk she was obviously tired as her limp was becoming more noticeable.

When we returned to Mary Pat's house everyone received treats and bones to chew while we had homemade blueberry muffins and tea.  Luna (I'm sorry to say) was not an ideal house guest.  She monopolized one of the bones, took over one of the dog beds, and was pretty pushy about getting a piece of muffin.  In fact, she started barking when we refused to give her some of the muffin.  Spoiled much?

It was very nice to spend time with someone who loves greyhounds as much as me and watch Luna interact with the girls.  I'm sure we will visit again soon and hopefully Luna will have some better manners next time. :-)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Our Longest Walk

Enjoying the sunshine.
Luna's cabin fever was starting to annoy Mike and me so we decided to take her for a really long walk.  Today was the perfect day to check out the local park's bike path.  Luna was so happy to be outside in a new place.  She wanted to greet every biker, runner, and walker we saw.  She was also excited to see some small birds that were close enough for her to consider chasing them.  She choose not to chase them when she remembered she was still leashed to me.
A short rest on our way back.


Not realizing how far we had walked, we soon found ourselves at the end of the trail.  As we headed back to the car, it was pretty obvious that Luna was getting tired.  She had a noticeable limp and her left side was definitely slowing down.  Since the accident, the furthest Luna has gone on any walk has been about one mile.  This walk was probably closer to two or three miles so she had every right to be tired.  Hopefully, she'll be worn out for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Westminster Thrills

I have been very lucky to attend the Westminster Dog Show several times.  When I was a 4-H club member my mom and I would go with a group of dog club members and their moms to see this amazing dog show.  We would be so excited to go back stage and meet all the breeds, many of which were so rare we never saw them outside of Westminster.  It was a real thrill to get to attend Westminster so many times.  (Thanks, Mom for letting me skip school!)

As an adult, I've been to Westminster a few times with friends and we still get just as excited as we did when we were club members.  This year was extra special because two current dog club members were competing for the first time.  One was in the Juniors competition and the other was showing her smooth collie.  I was right there on the sidelines cheering as loud as I could.  They both had a great time and I think they are looking forward to competing again.

Another thrill was getting to speak with one of the best handlers I've seen.  Almost every year since I started watching Westminster I have seen this woman in the working group handling a Great Dane.  What really sets her apart is that she is just barely taller than the Great Dane and she always wears a sparkling ball cap.  I just love her!  This year I got the chance to meet her and shake her hand!

The only blemish to my otherwise fantastic experience was the Best In Show results.  I'm not going to go into detail about it, but let's just say the Pekingese was not my favorite to win.  Overall, I had a great time and I'm looking forward to attending again in the future.

Highlights included:
  • Greyhound that looked almost exactly like Luna
  • Shaking hands with the Great Dane handler
  • Watching our 4-H members compete
  • Watching the Juniors competition (those kids were amazing!)
  • Getting free samples of Luna's dog food (score!)
  • Spending time with friends and making new ones in the nose bleed section

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thank You for the Support

Thank you Kini_pella (http://adogblog-kinipella.blogspot.com/)
Thank you Hiking Hounds (http://hikinghounds.blogspot.com/)

Wow! Awards?  How cool is that?!  Thank you to Hiking Hounds and Kini_pella for sending us these awards.  It's nice to know that there are people reading the blog who are not family members I pester to read. :-)

Another big thank you to everyone who leaves supportive comments.  It really helped us keep going during Luna's recovery immediately following her accident.  I can't tell you how much we appreciated your encouragement, advice, and positive messages.
There are a lot of great blogs out there, but I'm going to send my awards to some that I have found really helpful.  These blogs have given me great support when I needed it, training tips, or ideas for improving my own blog.  Two paws up if you have already received these awards!
Liebster Award
Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. As with any award, there is a bit of ceremony involved. In order to accept the award, we must do the following:
1. Copy and paste the award on our blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award
3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Two Months of Therapy

This week, Luna celebrated two months of physical therapy by taking a nice long walk in the underwater treadmill.  The therapist was very pleased with her performance.  Luna walked at a slightly slower speed than last session because the therapist wanted Luna to focus on balancing herself evenly when she walks.  At high speeds, she favors her left side so she is not practicing walking with a normal gait.
video
video

My last post discussed the therapists suggestion for Luna to start jogging to build up her strength and stamina.  Since she is not quite ready for faster speeds, I'll have to spend some time getting myself in shape before we can run together.  Once we get the all clear from the therapist to start her jogging we'll be out for some short runs.
Silly Luna.  Sneakers won't help you run faster.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Getting in Shape Together

There are plenty of reasons to get in shape.  Who knew that Luna's recovery would be my reason?  I've been saying for awhile that I wanted to start running, but never really felt any pressure to follow through.  A few things finally fell into place to give me the motivation I needed.

First, my dad completed the Disney World Goofy Challenge back in January (1/2 marathon on Sat. followed by full marathon on Sun.).  I was his cheerleader which meant that I was up early in the morning to see him off, running around the parks to cheer at mile markers, and jumping up and down at the finish line when he crossed.  I figure if I'm going to spend that much energy (and valuable sleeping time) at a race, I might as well be in it.  So my goal is to get ready for a Disney half marathon in 2 years.  Should be plenty of time.

The second reason (and probably biggest kick in the butt I needed to get started) is Luna.  The therapist recommended that we start jogging with her to help build up her strength before we let her run off leash.  Had Luna's accident never occurred I guarantee I would never have considered jogging with her.  It's just not my thing.  But now that it is doctor's orders, I'm ready to support Luna in any way I can.

So today I bought a new pair of sneakers so we could get started.  Since Luna had physical therapy tonight I gave her the day off, but I still ran.  I'm really looking forward to getting in shape with her.  Wish us luck!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Photos from LGRA Event

Remember back in October when Luna first ran at the Large Gazehound Racing Association (LGRA) event?  One of the participants takes amazing photographs of the dogs while they're running.  I finally got around to saving the photos and thought I'd share them.  Thank you Christina for taking some absolutely stunning photos that I will definitely treasure.
Carefully watching the "bunny".
Tiny head, big muscles.

Love that focus.

"If she had a set a wings then I know she could fly."
My favorite photo.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Telling Her Story

Luna and I visited one of the 4-H dog clubs to give a brief presentation on our experience with physical therapy.  This is the same club that met Luna two days before the accident so they really had no idea what we had been through.
Six months ago at the Somerset County 4-H Fair.  We love 4-H!

I had spent a couple of hours putting together (in my opinion) a very nice Power Point presentation that included photos, videos, and details about the exercises.  I was very proud of my work and really looking forward to sharing Luna's progress through my multimedia presentation.  I even arrived a half hour early to set up my computer and projector.  Unfortunately, my computer was having some sort of malfunction and would not boot up.  There would be no pictures, no video, and no awesome slides that I had painstakingly put together.  *Sigh*  I pointed out to the club members that a good presenter can roll with the punches, even when technology turns on you.  Hopefully, they'll remember my experience when they give their county public presentations later this year.

Despite our technical difficulties, Luna and I did a pretty decent job sharing our experience.  I retold the story of the accident making sure I avoided saying anything that might upset the kids or myself.  I have shared this story many times and I still get worked up every time so I have to tell it just right to avoid getting upset.  I spent most of the presentation talking about the different physical therapy exercises Luna has experienced.  The kids really enjoyed hearing about her work on the underwater treadmill and the balance balls.  Luna demonstrated a few stretches and balancing workouts. 

I had forgotten that one of the leaders saw Luna one week after her accident.  She shared with the kids the severity of what Luna had been through and how hard Mike and I have worked to get her back to normal.  "When I saw her she could only lie on her mattress.  They had to flip her to avoid bedsores.  There aren't too many people who would take on so much."  Hearing her say that reminded me of how lucky we were to have so many people willing to support us through such a difficult time.  There's no way I could have done all that on my own.

Now that my computer has recovered from its tantrum, I will share Luna's story with other 4-H dog clubs.  At least all my hard work won't be wasted. :-)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Real Workout

Luna has been driving Mike and me crazy with her cabin fever.  Last night she was in the way so much she knocked over a cup of hot tea on herself.  (She's fine, don't worry.  She just smells like vanilla tea now.)  Luckily, tonight was our seventh session of physical therapy.  I told the physical therapist that Luna had a lot of pent up energy so she could work Luna extra hard tonight.

Her underwater treadmill time has really improved.  She walked for over 20 minutes and most of that time was spent on a high speed.  She had no rest periods except to walk slower for a few minutes.  Her foot placement was very good.  However, her left side is definitely weak since she was walking a bit sideways.  It will take some time, but I know she'll get better.  Here is her latest video:
video

Her floor exercises were not too different from last week, except this time they had her balance all four legs on a balance mat.  She was more than happy to put her feet on the mats and eat treats.  I'm glad I taught her "touch" because it made this new "trick" so much more fun for her.  She stretched her neck to either side while balancing.  To me, she looked like one of the elephants from "Dumbo" balancing on the ball.
Two legs balancing.

Four legs balancing.
The therapist was very pleased with Luna's progress.  Her exact words were, "really, really good!"  My favorite comment of the day!