Friday, December 21, 2012


Dogs' first real snow (more than an inch) in Virginia, 2010. (Bentley 3, Lexi 1)

They are calling for snow today... maybe 2 inches?  I'm bummed because I have to work all day!  I'd rather stay home and play in the snow with the dogs.  They love it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Day (Day 2 Recap)

 Masters Snooker:

Bentley:  I can actually laugh at my husband because I think this might be his worst Snooker outing ever (with both dogs).  It was just a really tough course, he's not used to not Qing!  Not many dogs (I don't think any that I saw) went for all 7s, which definitely says something about the course.

I was a little irritated because the running order had Bentley and Lexi running back to back first and second (on the running order Jonathan is listed as running both).  I know that Snooker order is randomized, but a good trial secretary should check through it and move dogs if there's someone running more than one.  Luckily a couple people were nice enough to move (in Snooker you aren't allowed to move down since you could gain an advantage, only move up, so we were at the mercy of others).  But even then Jonathan basically ran the dogs one after the other.  (You can see in the video I'm trying to keep Lexi occupied and somewhat quiet while Jonathan runs Bentley and vice versa).  One thing I noticed is that Bentley is great at convergence (like when coming over the perpendicular yellow jump).  Bentley dropped a bar in the closing and didn't have enough points.

Lexi: Really loved that she respected Jonathan's position at the outside of the tunnel and was prepared for a turn.  That was nice!  The tunnel was just to start the timer, and was a "dead" obstacle in the opening.  I thought it was brilliant of Jonathan to send Lexi through as he made his way across the course.  It kept her occupied, and gave her a better angle to the jump.  You can tell that Jonathan is not used to running her as he really didn't cue any of the turns until after Lexi was in the air.  That's why he got such wide turns.

Because she didn't stick to his plan and went into the tunnel, her off course in the closing left her without enough points for the Q. 

Steeplechase Round 2: 

Bentley:  After seeing how he almost didn't make the finals in the first round, Jonathan decided he would try to push Bentley for speed.  You can see in the video that he doesn't do much of a lead out, and is doing a lot of cheerleading.  I can tell--Bentley is definitely running faster!  In the end he was only 1 second slower than Lexi (she had a brief mistake), compared to 4 seconds slower in the first round.  Of course, he also misses his a-frame contact, but that's something we can proof in practice.  He also does no rear crosses, and uses pushes when he can.  Like I said, I can really tell a difference.  I think we'll see more of this from them going forward.  Because of his fault at the a-frame, he ended up not placing.  But still, a really nice run!

Lexi:  The really wish you could have seen the beginning of the run.  I got a really nice push to jump 4.  I also debated long and hard about what to do heading towards the broad.  She has a tendency to tick the broad (doesn't see it enough), so I wanted to make sure I showed enough motion, but there wasn't as much space beyond the broad as I thought (I originally wanted to rear cross on the flat), but the front cross worked out really nicely.  She squared up and it worked.  If I had shown more deceleration the run towards the tunnel would have been cleaner, but I'm still happy with it.

I knew I would have to bust my butt to beat her out of the tunnel to help her with the weave entry and I just didn't get enough push out.  I still know she's capable of it in practice, but in a trial she doesn't want to slow down to collect for the entry.  More work for sure!

Masters Pairs:

Lexi:  We didn't enter Bentley in Pairs (he has his Relay Master, and honestly I think it's kind of a silly event), and Lexi only needs one Q for her Relay Master and then we never have to enter it again.  I looked at the course map and felt really good.  Silly me, I didn't even think about the fact that I would need to give her a clear cue about where I was as she exited the tunnel.  I showed no motion to indicate I was rear crossing until she couldn't see me, so of course she came out and looked the wrong way.  At that point, it was too late to salvage as she grabbed the a-frame.  Luckily our partner was really nice, but I was irritated that I didn't handle better.  Though I should compliment Lexi on her wonderful start line stay even as a dog was running in her line of sight, and I was moving away from her.  She also nailed the weave entry like a good girl!

Grand Prix:

Bentley:  Poor little buddy took quite the tumble off of the teeter.  He's pretty bad about waiting for the teeter to slam, and then immediately jumping.  We proof it quite a bit in practice, but do allow him to hop off in trials as long as he rides it until it hits.  This is the first time I've seen it backfire.  It hits, he jumps, and it hits him again as it bounces back up.  (Side note, we took him to be adjusted yesterday and the chiro said he was fine, not even sore.  Whew!)  Oh, and these are lovely 2o2os we're getting, aren't they?  (NOT!)  But again, he did a nice job and Qd earning him his Tournament Master (10 Tournament Qs with at least 1 in each event).

Lexi:  I felt bummed out after this run, but honestly the only mistake was at the weaves, so I'm okay with that.  I think I was just disappointed because I knew the weave entry would be hard, but I decided against front crossing (knowing she would then get in) because I felt like that was cheating, and I should be able to cue a turn.  Not sure why she popped them...because she's a naughty, excited girl, that's why! :)   Clearly she saw me peel off and the dogwalk, but finishing the weaves independently is something she's typically good at.

 Masters Standard:

Bentley:  Last class of the day and I could tell that my pups were tired.  With Bentley, that's not unusual.  We opened the crate door and he didn't get up.  That's saying something!  Despite that, he ended the day with a bang and a Q in Standard.  That was his 5th Masters Standard Q, and his SAM (Standard Agility Master) title.  Crazy enough, my boy only needs 2 Qs for his ADCH!  I can't believe it!  (Of course they are Masters Gamblers Qs, so it could be awhile, but still...I'm SO proud!)

You can see in this video that he hops off the side of the teeter (after the incident in Grand Prix).  We'll have to make sure he's comfortable hanging on in our upcoming practices.

I also feel like Bentley's speed was pretty good in this run.  I remember almost 2 years ago Stuart Mah told us that even if Bentley will never be light speed that we should set speed goals with him.  One of those was a 45 second Standard course.  I'm not sure if we've ever achieved it, but this one was around 47 seconds.  I think that if Jonathan had tightened up some of his backy uppies (and trusted Bentley to make the turns) he would have been there!

Lexi:  My girlie was tired.  Yes.  Let me say that again.  She was tired.  Unheard of!  If you compare her dogwalk to the ones from earlier in the weekend you can tell she isn't all-out running.  Despite that, and some sloppy handling on my part, we managed a Q to wrap up our weekend.  She is now only 1 Standard Q from her MAD.  That seems crazy, too.  Wasn't she just a puppy?!

I decided to lead out on this course and show ZERO forward motion to see what kind of turn I would get.  It was decent, but I still feel like knowing that there was no motion it could have been better.  Of course I could have trusted her and taken off sooner, too.

My happy dog self released on the a-frame requiring me to do this weird, semi-rear cross to the table.  It worked, though I'm not sure how!  Sloppy rear cross on my part going into the chute, but we managed to keep it clean enough.  I don't know if you can see it in the video, but I'm laughing all the way to the teeter and telling Lexi "Sorry girl!"  And then possible the best part of the weekend...the turn heading towards the weaves.  I got a nice, tight turn.  HOORAY!  Then she nailed her weave entry.

And even better news?  We took Lexi to get adjusted yesterday and the chiro said she felt good.  Needed minor adjustments and was a little sore in the shoulders (probably from the a-frame crash on Saturday), but seemed fine and healthy.  Terrific!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bentley the Star! (Day 1 Recap)

We are back from our trip to Indianapolis.  It was a lot of fun.  I guess I forgot how much I love being out there with my dogs, my husband, and my agility friends.

I will say that it wasn't what I expected.  The building was small with really tight crating next to the ring, only 1 ring, and no where to walk your dogs inside (no paths, halls, etc...).  It rained and was freezing the first day, so getting Lexi out, warmed up, and exercised was really tough.  I did find that we could walk up and down the stairs (there was a little loft area) and do some tugging up there, but again, space was really cramped.  Even the second day when it wasn't raining I didn't feel comfortable letting her off leash to fetch and tug outside because we were close to a busy street and she seemed a bit more worried than usual (because of all the dogs in close proximity).  Needless to say, she was pretty amped.

 That being said, we were really diligent about stretching Lexi out, and getting her nice and warm.  I used her Back on Track coat for the first time when she was in the crate.  I was using it when she went outside too, but the little brat chewed off the leg holders and now it won't stay on her!  Guess I'll have to learn to sew :) 

Oh and the greatest news?  She had no health issues at all!  I could tell by the end of the weekend that she was tired (that is honestly a FIRST), but she had no limping, nothing but all-out running!  And speaking of all-out running, we were a bit of a mess.  Obviously out of sync, and out of control.  But oh well, there were some really nice things interspersed with the crazy.  And I keep reminding myself that 6 months ago I was crying hysterically because I didn't think she'd ever be able to play again!

So on to the recap...

Masters Gamblers:

Bentley: I posted about it last week that I had a really good feeling about Bentley's distance skills.  He's been working really hard to actually go out and look for something that isn't right in front of him.  And I was right!  He nailed this one, and honestly not very many dogs did.  The skill required was honestly just distance.  There was no tricking the dog using motion (you can tell from the map there is no way to show motion because of the location of the tunnel and the dogwalk).  I wish you could see it in the video, but Bentley came out of the tunnel, looked at me, and saw that I had my hand out and looked away and found the far jump.  I was thrilled. 

Lexi: This run with Lexi was entirely my fault.  The opening was actually pretty nice, and then I got greedy.  I ran her before I ran Bentley, and I thought I had all kinds of extra time, so I decided to do a second a-frame.  That's when the buzzer went off, of course, and Lexi bailed on the a-frame and I frantically tried to get over to the gamble.  I don't think she could have done it even if I had set her up correctly, but it definitely made things a lot more frantic.

Masters Standard:

Bentley:  Mr. Consistent did a great job on this course.  I always knew that once we fixed (don't know that fixed is the right word...but slightly improved might be better) his contacts, he wouldn't have much trouble with Standard.  He rarely takes off courses, and is fine with tight turns.  He did almost refuse the tunnel, but managed to salvage it despite Jonathan's slightly muddy cues.  Discriminations are also no problem--as long as you want the contact!

Lexi:  Well, let's just say that I don't even want to post this video!  But, in the interest of learning and getting better, I guess I should break it down and figure out how/where to improve.  First--the good.  I really liked her 270 recall to heel at jump 4.  That's no easy feat for my girl.  Watching the video I'm still not sure why she pulled off the jump before the chute.  Yes, I dropped my hand, and yes I peeled off, but this is the dog that needs only an arm forward and she'll commit 6 feet before the jump.  I'm not mad because that's not a bad thing, I'm just surprised because it's unusual for her.  The tunnel issue was my fault.  It looked momentarily like she might take the wrong end of the tunnel, so I yelled her name and she pulled off (good girl).  I should trust her more.  The sequence to the table and the heading towards the dogwalk was pretty good.  I wish I had show less motion at the double, but the layer of the jump was nice.  And then she took the tunnel.  I never would have thought she would have taken that.  I thought she might take the close tunnel, so I played it safer that way, so I didn't say her name.  After that I decided I would practice, so I made her hold her dogwalk then wanted her to get into the weaves on her own.  I swear, she can do that at home!

Masters Jumpers:

Bentley: Again, Bentley almost takes an off course and then almost gets a refusal, but Jonathan has time to get him back on track into the serpentine and he runs clean and Qs!  I am always quite jealous when Jonathan gets to do a lot of pushes (where I have to do crosses).  Sometimes it's nice to be able to beat your dog.

Lexi:  I was really bummed after running this course with Lexi because I felt like she was capable of a lot better.  My biggest mistake was not trusting her at the tunnel and then not being able to make a front cross into the serpentine.  Having to do the rear cross put me behind and I rushed ahead, cuing her to run past the second jump.  Then she blasted out of the tunnel and ignored where I was and missed the 180.  I kept going and we finished nicely.


Bentley:  Little guy gave it his all and eked out a Q!  Jonathan and I have decided that the days of lead outs and rear crosses are mostly over for Bentley.  We've come to realize that he has most of the skills, so it's time to work on speed--something Bentley has never really had.  You can see at the yellow jump towards the end how a front cross would have pushed him to move faster.  I told Jonathan he has to stop being a lazy handler!

Lexi: I thought Lexi did really excellent in this class.  Of course it's her favorite (fast and furious, right?) but I was super proud because I think I got a pretty nice turn headed towards the broad jump.  Also notice that she wanted to cut behind me out of the green tunnel, but was a good girl and didn't!  She did take off way too early for the double (was I in her way and she couldn't see it?)  Then she smashed into the a-frame out of the tunnel and I got worried.  As she came into position she stopped and I said "Are you okay?"  (Okay is her release word--oops!)  But little girl did awesome and got a Q!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Boy

I really should be packing for this weekend now (we're leaving tomorrow right after work), but I have to at least take a minute and share how proud I am of Bentley.  We have been trying to build in some distance work in all of our training.  And our trainer has been really good about helping us find ways to run sequences and throw in some gamblers skills.

I have to say, he has improved so much!  Of course there are things that he is more likely to go out to than others (weave poles and the dogwalk!), but he is now willing to turn away from us, and his tunnel sends are better (though definitely his weak spot).

We have come so far from this video (taken over 2 years ago)...I was so excited because this is the first time that we were able to consistently send him out to a tunnel at this distance...

And now I believe we really have a chance!  Always a work in progress, but he has really shown us that he is willing and able.  What a good boy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Progress..and Nerves!

I've posted about it pretty much everywhere else, but this weekend is Lexi's first trial since her injury/diagnosis.  I know that she is ready.  She's in great shape, is definitely light years stronger than she was months ago, and is completely healthy.  We haven't seen her limp since the very first occurrence back in July (knock on wood, of course)!

Also, this past weekend we took both dogs up to the building for extra practice.  At the end of the sequence was a straight line of jumps and I sent Lexi on ahead of me.  As she came over the last jump, she attempted to turn into me as she landed (since I was behind), she slipped and totally splayed out.  I held my breath...and she jumped up, barking at me!  Whew.  So needless to say, I'm quite worried about my little girl.  It's not like you can run her cautiously.  It's not in her vocabulary.

"Collection is for chumps!"
Since her return, she has also been a lot naughtier.  I felt like we were finally connecting when it comes to timing (mostly my fault!), and now I feel like I'm starting over.  She's also blowing me off a bit more than usual, I think because she is so amped up to be out there.  Her behavior off the course (or while waiting) has also deteriorated, so I foresee a lot more impulse control work (it never ends) in the future.  For example, I put her in a stay while we walked the courses in class last night.  She has a great stay, but honestly has a tough time while we're walking courses (who knows why).  But last night, she whined the WHOLE time she was staying.  That's unusual for her.  She also stood up once at the start line (which she does at home occasionally, but has never done in class).  I'm a bit worried about this and hope I can keep working it enough that it doesn't become habit.  Oh, and she also blew two dogwalks!  (That's like a bigfoot sighting, it happens so rarely!)  I was pushing for speed, and trying to alternate between asking her to hold and quick releasing, so maybe it was too much.

It doesn't help that it has been raining for the past week or two, and I've been working late so the dogs have gotten almost no training (and not as much exercise as I'd like).  They are a little over the top these days!

(I'll try to post the other half of this tonight or tomorrow...Bentley deserves his own post, too!)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Car Update

As an update to my previous post on car safety, I figured it was time I post about our new (dog) car.

It took us a while, but we are so happy with our new car. We can finally fit two crates and still have four seats for people! Or, we can fold the back seats down and we have a ton of storage space! And, dare I say it...there's even room for a third crate... ;)

It took us a while to figure out, but we were able to find a way to strap in the crates so that they are secured in the event of a crash.  We even still have access to the storage below the cargo liner.

It was really nice that the car not only has a lot of room, but several d-hooks where we could hook the ratchet straps.

Hopefully we never need the 3rd row of seats because those crates are really in there!

And if anyone is looking for measurements, the Acadia is 48" wide between wheel wells.  You can see that two 30" crates side by side fit with extra space.  They are 19" wide each.  I think that behind the second row of seats to the back hatch is around 48" as well.  If you fold the back seats down, the cargo space is 87" long!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Don't Bother... :)

Don't even bother trying to take a nap before the dogs have gotten their afternoon exercise!

(yes, she is standing on my husband's chest the whole time!)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We've Been Busy

Are we going somewhere fun?
Yes, we've been busy.  And no, not with fun dog stuff!

I think I've mentioned before that this time of year is crazy at work (holiday time!).  I've been working late pretty much every night, and since I work 45 minutes from home, it doesn't leave a ton of time for dog training.  The fact that it gets dark at 6pm makes training at home impossible.

It's also hard because we're supposed to do Lexi's exercises every day.  It's about 30-45 minutes of exercises and a lot of them require two people.  By the time we get home, feed the dogs, cook dinner and walk the dogs, it's usually close to 9pm.  I'm still hoping to win the lottery soon and train the dogs all day long! :)
Nope, to the chiropractor!

Her chiro adjustments have been going well, and now we're hoping to go to only once a month (we'll see what the vet has to say at the end of this month).  When we go to the chiro at the vet's office, Lexi is miserable.  She's so sad!

Lexi's still doing really well.  She had her first class last week and was awesome.  She was high as a kite (can you blame her?  It's been 4 months!) but she didn't limp, balk, or even slow down one instant!  It made me very, very nervous with all of her spinning and break neck speed, but she did great.  I was so happy to be out there with her!

We rented the building for some practice this week (class was canceled), and really had fun.  Bentley's contacts have improved (hooray) but it's clear that he mostly just keys off of our motion.  If we decelerate too soon or slow down too early, so does he, whether he's reached the bottom of the contact or not.  Honestly, in the grand scheme of things, it's not one of my training priorities for him.  It's rare that there's an occasion when we can't show motion at the end of an obstacle, so I'm okay with his performance.

Lexi was kind of a mess, but she is really out of practice.  And again, she had fun and was healthy, so all in all it went well.  Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut...if I'm going to treat her like a normal dog (which she is) I have to say that she has forgotten all of the work we've done on collection.  She collects really well (for her at least) in the yard, but when we get to the building she is extension & flat jumping all the way!  I could not get her to collect even by standing still.  I'm hoping that with more practice she won't be quite as excited at the building (and trials) and she'll remember all the things we worked on.

One of my major problems is timing.  I tend to run in a very chaotic way.  I usually end a run and don't remember everything that happened!  So I know that doesn't help our timing.  Lexi's running like a bat out of hell, and I'm running around panicked!  No wonder everything feels so chaotic.

Here's Lex doing a bit of work in the yard.  Her discriminations are quite nice...

And here's a video from the building.
You can see Bentley's great collection and serpentine recall to heel.  But then you see his poor discrimination skills.  He's always preferred every obstacle to the tunnel, but with a constant reward at the contacts, you can't blame him for taking the dogwalk (despite Jonathan's motion).

Then there's Lex.  Firstly you'll notice my poor handling getting her over the jump, and then her poor collection heading towards the weaves.  After the video I worked and worked and worked on collection over the jump and could only get it with a backy uppy with me right on top of her.  More work to be done!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nerds Love Calendars

Last night Lexi went to see our local vet/chiropractor for the second time since her injury.  She was really pleased with her progress and said her strength is much, much better!  She said that she feels that we should continue with the rehab schedule we're on for another month, and then we can re-evaluate. 

We are starting class next week, and I'm quite nervous.  I know Lexi is ready (she is bouncing and playing and working in the yard like usual), but you just never know.  The hardest thing about this injury is going to be me learning to accept that it could pop up at any minute, but it's not the end of the world.

Thought I'd share the calendar that I build every month to keep up with Lexi's exercises and her progress (during the month I write notes all over it!)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Still here!

Just wanted to pop in to say we're still here!  Things have been crazy.  I just officially started full time at work, and I'm already in charge of a project next week that will have me there crazy hours.  The next few months are our busiest time, so I know it's going to be crazy until Christmas is over.

That means I don't have much time for anything other than our one night a week class with Bentley, and Lexi's exercises every day.  We've still been doing 5-15 minutes of agility in the yard with Lexi during the week when we can, and she's been great.  Happy to be out there and no issues at all!

I'm a little nervous, but I'm hoping to put her back in class next month.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lexi's 3!

Friday was Lexi's birthday--can't believe baby girl is already 3!  I love her so much!

Can I have my cupcake now?

How about now?


Monday, October 1, 2012

Another Good Sign

We took Lexi tonight to (yet another) veterinary chiropractor.  It's kind of a nuisance because there is only one vet in the area who is also a chiropractor.  I'm much more comfortable with a chiropractor that is a vet, too.  There is one other chiropractor (the one we saw last week) that is also a vet, but she works about an hour away and only comes to a local dog club once a month.

Lexi was adjusted tonight and the vet said that all of the adjustments were really minor.  He felt that we don't need to come back next week, but should get her adjusted once every two weeks (TOPS' instructions were to do it every week, and then back off as less maintenance was needed) so that's a really good sign.

It was funny because I asked the vet if he sees a lot of patients who want their dogs adjusteds.  He basically said that it is definitely a niche market, and that chiropractors don't get a lot of respect.  I think that's true for human chiropractors, too!

I realized that I take my dog to a vet chiropractor on a weekly basis, but I myself have never been.  I don't know if I would even want to go.  Somehow I believe it works for dogs, but am skeptical when it comes to humans.  No idea why.  Guess I want to believe that it's helping my dogs.

And anyways, I can only afford to get one of us adjusted!  I figure I'm making a choice to do agility, but I'm forcing that choice on Lexi.  The least thing I can do is to make sure she's in top shape!

Do I look like I might need adjusting after this?  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Good Feeling

Just a quick post to say that all is well.  We have noticed in Lexi's rehab that her rear left is considerably weaker.  It's odd because at the vet's she had no discrepancy in muscle tone between legs, but we're definitely seeing her struggle more when the emphasis is on her left rear leg.  Definitely something to work on and keep an eye on.

Lexi really seems to be getting the hang of the cavaletti.  She is better now than she is in this video, but you can see her adjust her pacing to correct striding at the beginning and doesn't switch back much.

And then...the best news of all, we went out and did a few minutes of agility.  Not much, and no bars (I did leave the tire up, but she only jumped it like 4 times, and that can't be any worse than her jumping on and off the bed!), but it was so much fun.  I'm so happy that she can get out there and do it.  We let Bentley go first, and she was whining and crying and groaning she was so jealous (which is why there is no video of Bentley...I was trying to hang out to wild woman!)

It's also fun to see that she certainly hasn't lost her love for the game!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lexi's Rehab, In Pictures

I love this picture!  Look how happy Lexi is!

I like this shot because you can see how high she is forced to raise her legs--look at the bend in her knee!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chiro Info

Today was Lexi's first regularly scheduled chiro appointment.  For the next month she'll be going once a week so we can keep track of how she's doing.

It was great because the vet chiro. agreed with everything that TOPS had told us.  The vet said that Lexi did need adjusting, especially her TMJ.  She did mention, however, that she felt that Lexi's issue was possibly more of an issue with the cartilage (maybe her meniscus) rather than the tendons and ligaments in her knee.

She told us that she felt that structurally Lexi was around 90% of where she should be, but that muscularly she is around 60% of where she (as a canine athlete) should be.  I figure that's a result of all of her crate rest (over a month total a month or so ago) and her limited exercise until a couple weeks ago.  The vet reinforced the importance of not hurrying her back to full agility, but that we should take it slowly to be sure she is back fully healthy.  If not, we could see issues pop up especially as we get her to full jump height or ask her for something stressful like the a-frame.

Her timeline pretty much coincides with what we had in mind.  She felt that 20 minute walks right now are acceptable, building up as she grows stronger.  She also said that 5 minutes or so of agility per day was okay, and a good way to keep her working without her over-exerting herself.  She recommended about 6 weeks of gradual increase before getting her back to a full agility schedule.  This is exactly what we were planning--so that's great news that we have the right plan in mind.

Oh, she did add another supplement to Lexi's arsenal.  So Lexi now gets the following:

She definitely is way healthier than I am!

Good Boy

Remember when I was worried about leaving Bentley with my parents?  I shouldn't have been...he was in heaven!  He couldn't hear any barking dogs, so got to do one of his favorite things--get on the furniture and nap! :) 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Diagnosis: The Long Version

Here are Lexi's notes from our appointment at TOPS.  I am only going to post (somewhat) briefly about our experience because I honestly probably won't explain it right, and you can read the summary on the above documents.

Dr. Jurek was great.  She took her time with Lexi because Lexi was quite nervous.  Dr. Jurek just sat on the floor and talked quietly to her.  She went through each and every of Lexi's muscles and joints to determine if anything seemed out of place, misaligned, odd, or off balance.

The first thing she noted was that she did feel Lexi's luxating patellas, but that it was very minor.  She diagnosed them as a Grade 1, and nothing to really worry about other than doing our best to keep her in shape and strengthen the muscles around her knees.  She did feel that it was odd that we saw the limp the way we did, and she felt that it may have been the patellas manifesting in an odd way, or it could have been something else.  She felt no soreness or pain indicators during the exam.

The other thing of importance that she noted is Lexi's misaligned jaw.  We have always known that she has an underbite, and I guess we knew her jaw was misaligned (thanks to my husband, the dentist!) but never thought much of it.   Dr. Jurek explained that she believes Lexi has slight TMD (temperomandibular disorder) because of this.  That means that the disparity in development in both sides of her TMJ (jaw joints) caused issues with her bite and threw off her musculoskeletal balance.  

On the chiropractic exam she did confirm that one side of Lexi's jaw and neck were aligned differently, in an effort to make up for the imbalance in her mouth.  This can affect the entire body as the neck and spine attempt to make up for the imbalance.

Dr. Jurek also did a gait analysis which I thought was very interesting. I  had never really thought about Lexi's gait before (or knew the different kinds) but we learned that Lexi often paces.  Pacing means that the dog's 2 legs on the same side are moving in the same direction.  This is not what you want, as it does not improve the dog's balance or coordination.

We then moved to the therapy room to learn some exercises and tricks to "resolve impaired segmental spinal mobility so that Lexi's body is more balanced; improve strength in the quadriceps to minimize patella laxity; prevent further injury for continued competition in agility as well as maintaining good overall musculoskeletal health in general".

Our routine includes the following:

1.  Cookie Stretches (5 stretches, 7 days per week).  The dog stretches up, down, left and right (in various places and ways) and holds for about 3 seconds each.

2.  Alternate Snoopies (5 times per week).  Dog balances their weight on opposite legs (meaning we hold one front and one back--on opposite sides--and Lexi balances on 2 feet).   This strengthens the paraspinal muscles and stabilizes the thorax.  It also assists in strengthening hip and shoulder stabilizers.

3.  Cavaletti Poles (5 times per week).  This teaches the dog to become aware of where their feet are in space, to teach them to pick their feet up higher and for paraspinal muscle strengthening.  And in Lexi's case, it will encourage her to trot vs. pace.

4.  Side Stepping (5 times per week).  Gently nudge the dog so that your dog is encourage to step sideways.  

5.  Crawling (3-4 days per week).  This encourages shoulder, elbow, carpus, hip, stifle and hock flexion as well as strengthens forelimb and hind limb muscles.  
6.  Ball Work (2-3 days per week).  Stand, sit, and down on the donut ball and the peanut ball along with transitions between the two.  A slight bend in the knee when standing is preferred.

I'm sure I'll be posting a lot more about Lexi's rehab in the days to come.