Epic is finally back in agility trials, almost ten months after his caudal cruciate ligament tear at the beginning of February. His recovery has gone great, but I’ve progressed slowly through the summer and fall. He’s eight years old now and recovery and rehab can be slower than in a younger dog. We’ve mostly worked on walks in the woods, strengthening exercises and some jump grids. I’ve been afraid of letting him go back to “real” agility but finally decided that I just had to do it and entered him in a competition. We ran three jumping courses on Saturday and it felt so much better than I expected! After the first run, I could relax and just enjoy the moment. Epic was so incredibly happy to be back in competition – it was stunning to see how he really enjoyed everything about it.
The first run. He dropped a bar and then took an off-course jump.
The second run was my favorite. He took the wrong tunnel entry on #4 – I did suspect that what works for Bud doesn’t for Epic right now. He turned into me when I was behind instead of staying on the narrow, straight line to the left tunnel entry. The rest of the run was really nice. I love how he nailed the independent part into the weaves.
The third run was clean, but I think he lost some time in the last tunnel. It’s almost not discernible in the video, but in real life, I felt that he got stuck and I had time to think all kinds of terrible thoughts on how he would come out of it on three legs, or not come out at all…
Bud also competed and won the first class. We had so much fun and I’m looking forward to competing again on Sunday!
It’s been two weeks since Epic’s injury and yesterday was the day of his surgery. He’s been a good boy taking it easy for two weeks, but his energy was sky high when he finally got to leave the house and go for an adventure. During the initial check with the surgeon, he was surprised to see how well Epic was moving. I showed him in a walk and a trot and he did not show any signs of lameness (which he hasn’t at home for about a week either). This made the surgeon question his original diagnosis of a CLL injury, because dogs don’t usually recover so nicely from that. I left Epic for an arthroscopy and possible surgery in case it was a CLL injury after all. I took the rest of my dogs to an indoor arena for training while I waited for the vet’s office to call me.
I came to pick Epic up six hour later and he was very happy to see me and still very energetic even after anaesthesia and arthroscopy. He didn’t have surgery on his knee since the arthroscopy showed a total caudal cruciate ligament rupture, which is not helped by TPLO or TTA. The caudal cruciate ligament is much less common to rupture than the cranial, and it happens with a specific type of trauma (most often when a dog for example is hit by a car). The caudal cruciate ligament has the opposite job to the cranial. With a CCL rupture, the femur (thighbone) slips forward since the ligament is not keeping it in place. The caudal cruciate ligament keeps the thighbone from slipping back or sideways. Epic shows some slipping sideways when provoked when the stifle is flexed but is very stable with his leg straight.
Arthroscopy also showed that all other structures in his knee looks great and that inflammation is minimal. Our orthopaedic surgeon did not recommend any surgery on this type of injury as he thinks it might create more problems than it solves. It’s a very uncommon injury to only rupture the CaCL and not have any other injuries in the knee. In the cases that he had seen before, dogs had come back to work with rest and rehab and no surgery. This is our plan for now – six weeks of rest and then gradually building muscle and proprioception. I’d love to hear from others that has suffered the same injury with active dogs.
Epic in his new apartment when he got home yesterday
Epic this morning, ready to party. He also jumped out of his enclosure and onto the kitchen table once…
On Sunday, I was enjoying a sheepdog clinic at our farm and talking to a friend about all the things that can happen to a dog, and about injuries that had happened recently to dogs we know. I was thinking to myself that I had been so lucky to never have had an acute injury on any of my dogs. At lunch, I brought Epic out to switch the sheep out, and I sent him to fetch sheep in an area that is quite full of small trees and roots. We also have a bit of snow and the area is probably a bit slippery. He fetched them nicely and I let five of them out. As I tried to recall Epic the rest of the sheep bolted out away from the gate and he decided not to listen to my recall, but to catch up with them and bring them to me again. As he was coming around the sheep he suddenly changed to a much slower pace and I could hear him whimper. I quickly got him and he was on three legs, in obvious pain. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I got the impression that he got his leg caught in something that stopped him abruptly. We also found a scratch/burn mark further up on that leg, which probably happened at the same time.
I gave him painkillers and just kept a eye on him for the rest of the day. He seemed to get better during the afternoon and would sometimes use his right back leg and put weight on it, but then he would go back to hopping on three legs. I took him to our local vet the next morning, and she concluded that it was his knee that bothered him and sent us on to an orthopaedic vet. We were lucky enough that he could fit us in and have a look at Epic already today. Thomas brought him there (it’s an 80 minute drive) because I had to work. He was diagnosed with a CCL – Cranial Cruciate Ligament – tear, and will need surgery. Fortunately, there is no indication of any degenerative damage on the ligaments. The left knee was stable and there was no arthritis in the right knee. We were probably just unlucky. Very sad considering the great year we had last year, and how much I was looking forward to tryouts and competitions with him this spring.
He is scheduled to have surgery on February 19. The surgeon hasn’t decided on TTA or TPLO as the method. I was under the impression that TPLO was “better”, but I realise that my google skills are not as good as his surgical skills, and that I should let him decide what is best for Epic. The worst thing about injured dogs is that it’s so hard to know what is the best for your dog. Unless you have a surgeon and a rehab specialist that you trust fully, you’ll have doubts. Have we found the best surgeon? What is best practice in the two weeks before the surgery? Who should I take advice from regarding rehab after surgery? I’m glad that this is a fairly common injury in dogs, and that there are lots of resources online. But that also means that there is a lot of information to sort through and decide on…
Please keep your fingers crossed for Epic, and let me know if you have any useful information. I will keep you updated on this new part of our journey. Also – this is expensive – you can help me out while learning a lot by joining our online classes that started yesterday.
We did our last agility trial for the year this Saturday. The arena is five hours away from where we live, but I don’t have many weekends to compete in the spring due to a lot of travelling and working. When we decided to pick up a new car in Gothenburg, it felt like a good idea to drive a couple of hours further south from there to do 3 x A3 with 3 dogs. Nine runs in five hours! And it went really well. Epic won his first run. Bud won his second and became Swedish Agility Trial Champion. Squid ran two clean runs and placed fourth in both.
This is a summary of our agility year:
Squid did one weekend of competition in January, but we didn’t get the result we were after even though she felt great. After that she had nine months off from agility. First, she had puppies. Then I probably let her run too much too early in the forest, and she showed some lameness and didn’t move well. It took some time to get an appointment with our physiotherapist, but we were back on track after two treatments in August and September. She hadn’t lost a lot of muscle as she was able to swim and walk on leash in the forest all summer, but I was nervous to start jumping and agility training again. It went well, and agility seems to only do her well. We entered our first competition in the beginning of November, and my dream goal for this year was to place top 5 once so that she would be eligible for Swedish Team Tryouts in May if she’s still fit then.
The first run was a bit weird with a few bars and miscommunication. The following two runs felt great and she ran both clean. Her times were not as good as I’m used to, and we were only fast enough to earn a leg for nationals in the last one. I had entered all dogs in a much bigger weekend trial two weeks later, but I had some trouble leaving the farm with Thomas working away that week. I went on Sunday afternoon and Squid had one standard run. I did not expect her to place since the classes were big, but she actually place fourth and our goal for the year was met! We did three runs the weekend after and Squid ran clean and won two of them. I had some handling errors in the first two runs in our next trial, but we ran the last one clean and placed fifth. And then this Saturday we had two clean runs with fourth place and one elimination. We’ve had 13 runs since she came back in November. Eight were clean, seven of them with a leg for Swedish Nationals (we need another jumping leg to be qualified for next years National Championships) and six top 5 placements (my dream was to get one).
Results are great considering we haven’t really trained agility (right now we’re focused on conditioning and jumping skills only, the rest seems to just work), but the most important thing is that Squid is back in business! I was so afraid that the lameness that came after her puppies would be the end of our agility career. Squid turned nine this September and every run with her is a gift! She’s so happy when she gets to come along to training and trials, and when I take her out of the car and she knows it’s her turn. I’m so incredibly happy to have the privilege to compete with her and feel that she does her very best at all times. All faults are mine. Squid would have had many more clean runs if I’d done my job as well as she does hers. We’re now focusing on strength and conditioning to come back even stronger and faster during next year. I’m sure that we’ve got more to do and Squid does not in any way think that she’s old.
Here’s a run from Saturday:
Epic has also had a great season. We’re a good team and our runs are often very smooth. Our problem has always been dropped bars, but I think we’ve improved this year and had more runs where all bars stay up than we’ve had before. We’ve collected eight legs for Swedish Nationals and need one more in standard agility to be qualified. We also finally earned our final agility certificate, making Epic champion of both jumping and agility. We’ve actually had even more success in bigger competitions than the normal ones. I did not have any big expectations on National Team Tryouts in May, but I worked hard in preparation for it. The feeling was amazing! We’ve never had such a good weekend of trialling and those bars stayed up until the very last run. We ran clean and fast enough to earn a spot in the Swedish team for European Open and the Nordic Championships.
We made team finals at European Open and we ran our part of the final course clean! We had a great time at the Nordic Championships. We had a bar in every run, but no other faults and we placed fairly well in total. Norwegian Open in October was another great competition for us with a lot of clean runs and a ticket to the final where we also ran clean! Epic (and I) seem to run best indoors on difficult, fast courses with big distances.
Here’s the run that qualified us for NO finals:
Bud did his first trial about a year ago and quickly progressed to class 2 in jumping. We started 2017 with a small injury and had to get some treatment and gradual build up before competing again. We started in standard agility in May and he earned his first leg with a clean run and a win. He quickly progressed to class 3 in both jumping and agility, even though that last leg in A2 took a few tries.
We’ve had some more luck in standard agility once we got to class 3. We’ve only run one J3 clean (and won it with a certificate), while we’ve ran three A3 clean and earned the Agility Trial Championship title this Saturday. Bud does a lot of great things, but there’s often something that goes wrong in a run. If we have a great flow on course he often drops one bar, which he doesn’t often do otherwise.
Bud is somewhat a different type of dog than Squid and Epic. He is very well trained and knows a lot, but he does get easily frustrated and doesn’t cope well when something goes wrong. It might just be a little hiccup in our communication that gets him frustrated. He forces me to become a better handler – I need to run fast and trust him while still maintaining communication and clarity. Bud is still very young (turning three this Christmas) and I think our communication will grow a lot during the coming year.
I’m very happy with my decision to have Bud run the large category in Sweden. This is the first year where we have five jump heights, and dogs from 43 to 49.99 centimeter can chose to compete in large and jump 40-50 cm jumps, or to compete in extra large (where Squid and Epic compete as they are about 53 cm tall) with 50-60 cm jumps. I like that I can take it easy with preparing him for 60 cm (which he has to jump internationally) and I haven’t seen any fallout from competing on lower jumps. I even like that I have to run faster to keep up with him. We now usually train on the same height as Epic (55-60). Another benefit is that I don’t have to run all my dogs in the same class since some trials are small with maybe 30 dogs or less in XL.
Bud’s clean run and win from this Saturday:
My only wish now is that I get to continue to train and compete with three sound dogs during 2018! It’s so important to really appreciate and enjoy every training session and every run with them. My thoughts are constantly with friends who lost their dogs too early, and with those that have to end their dog’s careers early because of injuries. I promise to not take anything for granted, to tell my dogs that I love them (which actually was what I did on the start line before the run with Bud above) and to take care of them in the best way possible.
We’re happy to repeat some popular online classes this year! If you’ve been in our Foundation Class, there is Advanced Obedience Skills, where you can progress and learn even more fun behaviors, while perfecting the ones you’ve already learned. If you haven’t been in our Foundation Class, we’ll offer a new round of it, as well as a new round of Relationship Building Class.
Check our classes out here, and let us know if you have any questions. You can send us an e-mail, or just comment below. Also, let us know if there are other classes that you’d like us to offer this spring.
Here’s a video of Wilco learning to spin yesterday. Sometimes, targeting is very useful!
And here’s a funny video of Epic trying to focus on running contact with some puppy distractions 😀
We’re finally back home in Sweden after three weeks in the U.S. We’ve had a great time, but it has also been difficult being away from home. Thomas lost his wonderful border collie Win, mother of five young puppies, to eclampsia two weeks ago. It was a great shock for us, and it was hard being away from home. The five boys are now five weeks old and are doing great. We have many dogs at home that are happy to help raise them, and Thomas has done a great job with them. We all miss Win so much though. Win was Epic’s sister, and the first dog born in our breeding. She’s been an amazing herding dog with great character.
Epic and I had fun teaching in Columbus, Ohio. We stayed four days after the seminar and did more training with friends, before driving to Washington, D.C to visit my brother. My friend Kristen and her golden retriever Griffin went with us on our road trip. Our dogs were very excited tourists, and really enjoyed our walks around the city. We walked around the National Mall, and also did some obedience training with a lot of distractions.
From Washington, we drove north and spent a night north of Philadelphia after stopping in Baltimore for the National Cryptologic Museum and a walk in Leakin Park. On Tuesday, we spend the afternoon in New York City, mostly walking the dogs in Central Park. It was very windy and cold, but we had a good time. Wednesday was spent in New Jersey, where we found an amazing state park to walk the dogs in. Weather was perfect and the view from top of Ramapo Mountain was breathtaking. Look closely at the horizon on the picture, and you’ll see the Manhattan skyline.
We flew home on Wednesday night and landed in Stockholm on Thursday morning. Flying Epic with SAS has been a good experience. No problems with anything at the airports, happy and relaxed dog and good service. It was almost too easy! I’m glad that I have another dog (Shejpa was the first) that doesn’t mind flying and that is happy to join me on long trips. I don’t regret bringing Epic at all. We’ve both had a great time! In just a few hours, I have to leave home and drive to the airport again, for a seminar in Norway this weekend. I’ll get back late Sunday night, and look forward to five days at home with Thomas, my dogs and the puppies.
Big thank you to Kristen who drove us all the way and joined us in all adventures!
Epic and I are at Posidog in Columbus, Ohio, teaching obedience, problem solving and trial prep. It’s the first time I’ve brought a dog here (and my fourth time teaching here), and I’m very glad that I did. I chose to bring Epic because I know he doesn’t have any problems with flying. Squid doesn’t really like it, so she doesn’t have t, and Wilco is so young that I have no idea how he would react. I will try some shorter flights before bringing him on a long trip like this.
Epic was happy to get in his crate both before and after the long flight to Chicago. He was glad to see me, but seemed calm and happy when I took him out. I chose to fly to Chicago to get a direct flight from Stockholm. My friend Kristen picked us up and drove us to Ohio. We had a few days off before the seminar started, so we went on nice walks and had good training sessions. I feel that traveling with a dog really deepens the relationship. Being alone with Epic helps too, but I think the traveling is a big part of it.
We haven’t done much obedience before, but this past week has really been a boost to our obedience training. With both my obedience dogs at home, Epic has to step up and learn new skills. And he has! We’ve made lots of progress on heeling, retrieving, stimulus control and distant control. We’ve also played around with some bite work, as our friends here are into mondioring. Epic loved it the first days, but I think we did too much and made him a bit sore. He’s had a few days off and now we’ll try again. He loves tugging, but had trouble with the transition from leg sleeves to bite pants. The concept of clothing and tug toy in one blew his mind.
We have four more days of teaching, and really look forward to it. Then more training and a road trip before we go home.
This is how happy I am after getting to know Wilco (he is wonderful!) and running agility with his father Epic. Epic ran three clean runs this weekend. Two first places and one second place. He seems to jump much better after our long time away from agility with rest and rehab!
Will of course write more about Wilco and what we’re doing these first days. But first, some rest after this intense weekend!
I drove to Rome yesterday, and spent today at the Italian WAO tryouts (with almost two hour break for cross-country skiing on my iPad, of course – new GOLD for Sweden!). Fun to see agility, and some inspiring courses. I spent some time playing with my own dogs too. Epic worked mostly on focus. He likes to watch small dogs run, and will quickly take his eyes off me if I want to work with food and not just high energy things and tugging. So the plan was to tug with him, and gradually introduce more and more food and more and more work between tugging. I was pleased with the result, and I think he did a great job! Here’s a really boring video of some of the things we did today (boring because it’s quite long, and because the camera is static):
Squid got to come out at the end of the day (she’s in heat, so I didn’t want to distract someone competing). She got to do obedience with some really tough distractions. There were dogs running all around her, but she did great! Here’s a long and boring video of her:
It feels weird to say, but I’m glad that fall is here. We’ve had a very intense summer, and it’s nice to go back to a bit more normal life. It might not seem like it happens much in the blog (but I’ll try to change that, now that we have some more time at home), but we’re having a lot of fun with the online obedience class that we’re running. Awesome people and great dogs working on some advanced obedience skills.
I went to a local agility trial this weekend and was very happy with both the arrangement and some of my runs. Shejpa won the agility class on Sunday by almost a second, Squid got a certificate in jumpers on Saturday, and Epic won class 1 jumpers on Saturday and class 2 jumpers on Sunday. He turned two a month ago and it feels like we’re getting more and more consistent. I used to call him my intern at agility trials, but now that he is two years old and is running in class two, it’s time to take his intern badge off 🙂 He still has a lot to learn though, and I’m working to improve his jumping skills, his turns off the dogwalk and his weaving. I hope that he will make it to class 3 during the fall, but I’m not in a hurry. Here is Epics winning class 2-run from Sunday: