Corvis Dog, CGC

That's right, according to the AKC judge, corvisdog is a Canine Good Citizen.

We skipped a week of class, and then went back. When we arrived, corvisdog savored his status as the Bad Boy of the class -- dogs deferred to him, when he joined a bark the rest stopped, etc. And of course, that properly masked the fact that he's generally a star, and they were amazed at how good he was that time.

The next class after that was taught at a nursing home, which we opted not to attend. He's a great dog, but given that he doesn't like old men -- at all -- and various others, he's not yet really therapy dog material. The last class he passed the practice test, earning yet another certificate. And giving me the confidence to test him this weekend.

And he passed with flying colors. I had the option of also testing him for his Therapy Dog International certification... and while he probably would have passed, I decided not to. Maybe in the future if he mellow out some more.

Anyway, I'm terribly proud of him. He gets steak tonight. And now he formally gets initials behind his name, if he had a pedigree.

Damn Dog

Right. So. Behind. Will write up -- with pictures -- more about Vanja's show. And more about his classes. He was briefly in three, but now he's back to two.

The two are Intermediate Agility and Canine Good Citizen/Therapy Dog International -- essentially, Obedience Two with formal testing. The class is by Animal Friends, like his last one. I agree more with them than Misty Pines, but still have reservations. I really dislike the space, which is a downtown doggie daycare facility... that I wouldn't put corvisdog in. Especially not for $20/day. I honestly think he's happier on the couch than he would be running around in that concrete room with other dogs.

Anyway, I'm pissed at him now because I'm tired and stressed. And he only contributed to it. In particular, Mr Corvis Dog decided to take a chunk out of the ass of a dog that looked at him funny. They had had a bit of something-something brewing the whole class -- instructors completely oblivious, but one of this former instructors (another student this time) definately caught on. As everyone was leaving, the owner with this shaggy Great Pyrenese walked the dog too close to Corvis, and before I knew it barks turned to lunge. And pulling him off, away came a substantial chunk of fluffy white. (Corvis is still completely black coated). From the ass of the dog no less. (And from an ass of a dog... wait, did I type that?)

Anyway, that didn't go over so well in a class where they continually emphasize what a Good Citizen means. I can't really deal with it at the moment, and I'm sure that's at least mostly responsible for his performance.


Ok. Today Corvis decided to make up for the last four weeks. Actually, he was good last Monday, and good at the flyball seminar. But previously, he's been... a mess. In intermediate agility class, he was a joy to work with, and impressed everyone. Not only do I need to work on my footwork, but when I got it right he made it look so good -- front crosses, rear crosses, whatever as long as the next destination was made clear.

And then, when he was doing the teeter-toter, flawlessly, a dog from the other side of the room broke free and ran over to investigate and sniff him. Mid-air, Corvis slowed down, kept his concentration, and performed the tricky obstacle correctly. He then held a two-on two-off contacts position until the other dog was cleared out. It was flawless and remarkable. And the instructor says she knows approximately three other dogs that could/would do that. He got a star for it.

Anyway, it was fun and he had fun and he's now splayed out asleep.

He handled the brunch party on Sunday pretty well when he was tied up outside, and not so well when inside. I'll have to figure out something for the upcoming houseparty. This weekend was pretty good, as it involved two hours at Frick on Saturday and an hour in the mucky mud at Riding Meadows on Sunday with Tracy. Hurray for warmer sunny weather.

Canine Massage

Yesterday, Corvis and I, along with Vanya and Danielle, went to an all-day seminar on Dog Massage. It was taught by Maria Duthrie of Annisage. And it was fantastic.

The class got off to a slow start. She did a massage demonstration on her dog, talked on canine anatomy, then walked through the primary 20 muscles we should be concerned with, and we split into groups to find and identify them on each of our dogs. Maria walked around and helped. Vanya was quite easy for some -- because his muscles are huge -- and quite tricky on others -- as a sighthound, his neck almost feels like one giant muscle without bones (and you need some neck bones to navigate). Corvis was pretty easy, when settled down.

After a bit of touch, we then walked our dogs in front of everyone, looking for deviations from perfect posture. And, somewhat suprisingly, all the dogs did have something -- on examination, a dog would be emphasizing one foot over the other, or not flexing his back correctly. The locally biggest suprise was not Corvis but Vanya. Corvis' issues was that he overly walks on his front legs -- he was one of the few dogs without hip/back issues.
Vanya, though -- and keep in mind, with his sport (Coformation) walking is everything -- superficially looks fine, and when moving at a slight run looks graceful and floating.

Until it became obvious that he wasn't using his hips or back at all. You could have balanced a book on his hips when he walked -- and that's not good form.

Then we spent a great while working on various massage techniques -- all are standard across species, although she has a distinct one called "zipper" that is particularly appropriate for canine anatomy. She integrates a lot of passive touch, which makes sense once one sees she's a Reiki Master. We practiced on humans, because we give better feedback, then on our dogs. While we worked on our dogs, Maria came around and touched each dog and gave us a plan for how to most effectively help our dogs. Corvis apparently has underdeveloped back leg muscles -- which I kind of knew -- and major shoulder tension. I also later discovered that he still has serious issues relaxing in the presence of other dogs, such that the afternoon massage session he hung out in the car while I worked on Vanya.

Vanya was of such concern -- and cause he's a rockstar and everyone admires him -- that Maria offered to give him a full massage for free. Whenever she touched parts of his back, there were major muscle spams. At the time of walking him, Danielle was skeptical and wasn't sure she believed it. But after she started touching him and seeing trembles -- and identifying those, and his body language, as muscle spasms -- it became increasingly clear.

At the end of the day, the dogs for whom we all could remember their defects went for a walk again. In some, their condition was improved -- some dramatically. And with one, his problem was worse... but that was a good thing. Before, it wasn't clear which of his rear legs was giving him trouble, but now it was obvious.

Then Maria went to work on Vanya. His starting range of motion was... disturbing. When he runs, he still seemed very graceful, but that seems hard to reconcile with the limited range half his limbs exhibited.

Basically, it looks like he suffered at least on major fall. He had torn some of his abdominals, as well as a torn glutural. The glutural had caused him to overemphasize his other leg, and as a result, while the muscle was mostly healed, the other leg now was tweaked. And the abdominal injury meant that his back was overcompensating and his posture was adjusted to prevent using it. He had a very painful session with Maria, with her showing all of her technique. And then he was rewalked, and there was pretty good improvement, although his walking issues were more pronounced.

Anyway, it was a fantastic session. I learned a lot, about dogs as well as general massage principles. Completely worth the money and time.

I think all massage inclined folks should have some animal massage training. Not because we all need to massage the animals, but because it really refines your technique. And you get to see some interesting situations you are less likely to find in humans.

Because dogs are weird about pain. Specifically, they really don't like to show it -- either because they prefer to play, or because as a breed it is an important survival skill. There are plenty of stories of people having their dog x-rayed for something, and having the doctor ask "so when did he break his leg?". There are also stories of how sleddogs will destroy a member at the first visible sign of something-not-right.

So you've got these creatures that really don't like to show any pain. They run around and hurt themselves, and we never notice until they develop arthritis, or a noticable limp. And yet just giving them a reasonably quick massage, and one can discover all kinds of fun knots. Judging from how messed up Corvis is, I suspect he may actually be a much happier dog if we can work them out. Much of his anxiety may just be a mask for the pain he's in.

It's odd. A lot of the seminar tripped a number of my "snake oil" or "groupthink" buttons -- but she wasn't selling anything we had not already bought. She wasn't trying directly to drum up business -- she's busy enough as is, and may or may not be around anytime soon. This wasn't a pitch for anything other than that we should apply what we were learning. And the dogs, although their body language is subtle, really do have lots of muscle issues just like every human I've worked on. Whether this is strictly necessary or not is not the issue; are people bad for not doing it for their dogs, no; but it was insightful.

The biggest insight, and take away lesson for everyone: You know that classic dog trait, where you find a place to scratch that causes them to kick their leg? That's a muscle spasm you're triggering. Dogs are not supposed to have those, and it is indicative of structural issues.

Snow day for dogs? :(

Woke corvisdog up early Saturday morning for his class. At 7am I am not very coherent, but some little braincell decided to fire a suggestion that maybe this week there was no class. Couldn't have reminded me the night before, right? And indeed, there was no class. So I tried to make it up to him later with extended romps at Frick both Saturday and Sunday.

Today I left my cellphone at home. I got home in time to take him to class, easily -- got something to tide myself over, hyped him up, cut up treats... and then found my phone. And the message that said due to snow, class was canceled. Poor dog. Poor me. I was looking forward to getting him tired and taking him to campus to work through the night. Now the light is fading fast enough that I can't let him off the leash -- and the sledders (read as: sheep) are out in force, so its no good for that reason too.

I guess I'll work out some way to romp him tomorrow between my work and classes.

Bulk Update

Right. So. Trip. Went well, and went badly.

The drive up to Vermont was smooth, with him being super cute. I had to take a Giant Breed crate up, so I had it and his smaller crate in the center of my little Subaru. We made a couple of stops en route: Philadelphia and Scarsdale, NY. In Philadelphia, Corvis discovered there were an excess quantity of fearless squirrels about on the lovely path through the U Penn campus. He had been to Scarsdale before, and likes the scenery fine... but not my Grandfather, although he was much more tolerant this time.

In Vermont, he met Katy No-Pockets, my parents' 9 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback. Isn't she a stunner? She's huge, already, and still growing. Corvis can -- and does -- run right under her.

Most of the opportunity for that actually came because they spent much of the two days at home fighting. Or, no so much fighting as, well, fighting like human couples fight. She is a puppy who loves dogs, and who wanted Corvis' love and attention.
Corvis wanted his personal space, to be able to wander in peace... and why was there now this other dog in what had been his domain the last time he visited. They were cute, as long as you kept her off him. We see here my present favorite Corvis picture -- action shot, deflated football thrown out. You can just see the tip of Katy's intruding tail.

Then we left them. Drove off to the Doggie Daycare place, and then we took off. Had adventures in Kyiv and Moscow, successfully transacted for a champion Borzoi to be shipped to Pittsburgh, and three long weeks later we returned. I had thought of him constantly, but only exchanged one email with daycare: the dogs are doing fabulous. they are playing with all the other dogs very well. Corvis can be a little cranky, but he really is doing fine.. So I relaxed -- cranky is the word to describe Corvis when you've gotten to know him.

We returned late on the 20th, but both my mom and I were up at the crack of dawn for the chance to get our puppies back for a day. We waited just until it was a reasonable hour to come by, and did without, apparently, calling. We were too eager. When we got there, she had been in the process of calling us to say maybe I shouldn't come... !

Apparently, Mr. Corvis had been getting a bit more progressively cranky as the weeks were piling on, and was starting to take it out on poor Katy. Poor twice his size and strength Katy. The night before, he had pinned her in a way that the daycare lady didn't like, so she went to pull him off. He was in full battle-fog, and turned around and snapped at her (breaking the skin in her hand, I believe). Her dog didn't like that, so he ran over and bit Corvis. Hard. On the arm, just below the elbow joint. He was a very large Rottweiler. The puncture wounds didn't look that big, so she put Corvis in a kennel with the intentions of taking him to the Vet in the morning. Right before we showed up, she had gotten up and noticed he had licked it all night, and it looked worse. So she felt that in his state, seeing me but only for a day, would not be the best idea. Oh well, we did it anyway.

We took him home and called my mother's vet. Any vet good enough for Princess Katy was clearly good enough for Corvis. My mom had found a clinic -- near her house, even, where apparently the head vet is almost Asperger's Syndome focused on animal care -- meaning they don't have great human skills but work wonders with their real patients. This means they were easily able to see Corvis within an hour or two, and give him all the time he needed. Which ended up being overnight. Apparently dog bites can be really really bad, and this was one of them, where there is a lot of deep tissue damage inflicted. They anaesthetized him, cut open the holes for a better edge and look, and discovered significant infection had already set in. They kept him overnight to monitor him, I just mostly panicked, trying to figure out what I was going to do.

He was returned in the morning with stitches, drips, two special antibiotics, and a cone. The daycare person assured me she could keep him isolated. I was convinced I should go to my warm vacation spot despite my dog's condition.

And, indeed, I returned on the 30th -- Corvis picked up at the crack of dawn the 31st -- to a happier and healthier dog. Amy had been amazed by his intelligence -- because not only could he do a lot of things, but she could see how fast his mind raced to figure out how to do them with a big cone around his face. On the 2nd, I had his external stents removed, and he was apparently healing nicely. That night we drove back to Pittsburgh -- actually, stopping for the night at a Super 6 two-thirds of the way back.This was my first experience with a dog in a motel, but he handled it like a champ -- clearly, he wanted to be home, but put up with whatever I threw at him. I think he barked once the entire 700 mile drive back to Pittsburgh.

As I mentioned in the last post, I have Corvis signed up for two Agility classes this January. So when the vet was looking at him, one of my persistent questions -- to the point that it was noted on his medical records -- was whether this injury would hurt his agility career. When he was taken in, he had a pretty bad limp, but that's gone now. I was cleared to take him to class.

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I'm up this early this morning... because I stressed out about the dog. Had a bad dream -- nothing bad happened to him, it was more about neglect issues, and then even with him complying I couldn't get sufficient snuggles to make it go away. I'm clearly more nervous about this trip than he is, or perhaps is even likely to be.

Trip? What trip?

On relatively short notice, I'm going off to Kiev, Ukraine (and Moscow) for most of December (Dec 3 - Dec 20). Upon return from the trip, we have a day and then fly out to the Vogel Clan vacation (Dec 22-Dec 30). All sounds good, but what about the dog?

As with the discussion in August, the plan is to ship him to Vermont. He and I are driving up Dec 1, where he gets to meet his 9month old Rhodesian Ridgeback cousin, Katy No-Pockets. She's already much bigger than him. Together, they'll be spending the month with the daycare place Katy attends. Who were nice enough to accomidate us, and will even let us take our kids home for the day or so of time in the middle.

Again, part of the reason he hasn't been to daycare is I'm nervous about it. I'm sure with me out of the picture he'd be a fine dog at daycare and enjoy himself. If he does well in December, I will set him up at one of the places around here.

Additional things I will do: I've signed him up for two Agility classes in January. One is a Saturday morning (8:30am!) "Beginner Gamblers", the other is the Monday night "Begineers II". I could have signed him up for the Saturday Begineers II, which is an hour after his morning one, and I'm sure he has the energy for two hours of agility classes... but I figured having two days of exhausting dog activity would be nice in the period from January through March.

There is a saga to be told about a dog in Moscow, but that is covered in my blog, and may have me create a standalone page for it.


corvis from this day forward
you will also be known as Fearless Bastard

corvis dog from this day forward
you will also be known as Annoying Dominator

corvisdog from this day forward
you will also be known as Master Killer

I think we all know which one he prefers. You? Generate your Wu-Name

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Corvis has been invited to a New Years Party. How cute. His Agility training facility is having a Christmas/New Years party on Jan 3. I guess we'll probably go, if I'm in town, cause that sounds like the kind of madness we are both keen on (training facility full of mostly obedient, mostly high-strung ("Active") dogs... with devoted owners.

Otherwise, in Corvisland updates -- he's been very good. No reoccurance of fleas, and I was tipped off for another park (Riding Meadows) in O'Hara that is beautiful, completely off-leash, and draws some fun dogs. Otherwise, he's more mellow. Still doesn't react as well as I'd hope to when I take him to frisbee games -- he doesn't like watching me running around with other people, I guess. He appreciates that I removed the headrests for the back seats, because it means when I leave him in the car he can easily slip into the wayback. That's where I have a blanket, and misc. clothing, and he'll curl up and sleep there. More comfortable than the backseat, although he still hates riding back there.