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Everett Mutt March

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Whew we had a great day at the Everett Mutt March.  Our Disc club donated 3 performances to the cause, and despite the cloudy weather they had a decent turn out for the 1st year the event was held.  We already chatted about hosting a competition in conjugation with their event next year.  We got to meet all sorts of people and since it was a special benefit for Chase Away k9 Cancer Kess was a big hit.

Tombi, Kess, Elsie, Cera

One of several highlights was getting to meet Cera, the founder of Chase, and her dog Elsie.  As it turns out Elsie is a descendant of Chase, the amazing dog that moved Cera to start the foundation.  It turns out that Elsie is just about awesome and on top of being a top dock dock, she’s got the skills to make it as a disc dog as well.  Cera and Elsie decided I needed a chase away shirt for our demos and since the club “uniform” is tie dye it worked out great.

Elsie making the catch

Sportin' the new chase away t-shirt

We met one other tripawd throughout the day.  She was with her adoptive family who rescued her after some meany wrapped a wire all around her leg.  They had to remove the leg, but she’s getting around great now and learning to socialize and be a happy dog.  They did the walk and stuck around for the show.  Afterwards a young boy of about 9, one of the members of the household came up and asked if I would help teach him to play disc with his dog.  You could tell they had a really special bond as the dog worked and retrieved better for the son that the parents 🙂  The most touching moment came when his pup stopped to scratch with her phantom paw and he ran over to help her out awww . . . sniffle.  Since she was a cattle dog mix I knew there was a pretty good chance we could get her catching.  She didn’t quite make a catch, but did several retrieves and was well on her way.  It was extra cool to show him that tripawds rule.

Whew, 3 disc shows didn’t wear Kess out so she even played a little flyball.  She hasn’t played flyball in 2.5 years and certainly not since the amp.  I think the constant slamming into the box coupled with Kess’s crazy nature is just asking for trouble.  She surprised me by being incredibly reserved on her runs.  The funniest part was afterwards the woman helping us came running up to say she thought Kess was limping, much to her surprise she discovered that Kess was a tripawd.


Kess rockin' some flyball

We also got to talk with the local canine oncologist.  She’s going to add lots of info about to her website and some info about Kess.  She hsa many patients who are scarred to look into amputation and go to great lengths to avoid it when it’s really the best option for the dog.  Once she heard about she knew it was the best place to send folks for honest advice about the decision they are facing.  She had to come by and take some pictures and give Kess some extra tummy rubs.  If that weren’t enough notoriety a local author wants to feature Kess in her book about canine cancer.  We felt like quite the local celebrities by the end of the day.  Kess of course is in it for the pets and the occasional cookie.  She made me so proud today and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

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What we’ve been up to

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Summer is always such a busy time for us. Here’s a short video showing some of our recent exploits. Kess is learning the weave poles for agility and can now weave through 4 poles, and will hopefully be up to twelve poles within the next few months. She’s also been learning to work with me and stay focused on what the human half of the team is up to. Kess has a tendency to just make her own way through the agility course.

On top of agility Kess has been competing and performing regularly in disc. We’re still keeping things fairly low key as I don’t want to backslide in Kess’s conditioning. She’s up to 30 min of work/training per day and I think we’ve found a great balance of enough activity to wear her out without causing fatigue. We had a great time at our first performance and Kess was a real crowd favorite. Several people made a point of coming up to say hi after the show, and if you want a lot of free product just walk through a dog festival with a tripawd, we just about needed a wheelbarrow to get all the treats and eats home 🙂

Back in the Saddle

Kess competed in her first disc competition as a tripawd on April 16.  She finished a very respectable middle of the pack.  It was a very windy spring day and unfortunately for Kess my skills weren’t quite up to the task.   We had a great time, and everyone was so happy to see Kess getting to run and have fun.  I got a little choked up when she made the her first catch, Kess never ceases to amaze me. A friend took some pictures for us at the disc competition, they came out a little small, but you get the idea.

We have been continuing with agility, and as usual Kess is just spectacular. If she continues at this rate she should be trialing by next winter.  We’re focusing in an event called hoopers, hula hoop sized obstacles placed on the ground for the dogs to run through.  She doesn’t have to jump, but still has to learn to work with me and take cues from my body position to identify the right obstacle.  It’s been lots of fun and has only strengthened our bond.  Kess now has enough endurance in her rear leg to work for 20min, rest for 10min and then work for another 20-30min with no signs of stiffness or pain. We always make sure to trot around the field to warm up and cool down, and do pre and post workout stretches. She also usually gets spoiled with a massage in the evening after a particularly active day. So far this has been a great program for us and provides Crazy Kess with enough exercise to keep her content without over doing things.

Kess's first competition as a tripawd

click the link for more photos

Kess wins Blue Dog of the Month

Blue Dog Bakery, a dog treat company located in WA, selected Kess as their Blue Dog of the Month.  It’s based on photo submissions, and the good news for Kess is that she won a whole case of dog treats.  Other then that it’s life as normal around here.  We’re all patiently waiting for it to stop raining so we can enjoy the sunshine.  

I’m super excited that our disc club has decided to make Chase Away k9 Cancer our charity cause for 2011.  We’ll raise funds for them through a charity raffle, and best of all Kess will get to preform with the full tilt demonstration team at the pennies for puppies festival in June to help raise even more money for their cause.  Spring and summer just need to hurry up and get here!

Agility take 2


whew, we’ve been really busy around here.  We did find the time to sign Kess up for a foundations agility class.  We had just started in agility when we noticed the lump in Kess hind leg, so it was nice to be back on the field with a spunky crazy gal.  Kess is very good at concealing her tripawdness.  In part because she never sits still long enough for anyone to notice the leg is missing.  In fact no one in the class had noticed she only had three legs until I announced it during the introductions.  Kess had a great time and was very pleased to get to go with since she’s been watching mom and Suki head out without her for the last year.

As usual Kess applied her go fast and faster strategy, but our instructor was wise to her and we spent the class doing various body awareness exercises, and I spent my time trying to convince Kess to go through the exercises SLOWLY and with her brain turned on . . . we were only mildly successful.  Kess thought playing tug was the best part of the class and was happy to show off how awesome she is at tug of war.  As a side note you know you are in Washington when your agility instructor teaches class in Birkenstocks and wool socks.  The second class was spent indoors as it has been raining for 2 weeks in Seattle.  It was a clicker class and my only goal was to get Kess to watch me instead of the treats.  Kess showed everyone that she was really good at pointing her nose at me, even if her eyes were looking somewhere else.  Silly girl.

It looks like tripawds can compete in tunnelers, weavers and hoopers.  We’re going to focus on hoopers since they are just hoops on the ground.  Kess has some history with her back so I think weavers would aggravate that, and she’s to tall to hop through the tunnels.  I expect she’ll pick it up very quickly as she’s always loved to run and work with me, and she only has to learn one obstacle.  It will be a nice change from pokey old Suki,who thinks agility is LOTS of work some days.

I’m also mired in all sorts of disc dog business trying to secure fields for competitions, solicit sponsors, and organize demonstrations . . . it’s almost like I have a job.  At the very least it gives me something to occupy my mind while the rain streams down outside and makes us all feel like sunny days can’t be to far off.  The snow crocus have flowered and some day in June it will stop raining 🙂

Kess verbage

Kess the bipawd???

So like any dog Kess has her odd little behaviors and opinions that constantly amuse me. So here are a couple of Kess verbs and their definitions.

One of the things Kess used to do every night was to shove her head under the blankets at the end of the bed and thrash around for a while, and then zoom back and forth rubbing her face on the blankets.   My husband and I for whatever reason refer to it as snarfling. This habit had come to an abrupt halt post amputation and I’m happy to say that Kess finally has her snarfle back. Kess also used to enjoy a post dinner snarfle on the wool rug in the front room, but she has not done this since her amputation 🙁  I think she finds it difficult to roll over, she was always a dog that led with her right side, and now has trouble figuring out how to switch and use her other side as her strong side.  So for now I give her a post dinner head scratching.

Another Kess verb is snooting, jabbing your nose at people repeatedly in an attempt to encourage them to pet you or throw the ball.  Snooting is also applied heavily when any human sits or lays on the ground (that’s doglandia) or when I hide her ball in one of my kids clothes.  It takes a lot of snooting to ferret that ball out and the kids keep squirming around laughing making it even harder to find the ball . . . must find the ball, ball, ball, ball. 

Feel the love

Kess is also referred to as the fun police.  She doesn’t like it if things get to rowdy.  Shortly after a squeal from the kiddos or a bark from Suki you’ll hear Kess crashing through the house at a breakneck pace to see just what sort of shenanigans everyone is up to, and put everything back in to order.  Toddlers fly in her wake and Suki braces for impact.  This is actually a really annoying behavior that I’ve been working on curbing for years.  We have almost got to a point where Kess will crash into the room and then come sit in front of me.  This gives a few moments for the action to diffuse a bit.  Kess is very motion reactive, and while I think she really just wants to join in the fun she generally ends up frustrated circling the room and barking.  So if roughhousing is in order Kess has to hang out in her crate for a bit, but always gets to wrestle with mom later . . . because wrestling is one of the best ways to show off how tough and spectacular you are. 

How Kess does puddles


How Suki aka dainty paws handles puddles

one day at a time

The reality of Kess’s new life as a tripawd slapped us in the face yesterday. I took her out to our monthly disc dog get together. It was just myself and one other handler so we were letting the dogs run free and casual chucking the disc now and again. Kess was loose for about an hour and maybe did 15-20 retrieves. She seemed fine while we were out, and was laying down between throws and I tied her up for a couple of forced rest periods. I knew I was pushing the limit of what Kess’s endurance, and it turned out to be to much.

As soon as we got home it was very apparent that she had serious fatigue and pain in her remaining hind leg. I felt really, really horrible as her care taker for not doing a better job of managing her. I gave her some pain killers, lots of massages, stretches, and heat packs. The problem with border collies is that they are more than willing to work themselves to death for a loving owner, their work ethic is so ingrained into their psyche that they will mask and hide pain so that they can continue the work they love. Add Kess’s alpha attitude and stoic response to pain, and it’s very easy to let her over do it without realizing it. Kess really likes to sleep in (which I’ve always thought was kind of odd), and generally doesn’t come downstairs until an hour or so after I get up. So it was a great relief this morning when she came running down the stairs ready to start her day. She’s still a little stiff and getting up and moving slowly, but I’m confident that it’s just a case of muscle fatigue and not a more serious injury.

Thankfully it turned out not to be a major crisis, but it was a very strong reminder that it’s my responsibility to help Kess rehab in a healthy and safe manner.

Flash Mob

So Kess and I will be participating in a flash mob in Seattle. It will be pretty fun if it actully works out. It’s a simple routine with some nose touches, circles, and stays. The goal is to highlight positive training methods. Kess already knows all of the tricks so now I just have to memorize the order. Regardless of how it turns out we’ll meet some fun loving dog folk, and Kess will get a chance to wiggle at all sorts of people. If you are in the area and want to check it out here are the details Kess will be sporting her yellow tripawds bandana.

Kess Turns Seven

Wow time flies when you’re having fun.  Kess continues to amaze us every day with how well she’s recovered from her amputation.  We went out for a birthday celebration at the local dog  park.  Kess was able to pal around with some of her favorite 4 and 2-legged friends.   There were a few times this year that I began to doubt that we’d make it here.  It’s so wonderful to get to watch Kess run and play and then see her sacked out at home afterwards.  I’m so so happy that she’s able to run again!  There’s nothing like a tired border collie to calm the house down. 

 As if all this wasn’t enough celebrating we met up with the frisbee dog club over the weekend for a very wet playday.  I think we had 3″ of rain in 24hrs.  Kess had a great time wiggling at all of her friends and the dogs all had a blast splashing around in the rain. 



and lets not forget presents.  Kess of course loves anything that sqeaks, but she also really likes stuf she can shake and smack herself with.  Smacking yourself with stuff is really fun and it shows the other doggies how tough you are.  This is a new toy made by doggles which combines squeakers, plush, and tugging all in to one toy.  Kess approves.

If the shoe fits . . .

well I ordered Kess a ruffwear bootie for her back paw.  Apparently she has dainty little back feet so the xxs had the right sized sole/boot but it wasn’t long enough on her foot.  The strap came across the back of her largest pad so you couldn’t put it on properly and it kept falling off. 

Today I figured it already didn’t work so there wouldn’t be much harm in trying to modify it so that it would.  I took the top half of the bootie apart, added a couple of inches to the length and moved the strap.  Luckily Kess has no comment on my sewing skills and the end result is a bootie that will stay on!

Kess already took a spin around the house and although she wasn’t to keen on having the bootie on, the advantages were obvious when she got to the laminate flooring and kept right on hopping. 

I just added the black bit in the middle and moved the strap back about 2" and re-attached the elastic ribbing

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