Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A message from Tully

Dear friends,

It's Tully here.  It is imperative that I get the word out and I know of no other way but to hijack this blog.  My owner has lost her mind.  She has kept me imprisoned now for 10 long weeks and there is talk that it will last another 2 weeks.  I do not understand.  I am an athlete.  I am amazing.  I run like the wind.  I am Super Dog.  Super Dog should not be treated in such a fashion.  I'm quite embarrassed.

It all started quite innocently the week after the 4th of July.  My lovely human took me to this place where there were nice people and other dogs.  It kind of reminded me of where she goes during the day to what she calls "work".  She talked with this nice guy.  He looked  very familiar and I like him, but I had never been there before so I don't know how I could know him. I think I remember seeing him in another place almost a year ago when my person was ranting about "damn spleens".  I'm  not sure. I slept through most of that visit, but I think it was the same guy.  I have my suspicions.  Anyhow, she chatted with him and left me. I didn't mind, they seem like nice people and if my person trusts them, it's fine by me. Well, this is where things got a little strange.  She continued to take me to see this guy for a total of 5 times over the next 2 months.  Four of those times I took a short nap and woke up to find someone shaved the hair off my lower back!  What?  Who does that?  Some kinda crazy party I guess.  Oh, and the last time I woke up to find my eyelid bump missing!  I must have really partied hard that day!

I always felt better after my visits and had a good time.  For some reason my back always felt good afterward - that's what  good party will do for ya!  The people were nice and my Auntie Natalie got a job there as a tech!  I had never met her before but I'm pretty sure she only works there because she wants to see me!  She is my uncle Ben's sister. I was so excited, she is so nice, but she sticks needles in my leg which is no way to treat Super Dog.  It's ok, my person does the same thing.  I guess that's normal.  I supposedly have an Aunt Michelle there too, but I don't see her much.  I hear she is very nice, yet I also hear it is good I don't have to see her.  I don't understand that, but that's ok.  I hear she used to have cattle dogs so obviously she is very wise.

Back to the real issue.  Will someone please tell my human this imprisonment is crazy and that I would really like to go back to playing all those fun games we used to play?  I liked chasing sheep. I liked running obstacle courses.  I liked road trips and hotels.  I should not be treated like a convict!  I keep hearing stories that we are going on a trip in a few weeks, but I refuse to get my hopes up.  The weird guy at that place keeps saying "ease him in slowly, slow return to activity", but I think he's full of crap.  He's obviously not seen me run and jump off the deck!  Will someone tell my human that the advice he is giving her is crap?  I would like that a lot. 

Tully Jones

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lessons learned and a rogue disc

There are a few things as a dog owner I have learned recently:

1.  If you have dogs with chronic health conditions that require significant care, never, ever decide one day to figure out how much money you've spend on them in the past year.  If you can answer the questions "Would I do anything different?" or "Am I unable to pay my mortgage and other bills?" with a  a "no", then stop right there and don't count up the receipts.  It may cause unnecessary pain and make you realize you could have bought a nice used car or taken that trip to Europe you've always wanted and taken a friend along for free.  Nope. Stop right where you are and do not get out the calculator.  Go hug your dog instead and be grateful you still have him.  Understand that ramen noodles and PBJ may be an integral part of your diet and you may make a tank of gas last 13 days at one point.  You may even sell concert tickets that you really wanted.  Just never, ever sit back and add up the costs.

2.  Never say "I would never pay to have _____________ done to my dog".  That will come back and bite you hard one day.  There was a time in my life I would have said I would never do radiation treatment on my dog or do CT/MRI on my dogs.  Time changes things as does the bond with a 14 year old and a 10 year old dog. It's a personal decision for everyone.  Some friends and family think I'm crazy, that's fine.  There are worse things I could be doing.

That said, here's the latest on the Tullster.  The back pain we were battling back in February/March worsened and culminated with him screaming out in pain one night in the back yard and walking in hunched up and panting in July.  Last spring we had tried prednisone and other medications by mouth, without any result.  With the episode in July, it was time to do something more drastic.  A visit to our favorites specialty center and a CT later, it was found that Tully had a disc herniation at L7-S1causing compression of the spinal cord and nerve roots which was causing his pain and also the reluctance to jump we had been seeing for months.  He also had disc herniations at T11-T12 and L2-L3, but they were insignificant at this time.  Because he did not have any outward neurological signs (just pain) and the lesion was at L7-S1, it made him a candidate for epidural injections of methylprednisolone instead of invasive back surgery.  The epidurals consist of 3 injections over 6 weeks while he is rested, plus an additional 6 weeks of rest after the last injection.  The success rate is 80%.  Tully has had 2 injections and is doing well and less painful.  I am hopeful this will work. If not, he may have to have back surgery.  The cost and invasive nature of back surgery concerns me, however the other part of me believes any rogue body part (spleen, disc, etc) should be immediately and swiftly dealt with with a knife.  Let it be a lesson to any other body part that refuses to behave!   As always we are thankful for all the specialists at VCA Advanced Veterinary Care on the north side of Indy.  I think they are tired of seeing me with a red dog in tow, but there is no other place I'd take my dogs.  Thanks especially to Drs. Edwards, Cross, and Wehrenberg for all the care they have given my dogs and their patience in dealing with me!  I don't know what I would do without them.

On a positive note, Tully's 9 month lymphoma recheck came up clear - no sign of metastasis on ultrasound.  Woo hoo! 

The plan for Tully?  All competitions for the 12 weeks of treatment have been cancelled.  His last day of rest is October 3rd and ACD nationals start October 7th.  He is suppose to work up slowly to a normal level of activity over several months, but should be fine to do veterans obedience and some rally at nationals.  The specialist thinks he will return to full function...I am doubtful at his age and assume his days of agility and herding are permanently over.  Right now, he feels great, the epidurals are working, and he's ready to go.  I keep my fingers crossed for a pain free dog that is happy and has a good quality of life.  Anything else is just icing on the cake.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Everyone keeps asking me with sad faces "How is Tully handling Terra being gone?".  I think it can be summed up in one word....fantastic.  For the first time in his life he is an only dog and he thinks it's fantastic. It's fantastic to not share toys, food, blankets, space in the SUV, and most of all, the attention of the favorite human.  No, he did not properly mourn the loss of his sister.  I'm pretty sure I've heard him humming "Ding Dong, the witch is dead".  She did torment him for 10 years, but still, a little respect should be given!   Little does he know at some point he will gain a little brother or little sister.  For now he lives in bliss knowing everything in the house is his, his, his.

I'm getting worse and worse about updating this thing.  Since our last post we've not been quite as busy.  Tully and I went to a CPE agility trial in Carmel, Indiana on June 2 and 3rd and entered level 2 for the first time.  He was a perfect 8 for 8, with 1st place in each class, for the weekend to put him halfway to his Level 2 titles.   I was worried about not knowing anyone in CPE after years of competing with friends in AKC, but I have to say most of the CPE people  have been lovely and we continue to meet great people from around the country.  He's really having a good time running in CPE and reliving the "glory days" of his youth ;-)  The following weekend we went to Urbana, Illinois for a Rally trial and picked up another RAE2 leg with a 1st place in Advanced and 2nd place in Excellent.  Next on the agenda is another CPE agility trial in Carmel in 3 weeks and rally in Cincy in August.

I originally started this blog last year as we prepared for the 2011 ACDCA nationals.  With the 2012 nationals just over 3 months away in St. Louis, we will start to think about entering.  This year's nationals will be much different than last year's nationals. We will not run 12 classes in 2 days.  We will not come home with a stack of ribbons and trophies. We will go to have fun at one last national speciality.  He'll probably compete just in two rally classes and veterans obedience - 3 classes total.  The rest of the time we'll go cheer on our friends and enjoy all the great dogs!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

CPE agility and a plan for summer

Last weekend we headed up to Carmel, Indiana, on the north side of Indianapolis for our fist try at CPE agility.  CPE is an organization that is better known in some parts of the country than in others, but has really become more popular in the Midwest.  They offer a variety of different courses/games and a variety of different jump heights/titling programs to fit the needs of their competitors.  At the age of 10, Tully was starting to struggle making both the jump heights and course times in AKC, yet he's not ready to be a couch potato quite yet.  CPE seemed to be a nice bridge for us between the highly competitive AKC circuit and complete retirement.

Tully had 8 runs in 2 days, not an easy task for an old guy.  CPE classes include standard, jumpers, full house, jackpot, colors, wildcard, and snooker.  The number of qualifying scores for titling depends on the level.  Although Tully could have started as high as level 3 due to his AKC titles, we opted for level 1 since I had no idea how their trials and classes worked.  It turned out that apparently Tully must have read the rule book and he knew exactly what to do.  He earned qualifying runs and first place with no faults in all 8 runs over two days to earn all of his level 1 titles (CSL1-S, CSL1-H, CSL1 -F, CSL1-R).  I ran him at the lowest jump height allowable for him - 12 inches - and he did great.  He ran faster than ever and seemed to know  he was a rock star.  He routinely ran 20-30 seconds under course time...amazing for an old guy!

Next up on the agenda is another try at CPE in 3 weeks in Carmel - this time level 2.  The weekend after that we are heading to Illinois for rally and obedience, just for fun.  Other plans include CPE agility in July again in Carmel, followed in August with obedience/rally at Queen City and Louisville.  In the meantime, it's off to herding lessons.  Semi-retirement may mean low jump heights and less strain on an aging back and body, but it does not mean we stop living.  We still have our fingers crossed that we will make it to a few classes at nationals in 5 months! 

Taken at Queen City Dog Training Club in March 2012, one of my favorite photos of the Tullster.  Competing is fun, but in the end, it's about the bond between a dog and their person.  I love my boy and I think the feeling is mutual.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring is here!

Spring has sprung and Tully's period of rest from back aches and pains is over.  He's not the dog he was last fall, but he's happy and content and still wants to play and have fun.  We have returned to herding lessons and he is having a blast.  He thinks he would like to be a farm dog who can roll in mud, wade in cattle troughs, but then sleep on the bed at night. He does not understand that he has to have a bath between the mud rolling/trough wading and sleeping on the bed. He feels it is unjust.  He's having a great time and unless another injury or illness comes up,we hope to try for an HT or PT this fall.  We will either compete at the ACDCA nationals or at a trial in Kentucky that is hosted by ACD people.

In the meantime, we are going to try our hand at CPE agility next weekend. He's entered in Level 1 and at the lowly jump height of 12 inches.  It will be interesting to see how he does.  The trial is only 30 minutes away on the north side of Indy, so if it doesn't work out, we have not wasted too much time and money.  CPE is a little different than AKC in that they have a lot more types of games/courses and different rules.  It looks like there are less penalties, he can jump at a lower height,and he will have more time - all nice things for an aging rock star. On the other hand, I have to hurry up and read the rules and figure out how to run their courses!

Although this blog was primarily aimed at Tully's adventures in competition, I would be remiss if I didn't mention why we have not posted in almost two months.  My dear, sweet dog Terra passed away on April 25th at the age of 14 years after a long, hard fight against pituitary macroadenoma and renal failure.  She was my first cattle dog and the reason that I love the breed. She is the one that started it all.  Without her, there never would have been a Tully and I wouldn't have met half the people I know today!  There will always be a cattle dog in my house as long as I am able, however I don't know if I'll ever have the heart to have another plain faced red girl.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Two great weekends, two new titles, and new plans

Tully and I packed up and headed to Lafayette, Indiana, on March 3rd and 4th for a 2 day agility trial, his first since his surgery in October and his first since turning 10 years old.  My one and only goal was to finish the one last leg on his AJP title so he'd have the "matching set" of excellent level titles (AJP and AXP).  Yes, a bit type A, but I know there others of you out there who understand.  At this level, he is having a hard time making time now.  He is usually clean in his runs, just too slow for Masters level competition.  I'm happy to say that on Sunday he gave me a wonderful jumpers run and made time to earn his last AJP leg, the title, and 1st place in the class.  Tully is officially retired from AKC agility.  It's sad, but it's time.  I'll let him play in low level CPE or NADAC, both of which are having trials in the Indy area this summer, but no more AKC and no more of the higher level events.  I've learned so much and met so many wonderful people. I'll admit I was a little teary driving home knowing that chapter in our adventures is over.

However, those of you who know Tully know you can't stay gloomy around that boy long. He's perpetual happiness.  We took off for Cincinnati on March 10th and 11th to compete in Queen City Dog Training Club's rally trial. I am happy to say Tully double Q'd both days to earn his last two legs towards his RAE title.  He scored in the upper 90s both days and even picked up a 3rd place in a 31 dog excellent level class on Saturday.  That unofficially ends his rally career.  He may "play" at some local rally trials, but no more traveling and hotel nights for rally.  We will miss all our wonderful friends we've met out of state in our travels.

Tully has hit a small bump in the road.  After the agility trial in Lafayette he was sore in his back and didn't want to jump or do much of anything.  After a few days in denial, I took x-rays and sent them to my favorite ortho vet and gave him Tully's history.  He's suspicious of lumbosacral stenosis or a Hansen Type 2 disc problem.  Tully is on 4 weeks of rest and prednisone.  If he gets better, we'll go  back to light competition. If he stays the same, he'll retire completely.  If he worsens, he'll have a CT/MRI and/or surgery and retire.  We are hoping for option #1 and sending in entry fees for CPE agility trials in Indy in April and May. Only time will tell, and we have a lot of time on our hands!

Tully, The Tullster, The Tully Monster, Tulls, Tullrini, or to the more formal crowd -

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2011 ACDCA National Specialty Video

Here is the video from the national specialty last fall in North Carolina.  Three weeks later he had surgery, but what a great week this was!  Although I didn't know it at the time, this most likely will end up having been his last major competition.  He made it a good one and I couldn't be prouder of him.  He gives me all he has every time we step to the line. It's always a honor to run with this dog.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hello, Greenwood!

We are here!  After 4 months of commuting, we officially moved to Greenwood this past Monday!  The rogue red dogs have settled in nicely and less than 24 hours after moving in, Terra had surgery to shorten her soft palate and remove everted saccules. I'm happy to report that she is eating, drinking, and breathing better than she has in months thanks to the good vets at VCA Advanced Veterinary Care Center in Fishers, IN.  We have become "frequent fliers" there in the past 3 months with Tully's splenectomy and ultrasound and Terra's surgery and two CT scans.  I am thankful to have such talented colleagues so close to home and proud to call many of them friends.

Now that we are settled and everyone seems to be doing well, it's time to get back to competing!  Next month we head to Lafayette for an agility trial, Cincy for a rally trial, and then to Noblesville at the end of the month for a rally trial.  We are in desperate need of some normalcy around here and normalcy involves competing with Tully.  I miss my dog show buddies, the adrenalin of competing, and the time with my dogs.  Providing everyone stays healthy, we'll be back out running courses in 3 weeks!

Tully and Terra at our new house in Greenwood.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Unfinished Business and Saying Good-bye to Competing

I guess you could say it's been awhile since our last post. My how time flies.  Well the rogue red dog and his family are on the a few short weeks we are packing up Bloomington and heading to Center Grove.  We've been commuting to a job in that area since October and have sold our  home and purchased a new one. Not only will we be closer to work, we will be closer to training facilities and also to competition venues.  The dogs will have a large fenced backyard to play in and hopefully will adapt quickly to being city dogs.

I've faced reality that it's time to wind down Tully's competition career.  He'll be 10 yrs old next month and at some point his cancer will return.  He is mostly back to  his normal self post-op, but has really had a hard time with stamina and getting back in shape.  He just cannot seem to catch his breath some days.  With that said, I'm torn between keeping him active, something I believe does lead him to be healthier and happier, and retiring him.  At this point I'm watching him and figuring out what he can do.  We've all seen those people who are running dogs who are in pain and miserable and I've swore I will not be one of those people. I'm counting on my friends to hold me to that.

Since my last post, we had our first competition post-op.  We went to Queen City Dog Training Club's Rally and Obedience Trial on December 2-4.  I'm proud to say Tully doubled Q'd all three days, even bringing home a second place finish in a 30 dog excellent level class. This added 3 RAE legs to bring his total up to 8.  Two more to go!

Our goals for 2012 are pretty simple:  2 more RAE legs to finish the title and 1 more AJP leg to finish that title. A PT in herding would be the icing on the cake and would give Tully his Versatility Championship through the ACDCA, but I'm trying not to focus on that too much until I see what Tully can and cannot do now.  I've labeled 2012 as the year of "Unfinished business and saying goodbye".  We will clean up those last lingering title legs we need and say good-bye to competing.  If he is still competing in the fall, the ACDCA national specialty will be his last competition.