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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Black Cracker Dog Update

So far, we're feeling pleased with our decision not to have R's elbow operated on until autumn. We've learned the hard way that you never know how long you'll have with your dog so our motto is to seize the day.
We've decided to let him romp like usual (within reason) for the rest of this spring and summer. He and his sister have been making the most of it! You should see them play like maniacs during our evening hikes.
And, so far, the medicines that we're giving him are making him less lame than he was before we visited the surgeons a couple of months ago, and he seems super happy.
He uses his wily strategies to win many recall races with his sister. It is truly amazing that he wins so often because, at this point, Shyla's top speed is much faster than his. R knows how to "block" her with a subtle sideways step at a key instant in almost every race.
This winter, I've also been spending more time than usual doing training games with R. It used to be that he wasn't very interested in training so Shyla and I could do our training routine in the house while he snoozed. For some reason, last fall, he suddenly realized that he was missing out on lots of fun, and he started insisting on participating.

To train both dogs during one session, I first had to teach the two of them that whoever was not being trained had to hold a quiet "down-stay" while I worked with the other dog. At first, that was tough for each of them. But now they're pros at that part of our training routine.

I spend about 20 minutes per day working with them. With R, I first focused on a couple of tricks that I thought would help his elbow and shoulder range of motion. He learned to wave with each paw, depending on which one I asked for. He also re-learned how to take a bow, which stretches his elbow and shoulder muscles and tendons.
Then, independent of taking a bow, I taught R to rest his chin on the floor while in a down. Interestingly, just like Shyla, he's combined it with "take a bow", as you can see in the next photo.
I'm really glad that R insisted on being included in our training routine. I think my bond with him has grown tremendously since he joined the training games.
So, we're hoping that this program can keep him away from the surgeon until autumn. If so, he can enjoy our glorious mountain summer, replete with camping trips, long runs in the high mountains with the Runner, and lots of swimming with his sister in mountain lakes. Then, he can use next winter for his recovery from CUE surgery, a surgery that will put artificial surfaces inside his elbow joint, taking the place of the cartilage that used to be there.

Here's to an amazing dog!


  1. They are so beautiful!!!!
    stella rose and momma

  2. I'm so glad that you are going to wait on the surgery. Best to seize the day as you say! We've had a nice day, but the clouds are rolling in and the cold is on the way. Hope you have a great week.
    Hugs, Noreen

  3. R is so cute! I'm glad he's doing well! I really agree with you about not knowing how long we have with them and seizing the moment! <3 We try to do that as much as possible.

  4. Were so happy that R wants to join in the fun too! He sees what he has been missing!! And he is feeling good.. We can see it,,, and he is happy- just like Shyla,
    Yes,, he will have time to recoop after surgery,,, he will rest and be good as new!
    They are so beautiful!

  5. such handsome and joyful pups. glad he's hanging in there and enjoying himself!

  6. They look so happy!
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  7. Good motto. We're sure R appreciates it!

  8. YEA!!! That is FABulous news!!!!
    Butts, I don't thinks Shyla is gonna let R block her for too much least she'll LET him thinks he's winning! BOL!!!
    This is the most amazin' news...looks like you guys are gonna have a great summer!!!
    Ruby ♥

  9. Sounds like you made the right decision. His elbow doesn't seem to slow him down at all. LOL!

    I just love the spirit in R's eyes. He is just brimming with personality and a maybe just a little mischief.

  10. Great news! And he is a great dog (and so is Ms. Shyla!)

  11. How wonderful!! Love R's black fur against the snow!

  12. R is just so handsome, and we can see in his eyes that he too loves you:)

  13. Carpe diem.

    Aroo to you,

  14. Glad you're able to help ease his discomfort without surgery so far. Beautiful shots - I find it so hard to photograph our black Maggie.

  15. He looks so happy. I would not have him operated on either. He is very beautiful as are your pictures

  16. R is such a beautiful dog! Of course I'm biased as I love black dogs. :)

    Glad he is doing so well and we hope he enjoys this summer with you and the Runner!

    Sounds like plan!

  17. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you all!

  18. I'm so glad it's working out! I was just writing about the frequent guesswork/gut feeling when raising's usually a waiting game to see how decisions play out. And in this case, "playing out" is really the perfect term, isn't it?!

    Kudos on the image of R's blocking move - excellent!!!

  19. The look in his eyes says you made the right decision. The bonding time and the chance to best his sister are their own kind of healing.

  20. My heart melts for that Black Dog!Prince Arrr, the Cracker Dog!

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  21. R has such a beautiful face. I hope all continues to go well with his elbow.

    Loveys Sasha

  22. strategy, training one at a time, lots of patience and heaps of TLC, it looks like the decisions have been more than 100%, R looks so happy in his last photo pose.

  23. I cross my paws that you can enjoy a good summer together... you're right... we'll never now how much time we have together and we should make the best of efurry day ...
    easy rider

  24. We see you're a collar biter too, Shyla! You look like a puppy, R. You are such a handsome boy!

  25. Man! Shyla sure brings out the cracker in R! I love it! I tt had to learn to train one while the other waited. Somehow Juno,INSISTED on doing everything Loki did. The only trick she doesn't do is tug games. She prefers to grab and shake and I don't know how she does it, but she manages not to tug but whip it out of my hand at the most opportune time that doesn't require a tug...EVERY FRICKIN TIME! I have come to theorize it is not accidental, but an innate sense in knowing when grip is weakest. I digress. Both mine have learned to take turns and do tricks together too!

  26. Oh I just love R and his beautiful face. Those eyes are completely focused on you. The bond betwen Shyla and R sets a shining example of how a pack should be.

  27. I would say you guys made the right decision. He looks very happy and healthy.

  28. I can't ever train Wilson if Jimmy is near. Jimmy gets so incredibly jealous it becomes dangerous, esp. with treats involved. I put Jimmy in the car, let him think we are going somewhere, and sneak back and train Wilson for a while. Naughty me!

  29. Thanks for visiting our cat blog today! OMG I LOVE YOUR BLOG! (You visited us at cat chat with caren and cody), please add "follow by email" to your blog so that I may follow you! I will look again and see if you have it.
    Your photos are incredible.
    I read you are holding off on surgery and am sending prayers.
    I also have a dog blog Nice to meet you!

  30. He is so gorgeous and you have such beautiful photos of him. It's great you can make his training part of a PT program that will help him.


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