Monday, October 11, 2010

Candy's ARCH

For anyone who doesn't remember, Candy is a 10 1/2 year old Pembroke Welsh corgi. He had a disk injury (IVDD) at age almost 4, and has been in a wheeled cart ever since. Candy does not let it stop him, and when he came to live with me at the age of 8, I started Rally Obedience with him. APDT Rally allows dogs with disabilities to compete. We turn in a modification form that states, among other things, that he doesn't have to sit! On downs just his front goes down, and on a couple of left exercises I take extra steps. Otherwise he is on an equal footing, so to speak, with able-bodied dogs.

This past weekend we went to an APDT Rally trial in Redwood City, California. This was Candy's fifth rally weekend. At the first he got his RL1 title, the second had only level 1 so he could not title, the third he got his Veteran's title and High in Trial, and at the fourth he got his RL2 and RL1X, which means he had ten extra legs in level 1. This weekend he got his RL3 title and his ARCH. The ARCH is a championship title. It requires 5 "double Q's" in 1B and 2B with scores of 190 or better, plus at least 100 points (one point is earned for each point over 190) with a minimum of 30 in either class. We went into the weekend needing two Level 3 Qs and three double Q's for the two titles. There would be three tries at the Level 3 Q and four tries for double Q's.

It was a little iffy because Candy was acting kind of wild at first, trying to race ahead of me, but finally I realized I had never carried reward treats in the ring before but I was because I was also showing Jack, who would have refused the whole thing without payment. Candy refused to go out to a jump twice, getting NQ'd once in Level 3 and once in Level 2 (spoiling a potential QQ.) So it came down to the wire Sunday afternoon but he finished with a respectable 196 in Level 2 and a perfect 210 in Level 1.

The video is the final Level 3 leg.

PS, Jack got his RL1 title, too!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Life expectancy after canine paraplegia?

Someone on Handicapped Pets said her vet said her dog, injured at four, would not live as long as a normal dog. She wanted to know if this is true, and I did a little research. Here was my answer to her:

Re: life span question

Post by Bobbie » Fri May 14, 2010 6:43 am
That's not really an easy question to answer.

Overall, life expectancy goes down for paraplegics, human or animal, because when you average them all together you include the ones who have recurrent UTIs or pressure sores, either of which can be fatal as they can lead to widespread infection or systemic organ failure.

Here is some info about people:


Life expectancy is the average remaining years of life for an individual. It refers to how much longer someone is expected lo live. Life expectancy for people with paraplegia is lower than normal, but has continued to increase over the years. Death rates are significantly higher during the first years after the injury than the later years. This is especially true as the severity of the injury increases. Also, younger people with paraplegia have longer life expectancies than older people with paraplegia.

The following are average life expectancies for people who have survived a spinal cord injury after 24 hours. It is important to remember that these averages represent group data and cannot be applied to a specific individual. For people who develop paraplegia at age 20, the average life expectancy is 45 years (meaning they will live, on averae, for 45 more years). By comparison, people at age 20 with no spinal cord injury have an average life expectancy of 57 years. For people who develop paraplegia at age 40, the average life expectancy is 28 years. People at age 40 with no spinal cord injury have an average life expectancy of 38 years. For people who develop paraplegia at age 60, the average life expectancy is 13 years. People at age 60 with no spinal cord injury have an average life expectancy of 21 years.


How to translate that to dogs, assuming it would be similar? A dog injured at 4 is like a person injured at about age 30. At that point life expectancy would be about 37 years, or something more than twice their current age, but about 75% as long as a non-paraplegic. So if your breed has a normal average life expectancy of 12 years, the average with paraplegia onset at 4 would be about 9 years. also states that death rates are higher sooner after the injury. That is, the longer the person survives with paraplegia, the higher her life expectancy goes. So Candy, injured at 4, but already 10 and still perfectly healthy, probably now has a close to normal life expectancy, compared to other 10 year old corgis.

Also, I doubt some of the things that decrease life expectancy in humans even affect dogs. Humans are at higher risk for pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the legs.) I don't know if dogs even get this, but a very active dog like Candy would be at lower risk for it. Another cause of death in humans is autonomic dysreflexia, which is when the nervous system basically freaks out due to some stimulus below the injury level, such as an overfull bladder. This is most common with an injury above T5 or with quadriplegia. T5 is at the level of chest muscles. Autonomic dysreflexia has been demonstrated in animal models but I doubt it has been identified clinically.

So, to make a long answer short, the longer your dog lives problem-free with a spinal cord injury, the longer she is likely to live. Keeping her active and avoiding UTI's and other infections will probably help. Candy, as I said, is now 10, six years plus post injury, and in the peak of health, and I doubt his life expectancy is anything below normal any more.

I would like to follow up this very interesting question when I have more time, and see what the research on animal models does say. I know of canine paraplegics who have died from multiple organ failure after recurrent UTIs, but I don't know how many have lived long, normal lives.

Monday, May 10, 2010

More APDT Rally and new titles

We left Friday morning to drive to Goleta for our fourth APDT Rally trial. It's down near Santa Barbara and a nice drive with glimpses of the ocean and green fields and hills and vineyards on the way down.

Friday: Well, no video today, I was too hot- it was at least 75 and very uncomfortably muggy with little breeze. Candy had a heck of time in the soft grass (spongy ground, though the grass wasn't terribly long it was thick.) But we finished Level 2 with a first place and a 203, got a 4th place and 205 in Level 1B, and a Q in Veteran's B with first place and a 208 (but the only dog in the B class- all the A's outscored him!) I'm happy although now I'm exhausted from lugging stuff- couldn't safely leave more than the frame of the canopy there. Candy and Merlin are napping in the car right now and Jack is in the motel with me.

Tomorrow I'll try to get video when I'm fresher and hopefully Candy is more attentive! He debuts in Level 3 but that might not be until afternoon sometime.

Saturday: Today: Q's and 5th places (202 and 207) in Level 1 and 2 and our First Double Q, but NQ in Level 3 as Candy did not want to do the directed jump (send off to the right to jump.) We should have practiced it more recently as it is his worst thing without practice but I didn't see the practice jump until too late. Otherwise he did great in Level 3.

We finished by 4 today so are vegging in the room for the moment but I'd like to see if we can go to the beach around 6- I need to check the tides. I'm sure we couldn't find parking there now as it is a warm day.

Tomorrow is levels 1-3 again, then off home.

We're home! Candy went 3/3 today. Level 1: finished his Level 1 Championship (RL1X). Level 2 made his second Double Q (3 to go for his ARCH.) And finally his first Level 3 leg. Video of the RL1X leg is coming soon.

And it was cooler today! Merlin was able to stay in the car most of the day so he was happier. I had one corner of the canopy tied to Jack's crate and at one point his crate was almost being lifted by the wind. I didn't enjoy driving back up 101 in the wind and was glad I didn't have the trailer.

Here's the Level 3 attempt one (NQ- the video is also not as good.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Judging widths

Candy has a tendency to run over things in his way. Mostly he runs over Merlin or my feet. I have usually excused it as he doesn't know how wide his back wheels make him.

However, I recently noticed that when the baby gate is leaning partway into the doorway, narrowing the opening, Candy can judge PERFECTLY whether or not he will fit through, wheels and all. He is afraid of the gate crashing to the ground and will not try it if there isn't room to pass through. So he KNOWS how much room those wheels need, he just doesn't mind running over Merlin's legs or my feet, and he does mind knocking down the baby gate.

Maybe I need to crash the gate to the ground the next time he runs over feet.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Candy is the big 1-0!

Candy is ten today! Six years in his cart, and he's the healthiest dog I have. When they line up for pills, he gets plain peanut butter while everyone else gets drugs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Fun Police

Candy likes a toy now and then, but he really does NOT like anyone else to play. Frapping, playing with toys, you name it, he has to bust it up. "Okay, you guys, knock it off, move along." Jack has the bunny toy (the wild-looking bunny) and Candy takes it and plays surreptiticiously with it, but when Jack sees him Candy barks "Back off, this is not a toy, I'm taking care of it!"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

APDT Trial Day 2

The notebook with numbers is down in the car still so I'll try to remember scores. I'll start with the highlights...

Candy went 9/9 over the weekend.
He got his Veteran's Title.
He got High in Trial!
He also got High Combined!

We started off this morning with Level IB again, and at the moment I have only a vague recall of that class, but we did Q. I think he got a 206. Then Veteran's, WITH a level 3 bonus retrieve. That's the single exercise that I have totally trained Candy for myself. Here's the video.

Third leg in Veterans

Then Level II, where Candy got his lowest score ever, a 194. He was just not into being precise and was wide, sits were off, just sloppy in general. He Q'd with a decent score, but his first one under 200.

Afternoon started off, and this time Candy was near the last to go, and I wanted to make sure we had a shot at High in Trial. We had the 210 from yesterday, but I didn't know if it was in the bag as that was not the only 210. I purloined some corn chips from my own stash and did a little warm up motivation. As we sailed through that run I KNEW Candy had beaten the previous high, a 208, but was thrilled when he got a 210 (I thought he'd gone wide once and might have lost a point.)

The same magic didn't work for Level II as he got into excited off-leash mode and tried to outrun me, but he did hold steady on his stand for exam and got a 204, which was good enough for a 5th place runoff, but as usual he lost the runoff.

No complaints, though, as his top runs were good for High in Trial and High Combined. He got two enormous ribbons, two stuffed toys, and two bags of treats, and is a happy but tired boy tonight.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Just Rewards APDT trial, Day 1

I am checked into the motel and ready for a good night's sleep!

We left home about 4:45 AM to arrive at the trial site at 7:30 am. Candy's first class was Level 1B. He got a perfect 210 and won the class!

Then we did Veteran's. He got a 201? and second place. He was a bit wild as the second station was serpentine and he wanted to run it like weave poles!

In the afternoon we had another Level 1B class, and he got a 204(?) and 5th place. We repeated a down twice for two 3 pt deductions when he wouldn't stay down.

Finally we did our very first ever Level 2 class and he was in a 3-way runoff for first place but got 2nd place as he also got very excited and wanted to run during the runoff! He lost points sniffing one food bowl but left it when I told him, and I took a redo on the pivot right as I had not left him room to turn.

So it was a great day- a first, two seconds, and a fifth place, four scores of 200 plus, and four new legs! I had thought his Level 1A legs counted for his Level championship but I just looked it up and they don't, so he can't finish that tomorrow, but he can finish his Veteran's title if he gets one more leg.

He can't finish Level 2 even with two more Q's as it will be the same judge and he will need a Q under a second judge.

There is video of his Level 2 run but it will be coming in awhile.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why does it take two days to prepare for a two-day trip?

Well, maybe one whole day...

First, there is all the pre-planning. Which dogs are coming, what happens to the one who stays home. Where to stay. When to leave.

Who comes: Candy, of course. Merlin, as he needs me. Jack, because he has seizures and isn't trusted loose unsupervised at home. Who stays: Janine, because she hates the car and is just one too many if I can safely leave her behind. I feel guilty but I'll survive and so will she.

Where to stay: Last trial I stayed at a Days Inn in Redwood City. It was horrible. The entries to the rooms were on the opposite side of the building from the parking, so Merlin in the car was too far from us. (I ended up worrying so much that I brought him in.) It was also incredibly noisy from people coming and going upstairs and next door. So I booked a motel 6 in Sunnyvale that we've stayed at for Bay Team CPE trials- a very nice one, twenty minutes further away but on a Saturday I can live with that.

When to leave: driving in to Sunnyvale on Friday evening is out. Maybe if it were post daylight savings, but I don't want to hit Bay area traffic on Friday night even if I am mostly going the opposite direction. So we are leaving at the crack of predawn on Saturday. This means everything has to be packed tonight but I would do that anyway.

Packing: Dog prescriptions. My prescriptions. Food. Diapers for dogs. Don't forget Candy's retrieve object ( a paint roller.) Summary of APDT signs.

Gas: fill up, it only gets more expensive.

Audio: put a new book on the GPS for listening on the road. This trip it is "House Rules" by Jodi Picoult.

Leave the house neat enough (well, not really) for Linda to come feed Janine. Leave treats and toys for Janine.

(Janine is sitting outside waiting for the pool guy to come- he gives her milkbones so her Friday ritual is awaiting his visit!)

And I nearly forgot the beauty treatment: not only does Candy need a rear-end bath but he needs to be pinned and his nails trimmed (I put on the rose gloves, get the Dremel, and wrestle his head to the floor so he can't bite as I Dremel.) And not only Candy, but his cart gets the beauty treatment- decorations (only the ducks) removed, sheepskin washed, and poop cleaned off the wheels.

Hmm, I'm not sure I'm looking forward to Goleta in May!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Level 2 Trial March 13-14

So Saturday morning early we will be taking off for Redwood City for Candy's Level 2 APDT Rally trial. We have been practicing for this by attending GeriLu Jurey's
"Proofing in the Park" class for the past five weeks, as well as attempting to learn a few exercises including a moving down and a retrieve. The retrieve is a bonus exercise in Level 3, but could show up in the Veteran's class. Here's a little teaser on our retrieve progress:


Here's the schedule:

Saturday, 8:30 AM, Level 1B
followed by Veterans

Noon: Level 1B
followed by Level 2

Sunday 8:30 AM
Level 1B
Level 2

Noon: Level 1B
Level 2

Candy cannot get a Level 2 title as it requires 3 legs under 2 judges and there will be only one Level 2 judge. But he needs four Level 1 legs for his Level 1 championship (which he could get) and two Veteran's legs for his Veteran's title (which he could get.) So keep your fingers and paws crossed for us!

Now for the real challenge of the weekend: I have to bring along Merlin and Jack. Merlin because he is also in a cart and has DM and only wants me to help, and Jack because he can't be left at home uncrated and because he has epilepsy. They will be crated in the car during the trial (if it is sunny the car will be covered and kept cool with windows open and reflective tarps.) Jack is likely to get pretty bored in the car. Merlin loves the car but could decide not to sleep at the motel. Janine, poor dear, is being left at home with my neighbor to dogsit; she doesn't like the car or Candy very much.

Candy's Blog: Introduction

I decided that Candy needed his own blog or he might try to take over Merlin's blog, so here goes. Candy probably needs little introduction. He is almost ten years old (in March 2010) and is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi who experiences life in a canine cart or wheelchair.

Candy began his life in Ohio. His first owner, Linda, had expected a girl puppy, and her granddaughter had her heart set on the name Candy, and was in tears when he turned out to be a boy. Linda consoled her by naming the boy puppy Candy anyway. He was a beautiful corgi puppy with just a tad too much white for show.

Linda trained him for agility, and Candy excelled. At almost four, he was headed for his MACH (AKC agility championship) when he suddenly, walking across the living room, gave a yelp and started to limp. Within 12 hours he was paralyzed in the hind end. He had surgery very quickly, but as the days and weeks passed following surgery, no function returned. Linda borrowed a K9 Cart for him and the second phase of his life began.

In 2008, faced with ongoing health issues and care of others, not to mention stairs, Linda decided she needed to find Candy a home where he could be more active (lifting him to go up and down stairs was a problem and he was always stuck at home.) This is when I got Candy. He flew to Seattle in May of 2008.

Mom and I met him at the airport and went immediately to a Northwest Corgi Afternoon at Kathy and Leo's. Candy demonstrated his cart prowess, his sociability, and his adaptability as he motored around the group as at home as if he'd grown up in their backyard. He amazed all of us with his command of the cart as he wove in and out of lawn chairs and down steps.

Because I thought it might be good for bonding, I enrolled Candy that June in a beginning Rally Obedience class. At the first class I discovered that my new dog was a pro at most obedience commands. The only one he seemed not to know was "Leave it!" After puzzling over what command Linda might have used, I finally called her. She laughed and said "He's having you on. He knows that command very well!"

I soon learned that APDT Rally allowed dogs in carts to compete, but was disappointed to discover only a tiny West Coast presence. A trial was scheduled for October, 2008, near Santa Barbara, California. "Only" four hours from Fresno was close enough, and I entered Candy.

He started-and finished- his Level 1 title that weekend, with an Award of Excellence. Here are a couple of videos.

Second Leg

Third Leg

He also got his first leg in Veteran's with a score of 210 out of a possible 210.

At home, I built Para-agility equipment, and Candy showed his enthusiasm for this sport as well.


In the fall of 2009, we entered our second APDT trial, which was only Level 1, so Candy could not go on to a new title. Now we are almost ready for Level 2, which will be the subject of the next blog post.