Thursday, March 18, 2010

Agility Woes

One of my New Years resolutions was to try out agility w/Gibson. I doubt he'll actually succeed in it, since he hates listening, but eh.. it sounded like a fun Saturday afternoon activity that could possibly be fun for the little guy (and tire him out). I decided to start seriously looking into it to see if there is a spring class starting soon (since running around in spring sounds like more fun than in the dead heat of summer). I was all ready to contact the training place in town to sign up, when I hit a road block: They require the Bordetella vaccine (aka Kennel Cough).

You may be saying to yourself, "SO....??", but I am really against this vaccine. Why? Well, for one, Gibson got really really sick from it. I never wanted to have him get it (since I was told that it was only necessary if you boarded your dog or took them to the groomers), but then a corgi meetup was planned in my area that happened to be at a boarding facility that required the vaccine. I would have DIED if I missed this meetup (I'm dramatic), so I sucked it up and took Gibson in to the vet to get the stupid drugs blown up his nose. We had a great time meeting other corgis, so it all seemed worth it, until about a week later when the symptoms began: Coughing, and more coughing, and mucus coming out of his eyes and nose, and constant sneezing and hacking up more mucus. He couldn't go on walks or play without having to stop to cough something up. Needless to say, it was horrible. When I took him to the vet, they told me it was almost a 100% chance that he developed Kennel Cough from a strain in the vaccine. Fantastic. Over $250 worth of vet visits and meds later, I decided never to give the Bordetella vaccine to Gibson again.

I also am against the flu vaccine if you must know :) I would tell you all the reasons why, but you'd probably roll your eyes at me and think that I'm crazy. The main reason that I don't like either though, is that they are not guaranteed to work and could possibly weaken your (or your dog's) immune system in the long run rather than build up an immunity.. At least, that is what I think...

So ANYWAYS, I looked around at other agility training places, and they ALL say that they require a Bordetella vaccine. So what do I do?

1.) Talk to the instructors and ask if I could get into class without it?
2.) Take a chance that they are bluffing and go to class hoping they don't ask for vaccination records?
3.) Just take more rally classes since that trainer is as against unnecessary vaccines as I am, even though I really didn't like rally..?
4.) Give up and just take Gibson to more dog parks that have agility equipment and have fun w/him on my own..?
5.) Take him to a herding class instead even though they are $30 a lesson?

I'm probably leaning towards #4, actually. What do you think? Am I crazy?? :)


Heather and Ellie said...

I completely understand your unwillingness to vaccinate Gibson, more and more often dogs are reacting like this to vaccines.

You could try calling them up and explaining that you want to take your dog to their class but he gets very sick from the vaccine etc etc and hope they understand....and let you in anyway. It's always a good excuse, and it might work.
Though, if your dog park does have equipment, you could teach him yourself. That's always been my stumbling point, I don't have any
free access agility equipment.

Good luck!

stone cold books said...

I feel the exact same way about the flu shot; you're not crazy!

I would definitely talk to the powers-that-be about your situation. Don't give up so easy!

Laurie said...

Oh, wow! That is scary that he had that reaction to the vaccine. I really dislike watching Sadie get this vaccine, as the first time she got it they actually put a needle into the top of her nose. Then they just squeezed it up her nostrils. But still, not pleasant to watch. I completely understand the vaccine thing though...If that happened to Sadie, I would never have gotten it for her again. (I'm against the Flu vaccine, too. It always gives me the flu.) So I wouldn't compromise your beliefs (or Gibson's health) just to take the agility course. But, you could always go and see if they really are sticklers about it. The worst that could happen is you'd have to leave. Then I would just opt for going to a park where you could do agility with him yourself. It might be better that way anyway, if he isn't good at listening. Something less structured might be better? I'd say to try the class first though...Good luck!!

Patricia said...

I'm all about number 4 :o)

JulieandCaleb said...

I seem to remember reading *somewhere* that you can get a note from your vet that basically says: 'Gibson has reactions to this vaccine and it is not medically recommended that he receive it', and that sometimes places will accept that and let them in for classes and whatnot without the vaccine.

Maybe you could give that a shot?

That corgi :) said...

I would have said what Julie said; seems like you could get a note from the vet?? We have to board Koda when we go places (which is few and far between) so there is no way getting around the Bordatella shot. Some places here require it every 6 months. Because we board so infrequently, he usually only has to be subjected to it once a year.

On the flu shot, I understand your concern about it. I'm a 'believer' somewhat of it in that the year that I made my son be the guinea pig and not get one and his sister with asthma and me got one, he got the flu soooo bad with such a high fever and we didn't get it even though we were in close proximity to him. So I was convinced it worked. (the doctor at the time since he was 10 years old said it was my call to give him one and I thought since he was healthy, we would forego it, now we get one every year and thankfully have not had the flu)


JuLo said...

I've never gotten a flu shot in my life. :p Good for you for sticking with your principles. :)

I'd say hurting never hurt anyone, did it? Let the trainer know you're against the vaccine, say why (health concerns!!!), and ask if they would make an exception. If the trainer says no, then you can always try seeking out other classes maybe?

Definitely don't go with 2. The trainer has that policy for a reason, and it'd be sneaky to try and get by without it. There's nothing wrong with option 4, but start at 1! Good luck!

Kelly said...

Thanks for the encouragement everyone :) I actually sat down and wrote an email to the person at charge of the training place a few days ago stating my concerns, but then I chickened out and deleted it (for fear of sounding like a crazy lady)... I suppose trying again wouldn't hurt anyone :)

Kristal said...

Hi, new here, love your blog. I wouldn't go with option 2 and assume, especially since you have a perfectly valid reason with proof to back up why you aren't getting the vaccination. Doctor's note, and maybe if one calls denies you, another will allow it.

I'm against overdoing all this vaccination stuff as well, and always get weird looks when I politely decline the antibacterial hand sanitizer, but I believe your body can withstand amazing things, and the layer of natural buggies on your hands (yes, it's there) is a barrier to worse things getting into your system. Why do you think they tell you to eat yogurt when you go on an antibiotic? To replace the good bacteria in your stomach that protects you from the bad stuff.

Sorry, I hope that didn't sound like a rant.

Jenna Z said...

Wow, I can't imagine a training place requiring the bordetella vaccine, it is so completely useless (it's only effective for a few months so if they require it yearly, they are showing their lack of knowledge or out-dated rules)! Our training club does not require bordetella and will even accept proof of titers instead of proof of yearly vaccinations. My vote is for explaining that you are uncomfortable with the vaccine and if they won't accept that then stick with rally and try herding! We are going to a herding 101 clinic later this spring, should be FUN!!

ClassyChassy said...

I hope you'll be able to do agility training on your own, at least, if they won't let you participate. Its a fun exercise to do with Corgis!

Lois said...

I'd go with #4..not too crazy about all these vaccinations and minimal antibiotic use too..

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

i say you just talk to the instructors! Chances are they don't really care, I don't think I've been asked for any vaccination records for any of my classes with my dogs; they just ask that you sign a sheet saying you are up to date on shots as recommended by your vet.

I don't think you can teach agility yourself. Even if you happen to have all the equiptment you are going to make a lot of mistakes and might end up scaring him. Even if you say you only want to do it for fun and never go anywhere with it, things could change down the line. Agility is way more about the traveling between the obstacles (front crosses, rear crosses, reverse flow pivots, etc...) then it is about osbstacles themselves. The obstacles are the easy parts! It's a lot of fun so I just don't want to see you disappointed in the future when you have to undo everything you tried to do on your own.

Mai said...

Hello Kelly. I have been involved in agility with my two corgis for a while. If your agility club requires vaccination, you can get a note from the vet and explain about it to the instructor.

Agility is fun, so I hope you will not give up on it. It is not only fun, but it gives the opportunity to bond with your dog. Corgi is a working dog, and loves to work for you. You can build the strong relationship with your dog, and you will see how your dog changes.

I also agree with the person who commented before me. If you do not know how to introduce the equipments of agility, you may end up scaring him. You really need an instructor or the person who knows agility very well.

Once both of you start agility, you will end up learning more than your dog, which is fun!

I hope you will find a way to be involved in agility.

Good Luck!

Meg said...

Talk to the trainer who does Rally... they should be able to refer you to someone who they can convince you'll be OK.

Also, call around, explain the situation. You never know :D

Whosyergurl said...

Wow Kelly, I'm so sorry. Our agility class just requires proof of rabies. (And yes, she checks your paper work.)
One solution is that there are a lot of resources on-line. You can watch videos and buy equipment and there are instructions for make your own. Doug made a basic low jump for Chelsea to have in our backyard.
hugs, Cheryl

Whosyergurl said...

P.S., to date, Chelsea has not had the kennel cough vaccine as we do not board her. And after your report, I really don't think it is a good idea!

Tovah said...

I'd also like to add that if you don't want to give the shots that is fine but I wouldn't recommend doing agility without some training. Even some of the obstacles are easier if you know certain "tricks" and as someone else said a lot of the in-between work will be confusing without someone showing you how to do the front cross, back cross and such. Also don't jump your dog too high, especially while practicing, as it can damage his legs/joints!

I think the note from his vet would be a great idea. Keep looking! Agility is fun:)

Heidianna said...

I'd go with #4, and maybe 5 (you could try it once or twice without breaking a bank - unless you have to sign up for a bunch)... I say 5 because I know how much Daisy loves herding.

The other option is to explain to the people that Gibson is allergic. Maybe with a note from your vet saying he's in good health will be enough? I mean, much like people, dogs can be allergic to things.

Katie said...

I agree with not giving him anything he doesnt need. I am the same with Whisey she hasn't had it either. There is a local dog park by me (in FL) that does fly ball training for free and they dont require any of the added headache. Maybe there is something like that by you, but for a agility. A group might meet up at the park and practice/train.

Jean said...

I love this blog but this is the first time leaving comment.
Poor Gibson, I am really sorry he has that reaction.
I know you'll find the best way for him but hopefully not option 2.
Option 4 would be tricky too.
To me, agility is more than just jumping over or going though the tunnel.
It is more about bond between you and your dog while both of you have lots of fun!
So hope you don't give up agility class.

I heard if you travel with your dog or go to dog parks often or even an area that is a designated "doggy poo" area your dog is susceptible to catching kennel cough from other dogs eliminations.
And I read if Bordetella vaccine is administered up the nose that it is more likely to cause nasal symptoms than in a regular shot.
So to protect our super cute Gibson, ask your vet about this vaccine again which would be the best way.

Good luck!

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