Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good news/bad news and a warning

Today I took Missy in for her yearly heartworm blood test and while there checked out a lump on her rear. We did an aspiration and it turns out it is a mast cell tumor. I am not in panic mode just yet. As noted on the site I linked to, hers is in a better area than others. We will do the surgery to remove it within the next couple of weeks and send it off for a biopsy. The good news is that working for a vet means I get a discount, the bad news is that she has the tumor at all, and that it has the potential to be bad. So send good thoughts our way for a good test result. I can't imagine not having her around for many more years. She is only 8 after all. I will certainly post any updates.

This brings up a warning however. To anyone going to vaccination clinics hosted at pet stores to save money, not all those veterinarians are doing full exams. Yes you might be saving money initially, but you may not be doing your pet any favors if things are getting overlooked that should be taken care of quickly. I've worked for a vet in the past and the lump to me looked like other fatty lipomas I have seen. Fortunately the vet I work for told me the my options based on his experience. Because of that I went ahead and did the aspiration right then. If I had been at a vaccination clinic the only option would be to get referred to my regular vet IF the doctor noticed the lump and referred me, or to wait and see what happened with it. For some pets, this could mean the difference between catching a problem early and saving their life, or missing the boat and getting it checked to late. Vaccination clinics are meant for healthy pets only. If you have ANY concerns PLEASE go to your regular vet and get a full exam. The vet in our area doing regular clinics doesn't have a home base hospital with all that entails either so his resources are somewhat limited. Hopefully he is keeping records in case things come up (required by law but not always checked) so regular vets can be kept appraised of issues in their clients when needed. Also keep in mind you will not get mailed reminders from those kind of clinics when your pet is due again.

Hopefully there are people using those clinics that need them due to financial constraints. I certainly understand the need. People will always have pets regardless if they can afford them or not. I just hope people use the clinics as they are intended and not to replace good regular vet care for their pets.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Some Minos video

Check out our little man Minos. Not so little anymore. He is growing like a weed.

He is 14 weeks and a solid 21 plus pounds. You can really feel the difference when you lift him up. He is just a hair shorter than Missy now too. I have to remove the girls collars when they play because he tries to drag them around by them. I also prefer not to have them shredded by puppy teeth. They are sharp!

Not great videos but a glimpse of his size so far.

If you listen close you can hear me call him Zeus by mistake. Sorry buddy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A non-dog post

This is Pumba. He is one of two cats that live at the clinic I work at. He was brought in a few years ago to be euthanized. He shares the clinic with Thomas, who was also brought in for euthanasia. Generally they try to find homes for the pets they take on the care of but Pumba has some medical issues and Thomas has some behavioral quirks that made them more of a challenge to rehome. They are quite happy at the clinic however. This is how he spends a lot of his time, when he's not trying to steal food that is. (he's on a special diet)

He he is after his summer do, a lion cut. Isn't he handsome? I am happy to be able to get my cat fix at work. I want to wait until we are in a bigger place before we add a cat to the family again. I definitely miss having a cat in the house. I'll try to get a photo of Thomas to share next time.

Today we saw this cutie who came in with the local ACO along with two litter mates. She was waiting to pick up two more baby red squirrels so they could all be taken to the wildlife rehab person together. I got to hold him. (or her) They are cute but pee ALOT. Just a heads up.

And for a dash of variety this young guy came in today too. A 3 month old ball python. Not sure I would ever have a snake myself due to the high maintenance they require, but they sure are beautiful.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

In memory of

For a dear sweet dog who left us to soon.

Bauer 7/10/97 - 4/24/09

Many hugs to his family, my friends, of The Loyal Biscuit Co.

There is a special place in our hearts,
for those who have loved us without question,
without a word of promise.
There is a special place where there is no pain or fear,
where love flows freely.
There is a special place,
to rest in our hearts forever.

(as seen on a memorial at: )

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dog tired or my excuse for not posting lately

OK so I was also sick last week which also didn't help. I know I am behind in blogging but sometimes I am just to "dogged out". (yup that was a pun) I have prepared my defense:
I live with 3 dogs. Some days this is no easy feat. Potty breaks, kong stuffing, walks and training or b-mod as it comes up. (one is reactive) I also feed partially raw and that means a certain amount of preparation for some meals. When I am feeling lazy, like a lot of this past winter, I simply threw kibble into bowls and it was good. Of course it was good kibble so most of my guilt was held at bay for skipping the raw. But since I have the meat in storage and it was free, I need to get back on the wagon and use it before it goes bad. No sense in wasting money on food when I already have some just waiting to be used.
I work at a vet hospital where I see other people's dogs everyday. Dogs of all shapes and sizes. Many are not well mannered and some even try to eat our assistants on occasion. It is a fun job but it is also a lot of work trying to keep everyone happy. And not all owners are nice or even considerate some days. But I digress. (And truth be told, no matter how frustrating some people can be, I am loving the new job.)
My other job is as a trainer where on my "days off" I see even more dogs. Many of those are also lacking manners. Of course this is to be expected due to the nature of the job. Most of the time it is fun. Occasionally it is frustrating, usually due the owner. The best part of the job is knowing I have helped people understand their dog better and given them the tools they need to communicate clearly.
I also spend a fair amount of time writing about dogs both here and sometimes for other media. This includes magazines, other blogs, and the local dog paper when I have the time. Because of this almost everything I do has the potential to become a blog post or article somewhere. I am always on the lookout for topics.
Then there is reading. I read about dogs a lot too. This includes training books and even fiction. Susan Conant's mystery series are a fav due to the high dog content, I actually don't like mysteries in general. I think some reading is unavoidable since there are always new books on training and behavior to learn from. A good trainer needs to keep current after all. And there are also so many great blogs out there I have a hard time keeping up with. I have learned over time to avoid the ones that annoy me. Life is to short to argue online. (tho I admit to having the occasional slip)
I am also addicted to watching dog shows on TV. Victoria Stilwell's show "It's me or the dog" is a training favorite as is "Barking Mad". But I admit that I also watch junk TV like "Groomer has it" and I caught every episode of "Greatest American Dog". "Dogtown" is sometimes good but sometimes not depending on the episode. I also like "Underdog to Wonderdog" (tho it sometimes makes me cry, yes I am a sap) and "Breed all about it" and "Dogs 101". I have "Bolt" on DVD but haven't gotten around to watching it yet. "Good Boy" was fun (shades of The Cat from Outer Space) as was "Hotel for dogs". I am avoiding "Marley and Me" at all costs. One Old Yeller movie a lifetime is enough, not to mention I hated the book.
Also on my "days off" I run the local shelter's prison program. This is where they send a dog that needs training to the local minimum security facility to live 24/7 while being trained to make them more adoptable. My job is to train the handlers of the dogs that are sent. Currently we don't have any suitable handlers (there are requirements) so I am in a holding pattern while they find me some to work with. Unfortunately we always have dogs waiting to get training at the shelter. I look forward to starting the next dog but am grateful for the break too.
Lately I have also added puppy sitter to my list of dog stuff so some days that means I live with 4 dogs. (for my sister due to her work schedule) And having a puppy means lots of trips outside for potty breaks or cleaning up the messes I was to slow to head off. (Being a trainer unfortunately doesn't make me perfect.) I am also making sure to take him out for trips so he gets to to meet lots of people and other dogs, besides mine, for socialization. Good social skills are important if you want a dog that can play with or be around other dogs and people appropriately. These social skills can also not be made up later, there is a window of opportunity that closes after a certain age with puppies. So supervised playtime with other dogs and puppies is highly recommended while your puppy is young.
Sometimes I also watch a friends kennel while she is out of town. Multiple dogs to feed, water and scoop poop for. It keeps any urge to be a breeder in check by the sheer amount of work needed to properly care for the dogs involved. Not to mention the costs associated with showing, paying for kennel help when you are away at shows if family can't do the job, and vet bills. I won't even get into the trust issues of placing puppies into homes with new owners. I get the fun part of socializing puppies for her too when she has the occasional litter.
So you can see that is a lot of dog stuff to add up on any given day or week. That alone can make me tired. Heck I get tired just thinking about the week ahead sometimes!

Now add to that the fact I also have two teens and a husband to meet the needs of as well. (Photo above to prove they do indeed exist. Taken on last years Disney cruise vacation. I am blessed with a fabulous family!!!) Driving them to friends houses, baseball practice, concerts, social time, checking homework, (OK I leave that to my husband) laundry, shopping for clothes, etc. You get the picture. Most days include a lot of juggling on my part. It isn't always easy. But having a family is also very helpful as a trainer in many ways too. I have the experience of the busy life like some of my clients so I can direct them more realistically in handling that with a new puppy or a dog that needs b-mod, training or management. Having been there and done that myself makes me more credible to others in similar situations. Especially since my dogs are good representatives of my training. But again, I digress.
The point of this post is so that now you know that when I "disappear" it may be because I can't keep up. The occasional break helps me keep my sanity when I can't keep juggling everything anymore. Sometimes something needs to give. The blog is usually my tipping point. Be patient with me, I will always come back. If for no other reason than to have a place for me to "talk dog". Lord knows the family gets tired of hearing all my dog stuff.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gripes and some cute video

Yesterday I decided to take Jack for a walk to town from my house. Normally I would drive him (or any of my dogs) to one of our walking spots because walking to town means we need to travel on one of the busiest main roads around. There is no guard rail between me and 4 lanes of traffic which makes me nervous. There isn't an official sidewalk either, more of a dirt area that is the size of a sidewalk. For some reason I felt brave and we set off. Not even halfway across the busy section I see broken glass across the path. Some drunken idiots had thrown beer bottles out their windows and now the remains were in our direct path. Thankfully Jack has a great sit stay and waited patiently while I cleaned it away. We must have stopped 4 times along a stretch of about 100 feet. (I am guessing, judging distance isn't my strong suit.)
We finally made it to the point where the real sidewalk starts and not 20 feet along there was more glass to avoid. Only this time there was no gully to kick it into. It made me very cranky and left me wondering who to address my letter of complaint to. Is the town or the state responsible for cleaning that area? Is it to much to ask for safe travel on a sidewalk? It is bad enough much of the sidewalk is uneven. I almost expect to one day break an ankle on them. I also really dislike when people don't prune their hedges or park on the sidewalk so we need to walk in the road to get around the obstruction. Good times. (The pic above is actually the sidewalk we normally travel, now you know why.)
So we walk on and of course Jack decides to make me a gift. I always have bags with me so this isn't usually a problem. Of course I am already annoyed by the glass incident so when we get into town and see NO garbage cans for my deposit I become even more annoyed. It took some looking but I found an appropriate trash bin eventually. But let this be an open comment to those towns that complain about people who don't pick up their dogs waste: If you provide waste receptacles that can be found easily, it would help.
If I hadn't found one I would have carried the gift home but that is because I consider those that leave their deposits behind irresponsible. Unfortunately we live in a society where most people won't do anything that they consider a hardship. Obviously no one LIKES to carry poop in a bag on a walk any longer than they have to. So garbage cans will help those people that refuse to. Then they truly have no excuse to clean up after their dogs.
And now to balance out my grumpiness, a cute video of my nephew at my favorite store:
He seems to have no fear. We may have our hands full with this boy! (I cannot for the life of me get videos from youtube to embed on blogger. Anyone have the key?)
P.S. Our local ACO put the cost of the injured dogs surgery on her own credit card. PLEASE consider donating to the fund so she isn't stuck with the full cost of helping this poor boy. She is amazing and truly cares about the animals. (Unlike a few other ACO's I can think of.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

I am amazed at how much Jenny lets him get away with. She must be smitten.

Napping with his Grampy

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Living with the consequences

Yesterday at work I saw a horrific leg injury on a dog. It's back leg was dangling and held on by just a few pieces of skin. It appeared that someone had shot him. He is a shepherd mix that had been running loose. (photo above) It was one of those injuries where the only course of treatment will be an amputation. Unfortunately the owner needed to be found before specific decisions could be made. He had a collar but no tags or microchip. I don't currently know the outcome of his case since he was transferred to the local shelters vet's office for supportive care in the meantime.
Because of the possibility of the owner not being able to afford the surgery once found, and the lack of funds the shelter may have for his costly surgery if he ends up with them, our fabulous animal control officer has started a fund to help with situations like these. This should help this poor guy and hopefully any others where time is an issue for treatment of unowned pets that need care in the future. I am not one to ask for money on here, but a donation of even 5 or 10 dollars can add up if we all contribute together. If not to this cause, donate to your breed rescue group or own local shelter. Unfortunately we are going to be seeing many more pets in shelters due to the economy.

Camden National Bank
For the Benefit of Injured Animals
C/O ACO Cj Virgie
PO Box 880
Rockland, ME 04841

A few weeks ago we had a client with a dog that ran loose regularly come in with a huge laceration. They had no idea how it happened of course since the dog ran loose on their large wooded property. We stitched him up and gave instructions to keep him in and watch him closely. The wound was in an odd spot on the body that was prone to reopening if he was to active. Of course they didn't keep him in or supervise him so he was back in a couple of times for re suturing. Visits that could have been avoided if they had simply kept the dog safe at home. Their answer was that it wasn't possible for them to do.

These are just a couple of examples of the consequences of decisions pet owners make. What stuck me about the second case was their complete lack of worry about their actions, or lack thereof, for their dog. I guess since they could afford the cost of the care it didn't matter. Forget about the pain involved for the dog. Heaven forbid they be inconvenienced for a couple of weeks while their dog heals. They got off lucky considering the other story of the dog that was shot.

I don't know why someone would shoot a dog. Perhaps they don't like dogs. Maybe the dog has been a continual nuisance and they got tired of it. Maybe they were just trying to scare it off. Or maybe they are scared of dogs. In our state it is actually legal to shoot a dog if you see one chasing deer. (I am unsure if that only applies during hunting season or not.)

Some people think that letting their dogs roam is perfectly ok and they want them to have the freedom to do so. I would say these are just two pretty good examples of what can go wrong with dogs enjoying unsupervised freedom. If owners want to live with the consequences that come with that freedom for their dog then I suppose that is a risk they are willing to take. What people need to consider is they aren't the only ones living with those consequences, the dogs are too. And the dogs have no idea running in front of a car, chasing deer, or being on the lawn of a person with a loaded gun is a bad idea that can cause them great pain and in some cases even death.

When making decisions for our pets, regarding the freedom they have, the food they eat, and even the health care we provide, we need to consider what is the worst case scenario of those choices. Are they ones that both we and our pets will be comfortable living with? It is something more people need to consider. Even something as trivial as adding a tag to a collar can make a huge difference. Think of the time that could have been saved, and pain avoided, had we been able to find the shot dogs owner quickly. Sometimes even the little things can mean alot.

( P.S. Dogs can live a great life on only 3 legs. Check out this website FMI )

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Missy!

Today our Missy Moo is 9 years old. Being the eldest makes her the matriarch of our clan. It is hard to believe that has been with us for 5 years now. In celebration she got to enjoy one of her favorite treats today, microwave popcorn. It is an obsession she came to us with. I had to work today but we had a birthday outing at The Loyal Biscuit on Tuesday where I picked up some of her favorite bedtime snacks, Barkwheat's Ginger and Parsley. Here are just some of my favorite photos of her recently and through the years.

Aside from being a wonderful companion she has also been a great teacher. Not only I have learned how to be a better trainer working with her, she has also taught many puppies how to be socially appropriate through the years. (for clients, fosters and friends pups who have visited) Her latest student Minos is currently learning his lessons under her tutelage. (I get to babysit my new nephew once a week and she helps.) A HUGE thank you to her breeder who trusted me with one of her dogs when most wouldn't give me, an akita owner, (gasp!) the time of day. (Oh the stories I could tell!) She is a fabulous dog and I hope we get to share many more years together with our girl. Happy Birthday Moo!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009