Thursday, July 30, 2009

How to traumatize your dog 101

So a man calls the office and says his dog was quilled last night and he would like the dog checked in case he needs antibiotics. He says he pulled the quills himself but just wants the exam. I make space for him in the afternoon schedule. When he arrives we notice that the dog is limping. OK that isn't good news. Cut to the exam room where he tells the doctor the dog had hundreds of quills in his face, in his mouth and his neck as well as some in his paw. The doctor couldn't do a good exam because the dog was now extremely head shy and snapped a warning. They couldn't get a good look at the paw either but it is assumed that there are still some quills causing havoc which is responsible for the limp. (that wasn't mentioned in the phone call) He will now be back tomorrow so we can properly anestitize the dog to get a good look and pull what may be left.
My mistake? Assuming the dog only had a few quills in the first place. A dog owner might pull a few quills themselves but usually leave seriously quilled dogs for us to deal with.
WTF was this guy thinking? How painful that must have been for that poor dog?? For those that don't know, quills do not pull out easily. They have backward facing scales which help them stay in the skin. Pulling them out takes some force on the pullers part. (And it is a myth that cutting them lets air out so don't try it. It only leaves less for us to hold onto.)
My lesson in all of this is to ask more questions next time and to get the dog in earlier. Time could have been saved had I realized the severity of the dogs incident with the porqupine. I also learned that not every owner considers the pain involved for their pet during a quilling incident. I mean, he knew to come in for medication but he put the dog through hell to get to that point. Besides the physical pain that dog has gone through, it is possible that he may become leery of his owner as well as others around his head from now on. Wouldn't you be?
Perhaps he was trying to save himself from a large vet bill. Unfortunatly a pretty high price was paid for it by his dog. I cannot imagine putting my dog through that much pain to save a few dollars, which in the long run it didn't. The dog still needs to be anestitized for us to get a good look and get the rest of the quills out. It might be ironic if it wasn't so sad.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A brag and some breed chatter

First I have a pretty nice brag. My akita breeder (yes that sounds decidedly possessive) also raises and shows whippets. Well one of their males won a regional specialty which as I am told is a pretty big deal. May I present BISS Select CH. Liberty's Walk Like a Man J.C. Also known as "Jersey" to his legion of fans. Fan mail may be sent to

All this and humble to.
And here he is in action earning his Junior Courser title.

This is him with some adorable akita puppies. Two of them are longcoats like my Jack. (Like I even need to say they are adorable right?)

Now I have to admit the sighthounds are intriguing me lately. I'm even considering a whippet for myself someday. They are a nice size, are athletic enough for me to walk regularly, and I could do lure coursing as a dog sport. There is nothing I like better than to watch dogs do what they were originally bred for and enjoying it. They also like to cuddle on the couch which I love. And since I already know an awesome breeder of them, (Liberty in case you missed that) I'm sure I could get a great dog.

I happen to love the pup in the top left of this photo. I am a sucker for interesting face markings.

If I were going bigger I would consider a saluki. I think they are quite elegant. (though I do also love rescue greyhounds) Personally I wouldn't mind down sizing though. I am finding smaller dogs are less expensive in many ways. However that said there is something to be said for having the mental security of a big dog in the house. And when I walk Jack I am never afraid of anyone harassing me.
I go through phases of thinking about future dogs I wouldn't mind owning. Truth be told I like FAR to many breeds to ever own them all. My husband has decided that he wants a bullmastiff someday.
I admit I love the look. But downsizing it certainly isn't! And their lifespan isn't nearly as long as I would like. (in general)

Or I could stay with the familiar and go with a smooth chow. I happen to know the most excellent breeder of them after all. (Red Cloud) I should take advantage while I have the chance. This handsome boy is my current favorite at her kennel. And they are smaller than an akita too. Of course a nice pit bull or am staff would also fit the bill for smaller yet imposing security. There are certainly enough pit bulls looking for homes available.

But part of me wonders how I could ever walk away from this cuteness:

They do make my heart go pitter pat. And who better to own another akita than me? I have all the "stuff" after all. (literally) But another part of me wonders if another akita could ever measure up to my boy Jack. I swear he is absolutely perfect. He will be a hard act to follow for sure.

Of course this is all thinking out loud on my part. I hope to not have to make this decision for many years to come. 3 dogs is plenty for me and I'm not looking to replace anyone of them.


What breeds intrigue you??

Friday, July 24, 2009

Outed at work

So now they all know my secret, I feed raw.

Not all the time. I am sometimes lazy so I do feed kibble too. During hunting season I have access to lots of free deer and moose trimmings and bones which I use to feed my dogs. (the ribs not weight bearing bones and yes I add calcium when needed as well as probiotics and other supplements) I had even stored a bunch of meat up to use through the summer but lost it all recently to a freezer malfunction.

When I first started my new job at the vet I kept my mouth shut about my views on raw diets. They sell a specific brand of kibble and I knew that going in. I figure it is not my job to educate people about the food that they feed their pets in that setting beyond that. (ok perhaps that is rationalization on my part) I love my job and want to keep it though so that is how it is. Call me a sell out if you will. I figure though that EVERYONE has access to the information available if they chose to look for it. Besides, I am simply one person with one opinion.

After being there a few months I did admit to one of the doctors and some other staff that I sometimes fed raw but only as one meal a day and with supplements added. (which is all true) When Missy had her scare with the mast cell tumors I switched her to all raw until we got results back. (cancer thrives on sugar which is very readily found in kibble food) But I didn't tell them that. I wasn't sure of the reaction I might get and didn't need any more stress at that time.

Cut to this earlier this week when I took Jenny in to be seen for some extra itchiness. She gets that way at times and I usually manage her with benadryl and baths. I was worried she might be getting a secondary infection or have a staf infection this time so I took her to be checked. I have been toying with the idea of allergy testing but had heard they aren't always as accurate and didn't want to invest in it if that were true. (the jury is still out on this) The doctor said that they prefer you do a food trial before any bloodwork for those tests anyhow. It would be good to know if this was food or an environmental reaction or a combo of both.

Of course he would prefer I use the food they sell there for the trial. In his defense it isn't about profit but because he truly believes in the product. His experience has always been good using/recommending it and he likes the testing they have done on it. I cannot fault him for that. At least it isn't about making a buck. I also admitted that I am a bit all over the map with kibble food because I tend to change it often for the variety. There are alot of good foods out there and I don't like to feed just one all the time. I guess I just wonder how one food can be balanced if you eat it for every meal. Humans don't do that nor do they recommend that we do. Besides, all dogs are individuals so shouldn't their diet be too? Of course it helps that I have dogs that can tolerate the frequent changes to their systems. Not all are that lucky.

He wants me to use his food because he is familiar with it but I prefer the foods I feed based on my own research. (disclaimer - I am not a vet just a regular person that sometimes reads to much.) So I asked him if I could do a food trial using my own choice of food. He said it would depend on the ingredients and being strict with the protocol. Could he see what was in my food? Um sure.

So I printed off the ingredients listed in the formula of Primal, the commercial raw I decided to switch Jenny to, and set it on his desk. I told him to try not to roll his eyes to much at it. (I thought humor might help.) Later we had a discussion about dog food. It was interesting but neither of us really changed our minds about anything. We only agreed to disagree. (with respect) We did both agree that all dogs are individuals and some do well on things others do not. He did admit the ingredients themselves were good even though he personally isn't a fan of raw diets.

Now for the record I do value his opinion as a vet. I think he is good at what he does and I like his bedside manner. He isn't pushy about his views and he will listen to mine. All good things. And to add to that he is a very good boss. At least so far.

I am very relieved that I no longer need to keep my food opinions a secret at work. Of course this doesn't really change anything as far as clients go. It will still be status quo there. But considering the doctors there are now my dogs vets to I think that is important. And who knows, maybe my experience can be a foot in the door towards new information for them.

FMI on pet food diets check out these books:

Raw Dog Food ~ Make it easy for you and your dog by Carina Beth MacDonald (Why and how to feed a raw diet.)

Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats ~ The ultimate diet by Kymythy R. Schultze C.C.N.,A.H.I. (more about how to feed raw with sample meal plans)

Food pets die for by Ann Martin (Interestingly while disagreeing with vets about feeding kibble she agrees with them about not feeding bones. But the other great info in the book outweighs this one discrepancy.)

Pet Food Politics by Marion Nestle (in inside look at the pet food recall with some alarming info about what may be in our own food supply)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Time Warp Tuesday

Today I had to drive to Bangor to pick my daughter up from cheer camp. Right next to Bangor is Brewer, which is where I did my training apprenticeship. It was fun driving the old route and seeing all the changes that have happened since then. It also brought back alot of great memories of my time there. Back then my kids were about 4 and 5 years old. Thankfully my husband supported me and did his share of the parental stuff on top of his own job so I could drive there and back the required 3 times a week. (for a full year - I could probably drive it in my sleep if needed) It is about a 2 hour drive one way (without snow) so it was a very long year. I even listened to my old favorite morning radio show on the way. Back then this was the majority of my adult conversation as a mom of two young children. One can only take listening to so much Barney after all. (my kids even had all the stuffed toys from the show)

For the record I graduated with a 98.8 average. Not to shabby if I do say so myself. Certainly better than my grades in high school! In my defense high school was much less interesting to me than training. I even still have all my books and notes from my apprenticeship. (Because heaven forbid I ever give up a book!)

Since I was in the area, which is rare, I decided to make a side trip on the way home and swing by the kennel to see if Lloyd was in. He was and it was great to catch up and touch base with him again. It has been a long time. I learned alot from him and will always be grateful for the fabulous start and foundation he gave me in this career path. I can only hope to have half the success and longevity in this business that he has had over the years.

While there I scored a fantastic deal on these scent articles and dumbells. (23$ for all!!!) I thought some scent games for Jenny might be fun. The dumbells will also help with some retrieving training. (the small one is for her) The articles need a little spiffing up but for that price I just couldn't pass them up. I'll need to get a carry bag for them next.

Oh and here is a photo of my daughter with her cheer group. They did really well and I am a very proud mom.

*Sidenote: Hug your kids today because you never know what tomorrow may bring. Sadly friends of ours lost their 14 year old son this week to diabetes. It was unexpected and a tragic loss of their only child. Never think this stuff can't happen to you, because it always happens to someone. We never know when it may be our turn.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I miss you Mimi La Rue!

I have a confession to make. I sometimes what really stupid stuff on the television. I call it junkfood tv. You know it isn't good for you but you just can't help consuming it. One of the shows I sometimes watch, and am not sure why, is the Tori Spelling reality show. This season I think it is called Home Sweet Hollywood. (It started off as Tori and Dean Inn Love then morphed as they added two human children to the nest and sold the Inn.)
Well I have to admit I fell in love with her pug Mimi La Rue. I'm not sure when my obsession with old pugs started but I am now completely under their spell. There is just something about them I find totally adorable. Patricia McConnell said in her book "The other end of the leash" that humans are attracted to round faces and that it has to do with a maternal instinct. I dunno. If that were true wouldn't I have found pugs cute long before we ended up with one in our family? Or is it that my age has kicked in the grandmother urge in me? (OK I'm only in my 40's but technically that qualifies me.)

Whatever it is I am a sap for them. Check out the fabulous pics of the two old gals here at Owned By Pugs named Sol and Luna. (their boys are pretty adorable to) Now I know being owned by a famous person might not be an ideal life for some dogs (do they really want to be on the red carpet?) but it does seem like she was very well loved by Tori. They even had a memorial service for her after she passed. And I admit watching the episode about her passing with the photo Dean got Tori of her made me cry. (don't tell anyone ok?)

Tori admitted that she bought her from a pet store before she knew what that really meant and Mimi had a bunch of health issues because of it. Tori did learn from her mistake though and is now a very vocal voice for the rescue group Much Love. Her two current dogs are both rescues from there.

I have to say the show isn't nearly as interesting to me without seeing sweet Mimi on it. But really, with that face, can you blame me? I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But in my perfect world all old dogs (of any breed) would have a wonderful retirement home. It is sad to think of so many old dogs that end up in shelters. I think they have earned better than that. Consider sponsoring an old dog in a shelter or rescue today. Do it in memory of a great dog you once knew. They can use our help.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday Tracking

This morning I drafted my sister to help get some video of Jenny and I tracking. Difficulties with the good camera unfortunatly means we had to use mine which isn't nearly as nice. We did a really short track with one turn. I have added sits when she finds articles because she tends to work so fast. (A huge change from Jack who is very slow.) I am unsure if I would see them otherwise. Perhaps I will change that to a fetch or a down later. In this video she did miss two articles (or I missed her finding them) and she overshot the corner abit. But she made the turn and got back on track. The video is 3 minutes long with sound tho it is mostly of the wind.

I had run her on another track first so she was less excited at the end of this one. I think I need to play more glove games with her so the end is more clear to her. It isn't great quality but you get the picture. It was great weather for it though with just a little drizzle at the end. Cool and damp is great for holding scent. (the vest I am wearing looks dorky but has great roomy pockets for scent articles as I pick them up) For some really great tracking videos check out Jenny and I are really just beginners at it.

Then I headed to town to hang out with Minos at the store. He's getting bigger every day.

While there we ran into this cutie, a portugese water dog puppy named Spot. They had a few moments together. (which is one reason we go to the store on tuesdays, socialization)

Then auntie Marie bought him a flossie. For anyone with bulldogs this spiral shape is awesome for their big mouths. It slows them down enough to make it a chewie and not a quick snack. (it also worked great for my Jenny who tends to try inhaling things) They key is supervision so if they get a length all mushy you can simply cut it off before they suck it down their throat and choke.

While there I also picked up more training treats (Zukes!) and a new treat bag made by Olly Dog. I chose the one on the left. (I love pink!) My current bag has a snap shut feature but it squeaks which I don't like. For my own dogs I typically try to use my pockets, but when I am with a client it is much easier most times to snap one of these on. After I left there I went and bought a new raincoat. After a couple of days of the sun (finally!) we are back in another rainy period. If this keeps up I going to begin construction on an ark.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Reading and watching updates

I hope everyone had a great and safe holiday. I went to my towns annual pet show and had fun watching all the dogs (and a rabbit!) partake of a mini agility course. Lauren of The Loyal Biscuit Co. was there judging and giving out prizes donated from her store. It was a somewhat rainy morning so it was a smaller turnout than usual but it was still fun. You can always count on the mix of kids and dogs to provide some laughs. Then Jenny and I took a turn hanging out at the store.

While there we also worked on one of our tricks. (I'm not telling which one.) I picked up a copy of 101 Dog Tricks this week to get some new ideas from. I am still a pretty new convert to the idea of trick training being useful as a part of a regular training regimen. Even though I now love it I sometimes get stumped with what tricks there are out there to chose from. To many years of repetition of the basics I guess. Jenny needs the mental stimulation though and it will help me come up with plenty of ideas to keep her (us) busy when we aren't out tracking.
I also grabbed a copy of Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt. I am only about 50 pages in and loving it already. I'll be sure to give a more in depth review of it when I finish.
One of the reps at work came through for me and sent the Cesar Millan packet I mentioned before. I already watched the "Waiting room" copy DVD and have also downloaded the freebie that the clients are supposed to get. I have to say I think I was right to be sceptical. So far all I have seen is clips from his "Mastering Leadership" DVD's with some ads for Heartguard and Frontline thrown in. One clip was a great example of learned helplessness. At one point he says "We want the dog to fight" as the dog is freaking out. Uh no we don't! The frustrating thing is that as always there are some good tips thrown in between his scary stuff. And contrary to the rumor so far there has been no sign of any other positive trainers helping him show any basic training whatsoever. I haven't watched the download yet due to lack of time. (and truth be told, I have little interest in wasting much more of my time cringing at his methods) I'll be sure to report in on the other video after I watch it.
Check out a very interesting conversation about cropping and docking in dogs on another blog I read. Since I don't have breeds that are cropped or docked it is a non-issue for me in general. The vet I work for doesn't do ear cropping but does do tail docking. As a trainer I do think removing or changing body parts can affect dogs body language. If not for the dog itself, then for the dogs that are looking at them and interacting with them. It is hard enough to read some dogs as it is. (they used to crop pugs ears commonly according to the history book I have on the breed) Whichever side of the issue you are on here is some food for thought.
Tomorrow morning I am planning on headed out for some tracking. I have been so busy with other peoples dogs I have been lax with my own beasties this last couple of weeks. I'll try to get more video to share of her in action.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The official akita movie trailer has arrived

I still can't get video to embed on this blog so here is a link:

As an akita owner I am HUGELY conflicted about this movie coming out. (I should say again -the original was made in Japan with english subtitles of which I have a copy) It looks like they did a beautiful job on it. I just worry that it will create a demand for them and they simply are not the dog for everyone. Akitas rescues are always full as it is. Check any of them out for yourself. ( The dog in the movie is stunning and I fear there will be morons out there looking to cash in on the movies popularity and begin back yard breeding ventures. (heck some probably already are sad to say) I just hope like hell they have something in the beginning of the movie stating something about the breed not being for everyone. I do TRY to be an optimist.
Another part of the issue is that people think breeds shown in movies will act like those movie dogs. Hmm a loose akita that isn't looking for stuff to chase, eat, dig up or fight with the neighbors dog just isn't always realistic. Oh and if that wasn't bad enough I think I saw something about how some of the puppies in the movie are actually shiba inu's. Another breed not for everyone. Yes they are cute but have a very high prey drive and can be hard to contain. (read keep in a fenced yard) I considered the breed once myself and decided they were way to much for me. They are also described as a big dog in a small body. (in case you were wondering) The live shiba puppy cam was bad enough.
There is also a myth in akita circles about them once being used as babysitters while the moms went into the rice patties to work. This has translated to some people as "Safe to leave alone with infants and toddlers". PLEASE do not do this with ANY dog!!! What it really means is that they are territorial and can be possessive of their space and things, including their family.
I repeat, they are not the dog for everyone. I LOVE the breed but this movie should not be viewed as an ad for this breed to become the must have dog in your home. Do not rush out and find a breeder, do some research first. Akitas can be wonderful dogs with TRAINING, proper SOCIALIZATION, and LOTS of time on the part of their new owner. And then you would need to find a breeder that does health testing of BOTH parents before breeding a litter. (finding a breeder is a whole nother post-search my site for more info on that) Don't say I didn't warn you.
Yes I will be going to see the movie. Perhaps taking some akita rescue posters and handouts to the movie theater about the breed may be in order as well. I suppose I should be happy they didn't portray them in a Cujo type movie instead. Then we would be fighting the against breed banning (or should I say more of it for akitas) and the ignorance of people thinking they were all aggressive horrible dogs. Unfortunately fame has it's price on any breed that is portrayed in movies in our society these days. Let's hope it isn't to high for our beautiful akitas.