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Posts Tagged ‘pets’

Those of you in my classes have heard me caution about the sugar substitute xylitol and its toxicity to dogs. Here’s a link to a truly eye-opening article about its appearance in products not labeled sugarfree. Places I had not even thought to look. Take a moment to read this and talk to your vet about it.

http://www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted

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Having worked in animal rescue and health care for decades, countless times I’ve said the words: “There aren’t bad dogs. There aren’t bad owners. But there ARE bad matches”.

I am not the only one. Trainers see it over and over again- owner personalities clashing with dog personalities.

 Roger Hild , a long-time dog trainer in Canada, has put together a wonderful “test” which may help understand the conflicts. If used correctly, it may help prevent mismatches!

Having some insight into a relationship, even a dog-owner relationship can help improve it.

Want to know how your relationship rates and see potential areas for problems or improvements? Check out his People & Pooches Personality Test.

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Today we did another photo shoot. We originally were schedule to shoot last week. It was an outdoor shoot and the weather last week wasn’t desirable. It was postponed until today, the day after our big “dog party”. The weekend we have a bunch of dogs and people over for dog fun- this year we had 20 dogs.

I knew when we rescheduled it for today I could have adrenalin-hung over dogs to handle. And maybe a little tired and sore added in there too. I didn’t think it’d be too much of a problem. The shot was to involve 2 little girls, big dogs and a wading pool.

We were doing the shoot on location and therefore not in the studio, but at a photographer’s house where there was green grass. They wanted green grass and sun. The original date had been overcast and cool…good dog weather, but not for the kids. Today was 88 degrees and high humidity. Good pool weather for the kids, but probably the worst weather to try to work Leonbergers-in full sun no less. I was hoping they would last a little bit before melting right into the pool.

We all met at the studio and then caravanned out to the location- a nice country home on a county highway with some acreage and no fencing.

I got out to survey the site while leaving the dogs in the air conditioned truck. I was greeted by 4 loose fowls strutting around the yard. Ledum saw them from the truck immediately. They were rounded up and placed in the hen and rabbit house facing the set up wading pools.  One rooster protested LOUDLY to this roundup. Ledum was following very closely from the truck.

When I knew the birds were secure I let the dogs out of the truck. Ledum’s brain was fully engaged in roosters. He knew where they were and he wanted to get a snuffle. He doesn’t hurt things, but he likes to chase them to snuffle and slime them. Snuffling a rooster was the ONLY thing he could get into his head. I had a leash and flat collar on him, but he was trying to convince me the most important thing in the whole wide world was snuffling a rooster.

I got Ledum, Mara and Tringa out of the truck. Ledum was super jazzed and it took me quite a lot to get him under some semblance of control. Mara and Tringa were put in a down while I was trying to bring Ledum back to earth.

While that was going on, the two little girls (7 and 4) were getting introduced to the dogs. Like our first photo shoot a few weeks ago, the youngest wanted NOTHING to do with the dogs.

While the photographers (3 all together) were setting up equipment, the mom and I were trying to get the youngest to just touch a dog-even fluff I pulled from Tringa and had in my hand. No success.

Then it was time for the fun.

The first shot they wanted was Ledum sitting in the wading pool towering over looking down at the tiny, youngest girl obviously upset he was in HER pool. The girl would have none of it. We had to use the older child. Ledum kept turning his head to look at the roosters and rabbits. He doesn’t have a good WATCH ME command…something I’ve never really taught him but is now top on my to-do list. We used toys and motions and all sorts of inventive things to get him to at least appear to be looking down at the girl. The girl’s job was to look up at Ledum, right in his face, with visual frustration. They wanted her hands in a certain way, her face held a certain way, her knees placed just so. Trying to get both the dog and the child to do what they wanted simultaneously was fairly challenging.

It was so hot Ledum was not interested in playing this game. True, he was sitting in a pool of water, but he was fading.

So the photography director who owned the house thought maybe a live rabbit would help Ledum focus where he need to be. Absolutely, it would focus his attention for sure.

Keep in mind, he is sitting in the pool approximately 10-15 feet (I moved around) in front of me. No leash. Mara and Tringa are in a down about the same distance behind me in the shade. They also are unleashed and aren’t even wearing a collar.

Rabbit came out and sat between director’s legs. She was caressing it and trying to get it to move in a more enticing manner. Ledum was sitting in the pool VERY interested, but kept his sit in the pool.

Then….the rabbit squirmed loose and was hopping away.

I grabbed Ledum as he leapt out of the pool. He tried to get me to lawn ski behind him after the rabbit, but didn’t succeed. It was taking me all I had to keep that from happening, but while I was working to keep Ledum under control, the bunny hopped right past Mara and Tringa. It was too much for them. They broke their downs and were off.

So there was the bunny, with Mara and Tringa following with all 3 photographers bringing up the rear-all headed towards the road. My commands were falling on deaf ears while I was getting a leash on Ledum hooking it to a conveniently located post on the patio. With Ledum secure, I could join in the chase.

As soon as I rounded the corner of the garage and said Mara! Tringa! OFF. COME. They stopped and came to me. The rabbit had come back in a circle and the director got it back into the pen. No one was hurt. I wasn’t too happy Mara and Tringa broke, but the photographers thought they were awesome because they could have had the rabbit more than once, but showed great self control. HA! Guess it’s all in the perception…

We continued on from that by doing some shots of all 3 dogs in the pool with the girl standing outside the pool. The youngest refused to do that, too. The older girl did these shots too. At least for these shots, the dogs didn’t have to look down into a face so it was much easier.

Then the kids were done. We shot a few more of Mara holding the hose with the water running filling the pool for the Leos.

It had been over an hour and half baking in the sun. We were all toasted and it was time to go home. The director’s husband walked with me to the truck. He complimented me on how well behaved my dogs were. They were incredible and I should be proud. They were much better behaved than the child…

I got in the truck and drove home, laughing and shaking my head most of the way home. Good thing I have a sense of humor.

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Recently I was asked to use one of my dogs for a photo shoot for a dog supply catalog. They wanted a large dog a small child could use as a pillow.

Not a problem for most of my pack, so I agreed readily. I did ask how old the child was and if s/he was comfortable with big dogs. I was told he was 4 and the son of someone on staff so it shouldn’t be a problem.

I took Ledum and Tringa with me. Tringa has a very striking photogenic face, but it’s very black and depending on the child and positioning, etc, I thought it may be more challenging technically. Ledum is oversized, very tall and long and fits BIG dog very, very well. As long as I had to take one, it wasn’t any trouble to bring two. This would give us choices which are usually a good thing when trying to shoot photos, especially those photos creatively living in someone else’s head.

Our morning turned out to be fairly crazy so when we had to leave for our appointment, Ledum was a little on the worked up side of things. We arrived a few minutes early and checked in. Ledum was being uncharacteristic and pulling slightly on his lead. I was trying to maintain my composure.

We were led to the photo shoot location. This included traipsing through the employee break room- next to tables where several people were having their lunch. Nose-level –for-the-dogs tables, I might add. Up some very slippery looking stairs and further down the hall we finally arrive at the room. We opened the door and lo & behold, less than 10’ from the door are multiple cockatiels in a large cage. Upon seeing large dogs arriving, they commence to screaming alerts. Ledum, enthralled with small animals, got even more jazzed up. I did get him under control, but not in the split second I am used to.

We took up a bare spot on the floor to DOWN while they decided on coloring of rugs and props, etc. We met the boy. The boy who was really only 3 and not only AFRAID of big dogs, he wasn’t very comfortable with dogs at all. Sigh. Not going to be as easy as I had thought when I said “no problem” on the phone a few days prior.

Ledum proved to be too intimidating for child, even in a down. Tringa tried her best to be reassuring. The fact the child was just a few months older than Tringa gave us an in. But it was tough. Tringa wanted to smell the child. The child wanted to scream and run. After quite a while of using her tail to tickle him and trying in vain to get him to touch her, I finally had her stand up. I played peek- a-boo with him under her. He finally was comfortable enough to crawl back and forth under her. But he still wasn’t comfortable with touching her or having her look at or sniff him.

While we were doing this, Ledum was employed as a “placeholder”. He was on a DOWN a few feet away letting them set up the shot around him, set lighting, etc. Ledum is extremely engaging with people, so I knew if the child were to lay on him the shot would be what the photographer wanted, but NOT what the child would tolerate. Ledum would have to turn his head and acknowledge him in some way. Seeing as the child was freaking out when Tringa (the smaller of the two) was turning her head to look at him, I didn’t think it would help the situation. We got Ledum out of the actual shot zone and put him on a DOWN where we had first settled when we arrived. That put him about 15’ behind me. I expected him to hold his position. Then I concentrated on Tringa.

My job mostly was to keep her from even thinking of looking in the child’s direction. The photographer wanted her head to be down between her legs and her eyes closed. Meanwhile, the dad was trying to get the child to curl up and look relaxed with Tringa curled around him. We gave up on the curled up idea early on. The child didn’t really want that much contact with Tringa. Trying to get the child propped up was fairly difficult. To make up for his lack of confidence with the dog, he kept sliding down. His dad then would move him back up higher on Tringa’s body which triggered Tringa to want to lay flat on her side. I’d have to then get her back more upright while the dad was still getting the child positioned.

Oh, did I mention they gave the child a prop? Have you ever seen one of those dog toys that look exactly like a teddy bear? But really it’s a dog squeaky toy that children like to squeak?

Only once did Ledum think about getting up, when someone came in and the cockatiels got really, really active. Tringa & Ledum BOTH stuck their noses in the air when the cage with a couple ferrets walked near the edge of the photo shoot.

All in all, it was a fun training experience for me and the dogs. I was told we even got a few usable shots!

We’ll have to wait and see when the catalog comes out.

Simple obedience opens doors!

Ledum & Tringa Photo Shoot

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I was watching our youngest, Seda, the-now-8-month-old Swissy, wrestle with our current board and train, a 5-month-old Golden. I couldn’t help but think how different our dogs’ lives are than most typical pets.

Our dogs have a very active life. We walk twice a day at least, some days more than twice, and often times several miles. When I say several miles, I mean several miles for the humans. The dogs are off-lead and putting on many, many more miles than we are.

We share our lives with wildlife. We feed the birds, squirrels, chipmunks and whatever comes around.

The dogs are not allowed to harass the wildlife. They can watch from a distance, but not chase, bark at or otherwise pester. Because Mark is a wildlife rehabber, currently a bear cub and a baby gray squirrel are downstairs. The dogs aren’t allowed to interact with them, but they can certainly smell them in their house, hear them when they fuss and watch from a safe distance as Mark feeds them.

We foster dogs. Often there are dogs coming and going. We overnight dogs for evaluations or take them into our house for board and trains. When we do this, they are treated as one of our own, so our pack better be pretty welcoming (and they are).

Our dogs all help me teach classes and lessons for other dogs and their people. Some days, depending on my schedule, it means they have to spend a good portion of their day away from the comfort of their house (read that our comfy larger-than-king-sized bed). Some days they have to wait patiently in the kennel at the vet clinic with its own set of smells, sounds and activities.

When most people think of working dogs typically service dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, police dogs and the like come to mind. But our dogs are working dogs.

They have to earn their keep by being good role models for all they come in contact with.

In return, we keep them healthy physically by watching their weight, feeding high quality food and giving them exercise. We also keep them healthy mentally by training them so they can be included in all our activities and challenging their minds.

This should be basic to every dog owning house. All dogs should do some kind of work to earn their keep -even if the work is something as simple as sitting for supper or waiting at the door and not jumping on people. The goal should be to make your dog a working dog.

So really our dogs shouldn’t lead lives so much different than yours.

Well, except for the bear cub downstairs!

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Tringa turned 2 last month.  Traditionally, 2 years old would mark the milestone at which dog owners would have their dogs’ hips x-rayed to be evaluated by Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Most people doing this would be those interesting in breeding their dog. Many breeders ask their puppy owners to do this even if they’re not planning on breeding to give the breeder valuable info about their breeding program. Many breeders use OFA as a determining point for guaranteeing hip health (the presence of dysplasia or not).

Hip dysplasia simply means malformed hips. Being dysplastic in itself isn’t always a problem. Some dogs are dysplastic and never have any problems well into their advanced age. Others can go on to develop degenerative joint disease and arthritis at a very early age.

In our house, we choose to PennHip. See The Value of PennHip for a greater explanation of what it is and why we chose to do this.

PennHip can be done very early. We have our dogs PennHipped when we spay or neuter them. They’re already under anesthetic so it’s easy enough to do one more procedure.

There’s been discussion among breeders and dog fanciers that PennHip can’t accurately predict what dog’s hips will become.  

Puppies in general have a lot of laxity in their joints. It’s what keeps them safe from injuries while they’re trying to get themselves coordinated and developed. Therefore we expect them to have some distraction in this technique.  I would anticipate their hips to “tighten up” somewhat as they mature. To what degree is the question we wanted answered.

For our own information and curiosity, we chose to reshoot Tringa’s PennHip when she turned 2.  In Tringa’s case, there was a degree of “tightening up”-but not much.

Her first PennHip was shot when she was 7 months old. Her left hip had a DI of 0.82. Her right hip had a DI of 0.85. Results on both hips state “DI is greater than 0.30 with not radiographic evidence of DJD. There is an increasing risk of developing DJD as the DI increases; low risk when DI is close to 0.30, high risk when DI is close to 0.70 or above.” (see The Value of PennHip for explanation of this lingo).

Because of the knowledge we gained from Tringa’s first PennHip, we were able to change her activities. No jumping, no Frisbee, no anything that would stress hip joints. Swimming, dock diving, etc are things to help her stave off arthritis or joint problems. We did things to help build and stabilize her muscles. We kept (& keep) a close eye on her weight. We added supplements. We crossed our fingers and hoped the critics were right in their suspicions of the ability of PennHip to predict the future.

Tringa’s second PennHip was shot 13 days after her 2nd birthday. Alas, even before the radiographs were sent into PennHip for evaluation, we could see the remodeling. In layman’s terms: PennHip DID predict the future.

Her left hip DI was 0.71 and her right hip was 0.75. Results on both hips state “CONFIRMED HIP DYSPLASIA. DI is greater than 0.30 with evidence of mild or moderate DJD.”

Even with the changes we made, in the second set of x-rays we took, we can see remodeling. Remodeling is the term used when the bone changes shape.  Here are a couple of photos showing the two views taken in PennHip. Each photo has the original film compared to the second film.

Can YOU pick out the remodeling?

Tringa's Second PennHip Distraction View

Tringa's Second PennHip VD View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it was too subtle for you to pick out, here are a couple more photos with the changes highlighted with arrows.

Arrows highlight remodeling in Tringa's Second Distraction View

Arrows highlight remodeling in Tringa's second PennHip VD View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And to make it an even more informative comparison here they are side by side:

Side by side comparison of Tringa's PennHips Distraction View

Side by Side Comparison of Tringa's PennHips VD View

 

What does this mean for Tringa’s future?

Well, we can already see her hip problems in her gait and she’s already shifting more of her weight from her rear legs to her front legs.

We’ll continue to monitor her and adjust her activities accordingly. We will take it into account when we ask her to do things and her compliance of what we ask. Is she refusing to obey or CAN she obey?

When she needs it, she’ll get meds to help relieve discomfort.

I also believe by doing a PennHip in her early age we gained valuable information that helped us put the need for medication off into the future.

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I came home from a lesson Thursday night to find a tri-colored dog curled up on the bed next to Mark. Not a thing to get excited about usually. Seda hangs out with her “dad” like that a lot.

The factor making this event exciting was the dog was a longer haired tri-colored dog named REPOE! RePoe was hanging out on the bed like our normal pack! This was awesome.

Could it be he knew it was the 8 week anniversary of his arrival here and wanted to celebrate?  Woo Hoo!

Friday when I got home from another lesson, Mark informed me not only had RePoe ventured out and onto the bed on his own with no prodding, he actually tried to participate in a play session!   Ledum and Seda were on the bed wrestling. RePoe could no longer contain himself. He did a play-bow and a couple feint & perry swats at Ledum who was concentrating on Seda. He then wagged his tail (a first here) and took a couple swats at Quigley, who was also uninterested.

Not a big rip-roaring play session for the first try, but it’s a first try!

We’re hoping this is the crack in the protective armor this dog developed to survive his past. We’re looking forward to the flood of true dog-ness that’s been bottled up to gushing forth soon.

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