An Assortment of Things

A quick apology before I begin, but this post is going to be a bit random.

On Wednesday evening, Huib and I went to Victoria Road’s 9pm fitness swim. We have been trying to go to the morning ones, but on Monday Huib was too sleepy, and then on Tuesday my migraine got in the way. With the unstable weather this month, my migraines have been pretty constant. 🙁

I wasn’t sure how long I’d b able to swim, as I still had a migraine, but I really felt it was important to do something.

I swam 500 metres in 29 minutes!!! That is the fastest I have swam so far!! I then swam another 100 metres before getting out of the pool.

If I keep improving as quick as I have been, who knows what goals I’ll be able to achieve next year.

*****

As of Monday, it has been ten weeks since my ankle injury. With the continued discomfort, we’re pretty sure it was fractured. To ensure no long-term problems, I have scheduled an appointment with our family doctor on the 7th, so we can talk about a possible x-ray.

Laura said it took about 18 weeks for her fractured ankle to feel completely normal, so maybe it will take me a similar amount of time. Sadly, I’m beginning to think I will not be able to do a 5 kilometre run with Jason on Halloween.

Who would have thought I’d actually be sad about not running….? LOL!!!

I will keep everyone posted on my recovery.

*****

Even though I will not be returning to McMaster this year, I applied for teaching assistant positions in the fall and winter terms. I really enjoy teaching and marking, so I hope I am given at least one of the many classes available. Even one term would be nice.

*****

Yesterday, we took Rogue and Arizona to see Dr. Whelan. He’s a doggie-ophthalmologist. I have been taking my dogs to see him since 2011, when I learned that Cessna has tiny cataracts in both of her eyes and Canyon has scarring on his retinas.

Rogue’s eyes are good. He says nothing has changed since she saw him two years ago.

It is always a great relief to hear your guide dog can see, lol!!!

Arizona is also good. She has been cleared of any inheritable eye conditions – YAY!!!

Dr. Whelan did find a fine linear cataract on her right eye, but he said it is not inheritable and he does not suspect it will progress. I asked him what could have caused it and he said “the cells stopped growing and died.” I asked him if it’s just that “shit happens,” and he agreed.

I was really worried that this would mean no future Arizona puppies, but Anne seems happy with the report – YAY!!!

Our next hurdle is the genetic testing. The Paw Print Genetics kit should be arriving soon.

*****

To try and promote further healing of my ankle, I’m taking it easy today and over the weekend as well. I think I might have over-done it last week, as I didn’t feel as much discomfort the week before. I just get so bored sitting around, and we have lots of training to do, if we want to enter field and tracking tests this fall.

Progress and Struggles

On Thursday evening we had another obedience class.

Class started with me working in the ring alone. Susie is trying to help me become more confident with the exercises. She is hoping that by practicing each week, it will become less stressful and require very little thought to complete. I do different heeling patterns, walking forward, stopping and turning in various directions. Susie thinks I am looking less uncomfortable each week.

Some dogs, like Rogue, cue off their human’s body language, so if the human knows what they are doing, it’ll be easier to avoid cuing the dog to do the wrong behaviours.

When I was finished, I called Arizona into the ring and we got to work.

Heeling is still an issue, but we have progressed in other areas. Ari did several sit-stays ranging from 15 to 30 seconds long. She stayed in place until I recalled her, and then she stayed until I returned and released her. I also used ‘touch’ to keep her attention off Susie and Huib as they made “beep, beep…” sounds, so I knew where the posts were for the figure eight.

We will get there.

Rogue and Huib were awesome!! Huib has really worked on keeping Rogue’s attention on him, and it has made a huge difference!! He needs to continue working on having Rogue stay until he returns – she gets up as soon as he comes close – but it’ll come. She just needs to learn that when we cue a ‘stay,’ she’s supposed to remain in position, but if we’re just walking around the house, she needs to MOVE.

To add a bit of challenge to our work, Susie suggested we both come into the ring. She had us go to opposite ends of the room and asked us to follow her instructions. Both girls were distracted by the other team. Rogue was distracted by me and Ari, while Arizona was distracted by Huib and Rogue.

We also did a ‘group’ sit-stay. Both girls rocked it!!

Susie says we will do this each week to give the girls some high distraction work. No one is more distracting than your best buddy and your other human.

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Saturday morning was Cessna’s annual vet check. I was worried about the large lump under Cessna’s front left leg. It has grown since last year’s appointment, so I thought Bianca might say we needed to have it removed. We were pleasantly surprised to find out she was not really worried, but said we would continue watching it. I am glad because she’s almost 13.5, so I don’t know if it would be good to do surgery, and I don’t think I could decide against it. Cessna is really happy, pretty healthy, and appears to have a lot of life left in her.

Bianca asked a lot of questions about what we are feeding Cessna and what supplements she is getting. She also asked about any illness or concerns. Cessna has lost a whole kilogram since last year, so Bianca wants us to feed her more and to bring in a urine sample. She didn’t have any concerns when she did the physical exam, but did voice her distress regarding Cessna’s coat condition. I told her it hasn’t changed in the past year or so, even though we have tried a number of different options. We will not be vaccinating Cessna anymore, but Bianca still wanted to run Parvo and Distemper titres, along with a geriatric blood panel and a test for Heartworm and tick-borne diseases. The results from the tests should come back in about a week.

After paying, we took Cessna back to the vehicle, and then brought each of the others in to be weighed. All three youngsters need to lose about four pounds!!

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In the afternoon, we had tracking with Laura.

Canyon was all over the place for most of his track. He found both articles and did some pretty good work the last 10 metres or so. I think it is just going to take time.

Once he gets the idea, he’s going to be great!!

Arizona was amazing!! She found all of her articles, did some surface changes (crossing over sidewalks), and barely overshot corners. Unlike Rogue, Ari only seems to go a foot or two past her corners before she realizes she has lost scent.

She stopped a couple of times to think, but Laura said that’s normal, so not to worry and not to rush her.

Rogue started off really well, but I think having to relieve herself caused some focus issues. She rarely goes to the washroom when not at home, but we fed them after Cessna’s appointment, so I think her schedule was off.

Rogue missed her first two articles, but found the others. She cut corners in several spots, so I think that might have been why she ended up on the opposite side of the sidewalk from her track at one point.

Rogue has had a really good couple of months for tracking, so it was about time for some mistakes.

I’m thinking about entering her into an urban test at the end of April, so hopefully we’ve got our struggles done for a bit.

Until next time 🙂

Canyon Update

Almost two weeks ago, I wrote about Canyon having a really bad seizure.

We went to see Bianca, his vet, just over a week ago and after some blood tests and discussion, we all decided to wait a bit longer before medicating him.

Canyon had blood taken to run his various values such as calcium, hemoglobin and other things. Each value came back in a good range and Bianca could not find anything wrong with him physically. She gave us some Valium suppositories to have on hand if he experiences another cycle of seizures, but otherwise we all decided that he is young and his seizures continue to appear the same way, so instead of risking his liver we will wait.

Just under a week ago, Canyon had another seizure, but it was much more mild than his usual ones. He let us know it was coming and I sat with him and hugged him until it was all over. If we took away the really long one he had, then this mild one would be around the same timing of his usual ones that were happening about every 3-4 weeks.

We are hoping his poor brain will give him a break and that we’ll get through a couple of weeks without one. I will keep you all posted.

Canyon’s Seizures

As mentioned in earlier posts, Canyon has partial seizures.. He has been having them for about 4 years now, with them becoming more frequent over the past year or so.

Up until this past month, his seizures tended to happen about every 4-6 weeks, so we had decided to keep him off medication. Last January, we started giving Canyon 100mg of Coenzyme Q10, and we aren’t sure if it really does anything, but it also doesn’t hurt anything.

Over the summer, Canyon went 15 weeks without a seizure and we were optimistic.

In early September he had a mild seizure, followed by another mild one 11 days later, but we were still optimistic.

Then, 10 days later, on October 2nd, Canyon had his normal seizure, we still weren’t too worried.

This morning, at about 1:49am, Huib heard Canyon getting out of his crate and felt uneasy about it, so felt him. We immediately got down on the floor and began the waiting game. Canyon often knows when they are coming, so warns us and we usually have between 2-4 minutes to wait before the real thing happens. Once Canyon’s usual seizure took place, he seemed himself and went to get up, but had trouble – now we were worried. I helped him lay back down and over the next 45-50 minutes he went through moments of trembling, just having a rigid body, and acting himself. Never once during this period of time did he lose consciousness or control of his bowel or bladder. It all seemed to effect his motor skills. After about 35 minutes, Huib put a 1mg tablet of Ativan under his tongue and we waited for it to take effect. He appeared relaxed and ready to move after 10 minutes, so Huib offered him a treat and asked for a couple basic cues, he did them eagerly and then started toward the door, so Huib walked with him downstairs and to the backyard. As he took a step outside, he raised his paw over his head and became rigid again, so Huib picked him up, called everyone back inside and then carried him upstairs. He gave Canyon another 1mg tablet of Ativan and hugging him tightly, we waited for his body to relax again. It did around 2:50am. Huib helped Canyon back to his crate (he sleeps in there with his door open) and we climbed into bed. Canyon slept for a couple of hours and then woke me up to go outside. I followed him and after he peed, we returned to bed and he slept until our alarm, at which time he greeted us with a ball, ready to play fetch.

We think it is time to seriously consider medication. We have made an appointment for 4:00pm this evening with Bianca, their vet. I am hoping she can suggest a medication that won’t make him extremely drowsy and hungry all of the time, but in the end, we just want our golden boy better.

I will keep everyone posted on his progress.

Vet Check

Last week the dogs had their yearly check up with Bianca. Since we always bring the four in together, she set aside an hour and a half for them.

Cessna was checked over first. Bianca was a bit concerned about her coat condition and that she’s gained a couple of pounds since November, but otherwise she said Cess looks good. We already knew something was up with her thyroid levels, so Huib suggested having her dose raised and then do the blood draw two weeks later. Bianca agreed with his suggestion and gave us some new meds to try.

Next it was Arizona’s turn. Bianca hadn’t seen Ari since the fall, so she was quite impressed at how much she’s grown and matured. Ari had no problem letting Bianca check her over, but wanted to see everything and sniff anything Bianca put near her, lol! She also cleaned Bianca’s ears and face, so it was a good exam for her. Bianca had no concerns, so gave Arizona her first rabies vaccine and drew blood for a Heartworm and Lyme test.

Rogue was also due for her rabies vaccine, so after getting checked over she got it and had some blood drawn for titres and the Heartworm and Lyme testing. Bianca had no concerns at all with Rogue.

Finally, it was Canyon’s turn. She wanted to do another CBC as well as titres and the Heartworm and Lyme test, so we let her do them. Canyon had a CBC done in January and his red blood cell count and haemoglobin values were off, so Bianca wanted to check them to make sure they were better. With golden retrievers you have to worry about mass cell tumours, so that was mainly why Bianca wanted the blood test redone. We also talked about Canyon’s seizures and since they seem to be happening every 4-5 weeks she said she is comfortable with leaving him off meds for a bit longer. She isn’t sure if the Coenzyme Q10 is doing anything, but it also can’t hurt, so she wants him to continue taking that. Otherwise she just asked me to keep writing things down and to let her know if things change. We asked her about giving him fish again since his seizures don’t seem to be related. She agreed and said that she would like us to wait until after his next seizure and then try fish to see what happens.

It was nice to know everyone is healthy.

Canyon’s Seizures

Back in May I blogged about Canyon’s partial seizures. I talked about the difficulty we had diagnosing the problem, about the details of the seizures themselves and about what Bianca (our vet) wanted to do about them.

Since May, Canyon has had five more seizures.

they are still the same length and the symptoms are all the same, but unlike other years they are happening more frequently.

One thing I am noticing, maybe it’s just a fluke, but whenever I have my major migraines – the ones that last more than a couple of days – he has a seizure. Twice now that I can think of, Canyon has had a seizure the evening of the second or third day I am dealing with a migraine. Maybe it’s a fluke, as I mentioned, but I’m keeping track of it anyway because it may help us find a preventive medication if one becomes necessary.

On Wednesday we took Canyon to see Bianca. We had already decided that we were okay if she suggested keeping him off medication, but we wanted her to check him over and to do some blood work if she thought it might tell us something.

Bianca looked Canyon over and couldn’t find anything physically or neurologically wrong. She has taken some blood to run a variety of different tests, including a number of different thyroid related ones. Hypothyroidism is common in labs and golden retrievers, so Bianca wants to see what his values are like, just in case his thyroid could be a potential cause for the seizure increase.

I brought her a seizure journal to look over, where I recorded a variety of different things from the time it started, what he was doing before to what happens during and after the seizure. I have also joined a canine Epilepsy group on Yahoo, so I told her about the recommendation of Coenzyme Q10. She said it couldn’t hurt anything and said he can take 100mg a day. We went to Costco on Thursday and picked up some Coenzyme Q10.

We are also filling out a homeopathic intake form and canyon will most likely start some sort of homeopathic regiment following the analysis.

I will keep everyone posted.

3 Months Already!!

Our little golden girl is now 3 months old.

Arizona sits on a big rock.

Arizona has experienced a lot of new things over the past two weeks.

On the 8th, we met up with our friends Karen and Spark at waterloo Park. When we arrived there were a couple guys playing drums, the noise didn’t phase Rogue or Arizona. We walked around the various park animals; peacocks, llamas, ponies, donkeys, pigs, ducks deer and chickens. Rogue was really interested in the animals, but was able to still guide me safely – which is a huge improvement from her predecessor, who couldn’t ever work in a park or around other animals. Arizona was interested in all of the animals, but really liked the ducks. after touring the animals we walked along the various paths and over bridges.

Arizona has become really confident on leash, so it’s definitely time to buy her a harness, so she doesn’t get into the habit of pulling on her collar.

On the 9th we went to Kira’s trailer. this was Arizona’s first opportunity to try out swimming. Because of the rough water I decided to have her wear a life jacket. she took to water so quickly that you’d think she has always been swimming.

Arizona runs down a cement boat ramp towards the water. She's wearing a pink camo life jacket.

While at the lake Arizona met several people and got to play with two poodles and a shepherd mix.

Arizona swims towards our friend Kira. You can see her little tail straight out behind her.

After swimming we hung out for a while and had dinner with Kira and her mom. Arizona dug up Sam’s garden – BAD PUPPY!! – and got to see a campfire for the first time.

Side view of rogue on a dock looking out at the water. She's wearing a red with black life jacket.

Rogue swam a bit more than previous years, but still felt more comfortable when she wore her life jacket.

On the 10th we went to visit Phoenix’s foster mom, alice, at her retirement home. Arizona found it a bit warm there, but finally settled on the tile after being pet by over a dozen people. she had wheelchairs and walkers pass her while she napped, but she didn’t even care.

After leaving Alice we went to my Aunt Dawn’s place where Arizona had a chance to meet my Aunt’s three little dogs, as well as, my cousin and her two kids. Arizona had no issues with my Aunt’s dogs and she played well with my cousin’s kids.

the only thing she did at one point that wasn’t so good was when she tried to pull the 3 year old’s shorts down, lol!

On the 13th Arizona had her first vet appointment. Bianca says she is a really healthy puppy and thinks she will be tall and slim. Arizona is just over 20lbs and got boosters for both Parvo and distemper. Bianca wasn’t sure about what the breeder’s vet gave the puppies, so decided to go with the boosters in order to make sure Arizona didn’t miss the important period of full immunity. She said her fecal test came back fine and that she doesn’t feel Arizona needs to go on Revolution this year. She says we’ll give her the rabies vaccine around a year of age like we did with Rogue, so we won’t need to bring her back until the others come for their annual check up.

On the 14th we went to Kira’s final soccer game of the summer. Arizona was busy mowing the lawn and exploring the area around our chairs the entire game, so when we got home she was absolutely exhausted.

On Friday night Arizona didn’t want to sleep, so I ended up having to go downstairs and sleep on the couch with her so that Huib could sleep for work. We had a really rough day on Saturday, which might also have been related to my horrible migraine, so when Huib got home in the evening I had a complete breakdown. I told him that I regret getting Arizona and that I feel as though she’s too much for us. I told him that I wished I had returned her after a week so we could get our money back, but that I knew that wouldn’t be happening now. I told him how frustrated I was about her mouthiness and vocalness and how I believed she was rude and mean to the other dogs.

Huib patiently listened to me while holding my hand and then gave me a big hug, and took over caring for Arizona for the rest of the night.

On Sunday we went to Pet smart and I bought Arizona two new crinkly Skinneez toys, a giraffe and an alligator, and then picked out a Mickey Mouse collar and harness. the collar is black and the harness is red with each of them having a ribbon sewed on it with Mickey’s head shape in red, yellow and blue. My description probably doesn’t make the most sense, so I’ll try to get a picture of them soon.

the past two weeks have been really challenging.

Arizona is extremely smart and devious, so we’ve really had to keep a close eye on her and make sure to use every moment as a teachable one.

I’ve continued to work on recall, ‘leave it’ and sit, and have begun introducing down and hand targeting.

I really hope my migraines calm down soon so that I can work more regularly with Arizona on these Level 1 behaviours, but in the meantime I am just trying to do at least a couple training sessions a day.

Since Returning

Rogue and I have now been home for two weeks. It has been a busy two weeks, but most of the time it’s been stress-free.

Rogue had a bit of a lapse in her work the week after we returned. she seemed to think Huib should be guiding me and also it got really warm quickly, so she was a bit iffy on her curb-work and her pace was slower than I feel comfortable with. I took robin’s advice and ignored Rogue’s protests. I began to speak firmer and also made her redo any curb she even slightly messed up. It seemed to work because her work got better the following day and then even better the next.

Now her work is back to what it had been in Wyoming.

I think it was hard for Huib not to step in and help us out, but he did a really good job at restraining himself.

I try to get rogue out working every day, even just for a short trip around the neighbourhood. I ask her to take me directly to the curbs, even if we are planning on not crossing. I think Rogue is beginning to understand the whole “barrier to barrier” activity. I think it will help us both with orientation in the end, I just need to remind myself not to begin relaxing things as we get further into our partnership.

This past Friday I had Rogue’s eyes tested. Our friend Sam had to take her French Bulldog to the eye vet for an appointment, so I joined her. I planned to set up an appointment for Rogue and Cessna to have their eyes tested at a later date, but someone had cancelled and Dr Whalen said he could check without dilating her eyes, so we did it. her eyes are perfect! I assumed they were fine, but I wanted to make sure things were good before I completely retired Cessna. Labs tend to begin having eye issues around 2-3 years of age, so it’s always good to check things out.

other than working, rogue and I have attended a couple of soccer games with our friend Sam. her daughter, Kira, plays soccer every Thursday, so we’ve been going to watch. Rogue is really interested in watching, but she gets cold and bored after a while, so we’ve started bringing a blanket for her to lie on or under, depending on what she wants. there always seems to be other dogs at the games, but Rogue really doesn’t seem phased by them. One of the dogs who attends is a puppy in training from Dog Guides, so it was cool to meet her and her foster family. Norma is about 5 months old.

Time For Annual Check-Ups

On Saturday the dogs had their annual check-ups with Dr. b.

Canyon was first. He had two years of good titers, so Bianca said we could skip them this year along with the Heartworm testing. She then asked us if we have any concerns and we told her about the episodes Canyon has been having. we told her that we’ve finally figured it out after 3 years, it is not a leg cramp like we had originally thought. It took us (Bianca included) 3 years to figure out what was happening because it is not a typical kind of seizure.

The episodes started in October of 2011. We had recently come in from a long game of fetch and while Canyon was chilled out on the kitchen floor, he started to flip out, as if he was in pain. After struggling to restrain him, we finally figured out that something was up with his left hind leg. he was able to move everything else, and he was totally aware of what was going on, but he couldn’t seem to extend his hip. It lasted only minutes and didn’t occur again until the following october, when they happened twice, about three weeks apart.

Bianca couldn’t make a definitive diagnosis because the symptoms, the frequency and after effects are odd. Other than some increased clinginess beforehand, a slight increase in drooling, some muscle twitching and a release of his anal glands, Canyon is completely normal during and after the seizure. It lasts about 5 minutes from start to when he gets up and grabs his toy to parade around again. he doesn’t loose consciousness, he isn’t incontinent and the muscle twitches only seem to impact his back end, so it took a while for us to figure it out.

This past September Canyon had another seizure, and then at the end of February, end of march and then about a week ago, he had them. Since they seem to be happening more often, we’ve finally figured out what they are. we did some research on seizures and it looks as though Canyon is having Partial Seizures.

Bianca feels as though we are doing everything we can at the moment. She is going to retest his thyroid levels in November because she said the results were on the low side of normal and that Hypothyroidism can cause seizures, but that for now we’ll just monitor things. Since we did note that he had had fish within 24 hours before having at least two of the seizures, Bianca has instructed us to eliminate all fish, except his Omega 3 supplement, from his diet. the only other thing we can also pinpoint as a possible trigger is anxiety and/or stress, so we’re going to try to limit that, but of course it will be impossible to totally avoid.

We are a bit worried about this diagnosis because from our research, it looks as though it is common for Partial Seizures to worsen and become Grand Mal Seizures. Bianca doesn’t want to start Canyon on medication yet, and we agree, because the medications cause liver damage, he’s not quite 5 and the seizures aren’t too severe, so it’s better to wait.

Other than Canyon’s Atypical Seizure Disorder (Bianca’s name for them) we were also a bit concerned about the scar on his eye lid from the surgery back in October. It seems to have grown a bit and it looks as though something is trying to come out. Bianca gave us a homeopathic remedy, Silica, to give him for 7 days and she hopes it will promote the rejection of whatever is bothering the area. Both Huib and Bianca think that it is possible Canyon’s body is rejecting the internal stitches that should have dissolved on their own months ago. She said that if it gets any worse or doesn’t go away soon, that we should bring him back and she’ll probably lance it.

Next it was Rogue’s turn to be examined. Bianca said that we could also skip the titers and heartworm test for her because of previous results. She said that Rogue looks amazing and began asking us questions about where we got her.

after Rogue had finished giving Bianca tons of kisses, it was Cessna’s turn to be checked. She needed her thyroid checked, since she’s already got Hypothyroidism and is taking Levo-thyroxine, but Bianca gave her a pass on the titers and heartworm test.

Bianca was surprised to find out that Cessna is already 10.5. She said that she is in wonderful shape, but that she thinks we should increase her Glucosamine because her elbows seem a bit stiff and her knees are a little crunchy. She said that Cessna doesn’t seem to be in any pain though, so she isn’t really concerned.

this year’s vet visit was pretty successful. all of the dogs are healthy and at good weights: Canyon is 73lbs and both Rogue and Cessna are about 61lbs.

Canyon’s Surgery

Canyon lies half on the tile and half on the carpet. he has a clear plastic cone on and a red bandage on his right front paw.

Today Canyon had the inflamed gland on the lower lid of his left eye surgically removed. the incision is completely invisible and Huib says it looks as though nothing was ever there or taken off. canyon cannot play fetch and has to wear the plastic cone for 10 days. He’s on 5 days of antibiotic eye drops and 4 days of Metacam.