Wine Country Kennel Club

Sorry it took me so long to write about the Wine Country Kennel Club conformation dog show, but it was kind of a horrible weekend.

Judi (canyon’s co-breeder) picked us up early Saturday (October 12) morning and we headed to Welland. Canyon and Emmie were two of just six golden retrievers at the show, so right off the bat we knew it wasn’t going to be amazing. When we arrived, we set up the x-pens, camping chairs and shelter, then Huib started getting both goldens ready for the ring. Canyon’s coat was awesome and for some reason, his tail has gotten fuller, so we were really hoping he’d do well. Emmie’s coat, on the other hand, was not cooperating. It was overly wavy and has gotten thinner since she started to show. Once they were all groomed, Huib took each of them out for a quick tour around the fair grounds to practice walking and give them a chance to take in all of the sights and sounds. Then, at 10:30am it was show time.

Huib and Canyon were perfect! Canyon seems to know what he’s doing and barely needs Huib at all. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the judge’s type and ended up getting nothing, except for 1st place in the Canadian Bred Dog class because he was the only one entered. When it was time for Huib and emmie to enter, I took Canyon and they did their thing. emmie was absolutely horrible! Huib nicknamed her the bucking bronco and couldn’t do anything to get her to stop galloping and jumping around like a horse.

And, sadly, the next two days went the same for both dogs.

Judi thinks showing is just not emmie’s thing and will most likely stop trying to get her Canadian Championship.

canyon still loves the show ring, so we’ve scheduled him to have the inflamed gland on the lower lid of his left eye removed on October 30th. In addition to the worry that he might end up getting a major eye infection from injuring the spot, we think that having the spot removed will help his chances in the show ring and hopefully he’ll get an opportunity to finally get his title.

I’m not sure how much I’ve said about the spot on the lower lid of his left eye, but we took him for a surgical consult on the 15th, and were told that it’s not actually a cyst, but an inflamed gland. the vet told us that dogs and humans have glands in their eye lids and that sometimes they become inflamed, but usually return to normal. She said that sometimes this doesn’t happen, so the gland needs to be completely removed. canyon’s inflamed gland is right next to his tear duct, so she said that it’s even more important that we have it done.

This will be Canyon’s first time having surgery, so hopefully nothing eventful happens. He’ll have his blood drawn before the surgery in order to make sure all of his values are normal and we’ve also asked them to run his thyroid since Hypothyroidism is really common in golden retrievers. The surgery will last about 20 to 30 minutes and then we’ll pick him up sometime after 1:00pm. We’ll stay with him in the waiting room before the surgery while he is given the mild sedation and then the vet will take him into the surgical suite to have the rest done. He’ll have to wear the “cone of shame” for about a week and then she said he should be totally fine to return to his normal activities.

I’ll let everyone know how the surgery goes, but I don’t suspect it will be anything major.

Update On Cessna’s Dental Surgery

One week ago, Cessna went for a check with the doggie dentist. Dr Hale wanted to make sure her incisions were healing and that her stitches were dissolving properly.

We received some bad news.

the lower left molar was not healing. the stitches had come apart at some point and because of the exposed bone, the wound wasn’t healing over. Dr hale scheduled Cessna for surgery that afternoon.

I was so worried. I had been worried enough about her going under anesthetic for her initial dental surgery, but now I was really concerned. We brought her to the office and she was given a sedative and waited in the waiting room with us until Dr hale was ready. Huib and I brought some things to keep us occupied so we could stay at the office – I didn’t want to leave my little Cessnaroo.

the surgery went by quickly and Cessna came back out almost perfectly wide awake.

Dr hale told us that we would have to have her wear the “cone of shame” or have her on leash, to make sure she doesn’t rub her face. He thinks that Cessna probably broke open the stitches when she rubbed her face on the carpet or couch. I told him I’d keep her on leash and put a bell on her collar so I know what she is doing at all times.

He sent us home with four days worth of Meticam and five days worth of Tramadol.

It’s been a week since the surgery and so far I think the stitches are holding up. She has an appointment scheduled for next week to see if she’ll finally get the all clear. In the meantime, she’ll stay on leash and have the bell on her collar – I don’t want her to have any more surgery.

Dental Surgery

One week and four days ago, Cessna had dental surgery.

Back in June, I took her to see a doggie dentist for a free check and he found several teeth that needed to be extracted.

When we arrived at the doggie dentist office, he gave Cessna a sedative. We sat with her in the waiting room so it could take effect. Cessna was then taken into the back to have an IV inserted and to have x-rays done before we left.

In June, we’d learned that Cessna had a broken premolar, a chipped upper incisor and two loose lower incisors that all needed to be extracted. After the x-rays were done, we learned that Cessna has a condition where her body is reabsorbing the roots of her teeth. This meant that some of her other teeth would need to be removed because they were just sitting in her mouth.

In total, Cessna had two lower molars, an upper premolar, an upper incisor and four lower incisors extracted.

The condition that Cessna has can progress or stay the same, so each year Cessna will need to go for x-rays and possibly have more teeth removed.

After we learned the results of the x-ray we were told we could leave for an hour, so we went home to grab some breakfast.

When we returned to pick Cessna up, she was beginning to wake up from the anesthetic, so we waited. When she could stand they had us take her outside so she could walk a bit on the pavement. We then took her home and gave her a Tramadol before bringing her into our bedroom for some rest. She was in some pain before the Tramdol kicked in, so she was whimpering. Huib grabbed a pillow and blanket and fell asleep on the floor with Cessna curled up against him.

After about three days, Cessna began to feel better and over the past week she has been trying to play tug and fetch again.

We take her to see the doggie dentist on Wednesday to see whether she can start eating her regular meals or if she needs to continue eating boneless meats.

Cessna’s Thyroid Levels

Cessna has been on Levo-Thyroxine, a thyroid medication, for almost 4 weeks, so I thought I’d do a bit of an update.

At her annual checkup in June, we learned that Cessna has Hypothyroidism. We weren’t overly surprised to find this out. Cessna will be 10 in October and labs are prone to Hypothyroidism. In addition, we’ve noticed some changes that had us a bit suspicious:

* Cessna is 4lbs heavier than I’d like, and we’ve been struggling to get the excess weight to go away;
* Cessna has begun to shed more than usual;
* Cessna seems to have less energy than usual, but we also thought she was just aging; and
* Cessna had begun coughing and clearing her throat a lot in March and it seemed to be getting worse.

Within a few days of starting the medication, Cessna was no longer coughing and clearing her throat. Dr b says that labs are known to get some sort of condition with Hypothyroidism where there is some level of paralysis in the larynx. She said that the condition is reversible with medication, but that the chances of full recovery depends upon how long it has been going on. Since Cessna had only had the issue for a few months, she fully recovered. Added to this, Cessna seems to have more energy, is beginning to lose the excess weight and her coat seems healthier.

She is currently taking half a milligram daily, split into two doses. We had her thyroid levels checked on Wednesday and were told that they are at a good number, so for now, she’ll remain on the same dose.

This coming wednesday, Cessna will be having a few teeth extracted, so I’m hoping that she’ll recover quickly with her thyroid levels being normal.

Eye Checks

Today, we took Rogue and Cessna to a CERF clinic held in simcoe. Rogue is now 27 months, so I wanted to make sure her vision was good before we continued her training.

A blind guide dog isn’t too much help to a blind person 😉

Two years ago, we took Cessna and Canyon to a CERF clinic held in Kitchener and learned that she had developed tiny cataracts. Since Dr Nick Whelan, was going to be the ophthalmologist at this clinic, I thought I’d get Cessna’s eyes rechecked. Well…the news was both good and bad. the good news is that Cessna can still see perfectly fine, but the bad news is that she now has three additional cataracts in her right eye. At the last check she had just three in that eye, but now there are six. There are still only two in her left eye though, which also good, I guess…

Dr Whelan says that she will most likely develop more of these tiny cataracts, which will at some point interfere with her vision, but that they will probably continue to remain tiny. I’m both happy and sad with this news. I’m happy that Cessna can still work with me, but I’m sad to know that someday she may not be able to see well enough to chase her beloved squirrels and chipmunks.

Moving on to better news. Rogue’s vision is perfect! Other than some capillaries that didn’t go away at birth, something that doesn’t effect her vision, she’s got perfect amber coloured eyes.

With CERF clinics being so inexpensive and most doctors offering free exams to service dogs, I really don’t see why dog guide programs aren’t asking their clients to take their dogs on an annual basis. If it weren’t for Canyon’s need to get his clearances for breeding, I would never have known Cessna was developing cataracts. The cataracts aren’t causing any issues with her vision, so we’re a safe team, but it’s still a good thing to know and keep tabs on.

Cessna’s Teeth

On Friday, Huib and I took Cessna to see Dr Fraser hale. Dr Hale was participating in the free oral exams for service dogs program, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to have him look over Cessna’s mouth and let us know what needed to be done with the premolar Dr B had pointed out.

Cessna was not happy with this appointment. She doesn’t really like having people poke and prod her, so having some strange guy hold her mouth open and touch her teeth was not fun. She was a trooper though, and let Dr hale do what he needed to do.

Dr Hale found not only the premolar Dr B had already pointed out, but three additional issues. Cessna needs to get the premolar extracted in addition to three incisors. She chipped one of her top incisors a long time ago, which has Dr Hale worried about infection, but she has also caused two lower incisors to become loose. I’m not really sure what happened to the lower incisors, but I’m thinking it might have something to do with her attempts to catch frisbees and other toys while we play fetch.

She’s not exhibiting any discomfort at the moment, so we have scheduled the extraction for August 14th, which happens to be the first appointment time Dr Hale has available.

Next Sunday we’re taking Rogue and Cessna to have their eyes tested, hopefully we’ll have better news to report there.

Annual Check-Ups

Last Friday, Canyon, Cessna and Rogue went to see Dr B for their annual checkups.

Just before going into the clinic, we let them all go to the washroom, hoping for a feacal sample. We didn’t end up with a sample, but Cessna found her own feacal sample to try out. She rolled in goose poop, and smelled horrible! Huib tried really hard to get the smell out of her coat, but wasn’t overly successful so, stinky Cessna came with the other two into the clinic.

Rogue was the first to be checked out. Dr B listened to her heart, lungs and abdomen. while listening to her heart, she commented on how relaxed rogue was – she said her heart was beating nice and slow. After the physical examination, rogue had blood taken for her Heartworm and Lyme tests, and for her distemper and Parvo titters. We have the dogs on a limited vaccine protocol, so they have titters done every other year to make sure they still have the right level of immunity. the only vaccine we don’t run titters for, is the rabies one, because it is really expensive. After the blood was drawn, Dr b asked if there was anything that concerned us, we mentioned rogue’s possible soft trachea issues, and her need for some sort of carbohydrate (oats, rice, quinoa, sweet potato) in order to be less gassy. She said it’s possible she has an extra flap of skin in her trachea, that is swelling in the summer, but she said to continue what we’re doing, if it’s working. As for the need for carbohydrates, she said that works and that we can also add them into the diets of the others.

Next to be examined was Canyon. He had all of the same blood tests done, but was also due for his rabies vaccine. After checking him over, Dr b looked at the spots where he had scratched and licked his fur away, sometimes causing wounds. She called them hot spots, which I don’t agree, but told us to clean them thoroughly and then put this stuff on them called Allederm. She also asked if we had any concerns, and we told her about the couple of times he’s woken up with left hind leg pain. We said it looked as though he most likely had a leg cramp, since it went away within a few minutes, and had only happened a few times, a few months apart. She couldn’t find any signs of a problem, but told us that she recommends people start their large breed dogs on Glucosamine at 5 years of age, but that we could always start him now if we wanted. She also examined the tiny cyst on the lower lid of his left eye and we discussed neutering. Other than a higher chance for prostate and testicular cancer, there isn’t really a big push for neutering, so we agreed that we’d rather leave things as they are, but said we’d watch the cyst to make sure it doesn’t grow.

Finally, it was stinky Cessna’s turn. She had been hiding under my chair while the others were checked over. Dr B did a physical examination and took blood for her heartworm and Lyme tests, as well as, for titters and for a geriatrics work up. Cessna will be 10 in October, so we wanted to check all of her blood values, to make sure she’s as healthy as possible. After that was done, we had Dr b re-check her fatty lumps and asked her about the choking and coughing Cessna has started to do more often. i told her Phoenix used to also do it, and that I felt it might be related to the fact that both were trained (by their school) using choke chains. She said that older dogs tend to need to clear their throats more, but she checked her throat, mouth and lungs and heard nothing worrisome. the only issue Dr b found with Cessna, was a slightly broken back molar. It happens to be the same back molar Phoenix broke at the age of 10, so I’m guessing git has to do with age. I told her I’d make an appointment sometime this summer with the doggie dentist who did Phoenix’s tooth extraction, and since Cessna isn’t bothered by the tooth, she said that was fine.

When she was done checking over the dogs, Dr b asked us what they were eating and what supplements we are giving them. She was happy with everything, and said that our plan to return to giving them Kelp is a good idea. Retrievers have a high rate of cancer, so anything we can do to help prevent this is a good plan.

We haven’t received any calls regarding their blood work, so I assume everything is perfect, or at least in the normal range.

Now that our wallet is a lot lighter, it’s time to save for their next vet visit, lol!

Itchy Canyon

We’re at a loss…

We don’t know what is wrong…

But, for the past few days, Canyon has been panting, scratching, licking and biting himself.

This happened last summer, right around this time, but, like now, we had no clue how to help him.

We talked to the vet last year and she checked him all over. She couldn’t find anything wrong.

We tried allergy medication for a month, just to see if it was the pollen causing him to be uncomfortable. It didn’t help.

we tried spraying him with doggie insect repellent to prevent the black flies and mosquitoes from feasting on him, it didn’t seem to make a difference.

The only way we were able to stop the obsessive scratching, licking and biting, was by making him wear t-shirts and sometimes booties on his back feet.

so, guess what?

canyon is back to wearing t-shirts and booties on his back feet.

Since we’re taking a break from conformation, Canyon developed a cyst on the lower lid of his left eye in january that needs to be surgically removed, we decided to try leaving him alone and seeing what damage he’d do to his coat and skin before he stopped.

Well, within just a couple of days, he has a small scabbed area behind his left ear and on his chest.

so, leaving him to his own devices isn’t going to work.

Thankfully, he seems to like wearing the t-shirts, and tolerates the boots.

We gave Canyon and Cessna baths this morning, she was also scratching a bit more than we’d like, so we’ll see if maybe there was some dirt in their coats.

While combing Canyon this evening, Huib noticed that he has a bit of a heat rash, so we’ve sprayed his groin area with some stuff that is supposed to help with itchiness. we’ve also turned the central air on so the house is nice and cool.

He seems a bit more comfortable tonight, and really hasn’t been panting, so maybe it’s the heat, maybe it was a bug bite or maybe it was dirt.

But, since it’s Canyon, we’ll probably never know. he’s such an obsessive dog when it comes to some things.

Rest Peacefully Our Golden Princess

On Thursday, March 14th, 2013, at approximately 3:30pm, we said goodbye to our Golden Princess.

Aspen stands in a blanket of fallen leaves.

We didn’t know Aspen was seriously ill. We had decided to take her to see Dr B because she didn’t seem to be herself and she was beginning to refuse her meals.

On Monday, Aspen was wrestling with rogue.

On Tuesday, Aspen only finished half of her turkey wing, so we thought her jaw might be sore from chewing beef bones and icicles, so Huib gave her a can of salmon instead, and she slowly ate it.

On Wednesday, Aspen seemed uninterested in interacting with anyone, and was hesitant about eating both her breakfast and dinner. I decided to brush her and look for any abnormal lumps or sores, but found none. I did notice that her heart seemed to be beating a bit quicker than normal, but I thought it might have just been her hatred for being groomed. but, I sent Huib an iMessage and he suggested I try to make an appointment with Dr B.

Thursday morning we woke up really early and piled everyone into the Orlando. aspen seemed tired and was panting a bit, but again, we weren’t too worried – it was 3am. when she went to jump into the back of the Orlando though, she didn’t quite make it and Huib had to help her – this made us worry a bit. On the drive, aspen sat up a few times and panted, but she always laid back down and didn’t seem distressed. when we arrived in Guelph, we let everyone relieve themselves and Aspen did both, so we returned to thinking it was going to be okay.

As soon as Dr b entered the examination room and saw Aspen lying on the floor, panting, she said she was concerned. She checked her heart rate, her temperature and listened to her lungs before she told us she didn’t feel it was going to be happy news. she was worried about Lymphoma and tumours on her spleen, but when she shaved her abdominal area to do an abdominal aspiration (to check for blood), she found unexplained bruising, and began to worry about anemia. she took some blood and sent it off to be tested.

She asked us to stay in the examination room with aspen until the test results came back because she wanted aspen to remain calm and relaxed. We sat with her for three hours, taking turns sitting on the floor to pet her.

When the test results came back, it wasn’t good news at all. We had known something was wrong from the way Aspen had begun to have more and more difficulty breathing and getting comfortable throughout the day, but we were hopeful that Dr b could do something to help her.

Aspen was diagnosed with a very aggressive case of Leukemia.

Close up of Aspen from our walk along the closed road near our house.

Dr b told us that Aspen’s white blood cell count was through the roof and her red blood cell count was beyond being anemic. She felt that Aspen wouldn’t make it through the night, let alone through a chemo treatment. She said that if we decided to try chemo, she could have aspen in for a round in the evening, but we all worried that she may die on the treatment table. It was so hard to get all this news. We were in complete shock and felt helpless. We worried about giving up too early on our golden girl, but we worried even more about putting her through a treatment that could either kill her or cause her pain and suffering that wouldn’t even end up giving her back any semblance of a life.

We sat for two hours with Aspen, talking about the options and spending as much time as we could with her, because deep down, I guess we already knew what our decision was going to have to be.

By 3:00pm, aspen was having more and more difficulty breathing and getting comfortable. She was so warm and it was heartbreaking to watch her struggle. at 3:20pm, we told Dr B that we had decided to let Aspen go. she felt we were making the best possible decision.

Aspen sits in front of a flowering apple tree.

Huib and I sat beside aspen, while Cessna, rogue and Canyon laid around us. Dr b began inserting the anesthetic and Huib said aspen passed before she had even finished inserting half of it. We feel as though she must have been ready to go. her body was just having too much trouble fighting to stay alive.

I meant to tell our blog readers about her passing sooner, but her sudden death has left us in a state of confusion and disbelief. It just happened so suddenly, that we are having trouble coming to terms with it all. We know time will heal some of the wounds, but we still keep wondering if there is something we missed or something more we could have done.

Rest peacefully and chase all the leaves you desire our Golden Princess. You and Phoenix are back together and I know you’ll both take good care of each other.

We all miss you little girl, and the paw prints you’ve left on our hearts will never be forgotten.

Aspen Update

It’s now been about a month and a half since Aspen’s surgery, and two months since we first noticed the large, firm lump that ended up being an inflamed lymph node.

It has taken a while, but the lymph nodes are pretty close to normal feeling now. This is a relief, because Dr B was getting a little worried about the inflammation being a sign of something much worse than just an infected, broken canine tooth.

Aspen also started a glandular made by Standard Process for her Hypothyroidism about a month and a half ago, and it seems to be doing something. Aspen has always been an anxious dog, but over the past few weeks we’ve noticed a more relaxed girl. She didn’t really show any of the classic signs of Hypothyroidism, but we’ve also noticed her gastrointestinal issues have decreased. In a couple of weeks, we will be going on another road trip, so we’ll have a really good idea from that, regarding whether or not Aspen has become less anxious.

about four or five years ago, Aspen began developing a whitish spot on her left eye. Over the years, the spot has grown, but Dr B hasn’t been able to figure out what it could be other than a scar. At Aspen’s spring visit, Dr B again commented on the spot, which is now like a white crescent shape, and suggested we get in contact with a doggie opthomologist. We haven’t had a chance or the money to do so, but had planned to take her in the new year.

Thursday night Huib was bored at work, so decided to try researching Aspen’s eye problem. After a bit of Googling different combinations of search terms, he had found the answer to the mystery.

Aspen has Lipid Keratopathy, or fats in the eye that appear as a white crescent shape. The condition is common in dogs with Hypothyroidism and is a sign that there is too much cholesterol in the bloodstream. there is no pain associated with the condition, and we aren’t sure if it is reversible, but it is recommended that dogs with the condition are put on a low fat diet with Omega 3 fatty acids (or fish oil) and extra fibre.

We had begun to notice Aspen’s right eye getting a similar look back in the spring, but it has since cleared up, so we’re wondering if the raw diet, which for Aspen consists of a lot of fish because of her gastrointestinal issues and requires an Omega 3 supplement, was part of the solution.

Huib has printed off the 2010 article he found in a veterinary journal for Dr B to see, and we are going to make sure Aspen no longer gets meats with skin and when possible a little more fish and daily fibre.

It’s been a good week for good news on Aspen. It’s scary to know that she has been dealing with the Hypothyroidism and Lipid Keratopathy for close to five years, but now that we are aware and know of how to improve things, I hope we’ll be able to spend many more years with our golden girl.