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.

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!