Saturday, February 28, 2009

I don't understand my dog

Off to another trial this weekend with absolutely no clue how it would go. Well, Legend was insane in her standard run. Seriously, she was running laps around the ring at top speed, occasionally returning to take some obstacles. When she finally stopped the timer on one of her zoomie circles we were politely whistled off the course. So she had fun but was totally out of control. It was, however, very entertaining. Her jumpers run was much better with just an off course tunnel and popping out at pole ten or eleven. She seemed to be working at a good speed and with nice lateral distance and overall seemed pretty confident. She even made a challenging off side weave entry. So either the training I have been doing with her is working or she has multiple personalities. I'm leaning toward multiple personalities. We'll see which dog runs tomorrow-with any luck it might even be the one that can Q. I won't hold my breath too much though, not until I start getting some kind of consistency from her.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


So I'm just watching it rain and waiting for obedience class to start. Probably some people will skip since there is a storm coming. Hopefully enough will come to make having class worthwhile. Then it's home to a good dinner and packing for an agility trial. I'm crossing my fingers that Legend does not stress out but I have not had that many days to work with her so I am not expecting too much too soon. At least she has been working well at home.

Zodiac is bored with waiting for class to start as well.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meet Sport

Sport is an approximately 1 1/2 year old Border Collie picked up as a stray by Springfield Animal Control. Having went unclaimed for the allotted time he was pulled by MOKAN BC rescue and will be available for adoption through them. Sport is neutered (yesterday), microchipped, current on all vaccines, heartworm negative, and started on Interceptor and Frontline. Of course, he also has kennel cough and is being treated with antibiotics. He's very sweet and seems mild mannered with a medium energy level-so far. He also seems like he will be ok with cats and other dogs and so far has had no accidents in his crate. We were surprised no one was looking for him. He looked recently groomed, had no matts in his fur and was not underweight. But he was also not tagged, chipped or neutered so whoever had him was probably not too responsible I guess. Anyway, looks like he will be a good dog for someone if anyone knows somebody interested.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm in the wrong business

I'm always amazed at the price of having something custom framed. Even though I know it's not going to be cheap I'm always floored when they give me the actual price. At BC nationals I won a cute print in the raffle at the rescue benefit. It had a black and white BC and a red and white BC in a barn near a paint horse. Perfect for our bedroom. Today I dropped it off at Micheal's to be framed. I chose a plain green mat, simple wooden frame, and the lower end glass option. After my 55% off coupon the total was still almost $90. Amazing. So much for "winning" the artwork.

With Wiggles gone we opened the whole rabbit area up for Spring. I was afraid this added space would disrupt her litter box use but so far she is using her new freedom responsibly.
And here is Icy just looking adorable-she must have the sweetest face ever!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A First

Today at work I was asked something for the first time. A dog, previously diagnosed with cancer was brought in for evaluation of quality of life. After discussing with the owner (a paramedic) what he was noticing at home and what I was seeing on the exam it was determined that the dog was very much ready for euthanasia. After putting the dog down and checking for a heartbeat (there was none) the owner, in the midst of his tears and grief, requested to borrow my stethoscope and asked where to listen. It didn't seem like he didn't believe me, I think he just felt better having heard for himself and he also seemed surprised how fast the euthanasia solution worked.

It was a sad situation but reminded of a time in vet school when an equine intern and I were sent out to the university farm to euthanize one of the older donation horses that had developed an acute case of laminitis. After we put him down and I found no heartbeat the intern insisted on listening too. She apologized and explained that she was sure I could make the diagnosis of "dead" but was paranoid and wanted to listen for herself. I didn't blame her. "Dead" is not a diagnosis you want to make a mistake on-and if it takes two of you to be sure then that's ok. No one wants to have an animal wake up in a bag, or freezer, or at home with an owner. Or in the case of the horse-a shed which apparently doubled as someones research lab. We didn't know about that when we decided to leave him there until the trailer could come for him. It seemed better than outside where wild animals could get to him.

Anyway, that is the first time anyone has asked to listen to their deceased pet's stopped heart. I sometimes let kids listen to their pet's heart if they (kids and pet) are relatively well behaved. It's usually a big hit and certainly a happier memory for the owner than the situation today.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

One more thing

Here's another thing that people do that annoys me-they snap their fingers and point at the dog when they tell it to do something. I have very little confidence that the snapping and pointing makes

the dog more compliant. Better yet they seem to think this technique will work even when the dog has no understanding of what they are being asked. Oh well-some people are slow learners.

Thanks to everyone for their sympathy with our loss of Wiggles. It is much appreciated.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

For Wiggles

I've never had to make the decision to euthanize one of my own pets. I routinely counsel other people on when the time is "right". But today I finally had to make that decision for Wiggles. He wasn't eating at all, was dull and lifeless in his pen and generally looked painful and miserable. His weight had dropped to less than 4 pounds (he was six pounds in his prime) and I refused to let him suffer any longer than he already had. Early this morning I let him go. I'm sure he has rejoined Holly at the Rainbow Bridge.

Monday, February 16, 2009


That's a "Dog With Issues" for those of you not involved in the dog training world. And now, I have one (well, one in addition to Oreo-who's always been a challenge). It seems Legend's agility ghost has returned. I suspected it was always lurking since she tends to get off to a slow start and then speed up through the end of the course, but we just spent a miserable weekend at the AKC trial in Lawrence. She's fine until you approach the ring gate and then she gets worried, quits tugging and won't play or anything. She had to be called more than once to get off the start line, she was dragging around the course avoiding some of the obstacles, stopping to look around and just generally not acting like the fun, happy dog I usually know. Then she blasts through the last few obstacles like a champ and picks up her leash and starts tugging like nothing was ever wrong. Clearly my training has been lacking at some point and we will be continuing to work on transferring her drive and enthusiasm for toys to agility and developing her confidence working at a distance. And of course, maintaining that drive through the whole course and not just end. Easier said than done I'm sure but I'm trying to remain optimistic that we can work through this.

I did do a hip x-ray just to make sure she's not having any physical issues and her hips are actually quite good-better than the boys if I remember their films correctly. Here's a picture of the film...

In other news, Wiggles has only been eating veggies for quite some time now but currently he is not even eating much of that. If he doesn't perk up any soon I will probably have to put him to sleep.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


There are two things that poeple do when they are using the command "stay" that just drive me crazy. The first group are the people that tell their dog "stay" when they leave the house or put the dog in a run or kennel. They often also point their finger at the dog for good measure. Ok-if your dog actually stays where you left it for the next eight hours then you are amazing, but for most people this just teaches the dog that this is an optional command since no one is around to enforce it. These same people then don't understand why the dog won't "stay" in other situations?

The other group of people fail to realize that the dog needs some consistent signal to let them know the "stay" is over. Apparently they think the dogs are mind readers and get upset when the dogs start guessing about when to get up. Sometimes people fall into both traps-I can't imagine how confused their dogs are.

I will be teaching stay in obedience class tonight and even though I will explain all of this some people will still do it wrong. People are hard to train.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I made several blankets for Christmas gifts this holiday season and made a few more as special requests and then put some for sale in the clinic-they were fun to make and cute but we didn't really need them and thought someone else might. Anyway, this one is mine. I bought this fabric awhile ago because I just loved the rainbow pattern. The back is lavender and compliments the pastels on the front nicely.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Problem

This is our yard. These are not our dogs. (They live at the house you see in the background) They are actually in the alley between our back yard fence and our pasture but they don't limit themselves to this area-they will pretty much go anywhere except the back yard because it is fenced with chain link and they can't get in. They run the fence line, bark, and poop in our yard-a lot. How anyone can think that letting their dogs run free and destroy another person's property and peace is amazing to me. I guess we will have to go talk to them-this is totally unacceptable.

And here are some pictures our our dogs from today. Zodiac declined to pose nicely so he didn't get his picture taken. Legend is doing pretty good on all the things we are working on except she has not really picked up on turning in the direction of my shoulders. She knows she's supposed to go out to the jump and turn and come back in to me but she's not figured out the cue to turn the appropriate direction. But it's only been a few days.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Special Kitty

Icy is sweet, beautiful, and cuddly. Sadly, she is not very smart. We recently decided to move her food bowl from the bathroom (which is where she lived when we first got her as she had a broken pelvis-and it worked out so we well we just continued with that) to where Jelly used to eat. It does not appear that Jelly will be moving back to the house anytime soon and Legend has been sneaking off to take Icy's food in the morning so this seemed like a good plan. Icy has yet to catch on. Twice a day, every day for more than a week we have had to fish a very confused cat out of the bathroom and bring her to the closet where her food bowl now lives. We have always blamed her "cerebral limitations" on her head trauma-she also had a broken jaw when we got her.

I have had 2 warm days to work with Legend on the things suggested to me last weekend. And what do you know-if I stand still and rotate my shoulders and upraised arm but do not actually move forward in the new direction-she does not realize she should turn in that direction. So we are working on consistent body language cues and eventually working on understanding these cues from a distance. And we have continued our work on building drive, proofing contacts and weave poles. Never ending projects.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Warm weather, baby shower, and barking dogs

We have had warm and springlike weather for a few days here and today I was home and able to work Legend in the daylight. It was a little mushy out but otherwise great for agility. What was not great for agility was the four barking dogs carrying on as they ran around the entire length of our fence. It didn't break Legend's focus (good girl) but they were so loud I could barely hear myself calling commands. Plus I found like 10 piles of poop in our front yard on my way to get the mail. Our dogs don't go in the front yard. Hmmm. Very annoying.

The shower seemed to be a big success. I think everyone had a good time. I just had to share these pictures from the "Guess what baby food is in the diaper game." Sniffing only, no tasting. It was hilarious...

Friday, February 6, 2009


People seek second opinions on their pet mostly for three reasons-they had a bad experience at their previous vet, they don't believe the diagnosis (even if it's correct), or they are not confident in the previous vet's diagnostic and/or treatment plan. Today I had option number three. A very nice young man had an appointment for another opinion on his very nice, seemingly well cared for 8 year old Boxer with a cough. The original vet did not take any x-rays and so that's the first thing we did today after the exam. Since Boxers are prone to heart disease I was hoping that's all we would find, after all he didn't cough at all during the exam and had only slightly irregular lung sounds. Sadly that is not what we found. The radiograph showed his lungs were literally full of cancer-metastatic lesions from a tumor elsewhere in the body we couldn't easily find. Sadly, I've had recent practice giving this news to an owner-the radiograph could have been a carbon copy of the one I took of our friend Monty from the Portuguese Water Blog. I felt terrible for the dog and the nice young man who cried and asked how long his dog had to live. With the answer being only a few weeks to maybe a few months I thought about how lucky I was to have a 14 year old dog in relatively good health and how I've never been faced with the sudden and unexpected news that a beloved pet was suddenly afflicted with a rapidly terminal disease. On the other hand when I see a 17 year old pet who has received almost no health care in its life I feel like I deserve to have my dog live until he's 20.

I guess the bottom line is that good care won't prevent all bad diseases-sometimes you need a little luck as well. And sometimes my job entails making people cry, whether it be owners, staff, or even myself. I'm used to giving bad news and performing euthanasias ( I performed two today, in addition to giving the Boxer owner bad news...). It's just part of the job. Sometimes though, it's good to still cry during some of them-makes me realize I haven't gotten too used to them. I don't think anyone who is never saddened or affected by the loss of a patient can continue to be a good veterinarian.

Hopefully tomorrow will bring puppies and kittens and healthy young pets!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Unusual

In my line of work we get a lot of unusual requests, questions and conversations. For your amusement, here are some of my favorites

1. A caller who was convinced her dog had "milk-titus, just like cows get." She was just sure it could not have been mastitis-which is in fact, a real disease-just like cows get.

2. A person who wanted us to determine if their snake was dead-over the phone.

3. Another caller who had bombed their house for fleas but had left what is now their almost lifeless tarantula in the house during this process. They wanted to know 1)was it going to die (probably) and 2)if they bring it in for euthanasia how would we do it (seriously? crush it or flush it people-I think you can handle that one at home)

4. Can we declaw a dog that digs in the yard (um, no)

5. Can we extract all of their pet's teeth because it is biting them and/or the other pets (again, no)

6. I recently had a nice young man bring in a ferret because he thought it had been acting painful. After examining a perfectly normal ferret (actually one of the healthier ferrets I have seen) and finding no evidence of pain, the young man responded with-"maybe he just bruised his ribs jumping off his futon." I see his point-ferrets have short legs and the rib cage almost touches the ground normally-it's just something I never expected to hear anyone say.

7. A client once asked during an appointment how cows felt about wearing clothing. Apparently she had seen something in a magazine that someone was making clothes for farm animals. I responded that I did not know because I had never actually asked a cow that question.

8. A new puppy owner was very concerned about whether or not their puppy was old enough to get a rabies vaccine because the little guy had been biting her (normal puppy chewing) and she did not want him to get rabies because if he did she would have to find him a new home. For a moment I contemplated explaining the flaws in her logic but in the end decided to just give the vaccine. The puppy was old enough and it made everyone happy.

I'm sure I will have more at a later date-enjoy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


This is just another random photo-it does not look like this here anymore, most of the snow has melted.

I woke up yesterday with more congestion and a throbbing pain in one ear. I suspected I might have a sinus infection since a common cold should have come and gone by now. I didn't want to wait to get in and see a doctor since they would probably just give a prescription for antibiotics and call it good so I wrote "my dog" a prescription and had it filled at Walgreens. "My dog" no longer has an ear ache and is slightly less congested today. I am hoping "my dog" will be all better soon.

Meanwhile it's pretty cold here and not wanting to prolong my illness I have elected not to take the dogs out to play this afternoon. They are pretty bummed about it and so am I since I have some new things I am anxious to get started working on with Legend. I wish we had a basement so we could set up some sort of training indoors.

I am hosting a baby shower this weekend and so sometime this week I need to squeeze in getting the house cleaned up for a lot of company and figuring out where everyone will sit! We have plenty of space in our house which is why I volunteered to have it but not so many chairs. At least if someone has to sit on the carpet they are freshly cleaned!

And now, from the "what are people thinking" collection...

The clinic has a client (she's not my client, for obvious reasons) who has decided to purchase a "something"-poo (I think a malti-poo). I don't understand why people don't realize this is an overpriced mixed breed dog. I like mixed breed dogs but you can get one for significantly less money at the humane society while at the same time not encouraging "breeders" to produce an endless supply of pet quality mixes that they can charge an arm and a leg for while similar dogs are put to sleep at shelters every day. And you know that they are not choosing the best poodles and malteses to breed because no respectable poodle or maltese breeder would allow that to happen. So you are probably paying for a mixed breed dog with luxating patellas, an underbite, and umbilical hernia. Beyond that the puppy's tail is not docked and she wanted to know if she should have that procedure done now that the puppy is old enough to make it a major surgery. Well, since a malti-poo is not a breed and has no breed standard and the AVMA has recently taken a position against all tail docking and ear cropping I think that docking the puppy's tail now would be inappropriate. But then again so is the whole situation. See why she's not my client?

Sunday, February 1, 2009


And today she finished her AX. Although we are pretty excited about finishing these titles a rather pokey jumpers run (leading to 2 bars down) led me to get an opinion from one the top STL area handlers about why my dog does not run as fast as I know she can-even on a good run. She was about 14 seconds under course time on her standard run today but I know she can do better than that. His thoughts were that she does not have the confidence to work at a distance and has subsequently slowed down so to keep from making mistakes on course. So, even though I have tried very hard to never do anything to slow her down it looks like maybe I did. And although I've never been one of those handlers to bark constant commands at my dog on course I have "worked hard" for most of her Excellent Qs so he may have a point. He gave me some ideas on ways to teach her consistent cues on going straight, turning, and coming back in-all from a distance. He feels that if she knows for sure where to go she will run with more freedom and confidence and that will translate to more speed. So now I have more things to work on in addition to the other stuff I was doing with her. Plus proofing contacts and weave poles. And it's dark when I get up and when I get home and I have a lot of trials coming up. I guess we will just do the best we can and hope she's a fast learner! I know he said I'm young and will get to run a lot of dogs in my lifetime but I'm pretty committed to going as far as I can with this one-hopefully to a MACH.

In other agility news I got to meet our friends from CardiParty in person this weekend. It was fun to actually meet someone in person that I first met blogging!

Today is Zodiac's "birthday." We appointed it to him when he was adopted. It's hard to believe he's already eight years old. We think. He's at least that old anyway.

I did get home in time to watch all of the Superbowl. We were hoping for a Kurt Warner win but at least it was close.

I had a cold all of last week and I think going out in the cool and dusty agility arena has provided me with a less than helpful setback since I have a busy week coming up.

Also Barney's bloodwork was normal so apparently he is just a piglet.

And finally our neighbors are now allowing 5 dogs to run loose (in our yard) instead of the usual two. Fantastic.