Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Dog in the bag …….

Interesting to watch how dogs behave in the city.  We are so used to beaches and forests it’s hard to imagine.  We were in Zurich this week, where all the dogs we met were unbelievably well-behaved, and all on leads and harnesses.  Waiting on a tram, we watched a girl with an elderly medium-sized black dog of indeterminate origin pick up her dog and, with the help of her partner, pop him into a shopping bag before getting on the tram!  Dogs were common on the trams, but not in bags.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Pit Bull Placebo Book Review

The Pit Bull Placebo:  The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression, by Karen Delise
Published in 2007 by Anubis Publishing
ISBN 10: 0-9721914-1-0
ISBN 13: 978-0-9721914-1-8

This is a book I couldn’t put down.  Apparently the author researched for this book over 15 years, and I can believe it.  No statement is made without supporting references.  For me it was an eye-opener.  Delise has examined the way newspaper reporting in the US – and the public’s perception – of dog bite fatalities has changed in the last 150 years or so.  She shows how, with media hype, dog types given the greatest publicity for fatalities very soon become the most popular dogs for what she calls “substandard” owners, i.e. owners who want dogs who will increase their sense of power.  She shows how, in nearly all cases of dogs attacking humans, the treatment of these dogs (starved, chained, no social contact) is the underlying cause.  She outlines how the media currently ignores or gives minimum coverage to fatalities involving dog breeds not of “the pit bull type”.  She sites the amazing statistics for children who die at the hands of abusive fathers or father figures, against the comparatively small number who die from dog attacks.   This manipulated focus on breed of dog, rather than cause of behaviour, has two negative effects:  one, no one believes that other breeds can be dangerous, and every dog is capable of being dangerous;  two, the actual cause of the behaviour and thereafter proper preventative measures cannot be established.  Did you know that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that pit bulls’ jaws “lock”?  Delise dispels all the myths.  All politicians and all Council officials in charge of dog issues should read this book.  Frightening how easily we humans are led up the garden path.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


We hope that this disease never comes to your front door, as it is heartbreaking.

It is generally associated with German Shepherds and is basically a gradual paralysis of the back legs of the dog. Whilst there’s no obvious signs of any pain, to watch a majestic dog gradually lose the power of his or her legs, together with ultimately their dignity (although I have been accused of anthropomorphising on that score!!), has got to be one of the most soul-destroying experiences of a dog owners life.

Kiebher (or Keebsie as she was affectionately known) was my, at the time, 6 year old gsd. I got her from German Shepherd Rescue at the age of almost three. To say that she was a sweetheart would be the understatement of the year. She was adorable and full of life, and love for both people and other dogs. At the age of six I began to notice a ‘wobble’ in her back legs which, at first, I kind of ignored. As it became a bit more pronounced I thought that it might be a good idea to have her checked over by the vet. I thought that it might have something to do with hip dysplasia. So I took her along for a check up. Encouraging signs were that he primarily thought that it COULD be dysplasia and, because she was a young-ish and fit dog, a hip replacement operation would be a distinct possibility. However, he wanted to have her checked over by a specialist just to make sure that there wasn’t a neurological issue underlying things.

I took her the two hour drive up to Fife and left her for the day. The specialist was lovely but concluded that there WAS something else going on and recommended that I take her to the Glasgow vet school for an MRI scan and various other tests. To cut a long story short, this I did, and on returning to collect her was told that it was one of three things :
Disc 3 displacement, cancer of CDRM! I immediately asked where the lucky ace card was as this sounded horrendous. I hadn’t even heard of CDRM at the time but is even sounded awful.

So a process of elimination took place and CDRM it was. There is no known cause of the disease (although it has been mooted that it can be hereditary) and, what’s worse is, there is NO CURE. I was told that the best I could hope for was 9 – 12 months before she would be totally paralysed in the rear quarter and……………………..

The first thing that I noticed was that she stopped wagging her tail – not that she wasn’t still a happy pup, just she did not have any power in it. And the gradual decline set in. All I seemed to have to look forward to was her tripping up, being unable to lift her paw back into place, and  losing her toenails by ‘scuffing’ them along the ground, not to mention incontinence.  I vowed to try everything within my power to attempt to reverse this horrendous diagnosis.

I contacted a homeopath in the South of England (Patricia Bryans – thank you for everything) who went above and beyond the call of duty to help, providing weekly medicines, rescue remedies and charts and bags of encouragement.

 My vet (John Baillie – a huge thanks to you too) gave her acupuncture and took a personal interest in her well-being. He would even open up the surgery on a Sunday evening and give the acupuncture himself. He also arranged for her to go to the local hydrotherapy pool for exercises twice a week.

I bought a book on crystal healing, read all about this, and bought all of the relevant crystals to place beside her (the book, Crystal Healing for Animals by Martin J Scott & Gael Mariani, even has a case study of a GSD who suffered from this illness).

Finally, I bought a cart for her to go into and took her in a harness to the local racecourse, where I could ‘hook’ her up and she could run and play and get a bit of quality of life.

It was around 15 months after the initial diagnosis that I had to let her go, because she asked me to. I will never forget the look on her face as she passed away, it seemed to be a mixture of relief and despair.

I guess what I have tried to say here is that you should not need to give up hope, even when you think that you have exhausted all avenues. Love and affection too go a long, long way in helping.

Aye Keebsie, I still love you to this very day, although I haven’t seen you for 5 years and more……….

Isn’t she stunning?!.......

          And in her cart, able to play again………..

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Sebaceous Cysts

Sebaceous Cysts

What are they? They are ‘lumps’ – yes, lumps! They occur when a hair follicle gets gummed up and sebum gets too thick to be excreted through the pore’s opening.

So, the lump grows – and, usually, the lump bursts, the ‘goo’ comes out, the lump goes away – end of… BUT, what if it doesn’t?

Go to your vet and have it checked. If it is too big and is irritating your dog, the vet will surgically remove it. Remember that a sebaceous cyst can get infected. Also, it is worth getting checked out as there might be something more sinister at play e.g. cancer

So, you get back from the vet and it is a plain ol’ cyst. Is there anything we can do to help? That is the $64m question!!

Our Cairid (below – gorgeous boy eh!!) has been prone to these for a number of years. Recently, one on his back became pretty large.
We monitored it – it got bigger!

It burst (the puss forms a crust and then falls off) – it never really reduced in size.

It grew a bit more and burst again.

Enough! – off to the vets (another story entirely but that is for another time!!!!!). Fortunately, she deduced that it WAS a cyst and not something more sinister and told us to monitor it but she was not ruling out having it surgically removed.

We searched the internet for anything that would help and the consensus of opinion seemed to be – adding cider vinegar and turmeric to his food. Now we all know that turmeric is an Indian Superfood,  renowned for its anti-carcinogenic qualities (and if you didn’t know, well you jolly well do now!). That was over a month ago.

Guess what?! – the cyst burst again BUT this time the swelling started to recede. What was a lump of around an inch (no – I don’t do metric – convert it yourself!!), or say the size of a large grape, in diameter is now around a third of that size and it is almost flat.

It may be too optimistic to say that this ‘wee’ change has made the difference, but hey! – the swelling is down, and this is the ONLY thing that we have changed with regards to his diet (or anything else for that matter). Way to go Cairid…………..

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Snippets from PDTE Meeting, September 2012

SO MUCH thought-provoking stuff here ….. altogether a very interesting weekend!  The great thing was that it was attended by people from all over Europe, giving a slightly different cultural slant from each speaker.  Here’s some of what we came away with – very briefly.

Dogs’ pulse rates go up when you throw a ball for them;  pulse rates go down when you scatter some treats on the ground for them to find.  So far, quite a small study, but really interesting.

When you CURVE towards a dog you don’t cause him stress.  When you walk straight towards him, you do.  Another fairly small study.

A vet agreed that they don’t learn much about nutrition at vet school.  We applaud her.

There’s a scheme in Germany where people open their gardens to other dogs while their own dog isn’t there.  It’s a safe place to sniff and allow freedom.

A Labrador rescue centre in England allows its residents to mingle, not stay in separate cages.  Nice.  Good for exchanging social info.

A Lab breeder in Spain keeps several generations of dogs who have freedom to wander and explore a large outdoor area and pups get shown by example of the older dogs how to behave.  No human interference.

There are no dog shelters in Norway.

Control yourself, not your dog, and NEVER shout at your dog. 

Agility and other fast games may not be good for dogs in terms of stress levels.  Take it gently and slowly, allow exploration of different surfaces and heights when on walks.

Focus on what the dog NEEDS - they need to fulfil their instincts to get happiness e.g. smell/dig/swim/run - even roll in smelly stuff!

The more your dog stays in a prolonged alert state, the more stressed he becomes

When youare assisting in a dog's behavioural problem, don't think about the end 'perfect' product - deal with the situation as it is NOW!

There is a centre for animals in Italy (FISIOPET) that provided top class physiotherapy for a whole range of disabilities - and it is TOP QUALITY

AND... we got to listen to Turid Rugaas IN PERSON! How good is THAT?!

Check out the PDTE website :