Friday, August 3, 2012

Dot's Story

 While waiting (and waiting) for Dot to sit during today's training session, Peggy and I got to talking about Dot's medical history.  Dot has always been our problem dog. Almost 8 years ago, we got Dot from a reputable breeder and she has champion parents.  Physically, she looks like a very nice quality wire fox terrier.  However, she has had health problems since she was less than a year old.  When she was about 9 months old, she stopped gaining weight and was looking very skinny, her coat was thin and she was not thriving.  After "talking" with some terrier people on a list serve for WFT's, I learned that low thyroid is very common in the breed and that they don't present with the typical weight gain symptoms.  I also learned that WFT's are also prone to having Plechner Syndrome,  or hormonal irregularites and immune system imbalances.  In Dot's case it manifested with hypothyroid and malabsorbtion of food.  Many vets don't know about or believe in Dr Plechner (the doctor who created the IVD dog food) or his syndrome.  I dug around on the internet and discovered that a local vet was familiar with the Plechner syndrome (and he's very good with the endocrine problems).  Dot was tested and put on thyroid medication and a low dose of cortisol.  After starting these medications, she started to gain weight and had a healthier coat and started thriving.  

Dot was on these medications for years.  We occasionally had to tweak the meds.  A couple of years ago, she was diagnosed with diabetes and we stopped the cortisol, but kept the thyroid meds. Shortly after we discovered her diabetes, Dot went blind as a complication of the diabetes.   Dot is currently on insulin twice a day.  Dot's blood sugars are mostly under control and I have a test kit and know how to check her levels, just like a human diabetic.  Basically, I have a chronically ill dog.

Dot's chronic illness is part of her behavior problems because she's always had special treatment and given a lot of lee way because she's sick.  And being a very bright and stubborn terrier, she used it to her advantage.

I don't know if Dot's diabetes was caused by the low dose of cortisol, or she just has bad genes.  But I do know that Dot would not have made it to her first birthday because of her malabsorbtion problems. I don't really expect that Dot will live a long life (not uncommon for terriers to live into the mid teens), but as long as she has a good quality of life, we'll keep doing what we need to do.

Dot is really an amazing dog.  She manages very well for a  blind dog.  We don't move the furniture around and she has managed to develop a "map" of her surroundings.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back in Lisle

Here's Dot, our blind WFT, playing the Touch game.  We are back from Nationals with a bronze medal and looking forward to cooler weather.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Road Trip

Dot, freshly groomed and lounging at the hotel
We are in Lincoln, NE, for the Artistic Roller Skating Nationals.  My daughter Meredith is competing in singles and pairs events.  Photos are here if you're interested.  It is HOT!  Temperatures have been well over 100. On Monday, our car thermometer said 109!  Actual temp was around 106.

Dot is with up on this trip.  We had intended to take Dash, as she is easier to travel with, however, Dot's blood sugar dropped to around 40 and we wanted to monitor her sugar levels.  Dash and Jack are at the kennel and Dot is with us.  She's having a great time being an only dog.  I've had an opportunity to work with her on heeling and the touch game.  She's doing well with both.  I will try to post a video later.

Jim and Dot have been staying at the hotel, as it's too hot at the "Icebox" practice rink.  It really should be named the "Oven" as it's not air conditioned.  Otherwise we've been in and out of the room, but mostly, someone is here.  Dot loves the attention and is being very good.   

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dash and the Touch Game

Dash LOVES to play this game.

The Touch Game

Dot, does not like to work.
We had a really good training session last week. All three dogs did well. Jack is very good. Very smart and very trainable. Dash, a terrier, keeps testing me, but is doing well. Dot, is not all that interested. She is quite happy to not have to pay attention and do whatever she wants. Of course, this is our biggest problem. Dash gets really annoyed with Dot and a fight starts.

Dash is our star at the touch game. She really likes it. It's almost as fun as playing in water. Dot tries hard, but it's not an easy game for a blind dog. Jack, goes along with the game, but isn't that inspired.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Jumping Jack Flash

Came home find Jack waiting for us in the kitchen. In the Kitchen window that separates the Kitchen from the office. He'd climbed up on the office desk, onto a shelf and then on the window ledge. He was quite pleased with himself.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Weekend Away with the Dogs

Jack, sitting calmly.
We just returned from a weekend away to celebrate Fathers Day.  We went to Galena Cabins, a dog friendly cabin.  Dogs and humans had a good time.  They are all good travelers and like being in the car.  They all liked being outside and going for walks in new territory.  Dash enjoyed the smells of the country.  She had her nose in the vent, inhaling the fine odors of manure and skunk.  She was probably hoping to get out and roll in something really smelly.

We are continuing to have aggression problems with Dot and Dash.  Though I have seen blocks of time where they were all quiet and living nicely together.  Could use a lot more of it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tethering during Construction

Dot, Sleeping in Jack's bed.  Dot loves to hang her head over
something when she sleeps
Last week was a busy, eventful week.  We had a contractor in to replace some flooring.  I had originally planned to board the dogs, but Meredith offered to wrangle the dogs (for a fee, of course).  Besides, Dot needed some bandage changes on her bite wounds from the last time Dash got her.  The dogs were either confined in a bedroom or tethered most of last week.

Dash is still going after Dot when the excitement level is high.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Week 2 - More Tethering

Dot and Dash playing Tug with a new toy at Christmas
Peggy said that it would probably get worse before it got better.  She was right.  Dash does NOT want Dot around and will take any opportunity to attack - but only when Meredith and I are home with them.  Alone, they behave themselves.  I am keeping Dash tethered to me at all times and am also taking her for long walks (to tire her out).

I think that Dash would like to play with Jack, but doesn't know how to go about it.  Dash loves to play chase, but Jack is very hesitant (with good reason) to engage in  a game where the excitement level gets Dash too ramped up and over reacts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Week 1 - Tethering

On Sunday, Meredith and I met with Peggy and talked about our situation and learned about tethering.  It's been working.  The dogs are calmer and learning that if they want attention they need to sit or lay quietly.  Monday morning, Dash came in the bathroom and sat in front of the toilet and wanted to be petted.  Meredith is really good at ignoring the dogs until they sit or lay down and will catch me at "reacting".  She'll tell me "Mom, that's a reaction".

Last night, Tuesday, as we were getting ready for bed, Dot and Dash had a fight in the hallway.  I'm not sure what started it, but Dot ended up with an injured leg.  I wrapped up her leg and gave her some pain medication (left over from the last time).  One of the downsides to terriers is that they NEVER give up, and won't back down.  I'm going to have to keep Dash tethered at all times.

An Introduction

Dot, Dash and Jack
Today we started another chapter in reorganizing our life.  I am Susan.  I live with my husband Jim and daughter, Meredith.  Jim and I work for the USEPA in Region 5 (Chicago).  My daughter is a 7th grader and national champion freestyle roller skater!  We have 3 dogs.  We've had Dot, or Foxchase Peridot, since she was a 8 week old puppy.  Dash, aka "The Princess of Trash" arrived via the West Suburban Animal Shelter.  Dash arrived at the shelter after being purchased from a local puppy store as a gift for someone who didn't want her.  She spent the next 4-5 months in puppy foster care being socialized and potty trained.  Jack arrived last December as a companion for my daughter.  Jack (Jumping Jack Flash) is a 4 year old rescue poodle.  He was previously owned by an older woman who has since become bed-ridden. 

We've had a lot of changes in our life in the past year as my Mother, who lived with us, died of esophageal cancer in late December. I was off of work for 9 months to take care of her and work on getting creating our "new normal".  The humans have mostly adjusted to the new normal, but the canines are still adjusting.  We've had some aggression issues with Dash attacking Dot (her favorite target) and Jack (secondary target).  We've had blood spilled - both human (trying to stop a fight) and canine.  That's when we called Peggy.