Not as naughty as he looks

Since Leo is 100 pounds and leash reactive, I often assume he will be perceived as scary. He proved otherwise to me during this past month.

At the end of October, he started limping. I had to leave him at the vet for a couple of hours while they X-rayed him. I worried that he’d whine or cry or bark from the kennel while he waited his turn, but I’m told he did not. Everybody seemed totally crazy about him.

The bad news was that he had torn his cruciate ligament and needed TPLO surgery. I had never heard of this surgery before, but apparently it’s very common, and there’s a 50% chance he’ll need the surgery on his other leg too!

I took him in for the surgery two days later. A brand new place, brand new doctors. They loved him. When the surgeon called me to tell me he was in recovery, she said, unprompted, “I like him,” in such a wistful way I knew she meant it. She doesn’t say that about all the German shepherds.

After his sutures came out, we had a consult for underwater treadmill therapy and the new vet asked if our other dog is as mellow as Leo. Ha! The other dog (Mia) is the mellow one! And here a little video of him on the treadmill a week later.

TPLO surgery is serious business with a long recovery period. Leo has been a total champ. He wore the cone for two weeks without complaint, and hangs out in his crate quite comfortably. He did have a few snarly incidents (fights, if I’m honest) with Mia, triggered by his barrier frustration (vision blocked by cone plus separation with a gate), disorientation from pain meds, and pain. It’s been a few weeks since the last skirmish, so I think that’s behind us.

He’s been walking on the new knee since day one, which has led me to be too cavalier about confining him. I let him get up on the couches, because he’s tall enough to climb up without jumping. But that also leaves him with access to jump on the couch when delivery people come to the door.

And at one point while Rob was decorating the backyard for Christmas, Leo raced toward the back door, sliding across the wet floor, his legs splayed out on both sides‚ÄĒexactly what they told us we didn’t want to happen.

So there have been a lot of times this past month where my heart rate has spiked and I felt like the worst nurse ever. If you ask the people in my TPLO support group on FB, I might be the naughty one for not following the strict directive to confine him and keep him away from furniture.

The Positive Pet Training Blog Hop is hosted by¬†Tenacious Little Terrier,¬†Travels with Barley¬†and¬†Wag ‚Äėn Woof Pets. Please share your responsible pet owner positive pet training tips by linking a blog post or leaving a comment below.¬†

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here¬†to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Boring vet visits are the best vet visits

Mia came along to Leo’s checkup for moral support.



BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop, hosted by BlogPaws.

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here¬†to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Senior doggie aging with grace


Mia had a bit of fur shaved last week at the vet. She’s been so itchy, they wanted me to be able to get the medicine to the skin. It’s not a great haircut, so Mia’s been rocking some adorbs hoodies while it grows back. I bought¬†a couple of new ones too, because I think it could be a while.

She also had a funny looking bump aspirated and pathologized. Usually my vet leaves long voicemails for me with test results, and I hadn’t heard back from him. I thought maybe he was waiting to deliver the news in person this week when I brought Leo in. I started researching cancer treatments, and wondering whether my vet accepts the Care Credit card.

Last night I checked the email account I don’t use very often and found a message from the vet: “mixed inflammatory cells. No cancerous or neoplastic cells were seen.”


BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop
Powered by Linky Tools

Click here¬†to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Never Drink Alone

Mia and Rob and beer

Mia’s limp is getting better. Thanks for all the well-wishes last week. Rob felt bad that Leo was getting to go to the park without her, so he took her out for a beer. Maybe that explains why she’s been wobbling when she walks. Too bad Rob wasn’t wearing his Hundhaus Hefeweizen shirt.

BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog HopJoin the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by BlogPaws

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here¬†to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Queen Mia B

Queen Mia

Photo by Rob

The B stands for Bear. Mia Bear.

I’m starting to feel like a senior dog blogger, but maybe that’s how things are going to be now that she’s 12(ish). She started limping severely the other day. So wobbly she wasn’t seeming to put any weight on her rear left leg. Two people I told this to said, “That happened to my dog/cat. It was cancer.”


Anyway, had her checked out today. No sign it’s cancer or a torn anything. We’re mixing up her meds and letting her rest and I expect she’ll be feeling better very soon!

BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

Join BlogPaws’ Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop
Powered by Linky Tools
Click here¬†to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

My strong and sassy senior dog

Mia, being a trouper at the eye doctor. Her dry eye is being managed well, and now we’re waiting for the results of her thyroid panel. I blew it by giving her the tiniest amount of cheese with her thyroid pill, so they wouldn’t do the cholesterol test. I ask you, if your dog has to have her thyroid medicine within 4-6 hours of the bloodwork, but she also has to fast for 12 hours… how do you get her to take the pill?

Anyway, we’ll have to do a second fasting blood test, I guess.

BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog HopPowered by Linky Tools

Click here¬†to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Why my senior dog is starting to hate me

Yard work is exhausting

I recently reported about the erosion of trust between me and Mia since I’ve had to give her eye medicine twice a day. She’ll still let me cuddle her in the mornings, but when I get out the tube of ointment, she runs under Rob’s desk, and other times, she’s super evasive when I ask her to come in from the backyard (although she’ll still come in for Rob).

As part of our regular maintenance for her arthritis meds, we have her blood tested every three months. Usually, they take her in back to do this, but yesterday, she slammed on the brakes and refused to go with the tech unless I came too. So I guess she still prefers me to strangers. I held and kissed her¬†head while they drew the blood. She pulled her leg away before they filled the vial, so we had to do this twice, with a couple of aborted attempts when she yelped at the needle. (Pretty soon she’s going to refuse to get out of the car at the vet’s.)

The eye specialist suggested we have her thyroid levels tested too. Oh the irony. Several years ago, our trainer was certain Isis’s reactivity was related to hypothyroidism. To be extra sure, I had our regular vet take Isis’s blood and give me the vials, which I then sent to Dr.¬†Jean Dodds’ Hemopet lab.

Isis did not have hypothyroid. Mia, it turns out, does. Like, off-the-scale low levels. Looking at the symptoms, I don’t see it. Maaaybe we can attribute Mia’s¬†few extra pounds¬†to her thyroid (or maybe she eats too many treats because she won’t come inside the house otherwise). I don’t think she sheds more than Leo. Her coat might not be as lustrous as his, but I attributed that to her age. All said, she looks great, and doesn’t exhibit any of the other physical symptoms. (But her low thyroid might have something to do with her anxiety.)

Of course¬†I’ll still treat her for it. Especially if it improves her goopy eyes. Even after a month of giving her the ointment twice a day (almost) every day, she still has the goop. I’m so not looking forward to taking her back to the eye doc, where they’ll make her sit still with a tear strip in her eyelid for one minute (per¬†eye). Not to mention our thyroid follow-up to have her blood drawn again in one month.

I took her back to the vet today when I picked up her medicine, so she could have an experience there where she got a bunch of treats from me and the receptionist, and no one stuck her with any needles. She was pretty happy about it, but I know she hasn’t forgotten what I put her through yesterday.

So, that’s why Mia’s starting to hate me. The new pills are small though, pretty easy to hide in a treat. If she’s going to be taking thyroid pills twice a day, though, I plan to mail-order the chewables.

Once again, not very Wordless, but enjoy these other posts from the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!

BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here¬†to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

How not to medicate dogs

A frame Mia

After we started treating Leo for pannus, Mia’s eyes started looking goopy. Tempting as it was to just start giving her the same medicine we give Leo, I took her in for her own eye exam. While Mia has better social skills than Leo in many ways (as far as people are concerned), Leo is actually the friendlier dog. Mia is not very cooperative when it comes to being examined, and will try her hardest to escape.

We managed to get her up on the motorized, elevated exam table, and I held her still long enough to have her eyes looked at. I tried not to be offended when the vet tech asked if she needed to be muzzled. Nothing against muzzles, but in this situation it would have only increased her aversion. We have never muzzled her, and she doesn’t bite. It seems my¬†eye doctor has had bad experiences with German shepherds before, so rather than be defensive, the best I can do is hope for my dogs to be breed ambassadors.

Anyway, she was diagnosed with dry eye. Not as serious as Leo’s pannus, but requiring one of the same medicines. They gave it to me in drop form, even though Leo was getting it as an ointment.

Mia hated the medicine. She ran away from me when I tried to put it in, and afterward, would wipe at her eye. I told the eye doctor this and she said maybe to try the ointment because the drops might sting. Owie! Poor Mia!

For several weeks, I only managed to give her the medicine once¬†a day, because she clearly hated it so much. She didn’t wipe at her eyes like she did with the drops, but she ran away from me afterward. If I gave her a piece of cheese afterward, she’d run away from me next time I offered cheese. If I gave it to her after she came in the house at bedtime, she’d refuse to come back inside next time.

Mia is totally on to me. I have to vary the routine so she doesn’t form a negative association with anything that happens anywhere near the time I give her the medicine.¬†She does hold still when I give her the medicine, but she obviously holds a grudge.

For several days, I gave it to her right before or right after we went on our evening walk, which was working out pretty well. But it became clear that getting the medicine once a day is not enough, so now I have to find a time to do it in the morning that doesn’t ruin our entire relationship.

I feed them right before I leave the house. I put Mia’s bowl in her little condo outside, and close her in the dog run. She used to trot right into her condo for breakfast. After just one day of my giving her eye medicine before feeding her, she refused to come back into the dog run from the big yard. I’m telling you, she holds a grudge!

Any trainer would say the trick is to give her a really high value reward to give her a better association with the medicine. But you see what’s happening here? The medicine is such an aversive it’s poisoning whatever reward I try to give her. I’ve made up my mind though, that it’s important for her to get the medicine twice a day. She’s due for her 3-month checkup, and I don’t even want to subject her to it until I’ve been giving her the proper dosage.

So I’ll be chasing her down twice a day, and hoping that she still loves me in between doses.

Positive TrainingThis post is part of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, hosted by Cascadian Nomads,¬†Tenacious Little Terrier¬†and Rubicon Days. This month‚Äôs theme is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. The hop happens on the first Monday of every month, and is open for a full week ‚Äď please join us in spreading the word about the rewards of positive training!

Powered by Linky Tools
Click here¬†to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…



Temple of the Dog

I recently had Lasik surgery.* Contact lenses had become really uncomfortable, so I preferred wearing glasses, but they interfered with my ability to take pictures using a DSLR. (Not to mention they got rained on and fogged up all the time.**)

That’s one of the reasons I’ve been slacking on taking pics of my pups.

No excuses now. Here’s the first batch of post-Lasik pics!

*Lasik is amazing, by the way. I highly recommend it. Find a good surgeon who’s done lots of surgeries. (I wouldn’t go to a discount place, but that’s just me). If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, go to Restore Vision Centers. The procedure couldn’t have been smoother, they were very calming, and they had chocolate and valium. Nothing but good things to say about the whole deal.

**I went on my first post-Lasik dog walk in the pouring rain on Sunday. It was magical to be able to see in the rain. It was also very cold and wet.

BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

Join the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!
Powered by Linky Tools
Click here¬†to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Natural remedies for dog anxiety

Isis was on Prozac when she died. We’d just increased her dosage.

While I don’t think that caused her sudden death from bleeding near the heart, I have a bad association with it. I don’t even know if it worked. The night before she died, Isis cowered under a table shaking.

Ergo, I hesitate to give Prozac to Mia for her anxiety, which is relatively minor compared to Isis’s.

dog park_5

Is it though? Mia destroyed all the doors in our house. Isis just chewed on couches.

For the most part, Mia is triggered by very specific noises: 1) Beeping from the oven timer, ring timer (in martial arts videos), smoke detector. 2) Clicking from our security cameras.

She shakes and tries to crawl on our laps.

On other occasions, seemingly unrelated to environmental clicking and beeping, she whines. We call it squeaking and whistling. Sometimes she does this in the middle of the night for an hour straight.


I asked my vet if there’s something we could give her occasionally for anxiety (although I don’t know how I’m supposed to predict when she’s going to have an episode). The vet tech mentioned Zylk√®ne,¬†a natural product,¬†derived from casein, a protein in milk. I guess it’s supposed to be calming like a momma dog’s milk?¬†As you can tell from the link, this is a UK product.¬†It is extremely expensive. About $60 for a two-week supply for a dog Mia’s size.

What the hell, I ordered some. It’s a powder inside capsules you can open and sprinkle in food. Apparently it tastes good enough for her to eat without additional flavor-enhancement. I tried to stretch it out by giving her only half the dosage and noticed no change. Then I gave her the correct dose until I ran out. Two weeks isn’t really a¬†long enough study length for statistically significant findings, but she did have a late-night squeak and whistle attack after we ran out. And I don’t think she had one while she was taking it.

I tried to find it for a cheaper price and stumbled upon Composure, which contains colostrum, a form of milk produced by the mammary glands of mammals in late pregnancy. It was an eighth of the price. During this time, I won the rafflecopter from Rubicon Days for PL 360 Anxiety Relief, which contains chamomile and tryptophan.

PL 360Both of these are chewables that Mia ate easily… neither had any noticeable effect. So I reordered the Zylk√®ne.

Last week,¬†we had a violent windstorm overnight. I was kept awake by the rattling of the gate outside. Mia started whining. She’d had¬†Zylk√®ne with her breakfast. I gave her two of the PL 360 and she immediately quieted. The change was so drastic, I actually leaned over her bed and poked her to make sure the anxiety relief pills hadn’t instantly killed her.

The next night she squeaked again and I gave her two more PL 360 and she went right to sleep. So maybe I’ll be reordering those after all. Thanks, Rubicon Days!



This post is part of the Positive Pet Training blog hop, hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Rubicon Days & Tenacious Little Terrier.

Positive TrainingPowered by Linky Tools

Click here¬†to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…