Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas to all

I haven't written here for a while and will have to catch up. So here are some things that have gone on:

Thanksgiving--it was a nice day with good food for people and the dogs. It's actually my favorite holiday because it is so low key. And the dogs benefit from the turkey left overs.

Judging--I went to Florida to judge an all breed show and had a fairly low entry with Labradors. It's okay as I got to combine it with a mini-vacation to visit St. Augustine and a few other places.

Christmas--It's been a nice time. I've enjoyed the festivities, the time off to play with the dogs and go to doggy park, and just relaxing. The dogs once again got quite a feast of turkey and ham scraps added to their kibble. I also went to a few parades and enjoyed my time out on the water.

I hope that each of you had a great holiday. I hope to be more on focus with posting to the blog. It's easy to get sidetracked with other things.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cool weather at last

Tonight it may actually go below freezing here. I know that many areas of the country have had frost and even snow. We are a bit cold weather resistant here due to proximity to the coast.

So we've put straw in the kennels so that the Labradors can hunker down. They love having new straw, as evidenced by their running around inside their houses, rooting at it with their noses, and then flopping down with only their noses exposed. Labradors really like to snuggle in that straw although I doubt that they would be too cold without it. They have excellent coats right now.

Over a few days, the straw will start to get mashed down and pulled out side their houses. About every 2 weeks it has to be changed out and fresh straw put in. I've never had any problems with the Labradors getting skin or eye problems from the straw. But it is necessary to change it out before it starts to break down.

Of course, the older guys and the greyhounds are in the dog room with a heater. Tilly is still the queen and hanging in there at 14 years of age. The greyhounds don't like to get chilly, although they don't seem to mind going for a walk on the beach or running at dog park.

Hope that your dogs are all ready for the cold weather that is to come.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Biting the hand

A friend of mine adopted a Lhasa Apso when one of her greyhounds died from cancer. She had decided that she wanted a small dog. The Lhasa had a temperament problem from the beginning. He was an un-neutered male who was crate protective and who growled whenever anyone would try to pet him.

She had him neutered and worked with him extensively. He went with her everywhere. She could groom him and hold him up near her but there were also times when he would suddenly get a demonic look in his eyes and growl.

She asked me to let him out one afternoon as she was going to be away until late in the evening. I was supposed to walk him on a leash of course. However, he wouldn't let me put a leash on him. He looked at me and growled menacingly. So I lassoed him with the leash. The problem came in trying to get the leash back off him. He barked, growled and lunged when I tried to take the leash off. So I left it on him and beat a fast path to the car.

Eventually, my friend revealed that the dog had bitten her toe and then her little finger. She took him to a no kill shelter to see if he could be adopted but no one wanted the growling Lhasa. I urged her to work something out to place him because it seemed that it wouldn't be long before someone would be hurt by this little dog.

The other day, she called to tell me that he had bitten her hand, hung on and had put deep puncture wounds in her flesh on the top and bottom of her hand. She went to the emergency room. And she called to ask if I would take the dog to the Charleston County SPCA.

So I picked up her little dog and took him to the shelter. I'd never dropped off an animal there or even been to the shelter. Thankfully, there was an open house going on so there were lots of staff available. I found someone that I knew and told her about the problem of the aggressive Lhasa. She helped me to get him to the intake staff who gave me paperwork to fill out on his owner's behalf.

The dog is now at the shelter and will be there for 10 days because he bit his owner. He has been deemed unadoptable. I realize what the result will be. But it makes me sad that this little dog had a great home, but due to poor breeding and perhaps lack of socialization early in his life, he now faces death.

I wish that things had turned out better for all concerned.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Moose is adjusting

Moose Traks, the rescued greyhound, seems to be doing well. He lets us know when he wants to go out. He is now sleeping in the house at night, without a crate. He leaves the cats alone and only seems interested when the Siamese decides to run like crazy away from him.

The only issue that I had was that he likes to pick up anything left on the floor and play with it. I left a pair of undies in the "dirty" clothes pile and he grabbed them, played with them and then proceeded to rip them. So everything has to be picked up which isn't a hardship since I don't like to leave any clothes on the floor anyway.

Fortunately, Moose doesn't like to chew up toys. His room during the day has lots of dog toys and he seems to not be interested in them. I worry about the dogs chewing up and swallowing any clothing or stuffing from toys. It can cause a blockage and in many cases, such a blockage will cause the intestine to deteriorate resulting in death to the animal. So if you have a Lab who is prone to chewing up toys or eating clothing, be very careful. It's best to remove anything that would be a potential danger and let them play with toys only under supervision.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What dog showing should be about

The following was sent to me by Ann Key. I thought that it was a particularly nice story. It may be true or not, but it gives a good feeling to me as it indicates how the sport of showing dogs is supposed to be.

"Yesterday, I experienced a very unusual thing indeed. It might restore someone's faith in humanity! I know it did mine.

As with all forms of competition, there comes a certain amount of ambition, goal grabbing, disappointment, anger and even revenge in extreme cases. Some of it, is just the nature of competition, the majority of it is just malice. Dog showing is no exemption.

Unfortunately, all too often I have stood at ringside and heard malicious comments, bitching and bickering. Dog show people can be very cruel to each other sometimes. I have on occasion been the brunt of these comments, but that's another story.

Well, yesterday I had a breath of fresh air, as it were. I was stewarding at the Rough Collie Club of Ireland's Championship show. It's a relatively popular breed here in Ireland. Always a big entry. They had a wonderful judge from the U.K. This lady has been in the breed since 1949. So, it goes without saying, I was pretty privileged to steward for her.

Anyway, just before the Novice class, one of the club official's came into the ring and, I overheard her tell the judge about the one entry in the class. I thought it was unusual that there was only one entry in the class, but later found out the reason why!

I called the class, and, in walked an old man and his Rough Collie. I've only ever seen this man at our St. Patrick's Day show. He's an old man, rough around the edges and, well, his dog, is really unkempt by show standards. He marched proudly into the ring with the dog on a great big thick rope lead!

While the judge was going over the dog, I was filled in on his story. I was told that he lives in an old folks home in Galway. (The other side of Ireland.) He has no family left living and no visitors at the old folks home. He's been showing this dog for eight years only ever on St. Patrick's Day or the Club show. He'd traveled 150 miles on a bus yesterday morning. Which takes about 5 hours in Ireland. The nurses in his home, usually phone the club to tell of his departure, and the club usually phone back when they spot this old man at the show. He has only ever shown the dog in Novice, and people over the years never compete against him.

The nurses told the club officials that when he wins a rosette at a show he wears it for weeks at home in the old folks home. The dog lives with him at the home and, is quite a celebrity "Show dog" with all the residents. The pride and joy of this man's life. He spends half the year, telling people about the last dog show and the other half of the year, looking forward to the next one!

Anyway, the judge was so considerate to this man. And, boy was he proud to show his dog off. When the judge asked could she look at the dog's teeth, "Oh yes," the man replied and instructed the dog to "Smile." With that the dog showed off a perfect set of choppers! The judge replied "Aren't you a clever dog?" With that the man said "Oh, he is very clever, he'll shake your hand too if you like!" I couldn't help smiling when I heard this, and full credit to the judge, she shook hands with the dog.

The dog won first in the class and every exhibitor at the show, gave this old man and his dog a standing ovation. He was cheered and clapped as he did his own lap around the ring. People came over to the ringside to congratulate and pat the man on the back as he left the ring. Talk about Elvis leaving the building, this man was certainly the king when he won his class. He was just so proud of his accomplishment. He lapped up every minute of it.

It was the first time I'm sad to say that I've seen people being genuinely nice at a dog show. They really made this old man's day. Possibly his year! Heaven help the residents at the old folks home when he returned home last night. Not only did he win a rosette but also won a great big trophy. I'm sure it will take pride of place on the mantle piece.

Isn't this what dog showing SHOULD be about?? Giving people like this old man a day out to enjoy the only family he has. His best pal, his dog. A memory for an old man to hold on to, to brighten his day, something to share with his friends at the old folk's home? Something to be proud of, however small the achievement?

Anyway, that's the story, just a thought, an observation and possibly an inspiration to us all? I know it's one of the happiest memories I have of a dog show." Author Unknown

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Catching Up

I don't know where the time has gone but it has flown by. A lot has happened since my last post about dear Belle. Since then, I've added another greyhound which is a unique story.

I've had Hoffa since January. She was adopted through Greyhound Crossroads. I really like her personality. She loves other dogs and people and gets along with the cats too. So I wrote to the kennel where she came from to ask if there were any of her siblings available for adoption. I found the information about the kennel on the Greyhound Database. I knew that a couple of her siblings had been adopted. I didn't hear anything for a while but then an email arrived from Joanne at Greyhound Crossroads. She told me that Hoffa's littermate, Moose Traks, was available for adoption.

So I drove up to Clinton Animal Hospital to meet Dr. Dixon and pick up Moose Traks. He had been neutered and had been in recovery from his surgery until I could come get him. He is just like Hoffa--friendly, happy, like cats, and enjoys meeting people and other dogs. So far there is nothing about him that isn't great. He enjoys staying with Tilly during the day while we are away from the house. He loves the other Labradors and ignores his sister! I'll be posting more photos of Mr. Moose here soon.

The great news is that all of Hoffa and Moose's littermates have now been adopted. And their dam, Tycam Lebatts has also been adopted. That's a happy story.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Some things are hard to talk about

I've avoided writing about this topic because it has been too difficult to do so. I received word about a month ago that Surry's Division Belle, a daughter of Ch. Surry's Interstellar Overdrive, was attacked by other Labradors and died from her injuries.

Belle's story is one that has haunted me for a long time. It started when she was sold to a couple who wanted to show her. I won't go into the specifics here, but the situation proved to be one in which Belle was not what the couple wanted. I co-owned Belle and after much discussion with the couple, it was agreed that she would go to a friend of theirs who trained dogs and promised to give Belle a good home.

And this is where I am at fault. Rather than buy Belle back from the couple, I talked to the lady who wanted Belle, and agreed that it was best that she go to this new home. All seemed to be going well until I heard that she had been attacked by her dogs, was severely injured, and subsequently died.

I am convinced that the lady who had Belle is indeed heartbroken about this. But I am also convinced that such a tragedy could have been prevented--if I had bought Belle back and brought her to Surry to live out her life.

Over my years as a breeder, I have only had a few bad experiences. And the ones that weigh heavy on me are with those individuals to whom I've sold a dog to "show". No bad experiences have been had with those friends of mine who were showing and got a puppy from me. The problems were with individuals who I didn't know personally but who wanted to get started in the breed.

I know now that wise words told to me by an old timer years ago ring true--Never sell a puppy for show, unless you know the individual well and count them as your friend. Even then, be cautious and have everything in writing.

Poor Belle--you deserved a lot better.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Memorial tribute

The last day of Beach Bound Hounds included a sunrise memorial service for all the greyhounds that were living and those that had passed on. It was really moving to see so many people write the name of their beloved pet in the sand as the sun rose.

There were prayers for those greyhounds that were with us still and hopes that we could all join together again next year with our dogs. At the end, we each received a memorial charm for the loss of a loved companion. I haven't lost a greyhound since Hoffa is my first one. But this memorial service made me think about all the Labradors that have died over the years. I thought about Cain, Doc, Daisy, Haley, Clondike, Annabelle, Porter, Tombee, Gabby and others that have met untimely deaths or passed on with old age. Too many little puppies that never made it past one or two days of life or were still born. All were in my thoughts. I don't think any of us left the beach that morning without tears in our eyes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

First day of Beach Bound Hounds

Today was the first full day of the Beach Bound Hounds get together. Every year for the past eight, members of Greyhound Crossroads adoption group put together a big meet and greet for greyhounds and their owners. This was my first year attending.

I didn't know any of the people but soon met them through a common love of our adopted friends. There were seminars on first aid for dogs, greyhound cancer research, agility with your greyhound, and a canine good citizens test.

I think that the thing that Hoffa enjoyed most was going for long walks on the beach with the other greyhounds. Hoffa is the black and white girl taking up the rear on the photo above. She really enjoyed the other dogs and wanted to do her bouncing for joy routine to show off for the other dogs. I had to laugh at the comment that she was full of herself. Obviously, these folks haven't lived with Labradors! Now they are totally full of themselves and are so much stronger than greyhounds. Having had bouncing Labradors on the leash for so many years, it feels like next to nothing to have a greyhound on the end of the leash.

Our first day at the BBH get together was fun.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Off to Beach Bound Hounds

I'm heading up to Myrtle Beach for the annual Beach Bound Hounds event. It is a gathering of rescued greyhounds and their owners. This will be the first year that I am attending since it's the first year that I have owned a greyhound.

Hoffa is going with several different "outfits"--new martingale collars with one being a zebra striped number and the other a tropical fish collar. There will be lots of opportunities for her to meet other greyhounds and for me to listen to seminars on first aid, cancer in greyhounds, and to participate in beach walks and the greyhound memorial gathering.

I think that the Labradors are a bit jealous. I know that Tilly misses Hoffa when she is away. Well, I'm off to pack for Beach Bound Hounds.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hoffa's collar is lost and then....found!

(Here's the collar beginning to slip over her ears)
(And here it is coming off her head!)

Hoffa was running at the beach and during her bounding through the waves, her martingale collar managed to come off. The photos tell the story as you see it sliding over her ears and then off her pointed nose. It was lost in the surf with the tide coming in. Attached to the collar was her rabies tag, her Sullivan's Island dog tag, and an ID tag with a phone number.

After combing the beach during low tide, we concluded that the collar was lost for good. However, the next day, I got a call that the collar had been found! It was intact and other than being water logged, all was okay. Thanks to the nice lady who found the collar and for giving a call about it.

It's good to always have an ID tag on the collar for your dog, in case the dog is lost or the collar flies off.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Storm damage

With the number of storms that have been coming into the Gulf and near the southeastern US, it's hard not to think about the animals that suffer. I remember seeing the video of dead animals after Hurricane Katrina. And I remember the stories of dogs washed up on nearby islands after Hurricane Hugo.

One of the saddest things is that dogs were left inside houses or on chains to drown during recent hurricanes. Rescue workers found many dead dogs at the end of chains and trapped inside pens after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These dogs had no chance to save themselves.

We have 10 Labradors and a greyhound. We have enough crates for all the dogs and we have enough room in our 15 passenger van and pickup truck to evacuate with the dogs if needed. Most people have 1-2 animals. I am hoping that they consider not only evacuating their family but also any animals that they have during the next hurricane.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Labradors may eat anything

I heard about this a number of years ago from a breeder friend who had Weimaraners. She said that her Weims would eat just about anything. Rocks were a favorite. Most times, the rocks would pass without a problem but occasionally there would be a blockage and serious surgery would result. Then, she had the crisis from her dog eating a pair of panty hose. That surgery ended in a tragedy in which the dog died from the hose having become entangled in the intestines.

I've always thought that Labradors were a bit more discriminating in their taste for foreign objects. Other than the disgusting habit of eating feces, I haven't had any problems with them eating mushrooms, toads, frogs, or manmade objects. Maybe it's because I heard about the Weims and have always been really careful about leaving things that are chewable or ingestible around the dogs. Even with toys, I've been careful that the stuffing doesn't get swallowed.

Most recently, I heard from Gracie's mom, Karoline, who wrote that Gracie had to have surgery to remove panty hose that she had swallowed. Only one internal incision was required in the stomach even though the hose had moved into the intestines. The surgeon was able to slowly remove the hose in order to keep from making a second incision.

I found some interesting information on the web about the most common items that have been surgically removed from the GI tract of pets:
1. socks
2. underwear
3. panty hose
4. rocks
5. balls
6. chew toys
7. corn cobs????
8. bones
9. hair ties and ribbons
10. sticks

According to a pet insurance company, dogs seem to eat almost everything including nails, needles,pagers, hearing aids, pieces of drywall, snail bait, batteries, rubber bands, toy cars, and sand with bacon grease poured on it.

Dogs that have ingested a foreign object usually show signs of gastrointestinal upset. If your dog refuses to eat, begins vomiting, drooling or has abnormal bowel movements, contact your veterinarian. It's important to contact the vet immediately that you suspect a foreign body has been swallowed.

The vet will take a radiograph to determine what has been swallowed and where the object is. Sometimes a dye must be ingested in order to determine the location of the foreign object.

The key to avoiding expensive surgery and danger to your dog is to prevention. Make sure objects that could be ingested are put away. If necessary restrict the free roaming of your dog in the house. It is also wise to never allow your dog to play with string or clothing.

It's great that Gracie is doing well. She nabbed the panty hose from the laundry basket. Just another curious Labrador but a really lucky one too!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Neilley and Tobias's birthday

I received the cute photo above from Ann Key. She has Neilley, aka The Pinkster, who is a full sister to Tobias. Neilley was born small and struggled to nurse but kept getting pushed away from Annabelle by the other puppies. So, I nursed her with a bottle. She thrived and grew to be a wonderful girl who goes everywhere with Ann and Paul.

Her birthday meal was her normal kibble with home made gravy and a blue berry muffin topped with yogurt in the middle. Tobias got some chicken gravy and extra biscuits for his birthday. But then all the other dogs did too as there would be too many jealous Labradors if one was favored over the other.

Ann and Paul travel to various events selling their Heelan' Hound dog goods. They will be in Charleston for the Scottish games on Sept. 20. So if you go, stop by their booth and say "hello" to the Keys and Neilley.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Porter and Tombee are gone

Unfortunately, Porter lost his battle with ALL. His owners called to tell us that he got so weak that nothing more could be done. This was a rapid cancer (see post from August 10).

There isn't much that can be said when a good dog is gone. And especially when one is only four years old. Porter was a good boy. His human mom told me that he was the best dog ever. I only wish that all would live to a ripe old age.

We also learned that Tombee died this summer. He was much loved by his humans and enjoyed the beach, riding in golf carts, and everyone that he met.

It has been a tough summer for the owners of these wonderful dogs and for us who remember them when they were young puppies enjoying playing in the front yard at Surry.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Unhealthy "Freak" show breeds?

Some friends sent me a link to this article from the Daily Mail On Line. Crufts is a premier show. I have to question that only one viewpoint has been aired here. There are many dedicated breeders who work diligently in this heartbreak hobby to eliminate unwanted traits. They screen breeding stock and breed with the idea of producing healthy dogs. Many breed clubs donate to research and cooperate with the scientific community to determine modes of inheritance that are largely unknown for many diseases. And there are several problems such as epilepsy and hip dysplasia that are polygenic which makes the genetic determination of the disease not possible at the present. All show dogs are not freaks or in bad health. This article seems to weigh heavily with animal rights activists rather than with the truth.

BBC could drop Crufts over unhealthy 'freak show' breeds

By Jonathan Margolis and Fiona Macrae

The BBC could stop showing Crufts after a documentary exposed the diseases and deformities suffered by many of Britain's 5million pedigree dogs.

Decades of inbreeding and the demands of the show circuit have resulted in a legacy of life-threatening ills, from agonising brain conditions to epilepsy, heart murmurs and cancers.

The golden retriever, the cavalier King Charles spaniel, the boxer, the Pekingese, the bulldog and the pug are among the breeds plagued by disease and deformity as a result of breeders 'playing God with dogs', tonight's programme claims.

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With purebreds accounting for three-quarters of Britain's 7million pet dogs, their catalogue of health problems is costing their owners more than £10million in vets' fees every week.

So shocking are some of the scenes in the documentary - including a boxer having an epileptic fit and a King Charles spaniel writhing in agony because its skull is too small for its brain - that the BBC is considering ending its 42-year connection with Crufts.

There is even speculation that the Queen, well known for her love of dogs, could cut her ties with the Kennel Club, which runs Crufts and sets the standards for the 200 or so breeds of pedigree dog.

Mark Evans, the RSPCA's chief vet, said: 'When I watch Crufts, what I see is a parade of mutants. It's some freakish, garish beauty pageant that has nothing, frankly, to do with health and welfare.


BBC ban? Decades of inbreeding have resulted in a legacy of life-threatening ills

'We've become completely and utterly desensitised to the fact that breeding these deformed, disabled, disease-prone animals is either shocking or abnormal.'

The BBC1 documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, to be shown at 9pm, is the result of a two-year investigation into the breeding and show circuits. It highlights the health problems suffered by many of our favourite pets.

Vets describe how virtually all cavalier King Charles spaniels develop life-threatening heart murmurs.

And a third have syringomyelia, an agonising condition caused by them being bred with skulls too small for their brains.

Veterinary neurologist Clare Rusbridge said: 'The cavalier's brain is like a size ten foot that has been shoved into a size six shoe; it doesn't fit.

'It is described in humans as one of the most painful conditions you can have, a piston-type headache. Even a light touch - a collar, for example - can induce discomfort.

'If you took a stick and beat a dog to create that pain, you'd be prosecuted. But there's nothing to stop you breeding a dog with it.'

The programme says the drive for perfection has left golden retrievers prone to cancer, labradors with joint and eye problems, West Highland terriers beset with allergies and boxers at high risk of heart disease, epilepsy and cancer.

Pugs are so inbred that although there are 10,000 in Britain, their DNA could come from just 50.

The Pekingese's squashed face causes breathing difficulties that lead to some airlines refusing to fly them.

So serious are the breathing problems that Danny, the 2003 Crufts winner, sat on an ice pack while being photographed afterwards to stop him overheating.

To ensure desirable traits are passed on, male dogs are being mated with their own daughters, sisters and granddaughters.

Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, said: 'If dog breeders insist on going further down that road, I can say with confidence that there is a universe of suffering waiting for many of these breeds and many, if not most, will not survive.'

The Kennel Club said it worked hard 'to eliminate from breed standards any exaggerations that might cause problems'.

Club secretary Caroline Kisko said many of the health problems have their roots in Victorian times and inbreeding was an 'essential tool' in the development of breeds.

The organisation runs a range of health testing schemes and is funding the development of genetic tests. 'Ninety per cent of purebred dogs are healthy,' she said.

Eamon Hardy, the documentary's executive producer, said: 'In light of this programme, the BBC will request a meeting with the Kennel Club to discuss the implications and potential impact of the film.'

Buckingham Palace said it could not comment on speculation.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cruciate ligament injuries in Labradors

The dog's knee is similar to a human knee, in terms of joint function and orthopedic condition. A dog's joint consists of various parts: Femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone) and patella and supporting ligaments and tendons. The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) is connected to the femur, extends across the stifle joint, and attaches to the tibia. The CCL holds the tibia in place and prevents internal rotation and hyperextension. The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) (also known as the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL in humans) is the most commonly ruptured ligament in dogs. The rupture results in lameness due to pain and instability of the joint. When the cruciate ligament is torn the femur slides down the sloped top portion of the tibia called the tibial plateau. The misaligned joint as result of CCL causes inflammation, pain, and eventually degenerative joint disease.

The Labrador is one of the predisposed breeds, along with the Rottweiler and Newfoundland. The greyhound is a breed that seems “protected” from CCL disease. It generally occurs from 1-8 years of age in either sex, with obesity being a primary factor.

We know that in dogs, CCLs rupture as part of a degenerative process within the stifle joint but we don’t have a good understanding of the pathophysiology involved. Researchers at the University of Liverpool provided a small glimpse into this disease process by making comparisons between Labrador retrievers, as an example of a breed prone to CCL rupture, and greyhounds, as an example of a breed at the opposite end of the spectrum. They demonstrated that the collagen fibril diameter in the CCLs of Labradors is significantly smaller. The researchers also showed that the tissue concentrations of matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2), the major degradative enzyme found in the stifle, are higher and the levels of tissue inhibitors of MMP-2 are lower in affected Labradors.

These findings represent an increased degree of “collagen turnover” in these dogs, but whether that is a cause or a result of their “cruciate disease” has yet to be determined. In addition, statistical gait analysis comparisons of normal individuals from these 2 breeds have been initiated, and although consistent differences have been documented, their significance, as it pertains to the development of cruciate disease, has yet to be determined.

The cause of cranial cruciate ligament rupture is not known for certain, but hereditary or genetics likely a factor. Risk factors associated to CCL include age, injury to stifle joint, being overweight, arthritis, poor musculature near the joint and structural abnormalities including cow-hocked and luxated patella. A rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament usually occurs when a dog steps in a hole while running or turns with its paws remaining planted. As the ligament is twisted, it is rotated extensively or hyperextended and partial or complete rupture occurs.

Here is a summation article on Dealing with Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Labradors.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

I just heard that Porter, one of the puppies we placed about four years ago has acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). His prognosis is very bleak and short-term in that the disease is so serious. He presented so late with serious symptoms which evidently is fairly typical. He was taking a good hike one day, a bit more tired afterwards, and at the emergency vet late the next day.

From what I've read, ALL is hard to treat. Diagnosis is confirmed by examination of blood smears and bone marrow aspirates. The most common clinical signs are lethargy, anorexia, splenomegaly, and pallor of mucous membranes. Prednisone is a common treatment; however, I also read about a clinical study in which three dogs were not treated, 3 dogs were treated with prednisone, and 3 dogs were treated with cyclophosphamide. Survival times in these 9 dogs ranged from 1 to 60 days. Twenty-one dogs were treated with vincristine and prednisone; of these, complete remission was achieved in 4 dogs and partial remission was achieved in 4 dogs, with survival times ranging from 8 to 241 days.

Drug treatment choices are best discussed with a veterinary oncologist. I am hoping that Porter will receive treatment that puts him in remission. I know that his owners will do whatever is necessary to make him comfortable.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hoffa at the beach

Here is a photo of Hoffa surfing in the waves at the beach. She really enjoys going to the beach, running and playing in the water. She isn't exactly buoyant like a Labrador but seems to have a wonderful time. I've heard that greyhounds enjoy the water but Hoffa revels in it.

When she first came to me, she had been to the beach but was afraid of the waves. Now, waves are meant for surfing! What a difference it makes to have her enjoy life.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Disturbing news

TULSA, Okla. — A dog attacked and killed a 2-month old baby boy who was left unattended in a swing, police said Monday afternoon.

Officer Jason Willingham said the infant was mauled by either a Labrador puppy or a small pug at the boy's home and died at the scene.

Police are not sure what caused the mauling or which dog killed the boy. Both dogs were taken to the Tulsa Animal Shelter, where Manager Jean Letcher said the lab was euthanized at the request of Tulsa police.

Authorities will not release the child's name until Tuesday.

Willingham said the baby's mother and grandmother were home at the time, but nobody was in the room when the attack occurred.

"The child was left unattended in a swing," he said.

Police are unsure what caused the dog to attack.

The child's body was taken to the Medical Examiner's office. Police plan to forward their investigation to the district attorney, who will determine if any criminal charges are warranted in the case, he said.

"It's just a very tragic set of circumstances," he said. "It's a very hard situation to investigate."

It's hard for me to believe that a 6 week old puppy could maul a child. Puppies do have sharp teeth and can scratch and bite with those sharp teeth. It just seems very sad. The loss of the child left unattended and the loss of the puppy who undoubtedly was play biting and not attacking.

Friday, July 25, 2008

How many is enough?

I had a visit from a couple who have a great granddaughter of Tilly. They were telling me about their lab's dam and that she had been bred a number of times back to back. This has always been a controversial subject among breeders--how many times to breed and whether to breed back to back.

I would not consider breeding a bitch of mine unless she had her final hip and elbow clearances. And I have always thought that skipping a heat, especially if the bitch had a large litter or a C-section was good practice. However, there are reproductive specialists who indicate that doing back to back breedings is better for the bitch and the "production" of puppies. The contention is that the number of eggs produced declines with age and that the younger and more fit a bitch is, the better the whelping will go.

As far as number of litters, I would think that four is a plenty for a lifetime. All of my girls except Tilly (who had four litters) have had three or less litters. I just don't see the point in breeding them again and again.

Just like in anything that we do, there is my opinion and then there are others who have a different view.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Assistance Dogs

I received an email from the owner of Ch. Surry's Comfortably Numb. Zachary has sired several get who have been trained through the Assistance Dog Institute where they teach and certify the trainers for service dogs organizations.

The Assistance Dog Institute was founded in 1991 by Dr. Bonnie Bergin, the originator of the service dog concept, and founder of Canine Companions for Independence and the Assistance Dog United Campaign. The Institute is an educational and research institution concentrating on teaching and researching ways to “help dogs help people.” This approach differs significantly from that of Canine Companions for Independence and other assistance dog organizations whose mission is primarily that of producing and placing assistance dogs with individuals with disabilities.

One of the puppies that ADI has trained is Charlie Bear who has been used in a new program for autistic children. Charlie and his young autistic person, Patrick, just went through their final graduation.

Patrick and Charlie Bear will be on TV Sunday July 27 at 8 AM. It will be on the Discovery Health channel, "Pets and People- The Power of the Health Connection". It is interesting to read about the Assistance Dog Institute and to actually see what one of Zach's puppies has accomplished.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dog Days--Watch Out!

It's nearing the Dog Days of summer in Charleston. That means that dogs and people alike aren't wanting to stir about much. It's important for the dogs to stay cool in the heat. What that means is to make sure that your Labrador gets plenty of fresh water and stays out of the hot sun.

Leaving a Labrador in a car, even with the windows rolled down can cause a dog to overheat. If I'm traveling with the dogs, I make certain that I can stay in a dog friendly hotel and bring them inside where they can stay in air-conditioning.

Labradors don't like the heat and it can be deadly. Labs are built for cold weather and can overheat if the temperatures get over 80 F. I would never run my dogs in the heat but take them for a walk instead. And if you walk near a pond or on the beach, you'll find that they will want to submerge their bodies in order to cool down.

I've written before about the neat misting system we have. It helps to lower the temperature in the kennels and the dogs enjoy staying under the mist. Hosing down your dog with cool water is another way to make sure they stay cool.

If your Labrador should become overheated, it will be important to put cool/icy water on the abdomen, legs and head. Just remember to keep your dog cool in the heat and avoid heat stroke.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

How to deal with dogs that are fearful

Having rescued a few Labrador and now adopted a racing greyhound, I've found that dealing with dogs that are fearful takes patience. Luckily Hoffa wasn't abused but did come with some habits that required patience. For example, she evidently had to compete for food so for the first few months after her arrival, she would gobble her food and also growl if Tilly or Stella came near her. Now, she has gotten to be a picky eater and takes her sweet time finishing up her breakfast and dinner.

I don't know how common it is for racing greyhounds to be abused. Certainly there can be kennel workers who do not handle the dogs properly. Hopefully, kennel and dog owners immediately fire anyone caught abusing a racing dog.

These dogs are an investment for the owner and most owners probably want to make sure that they are cared for and that they like to run. From what I've read, abused dogs tend to not run. Or at least, they do not run well.

Having a greyhound has been a different experience from having Labradors. The Labradors don't suffer much anxiety about anything. And they always like to eat. Greyhounds, like all sighthounds, are keen to movement. Sudden movement that catches them unware will most certainly trigger one of two responses: fight or flight. Greyhounds by nature will usually choose to flee an uncertain situation.

And from what I've read, an abused dog really shouldn't be treated any differently than a un-abused dog. It's important to not force the dog into a situation that stresses it out. But it's also important to introduce the dog to different situations. I've found that it isn't a good idea to coddle dogs too much or to love on them when they are fearful. It is human nature to want to reassure the dog but to a dog, such reassurance can be viewed as a reward. It's best to remain calm and indicate that the stick or the car or stores aren't as frightening as the dog thinks they may be. If possible, make these activities fun for the dog and give praise when the dog doesn't react in a negative for fearful manner.

Acclimation for a rehomed dog can take as long as a year. I've gradually introduced Hoffa to all kinds of activities such as riding in the car, going to the beach and to doggy park. She now loves to go for rides, is the greeter at the dog park, and enjoys the beach. Patience wins out in the long run.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Socializing isn't just for puppies

Everyone probably knows how important it is to socialize puppies. But it's really important to continue to socialize your dog into adulthood. Puppies can be well-adjusted but without continued socialization can become fearful as they mature.

I've had puppies who were happy and outgoing. But at around 6-8 months of age, they have become less outgoing and almost shy. This became evident when they were taken to dog shows. They were fine being at home but didn't like the noise and the strange (to them) breeds that they encountered at dog shows.

Often times, dogs will be perfectly accepting of strangers and other dogs in their own environment. But when you take them out of that environment, they become less sure of themselves and can become intimidated.

One of the ways to prevent this type of behavior is to take your dog out to meet other people and dogs. Taking your dog to a dog friendly store or to the dog park is great socialization. There they will encounter different people and breeds in a pleasant setting.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


It was a sad day today because Cayenne, who is a greyhound and wonderful girl, had to be put down by her owner Robin. Cayenne had been diagnosed with bone cancer (osteosarcoma) about a month ago.

I first met Cayenne in 2006 and found that through her, I wanted to adopt a racing greyhound. Cayenne was always a good girl, calmly minding, and enjoying her walks on the beach. She had the softest coat, like velvet. And her eyes were so soulful--she would look right into yours and make you want to hug her.

I'm going to miss Cayenne. I know that her greyhound companion, Mr. Cooper, will miss her as well. But I also know that it's through Cayenne that I came to adopt Hoffa. I'm grateful for developing a love of greyhounds because of Cayenne and now Hoffa. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I like getting emails about the dogs that we have bred. This one is from Linda Davis about Zelda. Zelda developed quite an affection for Cosmo, one of the Davis's guinea pigs.

"I just wanted to give you an update on our baby girl Zelda. At her latest vet visit, they indicated that she was in perfect health. As soon as we entered the lady at the desk said that you could tell that she was a Surry dog.

I know I’m a proud mommy but Zelda is absolutely breath-taking. She is perfect in every way. She is extremely friendly with everyone and loves to be around other four-legged friends. She has always been so well behaved in the house. She never gets into anything! She still expects her twice daily walks. With this heat she has been going around six in the morning and ten at night. In between time, she really enjoys the couch and spending time laying by the front window. She is still best friends with the piggies especially Cosmo. She is in the middle of taking more training and is doing well in the class.

I think one key to her being so well adjusted besides her exceptional breeding and her being so smart is the fact that in the last 16 months since she came home, she has not spent more than four hours by herself which has not too many times. Someone is usually home with her so she never really has a opportunity to get into trouble or feel lonely. My younger son and I are leaving on July 3 to go to France for July to visit family. My mom is French and all my family lives in France. This will be our first time away from Zelda. I am really not looking forward to leaving her. My husband only works Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. He has already put in for half-day vacation the entire time we will be gone so Zelda is not left too long by herself plus my older son will be around to watch her too. I am excited for my son but I am also looking forward to our return. I know she will be fine. You truly don’t know how much she has blessed our lives. She is really special. We are grateful for her every day. She is definitely not “a dog” but a true member of our family. I think we are all in-love with her! "

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sweet old dogs

I received this email from Alison Harshbarger:

"We got Chandler from you at Surry Labradors a long long time ago. He's now 12 years old. I included a picture I took of him about a month or two ago. He's been a great dog. We should have know though, when we visited and he was crawling all over the other puppies that we would have our hands full. But he's now old and has arthritis. He still manages to follow my mother from room to room, since my brother and I left for college. I've since then graduated and gone in the working world. I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know how much we love Chandler."

I have a special place in my heart for the old ones. And it is especially poignant to hear from someone who got a puppy from us so many years ago. It's hard to believe that 12 years have passed since Chandler was born at Surry.

I have a couple of oldies at Surry now. Tilly is 14 and doing well. She enjoys lying around in air conditioning. Timmi, who was imported from Sweden, is still a happy boy and shows little sign of aging much. I remember when these and so many others that we had were young. I guess that old age catches up with all of us eventually.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Meeting Sky Rose

A friend of mine just adopted a greyhound off the track. Her racing name was Scythe but Bee has renamed her Sky Rose. She raced about nine times and won four races. After winning those early races in her career, she always lagged or was last. That ended her career and thankfully she was put up for adoption.

Sky Rose is a fawn brindle. She has tiger stripes on a soft fawn coat. She is a bit anxious yet. Bee said that when she picked up her walking stick, Sky Rose ran to her blanket and cowered. That suggests that she was whipped or mistreated. But I told Bee that after a few months of love, her anxiety will diminish. She will know that she is loved and that no one will ever mistreat her again.

I liked Sky Rose from the moment I met her. She has the kindest eyes and the softest coat. As soon as she gets acclimated, I'll take Hoffa and one of the Labradors over to meet her. It was Hoffa's eyes that clinched the decision by Bee to get a greyhound. She said that she took one look in those soft eyes and decided that she had to adopt one.

Don't worry Sky Rose--you've found a good home and lots of people who care about you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Deacon is home

Surry's Deacon Blue is now home for a few months. He has been out with Rusty and Jenn Howard since Feb. But he's now out of coat.

He seemed glad to be back, knew right where his kennel was and has been enjoying playing with his buddies. It's amazing how the dogs don't forget the routine or their old playmates.

Whenever Stella comes back to visit, she runs right to the doggy room door and wags her tail to be let in. She enjoys coming back to visit with her dam, Tilly and her new friend, Hoffa, the greyhound.

I don't know why I would think that they would ever forget. They have a better sense of smell and other sensory receptors that are a lot better than outs. And we don't forget places where we lived before either.

Welcome back Deacon! We missed you.

Friday, June 06, 2008


My husband's last day of work was May 31. It has been hard for me to adjust to his not being at work since we've always worked in close proximity to each other. We are both marine scientists and were lucky enough to get positions at a marine laboratory in Charleston, SC. His office has been 3 doors down from mine and now it's empty of all his books. I can't just walk down the hall and ask him a question on some scientific matter.

Charles has had a great career and done some excellent work. I think that neither of us thought about retiring but the last few years, it has come to seem more appealing. For one thing, we enjoy our hobbies. He enjoys fishing, gardening, wood working and cooking. He wants to spend more time doing those things. After you've worked at something for 30 years, it is also nice to know that every day is a Saturday!

This morning Charles told me that he feels busier now than ever. He has been working on moving books and files from his work office to the new library at Surry. He is planning to spend some time writing papers on his research. It appears that there is more than enough to keep him busy. And also more time to play with the dogs and give them cookies!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Beach time

It's getting to be that time of year when the dogs are out en masse at the beach. Of course, there are the leash laws but early mornings seem to be the time when people and their dogs are out walking.

Caroline sent me the great photo of Mia walking along the beach near her home in Florida. There are only a handful of places that I know of where dogs can go on the beach at any time. One of those is Morris Island which is only reached by boat. If you go there, be prepared for a free for all atmosphere of dogs and people. Saturday's are the wildest with about 30 boats at anchor and a sea of humans drinking beer and playing frisbee. On Sunday, the crowd is more family oriented. On either day, there are dogs running and playing in the water.

If you go to the beach, observe and obey the leash laws. Pick up after your dog and try not to take your dog near any bird rookeries. Also be on the look out for areas that have turtle nests.
Being on the beach is great but in order to keep being able to go there, pet owners have to be responsible.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dogs and thunderstorms

Thunderstorms are prevalent in the south during the summer. I know that some dogs simply don't like thunderstorms because of the noise and the lowering of barometric pressure. I've heard of dogs that run into closets or under beds. We've been fortunate in that our dogs have adjusted to thunderstorms. They seem to take the noise in stride.

However, Stella and Mia seem to be two that don't like storms at all. Both begin to show distress by panting heavily. Stella wants to be with her human and stick right at his side. There are a couple of suggestions for how to possibly alleviate fear of storms.

One of the things is to provide a crate as a haven for a dog during the storm. Cover the crate with a blanket and let the dog relax in the crate. Talk to the dog in a reassuring manner while the dog is in the crate. Behaviorists claim that purchasing a CD of storm noises and playing it during the day, gradually increasing the volume can help to modify behavior. Personally, I think that Labradors would recognize a recording from the real thing. It is suggested that if you get a recording, reward the dog with a special treat for not panting and showing signs of fear. If you increase the volume, watch to see how the dog reacts. If the dog becomes anxious, then lower the volume and after the dog calms down, then try raising it again and leaving it raised for a few minutes. Then lower the volume again. I've read that this works but have never tried it.

As a last resort, there is also medication that can be given. However, given that thunderstorms arise quickly down here, I don't think that would be much help either.

Probably the most important thing is to calm the dog as much as possible. Let him go into a darkened crate if he wants, but if he wants to be near you, then let him. Hopefully, the dog will get used to the fact that thunderstorms roll through fairly quickly.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


I just learned that a friend's dog has osteosarcoma. This is a type of bone cancer that is generally found in the leg bones of large breed dogs. Many years ago I had a Rottweiler that developed osteosarcoma. The cancer generally occurs in middle aged or older dogs. It is an aggressive cancer and can become more painful as it grows outward and destroys the bone from the inside out.

In my Rottweiler, I first noticed that she was limping. The limping became worse and a large lump appeared on the leg. This large lump was the tumor that was growing inside the leg bone. I had to stop all obedience work with her because tumorous bone is not as strong as normal bone and can break easily. Such a fracture won't heal readily.

I took Zoe in to the vet and a radiograph revealed the presence of osteosarcoma. There are several characteristics that can be observed on the radiograph:
  • The “lytic lesion” – looks like an area of bone has been eaten away.
  • The “sunburst” pattern – shows as a corona effect as the tumor grows outward and pushes the more normal outer bone up and away.
  • A pathologic fracture may be seen through the abnormal bone.
Osteosarcoma does not cross the joint space to affect other bones comprising the joint.There are few options with osteosarcoma. Some vets indicate that amputation of the leg may buy some time. Others suggest amputation and chemotherapy. The problem is that the dog is then very uncomfortable and by the time the disease is diagnosed in the leg, it has likely spread to the organs of the chest such as the lungs.

I hope that Cayenne will continue to enjoy life as much as possible. She has been given around 4 months. She doesn't go to the beach anymore but seems happy enough limping around the house. It's sad to see such a once active dog no longer able to do the things that she so enjoyed. Osteosarcoma is a bad disease and one that I had hoped to not see among my doggy friends again.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Brain tumors

I was sorry to hear about Ted Kennedy and the diagnosis that he has a glioma brain tumor. My cousin was diagnosed a couple of years ago with glioblastoma multiforme, Stage Four. I've seen him go from being a healthy active person to someone who can no longer walk, has difficulty speaking, and who is living marginally.

I say marginally because he can no longer read, has great anxiety, is bedridden, and communicates minimally. His glioma was in the left parietal lobe, the same location for Sen. Kennedy's tumor.

My cousin did have surgery, followed by chemo and radiation. He has been on a number of drugs used to counter the effects of swelling on the brain and to help wipe out the tumor. His last MRI showed no further growth of the tumor. But the effects of the surgery and radiation have taken their toll. Further, it seems likely that the tumor has "branched" out and is still active at a level that is undetectable by MRI.

His wife has remained devoted in her care of him but she has suffered a terrible toll also. She has given up any kind of life for herself to be his sole caregiver. I wonder what will happen to her when he dies.

I heard on the news that Sen. Kennedy is finding out as much as he can about the tumor. If he has read about it, then he knows that it is devastating. I wish him the best. It's a tough diagnosis with a bad disease.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Island tornado

A tornado tore up part of Wadmalaw Island last evening. There were severe thunderstorm warnings which isn't unusual for this time of year.

But what happened was the evening sea breeze and the thunderstorm convection interacted to form an F2 tornado. It tore up trees and caused damage to houses. The winds were estimated at 120 mph.

What's scary is that there was no warning about this. If such a tornado had touched down at Surry, there would likely have been major damage to the dog kennels and injury to the dogs. Severe thunderstorms occur in the south frequently but now I view these as being much more dangerous than I ever considered before.

I don't think that it's feasible to bring all the dogs inside at every threat of a thunderstorm but I certainly will give more thought to bringing them in when a severe storm is forecast and tornado warnings are a possibility.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Labradors as therapy dogs

I received this from Dr. Stacy Nelson. Her Tweedle is shown here with her Tester/Observer at her 3rd Pet Therapy Visit in Miami. She is now eligible for Registration as a Pet Therapy Dog.

Labradors make great therapy dogs because of their gentle temperament. Therapy dogs visit nursing home residents and emotionally disturbed children. It has been shown that therapy dogs have a positive benefit in the healing process. They often help people cope with their illness and are stress relievers. They also offer physical contact to someone who is lonely and needing such contact.

Therapy dogs must be obedience trained and have proven to be gentle and outgoing. Labradors love people and to be around them so they are especially good at being therapy dogs. It's often best to wait until a Labrador is out of the young adult stage though because a therapy dog must be calm.

Therapy dogs must be observed and be determined to be:

Social and interactive with people they are visiting. They must enjoy being petted and hugged. The dog should be accustomed to people on crutches, canes and wheelchairs.

A therapy dog must be protected with vaccine against rabies and have all its annual shots up to date. It will be necessary to provide proof of immunization in order to qualify as a therapy dog.

Therapy dogs must be at least one year of age and have a Canine Good Citizen Certificate. A therapy dog must be used to strange noises and it would be helpful if the dog knows a few simple tricks, such as shake hands, in order to entertain the patients.

It's a great feeling to bring your dog into a home and put a smile on someone's face. I hope that you will look into having your dog certified as a therapy dog.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Every girl is in season

It's the dormitory effect here at Surry in which one girl after another has come in season. The boys are sniffing everywhere and howling at night.

I've decided not to do any breeding for a while. This has been something that I've been thinking about for a while. I simply think that right now is not the time to do a breeding and have a litter. For one thing, I have 3 Labradors that I'd like to finish. The time that it takes to whelp and raise babies is significant. I also am enjoying having some free time (for once). It's nice to be able to come home and just enjoy the dogs that I have rather than worrying about little ones.

I think that after having bred for a number of years, I feel really good about taking a break. The stress of whelping has always been high for me. I've never really gotten used to losing babies and the loss of a bitch during whelping is something that was a nightmare.

So in the meantime, hormones are raging at Surry. The good news is that the heat cycle will only last another week or so. Then things should be quiet for the summer.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Greetings from Finland

I received these photos from a breeder friend in Finland. The photo with the tennis balls is of her Mellows Ruby Tuesday. She notes that record for her is 5 balls at the same time in her mouth! So what will we learn from this photo? besides a BIG heart the Labrador has also got quite a BIG mouth......
She also attached a photo of her import Marshy Hope's American Dream who is a son of Ch. Surry's Brick in the Wall.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Behavior at dog park

I took a couple of dogs to the dog park today. It is always an interesting experience. Sometimes I wonder whether it is more interesting to watch the dog or human behavior.

My dogs seem to take things in stride. They are friendly and enjoy watching as "newcomers" come through the gates of the park. I've observed all kinds of canine behavior at the park. There is the rough and tumble style with lots of growling, grabbing, wrestling and tackling. Some dogs are daintier with bowing and chasing but not much physical contact. A few dogs are ball obsessive and only want to fetch or play frisbee. Some dogs like to herd other dogs, and may bark and nip at them. I've seen a few skirmishes but no outright dog fights. In fact, everyone seems to get along fairly well.

One of the things that I watch is how my dogs are interacting and how the other dog is responding. Mine are friendly but often prefer to hang around me. Hoffa, the greyhound, likes to be the greeter and loves to run beside others when a ball is thrown. She doesn't try to take the ball so she isn't perceived as a threat.

The Labradors enjoy retrieving but when they get hot, they would rather go lie in the cool sand near the water fountain. If I go to the dog park with the lake, then they like to wade through the water or lie down in it.

The people at the park generally share information about their dog. Most seem totally devoted to their dog and enjoy watching the antics of everyone. I've never seen anyone be abusive which is a good thing! Today, I overheard a few people talking to a fellow about whether he was going to breed his young male boxer. I generally have to bite my tongue when these conversations come up, especially when an owner says that a dog has a genetic problem but is too "pretty" not to breed.

Here is an especially good article about dog park etiquette. The point of not bringing small children to the park is a good one. I've seen little puppies and little people get bowled over. I don't think it's a good idea to bring either to the park. I would worry about puppies being around large dogs that might step on them and perhaps picking up an illness from another dog. And it's obvious why small children and infants are better off not going to a dog park.

Hopefully, your experience at the dog park will be as much fun as mine has been.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I was walking a friend's dog the other day. He did his usual sniffing about and then defecated. Being a dog person, I took a look to see if the stool looked "healthy". It looked normal, except for a small white writhing ribbon like object that I recognized as a tapeworm proglottid.

Tapeworms are common this time of year in dogs. The worm is segmented and the segments, called proglottids, are what show up in dog feces. Proglottids are the reproductive segments and are what is commonly seen moving in feces. Each proglottid is actually a reproducing unit and are mobile which is why they often irritate the anal area causing a dog to scoot along the floor. The proglottids contain eggs that are eaten by fleas. Fleas get on the dog and the dog chews or licks its skin as a flea bites; the flea is then swallowed. As the flea is digested, the tapeworm hatches and anchors itself to the intestinal lining. So you can see it's fairly easy for dogs to be infected with tapeworms.

The tapeworm will attach to the wall of the small intestine and begin growing more proglottids. The lifecycle will repeat as the proglottids break free and are passed with the feces. I've included a photo that shows the life cycle.

The tapeworm doesn't have disastrous consequences for your dog. However, most people don't like the idea of having worms in their pets. So it's important to check your dog for fleas and take a look at fresh fecal matter to see if there are any proglottids in it.

Treatment is simple and effective. We use Droncit which is in tablet form. These tablets are reasonable in price and can be gotten from your vet. The drug kills tapeworms causing them to dissolve within the intestines. Since the worm is usually digested before it passes, it is not visible in your dog's stool.

The real issue here is fleas and getting them under control. Flea control involves treatment of your dog, the indoor environment and the outdoor environment if your dog is in a kennel. We use Frontline as a topical treatment. We have also used Interceptor as larval preventor. Frequent vacuuming is necessary for rugs. And aerosol "bomb" insecticides are useful indoors. I don't bathe the Labradors much but when I do, I use a pyrethrin-based flea shampoo. All of these in combination will help keep fleas off your dog and will prevent infestation with tapeworms.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dog Legislation SC

I'm not sure whether this bill has passed or not but thought that I'd show it here. It is for the purpose of prohibiting long term tethering or chaining of dogs. It does not mention crates specifically as a previous version did.



Amend Title To Conform

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Chapter 1, Title 47 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 47‑1‑45. (A) It is unlawful to knowingly or intentionally confine or restrain an animal in a cruel manner or knowingly or intentionally cause such cruel confinement or restraining of an animal.

(B) For purposes of this section:

(1) ‘Confine an animal in a cruel manner’ or ‘cruel confinement of an animal’ means confining an animal by means of a pen or similar confinement under circumstances in which the person intends to endanger the animal’s health or safety, or the person reasonably should have known would endanger the animal’s health or safety. ‘Confine an animal in a cruel manner’ or ‘cruel confinement of an animal’ includes, but is not limited to, a confinement that:

(a) confines an animal for such an unreasonable period of time that the animal’s health or safety is endangered;

(b) does not permit an animal to stand, turn around, sit, and lie down in a normal position;

(c) causes bodily injury to an animal;

(d) does not permit an animal access to sustenance;

(e) does not permit proper ventilation for an animal; or

(f) is not kept in a sanitary condition.

(2) ‘Restrain an animal in a cruel manner’ or ‘cruel restraining of an animal’ means tethering, fastening, chaining, tying, attaching, or otherwise restraining an animal to a tree, fence, post, or other stationary object or a running line, pulley, cable trolley system, or similar system by means of a chain, rope, tether, leash, cable, or similar restraint under circumstances in which the person intends to endanger the animal’s health or safety, or the person reasonably should have known would endanger the animal’s health or safety. ‘Restrain an animal in a cruel manner’ or ‘cruel restraining of an animal’ includes, but is not limited to, a restraint that:

(a) restricts an animal’s movement for such an unreasonable period of time that the animal’s health or safety is endangered;

(b) is of a weight that excessively burdens an animal;

(c) causes an animal to choke or causes bodily injury to an animal;

(d) is too short for an animal to move around or for an animal to urinate or defecate in a separate area from the area where the animal must eat, drink, or lie down;

(e) is situated such that an animal will likely become entangled;

(f) does not permit an animal access to sustenance and shelter;

(g) does not permit an animal to escape reasonably foreseeable harm;

(h) is attached to an animal by means of a collar, harness, or similar device that is not properly fitted for the age and size of the animal such that the collar, harness, or similar device causes trauma or injury to the animal; or

(i) is attached to an unsupervised animal by means of a choke‑type or pronged collar.

(C) A person who knowingly or intentionally violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by imprisonment not exceeding sixty days or by a fine not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, or both, for a first offense; by imprisonment not exceeding ninety days or by a fine not exceeding eight hundred dollars, or both, for a second offense; or by imprisonment not exceeding two years or by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, or both, for a third or subsequent offense. A person may be issued a correction warning in lieu of an infraction requiring the person to correct the cruel confinement or restraining of an animal within seventy‑two hours unless the violation endangers the health or safety of the animal, the animal has been wounded as a result of the violation, or a correction warning has previously been issued to the person.

(D) This section does not apply to fowl, accepted animal husbandry practices of farm operations and the training of animals, animal exhibitions or shows, pet shops, the practice of veterinary medicine, agricultural practices, forestry and silvacultural practices, wildlife management practices, and to activities, exhibitions, transportation, and other events related to activities authorized by Title 50.

(E) Nothing in this section prohibits local governments from adopting more stringent local ordinances governing the confinement or restraining of an animal; however, a local government may assess only civil penalties for such ordinances.”

SECTION 2. This act becomes effective July 1, 2008.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Those silly Labradors

I received this from Justin Holofchak who owns Bess. Bess evidently thinks that she is a large bird. Justin wrote that Bess usually puts her paws up to play in the bird bath but this time she decided to take a leap of faith. She stayed in the bird bath for about 2 or 3 minutes. It must be one of the funniest Labrador photos of all time. What won't they do?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Neilley's travel home

I heard from Ann and Paul Key that they have a new travel home. Neilley, aka The Pinkster, seems right at home in the photo above. They recently went on a trip with their new vehicle to Huntington Beach State Park. Neilley, of course, had a great time.

Neilley also found that the bed in the motor home was just as nice as the one at home!

I must be in the minority because I've never had dogs in bed--it's enough to have two cats jumping up and down on my back at night. Having a panting Labrador that snores and sheds is just too much for me. I'll provide the best doggy beds anywhere but the human bed remains to be used for humans.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Fleas are about

It's flea time again. I haven't seen any scratching here but have heard from an owner that his bitch has been scratching some. He takes her for long walks through trails and to the various dog parks. Either place could provide a haven for fleas.

The important thing about flea control is that there has to be premise control in addition to getting fleas off the dog. For Labradors, frequent bathing isn't good. But a flea dip might help. Also applying topical monthly treatments such as Frontline are advised.

But the real thing here is to control fleas in your house or yard. Using boric acid crystals on carpet is one treatment. But it is probably necessary to also use insecticide "bombs" that will treat an area of your house. These should be released when no one is home. And the house must remain shut up for several hours. Frequent vacuuming is also necessary in flea control.

So it's that time of year. And it's a good time to incorporate flea eradication into your spring cleaning routine.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Pouncing cats and pacing hounds

Esther, the Siamese kitten, has become the adolescent terror. She will sleep until about 4 AM and then will decide that it's time for play. She will pounce on my back, lick my face and then bite my nose.

Often Rachael and Esther will get into a tussling contest in which lots of "fake" biting, growls, and chases occur. This gets Hoffa, the greyhound, excited and a bit intimidated. Hoffa doesn't have a strong prey drive. She would rather look at squirrels than chase them. And she would rather that the cats not pounce on her or swat at her tail.

So even though the alarm is set for 5:15 AM, the day has been starting much earlier for me. After several minutes of Esther's pouncing and licking, I generally decide to take her upstairs for her kitty kibble and shut her in the upstairs bedroom. Then I try to get back to sleep.

It's been a while since I've had a Siamese kitten. Now I know why. She's adorable and very playful. I'm longing for the mature laid-back stage to start!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The cost of dog showing

have been wondering how the price of gas has been affecting entries at dog shows. I spoke with a show chair for one of the kennel clubs in Florida who told me that entries have been down. When you consider the expense of showing, I often think that one is better off hiring a handler.

Handlers charge $75-100 per show plus entry fees. There is also a split charge for transportation. But when one considers that to drive to a dog show on a Friday, get a hotel and meals, pay entries, and do the work from sunup to sundown, having a handler doesn't seem like a bad idea.

As AKC says, "Showing is an expensive hobby, not a money-making venture. It’s a fun way to meet people with similar interests, participate in a sport with your dog and gain unbiased opinions about a dog’s breeding potential (although not all people that show breed their dogs).

Mostly, all that an exhibitor will win is a small ribbon. For some wins, a trophy or dog related item is offered. Cash prizes are occasionally offered for big wins, however these cash prizes do not offset the money spent to show a dog. In general, prizes won do not come close to the expense of showing when one figures entry fees, traveling & equipment expenses and all other expenses that go along with showing a dog."

Amen to that.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter weekend for the dogs

The dogs got some special treats for Easter weekend. Mother Hubbard dog treats in different flavors were the item du jour. Hoffa, the greyhound, has to eat natural food with no corn. Otherwise, she gets an upset digestive system. I prefer to spoil her a bit so that there isn't a chance of any problems.

The Labradors seem to love the Iams cookies. They have caste iron stomachs and nothing much seems to bother them. But they got to splurge on some Mother Hubbard peanut butter cookies for Easter.

Hope that your Easter weekend turned out to be a good one. The weather was nice, yet it was chilly enough that the dogs enjoyed romping around. The gnats are out though so I'm always grateful for a little wind.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rowing in 40 knot gusts

I haven't blogged about rowing for a while. On Wednesday, the rowing group got together at City Marina and we set forth in a wild wind. We rowed into the Harbor with gusts at 40 knots! It was quite a wild ride.

When I'm rowing with some seas, I have to watch the oar because it's easy to catch a "crab". When that happens, your oar goes too deep and you can't get it back out before the boat moves forward. That can knock you off your seat which has happened to me when I first started rowing.

There were two guests from RI who rowed with us. One of them caught a crab and got knocked back a bit. They laughed about it afterwards. When racing in an eight, I've heard of people being dumped right out of the shell for catching a crab.

Anyway, it was a wild and crazy row. I can see that a Labrador or a Chesapeake would have to be very strong to bust through waves created by a 40 knot gust.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Do dogs get jealous?

I'm sure that I can answer "Yes" to that question. Take for instance, the interaction of Hoffa and Stella. Hoffa will visit her friend Stella for a couple of days. She gets to go to the beach, go to doggy park, and have all kinds of fun.

But when the two are together, Stella will gather up every toy and every dog bone that is around, hoard them and take them into her crate. There was one dog bone that I got at the grocery store. It was a large marrow bone with lots of meat on it. Stella wasn't interested in it at all. She sniffed it and walked away. So now over a week since the marrow bone was ignored, Hoffa comes to visit and Stella decides that she loves the marrow bone. She hovers over it. She looks at it with love. She guards it. And she won't even get in the van to go to doggy park because she wants to guard her marrow bone.

Is this doggy jealousy? It is to my mind a great example of how possessive dogs can be. And maybe it's just certain dogs and their reaction to guarding food and their crates. But it is also humorous. I have to smile at Stella's sudden interest in the marrow bone when Hoffa arrives on the scene. Aren't dogs just so like people sometimes?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deacon gets a major!

I received word just now that Surry's Deacon Blue got his first major (a 3 pointer) today at the Lancaster Kennel Club show. Last weekend, he also got his first point by going WD.

I'm happy that he is doing well. Jenn Howard said that he is sometimes a goofy boy! Yep, he can be that. He's at that age of 15 months when NO seems to be his name. He has zero attention most of the time, wants to sniff everything, is instantly in love, and well...acts just like a juvenile Labrador male.

I'm just glad that Jenn and Rusty have him and will teach him some manners. He thinks that it's a free for all here at Surry. And at the dog shows where I recently showed him in February, he was a real handful. In fact, the English judge said that he was lovely but didn't do himself any favors by cutting up. Yep, that's Deacon. Points and training....hmm...wonder which one I like better?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Is spring here?

I'm wondering whether the last of winter is over. There isn't much winter to speak of anyway in South Carolina. Sometimes in March there can be ice but it appears that with warm days ahead, we may be getting into spring.

The flowers think that it's spring anyway. Daffodils have bloomed, the flowering shrubs are out, and the Labradors are enjoying lying about in the sun.

Now that the weather is warmer, I've enjoyed going to the beach. I try to take a couple of dogs each time. More and more people are also out at the beach with their dogs.

On this day, I met Rocky, the German Shepherd. Rocky is 10 weeks old and as cute as he can be. He enjoyed playing with the Labradors who seemed to recognize that he was a goofy puppy. There was a lot of butt tucking going on.

The dogs seem to enjoy meeting people and other dogs at the beach. If you get a chance, take your dog for a long walk on the beach. It's good for the human mind and great for the dogs too.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Interdigital cysts

I had an email from a Labrador that had "boil like" bumps between the toes. The bumps would rupture and there was a small crater in the center. I suspected that these were interdigital cysts.

These cysts are caused by pododermatitis and interdigital pyoderma. These have been extremely frustrating to treat successfully with any one approach. So the following is a list of things that have worked, with some notes about how they may be useful:

Mupirocin ointment (Bactoderm Rx)--can be put on the cysts and sometimes works well.

Metronidazole (Flagyl Rx)--strangely enough it can help with these cysts.

Doxycyline, like metronidazole, has worked well for a couple of dogs.

Fluoroquinolones (Baytril Rx, Dicural Rx, Orbax Rx, others) are the most commonly recommended antibiotics in the dermatology literature. These are broad spectrum antibiotics that generally penetrate tissue well.

Clindamycin (Antirobe Rx) is an antibiotic that has good activity against anerobic bacteria which seem to be involved in some cases of interdigital cysts. It is often used in combination with fluoroquinolones but can also be effective alone in some dogs.

Cephalexin ( Keflex Rx) is our general favorite antibiotic for skin disease. It can be used long-term to control skin infections. It seems to be among the safer of antibiotics, although no antibiotic is totally risk free. If there seems to be any response to cephalexin early in treatment we usually try it for at least three weeks.

So you may want to talk to your vet about starting with cephalexin and then move on to the other medications on the list, except that we often use cephalexin and metronidazole together rather than withdrawing the cephalexin. You can use fluoroquinolones last, mostly based on expense.

These cysts can come back so you may have to start the treatment again. You may want to consider keeping your dog indoors, if you have a kennel, while the antibiotics work. Sometimes there are things such as pollen that can cause allergies. Also, you may want to switch to a different food,especially one that is natural and does not have corn. I suggest one of the Wellness or Nutro foods.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

New topical flea treatment

I've use Frontline Plus for flea and ticks for a while. I have also used Program which is a monthly pill that prevents formation of chitin in flea eggs and larvae, thereby killing fleas before they develop. Although Frontline still seems to be doing well for the dogs, I have read that long-term use of a particular product may reduce its effectiveness as fleas may become resistant. However, I haven't read any published papers to that effect for Frontline.

The other day when I went to the vets' office, I saw an ad for a new flea product called ProMeris.
ProMeris is a spot on treatment, just like Frontline. It is only available through your vets' office. Fort Dodge who makes ProMeris established a veterinarian-only sales policy because it believes veterinarians should be pet owners’ primary source of information to help ensure the health and well-being of their companion animals. And it is new so there isn't much information on long-term effects.

The active ingredients are Metaflumizone that has never before been used to control fleas before. It attacks fleas’ nervous systems by blocking voltage dependent sodium channels, which results in paralysis and death of the flea. Amitraz, the second active ingredient in ProMeris for dogs, is a well-established tickicide and provides dogs with up to four weeks of tick control. Amitraz works by disrupting the tick’s normal nerve function, leading to reduced feeding and attachment, paralysis and death of the tick.

ProMeris for dogs effectively controls fleas and protects against re-infestation for up to six weeks, and may be used as part of a treatment strategy for dogs suffering from flea allergy dermatitis.

I'm not sure whether I'll switch to ProMeris or not. There are a lot of squirrels, foxes and opposums at Surry which makes for additional problems when trying to control fleas. So I need something that remains effective for the dogs during the flea season. Hopefully, Frontline will continue to be effective.