There's a slide show on the New York Times Online with Photos of Owners and their Dogs. Do they look alike?
Well, duh!! Check it out!
If you have any of you and your dog, please send them and I'll post! I'll see if I can find one of me and my dogs.
There's a slide show on the New York Times Online with Photos of Owners and their Dogs. Do they look alike?
Well, duh!! Check it out!
If you have any of you and your dog, please send them and I'll post! I'll see if I can find one of me and my dogs.
Who doesn’t want those!
#1 Prescription Medications—
*Ask your vet if there is a generic that can save you money
* Find out if it’s cheaper through your pharmacy or your vet. Your vet will usually be willing to call a prescription into a pharmacy if it’s less expensive. Many medications are available through a pharmacy.
* If it isn’t an emergency, ask your vet if he/she is willing to write a prescription to use through mail order catalogs or online if it’s cheaper. Or ask your vet if she/he will match the catalog price.
#2 Dog Food—
Check manufacturers websites for coupons or special offers. They often have downloadable coupons you can use with a retailer or a distributor.
#3 Cheaper Tick Preventative
This summer I tried Preventic collars on my senior dogs. I walk them twice a day and they wander into the woods and grass. No ticks! None! The collar is only good for ticks, not as a flea preventative, but it is $10 a collar and works for 3 months. A real bargain, and is considered the most effective tick preventative. It did discolor one of my dog’s fur to a pinkish hue, but he’s not being shown, so I don’t really care, and it may have been a reaction to a medicated shampoo I used. I haven’t put it on any of the younger dogs due to their rough playing and pulling at each other. There is an explicit warning on the label that the collars cannot be ingested.
#4 Vaccine Clinic
*An office visit and a rabies shot can start at $50.00.
*If I take a dog in for a rabies only shot, I pay $25, no office visit. Ask if you can come in for a rabies shot only.
*Call your local SPCA and see if they know of any rabies or vaccine clinics in your area, also check the pet stores for clinics, and the vet offices. The local clinic in my area charges $7.00 for a rabies shot.
This photo is from a Children's Book called Four Little Puppies. The creator and Photographer is Harry Whittier Frees. In the early 1900's he dressed up puppies and kittens in clothes made by his mother, and told a story about them. The clothes were designed to help hold the puppies in their poses. A very early William Wegman! I didn't have the heart (stomach) to show roundworms.
Parasites, Pot Bellies, and Roundworms
I’ve got more than a few “stop along the side of the road for a dog” stories. In this one I’m traveling north towards Charlottesville one late summer afternoon when I spot a small puppy. Route 29 is four-lanes with a wide median strip, a puppy flattener highway if there ever was one. I pull over and he runs straight to me. He’s one of those back roads Virginia pups I’ve seen so often; runty, the color of plowed fields, his slick fur worn off where mange won the battle. Long ears reveal hound parentage and his bloated belly is round and hard as a basketball. Where did he come from? A nearby driveway gave me a clue.
The house at the end of the lane peeled grayish white paint; the front yard filled with tires, cans, trash, rotten wood, and car parts. From under the porch my road pup’s siblings, looking like him in all the wrong ways, ran out to great us. No humans in sight, I leave the pup and jump back into my car, feeling guilty I hadn’t instead taken him to the shelter.
One of the things the pup certainly had was roundworms; his thin frame exaggerated his bloated belly. How do puppies get roundworms, Toxocara canis? The most common way is through the mother. Larvae roundworms lie dormant in the tissues and during pregnancy the dam’s hormones trigger the larvae out of their insidious slumber to migrate through the placenta to the unborn puppies. They can also travel through the mother’s milk. Adult dogs become infected by ingesting eggs from another animal’s contaminated feces. Symptoms, along with that telltale belly in extreme cases, are diarrhea and vomiting.
Once roundworms have infected their host they travel to the stomach, invade the stomach wall, and then migrate in the blood to the liver. Continuing their little tour of our dogs, they then progress to the trachea, are coughed up and re-swallowed. All this to ultimately live in the small intestine, where as adults, they can produce more than 100,000 eggs per day. Your vet can easily diagnose roundworm with a fecal sample.
My little roadside pup, or any litter suspected of roundworms, should have been wormed no later than 3 weeks of age and every two weeks after that; one dose at 3, 5, and 7 weeks. The wormer only kills adult roundworms, so it’s necessary to continue worming to kill larvae that later mature into adults. The dam should also be wormed at the same time to prevent re-infestation and lower the worm load for any future litters. It is also important to diligently remove feces in the yard so that no additional re-infestation can occur.
Pyrantel Pamoate can be purchased without a prescription--is inexpensive, and because it is more concentrated, it takes less quantity to worm. I routinely begin worming my own pups at three weeks. If you use pyrantel pamoate, worm 1 ml per 10 pounds body weight, (this is more than the recommended dosage on the label). For example, if your puppy is 4 pounds, you give .4 ml dose. It also kills hookworms. I’ve always found it to be completely safe with no side effects.
Nemex and Strongid T are brand names for pyrantel pamoate. They are, however, lower strength, and requires a larger quantity to worm. It’s easier and cheaper to use the generic. Heartworm preventatives can also kill adult hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms, but since the larvae live in the tissue of the pregnant bitch, it won’t work until the worms are adults, and obviously won’t kill the roundworms in the puppies if you are giving heartworm preventative to the dam.
I've always loved Elliott Erwitt's photography. His photos reveal a sense of humor and a love of dogs, or at least an ironical appreciation of dog people's love of their dogs! Of course what works with Elliott's photo is that the dog's head is just about the right proportional size to what a human head would be, and tricks our eye for a moment.
Childhood summers in Erie meant when my brother, mom, and I finished chores we’d pack up a lunch basket, stuff blankets and towels in my mother’s cherished Chrysler convertible, and head for the beach. We spent many summer afternoons in Lake Erie’s chilly waters, or on its pebbly sands—playing. If we didn’t go to the beach, I’d head out on my bicycle with my friends and go exploring. Often we’d travel far beyond the boundaries my mother so carefully drew for me; into the woods, creeks, and trails of neighboring wilds.
When I needed cleaning off, I’d bike to my great Aunt’s house where she’d brew a pot of tea. Late into the afternoon I’d sit at her kitchen table sipping the warm, sweet tea and we’d tell each other stories, mine usually of what out of bounds territory I’d explored that day. She kept my secrets.
I didn’t know then that the hours I spent out of doors in unstructured free time, or telling Aunt Marie my adventures were developing critical cognitive skills the psychologists now call “executive function.” Using my imagination in play, (in my early youth I was also a great lover of Lincoln logs) developed my ability to self-regulate, taught me how to control my emotions and behaviors, and how to exert self-control. By being able to manage my feelings and pay attention I became a better learner—all through play, imagine that.
Animals have the same capacity for play and reap the same kinds of benefits. When our dogs play, they relax and gain the same abilities to learn and pay attention. If we play with them, we both get the added bonus of building strong bonds. This is an overly simplistic explanation, but when we play with our animals we both release endorphins, and endorphins inhibit the fear and anxiety response. With less fear or anxiety, Patrick can learn more easily.
As Patrick relaxes, he is inclined to play; as he plays, he relaxes. What a great feedback loop. He plays with the other dogs, which is wonderful, but more importantly to my goals, he also plays with me. We play fetch and every time I throw the toy, he brings it back. I praise him and am very happy, and he is happy, and we both smile. I’m also reinforcing his newfound sense of play, and it’s as important as everything else we do.
The first fall seasons we lived in our little clearing in the woods, hunting dogs would wander through, nose to the ground. I’d dutifully shoo them away, although they never seemed interested in the livestock or even my own dogs. I had no desire to touch them, as ticks in every stage of engorgement dripped off their ears and other tender parts of their lean, weary bodies.
Many of us remember the days when we had to “dip” our dogs. It was messy, toxic, it stunk, and we could only imagine what we were doing to our pets while fleas and maybe ticks dropped off. Now we have topicals that are easy to apply.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) is an independent council composed of veterinarians and health care professionals that establishes guidelines for control of parasites. Here are some of their recommendations for tick prevention:
remove habitat that ticks live in such as tall grass,
keep weeds down, remove brush piles,
select plants that do not attract deer.
If you are interested in the chemicals that they suggest to spray in the environment, you’ll have to go to their website. We’re organic here at Millknock and I think it makes a difference. We’ve not had fleas in the 17 years we’ve lived here and I attribute it in part to the fact that we have not made bionic “super resistant fleas” due to not spraying or using pesticides to eliminate them. However, I realize that some parts of the country have severe flea problems they must deal with.
For treatment of ticks, CAPC recommends:
Remove them manually
Regular application of acaricides. The acaracides with the greatest efficacy are: amitraz (available in a spot-on formulation and an impregnated collar), fipronil (available in a spot-on formulation and an impregnated collar), and permethrin (available in a spot-on formulation and an impregnated collar). These three may help prevent tick attachment and can cause tick death within 24 to 48 hours.
Certain permethrin formulations seem to have a repellent like-activity that you can use on your clothing or material. Amitraz, fipronil, and permethrin spot on formulas can be safely used on dogs, but only fipronil is approved for cats.
Selamectin kills just two kinds of ticks on dogs and has a slower speed of kill, so may not be as effective in removing ticks in the 24-48 hour span.
The Preventic collar is considered the most effective treatment against ticks, but has no effect on fleas. It contains Amitraz, a powerful chemical, and you need to heed the warnings that accompany the collar; do not allow your pet to ingest any part of the collar. If you have multiple dogs, and there is risk of mouthing the collar in play, it may not be the preventative choice for your dogs. It lasts for 3 months and is the least expensive tick treatment.
Frontline is probably the most recommended tick and flea treatment by veterinarians. It contains fipronil. Frontline does not enter the bloodstream, but travels along the skin and settles in the sebaceous-oil-glands of the dog. As the tick crawls along fipronil attacks the nervous system of the tick and paralyzes before it can bite the dog and pass infection. Application every 30 days is best, as you risk making the ticks more resistant to the fipronil if you try to extend the time. One recommendation is to not follow the directions for applying Frontline in one spot, but spread it down the back in increments, against the skin, which will shorten the amount of time (up to 48 hours) that it takes to cover your dog. (and it won’t drip down the shoulders as I’ve seen it do on my dogs)
K9Advantix is another top spot whose ingredients are permethrin for ticks and imidocloprid for fleas. It works the same way as Frontline.
Oral and injectable treatments, in my opinion, are not recommended. They enter the bloodstream and do not work until after the tick bites the dog. I think the least invasive approach to our dogs' health is the best one. These other alternatives add tick prevention as a secondary benefit.
If you want to read more about tick diseases in dogs, I found a wonderful website devoted entirely to the subject. It is fairly well established that there are many tick-born diseases that don’t even have a name yet. Research indicates ticks could be responsible for diseases not previously attributed to them. Tick born disease is also not always diagnosed correctly. Your vet can do an in-house Snap test to test for Lymme, Erlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and Heartworm. If indicated or there is a question of results, you can do a Quantitative C6 test.
Elizabeth Kolbert, in her fascinating article titled The Fifth Extinction? describes five big extinctions in our earth’s history. There was once a mass extinction of brachiopods (they look like clams) and most of the marine animals and today there is evidence of another mass extinction of creatures such as frogs and bats. Frogs and bats contribute to the environmental equilibrium, no one has found a “reason” for ticks. My question is why can’t we have a mass extinction of ticks!
Plateaus and learning "Come"
“Plateaus may appear during the course of learning, but it appears that learning is still going on; performance can plateau but learning continues. It usually occurs when one aspect of a skill is developed to a more advance or complicated phase of that skill. (paraphrased*)”
Dog trainers often see plateaus during the course of an eight-week training session, it's especially obvious with the novice or beginner dogs. One of the early manuals I used in obedience classes warned some dogs reached a plateau at five weeks. Plateaus can happen for a number of reasons and understanding why helps get through them.
I’ve increased some of the challenges for Patrick and he’s hit a plateau. Since I know he is still learning despite his performance, I have options. I can take a step back and let him succeed at something he already knows, or I can let him work through the new challenge and break it down into smaller components so that he can succeed.
For example, coming when called. Patrick’s previous behavior was to approach to a certain point and then sit, but come no further. I accepted that for awhile, but now I’d like to get him to actually come right up to me. A static command to “Come” doesn’t work with him, so I have to try some different things. We play a game on leash where we head in one direction and then I turn and run backwards with a treat while saying “Come.” Patrick follows me and I click (using my clicker) and treat when he is close enough to take the food from my hand. I make it happy and fun and he thinks it’s a game.
Outside we use a long line with a slightly different version. Before he default sits, I run backwards and use the food as a lure to get his focus on coming directly to me. As soon as he comes, I praise him and tell him to “Go Play.” We run around a little bit and repeat the same scenario. “Go Play” is a reward in itself, even if Patrick doesn’t actually “play,” the only anticipation is more fun.
It’s a matter of conditioning and positive reinforcement—I will never, ever call Patrick to me for anything he perceives as a negative. Coming to me should always be positive, and not associated with something Patrick doesn’t want to do. (for example, go inside if outside is more fun, get corrected for not coming, go in a crate and then leave him) It takes some creativity to mix it up sometimes so that there are no negative associations. If I have to bring him in and I know he is having fun outdoors, I simply go get him--I don’t put the directive “come” with it. Patrick may have some plateaus this week, but I know he is still learning.
*Plateaus quote from The Art and Zen of Learning Golf by Michael Hebron
On the Heartworm Society’s Map of Heartworm incidence page 4, the spread and increase in heartworm disease since 2001 is pretty shocking.
If you live in the Southeast below the 37th parallel (the North Carolina/Virginia border), and in the areas highlighted as high incidence, or in the Gulf Coast states, your dog needs to be on monthly heartworm prevention year round.
Except for the subtropical South, heartworm transmission does have seasonal parameters. We need to be aware when those vulnerable periods occur and be very conscientious about using heartworm preventative. In the northern half of the country the highest transmission period is May through October. In regions where the heartworm transmission occurs more than ½ the year, you will want to give year round preventative.
I listed the options for prevention in a previous blog, but the preventative Ivermectin has an added benefit of being effective against late precardiac larvae and young (less than 7 months post infection) adult heartworms.
Heartworm prevention drugs are good for one month and according to the Heartworm Society “remain high for at least an additional month.” However, they add a disclaimer that the manufacturers added this longer efficacy for inadvertent delays or unplanned breaches in the monthly regimen. There are some who suggest that monthly heartworm can be administered every 45 days and still be effective. I know I have used that protocol myself. However, during the peak months of May through October or in any of the high incidence areas, I think it’s clear that monthly is safest, to avoid risk.
A study from Washington State University by Dr. Karen Mealey revealed that Collies, Australian Shepherds, Shelties, Border Collies, and Old English Sheepdogs and other collie related dogs can carry the MDR1 mutant gene, which makes them more sensitive to some drugs. You can get your dog tested to see if he/she carries this gene. Some veterinarians I spoke to said that the dosage in Heartgard and the generic Ivermectin brands are a low enough dose to be safe, with one cautioning me that Ivermectin, even at a low dose, is still going through the blood brain barrier. If your dog is tested to be free of the MDR1 gene, then there is no problem, otherwise the decision to give your dog Heartworm preventative with Ivermectin is a personal one after you’ve discussed it with your vet.
For alternative preventative suggestions I turned to Dr. Richard Pitcairn and his book Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. He points out that wild animals are surprisingly resistant to the parasite and if they do contract heartworm disease, they tend to get a light infestation and then become immune. He attributes this to differences between wild and domestic animals in exercise, raw diet, no drugs or toxic products, and immune systems able to resist the parasite. He advocates if we maximize our dogs’ health the ability to resist disease will be much better.
With global warming, rising temperatures, and in some places wetter climates, Dr. Pitcairn says despite effective preventatives heartworm disease is on the rise, and although he hates the thought of continually poisoning our dogs with these drugs, for now our only option is to use monthly preventative to safeguard our dogs.
If your vet is willing to write you a prescription, you can find competitive prices online at many of the pet supply websites. My favorites are KV Vet and Omaha Vaccine, but there are many other vendors listed if you google heartworm prevention. Most folks like the convenience of one stop shopping at their veterinarian, but if your budget is tight, it’s worth the effort to ask your vet if he/she will write you a prescription and shop around. Some vets will match the price you find online.
Illustration: Two Boys (detail) by Frank W. Benson, American 1862-1951
Sometimes it helps to have a friend. Stacy’s sheltie Kamin came to visit for a long weekend and Patrick is clearly happy to see one of his own. Stacy’s son Ben kneels down in front of Patrick, gently cups his hands around Patrick’s head and give him a squeeze. Perhaps reminded of the two boys in his own home, Patrick accepts this gesture of affection. I’m curious to watch this little interaction because Patrick often freezes at anything that he perceives as “making him” do something; his body gets stiff and tense. He clearly enjoys Ben’s attention.
By the time Kamin leaves, Patrick is joining us in the TV room, lying near the couch or under the table with the other dogs. You might wonder what the big deal is, but they are signs that he is relaxing, and not reverting to his crate as a safe haven.
Patrick has been here two weeks now and we’re making progress. He’s learned to sit and understands, although he sometimes forgets, that he must sit for everything—sit to go outside, sit to come inside, sit to get his dinner, sit for his leash, and sit for just about anything else I can think of. We’ve started going places, too; to a handling class that’s out of doors in a quiet setting. No pressure, no asking him to do anything but sit, and he does well. I’m always watching for clues though, if he is stressed. He won’t take a treat that I bring, and that tells me he is anxious and I shouldn’t push. We just sit and watch the other dogs, go for a little walk, and hang out.
A nearby park is another location we visit, where we go for a walk and then do our sits. Again, he won’t take a treat, so although I know he is enjoying his walk, he still worries.
What is Patrick worried about? I can’t definitively answer that, but I know he won’t stop worrying until he learns to trust I will not ask anything of him that he can’t handle. It’s all part of the compliance and deference I work on at home.
We’ve started some training on other things too. He’s learning to “shake” to make a game of me holding his paw. We’re also working on “come.” That’s a difficult one for him, and he compromises by running a little distance and then sitting several feet away from me. I appreciate the effort, but put the long line on to help him understand running and sitting is not part of coming to me.
Patrick is here to learn a new way in his life, that when I ask for something, if it is fair and kind, he will comply.
Fairness--it would be unfair to ask Patrick to do something that I haven’t taught him or shown him what I want. It would be unfair to force him to do something because of his overriding stress-and it would be counter-productive. But it is fair to ask for something and then help him understand that I will follow through with the expectation that he can do it. So for me there is a constant evaluation of what to insist on and what to let go because he simply isn’t ready for it. It’s a balancing act that there isn’t always a clear answer for; you have to use common sense, and experience helps too. If I feel that he knows what I am asking and I feel he can comply, it is fair to insist he follow through.
We just started with clicker training, too. Since I can now get Patrick to take food during our behavior modification protocols, every time I give him a treat, I click. He doesn’t know it, but we’ve started the first step in associating the click with food as a reward.
Of course we have our frustrating moments. Times I say, “you should know this,” or “you shouldn’t be afraid,” or “you are being silly.” But I go back to what we have succeeded at before the frustration set in, and we start over. Then the next time, in some mysterious way, we are just a little bit further ahead.
With summer officially upon us in a few days here are some summer reading suggestions with a dog theme or subject. Feel free to add your favorite summer reading with dog themes in the comments section!
Flush A Biography by Virginia Woolf
The biography of a dog, published in 1933, Flush is Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel. As Wikipedia describes it “This unusual biography traces the life of Flush from his carefree existence in the country, to his adoption by Ms. Browning and his travails in London, leading up to his final days in a bucolic Italy. Woolf ostensibly uses the life of a dog as pointed social criticism.”
Travels With Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
This chronicles Steinbeck’s journey around America in 1960 with his poodle Charley. His observations of America in the 1960’s are very interesting and prophetic!
Dog Is My Co-Pilot
Great Writers On the World’s Oldest Friendship
From the Editors of The Bark Magazine
A collection of short stories from authors such as Alice Walker, Ann Patchett, Jon Katz, Pam Houston, Donald McCaig and many more. One of my favorites. “ It is our hope that all the writing contained expands on the subject of dogs and the special bond that exists between us and them.”
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
A New York Times Bestseller, this 500 plus page novel is the story of a family that raises a very special line of dogs as their business, but it is much, much more than that. It is a mystery, a melodrama, and a surprising tale in which dogs and a boy are integral to the telling. Warning, it isn't light reading, but I couldn't put it down!