Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Media Mauls Dogs First, then Snaps Back at Actor

This is a really interesting article. I was relieved when I read it. I remembered seeing the news accounts accusing Ving Rhames' dogs of killing his friend and thinking that it just didn't sound right, it didn't sound likely, and the media reports smacked of sensationalism. Well, I was right. It was another media witch hunt attempting to scare the public into thinking that all large dogs are vicious and could snap at any moment. Sort of like that CNN report last week where they claimed that the stray dogs outside their studio were thirsty for human blood. Please ..... I'm so tired of the fear mongering, baseless accusations and profound ignorance.

Domestic dogs are not born dangerous. They are domestic because of their ability to bond with and accept humans as their pack leaders, because of their social behavior and their ability to adapt to our needs in a symbiotic relationship. Irresponsible and ignorant people create dangerous dogs. We also often label perfectly normal dogs as aggressive, when in fact their behavior is a reasonable reaction to a specific stimulus, that we may or may not be aware of. The incidence of dogs with a neurological problem that makes them truly dangerous without hope of rehabilitation is incredibly low. Almost all dogs that are euthanized for aggression have been mis-labeled as unsavable, unadoptable etc. when in fact, what these dogs suffer from is undesirable behavior that has been created and fostered by a human being, through mis-understanding, mis-treatment or neglect. While cases of mis-treatment and neglect make it to the news more often than you can shake a stick at, the most common problem in this country is a thorough mis-understanding on the part of humans when it comes to their dogs.

Rather than go into great detail here, I'm going to strongly suggest visiting Cesar Millan's web site (it's linked on the right hand side of this page) or checking out some of his books or DVD's from the library. I have done a lot of reading on dog training, relating to dogs, raising puppies, correcting behaviors etc ... some of it helpful, some not so helpful ... but Cesar hits the nail right on the head. He understands dogs and pack dynamics and he understands how humans and dogs can co-exist and he shares the information with the rest of us. I do not have Cesar's natural skill or talent, but even having a few basic insights makes a huge difference in my relationship with my dog. It allows me to be a better, more responsible dog owner and it allows my dog and I to have a much stronger bond, because I understand him (make no mistake, dogs don't have any trouble understanding us better than we understand ourselves!).

Once you have the basics, training your dog, preventing undesirable behavior and focusing on desirable behavior is so much easier, sometimes, not even necessary. A happy, well balanced dog with a strong leader, seldom develops behavioral problems because they are looking to their leader for direction rather than challenging them for dominance.

Well, I could go on and on (and I'm sure I will in another post) but I'm out of time for now :)

Friday, August 10, 2007

What a week!

Well, its been quite a roller coaster ride the past seven days. Last Friday morning, while I was in the bathroom getting ready for work, Indy had quite a party in the kitchen pantry, actually, that's where it started, it spilled over into the kitchen, through the dining room and all the way across the living room. He pulled out a box of corn starch, tore it up and ate a lot of the plastic and cardboard, and who knows how much actual cornstarch, there was still enough to cover the floors in all three rooms, his bed and the lower half of the dark green velvet curtains :(. It seriously looked like it had snowed in the house.

Then he grabbed a brand new sponge mop head off the shelf, ate off the plastic packaging and went to town on the spongy part. He seemed to be ripping it in small parts (from the little that was still on the floor) then eating it. So I'm all dressed for work, shoes on, ready to walk out the door when I spot Indy, covered in unidentifiable white powder with a partially eaten mop head hanging from his mouth and the guiltiest look you've ever seen on his face, for a split second anyway, then he wiggled his butt,turned around and took off, so the game of chase was on, up and down the stairs until I got him by the tail and stalled him long enough to extract the mop head. By this time I'm covered in the white stuff too. Got Indy crated, cleaned up the whole mess, made sure the kitchen door was shut, changed my clothes and left for work an hour late.

I did call the vet just to get her opinion. She said wait and see. If he's puking Monday he needs to come in. We discussed using canned pumpkin and the cat's fur ball laxative to get things moving. She thought the sponge would probably pass OK. Of course you know he had this little feast after eating an enormous meal of ground venison, and its the first venison he's ever had (it can make dogs a little gasy) ... so I was expecting the worst. As the day wore on I got myself more and more worked up, remembering that cornstarch is a thickening agent, it will absorb water and get pasty, the sponge will absorb water and expand plus he has who knows how much plastic bag and cardboard in there. By the time I got home I was a nervous wreck, watched him like a hawk all weekend. I was told by fellow dog people, to fast him for the first 24 hours and no exercise until everything has passed. Have you ever tried to make a lab puppy lay still? Have you ever tried to fast a lab for that matter? Those big sad eyes are just too much!

This is of course only the latest in a long line of things Indy has eaten that he should not (some of which should have killed him, but didn't, he didn't even get an upset tummy) ... but the sheer quantity of garbage he must have ingested along with the sponge, had me worried.

Well he never vomited, he did his business without fail (yes, I was on poop watch) I never saw more than the tiniest bit of sponge come out, but he seemed just fine after five days, so Tuesday night I took him to the park where we ran into his buddy Hercules, they had a great time running and laying in mud puddles. He whined a little bit, but I couldn't tell if he was just whining for attention or if it was something else. He seemed a little slower at times, but then would bounce right back and act normal again. By the time we got home he was really lethargic, he laid down the second we stepped inside, I walked him to the bathroom, he laid down on the floor, normally he jumps right in the tub, he didn't want to get in the bath tub (which is unheard of), with coaxing he finally put his front end in but I had to lift his hind section into the tub, where he just sat down (normally he's an active tail-wagging participant in his shower). When we were done, he climbed out ok, but then just laid down on his towel while I dried him. He seemed really tired and it's been very hot out, so I let him rest. On Wednesday, by mid-afternoon I noticed that he was extremely mellow and quiet. Went down stairs and let him out to potty, and I noticed he was moving very stiffly, kind of hobbling up and down the porch stairs, didn't want to stay outside at all. When he came back in I noticed that he was having a very hard time moving his back legs, and he sort of had them bent and he was quivering a bit. Normally I would have held out a day or two in case it was just pulled muscle, but given the risk of a blockage and the shaking (which was really kind of scary) I decide to err on the side of caution and went to the Vet. I had to lift his back end into the car (also unheard of, he lives for car rides). The vet did a physical exam of his belly, hips, feet, elbows, ligaments etc ... of course Indy was so excited at the Vet's office he showed very few signs of pain other than some stiffness once he finally settled down. His anal sacs were full, the Vet drained those and said that might be the cause of his discomfort but that unless his symptoms went away within a few hours he couldn't really rule out an obstruction, hip dysplasia or some other sort of lameness.

Since Indy has been eating and pooping OK with no vomiting, we're hoping it's not an obstruction, but if any of this changes he's going to do a barium x-ray. If his appetite and defecation remains normal and symptoms persist for more than a few days, he's going to do hip x-rays to check for dysplasia :(

On Thursday the limp became much more noticeable on the left side, which was sort of a relief, if it had been an obstruction, his whole stomach and back end would be in terrible pain by now, not just one leg. His new Orbee Tuff Diamond Plate ball came in the mail and that took his mind off things as he laid down to chew on it.

Today he seems to be getting around a little easier and a little faster. I'm feeling very relieved, it appears that we were only dealing with a sore muscle or a strain. Hopefully in a few more days he'll be back to romping with Hercules and swimming in all kinds of disgusting lakes and rivers :)