Friday, April 30, 2010

April Wrap Up

Here it is the end of April already. Why did time go so slowly when we were little and wanted it to hurry and it goes so fast now when we'd like it to slow down a little? Anyway, some of my recent posts have caused a lot of questions from my readers. I try to answer your comments when I can, but so many of you have your comments set up as 'no reply' and it makes it much harder to get back to you. So I decided to answer some of the questions now.

First my throat problems. This has been a problem that I've been dealing with since I was a teenager. Many of you suggested that it may be my tonsils causing the problem, but I don't have my tonsils. After many, many bouts of strep throat and doctors treating the symptoms, only to have it return in about six weeks, I finally found an allergist who discovered that I'm a strep carrier. My allergies trigger the step and make it active.

For twelve years I took allergy shots and got the condition under control, but I stopped the shots when I got married and moved away from my doctor. It seems that my immunity from the shots has worn off and the throat problems have come back. I guess my next move is to find an allergist and start the shots again.

The next item you've asked about is Noah's tail. If you have forgotten, Noah had his tail grabbed by one of his sisters in a race and she apparently bit down a little too hard. The poor little guy couldn't lift his tail at all. Dr B said it wasn't fractured and put him on some antibiotics. It took about six weeks to heal, but Noah's tail is flying over his back once again. It leans slightly to the right, but only I would notice it.

Those squirrel pictures. No, I didn't have my camera with me when Morgan and I surprised the three squirrels on the deck. Those are stock pictures I found when I googled 'squirrel". I sometimes turn to stock images to illustrate a post, such as the aspirin bottle and syringe in this post.

Remember when Fudge and I competed in Rally Obedience last year? I have the option of going to the next level with Fudge, but there's a problem. The next level, advanced, is off lead. Fudge does very well off lead at home and in a controlled classroom, but not in a public arena such as the one where the trial is held. You see, Fudge likes the ladies. He likes them a little too much and off lead with so many lady dogs around, Fudge can't concentrate on what I'm telling him.

I'm sorry to say that for now, Fudge is retiring from competition. That doesn't mean that I'm retiring.

I don't know why I do this to myself, but I'm planning to continue in rally with another dog. After all I have plenty of volunteers.

Noah and I have started our training and later this summer I hope to get him into a formal class. The trial is in October, so we'll see how he's doing as the time approaches.

Just to drive myself totally crazy, I've decided to work with Norma Jean at the same time in rally and see if I can get both of them ready by October. Noah is a very quiet little fellow who tries to do whatever I tell him. Norma Jean is anything but quiet. She's the pup most like her daddy, Fudge. She likes to please me, but she likes to invent her own moves. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We Got Presents

The doorbell rang and the dogs raced to the door barking. I waded thru the crowd and opened the door to find that the mailman had left a package on the porch. My first thought was 'what did Rob order?' Then I noticed that it was addressed to me. Super!!!

Chan and Sissy and Gretchen had put together a 'just because' gift for us. Aren't they the best kind of gift? Inside was this cute little PWD ornament for our doggie Christmas tree.

Then just for me was this mug. The body of the dog is painted on and the head is the handle. It looks like the dog is going to walk right off the mug. It's nicely done, but I don't want to risk chipping the head, so I'm using it on my desk instead of drinking from it.

Then came the most important part of the gift, a package of dog cookies and a cookie cutter. I shall have to put the cookie cutter to use soon for my pack.

Fudge thinks these smell great.

He and Samba started licking the outside of the package. I guess they'd like me to open them and pass them around. Thank you Chan from all of us.

Monday, April 26, 2010

April Showers Bring....

We had showers this morning, making this the fifth consecutive day of rain.

This afternoon the sun came out.

It's breezy and warm.

There are lots of blooms around the yard.

It looks quite cheery after days of gray clouds.

So, as the poem goes,

April showers bring.....

Wet dogs.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Helping Mother Earth

Happy Earth Day everyone. This is Sky posting about how we try to help the earth at our house.

Mom says we all have to help or the poor old earth will get too tired to keep being a fun place for doggies to live. We thought digging a really big hole would be a good way to help, but Mom didn't think that was a good idea. Here is what she told us we can do to help.

At the last house she lived in and again here at our house, Mom made a plan and submitted it to the National Wildlife Federation. After a few suggestions, they certified our yard where we play as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. That means we supply the four essentials for wildlife, food, water, cover and a place to raise their young.

This is the Yew hedge that runs across the front and side of the house. Lots of birds live in the hedge. They scurry around when we walk by and they come onto the porch with their baby chicks to eat from the feeders. This provides cover and a place to raise young.

This is the super gigantic Forsythia bush at the back corner of the house. This thing is huge. Mom won't let us investigate it because there are a couple of families of rabbits that live under there. Sometimes Mom sees the baby bunnies hopping around and they make her smile.

Mom and Dad love to plant trees. I think Mom likes it better than Dad, because he has to dig the holes.

This little tree is new this year.

These trees are a few years old. We like to lie in the shade they give. It's nice on a hot day after a tough game of chase to lie in the shade and nap.

Mom says when some of these trees get older, they'll shade a lot of our yard and make it more comfortable in the hot summer. They also help clean the air and give the birds a place to hide and build nests.

Mom and Dad don't use chemicals on the yard. They say those chemicals can get into the drinking water. Chemicals can get on our feet, too. Then if we lick them off, we can get very sick. Because we don't use them, we have these pretty yellow flowers growing in the yard. We used to eat these when we were puppies, now we roll on them.

These weird orange thingies grow on one of the trees in the side yard. Our neighbor thinks we should put something on them to get rid of them, but Mom says they're just Mother Nature's tree ornaments. They only last a few weeks then they go away till next year.

Mom and Dad feed the birds and the squirrels. This feeder holds suet. The Woodpeckers really love this stuff. Mom likes to sit at the window and watch them eat. Sometimes they drop a piece in the grass and we get to eat it. It tastes really good.

Here are a couple more feeders that hold different kinds of seeds. Some birds like big seeds and some like little seeds. Some birds don't like to eat from feeders, so we put seed on the deck rails and they can sit there and eat.

When it rains, like it did this morning, water comes off the roof in these things called downspouts. We'd like to drink from them, but Mom says no. Dad puts these long black pipes on the ends of the downspouts and directs the water to the trees and bushes. This one sends water to the Crepe Myrtle. Mom says we might get a rain barrel to collect rain water for the garden.

You all know how much we like to play in the water. Mom says that's OK, but when we're finished playing, we must put the muddy water on the plants in the yard so that we don't waste water and the plants can have a drink.

So that's how we help our earth. Do your humans let you help take care of the earth?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Georgie Project

Along with the joys of owning Portuguese Water Dogs come certain responsibilities. This breed came close to extinction in the 1970's. The population had been sharply reduced as technological advancements starting replacing the dogs on the fishing boats. Then in 1974 Portugal experienced a revolution.

During war animals suffer terribly. People who are caught in the war torn area can't care for their animals and they're either killed or left to fend for themselves. Most of the remaining PWDs at that time were in several large breeding kennels. The kennel owners tried to save the dogs by sending them out of the country. 25 dogs were sent abroad and two, Makuti and Margareda were housed in the Lisbon Zoo to save their lives.

A group of people who loved the breed hoped to save it and increase it's numbers. They were successful, there are now several thousand PWDs worldwide, but it came at a cost. Due to the small number of dogs available for breeding, fathers were bred to daughters, mothers to sons and brothers to sisters. I'm not a geneticist, but even I know that health problems show up when such close breeding occurs.

Because of the small gene pool of the modern PWD and the care taken by owners and breeders in tracking pedigree lines, the breed has become a good research candidate. We have been able to find genetic markers for Gangliosidosis (a wasting disease), Progressive Retinal Atrophy (an eye disease that causes blindness), Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy (a fatal heart condition in puppies) and most recently Improper Coat ( not a medical condition, but one that causes a non-standard smooth, short coat).

One of the research groups studying the PWD is The Georgie Project, at the University of Utah. Georgie was a Portuguese Water Dog born in 1986 who died in 1996 of an auto-immune disease. Her owner funded the Georgie Project in her memory to try to find a marker and eventually a cure for her disease.

From The Georgie Project website:
The Georgie Project is a collaboration between owners and breeders of Portuguese Water Dogs and scientists at the University of Utah. The rewards for owners - healthier dogs and more informed breeding. For Scientists - a new system to study genetics using well cared for animals, new information and concepts.

The current studies are Skeletal Anatomy and Autoimmune Disease. Future studies include Canine Hip Dysplasia.

With the help of several research groups, we have been able to screen for several diseases that used to plague our breed. By testing the parents before breeding we can make good breeding decisions and ensure that the pups won't be affected, but several serious diseases still need more research. The research can help not only PWDs but other breeds affected by the disease and perhaps eventually humans.

Hemangiosarcoma is a tumor of the blood cell vessels It is most commonly found in PWDs, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Boxers and English Setters. It's one of the leading killers of Goldens.

Addisons Disease is most common in Bearded Collies, Standard Poodles, Great Danes, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers and PWDs. Addisons is also found in the human population.

Canine Hip Dysplasia is now found in almost every breed. It's thought to have genetic as well as environmental and possibly nutritional causes.

MMM (Masticatory Muscle Myositis) is most commonly found in German Shepards, Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Flat Coat Retrievers. This auto-immune disease is found in a number of other breeds as well and is the condition that my Samba is dealing with.

PWD owners are urged by the breed club and by breeders to support these research projects for the benefit of the breed. I asked my puppy buyers to register their dogs with The Georgie Project and they did.

Our part in this is to supply our pedigrees along with blood and serum samples. Sometimes x-rays are requested. Then comes the hard part, the autopsy program. When a PWD dies, if it's a registered member of The Georgie Project, it's body is shipped to the University of Utah overnight. There an autopsy is performed, then the dog is cremated. The owner receives the ashes and a complete autopsy report. The information is put into the database to help the scientists try to figure out how and why these diseases occur.

Ever since Samba entered our lives, I've planned to register for Georgie, but when you hold that squirmy puppy in your arms you don't think about the end and autopsies. I kept putting off making the call. Then Samba was diagnosed with MMM and suddenly things changed. Last month I made the call and registered all eight of my PWDs in the project.

Last week a packet arrived containing tubes for blood samples. They'll be returned as each dog goes for it's next blood test. Then UPS delivered this to our front porch.

This is the cooler that will carry Samba to Utah when the time comes. Receiving it was an emotional experience. It currently sits in the garage wrapped in black plastic garbage bags to keep it dust free and to keep us from having to see it every time we go past it. I hope that it sits there wrapped in plastic for many years.

I urge any PWD owners who might read this to register their dogs with The Georgie Project. How could I not do it? What if Samba provides the one missing piece to solve the mystery of MMM? What if because of her, thousands of dogs in the future are saved the pain and disfigurement of this hideous disease? That is a legacy to be proud of.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Something Fun

Hi everybody. Sorry we haven't posted in a few days. Thursday evening Rob and I attended the monthly meeting of the Dog Training Club. It was a short meeting and might have been a bit boring except that Fudge went with us and Fudge is never boring. He made some new friends and showed off his tricks for them, then he joined the group for cake.

The next morning I woke up feeling lousy. It' my fourth bout with strept since Thanksgiving. I thought it was over, I'd spent two months feeling good, then out of the blue, it's back again. The sore throat, swollen glands, fever and aches are all back, plus the antibiotics I have to take for it upset my stomach. Consequently I spent the weekend in bed and Rob managed the dogs when they weren't curled up all around me.

I'm feeling a little better today, good enough to eat a little and get dressed and look at the computer. I don't feel like doing a whole long post, so I'm going to recommend another blog for you to check out.

This post by Petsitgal will leave you smiling and humming. What more could we ask for? After you enjoy it, leave her a comment.

I hope to be back tomorrow with a more interesting post.