Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fun Stuff

Time for something a little happier than the last few days....

The boys' certificates from the last APDT trial came in Monday. Duncan officially has his Level 2 title, and his high scores earned him a second Award of Excellence.

And this is Kodiak's certificate for his Puppy level title. He didn't have high enough scores to get an AOE, but I'm still incredibly proud of him.

We've had a rough few days here lately, but I know it was harder on me than it was on the pups. Reyna just had to express her opinion of the whole brouhaha:

I kept trying to talk her into showing off her nekkidness, but this is all she'd give me. Her other side looks much the same. And no, John, we're not going to tattoo her belly.

Its taken a few days, but Duncan finally seems to be his usual self. He's back to his normal levels of clinginess and hind-end wonkiness, and he's even running around in the back yard occasionally. Of course, he still can't so much as scratch an itch without me jumping up to see what he's doing...

Kodiak, of course, is his normal puppy self. I love his tail in this picture.

And this one gives me just a touch of motion sickness...

All in all, everyone is doing pretty well. Or at least back to where they were before the weekend ran us over. Even Belle has gotten over her grudge about me not sleeping with her Saturday night. Now she's just screaming at me for touching her without her permission.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reyna's Ultrasound

Reyna had her ultrasound yesterday afternoon, and it came back clean. No cancer! This rules out a lot of potential causes for her problems, which is good. Of course, we still don't know what she has, but at least we're down to fewer options. The downside to fewer options is that tests become really expensive and will only tell us about one thing at a time.

The vet wants us to start with a deworming, just in case something was missed despite all of her negative fecals. Then Reyna will start a med for IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) and see if that makes a difference. It will take a couple of weeks to see if the meds are really helping or not, but its better than doing a very expensive endoscopy, which includes anesthesia and biopsies. If the meds help, she'll probably end up on them long term, and we'll look at some possible diet changes. If the meds don't help, we'll go back to the list and see what's next. Paws crossed the meds help.

And yay! No cancer!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

24 Hours

I'm pleased to report that Duncan has made it 24 hours without a seizure! This is great news. Now if he can just make it another six years or so without seizures... I'm still keeping a close eye on him, of course, but I may actually sleep in my own bed tonight, rather than on the couch. Duncan is nearly back to his old self. He's still just a bit off kilter, having trouble relaxing in one place for a while, and being a little clingier than usual but he's not pacing as much as he was yesterday.

Reyna, on the other paw, has apparently decided I've not paid enough attention to her this weekend. She's been extra special sick since yesterday morning. Its a good thing her ultrasound is tomorrow afternoon.

Poor Kodiak doesn't quite know what to make of all the weird goings-on. He's been a little stressy, but he's finally relaxed enough to curl up on the couch next to me and go into a puppy coma.

Oh, and Belle is seriously ticked that I didn't sleep in the bed with her last night. I told her she could join me on the couch, but no, she's too good for that...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another Seizure

Okay, so Duncan actually had a second grand mal seizure while I was typing up the last blog post. Talk about timing... We went to the emergency clinic and ended up leaving with Valium (for him, not me, darn it). If he has another long seizure, the Valium should help stop it so that I can get him to a vet for emergency treatment. I talked with our regular vet after we got home, and he says there's no real point in using the Valium for a "regular" seizure (two or three minutes long). If Duncan starts having a very long seizure or one on top of another, though, I should definitely give him the Valium. The vet also said that he thinks we should hold off on giving Duncan phenobarb until we see if he has another seizure this weekend (and I'm inclined to agree). There's still a possibility that Duncan could just be having a couple of colossally bad days. If there's another seizure, though, we need to seriously think about putting him on regular meds. Doc also said that, for the remainder of the weekend, anything off kilter is to be documented and considered a seizure, even if its just an odd head twitch. Guess who won't be getting a lot of sleep tonight?

Since hysterical and incoherent is not a normal state for me (despite what happened this morning), I kept my normal cool during this afternoon's seizure. It even occurred to me to record it so the vet could see it (no, emergency vet lady, he is not herding sheep or chasing bunnies in his sleep). If you're interested, here it is:

Keep your paws crossed that this is Duncan's last seizure.


As if Reyna's troubles aren't enough to keep me stressed, Duncan decided he needed to send me into a total tizzy this morning. We got up at our usual 6am (thank you, Kodiak), went outside a couple of times, had breakfast, and were enjoying our after-breakfast coma. Around 7:30 I heard Duncan moving and I looked over to see him frothing at the mouth. I got up to check on him and he started seizing. He had a full-on grand mal seizure - muscle spasms, falling over, urinating on himself, etc. The seizure eventually stopped, of course, and I got him on his feet. He was clearly disoriented, but I managed to get him to his bed where he rested until John came over.

During Duncan's seizure - which certainly ranks at the top of my "Most Terrifying Things to Witness" list - I called John. The only clear thought I had was that I was going to need help getting Duncan into the truck to get him to the vet. Unfortunately for John, I was somewhat hysterical and incoherent and all he really heard was "I have to get him to the vet." It crossed my mind at one point that John probably thought Reyna had died. He's such a good friend, he came straight over without really knowing what was going on. At 7:30 on a Saturday morning, no less. After calling John, I started calling vets, trying to find one that was open - none were, of course. I figured that by the time we could get to any office they'd be open, so I really wasn't all that inclined to go to emergency clinic. Once the seizure stopped and I got Duncan settled on his bed, I called John back. He confirmed we were at the house (and not in a car accident somewhere else) and arrived within a few minutes.

Duncan was acting more himself by then, so I decided the best thing to do was call our regular vet when he opened at 8am and get his opinion. For whatever reason, they didn't start answering the phones until after 8:15 (more stress!). It was decided I'd go ahead and bring Duncan in, so off to Durham we went.

While all of this was happening, I realized that Duncan had very likely had a mini seizure yesterday morning. I saw him frothing at the mouth yesterday, but I thought he needed to be sick, based on the way he was moving his head. I got him outside just in case, but he never threw up. He seemed okay afterwards, other than being a little anxious. I also find a lot of dried spit on the kitchen floor after that, so was apparently frothing quite a bit. Dr. Lapham agreed that it sounded like a mini or partial seizure. He also commented that its possible Duncan's had more of those than I know.

Dr. Lapham ran a quick blood test on Duncan, just to make sure there wasn't any obvious cause of the seizures. The blood work came back clean, which means we really have no idea what caused the seizures. Duncan's a little old for epilepsy to suddenly show up, but its possible. Its also possible this was just a one time thing that'll never happen again. Or, it could be caused by something that we won't find without spending way more money than I have. At this point, we're in wait and see mode. The worst thing, of course, would be for Duncan to have another seizure today. If he does, Dr. Lapham wants us to go straight to the emergency clinic, rather than make the drive to Durham.

Duncan's been Velcro Dog since it happened, but he did finally settle enough to take a nap.

Crap! He just had another one! On the way to the emergency clinic!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Monday at 3pm. I hate waiting.

Back To The Vet

Turns out all that cautious optimism I was working with last week was pretty useless. Reyna's still having a lot of trouble (with both ends) and our "treat the symptoms" approach isn't doing any good. Well, maybe some good, but not enough to fix the problem. Her meals these days consist of half a cup of kibble, half a cup of rice, and half a cup or so of meat. More than that or any other type of food causes problems. She can't even eat the same stuff that she could eat a couple of months ago. She's also getting pumpkin and yogurt during the day, to try and help the situation.

The vet and I chatted this morning, and we're both concerned about the fact that this has been going on for about six weeks now. If this was a simple matter of letting her innards relax and heal, she should have been showing significant improvement by now. So, we have two choices.

One - we make guesses about what it might be and treat those possibilities. The problems with that include potential side effects from the treatments (and this is Reyna we're talking about, so you know there'll be complications from side effects) and that, since we'd most likely try multiple treatments at once, we really wouldn't know which one was successful (assuming any of them were).

Two - we start testing. The biggest problem there is my bank account. Its very limited these days, which means I have to be extremely selective about what I do. The vet laid out the choices for testing, and I've decided its time Reyna went in for an ultrasound. Its $320 (ouch!), but it'll give us the biggest bang for our buck. The vet may not be able to give me a definitive "this is it" answer after the ultrasound, but he'll at least be able to rule out a whole lot of possibilities. Either way, we should have a much better idea of what's going on after the ultrasound. I'm waiting on the vet's tech to call me back and schedule the appointment. Hopefully, we'll get this done tomorrow or Monday (I vote for tomorrow).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Titles

The pups' certificates came in today (clearly, this goes a lot faster when I submit the paperwork online rather than through the mail). We even have an extra brag with this - according to the organization's website, Reyna is the first German Shepherd Dog to get an Expert title.

Reyna is now officially Vereyna, RL1, ETD, CGC.

Duncan is officially D'Cans Dark Warrior Dreaming, RA, RL2, PT-s, JHD-s, ITD, CGC.

And Kodiak is officially ReyDunc's Wiley Little Bear, RLP, NTD.

Yay, Pups!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Toes Up Part 2

Kodiak is definitely relaxed. And its easier to tell he's still breathing since he doesn't bury himself under sheets and blankets...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Toes Up

I knew Mikey wasn't dead because his girlfriend was sleeping peacefully off to the side. But just to be positive, I made sure he was breathing.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Trick Dogs

Warning: This is a long one, but its worth it....

Yesterday was a big day for the Hamlin pups. Reyna finished off the requirements for her Expert Trick Dog title, Duncan completed the requirements for his Intermediate Trick Dog title, and Kodiak did all the exercises needed for his Novice Trick Dog title. It was amazing! The pups all worked really hard yesterday (took us about two hours, I think). I really love the Trick Dog stuff. First, its tricks! Its just fun. Second, you can modify the tricks to accommodate dogs with health problems (like Reyna). And third, you don't have to pay huge entry fees and schlep all over the place hoping everything goes well during your one try. Instead, you just have to have a witness sign off on the tricks and you can do them over time and/or via video. Its great!

First up was Reyna. For the Expert Trick Dog, she had to complete 5 exercises. We chose Contraband Search, Find the Object with My Scent, Shell Game, Track a Person's Scent Trail, and Weave Poles.

Reyna completed her Contraband Search last week, which is pretty impressive since she wasn't feeling well at all. For this exercise, Reyna had to find a specific, non-food scent - we used tea tree oil - and indicate the object. If you watch her nose, you can see exactly how the air has moved the scent from the box in the corner, up the side of the table, and along the wall to the front of the room. Her article indication is nice and clear - pawing at the object.

The Track a Person's Scent Trail exercise was really easy for Reyna - she's never forgotten her SAR training. We did this exercise back in May, shortly before she got sick. I didn't realize just how glad I'd be we did this one early - at the time, I was thinking about the coming heat. Reyna hates to work outside when its hot, and who can blame her for that? Suzie is the handler in this exercise and I'm hiding. When they left the building, Suzie gave Reyna a scent article to sniff so she'd know who she was tracking. You can tell Reyna's really following my footsteps when her head is down, and she's air scenting when her head comes up.

While we were out tracking, we had Reyna Find the Object with My Scent. Like the Contraband Search, she had to clearly indicate the article, which in this case was one of my socks.

Weave Poles - which she did yesterday - are hard for Reyna. With her hips all wonky, she can't weave like the dogs who do agility, but we're allowed to adjust the poles to accommodate that. We're going to keep working on these, because Suzie and I both think that with more time she can make it look a bit more like regular weave poles. But you know, if she can't, its okay.

Reyna also played the Shell Game yesterday. She has to indicate which cup is hiding the treats. She's such a silly girl!

Next was Duncan. He had to complete 12 exercises for Intermediate Trick Dog. We chose Find Hidden Treats, Leave It, Heel Forward, Hide and Seek, Leg Weave, Pick a Card from the Deck, Over/Under, Which Hand Holds the Treat, Figure 8's (2 points), and Pull a Cart (2 points).

Figure 8's are considered an Advanced trick, which is why he gets 2 points towards his title for these. This is something he learned years ago for freestyle, so he's pretty good at them.

He's not so good at Finding Hidden Treats, though. I thought about editing out the first part of this, but its such a great example of his personality. Duncan is willing to try pretty much anything I ask of him, but he's just not a nose dog.

Okay, yeah, this one's a gimme. After all, if he couldn't Heel, he certainly wouldn't have any rally titles.

This was another fun one. In Hide and Seek, Duncan has to come find me, which he does very easily. And then it got a bit silly when we tried to get out of the tunnels. Duncan really loves tunnels.

Leave It is another trick that Duncan learned a long time ago. Sometimes, if I distract him at just the right time, he'll actually forget there's a treat on his paw.

Leg Weaves are something Duncan and I never put into our freestyle routines. I really think they're harder than Figure 8's, but that mostly due to Duncan's size. I don't know many people who could look graceful trying to swing their leg over such a tall dog.

The Over/Under is another easy one for Duncan. Suzie missed almost the entire "over" portion, but if you watched the video of Duncan's Level 2 run, you know he can jump.

Duncan was not in the mood to Pick a Card from the Deck yesterday, which is why I'm so glad you can use tricks done on previous days.

Pull a Cart is another trick where the video option is really beneficial. There's no way I could get all three pups and Duncan's cart in the truck so Suzie could watch him pull it during a regular session. This video clip is from last year, but he's still working on his carting skills. Its considered an Expert trick, so it also gets 2 points towards his Intermediate title.

Which Hand Holds the Treat? Well, that would be the hand Duncan is chewing...

Finally, it was Kodiak's turn. I'd spent most of the last week recording as many tricks as possible at home, just in case we got to Suzie's and he decided to be afraid of air. Hey, its happened. For Novice Trick Dog, Kodiak had to do 12 exercises. We chose Come, Crawl, Down, Fetch (Not to Hand), Take It, Catch, Hoop Jump, Jump Over a Bar, Kennel Up, Place, Tug, Shake Hands, Side, Sit, Spin Circles, Stay, Touch Target, Touch My Hand, Tunnel, and Walk on a Loose Leash. Yep, that's right, Kodiak's an over-achiever - he did an amazing 20 tricks! And even more impressive, we only had to use one of the videos I took at home. He did all the rest of the tricks yesterday at Suzie's.

Catch, Take It and Tug are some of Kodiak's favorites. I brought some of his squeaky toys with us so he didn't have to worry about unfamiliar items.

Crawl is something Kodiak learned just in the last week. Suzie says he looks like an inchworm, and I have to agree. He's so stinking cute!

Fetch (Not to Hand) is something Kodiak loves to do. He spends a lot of time every day running after a ball or toy and bringing them back to me. For this trick he doesn't have to actually put the toy in my hand, just get it close to me.

The Hoop Jump has been a huge challenge for Kodiak. Those tire jumps are terrifying for a formerly feral pup. He's finally conquered his fear - for now.

If you thought the Hoop Jump was scary, well, those uprights make it really hard for Kodiak to Jump Over a Bar. He's still scared of the one sitting in my back yard. But this...this was just amazing. Not only did he go over the bars without me, he even went over some that were fairly high for a pup his size.

Kennel Up is the trick that we used the video from home. Suzie has a crate at her place, but I really didn't want to stress Kodiak by trying to get him in a strange crate. Besides, he was really cute in this one.

This one is a bunch of basic obedience stuff - things he has to know to do puppy level rally - Walk on a Loose Leash, Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Place, and Side.

Shake and Touch are tricks we started working on not long after Kodiak moved into the house.

Spin Circles is a relatively new trick for the pup. His "Twist" to his left seems to be a bit better than his "Spin" to the right, which is why that one made the final video cut.

Target is also fairly new. The goal is to go to the object I point to and touch it with his nose or paw. We have a little target pad that we use, and sometime Kodiak likes to mix things up by grabbing the target pad and running off with it.

Tunnel is at least as frightening as the jumps. I finally had to borrow a tunnel from Suzie and leave it in the living room for several days. He may not be tearing through the tunnels like Duncan, but at least he's willing to go through it now. And did you notice? It actually moved a bit and Kodiak didn't freeze or panic. Thats major progress.

I'm so proud of all three pups. They've worked really hard for their respective titles, each in their own way.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Happy 13th birthday, fluffy boy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


You know, getting a picture of the two of them together isn't as easy as you might think. Its a shame, since they're such a good looking pair.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Advanced Trick Dog

On May 12 (yes, nearly a month ago), Reyna earned her Advanced Trick Dog title. Her certificate came in last week, I think. I know, its taken me much longer than usual to get this posted, but I've been distracted by other things, like Reyna being sick. She's still sick (vomiting and lots of diarrhea today, fun!), but I decided it was past time to post something happy for Reyna.

The timing was actually pretty good for earning the title, because we did it before she got sick. She wasn't feeling really spiffy due to the recent addition of new pain meds, but she was willing (and able) to do her thing. Naturally, Suzie and I both forgot to have the video camera handy, so these clips are all of the second run-through. Reyna did a lot better the first time around, but what can you expect? I'm sure she thought we were complete idiots for asking her to do everything again, after she'd already done a perfectly lovely job the first time.

To earn her Advanced Trick Dog title, Reyna had to perform 5 tricks chosen from a list of 25 choices. Reyna showed off Chorus Line Kicks, Figure 8's, Find the Keys, Play Dead, and Object Guard.

This is Reyna's version of the Chorus Line Kicks. This particular trick is something she came up with years ago when we were first starting in musical freestyle, and its something she still defaults to if she doesn't want to do whatever I'm asking.

Her Figure 8's through my legs are usually a little more impressive, but again, this is the second time she had to do it.

You can't actually see the truck keys, but trust me, they're in the box she flipped over. She picked this trick up in no time at all (she'd done it once or twice the week before). All I did was show her the keys, give them to Suzie to hide, and then tell her to Find the Keys.

Reyna always dies very dramatically and it occasionally takes a long time to Play Dead...

I kept this entire clip, even though the camera is all over the place and Reyna really doesn't do the Object Guard like she's supposed to. But it was just too funny to not show. The idea of this trick is that she puts her front paws on the rug thats on the table and then she stands firm while someone tries to pull the rug out from under her feet. She's not supposed to move or let the person take the rug. The first time through, thats exactly what she did. This time was a different story...

Thats my silly, smart girl!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

News From The Vet

Dr. Lapham called last night. The good news is that the UPC showed protein levels are down! They're still high enough to cause some concern, but they're definitely headed in the right direction. We'll check them again in few weeks, but Dr. Lapham is very happy about how far they've dropped. The bad news is that Reyna's still not feeling well, but her symptoms are all over the place. I'm positive she does this to make me crazy. The vet has no good ideas on where to go from here, so we finally decided to keep doing what we're doing and see how she is a week from now (unless there's a significant change in symptoms).

Monday, June 06, 2011

Reyna Update

I took Reyna to the vet today so she could pee in a cup. This was for the follow-up UPC test (30 days since the first one). With luck we'll have the results of the UPC tomorrow and maybe have a slightly better idea of what's going on with her kidneys.

Reyna started having stomach issues again Sunday week ago. The vet sent her a few days of sucralfate, which is what she took during the first bout of stomach troubles a few weeks ago. There's been some improvement but not a lot, and she's certainly not responding to the meds like she did last time. I've emailed the vet with an update on her symptoms, and we'll talk about what to do for her when we talk about the UPC results.