Thursday, 31 May 2012

One Year Old

Stella celebrated her first birthday today!  Happy Birthday my little happy jumping Bean.  You make me laugh daily and I look forward to many happy years ahead training and playing together.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Camping fun

This past weekend was a long weekend and the first camping of the season.  The weather was fabulous friday, saturday and a mixed rain/cloud mixture for sunday and monday.   The campground is attached to a wonderful dog-friendly beach so the dogs got to romp and play on the beach every day.   Stella had a few short camping trips last year as a puppy but then the season was over so I was curious to see how she would settle in.  She loved it!  We all had a great time but unfortunately Riley overdid things and had a significant setback on his recovery.  He had been back to almost full activity levels and was doing well but on the last day he did a wierd jump, tackle & turn move that didn't go very well and he has been sore all week now.  I think I am going to have his back and hips xrayed next week to see if we have something serious going on.  He is registered for a trial this weekend so I will see how he is and decide what to do then but might scratch him.

We also snuck in a lovely visit to friends who own a dog therapy swimming pool.  Their vizslas are closely related to Stella.   The dogs got to go swimming and we all had a wonderful time.  Riley had never been there before so he was a little unsure of the ramp but soon figured it out and was splashing in and out like a pro.  Stella had been there once before so she also enjoyed it but prefered if I was in the water with her.  I think she is going to be a dog that is happy to swim and doesn't mind water but I don't think she will have a real "love" for water.  That could still change this summer when she is exposed to a lot more swimming opportunities. 

Here are some pics from the weekend:

Swimming fun

Shandy (aunt), Murphy (cousin 3 weeks older), Stella

Cheeky Girl

Riley's version of doggy heaven

Missy Stella Bean almost grown up

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

CGN Congrats and a Birthday

This past weekend my little Missy Bean aka Stella aka Varazs Kedvesem Final Dance earned her very first CKC title.  She passed her Canine Good Neighbour test with style and earned lots of compliments from both the organizers and the tester.  We originally had planned to test last month but had to defer when she came into heat. 

CKC defines the CGN test as follows:  The test is non-competitive and allows dog and handler to demonstrate confidence and control in 12 steps. It assesses the handler and dog's relationship, together with the handler's ability to control the dog. Dogs are evaluated on their ability to perform basic exercises as well as their ability to demonstrate good manners in everyday situations.  The 12 tests are listed here CKC Canine Good Neighbour tests.

I am very proud of my girl and I look forward to many more training adventures in our future.

In other news Riley turned six years old on Saturday, May 12th.  Poor guy still is on restricted activity so it was a fairly quiet day but he got lots of love.  This dog has brought so much joy to my life.  He has challenged me, made me crazy and always makes me laugh.  He sparked my interest in dog training and introduced me to a whole new world of friends.  Thanks for being in my life monkey boy, may we have many more fun years ahead.

Puppy Riley

With his littermate brother Sam

All grown up.

Saturday, 12 May 2012


We finally got finished handling Stella's heat cycle and now Riley is injured.  Arghhh!  The training gods are not being very accomodating to training for a trial I have scheduled for the end of month.

My poor giant dog was not blessed with good structure (long back and straight hind end) and has been "off" for a little while although I didn't think it was anything serious until last week when he got up and was barely putting any weight on his left hind leg.  I'm not sure what triggered this but I'm sure all that air-humping motion didn't help!  We have had a few problems like this over the yearx but this is one of his more severe episodes.  Past issues has seemed to flow more from back issues but this was diffferent.  I was pretty confident it wasn't a knee problem and luckily managed to squeeze into a chiropractic visit the next day.  The chiropractor identified it as a hip issue and said he was seriously "wacked" and of course that had put his whole body all out.  The normal recommendations would be short on-leash walks for a few days and moving up to gradual regular freedoms but this time the doctor wanted no walks and limited activity for at least three days and then only short on leash before seeing him again this week.

Riley is not a dog that appreciates that kind of restriction!

Stella had only just finished her heat and the two dogs wanted to play and romp together.  No such luck :o(.   We did manage to keep him mostly quiet for 3-4 days and then he had a short walk tuesday, 30 min wednesday and thursday.  Thursday I think we did to much because he seemed quite weak later that morning.  He also had a canine massage on tuesday which I think helped a lot.  When we saw the chiro on thursday afternoon he was pleasantly surprised at his condition when compared to last week.   He still wasn't normal but there was much less heat in the area and the adjustment was much easier.  He is still on restricted leash walks for now but hopefully by next week should be back to regular walks.

I am a big fan of holistic type treatments for our animals.  I did give Riley a NSAID (previcox) for the first two days but also gave arnica or traumeel.  I discontinued the NSAID after that but have continued to use the traumeel orally a few times per day.  Traumeel is a homeopathic product that I have had very good results with for my dogs.  It is also available as a cream or gel.  The chiropractor is wonderful with Riley and those sessions really make a difference.  I need to start scheduling a regular monthly maintenance visit instead of only seeing him when he has soreness.  I only wish that he was much closer as currently it is at least a two hour turn around to have a treatment and in traffic can be much longer.  In the past I have also done IMS (InterMuscular Stimulation) which is similar to accupuncture.  We did a lot of that with Lucy but Riley is a little less cooperative and a lot harder to handle so I haven't been doing that as much with him.  We also did therapy swimming with Lucy and that is something I am considering for this winter for Riley.  The massage this week was a first for us but is something I might consider in future.  Unfortunately all this stuff costs money! 

Hindsight would have me taking him for treatment a few weeks earlier which probably would have fixed things before they got worse.  Lesson learned yet again :o) but it feels like he is now on the road to recovery.  Riley is only six years old and he is in wonderful condition other than the occasional situation like this.  I keep him lean and fit and that will be the most important thing for maintaining his quality of life in future years.  I also avoid activities for him that are harder on a dog's body like throwing a ball or doing agility.  He doesn't have a whole lot of self preservation smarts and dives for the ball and goes skidding across the ground head over heels.  I do let him chase the ball when I throw it into water for swimming and on land I tend to chuck it into bushes to have him do an area search.   I definately can't just stand there with a chuck-it but one of the reasons I have dogs is to get my own exercise anyway!

This is more his regular speed!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Stella's first heat cycle

We survived!  Our little vizsla girl has finally finished her first heat cycle.  It was pretty much a textbook 21 day cycle and started April 10th.  She turned ten months end of March so that is well within the expected time frame for a first season.  I had been hoping she would be a late bloomer but in hindsight the timing was actually pretty good as we weren't travelling during that time and now we should be free of that concern for the summer camping season.  We had been registered for her Canine Good Neighbour test but opted to defer that until after her heat.

This was my first time having a dog in heat.  Lucy was spayed before her first cycle but my breeder requires Stella to be a year old before spay.  I agree with this as there seems to be a lot of research now that showing the benefits of waiting.  Here are a few articles discussing the benefits of waiting. LongTermHealthEffectsOfSpayNeuterInDogs.pdf and   Natural hormones are important in the process of growth and the closing of the growth plates.  Dogs spayed or neutered after the close of the growth plates have a lower incidence of hip displaysia and other musculoskelatal problems.  There are lots of other factors to consider including higher incidences of some forms of cancer.  Of course there are probably just as much other information out there showing health benefits of early spay but this information makes sense for me.  I will spay Stella as I have zero plans to breed and I know this is not something I want to deal with all the time but am still weighing options as to when that would be.

I suspected she was coming into heat for a little while before she actually did.  Her vulva was swelling and she was spending more time cleaning that area.  Riley was the true barometer of the fact that she had actually come into heat.  The wednesday that we count as day one he was VERY interested in smelling her first thing in the morning.  That night was when we noticed the first blood drops and by the next evening she had regular discharge.   We had panties (with panty-liners) for her to wear in the house and she was mostly tolerant of them although often pushed them aside to clean herself.  I didn't make her wear the panties when we were out walking or if she was crated.  If she was upstairs with me in my office I also left them off as there is no carpet and I had the couch and her bed covered.  I think it was good to allow fresh air to those places when cover up wasn't absolutely necessary.

There were minor changes in her temperment.  She was less cuddlier than normal, had a harder time focusing, more subdued than normal and was very tired especially when she moved into standing heat.  She was also super hungry for the days leading up to her heat and for about the first week.  The biggest problem we had was dealing with Riley who was very enamored with her.   Riley is neutered so is unable to make her pregnant but supposedly is still able to "do the deed".   He wasn't bad for the first 4-5 days but got progressively more "pain-in-the-butt" as the days progressed.  I don't know if Stella was being flirty in those early days or if she was just enjoying that Riley was so happy to "play" with her.

I wasn't really sure if I had noticed the actual first day of her heat so I began leash restrictions probably around day six.  I also chose trails where I avoided the dog-walker groups we often see on our regular route.   I was worried that I had missed the first signs and wouldn't recognize the discharge changes so wouldn't know if she was in "standing heat".  When she really did reach standing heat I noticed the change in discharge colour that the information talks about but for her it actually always still retained quite a pinkish tinge but was different from the initial darker red discharge.  She also began marking a ton on our walks which is unusual for her.  Riley's attention went into overdrive and that was made worse with her bugging him.  I'm surprised her ears aren't all chapped because he constantly licked them and her head as he tried to seduce her. We got lots of work on our down-stays on dog beds across the room from each other!  We also took one dog with us whenever possible to give us all peace.   The saving grace in this time was that Stella was sleepy and content to hang out upstairs in my office with me while I worked through income tax long evenings.  I actually felt quite bad for poor Riley because for a while it seemed like he was told to leave her alone at all the time or placed in a down stay.  It was biology talking loudly and sometimes it was darn frustrating for all of us!

There was again the noticeable change around day 17-18 in discharge back to a darker colour for another 2-3 days as she came out of standing heat.  I had noticed her vulva began shrinking before that and it continues to return to a more normal size.  I noticed today (day 22?) that her nipples have also begun to reduce in size again although I hear they will never go back to where they were prior to the first heat.  Riley continued to be very interested in her right up to almost the end.  Yesterday I finally noticed a shift back to their normal dynamic.     It helped that she deflected his advances very well these past few days and turned them more into play.  I never saw her show her teeth to him at all through the whole thing but a dog was getting more personal with her than she wanted yesterday and she was fine appropriately showing her teeth in that instance.    I will continue to walk on the less populated trails for the next few days and hopefully by next week all will be normal. 

With regards to temperment changes I was very happy to see the return of our bouncy, happy little vizsla at around day 18.  Her energy is back to normal levels, she constantly has a toy or sock etc stuffed in her mouth and is also back loving her regular snuggle sessions.   I learned a lot but they are lessons I am happy to not be dealing with every day!

*** Update July 1, 2012 - Please see follow up post to Stella's first heat cycle. ***