Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dog First Aid Checklist

So as I'm researching/prepping for/obsessing over the arrival of my new puppy, I keep coming to the following question:
Do you have an emergency plan?
It doesn't help that Hurricane Sandy is knocking on my door as I write this! And unfortunately, my answer is only "sort of." It's been years since we were hit with a big storm (knock on wood!) so my hurricane kit could probably use some updating. We rotated the food and batteries last spring, but should stockpile more water. I know we need to restock our first aid kit (it's been cannibalized over the years). Although I have extra pet food, I don't have a first aid kit for the dogs! I looked online and found several pet first aid kits I can order, but the prices vary greatly, and I couldn't figure out which one I should buy. I wasn't sure exactly what's in each kit, and I didn't know what's essential versus what's just nice to have. After a couple hours of frustrated surfing, I asked myself, "Self, do you think you can make your own kit?" The answer was yes! I searched and searched and have compiled what I believe to be a comprehensive Dog First Aid Checklist. I will need:

  • A sturdy box - to hold all of the supplies. The box must be easy to carry and pack, and is able to hold the complete kit. And I want it red.
  • A muzzle - because even loving, well-trained animals may bite when injured or afraid.
  • Tweezers - to remove splinters, or other foreign materials from wounds.
  • Scissors - for cutting out things matted in fur or freeing pets from entanglements.
  • Saline Solution - to clean out wounds and flush the eyes.
  • Thermometer and small jar of Vaseline - to check temperature. The normal temperature for dogs is between 100.0 – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Tape - 1" white medical tape is easy to tear off and holds well.
  • Roll Gauze - is used for bandaging, an aid to stop bleeding, and padding for splints.
  • Telfa pads - are non-stick dressings for bandaging a wound.
  • Vet Wrap - is used over a telfa pad or roll gauze. It clings to itself and is semi-watertight. Caution: do not wrap this too tight.
  •  QuikClot or something similar - to stop bleeding (wounds).
  • Antiseptic wash or wipes - I need to look for non-stinging preparations such as chlorhexidine or betadine. Rubbing alcohol is not good for open sores or wounds.
  • Antibiotic ointment - Look for an over-the-counter "general purpose" antibiotic ointment for light use with minor skin wounds.
  • Toenail trimmer and styptic pencil for torn toenails.
  •  Hydrogen Peroxide and a plastic syringe - Hydrogen peroxide is an emetic which induces vomiting. Only use this emetic when warranted, such as if a veterinarian or poison control center says to immediately administer it. Dogs should receive 5 – 25 cc of hydrogen peroxide (orally) for every 10 pounds of weight. If vomiting does not occur in 15 minutes repeat the dose.
  • Small flashlight - can be used to check for any injuries within the mouth or any objects or materials that could be blocking respiration in the upper part of the throat.
  • Vet-prescribed pain relief (NSAID) - I need to speak to my vet about obtaining some as-needed pain relievers for the first aid kit.
  • Diphenhydramine (aka Benadryl) - used for stings and allergic reactions.
  • Cold Packs - can be stowed in an emergency kit and will change temperature when broken or shaken. Can be used to cool down skin after a burn or in case of heatstroke. Remember: always use a cloth between the pack and skin and check frequently for redness or irritation.
  • Emergency Heat Blanket - should be used if an animal’s temperature is decreasing due to shock or exposure.
  • Sterile Latex Gloves
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • A list of phone numbers - which includes my regular vet, the emergency vet, animal control, and animal poison control numbers.
  • Pet First Aid book*
How about you? Do you feel the need to make your own pet first aid kit now too? Can you think of anything I have missed?
* I have a really nice Pet First Aid book (pictured above) that I got about 8 years ago. The American Red Cross taught a Pet First Aid class and the book was included in the price of the course. It was a great class. If you ever get a chance to take Pet First Aid class, do it! It was worth the money. I've contacted the American Red Cross several times over the past 5 years hoping to retake the class, but they have stopped offering it at our local chapter. If anyone knows of a Pet First Aid class offered within a 2-3 hour radius of Jacksonville, please let me know! Thanks, and stay safe. -- K

P.S. Just after I posted, I was sent a related link about Dog Emergency & Disaster Preparedness. Check it out!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy Howl-O-Ween!

The weather is changing (a.k.a. we've turned off the A/C -- sorry Northern friends) and the holidays are just around the corner. Hubby loves Halloween best of all and is in full decorating mode. Roxy is outside "supervising." I've done my part by NOT dusting. Yep, those are real cobwebs on the front porch. As fun as Halloween is for us, it can be a bit stressful for the dogs. Below are a few tips I've picked up over the years to help keep my dogs safe and happy.
  • Keep candy away from the dogs. This includes the kids' treat bags. Pepper chewed the bottoms out of several candy filled pillow cases in her time. Chocolate (my favorite!) can be lethal. So can xylitol, a sweetener found in sugar-free gum and candy. Sugar is not good for dogs either.
  • Supervise dogs around decorations. Dogs can sometimes be too curious for their own good! Just yesterday we had two Halloween-related incidents. First, Roxy's costume got caught on the graveyard fence after taking this picture. She panicked and ended up dragging the fence across the yard. Poor thing. Shortly thereafter, we bought a cute blow-up pumpkin. Roxy found the noise very interesting and I have no doubt that she would have chewed the fan out of the pumpkin if Hubby hadn't intervened.
  • Watch your jack-o-lanterns. They're not toxic, but you don't want the pups eating your pumpkin goo when you're carving. Too much pumpkin can upset a doggy stomach. You want to make sure dogs don't knock them over either, especially if you use candles to light them.
  • Lock the dogs in a back room on All Hallows Eve. The constant flow of costumed children was always too much for my dogs. Whenever possible, we sit on the front porch so that kids don't ring the doorbell. If your dogs still get too wound up, talk to your vet about dog-safe sedatives.
  • Not all dogs like costumes. Sometimes a festive bandanna is all a dog is willing to wear. If you're going to dress the dogs up, make sure that costumes don't hinder their movement or vision. My dogs never minded costumes as long as their ears weren't covered.
  • Make sure dogs wear collars and tags -- even under costumes. This is my inner ACO speaking. With all the commotion of the evening, there is a chance that someone can slip out unnoticed. If that happens, you want to make sure your pets are returned right away. In fact, go and check everyone's tags right now. Are they legible? Are the phone numbers correct? If not, please get new tags right away.

Roxy and I wish you a Safe and Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Canine Good Citizen

The Infamous Julie’s owner sent an email the other day saying that AKC Canine Good Citizen will soon be an actual title. The official news from the AKC is:

As of January 1, 2013, Canine Good Citizen will become an official AKC title that can appear on the title records of dogs registered or listed with AKC. Dog owners who complete the CGC as a Title process may list the suffix “CGC” after the dog’s name. Since the program began in 1989, CGC has been considered an “award,” meaning that it has not been listed on a dog’s title record.
The Canine Good Citizen test is comprised of ten exercises. They’re not hard (Logan passed) but not overly easy either (Roxy didn’t even take the test). The dog must be able to:
  1. Accept a friendly stranger
  2. Sit politely for petting by a stranger
  3. Allow a stranger to groom and examine it
  4. Walk on a loose lead
  5. Walk through a crowd 
  6. Sit, lie down and stay on command
  7. Come when called
  8. Behave politely around other dogs
  9. Tolerate distractions and loud noises
  10. Remain calm during a supervised three minute separation from owner
The AKC has a brochure online with more information. There’s also an entire book about it called Citizen Canine. You know I have it!

The great thing about this news -- for me -- is now I feel confident that I’ll be able to put at least one title on the puppy. Even better, we have a club member who is an AKC CGC Approved Evaluator. She’s semi-retired, but maybe we can coax her into teaching/testing a class or two. I’m excited!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Super Dogs

Last May the GSD Club members took a field trip to Williston, Florida to tour The Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs facility. It was amazing to see everything those dogs can do. We got to see the kennels, heard many success stories and were given a demonstration of the types of services these dogs provide -- everything from opening refrigerators to calling 911. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the founder tell us that they use German shepherds almost exclusively. When sharing some of the training methods, we were told that they use the "Super Dog" (also called "Bio-Sensor") training with their newborn puppies. My future Breeder said she uses the same method with her puppies. So you know I had to look it up!

Probably the most informative article I found on it was Early Neurological Stimulation by Dr. Carmen Battaglia. The author advocates intentionally stressing puppies for three minutes once daily during the first 10 days of life, well before their ears and eyes are open. Five separate exercises are performed.   

1. Tactile stimulation for 3-5 seconds, while holding the pup in one hand, the handler gently stimulates (tickles) the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip. Dr. Battaglia states that it's not necessary to see that the pup feels the tickle. 

2. Head held erect using both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground (straight up) so that its head is directly above its tail for 3 - 5 seconds.

3. Head pointed down holding the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground for 3 - 5 seconds.

4. Supine position – the handler holds the pup so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands with its muzzle facing the ceiling for 3-5 seconds. The pup is allowed to sleep while on its back.  

5. Thermal stimulation – for 3-5 seconds the pup is placed feet down on a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator for at least five minutes. The pup is not restrained from moving. 
So why are these puppies being stressed? According to the research:
This mild form of stress is sufficient to stimulate hormonal, adrenal and pituitary systems. When tested later as adults, these same animals were better able to withstand stress than littermates who were not exposed to the same early stress exercises . . . When tested for differences in health and disease, the stressed animals were found to be more resistant to certain forms of cancer and infectious diseases and could withstand terminal starvation and exposure to cold for longer periods than their non-stressed littermates.
So does this actually work? I've found many, many breeders online who swear by it. I only found one skeptic at Bio-Sensor is Bad Science. However, this author's biggest complaint seemed to be with the term "Bio-Sensor" and he didn't have any evidence to refute the claims made by a Labrador breeder of:
        • Improved Cardiovascular Performance
        • Stronger Heart Beats
        • Stronger Adrenal Glands
        • More Tolerance to Stress
        • Greater Lifetime Resistance to Disease
The dissenting author didn't say that there was any actual harm done to the puppies by this handling either. My feelings are: Then what why not? What does it hurt? If nothing else, these dogs are used to being handled. I've seen fearful, poorly socialized dogs in my line of work, and it breaks my heart.

One reason I chose to get a puppy from Breeder was our similar feelings on handling and socialization. I love the fact that my puppy was born in the house and is being raised in the dining room. Although he comes from Champion bloodlines, he's being initiated into the lifestyle of beloved pet. By the time he joins our family he'll be use to cooing, kisses and belly rubs. It'll be perfectly normal for him to have his feet touched, ears checked and mouth opened. Because he's being raised in the house, Puppy won't be phased by the sounds of the microwave, the vacuum cleaner or Jeopardy on TV. 

Breeder and I had a long talk during that field trip last spring. She was trying to find a suitable stud for Zasha; I was fascinated by the logistics of artificial insemination. Logan was still with us and I wasn't even considering bringing home a puppy. (Honestly, it would have broken his heart.) We had no idea at the time that Zasha's heat cycle would be delayed by three months, or that Logan's heart would give out a month later. Maybe I should name the puppy Happenstance. Whatever his name, I should be getting another newsletter from Breeder today! I'll share, promise. Until then, -- K


Friday, October 19, 2012

Catching Up

Roxy and the Infamous Julie
I just looked at the date of my last post. Wow, it's been a while! My apologies to both my loyal readers. Roxy and I have been busy. Last Saturday was Dogtoberfest. Honestly, I was worried. We hadn't practiced walking on a leash like I had wanted and I forgot to bring the Halti, Roxy's no-pull head harness. Fortunately, everything was fine. I think Roxy was overwhelmed by all the dogs and people. (She was also worn out, as I had Son #2 run her around for 20 minutes before we left.) We met up with the Infamous Julie, who was pulling a cart no less. That girl can do anything! The weather was perfect. There was a dock diving demonstration, lots of vendors giving away free samples, and hundreds of dogs -- most in costume too -- though none were as pretty as my Roxy Bee. Probably the most amazing part of the day was how calm it was. There were literally hundreds of dogs all sniffing and barking at each other and not one fight broke out. Even Roxy, who is usually anxious around other dogs, didn't seem to care.

Not much to report on the puppy front. I got the first weekly newsletter from Breeder last week. The puppies are all doing fine, mostly eating and growing at this point. She sent individual pictures of each puppy. You can see where the tan markings are coming in. They are so cute! I'm sure newsletter #2 will come this weekend. The puppies are 16 days old today. According to my research, their ears and eyes should be opening about now, which should make the newsletters a lot more interesting. Now their personalities will start coming out. I can't wait to meet them.

In the meantime, Hubby and I have been looking for crates. The search has proven to be more difficult than I had expected. Ultimately I'll buy a folding wire crate for travelling and showing. Since I don't know how big he'll get, I don't know if I want a 42" or a 48". However, I don't want to get a big one just yet, because that'll make housebreaking more difficult (so I've read. It's been a long time since I've done this.) For now I've got a used small wire crate that we'll keep in the living room. Puppy will be confined but still be able to look around. I figure we'll have to replace it with a larger crate pretty soon, but hopefully it'll work for the time being. New crates are pretty pricey, especially for a puppy that will outgrow it quickly. I've been trying to see what I can borrow or get used. There are several shops in town for gently used baby stuff, but none for puppies. Wonder if I could make a career out of that?!

I also have a slightly larger plastic carrier for the bedroom.Yes, Puppy's sleeping in the room with me. We'll see how this works out. I haven't used a crate in the house for over a decade.We had one for Pepper when she was a pup, though we stopped crating her at 2 years old. She had outgrown the carrier and there wasn't really a place to put it in the new house. I sold it a yard sale. I'm regretting that now. (I also sold a couple really nice baby gates. What was I thinking?!) Roxy and Logan came to us as housebroken adults, so we never even considered getting crates.

Work has been busy too. I'm not going to bore you with the details. Let's just say it's been taking up a lot of my time. I've picked up a few hours of overtime each week, which will help fund puppy supplies. And on that note, I need to cut this short. My new partner is out of town for training this week, so I need to go in on my days off to check messages, clean the kennel and walk dogs. It's inconvenient, but:

more overtime = more puppy stuff

Until next time, -- K

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More Puppy Pictures

Right now they are just tiny eating-sleeping-pooping machines, but they are so cute! My breeder (yeah, that still feels weird) just called to give me an update. Everybody is doing well and growing quickly. She put the phone into the whelping box so I could hear the puppies whining and grunting. I can't wait to see them! Unfortunately, that's going to be while. Puppies have very weak immune systems, so she's refusing visitors for the first month to keep them as germ free as possible. As an ACO I understand completely, and I totally respect her decision. Mentally I get this. However, the emotional part of me just wants to get in there and kiss all those fur-babies! Thankfully, Breeder is a kind woman and sends me pictures. I love looking at them, even if they are just sleeping little furballs. I know that at least one of my readers is interested in all this puppy business (Hi Mom!) so I'll continue to share my puppy obsession as news comes in. Until next time, -- K

P.S. Take a look at the craftsmanship of the whelping box. Breeder's husband has got some talent!

Doing what newborns do best -- eating and sleeping

Another Fun Doodad

So I was looking for a "congratulations/thank you/OMG I'm so excited" gift for my wine and GSD loving friend/Zasha's owner (saying "my breeder" sounds so weird) and look what I found: German Shepherd Wine Charms!! Wish I'd ordered a set for myself as well. Guess I'll just have to go over and use hers. Drinking wine, playing with puppies and laughing with friends -- I can think of worse ways to spend my day. -- K

Thursday, October 4, 2012

She Did WHAT?!

I am soooo embarrassed. I took Roxy to Petsmart to buy dog food and she took a dump right in the middle of the dog food aisle! So what's a girl to do? I told her she was a bad dog, cleaned it up . . . and took a picture Dog Shaming style.

Have you seen this site? People post pictures of their dogs with signs stating the "horrible" things they've done. Things like "I humped the cat" or "I eat Mommy's shoes." Sometimes there's pictures of the evidence. I think it's hilarious. I laugh so hard that I can't breathe. Hubby just rolls his eyes and asks "Are you looking at bad dog pictures again?" If you haven't seen Dog Shaming click on the link and check it out -- I'll wait.

Did you see it? Are you wiping tears out of your eyes? Well, apparently not everybody thinks it's funny. I've read complaints that the site is cruel, mean-spirited and the incidents are a result of bad owners. Give me a break! Here's my take on it:

  • These dogs are not being abused. Sometimes the dogs look remorseful, though every dog owner knows they're not. Dogs live in the moment -- that's one of the great parts about being a dog! The remorseful look is a ruse. Pepper was an expert at looking sad and submissive, especially if she thought she could get something edible out of it. Logan looked guilty anytime I used a stern voice, regardless of what he'd done or what was being said. If I lowered my tone and said "Who wants a cookie?" he would drop his ears and flash the puppy-dog eyes. Roxy, on the other hand, doesn't feel remorse or shame for anything. I've seen her drop a grown man with a headbutt to the groin and then jump in circles, thinking it's part of the game.

  • This site is not mean. All dog owners have "bad dog" stories. We share them with a laugh, often trying to one-up each other. But it's always done affectionately. Think Marley and Me (the book, not the crappy movie). Bad dog stories bring back good memories. For example: Pepper and I fought over the kitchen trash her entire life. It was exasperating. I would buy new trash cans, booby trap trash cans, scold her anytime she went near the trash can -- but she didn't care. She wanted what was in the can so badly that it was worth the price. She was a hardheaded bitch. She would spread trash all over the house. The only thing we could do was take the trash out regularly -- it didn't always work. If Dog Shaming had been around I would have posted her trashy face on it a dozen times!! Yet I would gladly clean up table scraps and coffee grounds everyday if it meant that I could have Pepper back.

  • Of course these events could have been prevented!! In hindsight, I should have waited outside Petsmart a little longer so Roxy could do her business beforehand. When viewing Dog Shaming pictures critically, you can say that these dogs should have been better supervised, items should have been picked up, doors could have closed. But that's not the point of this site. This is a place where dog owners can share their frustrations with other dog people who "get it." Truth is, our beloved companions are still dogs, and dogs do weird things. They eat cat poop, they drink out of the toilet, they shred things with wild abandon.

So, the lesson learned from today's event is: Dogs will be dogs, and sometimes dogs do things that embarrass their owners. Instead of getting mad, take a picture and have a good laugh. Before I go, I'm going to share a couple Dog Shaming pictures that had me crying earlier. I apologize in advance if you don't see the humor. -- K

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I just got this picture and had to share. Today Zasha had 6 boys and 1 girl -- all happy and healthy. I am so excited!! I'll blog as I learn more. -- K

Monday, October 1, 2012

Roxy's Story

The bandanna says it all

Roxy has a bright pink bandanna that says “I HAVE ISSUES.” It’s funny because it’s true. Roxy is a spazz. I believe that she really wants to be good, she just doesn’t have any impulse control. Son #2 has a song for her (sung to the tune of an old Jackson 5 song). It goes:
A  D  D
Easy  as  one  two  SQUIRREL!!!
I often wonder if that’s why her previous owners gave her up. Was she born this way or is it a result of poor socialization? We know a little about her previous life, but not much. She was originally owned by Hubby’s old boss. Boss’s wife had just had their second child (the first was barely out of diapers) and they “didn’t have time” for her. She was banished to the back yard which she shared with an aggressive, intact female pit bull (they said American Staffordshire terrier – I say same diff). Boss came into work more than once with bandages on his arms from where the “Am Staff” had bitten him. It seems that as Roxy (also intact) got older, the other dog regarded her as a threat and used to beat her up. Boss would get hurt trying to split them apart. The constant attacks made Roxy insecure around other dogs. Boss knew I was an ACO and asked for advice. "Simple," I said, "spay the dogs." I was emphatically told NO! Why? He was going to breed them and sell the puppies. (A crazy shepherd and an asshole pit – great idea!) Instead of taking these unstable dogs out of the gene pool, Boss decided to get rid of the shepherd. We took her, planning to fix her, rehab her and adopt her out through the GSD Club. (It’s been 4 ½ years . . . you see how that worked out, right?)

Roxy before she joined our family
We took Logan and Pepper to a neutral place to meet the shepherd. She was skinny and extremely nervous. She had a grapefruit-sized bald spot on her back. We were told that a rattlesnake had gotten into the whelping box when she was a puppy. Six puppies died; Roxy was the seventh to get bit. Apparently the snake had run out of venom by the time it got to Roxy. Her undercoat won't grow where the snake bit her. Only two female puppies remained; Roxy went to Boss, and her sister went to Boss’s friend, the nephew of the breeder. We were told that Roxy was from excellent German lines but Boss didn’t have her papers because that “cost extra.” (I wonder: lie or shady breeder? What do you think?) We never got the name of the breeder to verify the origins story -- not that it matters much.
What kept Roxy in our household was her immediate attachment to Son #2. She stuck to him like Velcro, following him everywhere he went. And I suck at “fostering.” (Ask me about Spike the guinea pig sometime.) So the hyper, neurotic, untrained shepherd stayed put. Figuring that she’d been through enough change, we kept the name Roxy. I asked Boss the date of her last heat cycle. He couldn’t remember. I assume that it was 5 ½ months previously, because she made a mess almost immediately. I guess Logan had successfully bred in the past and knew that “that” smell meant “happy ending.” Even though he had been fixed for years he went bonkers trying to get to Roxy. We had to lock the dogs in separate rooms just to get some peace in the house. I still haven’t replaced the molding he destroyed trying to dig his way out of my office. Needless to say, Roxy was spayed three weeks later. (And ended up in the Cone of Shame shortly thereafter!)
Guess who chewed out her stitches?
The dogs got along OK, though Pepper and Roxy would have disagreements. Logan was always the peacekeeper. I saw my mellow fella body slam Roxy when she got a little attitude. We ignored minor squabbles between the girls, but open aggression was not tolerated. Roxy learned – albeit slowly – that misbehaving always ended the good stuff. Growl during play time and the game immediately stopped. If she was a butthead during love time she was unceremoniously kicked off the couch. It took Roxy longer than I would have liked to learn this, but the dogs eventually became a well-adjusted pack.
Funny story: About eight months after Roxy joined our family Boss asked if he could see her again. We took all the dogs to Petsmart and then stopped by work to show her off. Hubby took Roxy over to Boss, while I walked Pepper and Logan in the other direction. Roxy couldn’t have cared less about seeing Boss, but was very upset about being separated from the other dogs. Boss said he was happy to see her doing so well, but I think he was also a bit hurt by the snub. I should have felt bad for him, but I didn't. As frustrating as she can be, I can’t imagine ever giving her up. She’s our “Box-of-Roxys” and she’s with us forever, no matter what.
Roxy today. Isn't she beautiful?
We’ve tried to work with Roxy over the years, and although exasperating at times, she’s gotten a lot better. Despite being a picky eater, she put on weight. (Lately too much weight – but that’s Hubby’s fault!) Her top coat has covered most of her scar, though she’ll pull it out when she gets anxious. And she’s a lot more confident than she use to be. She still pulls on the leash, barks at things that don’t exist, and greets all male house guests with a running head butt to the crotch. She failed obedience class twice, chewed out her spay stitches and is obsessed with the laser pointer. She does EVERYTHING full bore – there is no halfway with Roxy. Fortunately, this includes loving her people. I have no doubt that she loves us with every fiber of her being. And when she does something stupid, we just blame it on the snake venom.
The other day Hubby and I were wondering about how Roxy will take to the new puppy. She’s adjusted quite well to being an only dog; will she resent the new puppy? Will she enjoy having a playmate? Will she help teach him house rules? Will she teach him bad habits? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. -- K