It has been an interesting couple weeks with the pups. I was hoping to have a little more info on Tess before posting this, but it still hasn’t arrived so here we go anyway…all subject to change! Or more likely a better understanding on my part.
Riggs has had a pretty good couple weeks, I think he’s officially overtaken Tess in height. I weighed him at the vets a few weeks ago and he was 51.4 lbs, I’d be shocked if he hasn’t put on at least 5 more pounds since then. Judging by his knobbly knees he still has some growing to do. He’s a little skinnier than I would like, so I’m upping his food a bit.
About 2-3 weeks ago he seemed to go into a bit of a fear period. I think that’s a little early for the normal fear period (about 6-14 months). So I’m not sure if that’s what it was or if I just pushed him out of his comfort zone. I scaled his trips back a bit in case it was the fear period, since I don’t want to create problems if that can be avoided. He’s done well the last week or so, so he might be out of that fear period now, or I’ve found his happy place. I’ll have to up the adventures a little bit to find out I guess. Overall he’s still doing very well; very happy to meet people and eager to meet other dogs. Still very little impulse control! So polite greetings are a work in progress. Luckily his puppy licence is still valid, but I think that’s going to expire shortly!
I’m still trying to incorporate something new for him every day, it’s often something simple like walking down a new street or taking him to a new location. As much as I feel like I haven’t done much with him since we finished our classes, looking at my notes I’m surprised how many places we have been. I took him to the Bowmont off-leash area a couple weeks ago. I kept him on leash since there can be a lot of bikers using these side trails and I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be (this was during his fear period stage). He’s been pretty good not to pull on leash when I walk him alone, but on this walk the smells and mental stimulation must have been too much because he pulled like crazy!!! So we had some work to do on that! He also seemed scared and fearful of the bikes that went by us – even once we were back on the wider paved paths. So we needed to work on some counter conditioning to bikes again. So lots of good info from our trip even if it wasn’t the most fun for me. I know I don’t have the patience to work on this on a one hour hike so I needed a place we could do it in short stretches. So I tried a little area in North Glenmore Park with him. It’s been a spot I’ve taken Tess a bunch this summer, there’s a nice wide mowed green space back through a more wilderness area, with short little dirt trails connecting these wide grassy areas. It worked perfect, my patience was still tested, but we did get to work on his pulling in short little 2-5 minute stints. I’m not convinced anything sunk in with him, but I tried! More practice to do!
I’ve been doing some short training sessions in the house with the puppy bumper. I’m trying to use shaping much like I have with Tess, but he isn’t quite catching on. He’s figured out that he needs to bite the dummy, but when I up the ante and don’t pay that behaviour he quits rather than try something new. So I’m trying to incorporate a little more interest by tugging and tossing the toy as well to see if he’ll pick it up just with the extra excitement. So far still no luck, though it is looking a little more promising.
I took him downtown for the first time about a week ago, it was actually a pretty quiet night which ended up being good. It pushed him a little outside his comfort zone a few times. There are a few tight sidewalks on the bridges across the river which made him a little nervous when bikes went by on the sidewalk, or busses on the road next to us. There were also a few skateboarders and bikes that he was concerned about. He does have to be exposed to these things, so I think it’s good to start encouraging a positive association now; but it did help that it wasn’t over the top busy like it can be. He got to see a lot of new things, and did very well. His recovery time was really good, and he continued to show interest in all the people and things to check out.
I also took him out to Forgetmenot Pond in Bragg Creek with my Grandmother. It was a beautiful Saturday so it was pretty busy out there. There were a few people with dogs, luckily most were on leash or well behaved. Lots of families out picnicking and just enjoying the nice weather. Luckily for us there were also a lot of people out floating on the pond in boats, kayaking, and paddle boarding. He got to check them out while we sat on a bench soaking up the sun, but mostly enjoyed destroying a nearby bush.
Health wise he’s been struggling a little bit, amongst other issues Tess caught circovirus somewhere in her travels. She’s been over it for some time, but Riggs must have caught it from her. I think he’s been over the virus for a few weeks now, but he’s been struggling with diarrhea since then. He’s on antibiotics now which hopefully will help reset his gut. So far he seems a little better, but the jury’s still out. I can’t help but be a little over paranoid since my trouble with Tess. So I’m just hoping this does the trick. Not that any of this has slowed him down at all, other than the diarrhea he’s not showing any signs of not feeling well.
Oh Tess! I love her to pieces but there’s always something!
We did see the specialist, I’ve been waiting to receive their written report before writing a post. We covered so much I wanted to read what they sent to make sure I’m not missing, or misinterpreting something, but I still haven’t received it. They faxed it to my vet a few weeks ago but I haven’t seen it to read myself.
Tess’ July urinalysis showed a higher than normal SDMA level, which indicated some kidney issues, but her BUN test was within the normal range, so not kidney disease yet (the good news!). The urinalysis also seemed to indicate some pancreatic stress, but we wouldn’t really know until the ultrasound with the specialist. A few days after running the urinalysis she also seemed to display symptoms of bladder stones (mainly urinary incontinence), we have suspected she’s had bladder stones before but x-rays didn’t show anything previously. We tested her urine again and found a bacterial infection, so assumed that was the case and started a round of antibiotics for that, as well as a cranberry supplement.
So August 15th we had the ultrasound, the kidney looked normal as did the pancreas. Huge relief! The issue appeared to be with the bowel. So the current diagnosis is inflammatory bowel disease. A biopsy would be needed to confirm, however at this point I’m unsure if we’ll jump to that right away. I’d like to read the specialist’s report before deciding. We talked through the options, and I’m a little more comfortable starting with the food changes and elimination diet to start – before progressing to more invasive testing, especially when she’s been feeling so run down already. So that’s how we’ve decided to proceed for now. The ultrasound also explained to some extent why we’ve been having the bladder issues on and off, as her bladder is not the normal tear drop shape but more open. So we’re also trying to address that. She was started on phenylpropanolamine to help with that, however she seemed to have a reaction to that medication. So we’ve taken her off of that and are trying a Lignan supplement that my vet has had moderate success with before. I think we will need to adjust the dosage to know for sure, but so far I wouldn’t say that it has been truly successful for Tess. So that issue remains outstanding. The retest on the urinalysis for the bacterial infection came back clear though, so thankfully that part of the issue has been resolved.
The inflammatory bowel disease appears to be a little trickier to deal with. With Tess’ suspected food allergies we have done many elimination diets using unique proteins over the past number of years – which would normally be the recommended next step to attempt for the IBD. So we’ve basically started over again rather than jump into even more exotic (and expensive) protein sources. We decided to start at the beginning and start with a simple cooked chicken and rice recipe. She’s also on antibiotics and probiotics for two months to try and reset her system. She’s still having some trouble with diarrhea but it has improved (both on the canned gastro food she was on before, and now the home cooked meal) but the jury is still out on that. So time will tell if we see more improvement and longer term success, or if we need to try something different protein wise.
The best news however is that she finally appears to be feeling a little better. She’s walking more at her normal pace, showing more interest in things, and has started to play with Riggs again. It’s been heartbreaking seeing how miserable she’s felt the last few months, so it’s such a relief to see her starting to come out of the pain and discomfort. She certainly isn’t 100%, but I’m excited to see the improvement. I’m not sure what this means for our training classes in the fall, I love doing classes with her, it forces me to practice for one thing! But mostly it’s just fun and helps build a strong bond between us; but I’m not sure how to proceed. She still has stress around other dogs so the normal class setting is always a challenge, and the dietary issues are likely going to make managing that more difficult. So at the moment I’m thinking we might just relax and enjoy walks, maybe throw in a few private lessons in when possible. I’m also hesitant to start up a 6 week course knowing we are likely to have health setbacks and need to miss classes. So that’s the big dilemma at the moment.
Anyway, that’s the pupdate for now. As always with dogs, subject to change!