Another Journey...

One thing about being the administrators on my four Facebook pages and an administrator or several others pages are the things you see.  As a rule, I always try to be upbeat and cheerful about all the things that go on.  One thing I won’t tolerate is all the political things that went around last year.  In the grand scheme of things, no-one’s mind was changed, and 50% of the readers were pissed off no matter which side you were on.

Let's just be happy...
It can be very trying when you follow a story that spans over several weeks about dogs.  You get to know them, love them, hurt with them and watch them die at times.  Sometimes I don’t know what button to chose on FB, and I will just do nothing, but I always read them and feel their pain because I have usually been in their shoes.  Some stories get to me more than others because it deals with things close to my heart.  I remember so well when “Buck” got hurt and “Else” lost her leg and now “Pipper” and that is the very short list.  I’ve watched all of the hurt and even sat in my chair and said a prayer. 

 Their journeys are places I have been and will be taking, sometimes sooner than I know or want to.  On the other hand, you have traveled with me on my journeys through some very happy times and some I wish I could forget, but can’t. 

A new journey will be taken during the first week of March.  You have followed me through the birth of Border Collies puppies and the death of our Clancy and the many surgeries we have had with most of our dogs.  Chemotherapy was a wild ride with Abby, and you led me through it.  People, some I had never talked to, much less met, send get-well cards, and a deep friendship was formed over a coat that was made for Abby because someone cared for us and our breed. 

Over the past several months, I have noticed a difference with one of my dogs.  The most significant difference I saw was when I was passing out snacks from my recliner, every dog watched my hand move from one to the other.  One did not, in fact, when it was their turn, I would hold it in front of their face, and they would look past it.  The next day we were at the Vet where she gave us the news and it’s wasn’t good.  Doc is going blind.  He is entirely blind in one eye and 70% blind in his “good” eye. 
On March 5th, Doc and I will travel to Blue Pearl Specialty Animal Hospital in Louisville, KY.  I am familiar with them because of their reputation, and it’s the same place we took Abby for her initial Cancer Screening and work-up with her treatment plan.

The one thing about social media is we all appear pretty smart on this end of a keyboard.  Some people become the expert in whatever topic that is discussed and will demand that their remedy is used.  I learned long ago to avoid dog topics like “When should I get my dog spayed/neutered?” or “What should I feed my dog.”  Everyone suddenly becomes a Veterinarian or nutritionist and will fight to the death with their keyboard to prove their point.  I have a "pat" saying that I use when someone asks about what they think “that bump” is in a photo or medical advice for their dog.  My comment is “Why don’t you check with your Vet, they are the expert, not someone on Facebook.”  I have always noticed that not single Veterinarian has responded to any person on this media or given advice.

My personal perspective is “I am not a dog trainer or expert, I just have a lot of experience with some subjects.”  Many years ago when I was working for a Veterinarian, there was a heated national election, and my side lost.  I was complaining about the results, and Dr. King said, “What will this really do to you or how will it change your life?”  and “nothing” was the answer and he was right.
I really could care less if you’re a Democrat or Republican, a gun rights activist, your lifestyle or if you're religious.   I don’t ask you to take on my lifestyle or beliefs and I won’t judge you for yours nor expect you to take on mine  What I do care about is how we interact with each other with love for our dogs and compassion for the suffering we sometimes carry and how we treat each other. 

Several years ago, a lady reached out to me and sent us a coat when Abby got Cancer because it was winter.  I sent her a message and thanked her for it and said: “you didn’t have to do that.”  I was overwhelmed with her compassion to someone who she didn’t know and lived over 650 miles away.  During some rough times for both of us, we would talk on the phone.  

The very coat, thank you, Karen
Having some major medical issues at the time,  we would try to comfort each other, and at the end of the conversation, she said: “I love you and thank you.” and it was comforting to know that someone really cared about me and it was something we all should say more.  Usually, the people we travel with have one common goal, and with us, it’s the love for our dog.  We all make mistakes and blunders, but we genuinely care for each other and our dogs.  
So on the 5th, we will take Doc Holliday to his upcoming appointment to found out his fate.  Doc has had a pretty rough life with his Heartworm treatment and his first couple of years in Texas but rest assured we will do whatever we can including surgery and I know you will travel with Doc and me because we have a bond.  I care deeply about your dogs, and I love you for your passion and friendship.   Ken

A life saver...

Last week, I took JoJo to be spayed.  She loves car rides and enjoyed the trip, and she even enjoyed the Vet who cooed over her playing with her on her level on the floor.  I will tell you that when it came to taking her temperature, things changed.  I was standing across from her, and she immediately shot a look at me with pinned back ears.  I said “it’s OK” and her stair back to me said “no… it’s not OK.”  At least she didn’t have to turn her head and cough, and it was over quick.  Thank God for fast reading digital thermometers…

JoJo very stylish
While picking her up later that day, JoJo was a little groggy but glad to see me.  We chatted with the Vet, and she explained her procedures and aftercare for the surgery.  Being through all of this with my dogs and the many rescue dogs we’ve had, I have been here many times and are familiar with what to do, and then the Vet said something that stuck with me.  “The easy part is done, now comes the hard part.”  Truer words were never spoken.  

When I worked for a Vet, it was the best job I ever had.  So many different things to see and learn and you worked with man’s best friends.  We had surgery every day, and I assisted in most of them, but that is the easy part.  The aftercare is hard, and when JoJo’s Vet said the same thing, I had to agree.

The second cone in one day, she would run into things.
With the rescues, we see a lot of spays and neuters which means lots of aftercare, and even with my dogs, there is always something going on or injuries that they get while playing and running.  Over the years, we’ve tried everything to keep a dog from pulling at their stitches, once even tearing out the sutures which resulted in an open abdomen.  They will not leave them alone for several reasons, some from the natural instinct to clean and wash the area and sometimes because the hair is cut around the incision and it itches when growing back.  Both can be a problem when they don't stop or leave it alone.

This was worse than the cone.
Being a past scuba diver, we would wear a wetsuit or a “farmer John shortie” that was tight and protection for your body.  As a deep thinker, I have said many times if somebody could invent one for a dog, it would be comfortable and would not be restrictive at all.  Life could go on as usual, and the wound could heal.  When Abbie was sick, she would lick her legs where she got her Chemo treatments because they were right in front of her and she did.  If it weren’t for someone sending me some home remedy tips, we would have lost her mind, but it worked, hard but it works.  I’ve even gone in Wal-Mart getting a "onesie" for a child and cutting it up to try to make it work but didn’t, somebody has got to invent something I always thought.

This was the only solution we had at the time.
Low and behold, last year I was scouring the internet and found something too good to be true.  It looked good, information was excellent and informative, and I wondered...  The product was called “Shed Defender,” and I thought if it could keep dog hair in, it could keep a dog’s tongue out.  Closer reading also said “The Shed Defender® has medical purposes as well. Use it to replace the bulky, uncomfortable, medical cone; works by covering up any wounds, surgical sites, hot spots, etc.”  OH MY God… could it be.  I quickly ordered one and was impressed when it came in.  We had a rescue dog that was just neutered and needed something because he was active and eager to lick where his lost parts once were. 

 It worked for the duration and healing was complete.  Since then we have exclusively used the Shed Defender for all of our surgeries.  Just yesterday, one of our rescues had an ACL surgery and will require protection from the incision. I had already sent one of the “Shed Protectors” to her via mail, and it fit like a glove, and she will not have to wear the cone.

Piper with her "Shed Defender."
Am I promoting the ‘Shed Defender.” You bet, working in the field and having the number of surgeries we have, it is a blessing.  Thank God someone invented a product that is easy to work with and actually helps the life of a dog that is already suffering from the ills of surgery and can stay out of the cone.  Ken

Check out Shed Defender Priceless if needed.

It can Happen... and did...

Today's post is by guest author Catherine Battersby.  She and her husband moved back to England after a successful teaching career in the states last year.  
"Xena, Clancy’s daughter, and Jack, Clancy’s grandson moved home to Clancy's beginnings…  
Little did we know that Clancy’s pups would be moving back “home” near Worcestershire a county in the West Midlands of England.  The place where it all started.  It truly is their home because for the last 10 generations this was where “home” of his family was started."  Ken Shuck

Ken often says "anything can happen with dogs, and he is so right. We only have two, Xena and Jack; but they keep us busy."

Xena and Jack are pretty easy, as collies go: good on recall and “the basics,” they will fetch and drop and can be called off other animals. Every once and a while in Indiana they would flush a deer, and they would come right to us if we called them and said, “No.” So this isn’t a blog about anything you can train for; it’s about a freak accident that might raise awareness about (yes) sticks, and acting fast if your dog acts unwell. When in doubt, go to the vet.

Jack and Xena
Just two weeks ago, we were up on the hills. The dogs were, as usual, off lead, scampering around exploring, meeting other dogs, snuffling in the bushes, running on the turf. Xena bounded away from another dog, then turned because she had seen something. She trotted over to a stick, sniffed it, and picked it up. (This is important: she was not running full on into it, and no one had thrown it for her or at her.) She yelped hard and dropped it.

I was concerned because she sounded in pain, and went to check the stick. It was a light one, with a number of branches on it. Nothing seemed freshly broken, but Xena was coughing a little. I checked her mouth; no bark, no blood, no pieces of stick that I could see. We walked on for a bit because she seemed in good spirits, though she coughed a little a few times. She had after all only picked up a stick and dropped it. I then saw that she was drooling, so I took her home. Once inside, she lay down and looked a bit sorry for herself. If you know Xena, you know she has perfected that look, so that didn’t concern me too much. But she was still drooling and coughing a little. No blood. I got a small piece of sausage and offered it to her. She tried to take it but then dropped it. That was the sign of real trouble, so I read some online reviews, picked a practice, and called a vet. All within 5 minutes.

We were lucky. The vet was great. He took me seriously, asked if I had been throwing sticks (I hadn’t); asked if Xena was gagging or coughing (she was), and we again checked her mouth. He couldn’t see anything either. So he said he would have to sedate her and see what the problem was. I agreed and went home. Two hours later they called me to say she had done well and was awake, and could I come down to talk with the vet. They wouldn’t tell me over the phone what had happened. That’s never good.

When I got down there, the vet showed me everything. And I mean everything. The stick had gone in under Xena’s tongue, where there was a ¾ centimeter hole. But that was just the beginning. They found that there was a further 4-5 inch “tunnel” down her throat where the stick had pierced, somehow missing nerves and the carotid artery. The vet had had to flush it through with a catheter (creating an opening further down her neck) and hoped he had got everything out. He had taken photos and showed them to me. We observed her for about 12 days, and it turns out he had cleaned everything, and she is fine.

But Xena still wants sticks. I had thought it was OK for her to chew on them if I didn’t throw them for her; now I know that really freakish things can happen. But even a smart collie
has the intelligence of a two-year-old and the emotional intelligence of a toddler. So walking a collie is like walking a toddler with massive emotional energy and mad gross motor skills. And Xena still wants sticks. So we walk with more toys now, and I continue to train her off the sticks. She will drop a stick if I tell her to do so, but she still picks them up, and if we walk past a place where she dropped a stick a while before she will sit down by the stick and beg me to pick it up. This will never be easy.

I know things are going to happen, no matter what we do. If you have had human kids, you know they are going to make swords out of sticks and not only have mock sword fights.  Despite your warnings not to poke each others’ eyes out, but also these sword fights will at some point outside your field of view take place on swing sets and while the kids slide down slides.  Same with dogs. I grew up with dogs at a time when we fed them in the morning and then threw them outside for the day. I am sure they ran through the woods grabbing sticks and eating sh*t and fighting with other animals. We had one Belgian Shepherd/collie mix who routinely ran away and came back with a snout full of porcupine quills. (My parents I think ended up keeping a few Valium on hand for every time this happened; removing quills from an undrugged dog is not fun.) Anyway, we all now watch our dogs much more than we ever used to, much as we all watch our kids more than happened in the 50s and 60s. Is this good or bad for development? Who knows? Does it keep them safer? A bit. But stuff still happens.

Some things they won’t learn. The picture below is Xena 96 hours after getting the stick five inches into her throat. You can see from the look in her eye that she is raring to go. But she also has been told “Drop” and “Leave” and has responded. Honestly, she knew this before or she wouldn’t even listen to me now after everything that happened. But she still wants to try it, and the accident happened even though I have been training both dogs off sticks ever since the first article in the UK press came out about two years ago  BBC UK News . The dog I mentioned above went after porcupines all his life; in fact, the vet said that once smart dogs find a challenge, they want to beat it.

As I was walking the dogs down the hill this morning, I saw a very happy, well-behaved, and obviously cared for Border Collie trotting along with his family, proudly carrying a big stick. Did I say anything? No. Should I have? I don’t know. I do know we only have our dogs in trust for a little while, and we can’t protect them from everything or become paranoid parents, but we can love them and be aware. And if the dog refuses a sausage, get him to the vet.  By Catherine Battersby.

Did I eat that?

The last day of the year was a beautiful day.  Something unusual in this part of the country at this time and it was a welcome sight.  The day was sunny, and the temperature was in the 50’s.  As a person who hates to stay in the house, this was a welcome sight because I could get out and do some chores and play with the dogs.  Grabbing my chainsaw and work gloves, I trecked off to clean up a portion of the farm of some trees to make a small clearing.

It was a grand day and time was well spent.  I felt like a million dollars and got some good exercise, and the dogs ran around chasing each other who also got some exercises which was a nice break from the snow and cold days we have had. 

After what seemed like a very short time but was actually a whole afternoon, we finished up and headed to the house.  The dogs were pooped, and so was I.  Dirty clothes covered me and even my leather gloves were dirty and wet, but we had a grand time.  When I approached the house, and after I put my tools up, I took my gloves off and placed them on the back of the car because they need to dry out and would in the sunshine.  You know where this is going, don’t you?

After cleaning up and relaxing, the sun was still out, so I took a stroll down our lane.  Just as I started, I knew the gloves were dry, and I needed to put them up.  Walking over to the car I picked up one glove and looked for the other one which must have fallen to the grown off the back of the vehicle.  I was a windy day, and I knew it was somewhere under the car.  After an extensive search, I couldn't find it.  Not unusual, I'm sure it’s on the driveway.  After walking what seemed to be a lifetime trying to find a leather glove, my search was pointless. 

Great, here we are again, it’s leather and food for the dogs.  My dogs usually won’t eat anything except Dutchess, oh yeah Annie and I forgot Dahlia and can’t forget about Clancy, well crap I guess they all will eat stuff… I posted that question on Facebook and asked that very question, and while Dutchess has eaten just about everything, Annie and Dahlia have eaten 2 new unopened boxes of Baklava from the counter and Clancy has eaten anything with any residue of raw meat on it before.

There are many ways to get a dog to throw up, and I have tried them all.  I will tell you, I worry about blockage and work very hard to prevent it from occurring.  It’s a pretty rough surgery and very expensive.  My old fashion way, not advise, is I use Hydron Peroxide to get them to throw up.  Dutchess has become immune to it, and the last time it didn't work after eating some cooked chicken bones.  We took her for a car ride, and when she got sick, she throws them up.  If any doubt, call your Veterinarian, don't google it.

Well, with 12 dogs and a missing glove.  Who do we take to the Vet was going through my mind.  Can’t take all of them in, I would have to sell the house.  Got it I thought as I was holding my one glove.  I threw it on the ground and surely the one glove steeler would want more.  Bingo… Oden grabbed it up and started to carry it down the drive.  Maybe he will go where the other one is?  No luck, he started chewing on it until JoJo grabbed it and also started knawing.  Well, fiddlesticks (not the real word) I said.  I called the Vet who was closing in an hour, and it’s 45 minutes away, and here I go again.  Know my voice, the receptionist said: “afternoon Ken, what have they gotten into this time, we’ll be waiting for you.”

Oden and JoJo take a trip...
I took the one single glove with me just to show them, and after seeing it, the Dr said: “that’s a pretty big glove, and I don’t think it will show up on an x-ray, are you sure they ate it and how many dogs do you have?”  Can this get any worse I thought?  After the first dog was x-rayed, which I knew in my mind ate it came back clear I again said “fiddlesticks.”  Might as well do the other, I’m here.  After a few minutes, I got the news… “We got it, boy it’s big,” and we all were happy until the Vet said, “hopefully we can get him to throw up, if not, we’ll have to do surgery." and knowing some of my past pups had this surgery, I was concerned even though it was successful.  

Stock photo, not one of our dogs.
 Well fiddlesticks, I said.  Taking Oden back to the back work area, he was injected with a medication to make him regurgitate, and it worked in just minutes.  It’s pretty powerful, and he started eliminating from both ends.  On the third hurl, it came up.  Oh, what fun for Oden, he got to puke and poop at the same time and I got to give away $494.79.  I thought I was the only one with this plague but when I ask a question on Facebook to my friends and their dogs, this is a small glimpse of what I found, I guess I was lucky it was only a glove…  Ken

Various kinds of poop including their own

Candles                  Stick Butter & wrapper   Nativity Character
Socks                     A Stapler                         Wooden shoes from Holland
Silk panties            Mudflaps                         Racoon Paw
Sheep placenta      Cardboard                       Lasagna and broken glass
Fireworks              Hog Head                        Gallon of cooking oil
Light bulbs            Rotton Monkey               Q-tips
A Badger               Birth control pack           A Couch
Camera                  Pager                               Remote control
Used condoms       Drywall                           Windowsills
and many more...