Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lyme Disease Update

I was thinking of titling this post "Lyme disease update and we fired our vet" but I decided they needed to be two different posts because i have a LOT to say about our breakup with our old vet.  Expect that post soon.

For now I will update you on the lyme disease.  You may wonder why it has taken this long for an update, but really we had no idea what was going on for a while.  Bottom line- Copley is on the mend.  He had Lyme and possibly an unknown co-infection with some other sort of tick borne disease.  Co infections are common with TBDs and since we didn't know what to test for in the beginning we may never know exactly what Copley was/is dealing with. 

As you may have read in my last Lyme post we ran a test that came back with a mild (or perhaps moderate) positive for Lyme antibodies.  Depending on what vet you talk to this positive was either low or moderate and either was caused by or could not possibly have been caused by the lyme vaccine.  As you can see confusion about TBDs seems to run rampant through the veterinary community and that may be particularly true when you live in a place without ticks.  We ran a second test that came back also low and/or inconclusive.  We also ran a CBC that clearly showed Copley was fighting some sort of chronic or low level infection.  With this information, or at least some of it, we decided to treat with antibiotics.  At this point I must say our vet was not entirely convinced Copley had a tick borne disease (oh how I will elaborate on that in the vet post), but I managed to convince them to give me the antibiotics.  The antibiotics really gave me a bit of hope for our sad little guy.  For the first two weeks he really improved a lot.  It was like there was a new Copley in there!  After a while the antibiotics started to get him down (as a high does for 28 days would) and he seemed worn out.  Between the doxycycline working, his migrating joint pain, the Lyme titer and his bloodwork showing the immune response to a infection we are now moving forward with an official diagnosis from the new vet of Lyme.  I am happy to say that now a month or so past them we seem to have a happy dog on our hands!

Now the question is where do we go from here?  Well for starters I am enjoying the happy new Copley we have going on.  Don't get me wrong- he is still possibly the most lazy dog on the face of the earth, but when he wants to he is a lot happier to be up and playing.  If it wasn't summer I am sure he would enjoy getting out and hiking again too!  The second thing we are doing is getting him on the mend with a holistic vet.  The vet we chose is open to using all methods to best treat a dog so from now forward we will be using the best both western medicine and herbal/holistic medicine has to offer.  He is on a variety of supplements and herbal supports to help his immune system mend from the assault that was this tick borne disease.  In October he will have another full round of blood tests so we can see where he is at.  Hopefully his titer for the Lyme will have decreased and his blood-work will be a little more normal.  If he starts looking worse again we will test sooner but hopefully everything is on the mend here.

The mystery of where he got the Lyme is still unsolved- but for now we will just be happy we figured out what he had!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Agility Class!!

Kerrigan has completed her intro agility class!!!!!  Finally at the last class I had Ben there to take some pictures and video to share with you all.  Kerri is doing so good at agility I really could not be happier.  In her height class I really think she is going to do well.  She has a long way to go still but you will see she is off to a good start.  Most importantly she LOVES it.

Here is a video of her run at class.  This was the first time she ever sequenced more than 3 obstacles at once and the first time she sequenced the chute at all.  As you can see she still needs a little work on some things (and my spouse needs some work on his camera skills) but overall I am so proud!  I couldn't have asked for anything better for her first time running a course.

I particularly love the point at 1:20 where she jumps in the air with glee before the dog walk.  I also love the end of the video because everyone is just so amazed by how into it she is.  I hope moving forward she can bring a little bit of respect to the Chihuahua breed with her mad agility skillz.

For those hardcore blog readers out there here is some video of her second run!

Next up is intermediate agility for us!!  We can't wait! 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Scared to go outside?

That is people, not dogs.

Since getting a "Toy" sized dog and meeting other people with small dogs I have been AMAZED by how many of them never leave their house.  Further I have been amazed by how many people don't go out with their small dogs because they fear for their safety.  Just today I was talking to a woman who never walks her small dog because she is worried about off leash dogs attacking it.  WHAT?  I even read something written online about a dog that didn't even go outside to pee on a leash because their owners were worried about birds of prey.  You read that right- the owners are worried a bird of pray is going to swoop down 3 feet from them and scoop their dog up while it is on the other end of a leash.  That dog NEVER leaves the house.  It uses pee pads inside and never, ever goes out to feel the sunshine on it's back and the grass between it's feet.  How sad for that dog.

Seriously- dogs need to go outside.  And guess what?  The outside is a scary place.  We can take precautions to make things safer for our dogs but in the end no matter what the size of our dog they really would appreciate leaving their home property.  I would even venture to say it is nessicary for their mental well being.*  I know people who are just HORRIFIED that I take my dogs hiking where there might be rattlesnakes or scorpions.  Others who think it is dangerous that I even go to agility class with a dog so small.

The biggest danger we have is probably going to the park down the street every day.  It is full of dogs- many illegally off leash with irresponsible owners.  So what do I do?  I carry mace and if a big dog comes up to us looking angry I pick up my dog and go for the mace.  In over 2 years of walking at that particular park I have never had to actually use that mace.  I am not saying there are no dog attacks.  I know several people who have been involved in them and saw two dogs go at each other once- but is the risk worth never going outside?  I don't think so.

We have to make decisions about what is best for our dogs.  And sometimes that means taking a little risk so that they can live happier, more fulfilling lives.  Someone from back east once asked me why I was willing to take my dogs out hiking with all the rattlesnakes, black widow spiders and mountain lions we have out here.  My response to that was to as her- "have you ever heard of coyotes, or black bears or brown recluse spiders?  How about Lyme disease?  Do you never go outside when there is the risk your dog could get bit by a tick?"  I should have added that as far as bugs are concerned you should probably never go outside yourself.  Brown recluse spiders are really bad, and so is Lyme disease.

 Here are some pictures of us enjoying the rattle snake filled- spider infested danger zone that is the Nevada outdoors.  The poor boy scout troop that walked by- I wonder how many of them got eaten by mountain loins while they were out there.

 If people still think I am crazy I want to ask you this.  How many dogs get put down every day because their owners never socialize them and they become aggressive?  How many are sent to the shelter to be euthanized because they are never given proper exercise or mental stimulation and they become destructive?  I bet in Nevada way more chihuahuas are killed for lack of proper socialization and mental stimulation than are killed by rattlesnakes, spiders and  dog attacks combined.  

My message is this- even smaller dogs (and perhaps because of their personality I should say particularly smaller dogs) need to get out.  They need to socialize and walk and smell different smells.  Walking out the front door is a scary thing- but how sad is a life never leaving the house?

*I already can see the angry comments from the people who own 40 acres in the middle of nowhere whose dogs rarely leave their property.  I am not talking to you.  I am talking to the 90% of people who live on live on less than 1/2 acre in a urban/suburban setting.