Erlichicia: AIDS of the Canine World

This link came through to me from Mindy on our spaniel-genes list. My dogs have been getting a 4DX yearly (Buzz actually had two last year) for at least a couple years now, since I found out about it.

Very scary!

(submitted by a reader)

Our beloved golden retriever Millie suddenly and unexpectedly died due to the tick-borne infection ehrlichia. Known as the "AIDS of the Canine World," Ehrlichia attacks the dog's immune system for years before it presents itself in the chronic stage when the onset of symptoms is very sudden and severe. If diagnosed, the dog can be treated with antibiotics and fully recover. The country should be informed about this deadly disease so that pet owners can have their dogs tested and so that veterinarians will recognize the symptoms. Ehrlichiosis afflicts humans, horses, cats, and other animals as well.

Ehrlichiosis presents subtle symptoms that can go unnoticed or can easily be attributed to another disease or to aging. Millie's case history is included because other animals may present a similar course of symptoms. Intermittent excessive drinking and mild reactions to annual vaccinations (24 hour mild lethargy and possible fever) were the only symptoms that afflicted Millie prior to a few weeks ago. The cause of her excessive drinking was undiagnosed after systemic disease tests were negative, but we now know that this subtle sign was an early symptom of ehrlichiosis. Two weeks before Millie's death, she presented with a loss of appetite, a high fever (ranging from 104.5 to 106 degrees), photophobia, red and glassy, reflective eyes. She went through a battery of tests and x-rays that revealed that she had Lyme Disease (despite the Lyme vaccination), an enlarged spleen, slightly alkaline urine, a low urine specific gravity, and a low platelet count. Her mysterious symptoms were attributed to Lyme Disease, and though she was treated with amoxicillin, this medication does not affect the ehrlichiosis bacteria. Ehrlichia can only be treated by doxycycline or other tetracycline antibiotics, which are common medications that also treat Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses. The amoxicillin helped her immune system control the ehrlichiosis, lowering her temperature to the normal 101.5 +/- 1 degree, and her other symptoms disappeared as well. Several days later, however, the onset of her final, sudden symptoms of high fever and other internal havoc caused her sudden death within a few hours.

Ehrlichiosis may cause any (or none) of the following symptoms: weakness; lethargy; cough; fatigue; pneumonia; intermittent fever; arthritis; muscle wasting; slightly increased urine alkalinity; mild reactions to vaccinations; low red blood cell, low white blood cell, and/or low platelet count; discharge from nose or eyes; reflective, glassy eye appearance; retinal hemorrhages; red eyes; depression; loss of appetite; increased thirst and urination; head tremors; disorientation; seizures; neck or back pain; bleeding; anemia; bleeding into the skin; rash; nose bleeds; spontaneous bleeding; abdominal tenderness; swelling of the legs; swollen lymph nodes; enlarged liver; enlarged spleen.

Even if your dog does not have any of these symptoms, please have your dog tested for this deadly disease. The acute stage causes very mild symptoms that are often undetected and can last for one to three weeks. The subclinical stage, which does not cause any symptoms, can last up to five years. Symptoms often wax and wane in the final chronic stage. Please share this information with family and friends in all states, as ehrlichia is prevalent throughout the country. The importance of early testing cannot be stressed enough; dogs do not act like they are in the terminal stage of the disease until their final hour.

Millie will become immortalized in the memories and hearts of those whom she touched, and she will continue to bless those whom this new knowledge will save. We dedicate this article in loving memory to Millie Staple; if her story saves lives, her death will not have been in vain.


Official Business!

Buzz's ARCH is official now! 81 L1B points, 55 L2B points, 5 QQs!

I like being able to *breathe* after things like that are officially recorded (and it's especially nice since I was trial secretary...).


I have an additction...

to offa.org

I'm ready to admit that I browse the OFA site at least three times a week. Looking and looking at dogs that have no relatives tested, dogs that have billions of relatives tested, and then I go look for a website belonging to that dog. I am addicted. I need to work for the OFA, really, I do.

Does anyone else have a weird dog addiction (ok, other than HAVING a dog addiction I mean)?!

Rasza had a dental

When he went in for a FeLV/FIV/HWT test in November, it was pointed out to me how bad his teeth are. Eugh.

Today he had a dental done, and we encountered a BAD tooth! Dr. N wanted to remove four teeth from his mouth. Three canines (both lower, one upper) and a pre-molar. She started working on the lower right canine and it did NOT want to budge. She couldn't keep prying, due to his jaw, so Dr. E tried and it still took them over half an hour to get that tooth out. It NEEDED to come out, but it didn't want to!

In the end, they extracted both bottom canines today and he'll have to go in again. His teeth are clean and sparkly tonight, and he ate well, so I think he'll be fine. He has a hole in his lip though, that I noticed a while back, that was apparently where his rotted tooth (the other one) was draining through! I felt horrendous he'd gone through that, but I had no idea! It was weird to see them flush the hole with chlorhexidine and have it go through!

He's still a bit wobbly, but doing well. I doubt I'll get him in the cat crate anytime soon though. We'll have to work on that!


A Messy Brain (and stress)

I've meant to blog a lot lately, about important things, I assure you, but I just haven't. My brain is messy lately. Thoughts are forming, but not well!

Tonight was a big thinking night and I'm exhausted. I need to update on ARFF, Buzz's acupuncture and massage, Bailey's stress issues, and I need to look into things such as a better fitting muzzle for Bailey, renting ring space, or attending open ring time at buildings where we can just hang out, checking with the vet about a potential skin yeast infection for Buzz... and about a million other things, Oh, and CAMP STUFF!

Eeep! I need to sleep, but I need to process a lot of stuff too. Not gonna happen tonight, that's for sure. How do people survive? I'm trying this real-world thing, and I agree with what a friend said--I think it's all a hoax! No sane person lives in the real world, at least not all the time!

Good news, the dogs are tired and after eating dinner, went to sleep! I'm following



Birthday Photos

He got a case of Crazy Cat tonight, so I grabbed my camera and had some fun! He has demon eyes, but they're fitting.
(If you're wondering, yes, he did, jump up onto that tiny ledge, and do a swimmers turn off of it.)

This is Rascal's jungle gym.

Rascal is THIRTEEN!

Nearly 13 years ago my mom brought home this black and white terror. Our first house cat Mittens had died a couple weeks prior and this little kitten was supposed to make me feel better. How could he not?

I'll have to see if I have any kitten pictures of him on the computer, but I don't think I do.

Here are some recent ones though.

This means that Rasza turns thirteen VERY soon. I really, really, can't believe how old they are!



At the insistence of a couple friends, last year, I've been letting whiskers grow on both dogs. I've always taken whiskers off, it's what you do!

I have to say, they're growing on me. I'm beginning to find them super cute. Who knew?!

I'll have to dig out some non-whisker photos soon. It's kinda neat to see how it changes the face and expression.



Here it is Laura. The epiphany-like post. I think...


[i-pif-uh-nee] Show IPA
–noun, plural -nies.
a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

Kristen and I talked camp on my way home today (my round-about way home that took about four hours), 4-H Teen Dog Experience Camp. I blatantly asked her the "ultimate goal" for camp, as it is a time consuming event, there is no left over money to pay us, but yet it continues to be popular, and we stick with it. I "knew" Kristen when she, Karin, and Abigail became the founders and directors, but I did not travel from MN to Ohio to help the first year, I didn't even help the second year, but I made that long trek the third year. I was so pleasantly surprised at how well camp went, that I'll always make time for it. We're even going to bring it to WI and hopefully MN in the very near future.

Tonight we decided to write standards for our staff and the campers. My education background comes into play here, but man oh man do I see why "these people" make the BIG BUCKS! This is so crazily comprehensive. The MN State Standards for Effective Practice are dense, well written, and vague enough to provide room for educators to prove in a multitude of ways. The College of St. Scholastica's Dispositions and Program Outcomes have obviously been revised and refined multiple times. I ended up writing an email to the Head of the Department, asking about copyright laws. They're seriously well written, and we have serious envy!

We're taking a break from standard, outcome, and disposition writing until I hear back from the Head of the Education Department from my college. I'm sure he'll be helpful, so why waste our time, when it's likely we'll either A)have to write our own completely, or B)be able to use the college's as a great base? Now we've moved on to creating a survey to show attainment of knowledge. The survey will be used at the beginning of camp, and again at the end, with answers compared. We need data to prove the program is beneficial, so that's our goal. Develop and implement ways to prove attainment of the standards for staff and students.

I asked Kristen what she wanted to come of this, being a co-director and all and I was surprised at her low expectations! She just wants "good training" to be prevalent in 4-H. She is so driven and goal oriented that it makes her goal seem hardly worth all of this. Until I really looked at it. I really feel that this could become a huge thing. We are working very hard to be professional, and that's exactly what we need. She's our driven, professional oriented person, most of the time I just add in what I can and she accomplishes the majority of it. Dedication!

I reflected on my 4-H experience, and I completely agree with her goal. Good training needs to be taught, to everyone involved.

Striving for excellence is always a good thing. I almost feel honored to be a part of this. It's more intense than I ever imagined, but the impact it will make, and has already made, is just wonderful. Everything is worth it. Camp and the campers are great. I think this should end with "Obedience is spiffy" or it just wouldn't be right.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt that it's held at Bud Houston's Country Dream. I want to live there!

Collars and ARFF

I have way too many collars. Well, other people say that, I don't think that. I almost bought a harness from Clean Run, and two new collars for the dogs, but I didn't. Rasza has an upcoming dental, I have bills to pay, and that $40 can go in my savings instead. I hate being responsible. Really hate it sometimes! Anyway, it prompted a question. Do you have certain collars for certain things? Do you only have one collar for your dog? I tend to rotate collars a lot, since my dogs don't wear them on a daily basis. Today I switched tags from their "going out" martingales to Buzz's Ella's Lead leather collar, and Bailey's Big Dogs princess collar. Weird! I mean, not that they wear collars anyways, except when we go out, but I haven't put their rabies tags and HomeAgain tags on anything except a martingale for... years!

Today is my first time teaching at ARFF, Agility Run For Fun! I'll definitely post an update on that when I get home. I'm intrigued, and excited!

Oh So Annoyed

I have to work on the 20th of February now. We had an employee quit, and I'm the only other one since the other employee is going out of town. I had to reschedule the dogs' CERF appointment scheduled for December, and now he doesn't have any dates in March available that work for me either. No CERFs scheduled...

I am so annoyed. I don't know of any upcoming CERF clinics at shows either, because they never seem to be posted on the website soon enough for me to plan on it.

Ugh. Stupid work. Why do we have to have jobs?!


A Testament To Acupuncture

I waited a couple of days for my vet to receive this letter, before I posted it elsewhere. I really can't say enough good things about acupuncture, and I can't thank my vet enough for offering it. If I had to drive into the city for Buzz to have it, I doubt we'd have been able to do it. He was able to run in the MMBC NADAC New Years Trial because of acupuncture, he is running in the ACTS NADAC trial because of acupuncture. He gets to be a dog again because of it.
By August 2009, Buzz was not Buzz anymore. He was in pain, he did not want to be active, and he could barely trot. Cantering was out of the question. He seemed to improve slightly on NSAIDs, and I thought his pain was managed. I entered him in an agility trial in September, where I discovered the NSAIDS were, in fact, ineffective. I saw just how bad he felt, and pulled him for the rest of the weekend. His quality of life was suffering. Over the next month we tried other pain medications, and he got progressively worse. His rear leg muscles were becoming so atrophied that he could barely stand up without shaking. Walking was all the exercise he got.

After another consultation, and a negative 4DX (hoping against all hope it would be an “easy fix”), we decided to pursue acupuncture. I have to say I was very skeptical. Chiropractic hadn’t worked for him, as he wasn’t holding his adjustments. Massage only worked for a short period of time. I was out of other options though, and couldn’t just stand by and watch him suffer.

Below are excerpts from notes I have written, documenting his progress.

October 15, 2009

We are going on day five of Buzz feeling really good. He had his first acupuncture treatment a week ago Tuesday and his second was this Wednesday.

Monday he willingly stood up on his rear legs and tried to steal food. I was not mad at all, quite happy in fact. The spondylosis has affected his whole rear end. He lost a lot of muscle mass and he couldn't really extend his rear legs. Standing up on his hind legs definitely extended his rear legs.

After his appointment on Wednesday, we went for a short hike in the park… At the park he seemed to be stretching out his legs and back a lot. His relaxed stance was a stack, a stretched out stack.

He didn't just end up in it; it was relaxing and felt good!

November 11, 2009

He ran, for more than a couple of steps, for the first time in over three months!

November 25, 2009

Buzz and I walked four miles last night. Mostly trotting for him, at varying paces, we walked about 1/4 of it, and threw in some cantering for good measure. He's still not moving at a canter for long periods of time, but it is improvement!

No real signs of soreness, stiffness, or pain today!

February 4, 2010

We showed off that he can now sit up on his haunches and can almost transition to standing up on just his feet. It is very obvious that he has little to no pain, and a lot of muscle now! I mentioned that I think he has pain in his front end too. It was likely there the whole time, but I didn’t notice, because his rear end was so obvious. Buzz received acupuncture with electricity on his front end.

February 6 & 7, 2010

We attended a two day Rally-Obedience trial. He was entered in four runs each day, and I was prepared to scratch him if necessary. He showed his heart out for me, and achieved a milestone I never thought was possible after watching him deteriorate so much. Buzz earned his last four Double Qualifying rounds, with scores above 190, to earn his APDT Rally Champion, ARCH. He worked beautifully all weekend for me. This never would have been possible if not for acupuncture. I really don’t want to think about where we would be today without it, and thankfully, I don’t have to.

Together we’ve now overcome two major issues in the last two years. We didn’t let his deafness stop us, and spondylosis didn’t stop us either. He’s not ready to retire completely yet, so we’ll continue to play the games he loves, at a slightly slower, semi-retirement, pace.

Winter Romping

A much needed romp today.

Photo credits go to Kevin. I was dog wrangling and watching today. Lovely place, but bordered by the river on both sides, so I was being extra careful doggies didn't end up on the ice!


APDT Saturday Videos

All videos thanks to Laura!

The recall exercise after the cones was very stressful for me. I had to think hard about the rules. Really hard. I disconnected from him, and he still stuck with me. I need to take lessons from him! Front issues... still/again, I'm almost embarrassed to post this video, but it has some really great parts.

Buzz's URO1 Video

He had trouble with pivots, and me cueing heel. Recurring issues. Training and health issues.

He tries so hard though, and loves to show in rally.



Yes, WE DID IT! If I can remember details, I'll post them later. Right now, ARCH Buzz!


A Most Excellent Day!

We really had an awesome day. Really! We did well, friends did well, it was just great!

Bailey started the morning off nicely. She was just on, beautiful, and happy during her obedience run. She walked into the building confidently and never lost that confidence. Whatever has bothered her in the past, did not bother her today (or it's that magical fluoxetine doing something). She really, really did more than hold it together. We worked as a team. 194 and Second place in Novice B. Really REALLY nice front on her recall over the bar jump. REALLY nice! Her heeling was a little wide on right turns, but I was so happy with her. Once I got her onto her hip (I need to put that on cue), she stayed. Not relaxed, but intent on me, but she stayed for her honor. Same thing again tomorrow!

Buzz, Buzz, Buzz! Not our most excellent scores, but really, truly, they were handler points. I did redos on things I shouldn't have.

Trial 1
L1B-197, no placement

Trial 2

His left turns and pivots were mostly really nice. All of his fasts, except the first, were spot on, he maintained until I slowed. Laura got video of THREE runs for us. We love Laura!

I'm doing trial secretary duties then SLEEPING. We're all exhausted!

Friends did REALLY nicely today too... but like Dawn we're not spilling anyone else's beans.
(*cough Laura cough*)


Acupuncture is Wonderful!

I told Dr. E and his staff that I would write a testimonial about Buzz receiving acupuncture. Last night marked a huge event in Buzz's recovery. He was able to "beg" for me. Yes, his legs shook, they're still not superbly muscled, but he did it, and maintained it. He could NOT have done that a couple months ago. His back would have hurt way too much, he didn't have enough muscle, and he was in too much pain overall. Dr. E was impressed, and pleased. My good boy was able to hold it for about 5-7 seconds too, all on his own. We're working up to longer amounts of time, but I'm so happy!

I expressed concern on Tuesday about Buzz's front end. He's been slowing down a bit again, and as I took note of his activity, it became apparent that he wasn't putting full weight on his front end if he could help it. Going down stairs was a "go fast" approach, seemingly to just get it over with. Getting up was increasingly more difficult, because he tried to propel himself from his rear. That's not the easiest task if he's on his side, or a hip. I said I didn't know if it was his carpals (likely, because that's a point he licks after exercise, I've been trying to ice it to see if that makes a difference... so far, no conclusive data) or his shoulders, or another body part up there. Dr. E felt some heat in his left elbow, which was kind of concerning, as his elbows looked great on x-rays in May. The one downside of sending those into OFA is that we can't look at them now. There's a hip xray and a back xray at the vet, but no elbows. I think Dr. E needs a digital xray machine!

One of these days I'll ask for a copy of his acupuncture points, but instead of putting 7 needles across his back, there were only 5 . Instead of 1 needle on each front leg, there were 4. He still put 1 in each rear leg. Last night was also the first time we tried it laying down.

The most effective approach is to feed him while the needles are being put in. This greatly reduces his stress, and makes him jerk away far less. Last time there was no jerking, tonight there was just one, when he put the first into his carpal. Laying down also seemed to relax him more. I feed for about the first four minutes, and by then he seems to relax enough to just wait and be pet for the last four. He's hooked up to electricity for a total of eight minutes. Last night 4 points on his back and 2 points on each front leg were hooked up. I was surprised at how well he did relax. He's always a little edgy after Dr. E turns up the electricity, but it usually fades pretty quickly after we get settled.

I hate trying to be objective in my observations, but I REALLY think that last night's treatment helped him. Can it work that well, or that fast? I don't know! He took the stairs at a NORMAL dog pace today, all three times. He was controlled in his descent.

I do have Vetprofen (generic Rimadyl) for both dogs this weekend. I rotate between Traumeel, Zeel, and a prescription drug depending on activity. My vet and I have discussed this in depth, and we both feel comfortable giving this for trial days. They're old(er) dogs, and it is not on a continual, day-to-day basis, so it is pretty safe. Neither has ever shown a negative side effect to it.

Wish us luck this weekend! Buzz has four runs each day, more than he's had in a while. I need to remember that while secretary duties ARE important, I need to focus on MY DOG when we're warming up and in the ring. I don't usually have an issue with that, but I've never been a trial secretary before. My dog(s) and I are a team, we need to ensure that it's evident.

Obedience and Rally weekend, here we come!

When I do write my testimonial for Dr. E, I'll likely post it here for feedback, so look for it, hopefully soon. I need to collect dates and be more scientific than I am on here though!


But wait!

I am passionate about things. LOTS of things actually.

I could write volumes about Buzz's acupuncture tonight, and our walk afterwards (and I just might...). I'm incredibly passionate about breeding, and breeding dogs. This point brings me to a portion of our walk, after acupuncture tonight.

The dogs and I were on the sidewalk, crossing a gas station driveway. A guy pulls into the lot and yells, "HEY, are those springers?!"

Me: "yeah..."
Weird Guy: "Either one of them a girl..."
Me: "yeah..." (do you see where this is going?)
WG: "Are you interested in breeding?"
Me: (I would like to say yes, I am absolutely intrigued and fascinated by the concept of breeding... but I'm guessing you have a springer boy you want to make money off of) "nope, sorry!"

If it had been more than a guy in a car, I would have elaborated. I figured it just wasn't gonna happen tonight. The thought. Bailey being bred... *snort* yeah, uh-huh, the world needs more of her! NOT!

That brings me to my other point. Breeding. Passionate doesn't really begin to describe it. The best, of the best, should be bred. The healthiest dog should be bred. Pedigree HAS to be considered. Yes, I've said that if I could collect Buzz now, I would. Could I really, in my right mind, use him. No. The answer always ends up as no. He has allergies. I could NOT put that on someone else. Yes, that's one component, but it's a pretty big one that can/does affect quality of life. Do I think the majority of dogs should be bred. Absolutely not! It is NOT something to be taken lightly, as is said often. I also think it's silly to alter a puppy based on puppy evaluations. Let the dog grow up, see how he/she matures, then decide. That's why I really dislike the emphasis placed on conformation puppy evaluations. Do I think they're important. Yes! Do I think they should be *everything*? Of course not!

Purpose. Function. Structure. Temperament. Health.

I think we get way too caught up in "but, I love this dog" and yes, even the "responsible breeders" do that! Evaluate the dog objectively. If you can't, then find someone else to help you (no, NOT the dog's breeder unless you KNOW he/she will be objective... and I find that really hard to believe).

Eugh. Breeding is not for the faint of heart, and it shouldn't be for the ignorant either.

Oh, there's a ton more bubbling in my brain right now. I've taken the edge off though for now. We'll see if I can write a thoughtful post with the rest of it. Ha!


I have envy. People who write out long, thoughtful blog posts. Real ones. Not silly stuff.

I enjoy reading that, but can I do it? Naw. I write things like "YAY, my dog can SIT today" because well, that's important today.

Or... "My cat is yowling at me, he wants dinner." Does that impact the world. Nope. Does it amuse me, I suppose. Seriously, how do people have time to contemplate all these things and then write it out? I mean, yeah, I think about that stuff... but when I sit at the computer it's not something I think about doing.

Jealous. Envious. Maybe I'll write out a big long epiphany-like blog post tomorrow.

Yeah, probably not. Until I figure that out... keep me entertained!

TAGteach in MN?

Does anyone know who is hosting this? I'm waiting (impatiently) for more information!



I've been GOOD!

We trained tonight. Already!

Bailey worked walking/trotting fronts first. I walked backwards and c/t for being in front position. Placement of reinforcer was something I hadn't been considering as much as I could have been. We did 1/4 a cup of kibbles fronting. Then she got put away and I took Buzz out for some APDT work. He did leave dog, run, call dog to front work. I bet we'll see it this weekend, with it a level two sign and him being entered in level 2 four times. It's been really hard since he's deaf because it has more components to it.

When I took Bailey out we worked pivots on the hat box. She's REALLY enjoying this activity. We've been ending it with pivots on the flat. She's so silly and fun. Why didn't I teach this before?

More updates while I'm printing stuff for this weekend. Off to buy colored paper to do it!

General Appearance, Buzz

General Appearance
    The English Springer Spaniel is a well-proportioned and balanced dog that is never overly exaggerated. This medium-sized dog has a compact body and the tail is usually docked. He is the tallest and raciest of the British land spaniels. He looks the part of a useful hunting dog, capable of great endurance, and at the same time is stylish and beautiful. The approximate size is about 20 inches at the shoulders and weight is about 50 pounds.

Buzz is 20.5" tall at the withers and 53 pounds. That part fits. His tail is docked (sadly) and he is both stylish and beautiful (ok, so that one is open to interpretation...).

He fits the general appearance!


Training Today

The goal for today was pivots. Bailey is doing a REALLY nice job. I brought out the hat box, and she's just working beautifully. I'm still getting times where she suddenly shuts off. Today I was very. good. and put her in her crate for a break. I worked Buzz for a while and when I brought her back out she was just fine. No idea what happens, but this worked today.

She's sticking close, scooting her rear, and just being a really good dog with all this turning work.

Buzz is getting a TON better. He still doesn't stay very tight to me, but he IS moving (unlike when we did UKC rally). I'm working on the hat box with him still and taking very small steps so his little steps bring him up to position. He thinks the hat box is fun to stand on.

One issue I'm having with Bailey is front. Still. I thought the position was clear, but I've learned especially tonight that it is not. I'm not sure what to do to help her. She defaults to heel position if she's unsure.

Ideas on helping her with front? She gets the general area, and sometimes they're brilliantly straight and sometimes they're NOT good. I heavily reward the straight ones and try not to let her complete the ones that look crooked. Hmph.