Doggy Blog

Degenerative Myelopathy: Wicked and Deadly Disease

Degenerative Myelopathy, such a weird and scary term for a name of a disease.  In layman terms, it is a sickening and wicked disabling disease.  A disease that eventually crushes down the health of a dog.  It is said that it is compared to the Lou Gehrig or ALS disease in humans.

In short, Degenerative Myelopathy is a disease that there is no cure.  It starts as a deterioration of the middle core of the spinal column.  As this happens, the dog will start to lose sensation and motor skill of the hind legs.  It happens to specific breeds and the German Shepherd is one of them.  This disease can occur when the dog is approximately 9 years old and up.  More specific information is available on the internet.

At first, I did not know much about Degenerative Myelopathy until symptoms, as described earlier, were observed on our dog, Duke.  The first problem Duke experienced was slight wobbling of his hind legs and then after a period of time, dragging of his hind legs.  His walk was slower and one could hear the slight dragging of his nails as they rubbed against the ground.

As the disease progressed further, there was a loss of further sensation and he could no longer wag his tail. Duke needed more time in getting up and in the latter stage he could not get up on his own.  Assistance was given by using a harness to bring him out regularly so that he could relieve himself even though some mistakes were made in the house.

Gentle care was given and a decision was made to take care of Duke at home.  A dog wheelchair was purchased for him so that he could keep mobile by utilizing his two front legs.  At first it was difficult for him to get used to the balance and mobility of the wheelchair. With motivation and praise, just as in dog training, he became more successful. It gave him a chance to roam around giving him some freedom as his hind legs no longer had the strength to support his back legs.

As time progressed, Duke refused to eat or drink as this is what happens in the later stages of this disease. At this point, we noticed that the strength in his legs weakened further to the point he was not able to stand up.  With further research, it stated that the disease is painless and that the dog does not suffer.

We provided hospice care at home and by hand we fed Duke apple slices since this was only thing he wanted to nibble.  We also made sure his mouth was kept moist by using a water dropper.  Changing Duke’s diaper was a regular routine.  Also, we flipped him on different sides as he rested so as to minimize any bedsores.

It is true that dogs do keep a schedule, whether it’s meal time, training, play time, bed time or other routines.   Duke waited for my return from work to take his final breath.

The latest on a cure for the Degenerative Myelopathy is that breeders are trying to breed out the gene that affects this disease.  However, this will take some time and we only hope that a medicine will be available to help these poor dogs afflicted by this deadly disease.

This story is in honor of our Duke, and in no way is advocating what decision to take when a dog is in the grave stages of illness.  Our decision in care was carried through by knowing through Duke’s eyes that he wanted to remain with us as long as it took until the end.

Under The Apple Tree

It is with great sadness that our dear companion, Duke, has passed away peacefully today.

 

Under The Apple Tree

By: Tony Giotto

 

Under the apple tree sits a dog called Captain Radar Duke or just “Duke”,

That was his name and it was no fluke.

 

Duke liked working, playing, watching, eating apples and napping on a comfy mat,

He was a true friend and kept on guard when he stood or even as he sat.

 

As Duke slowed down on his swiftness and run,

He never gave up as he reached for the sun.

 

Leaving us now as Duke runs freely onto his next journey,

Duke will always be remembered as a true dear companion for you and me.

Why is raw meat feeding not good for dogs?

Here’s a great article by Stephanie L. Prewitt, Canine Behaviorist, Master Dog Trainer and Dog Psychology Expert, on why raw meat feeding is not good for dogs.

 

 

 

With this handy tip, it is also important to add a positive and motivational daily obedience training routine.

Call A-Z Canine Training today for a phone consultation at (604) 341 6509

 

How do I “potty train” my puppy?

In our last blog, we had described several good points on crate training for your puppy.  One of the points was using a crate to prevent one’s puppy from soiling within the home.

Generally, a puppy and/or dog do not favor soiling within their sleeping quarters which would be the crate.  In the initial phase of puppy crate training, one is to expect mistakes within the crate.  However, one will notice that the soiling is done at the furthest point of the crate compared to where the puppy sleeps.  If the puppy does soil within the crate and gets dirty, it is vitally important to never scold him or her.

Training your puppy to soil elsewhere such as outside does take time, patience and consistency.  A good indicator of when a puppy has to soil is generally after a meal or when excited after play.  Depending on the age of the puppy, it can take time for bladder and bowel to develop so that it can hold it for a longer period.

One way to help guide your puppy is to fill the crate or an empty room with newspaper.  Each time your puppy soils on a newspaper page, that sheet would be removed while leaving the rest behind.  Eventually, one newspaper sheet will remain.  Afterwards, one would place a newspaper page on the ground trailing to the door and eventually to the designated area. Training the puppy with a command such as “Go Pee” or “Go Poo” would also be utilized.

If the puppy does make mistakes outside the newspaper area, it is important to not scold him or her.  Instead, just simply start again and make sure you praise the puppy each time it soils in the designated area.

With this handy tip, it is also important to add a positive and motivational daily puppy obedience training to the routine.

We would be happy to help you with more information at:   604 341-6509.

Sitting by the Fireplace by: Tony Giotto

Sitting by the Fireplace
By: Tony Giotto

Sitting by the fireplace while patting my dog, Duke,
Christmas is almost here and it’s no fluke.
As I watch the clock and hear its chime,
I look at Duke and wonder how fast this year has gone this time.
Further back as I look at Duke at a young age,
I see him now turning around as one would flip a book page.
Playing and working, that’s it,
Duke has always been loving and fit.
As Duke gets up slowly and looks up at me,
I smile, pick up my cup and sip slowly the hot tea.
It seems like Duke smiles as he lies back down and curls into a ball,
I look at the fireplace and think back how it was waiting for Santa to come down the chimney wall.

 

A-Z Canine Training would like to extend best wishes to everyone for a Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year!

I got a cute puppy but he keeps biting me and chewing my furniture. What can I do to stop it?

It can be a thrilling and exciting experience to own a puppy. One of the problems that can occur with a puppy is biting and chewing. At this stage, all is new to a puppy including their sensory and surroundings. If left unsupervised, they can run into a bit of mischief. However, with proper puppy training as early as at eight weeks, one can start to build a good foundation for the dog’s later years.

Biting is a normal problem that puppies tend to do since they are teething. Anything as soft as a hand going into a puppy’s mouth, is joy to a puppy but pain to the owner. Also, chewing such things as furniture, walls, carpet and any other inappropriate items could not only be damaging to the household but harmful for the puppy’s health.

It is always good idea to have the puppy supervised and socialized as being part of the family. One choice is to have an enclosed area where the puppy can be contained and controlled with direct supervision. The puppy should have safe toys in this area but again always being watched for any problems.

Another method to use to avoid the puppy chewing or biting is to replace it with a chew toy. For example, if the puppy chews on a leash while taking it out for a walk, with proper training, one could replace that habit by giving it a chew toy instead. This will take time, patience and consistency for the puppy to realize that the toy is fine to chew on rather than the leash. This can be applied to any other inappropriate chewing or biting that the puppy is doing. Also, having a chew toy ready is always a good idea especially when the puppy is about to bite your hand.

Providing a positive and motivational reinforcement approach to a daily puppy training obedience routine will help modify this behavior problem.

Why won’t my dog come back when called?

A typical question we get asked is: “Why is it that when I try to call Homer, he only comes back to me when he feels like it?”

The scenario could be at a dog park where Homer, distracted with other dogs, is being called repetitively by his owner: “HOMER come here, I said, HOMER, HOMER will you come here right now!” Eventually, the owner ends up chasing or playing a form of tag with Homer.

The recall command can be a tough command to learn. To get a reliable off leash direct recall, takes time and it would be easier to start with basic dog training which is on a six foot leash. Also, having a Professional Dog Trainer guiding you with the recall command would simplify the routine.

An example of helping your dog to come to you is to motivate the dog by tapping your legs. Once the dog comes to you, even though it might be an automatic reaction, never scold him. By doing this, he’ll think twice before coming back to you the next time. Instead, always give the dog lots of praise when he comes back to you. Also, always make sure to keep the dog and yourself safe by having good control over the leash.

Providing a positive and motivational reinforcement approach to a daily training obedience routine will help modify this behavior problem.

Call us today for a free phone consultation.

How can I stop my dog from counter surfing?

One of many dog behavioural problems encountered is counter surfing.  A typical scenario is we have John and Sara intently watching a TV movie. Their dog, Rover, slowly gets up and heads for the kitchen. As the movie ends, Sara notices Rover on his bedding repeatedly licking his lips and a trail of crumbs and blue goop come from the kitchen. Sara leaps up and heads for the kitchen and notices the table a disaster zone of blueberries and crust pieces coming from what was a beautifully baked pie.

One suggestion is to make sure the counters/tables are cleared of items that the dog could get into. Also, as a safety net, one would put temporary barriers (doors, folding gates, etc.) to prevent the dog from entering those areas it’s not permitted to be in. For example, if the dog is in the living room with you, then he/she should be contained in the room with you so that you can fully monitor him/her. After all, there’s always a chance that one might forget to clear items on that table and/or counter.

However, this is only part of the solution to counter surfing. One must also add a positive and motivational daily dog obedience training routine to help modify this behaviour problem.

Why does my dog pull me on the leash?

One of many behavior problems is a dog pulling or lunging on a leash. Sometimes it seems like the dog is taking the owner out for a walk instead.

Distractions such as other dogs, people or even a squirrel can make it at times quite challenging. A typical question is: why does my dog do this?

Providing a positive and motivational reinforcement approach to a daily obedience routine will help modify this behavior problem.