It has been so long since I posted… Here is something of an explanation, or perhaps excuse, as to why. http://lymeisafourletterword.com/2013/05/06/itsalwaysthedarkestbeforethesunrises/ another link here to the co-infections, three of which I’m fighting now, with at least one other chronic infection undiagnosed but symptoms like a mycoplasma. http://lymedisease.org/lyme101/coinfections/tick_chart1.html With both parents exposed to agent orange in Vietnam, and my late father coming back from his second war with Gulf War Syndrome… it’s a wonder I’m not more ill than I am, I guess.
I have imposed an unspoken restriction on this blog, by trying to keep it about dogs and not myself. This is a blog about my physical health, if you’d like to go there. http://beatinglyme.wordpress.com/
As for this blog, I don’t have a dog now, and my physical/emotional issues have overwhelmed me. So I haven’t felt like there was much for me to post about, ya know?
But there has been a silent prodding to find my voice again. The sentiment this picture relates affects me deeply, too deeply to ignore. Just the idea of another creature seeing me with absolute love…
I miss having a dog. But the idea of a puppy is more than a little intimidating! Still, I miss a big love crashed on the bed with me, or out in the garden guarding it from butterflies and squirrels!
Since my voice has dried up a bit, YOU tell me what you’d like me to write about. Sometimes it just takes a place to get started. If you’ve hung on all this time with me, (I hope most have), then you are a trusted friend imo. Suggest a place for me to re-start, if you would, and I’ll happily run with it…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on May 16, 2013
Oooo… “Twilight”, Kenai style–who needs vampires when you’ve got bats!
I apologize about the fuzzy pic–most of what I take is because of the tremors. But I decided not to just delete this one. First because of the catchy subtitle I could get from it (we do have a handful of bats that come out). Secondly, and sadly, because this is a great shot of how to recognize the sutble signs of pain in a Dane at a mere glance.
Look at the shape his rear makes: the hips are slightly tucked under, moving his hind legs forward. It makes his butt look taller than the shoulders, creates a hunch in the mid-back with a corresponding slight sway behind the shoulders, and reduces the range of motion. Now think about those yummy pics of show dogs: the hind legs stretch back, right?
You’ll see this in old Danes as their hips start to wear, or dogs with sore backs or knees. If you watch Kenai, you’ll notice he will stretch his hind legs forward laying on the couch or bed when they’re uncomfortable. He will sometimes spend extra “cleaning” time licking the knees. On really bad days, he’ll wimper and chew at the hock tendons.
Thankfully we haven’t had wimper and chew days in awhile, but I can tell when he’s not at his best. Subtle by nature or not, Kenai has his “tells”. Many of which are common to arthritic dogs. Like most things, Danes just show it on a bigger more obvious scale, so you can catch it before they need help getting up kinda thing.
An incomplete list, but some ideas
The single best supplement I’ve ever found for inflammation or arthritis is called “Flexicose”. Knuckleheads who don’t want to eat won’t eat it, though, (hint hint Kenai…). There’s a noticable improvement in the first or second dose with less severe problems. That and a pain rub called “Traumeel” can dramatically improve a dog’s comfort.
In addition, a really good bed right from puppyhood can make a big difference in how long it takes for your Dane to start losing his joint comfort. The official doggie beds are absurdly expensive, so unless you have a serious bed shredder and need the chew proof kuroda, just get yourself a crib mattress or perhaps a twin.
Matresses are much cheaper, and I’ve gotten vastly more wear out of them. Not to mention bedwetter pups or incontinent elders can have a waterproof mattress pad that just gets tossed in the washer–no zippers, no stuffing a round blob through a slit in a cover every ‘accident’, no padding gone lumpy in 6 mo. A simple sheet change, maybe a fresh fleecie and voila, all clean soft bed for buddies.
For the really pained, stiff, worn out ol’ hips, a heated matress pad on low can make getting up in the morning less of an ordeal. A horse-blanket style fleece coat can make a turn around the wintertime yard enjoyable a bit longer. Accupuncture and gentle massages help too, sometimes more than we realize.
If you’re thinking, “oh my love is just a youngster, barely 3″ or something, stop yourself right there. We only get 8-10 years on average with our extraordinary big guys. Even the 3 year olds can have joint changes without showing outward symptoms yet. Young or not, know the days of stiff and sore are coming for ‘em.
That’s why I never ever ever ever EVER recommend exercise and play that involves repetitive jumping for a Dane. I don’t care how young and spiffy they look, they can’t get away with that any more than we humans can without wrecking our knees or back. And our spine had only a vertical movement when we jump, whereas a Danes’ back will bend horizontally with every landing.
The same holds true with extended periods of running. Some folks like to go jogging with their dogs, but I don’t recommend it with a Dane. “Joggers knee” can be fixed in humans, but the knee replacements for dogs just aren’t as successful. It may be fun when they’re young and vigorous, but they will pay for it big time later.
There’s my lovely little boy bottoms. Just perfect for a pat and a rub!
By the time their new food came Friday, both boys where wracked with die-in-the-rears, vomiting, skin infections and the like…uhg.
BB has more vomiting than Kenai, as usual. Kenai’s the one with the worst die in the rears. He could melt the ground into sinkholes with what comes out of his back end poor baby.
I couldn’t decide if they had some rampaging bacteria or if the old raw food had flared their inflammatory bowel. They sure felt awful, the sweet stinks.
When it’s IBS, none of the anti-diarrhea treatments will work. Nothing. No OTC pills, not cheese or pumpkin. I mean ta tell ya when them bowels of theirs go off they seriously go off.
It was so bad Friday night (after hours naturally), I made a command decision rather than try to explain their history at the e-vet. I restarted their steroids, skin staph or not, at a slightly higher dose than they had been on. I also keep the nausea meds handy.
Is that not the face of “momma, me no feel good”? That’s my bed, btw, or at least it used to be my bed. Now it’s ours. He wants first his comfort-me, complete with footie massage, cheek rubs, and gentle smootches. Then he wants his space to nap awhile.
I call that don’t-bother-me-but-be-right-here “closenesses”–Kenai wants to be able to reach out and touch you if he decides, but he doesn’t want to be messed with so he can sleep. Once he’s asleep, there’s no sneaking off, either! Such a baby, my little love. He may be a golden grizzly, but he’s the world’s biggest momma’s boy too.
They felt so poorly I had to do something, but Lord I was sweating blood. If the trouble was infection, it’d go out of control really fast because of the steroids. We’d know definitively in a couple days, that’s for sure. I had BB’s brush with death via resistant staph a year and a half ago in the back of my head.
The weekend was tough, lots of babying and staying up all night watching them. The diarrhea and vomiting continued, though at a lessening severity and frequency. The steriod also has kept them eating and drinking, thank heavens. But gosh I wish they’d turn around faster. I know better–autoimmune flares come outta nowhere, and take a perverse amount of time to go away.
Then Kenai scared the living h-e-double-toothpicks outta me.
I had taken them outside to have some fresh air and play time, just to brighten up their day. They were playing just fine, and after about 10 minutes I took Beebs back inside. Just as I was getting him into the living room, he suddenly turned and scrambled back to the door crying. Huh?
Beebs got scolded a bit and put back in the room, and I went out to bring Kenai in. He was at the gate, holding up the left front leg, head hanging and hunkered down like a dying mule. I ran. Picked up my fat aching butt and ran to the playpen.
When I got there, I gently felt his leg and moved it some–nothing broken or dislocated, no bite marks or puncture wounds from snake bite, no sign of damage in the shoulder. After a minute or two, he limped along to the door with me. After a minute or two inside, he walked more normally to get Mom outta bed.
By the time she was up, you had to look really hard to see him favor it. He’s done this three times before with that leg, and those three times we went straight to the vet. Nada. I don’t know if he pulls a muscle, strains a tendon, pinches a nerve. All I know is how extreme the pain reaction is, and how quickly he sucks it up. Scare me to death.
Here’s something for the animal behaviorists to ponder, and perhaps they will have an explaination: BB knew the second it happened, from inside the house. There was no yelp, no crying. But little brother knew, and little brother wanted to go to him right now.
I know this is a long and probably too-detailed ramble of a post. Yeesh, I can yabber an Irishman to death sometimes! For all the sorry saga, there is a Bright spot: their skin and coat already seem to have improved a little. There hasn’t been the explosion of staph sores I worried about, nor nearly as much itching. There’s some shine, less shed…The new food?
Today is Monday, and I think I’ll stop using the promethezine for nausea in a day or two to see if the pred and new food are calming their GI tracts on their own. Oh these babies gotta stop scaring me. I’m goin grey like some wore out ol’ mare.
Seems like a downer post, talking about the pain that comes when they age, the worries when they don’t get well, the fear when they get hurt. Ya can love them, vast as the ocean, and still sometimes it makes ya question if it’s worth it. Then the answer comes: yes.
When you bring home a ball of feet and fur, you know you will loose them someday. It will tear your heart out, and yet you bring that ball of feet and fur home. You take them to the park to run and play, and you run them to the vet in tears sometimes.
The answer to if it’s worth it is in those beautiful eyes, in a soft muzzle nuzzle. They don’t ask why, they don’t say it shouldn’t hurt, and don’t believe they should live forever. They just live, they love, they do what they do and are purely what they are.
Life comes with death, love comes with sorrows, companionship comes with loss. A dog lives pure, a dog loves pure, and keeps you pure company right now. Dogs are pure, a glimpse of what life can be without all the complication and reminders of hurts we stuff into it.
They will live with the pain and love without as perfect a love returned to them. They live with it, and when it’s time to not live with it any longer, they tell you. They also tell you when it’s time to come out of your sorrows, and come back to living pure. They tell you to let go of your worries and play like tomorrow won’t come.
They’re just such pure creatures, dogs.
“Silhouettes, sent from heaven, paint a portrait of eternal things…” –David Phelps
Maybe we could learn something from the buddy napping at our sides? Even if we loose a slipper or two to puppy teeth for the privelege, it’s worth it.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on November 15, 2010
Kenai gonna get that bone! 13 months old
This pic is amazing, not only because I got it without too much blur, but as a demonstration of the sheer athleticism of a Great Dane. Kenai’s going to pounce on the bone in the lower right corner. He was in a sit stay until I tossed it, and it landed about 6 feet from him. He actually over shot the thing in his puppish excitement, and had to swing back around!
He’s had better “action” pics, but it’s been awhile since I’ve managed to take a one good enough to keep. Brown walks in the house, isn’t allowed to jump, but when he’s free to have at it, he can really astound me with his strength and grace. I will never forget the day he cleared a 4 foot by 3 foot hedge heading to the field without even breaking stride. That was back at 7 months old! Wow, he is so powerful, yet so gentle and self-controlled.
Okay, before I get too poetic about the marvelousness of dogs… There’s been some great comments left on the SD tips page about Dane SD’s, and some more good ones left on the last post. You know what I would love? To somehow connect all the owners, trainers, organizations, and breeders of Great Dane assistance dogs. Better yet, to collect and share all their experiences and wisdom for others?
Perhaps it’s delusions of granduer, and I don’t have a clue how to go about it. But wouldn’t it be cool?
Kenai’s not been a happy boy, bored while I lay around tending my sore parts. Lord I hate this kind of cold. I just couldn’t make myself go out in it for playtime yesterday, or the day before. He hasn’t even had toy times, poor buddy. I’ve actually gotten into the pain meds. Durn. He’s been pretty good about it, but I could tell his energy level was building to critical mass. Pretty soon he’d be getting in trouble for stuff.
So Friday morning we hit the kennel, -4 F or not. I was so bundled up, if I had fallen on my back, there’s no way I could’ve gotten up. Human turtle! Probably would’ve rolled downhill like a beach ball. Brown might’ve decided to play with his human turtle, too, since movement is so irresistable to his boy brain! Swwwwat! Pounce! Ha, ha, ma, got ya! That wouldn’t have felt good.
Kenai had a good time without a human turtle, though a short time. We had to go back again later in the day to deplete the remaining excess rumpus he’d stored up over 2 runless days. We took the scenic route, via the field in an oddly zig-zagging pattern to entertain the nose. He didn’t have a chance to roll around a strange new living toy, by the way. NOT!
Those sasquatch paws are like pile-drivers, so they are permanently restricted to ramming toys under the couch cushions. He does that so well that he can lose toys there for weeks. I’ve spent two months looking for his jingle ball, and where should I find it tonight? So deep in the couch frame I didn’t even hear it the two times I’ve changed the covers.
Ball games upstairs mean I spend as much time fetching as he does playing. Ya know what I need, if ever the lotto goes my way? (I’d have to buy tickets first). A room with cheap carpet and no furniture. He can bash the bejesus out of his balls all day long and never once have them “hide” on him. I won’t have to fetch ‘em, either.
Hum, cheap carpet and no furniture? Sounds like a lotto winning dog-momma would have to rent an apartment for Kenai and BB. Man cave, furry style! Dreams of wealth aren’t usually populated by renting apartments with cheap carpet, but they are for Kenai. High end doggie style has plexiglass or hard plastic on the lower half of walls, too–no one hollers at you not to scratch the paint.
Saturday morning will be an outing, with warmer temps. Pup food will be gone after breakfast, so it can’t be put off any longer. We also have to visit the smoke shop, which is his working stop. It’s been a few days, thanks be to arctic conditions, but with some pre-outing exercise Kenai should do okay for us.
Mom will be with us, which changes his demeanor some. He’s usually more watchful, wanting to keep us all together. When we seperate he does his best to keep track of where she is, and if he can’t, “finding Mom” is a happy reward. I have the feeling big man K won’t care where we go, just so we go. He’s getting house bound.
If it’s warm enough to tolerate, we might have a “tracking” stop, where he can sniff ’till his snoot is satisfied. That should happy up his puppy heart. The best place to stash a field wander in the outing order is right before a working stop: doggie endorphins are still flowing and he’s not whiney or hesitant about new sounds or unknown locations. Gives him this suberp confidence.
I am so glad a Dane made a good fit for my needs. Even having some recall and focus issues with Kenai the rugged outdoor man, I’ve gotten unbelievably lucky with him. He goes against the SD grain in many ways, but I would never in a thousand years be able to properly exercise a typical lab or golden puppy. They’d be bouncing off the walls and I’d be frustrated too.
Even for a Great Dane, Kenai is unusually low-energy. His brother isn’t, but I think I’d still be able to keep BB satisfied if he was the only one on my plate, considering how easily redirected he is. My friends’ labs…no way. Not with chronic fatigue. One of my friends has just now been able to let their lab be out of a crate at night, and she’s almost a year old. Chloe still has to be restricted to one room that’s been puppy proofed.
I’ve got another local friend who has a 3 year old golden that is only now settling down enough to really work with before exercise time. Two years is gonna be a long enough haul with Kenai. It’s not that I don’t like labs or goldens, don’t get me wrong. I’m a dog lover. I just recall trying to take care of a dog when I wasn’t really able, and it wasn’t fair to him.
I know better than to take on way way more than the defective parts can handle. I often over estimate myself, but not even I could over estimate that badly. It just goes to show how wide the variations are in the “disabled” community. It’s not as homogenous as most people think.
Even amongst people with the same disability, there are often very different problems and needs. I’ve got internet friends with exactly the same diagnoses as mine, who are more functional or less functional overall. Some would have an easier time with a dog, some wouldn’t even be able to keep up with Kenai, and he’s the easiest pup I’ve ever had in 37 years.
One of the things I hear alot from disabled friends is lamenting that “healthy” people don’t understand. Being on this side of healthy, I can certainly understand the frustration. I get just as annoyed by the you-don’t-look-sick comments or the lazy bums parking in handicapped because they’re in a hurry.
I get really ticked at jerks who are too indolent to take their shopping carts to the corral, so they leave them in the disabled parking spots. I once got so irritate that I shamed the devil out of someone. It takes alot to get a good southern girl to be rude right back! This woman, a dressed to the nines 20 something idiot on a cell phone and 3 inch heels, wouldn’t walk three parking spaces to put her cart where it should go, so she shoved it into a disabled space.
I politely said the cart space was just right there in case she hadn’t seen it, and she had the audacity to say “I’m in a hurry.” My reply was that she was lazy and self-centered, and busy gave her no right to willfully create an impediment for people who are disabled. Several onlooker’s applauded, and she red faced hurried the cart to the corral and squealed her tires leaving.
But aside from such morons, having been on the other side of disabled not too terribly long ago, I can also say I wouldn’t have really understood all the implications of disabilities back then either. Maybe we shouldn’t expect people without disabilities to understand the daily grind of “new normal”.
Offensive people are just a fact of life, but I think most people want to be helpful and kind, even if they make faux pas without knowing it. I do my best to give others the benefit of the doubt, considering how often I need to ask for the benefit of the doubt. I could have a masters degree in fauz pas, no matter how kindly my intentions!
“Living with a dog…is like living with an idealist.”
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on January 16, 2009
Kenai watching the neighborhood, 51 wks
This is one of my best Kenai pics in a long time! Not that he doesn’t provide ample opportunity for good shots; the camera seems to hide or act weird when the opportunities present themselves lately. But here he is, my shining knight and nighttime sheet stealer!
He’s not been himself this week, being on the whiney and insecure side. Our outing last week was not his best (sigh). Out of practice, and skittish of loud noises in public again, thanks to actually a couple of months “off”. I’ve got some work to do, getting him back into working shape. We’ll just have to go places more often in his vest, sort of back to square one, until he’s used to the hustle and bustle.
Kenai’s skittish reaction to the post office reminded me of his Scooby Doo at obedience class days. Oh dear. And watching the Dog Whisperer last night reminded me of how sloppy I’VE gotten about the head up, chest out, confidence approach to walking. Darn fatigue. I can walk farther slouched!
I got a couple pairs of earth shoes for Christmas, the shoes with the “negative heel” that improve your posture. Putting them on, I can really tell a difference in how I walk, thanks to soreness in unusual places. They relieve the sore knees and back, stretch the calves, and take the bite out of plantar fasciaitis. They also make my flabby abs, unused inner thighs, and the backs of my lazy hips feel the change!
Putting the shoes on and walking isn’t hard, it’s putting the shoes in the car and walking around grocery stores that’s hard. Motivation during the mid-winter, post Christmas slump is a problem. Lazy dog-mom. Hibernating sounds better, snuggled under a down blanket, soft lounging pants…hat head, 40 layers of clothes, and high winds isn’t as appealing.
We’ve had 10 straight days of 30 mph or better “breezes” now, and it’s playing heck with my balance. That’s my excuse, one of them anyway. I know, not cutting it. Kenai’s still a youngin, still growing into his job description, so lazy dog-mom only makes things harder for him. He needs the practice and exposure, and he needs me to suck it up and stand up straight.
So on with the earth shoes, and out to places we went today. We put on his tracking harness in a parking lot and I used its handle to control his movements–he took to it right away! He’s responsive to the tightening and loosening of the harness, almost instinctively. Knock on wood, I think he’ll have no problem with the SD harness.
All the while we’re walking, he’s multitasking. He has developed the ability to be aware of my body while watching what all’s around us. Stubborn boy is determined to avoid “face time”! Oh well, let him look around, just so he paces with me, right? Commands like “step” or “pull” break into his concentration and he follows them. He’s not the least disturbed by pressure on his shoulders.
Now that’s my good boy!
Today’s outing was better for us both, only going inside at the vet for his weekly weigh in. We stuck to parking lots and open spaces mostly, so I could praise and praise and work on my own relaxed and confident energy. Yeah, I have to fight the nose wanting to stick to the ground, catching myself in a slouch, and some less than quick “leave it” moments.
But I’m more positive about our future as a team. I sense a path to getting back in the swing underfoot right now, reintroducing the inside vested practice a little at a time. That’s a good feeling, compared with how discouraged I felt last week. Yep, I had unknowingly started the comparison game again; he’s so far behind where he was, other people’s SDit are doing so much better…blah blah. Silly isn’t it? Darn anxiety, too.
I’m looking forward to the day that big man K just walks himself into a place all relaxed and peaceful. I don’t like seeing him nervous about the man on the ladder, or excited by the running about of kids and critters. Even good stress is still stress, and stress isn’t good for anyone, including dogs.
When he was first evaluated, back at 10 weeks he was utterly unflappable, and my hopeful prayer is he goes back to that as he grows up. Right now, we are where we are, and that’s okay. We’re okay, me and K, we’re okay.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 29, 2008
One of the things that drives Mom nuts, and often makes me feel guilty, is the way FMS/CFIDS has of making me unreliable. I never really know when I’m making plans if I can keep them. I set my mind to set up the tree this past weekend, and didn’t get it done. It’s one of those fiberoptic trees, 7 feet all in one peice…what was I thinking?
Mom’s 70, weaker than I am, so most of the heavy tree lifting falls to me. It has to be picked up and set in the base, too, aligning the stem just so or the lighting doesn’t work. Couldn’t screw up the courage to try. We need to save for an old style tree that ya have to put the branches in the slots each year. That I could do without taking Kenai’s bone away to chew on myself!
I was hurting bad enough to scavange one of BB’s pain pills this weekend. Then I could grit my teeth enough for making meals and Kenai’s 20 minutes outside. That was it, all day. Poor buddy. I avoid pain meds like the plague, BTW. Not only do they actually increase the pain cycle when used frequently, making the pain worse, they can trigger the most horrendous migraine storms.
I spent an entire summer getting my butt stuck with Nubain every 3-4 days, not realizing that I had created the cycle. Lesson learned. I still have areas on the cheeks with reduced touch sensation from all the needle pokes. Does that mean I could freeze my oversized rump off and it wouldn’t hurt? Save on the lipo if I hit the lotto!
So magnesium, hot baths, liniment, and determination is how I manage most of the time. When I’m ready to cry, I’ll take a pain pill, not before. Let it be said though, I have a moderate affliction–there are women I know via the internet who are in wheelchairs with morphine patches because of FMS and it’s sister syndromes.
When the terrible twins (fibro and fatigue) are flaring, needed chores get put off seemingly forever, or things just don’t get done at all. Kenai has missed his run in the park Saturday yet again. I can force myself into the cold so far as the kennel out back, and resist the gnawing pain of being too cold long enough for him to get tired. That I can do. In the car and all the steps of going somewhere…oy. That’s a whole lot of effort.
The sudden appearance of sleep apnea recently has made the essential good rest to manage my problems a rare thing. I’m flaring, and badly. No way could I sleep with a CPAP machine, so it’s lose the weight fatso so you can sleep time. I really need to drop a solid 70 pounds, but the apnea came with the last 20 pounds put on.
You’d think being in a flare I’d try again to get a doctor to sign the form for a disability car tag. That became a chore long procrastinated. I’ve been turned down twice, and really wasn’t in the mood for the arguing, wrangling, c’mon for crying out loud stuff. Maybe some lazy, but mostly just sick and tired of having to fight for myself all the time, even for small helps.
Oddly enough, fibro patients can find it hard to get a doctor to sign for a disability tag. It is a simple matter to get a disability tag if you have a bad back, or a bum knee. But having pain in your entire body doesn’t qualify as a disability. Huh?
Because FMS is somewhat episodic, meaning you’ll have relatively good days or weeks, most docs hesitate to risk the wrath of the authorities. They can be fined, loose their liscence, or even get nailed with jail time. Two of my local docs refused for that reason, having been challenged for patients previously.
If medicare gets away with a 34% rate of fraudulent claims, what goober is going after legitmate doctors with patients having legitimate disabilities? Grrrr. Paper pushers–let ’em have a week in my body, see how fast they start approving FMS patients! This is the government that people want providing their health insurance and care?
Does “duh” come in more than one language?
Anyway, I had given up on a tag, hoping no cop checked out the tag on my rearview mirror–it’s Mom’s. Then Mom got tired of waiting for me to feel the urge and called my specialist herself. I have in my hand a signed form now, and that doc was the absolute LAST doc I would have expected to be willing. Wow! Merry Christmas.
Having aquired the skill of looking for the brighter side of rotten, there are some advantages to being an involuntary putter-offer and slower than cold pancake syrup. One of them is a well cultivated skill for finding other ways to skin the proverbial cat. Take Kenai’s exercise; how miraculous it would be if he woke up one day with perfect recall and a taste for fetch that never wore off! Not how it is.
That, and my not having even average physical capacity means keeping his body and brain satisfied can be an endeavor. He gets bored. He gets a big case of the ho-hum not long after finding the greatest new way to play with a toy, or the best boy-cool place ever. There’s an entire cardboard shipping box full of toys he got tired of.
Fortunately we stumble upon fun, if I’m paying attention. Trainers call it “capturing”; noticing a behavior a dog naturally does then rewarding and encouraging that behavior as part of their training. Kenai gets many a new response captured! It’s how I taught him to whar-whar talk rather than bark during his “messin with Sasquatch” time–mimic syllables is easier on the ears!
He’s used to seeing himself in the sliding glass door, the skylights, and store fronts. He even seems to understand that the toffee tush in the mirror is him, and me waving at him. A look, a lick on my face, then down for a nap. Well, Saturday, Mom tilted the dresser mirror down some to put in her earrings, then moved it back up. That got Brown’s attention.
We swiveled the mirror some more, and he started going up and down with it like some oddly shaped prairie chicken! Stand up tall, squish down low…Taking a step farther, Mom brought the small brow tweezing mirror over to him and he started looking between it and the big mirror. No doubt trying to decide why his nose was bigger in the little mirror!
Another captured behavior is letting the Brothers Grin exercise each other–Kenai in the kennel, BB gallopoling galloping outside the kennel. They run back and forth, slap down a play bow, then zoom some more. It was quite accidental, but it’s saving my legs some suffering since the discovery. And it’s funnier than a sack of monkeys turned loose in a police station.
They aren’t able to play like normal pups, big bro being a thug and little bro being a sore loser. One wrong wallop, a leg turned sideways, and it could end BB’s life. He’s only got three fully functional legs, so if one of those goes…He’s too easy to hurt, and Kenai’s too vigorous. So their brother time is limited to nuzzles and noses, pretty much.
Then Mom brought BB out to potty not knowing Kenai and I were playing in the kennel…
There’s Kenai, charging like a zealous linebacker from one end of the kennel to the other, sticks abandoned and clods sailing for miles. BB sheds boy-joy and looks like a dodo bird trying to take off, ears happy flapping and legs all over the place. (BB’s the one that makes it hysterical, as usual). They get to play together! Seperated by the kennel fence, but still running together and having a grand ol’ time.
I’ve got to velcro my camera to some body part and get a pic of that for ya’ll. I never seem to have it. It gets left upstairs, left on the table, left in the other coat… fooey on brian fog. I’m sure the run-with-me-fun is going to be a long standing tradition from now on.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 22, 2008
“…nine lords a leaping…” Told ya he had fun in the kennel! Kenai, 48 wks
Good pics! Finally some good pics again! About time… We don’t have too much to blabber about, but I had to put one or two of these pictures up. Oh, and I discovered how to rotate a pic by degrees: no more funhouse effect from the snapshots. Woo hoo! I get vertigo just fine without help from my camera, thank you very much.
A thought provoking thing happened Saturday night, when I was taking Kenai out after his last meal for the day. I was almost to the field when the outdoor flood lights went out, darn sensors. There I was in pitch dark, moon obscured by clouds, hearing coyotes in the distance, dogs barking, things moving around I couldn’t see…
I wanted to bolt back to the house for a flashlight! But the pup was really needing to “go”, antsy on his leash. Poor guy, he could see the relief patch and had to hold it. A little background info: back when I’d gotten really ill a few years ago, I developed a bit of fearfulness about being outside in the dark. At least in the countryside anyway.
For some reason I just feel so vulnerable, especially knowing there are roaming packs of neighbor’s dogs and coyotes around. Even deer can attack a person, and we’re not low in the deer population either. I can know in my head there’s nothing there that’s going to hurt us, but I still get that physical tightening sensation and want to head for home.
Kenai was shifting and whimpering on his leash. He really, really had to “go”. So I took a deep breath, held onto his collar and walked. We have a trodden down path that I take every time, and a long leash so he can go away from me to pick his spot. I couldn’t see a thing, hoping Brown wasn’t walking me through “brown ground” if you know what I mean, or would inadvertently drop me in a hole. It’s not like he’s had any guide dog training.
He walked along amazingly slow considering his urgent ‘need’. I stopped when he paused, as it felt about the right distance, and I let him go find a suitable location for the scrap heap. Then the outdoor floodlights came back on: he had taken me to the exact place I always stand! Not one yard short, not one yard forward. Hum. Divine lesson about trusting my divinely appointed helper?
Awhile back I’d talked about times when Kenai and I have to swap out the role of team leader, and that it’s got to be a least a little confusing for a puppy to learn when and if to “take charge”. This was a perfect example of what I meant when I said there are times I need Kenai to lead the team. I may wear the “she who must be obeyed” t-shirt from a British TV comedy, but he gets to lead when I can’t. Then he’s got to turn right around and surrender the role without a fuss.
It all looks so simple from the outside, watching a service dog team, but boy it’s much more complex a relationship than it looks. I’d never thought so deeply about the inner lives of dogs, and the nuances of our relationships before. As much as I’d loved and trained and lived with dogs throughout my life, Kenai has drastically deepened my understandings of them.
Not to ‘dis my past loves by any means. I’ve learned amazing and life changing things because of each and every one of them. Yet Kenai is different. He’s got this difficult “job” which we’ll be working on learning for at least another year, and is a substantively different fellow from his companion predecessors.
The uniqueness of training and living with Kenai, the deeply instinctive and adaptive boy he is, reminds me of something a theology professor I once had talked about. He was discussing the variant ways that western and eastern philosophies approach life, and how that approach manifests in belief systems.
Western thought is very linear; 2+2=4, and this causes that. Western minds want to categorize, simplify, and explain mysteries. We want to know how to plug data into an equation and get an answer to anything, from DNA to how the universe began. Hence, we want science and hard facts. I started out with Kenai wanting to “plug in” a new training technique to get the desired result. Do this, and the dog will do that. Okay, great…unless it doesn’t work.
Eastern thought is circular; it looks at forests intead of individual trees. Mysteries are to be enjoyed for their complexity rather than explained and simplified. It doesn’t ask so much how the universe began as it does why. Eastern thought is much more fluid, and it idealizes wisdom over data. The fluid subtleties of my home and working relationship with Kenai has not been an easy gear change for a solidly western gal to flow with!
But flow we must, and Saturday night we flowed a little…thank you buddy.
Okay, okay, so I make odd mental connections: flood lights out = philosophy primer. I’m just grateful when my brain makes a connection, weird or not.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 7, 2008
Kenai looking ever so regal in his new vest! And check out the shine on that fur again.
This pic was from Saturday, our public practice time without his gentle leader. He was doing so well! Tuesday he turned 47 weeks old. It’s interesting in a useless sort of way that counting his age in weeks makes him “older” than just going by months. There’s 52 weeks in a year, not 48 weeks, and 48 divided by 4 is 12 months.
Oh well, when he turns a year old officially, January 1, 2009 (New Year’s baby), I’ll stop counting weeks and just go by months old on his growth and progress pages. He and Beebs are New Year’s babies. BB’s official AKC registry name is “Shakira’s New Year’s Champagne”, since his color is a little lighter than Kenai’s. It fits his bubbly personality too!
Kenai’s registered as “Shakira’s New Year’s Celebration”. I chose “celebration” because he is a celebration for me; he’s going to make going places and doing things possible that I generally don’t without help. That’s worth celebrating! He’s already brought about some remarkable changes for me, and in me. My lovely lion pawed dear is worth more than the world to me.
Kenai’s had a couple days at home, okay 3 days, getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday. Our friends, Wade and Melba are coming over. We’ve split the cooking between us, which makes it easier for me to actually enjoy their company. I hate that inner tension of wanting to see my friends, but dreading the fatigue and pain that comes from having company. Bluck!
I’ve been able to scrub the couch, since it picks up the oils and odor from the boys laying on it. BB especially has a very strong body odor. I’ve also dusted, and today I’ll run the sweeper to pick up as much pretty brown hair as I can. There’s not as much coming off the Brothers Grin as there used to be!
Kenai’s weigh in Monday has me floating! He’s gained 1.3 pounds–I can’t see the vertebrae of his spine anymore, nor the ridges of his shoulder blades. The depression between his hip bones is gone, and I’m only seeing the last two ribs now. Not to mention his coat has shine enough to show up in a picture once again.
I’ve done something novel, at least for me: I opened a cafepress store with Kenai’s pics on mugs, shirts, and other gift items. There’s a link in the text box to the right. I’m slowly changing the jpeg pics to png pics for better quality printing, but this darn dial up has trouble with the larger png uploads. And being a fumble-bumble when it comes to photo stuff, I haven’t figured out how to put captions and such on the pics. Working on it, though.
Maybe there’ll be some income to pay for his expenses. Between the two boys, it’s $145 a month for enzymes, almost $100 a month for food. Special K really needs a harness soon, and that’s a costly thing to buy. So I’ve made a 10% mark up on the cafepress–If 10% is good enough for Jesus, it outta be good enough for me.
I’m not depending on cafepress income, not with the current economic situation in the US, but it surely would make the budget breathe easier. Me too. Mom three. Who knows, maybe I’ll give BB a shop too? Besides, a boy should have stuff, right? Sasquatch stuff!
Since it is Thanksgiving, I probably should give thanks for heaps of good things in my life. I’ve got a pair of really good friends I can count on for anything, Wade and Melba. I’ve got a terrific Mom, who supports me financially while I’m not able to support her and I. I’ve got a pair of baby bottoms, one all wiggly and fun (BB), and one that’s strong and caring (Kenai).
I’ve gotten encouragement from so many people via comments on this blog, which I don’t always get a thankful reply back to. I’ve had such good advice and reassurance from the yahoo epi group, helping me get my boys back to health and vigor. Mom’s been able to pay for their care, thank God. My health has held up enough to care, train, and provide exercise for Kenai–it could be so much worse, remembering how hellish the first few years of my 30′s were.
I could rattle on, but the idea is remembering the good things and giving them more emotional weight than the not so good things. I’m not as steady in my thankfulness as I could be, but who is? It’s a lesson that could be learned from dogs, isn’t it? Enjoying whatever is in front of us right now with all our hearts is no little lesson!
Thank you Kenai, my growing up rhino baby. You’re a gift from heaven itself.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on November 26, 2008
Kenai’s “you’re not going to take a shower are you” face, 45 wks old. He can’t quite grasp that some of us actually like taking a bath…
Dogs are uniquely gifted at eliciting bizare behavior in humans. They can make a grown man crawl around on the floor with a fuzzy toy in his mouth. They can make a sourpuss of a person soften up or even laugh. Kenai can make cold phobic me go for a walk in blistering wind chills. BB can make you want to sit on the ceiling fan to watch TV undisturbed.
The tools at a dog’s disposal for making people do things are many:
whines so grating it could put cheese on your salad,
gas toxic enough to melt your eyeballs, and sent in your direction by the wagging tail
overturning the sneaky furniture that stole their favorite toy unless you fetch it for them,
dropping a ball so slimy it won’t bounce anymore on your good clothes,
BB’s favorite of nipping or licking Mom’s toes until she gets up, (aka, foot fetish puppy style)
raking the curved toenails down your leg until you pet them, and scolding is just another form of the attention they were after,
Kenai the Zen Master of VIBES drilling holes in your head,
bury the Sunday ham so you can’t take it back before their snack time,
and the ever pitiful back turning, puppy pouting syndrome.
This is just a few methods of manipulation! There are as many tricks available as there are dogs. They experiment on us, you know. They use us to sharpen their problem solving skills like a cat using a clawing post. To their credit, they make us learn to use ours if we want to actually control them. And we thought we trained them…
The more intelligent the dog, the more they subject us to experimentation. I had a Dane who discovered he could make the door open from outside if he rang the door bell. At 2 am. Had a Husky who discovered she could sing and get applause followed by the desired attention when she was supposed to be NOT interrupting the party.
There’s something to be said for dumb hounds…had a couple of them too. They weren’t much fun, but they weren’t much bother either! If you’re looking for a dog as an accessory, like a throw pillow, purchase the mentally challenged pup. For dinner party entertainment, pick the mischief boy or girl!
All of this is slightly tongue in cheek of course. But it points to how much more complex a relationship there is between dog and human than a sit and stay. They don’t just learn tricks for treats, and neither do we. Dogs have personalities, brains, and know how to use them. (Sometimes on us).
I’ve learned more about dogs from Kenai than the bookself alone could manage to make stick. He’s a daily post-it note with fur! Breaking a habit I don’t want him to have is far from simple. Anyone whose pup took a liking to hand mouthing and wouldn’t quit can second that.
Sometimes, most of the time, to change a behavior we don’t like is a trial and error thing. Having some idea of why they do what they do is often the most effective info you can have. Take the hand mouthing: it can be sleepy comfort driven, stress relief, teething, misplaced dominance, submissive begging… and it won’t be the same with each pup or the same each time they do it.
The thing with dogs is you can gather info in your head, but making use of the info to actually stop a behavior requires intuition. Dogs make you feel; understand what they’re feeling, aware of what you’re feeling, sense how the two sets of emotions affect each other. They provide us the opportunity to live from the heart in a heavily intellectualized, brainiac world.
It amazes me how much of my heart had deadened itself over the years, numbing the sorrow and fear that appeared when illness so drastically changed life as I knew it. I wasn’t exactly a “balanced” or grounded person to begin with, still carrying the scars of growing up in an abusive home.
One of the most startling “lessons” from Kenai was how little emotional awareness I possessed! Emotional dexterity? Ha! Flexible as steel tubing is more like it. The difficulties I’ve had training and raising him have been world-class eye openers into what was going on with me more than him.
Dogs can heal us, just by being dogs, reflecting the emotional goings on that we hardly notice anymore. And what doesn’t always come across with typed communications is that I’m grateful to my big brown post it note for that. Heck, I was profoundly grateful of what he would do for me before his little beige bottom left his mom’s body!
Long story short, dogs teach us to interact with head and heart both–they make us live whole.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on November 15, 2008