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 and his best Spock impersonation BB and his gentle eyes
Oh my, I had forgotten the crate crying! We all got home Sunday March 9, from a two day drive. Kenai and I stay upstairs most of the time, so he can bond with me instead of deriving comfort from his brother, who is downstairs with Mom. That’s important since he’s going to be my service dog. He’s doing quite well for a 9 week old puppy. I’m very proud of him!!
He’s a happy little guy, but I’m so tired and hurting by evening, I find myself having a short fuse with the boys. It seems they are wilder then, and that is my fault: the misbehavior is a response to my anxious and frustrated emotions. I have to stop that, fibro and fatigue be hanged. So it’s time to crack down on myself!!!
I’m saddened and upset for having reverted back to selfishly being irritable with my boy so quickly, and so instinctively. Especially since I have felt guilty that I had been so cross when my past love Taj would wake me up at night with his HOD pain. It wasn’t right then, and it isn’t right now. I have a choice how to respond and the option of deliberate self-control. Fun little Kenai is a dog, and they simply feel what they feel, and react to what we feel.
So I am developing a bedtime routine of going upstairs with Kenai when he is sleepy, having a little cuddles on my bed with me, then putting him in the crate. I leave the door open and sit with him for a while, then close the crate. Lights off, in bed, and if I calmly ignore the crying, he quits crying (after having a noisy fit, of course). I ignore it when he wakes me up during the night, and just before the dawn, I take him out of the crate to cuddle on my bed. When the alarm goes off at 5 am, we go outside for RELIEF and then have breakfast. I think he will adjust quickly. Probably faster than I will get over the sleep deprivation!!
Since the 14 stairs to my bedroom are narrow, slick, and have a short tread, I’m carrying him upstairs for now, all 25.7 pounds of him. I let him climb a little, but he gets tired. Thursday I’ll get more of the nonslip tape for the stairs, and climbing them with me will be safer for us both. One of my biggest fears is that he will fall down the stairs and get hurt. Have to control that too, so he doesn’t become skittish of them too. I have fallen on those stairs many times in the past couple years.
Kenai is getting more confident and exploring. Hence, we have to work on his recall because he’s becoming confident enough to ignore me. Not going to have that–broke out the treats. He’ll follow when I leave him, but coming when called needs work. He sits beautifully, and is always happy to be with me. But OMG I had forgotten just how much work pups are.
As for little BB, the transition is harder for him. He’s used to always having someone with him, having been so sick. He misses his former “kitchen pack”, and cries terribly at night. He’s urinating on his beds and our living room couch, even though he’s out frequently. I think it’s anxiety, as he is a sensitive little fellow, and Mom’s frustration isn’t helping. Poor baby. When he hears Kenai and I going out and having breakfast at 5AM, he gets really upset, and wakes Mom up crying. I’ve started going to get him, because Mom goes to bed late.
Seperately, the boys do pretty well, but together they are difficult! I can’t get them to quit the biting and fussing, competing for toys and playing keep away. I normally would let them rumpus all they want, but it takes time getting Kenai not to chew on me afterwards–cannot have that in a service dog. So we have to re-teach them to play without nipping, and sharing without fuss. BB especially is a chompmonster and Kenai likes to bulldoze his smaller brother.
But oh, the baby noises and cuddles are soooo sweet. It’s wonderful to have such happy faces following me around! There’s hope in them thar little eyes, and lots of love. The boys need us to love them back, and be patient with them. So my work for this week is to control my own emotions when tired and in pain. If anyone is the praying type, wear out your knees for me and Mom!
Peacefullness is a state of mind…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on March 11, 2008
Taj, 13 wks “Too tired”
A very good question came to me by way of the comment box (yes, I read them all, even if I don’t get time to answer right away): namely, how will I manage walking Kenai 30 minutes a day with my current poor health? For the sake of others wondering how they can exercise their Danes despite personal physical limitations, I’ve decided to post my answer.
I’ve thought about this for some time now, and it was a serious consideration when I chose to start looking for a Dane puppy last summer. The thing about the walk is that it has 2 essential parts: exercise and establishing leadership. Since I can’t walk 30 minutes right now, even on good days, I’m going to have to be creative about still getting Kenai the benefits of longer and more frequent walks.
The pain of fibro I can deal with better than the constant exhaustion of the CFIDS–that’s what worries me most about Kenai’s exercise. I may have periods when I’m feeling positively frisky, but when I’m down, I’m really down. Game over kind of down.
Still, Kenai and I have to go places, so there will be the required “walking politely in public” practice. But not for extended periods, or every day even. I’m hoping to get in at least 3 days a week of public work, once we’ve gotten through the perilous 12 week shots. And I’m taking him to a puppy class to continue the socialization, so his little brain will have lots of stimulation and fun there. I do alot of purposeful play at night too, sitting on the couch. He won’t know it’s training!
Fortunately Kenai is a very calm natured pup, not really as big a rumpus as his littermates, though he is of course still a puppy. That quietness was one of the reasons he was chosen. So my best laid plan for tired mice like myself with energetic little men is:
(1) to have Kenai leashed to my body as I move around the house. That still establishes my leadership in his mind like the walk, because he’s following where I go and when I go. That’s something many pro trainers suggest anyway for SDit pups so they learn to be always beside you and attentive.
(2) For his heavier exercise, once he’s got the idea of retrieving I’ll be using a toy outside that he chases down and brings back to me. He’ll get to run off some of the wilder puppy energy that way. And we will have his brother too, though I don’t know yet how vigorous BB will be.
(3) a treadmill walk on days that he’s too full of himself, or I just am not good for anything at all! (That happens too, though doctors don’t seem to quite get the idea). During the summer, there is always the pool, if I can figure a way to get them in and out safely.
NOTE: I am always cautious about too much walking and running with Dane puppies, because their joints and bones are fairly easy to injure, particularly before 8-10 months. So the treadmill will be at a quick walk setting rather than a jog, and Kenai can stay on for no more than 20-30 minutes while I sit in a chair beside him. The treadmill is going to be my second best friend, I think!
Dane puppies are typically tough little buggers and they don’t show their pain until they’re badly hurt. Taj with his HOD would still try to play, bone fractures or not. So if I see any signs of tenderness in the two boys’ legs, I’ll cut the treadmill time back and/or split the sessions into 2 or three short walks. I mess with their legs and feet alot anyway so they are less inclined to be fussy at the vet, and that is also how I know if the legs are sore: they will pull away the leg and/or lick at my hands.
Exercise can’t be neglected, or every kind of frustration and misbehavior crops up. But as long they are getting enough exercise, who really cares how they get it? I’m a “whatever works” kind of girl, having lost the “ideologue” tendency when my health declined. Took awhile, and lots of “why did I over do it?” days, but flexibility did finally win!
A quote on a church sign: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 29, 2008
These are the eyes of a Great Dane: loving, gentle, and contempletive.
In July of 2007, I began my search for a Great Dane pup. I had been without a boy for almost two years, and the emptiness of the house was getting bigger. There was only one cure, I knew, and yet I was hesitant: I had been so ill for years. And my Danes, mostly rescues, had been just as sickly for the past 15 years. While struggling with my own Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue, I had nursed my boys through Cushings disease, bloat, dysplaysia, parvo, allergies, arthritis, frequent vomiting, and hypertrophic osteodystrophy. We certainly kept the vets from getting too bored, or too broke.
A new Dane puppy conjures images of innocence and fun. They are hysterically clumsy as puppies, tripping over their own huge feet, and doing spread eagles across the floor after pouncing on a toy. The poor dears wake up in a new body after every nap, growing at astonishing rates. That can make getting the front end and the back end going in the same direction a tricky proposition!
In 12 days I leave for Texas, to bring home my new Dane pup, Kenai. He too will be clumsy, and he too will have those eyes. He will see my physical weakness and loan me his strength. Kenai will become my door to life, and do it without hesitation. And he will make me laugh, amazed at his lack of self-consiousness when he gets himself into outlandish postures and follies.
Yet for all the fun puppies are, they require considerable effort. I still feel a lingering guilt that I had not been able to give my other boys as much outside run-time as they might have needed. Not to mention the sinking in my stomach remembering how irritable I had been when their ailments woke me up at night. The less I sleep, the worse I feel, which is how it goes with fibro.
The wonder of dogs is that they don’t complain. I am cross and unpleasant when I feel bad, but not dogs. It seems as though the idea of whining “why me?” never occurs to them. My boys had shown me how to be gracious under strain, and they had shown me how self-absorbed I hadn’t known I was.
Being a Christian, I value grace. The ideals of gentleness and a loving nature are what we Christians strive for. We seek to add wisdom to our repertoire of daily living, as it gives us patience with the inevitable irritations that come being alive. Forgiving and being forgiven is a powerful attitude, and the entire point of the cross. But it is usually the most elusive lesson in our lives, because it is so ridiculously unnatural, at least as far as human nature is concerned. So rarely is deep forgiveness available for us to see and hear, most of us cannot even conceive of it, let alone replicate it.
I believe that is why God gave us dogs; so we can see and experience God’s immeasurable love on a more digestible scale. Dogs are everything we are supposed to be and often are not. They love without regard to the superficial, they forgive instantly, they know who can or cannot be trusted, and they cannot bear to live without a pack. The size and shape of a pack member makes no difference to them, because their packs are held together, not by being the same, but by being loved.
Not all dogs are like that, you say. That is true. But I believe that nearly all antisocial, fearful, or aggressive behaviors in dogs can be traced back to humans. Sometimes we damage what is perfect because we cannot stand to recognize that we are not. Sometimes we are so damaged, we hardly know how deep the deformity goes. Yet dogs forgive it. They heal it too.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 23, 2008
Yet another ice storm has stranded me in the house. It woke me up at 5 am during an episode of thunder sleet. “Thunder Sleet”…Sound like a b-grade rock band to you? I’m tired of winter, but spring also has its pitfalls: mud, tornados, flash floods. So I’m going to indulge in a small whine…enough already!
Well it seems that I am leaving for TX to pick up my new little Dane March 6th. That is just 2 weeks away, and so my preparations have kicked into high gear. I have alot of “small things” to do, that I was taking my time with since I thought I had the time to dawdle. Things like making an appointment with Kenai’s vet for deciding on a vaccination schedule, cleaning the crate, rearranging my bedroom to fit in the crate…I like to have everything done BEFORE I bring a puppy into his new home. He just fits right into the daily routine, and the transition is easier for him.
I’ve been noticing search engine hits on my blog for puppy problem topics like “great dane jumping on me”. Hopefully the searchers took the time to read the pages I have. I’ll admit, I haven’t addressed too many “puppy problem” topics, mostly because I believe creating a stable pack from day one prevents a lot of issues. Yet, puppies are puppies, and they will get troublesome from time to time. So there will be new pages and edited old pages to look at.
As for the “great dane jumping”, I’m going to start a “puppy troubles” page right away, because that is just dangerous. Danes are far to large to get away with jumping and such, and the time to break it is the moment you meet your new Dane. It is a bit longer of a process for older dogs and rescues, but it certainly can be done. Lord knows I’ve done it a time or two. So if you are looking for help, check out the “puppy basics” page first, and the “puppy troubles” page I’ll be posting today.
Someone asked me why I have so much information rather than using this as a journal format. The answer is because I want this site to be a place with answers, links to answers, and a “rest stop” to really think about your life with a Dane. I do have what I call my “daily bitch blog”, where I post my momentary thoughts and feelings. But this site is for contemplation and a more thorough understanding of what’s going on with Danes. Here I can compile information and you don’t have to go scanning through piles of posts to find what you need.
Please do leave comments–I want to hear from you. Agreement, disagreement, stories, and questions are all welcome. So tell me what you know and think. 14 days to go!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 21, 2008
Too many storm systems! One right after another. Here, at least, no tornados, just flash flooding. Just flooding…Ya’ know it’s been a bad winter when flooding seems to be the least of miseries. My Kenai is still with his momma, south of Houston, and they have all kinds of watches and warnings. I think he’s already made a place for himself in my heart, if I’m worrying about him being scared of the storms. Amazing how dogs can do that, before you even meet them.
If you haven’t looked in the pages recently, you’ll find lots of new info. I’ve spent some time researching veterinary sites for the latest and best information, and trying to put it in plain English. The more I read, the more taken back I am by how fragile our big strong Danes are; how very little it takes to cause them a lifetime of suffering. Or worse yet, to cost them their lives.
Wading through the diseases and afflictions Danes can have has put me in a contempletive mood. For all they do for us, and do without hesitation, have we humans returned the proper measure of effort? I mean, we have created this marvelous breed. But have we done everything we can to breed out dysplastic hips, or gone to the trouble of creating foods that are pure and balanced to keep them from HOD? And have we collectively done all we can to prevent the unaware or indifferent Dane breeders from keeping these illnesses in the gene pool?
With all the hopes and expectations I have for Kenai as my service dog, I find myself feeling a powerful sense that I owe him. There isn’t much I haven’t or wouldn’t do for my boys, but that emotion is far stronger this time. After all, I will owe him for getting me down the stairs without falling. I will owe him for the relief his body warmth will give me, leaning against my sore muscles. And I will owe him for the sense of fun and joy of life he will inspire.
I have made a perennial nuuuudge out of myself, emailing and hovering over my breeder’s blog site for news of the little tanks. Poor Teri! I’m frustratingly prone to forgetfullness and confusion when the fibromyalgia is flaring–I know the puppies will have their ears cropped the last week of this month, but for the life of me I can’t keep the number of weeks straight before I can go get my little guy. Drat and phooey on fibro!
So I’ve started a day count until Spring Break, when I KNOW Kenai will be ready and waiting. This way, I have it written down, and even I can subtract single digits if I don’t check it for a couple of days! (Like that’s gonna happen…) 46 days to go!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 16, 2008