Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Who Knew Getting Old Makes You Dizzy?

I sit in my office chair looking out the window at a tall oak tree. I see waves of pollen blow through the wind.  I notice my cherry tree is switching from blooming flowers to growing leaves. Wait! There is movement in the camellia right in front of me. It is a mother Ms. Robin and her babies in a nest. I suspect this is the same Ms. Robin who builds her nest in this bush every year and each year a mockingbird comes by and throws out her eggs to lay her own. Nature can seem cruel at times but yet be so beautiful and forgiving as well. On the floor beside my chair is Snow. For the past several days I have been helping her through an episode of vestibular disease. For those of you who do not know about this disease, it is very similar to a bad case of vertigo that can last for up to a week, maybe less, maybe more. This is her first episode and I do have to admit, when you do not know your dog has this disease, it can be really scary watching the signs develop. She woke up at 5AM running into the walls in my hallway unable to control her legs and her eyes were darting left to right uncontrollably. She was nauseous and drooling and to top it off we were having a thunderstorm, which really scares her. She must have thought the whole world was out to get her. I quickly got her Thunder Shirt™ on and stayed right by her side until morning. I thought she might have had a stroke and worse she might not be able to walk on her own ever again. Much to my relief though, the diagnosis is just vestibular disease, and these episodes will come and go. Just something she and I will cope with for the rest of her life.

Those of you who do not know how Snow became my dog may be shocked to know she was given to me by clients who were moving and thought she was too much for them to handle.  She was labeled aggressive and was going to be euthanized unless I would take her, work with her issues, and determine what was best. We all knew it was in Snow’s immediate best interest to be re-homed.  As her pet care provider, I had already sensed that she was just confused and misunderstood. Yes the sweet and overly obedient Border collie many of you have met over the years was once in need of guidance.  Just between you and me, I knew even then she was supposed to find her forever home with me. This was almost seven years ago this July 4th and what a rewarding seven years it has been. I have spent a lot of time reprogramming her and I have often wondered if her previous owners were to see her today, would they even recognize her? She still physically looks like the same dog but she sure doesn’t act like it. Today she is a Canine Good Citizen, having passed the CGC test with flying colors as she demonstrated good manners and obedience. Her evaluators even commented that she was especially polite and attentive.

The transformation Snow has gone through was my inspiration to return to school last year to become a certified trainer. I knew when I selected the K9 Solutions Academy that I wanted far more education than just textbook learning and that I would get it at the Academy.  I do have to admit, I am very proud of the work I did with Snow long before I thought about making a career out of it. I just wanted to fix my dog and now I want to help others do the same. Just last week Snow assisted me with a private training case involving severe aggression. I wanted the owners to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They needed an example of what can happen when you “teach an old dog new tricks.”

Since the first day I met Snow she has been totally dependent on me.  Seven years ago it was for her survival; at the moment it is for walking, feeding, and reassurance that things will get better. She has not left my side for several days now. My whole house is littered with runways of rugs to help her navigate from room to room. Today she has improved enough that she wants to do the walking all by herself but she wants me close enough that I can catch her the moment she begins to wobble. If you have ever known a Border Collie you know the amount of focus they give to their leader and that the intense starring can almost be unnerving. It takes that weird feeling that someone is watching you to a whole new level! But Snow does it not only out of respect but out of gratitude. As I look at her peacefully sleeping at my side I am reminded to live “right now.” You see, our pets live in the moment. Something we all struggle with from time to time. And at this moment she rests peacefully knowing I am proud and honored to have her at my side. This afternoon we’ll spend some more time in my office and I’ll  check on Ms. Robin again just outside my window.  I really hope Ms. Mockingbird doesn’t come by and evict her again this year!

Follow this link to learn more about vestibular disease in an article shared by Falls Village Veterinary Hospital, Raleigh.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Severe Weather Plans Are Needed For Family Pets

We are just entering spring and the traditional severe weather season is still weeks away. But in the first two months of 2012, the United States has already experienced a reported 128 tornadoes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In comparison, those two months combined averaged 50 tornadoes during the past three years. And the 2012 hurricane season doesn't begin until June.

North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), along with numerous other organizations, have compiled useful resources to help pet care providers and pet owners prepare for these weather events.

The following link takes you to excellent resources for disaster planning for all our companion animals -- dogs, cats, horses, fish, birds, and other farm animals.

Take the time now, ahead of the severe weather season, to put a plan together.  As noted in the AVMA's emergency planning booklet, "Saving the Whole Family," emergency planning for our family members includes our pets and other animals.  Let's get prepared now.

The Dog Walk is 38 days away and the Hoof and Paws Pet Care TEAM is responding daily.  We have achieved almost 50% of our goal.  If you have already signed up to walk with us or have donated to the team of walkers, THANK YOU.  If you are still unsure what APRIL 21 looks like on your calendar, you still have time to choose the WALK as your calendar entry that day!!

As beautiful as the weather is today, just think how much nicer it will be a month from now.  All of our canine fur kids will be so ready to take to the streets of downtown Raleigh and walk with us on April 21 as we support the tireless work the SPCA of Wake County does that day and every other day of 2012 to help the homeless pets in Wake County.  And our feline fur kids will be equally happy to curl up in a sunny spot at home and just bask in the nice weather while we are out walking.

Check your calendar now.  Skylar, Snow, and I will be waiting to hear that you are joining us!

Friday, March 2, 2012

SPCA of Wake County: K9-3K Dog Walk 2012

SPCA of Wake County: K9-3K Dog Walk 2012

It is almost spring and that means great weather for getting outside with our pets.  Register now for the 2012 K9-3K Dog Walk and enjoy APRIL 21 downtown when we get to enjoy walking with our friends and our pets to help the SPCA of Wake County in their tireless efforts on behalf of the many homeless pets in our area.

Last year teams like the Hoof and Paws TEAM helped raise money to benefit over 16,200 animals. This year the need is greater than ever before to save homeless ones and to help struggling families keep their four-legged companions.

The SPCA of Wake County is a no-kill organization.  Every single animal they save is because of people like us who care about our pets and the many homeless pets who are waiting for homes.

Please help the Hoof and Paws TEAM and register to walk with us.  If you can't walk with us that day, please sponsor our team or sponsor an individual on our team.  A four-legged companion right here in our area will benefit because you said "YES" to helping!!

Just follow the link above to our TEAM page for registration or sponsorship.