Tag Archive | german shepherd

New Pup Max

We found a puppy!  Picked him up yesterday, an early birthday present for me!  Max is a 4.5 month old male German Shepherd from very good bloodlines.  His grandfather was imported from Germany.  His parents had their hips and elbows certified and were genetically tested for the major inherited breed conditions.  Such a sweet, calm and smart boy.  He already loves his new people, and new best buddy Otto.

Max and Otto

Max was not house or leash trained, but is picking both up very quickly.  He knows his name after one day!  He loves his new farm home and acts like he was born here.  The cats aren’t quite sure what to make of him, but I think they will come around.  They lost a lot of trust in strange dogs after the recent episode with Becky.  When the pup barks at them, the cats scatter.  They come back sooner each time and Max is trying very hard to learn not to bark or whine at cats.  Yesterday was the first time he ever saw a cat.

Although he was never crate trained, he did perfectly last night in his crate.  No whining, and he slept all night with no accidents.  He was ready to go out in the morning!  Luckily, Tim wakes up early and took him to do his duty before 5 am.  Nine-thirty pm to five am is a long time for such a young pup to hold it, but he had no accidents.  So Max is learning and experiencing all sorts of new things.  He is a bit afraid of chickens, the flapping and squawking disorients him.  The horses must look like giants.  He maintains a respectful distance.

Max should grow into his ears one day, his dad weighs over 100 lbs.  He will be black and tan with lots of silver, a very nice color.  Right now the pup is in the middle of teething.  His gums are sore and his eyes run occasionally from the trauma of erupting teeth.  Although I did not want to get another German Shepherd after we lost Holly, I realized after looking at many breeds of dogs that this breed is my favorite.  The massive amount of shedding is a pain to deal with.  I’m devising strategies to better handle the hair including more frequent brushing and also periodic application of the high power air dog blower.

It is really fun to have a puppy again.  Almost like having another kid!

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Holly’s Ills

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Here is Holly, our 7-year-old German Shepherd, on her special stool for eating.  She must stand with the front of her body elevated to about a 45 degree angle while she is eating and for about twenty minutes after to help her food go down.  She has megaesophagus.  The muscles of the esophagus have relaxed and don’t swallow properly.  Food builds up inside her throat, swelling up her esophagus instead of going into her stomach.  This leads to regurgitation of undigested food and can cause inhalation pneumonia.

She has had this problem for several months.  At first we thought it was caused by Lyme disease.  She was diagnosed with that illness in the fall.  Since then she’s undergone two 30-day courses of antibiotics.  Her symptoms improved about fifty percent from when she was the most ill.  Then she hit a plateau.  Last week we went back to the vet for more testing.  The vet had to shave spots on both front legs to get the blood necessary to run a full panel.

The results came back essentially normal.  We were all scratching our heads over this dog.  She had low normal thyroid function.  Her energy levels have been low and her coat is poor, although she is underweight and has muscle wasting which could explain those symptoms.  Or the symptoms could be due to low thyroid function.  We decided to start her on thyroid supplement for a month to see if it made a difference.  The twice-a-day dose is not too much trouble because the pill is tiny and goes down easily.  We have noticed that she seems a bit brighter and more energetic the past few days.  The megaesophagus has not really changed.

I have been doing considerable research trying to figure out what is wrong with Holly.  There is a small amount of information about low thyroid dogs and concurrent megaesophagus in the medical literature.  In general, this condition is unusual, but not unheard of.  German Shepherds are one breed more often affected.  In most cases supplementing thyroid hormone does not affect the megaesophagus.  In a few cases, the regurgitation of undigested food held in the throat disappeared after the thyroid levels were improved, although radiologic evidence of megaesophagus remained.  In one cited case of a seven-yr-old female German Shepherd, not only did her overall condition improve on the medication, but the megaesophagus resolved.

So there is some hope that things might improve for Holly.  She does a very good job of climbing up on her stool for meals and standing there until she is told ok to get down.  Most of the time she eats all her food, it goes in and stays in.  Sometimes we have a mess to clean up.  The fact that she seems in better spirits is heartening.  Sure hoping that Holly’s case follows a successful path.

***On Feb. 18, 2017 Holly lost her struggle with whatever illness was debilitating her.  She passed peacefully and in the spring will be laid to rest in the cemetery with our other dearly departed pet friends.

Poor Otto

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Poor Otto, wearing the collar of shame, again.  Some animals are self-mutilators.  When they sustain an injury, even of the smallest proportions, they lick at it obsessively until a large area is involved. Otto is a self-mutilator.

The first trouble we had with him was last winter.  Otto is a very active German Shepherd who loves to run in the snow.  A spell of freezing rain created a thick crust soon covered by a couple inches of fresh snow.  Otto crashed through the crust and scraped a front leg. What began as a simple small area of abraded skin went overnight into a large hot spot as the dog licked endlessly at the area while the rest of the household slept.

When a dog is so persistent about licking, the offending area must be protected.  Sometimes a simple wrap will distract the dog long enough for healing.  Otto tore the wrap off.  He even ingested the top half of an old calf-high tube sock.  Luckily, it passed through.  Next we tried putting an old long sleeved shirt on him.  The sleeves covered the entire leg.  Nope, gotta tear that shirt to shreds to get at the ouchy spot.  So we had to buy an Elizabethan collar for him at the vet.  E-collars usually do the trick.2

Otto never wore an E-collar, so within a few days the collar was destroyed by crashing into things and chewing any part he could get into his mouth.  A new, heavier collar was purchased.  This one did the trick, he couldn’t destroy it and the leg healed, hallelujah! Unfortunately, the collar was so heavy that the end against his neck rubbed too hard, creating a hot spot ring around his neck. Something we didn’t catch until we took the collar off.  The hotspot healed quickly with topical anti-bacterial, fugicidal, anesthetic spray.  Phew!

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Offending puncture wound, started out as 1/2″ spot

Then, several months later, friend Otto was playing tag with Holly around the farm equipment, failed to accurately judge his clearance, slammed his head into the side of the wood splitter and opened an inch-long, deep gash right under his eye.  A quick visit to the vet for sutures and then back into the collar of shame.  This time he wore a lighter weight E-collar, similar to the first one he destroyed.  I was pretty concerned we’d have to go through the whole fiasco of ruined collars again, but he accepted the thing and even showed promise with maneuvering it through doorways.

After a week, the stitches came out, his face healed nicely, and the E-collar came off.  As soon as our backs were turned, he proceeded to rub his face on the ground so violently the cut began bleeding again.  Back on with the collar for several more days.  Finally, he healed and we could set him free once more.

All was going well until this week.  We caught him spending considerable time licking and chewing his tail and investigated.  There was a small puncture wound, possibly a bite administered during play by his pal, Holly.  He had worried the half-inch wound into a three inch sore.  On with the collar of shame. With enough flexing, he can reach the area.  Mostly, the collar discourages him so he leaves the spot alone.  After two days in the collar, the site was looking nicely healed yesterday.  I removed the collar.  Big mistake.  Several minutes of monitoring indicated no interest in the spot.  We let him romp around outside.  In just a few unattended minutes he opened the wound and started bleeding again.

So, it’s the collar of shame until the tail is completely healed.  Living with a large dog wearing a large E-collar is no picnic.  He catches the collar on the edge of the water dish when he drinks and sends the bowl flying, water everywhere.  The same thing happens with food.  We have to help him navigate his face into the bowls, then hold the bowls so they don’t get flipped.  Outside, he runs into things with the collar, including people’s legs.  Activity must be restricted so the collar won’t be destroyed, not an easy thing for a hundred pound bundle of energy.

If life is a circus here at Phoenix Farm, then Otto is the top clown.  Just wish I was sending more time laughing.

First Snowstorm

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The first major snow fall of the winter came overnight with about 8″ of soft coating.  The flakes are just tapering off at mid-morning.  This storm took the weather people by surprise.  The predictions were for rain or just a dusting of whiteness. a4

Every fence post wears a pointed pure white cap.  The softwood boughs dip beneath the weight before a breeze stirs to send cascades of icy powder to the forest floor.  Hungry birds flit about the feeders, snatching one seed at a time to eat in safety from a protected branch.  This is snow dog weather.

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chickadee at the feeder

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Holly in the snow