Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Good-bye Sweet Boy

Monday I found out that Seppel had a mass on his heart, likely hemangiosarcoma. I was supposed to bring him home for the week and then let him go but he started declining that afternoon and I had to make the decision then.

My heart is broken. That's what I keep saying but it is the best way to describe how I'm feeling.

I am so sad that our IPO journey is over.

I am so sad that my training partner and friend is gone.

I feel like the universe told me I could get Stuck, my next IPO dog for the price of losing my first training partner soon after. I know this is an irrational thought and I am not a religious person, but in some respects that is how it feels.

I am so sad that he is no longer in my home. His tail was always wagging and every time you touched him his whole body moved. He was always happy, all the time. He never had a bad day.

I miss him waiting at the end of the garage when I would call everyone in. His ears would go flat as if he was saying "I don't want to go in, I want to stay out here and do something with you."

He was always the first to the door, ready to go. He LOVED to play chuck-it and when I would take him out last he would come bounding out of the car like he was saying "I'm the best at this game! Play with me!" He would always put 100% into going after and bringing back the ball. He was my favorite to play with because he loved it so much.

He also loved the flirt pole. He would play with it forever with me.

I miss him being my copilot. He was the best car rider and was always in the front seat with me. When I would go get coffee he would inevitably drool on me - every time. It drove me nuts and grossed me out and now I wish he would do it one more time.

He was just starting to become more engaging with me and we were just starting to have fun training. I feel like we were closer than we have ever been.

I miss how expressive he was. He was so reactive to everything and you could read it in his eyes, his ears, and his forehead what he was thinking.

I miss how I could get him to bark at anything, he was easily wound up and it was great. 

I miss his love for cardboard boxes. He shredded so many boxes at work and if I tied him near the recycling cans he would steal things out of them and shred them. He was so crazy sometimes. It makes me sad that he will never be able to do that again.

It makes me sad that all of these things that he did and has done were the last time that he would do them. It is so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that he's gone and that it is all over with.

It makes me sad and angry that I couldn't even have a few more days with him to do the things he enjoyed. I am so sad that his last day was spent in a strange hospital and not at home with me. I know I made the best decision I could at the time but I am so sad because I had no idea I wouldn't be bringing him home.

I am so sad that he went out the way that he did, he was just about to turn 8 years old. That isn't old at all.

It feels so unfair.

I miss him so much. His presence in my life was so big. I know that I am fortunate because I have other dogs and my house isn't empty, but my other dogs are not him. I love them all individually and the hole he has left is huge.

Having Seppel completely and 100% changed my life. He taught me about responsibility and management. Because of his energy level he turned me into a better dog owner - because of him I exercised all of them regularly and made it a priority. He taught my parents that pit bulls were not bad dogs. He taught me so much about training, not just because of who he was but because of him I sought out classes and people to learn from. Seppel fit into my household really well. Our first year together there was a lot of learning and things were a little rough, but once I figured him out things got better and better. In our recent engagement class he did nearly anything I asked. It made me feel really proud of our relationship - that he trusted me to do some of the weird things I asked him to do, and he never questioned me.

The last several weeks I felt like something was wrong with him, I never could have imagined that thing was going to be as bad as it was. I don't know how I will repair myself. I just feel so devastated right now. A quote I found on Instagram says it perfectly:

"Cause you never think that the last time is the last time. You think there will be more. You think you have forever, but you don't."

Rest peacefully buddy. I love you so much, I miss you so much, but I am glad you are no longer suffering.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Three Years post FHO Surgery

I started this blog originally to chronicle my experience with my very first pit bull type dog. On June 19th of 2013 Seppel had FHO surgery on his right leg. I would say most folks find my blog researching this surgery. I chronicled our experience on this blog because when I was researching it I could only find information on dogs a few days post surgery and nothing really too detailed.

Just to give some back story, Seppel came up sore back in 2013, his hip and iliopsoas muscle were painful. We xrayed his hips which revealed unilateral hip dysplasia. At the time we had been doing IPO protection training for a year and because he leads such an active lifestyle he was only going to continue to re-injure himself. I took him to an orthopedic specialist who didn't exactly recommend an FHO. The gold standard surgery is a total hip replacement that would set me back $4k even with a professional discount. However he agreed that my dog would continue to be painful if we didn't do anything.

I scoured the internet looking for resources on FHO dogs. I contacted a few people looking for FHO outcome information. It was extremely hard to find information on dogs after they had fully recovered. I decided to go through with the surgery and I really couldn't be happier. We've had no problems since the surgery and he is physically able to do all the things he could do before except he's not painful.

Here is a video I put together which shows his first few days after surgery, some rehab, and recent pictures and video of him doing things now.

Monday, June 13, 2016


I don't even know how to start this post.

Seppel and I had a terrible weekend, that ended up working out okay in the end.

This past weekend my IPO club put on a seminar with Joel Monroe - an amazing trainer.

 My training director and friend suggested that I work my new dog Stuck in obedience and work Seppel in protection because she wanted to hear what he had to say about Seppel's work.

When I brought Seppel out for protection on Friday he immediately started making his garbled growling noises. Joel asked me if he could do a hold and bark and if he would be dirty. I said he can be dirty but he can do a hold & bark. I sent him in and he immediately tried to bite the sleeve.

It pretty much just snowballed into a terrible time after that. It was really embarrassing to have a dog who I know is trained and knows what he should be doing, but chose to turn into a stress ball instead. This was in front of everyone else at the seminar and was very frustrating. In the hold & bark it's like he went into barrier frustration and no matter what would not bark. To top it off he seemed to get really stressed out.

I was bawling on the drive home that evening and the mood continued into the next morning. I was dreading working him in obedience and even started to get anxiety. I almost decided I wasn't going to work anyone at all. I took him out and he seemed a bit flat for his toy, just as I was beginning to lose all hope I got some food out and his eyes lit up. I took him out to the field and we did a little bit of heeling - he was great. We did some back-tie play and I was able to show his retrieve and jump. Joel suggested that if we weren't ready for a full IPO1 we should do Tracking and Obedience. It gave me something to think about. We went back out for protection that evening and kept everything light. We didn't worry about getting him to bark, just played around and even did a side transport. It ended really well and I felt my confidence get built back up.

Honestly, I went through so many emotions this weekend. It was absolutely terrifying walking onto the field Saturday afternoon after such a terrible protection session the night before. I had so much anxiety about having to do it and so much fear that my dog would let me down. In some ways it was very empowering (after the fact), that I was able to go back out there even though we had such a bad time the night before.

I'm sure the raging question is - if Seppel isn't very good at IPO and if more often than not I'm having a bad time, why don't I just retire him?

Honestly, I am getting closer to that point. If we start having more bad days than good days, I will stop. It isn't worth it to ruin our relationship because he's not really meant for this sport. However, I guess what helps to keep me going is all of the good days and good moments we have. When I look back at where we started and see where we are going now and feel like it's just within our reach. When I really sit down and realize how much he's taught me and how far we've gotten, I am just not ready to just throw it all away just yet.

There are a lot of things that no amount of training will change for this dog. I get that and I am trying to really put into perspective what I want to nitpick and what I realize I will just have to accept.

Since this past weekend I have set a goal - I want to go for our IPO1 tracking and obedience in the Fall. I am working out a tracking schedule and plan to buckle down and really get him tracking and hitting his articles. For the obedience portion we need to learn how to retrieve over the A frame and do a send out, as well as build duration with his heeling. I think this is an attainable goal. The protection portion will either take care of itself or will be something else we will have to work on. Ideally I want him to earn a full  IPO1, but we will just have to wait and see. I feel so thankful to have such a wonderful club to work with and wonderful people to help get me through the bad times and the good times. My IPO club and the experiences that have come with it have been invaluable.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

FHO and Seppel got a Sister

Seppel is nearing his 3 year anniversary after having right side FHO surgery. I am getting a video put together to show all of the things Seppel can still do even after having FHO surgery. Almost three years later he is suffering no ill effects. Here are a few recent pictures of him.

While this blog is my blog about Seppel, I thought I would talk about my new dog Stuck. Since Seppel and I joined a new IPO club, my eyes were really opened to a few things about Seppel. I think he enjoys IPO, but I think it also stresses him out. We had an opportunity to try French Ring and he seemed to enjoy it a lot more, his whole body language was different. In french ring they work in prey and I think he just enjoyed it a lot more. Unfortunately French Ring is not big in my area, so I can't switch sports with him. When we started going to our new club Seppel started displaying some odd behaviors, he would get weirded out working with new helpers, he would get over stimulated just out on the training field. It was very frustrating and I often left club feeling hopeless and lost on the drive home. I love Seppel, I love doing things with him, but he is a weirdo. I know that he can be weird about some things, but I had no idea until we left the comfort zone of our familiar training field just how weird he could be about some things. After a lot of convincing, my dad had an epiphany and agreed to let me get a dog specifically for the sport of IPO. Around the time he said 'yes' to the dog, my training director from club had brought up an almost 2 year old female malinois from California who was looking for a new handler.

Stuck has a lot of really good foundations and a great start in tracking, obedience, and protection. Her breeders show at the world level and it really shows in the training she already has on her. Stuck should be able to get to an IPO3 no problem. [Can I get her there is the question?] It's been a really big change going from my pet dogs to a Belgian Malinois, I did start a blog for her also: Stuck on You so if anyone is interested in following her adventures there you go.

I still am going to try my hardest to get Seppel his IPO1. I have a lot of really good people in club to help try to get us there and I am confident we can get it done. However, now that I have Stuck I can take a lot of the pressure I was putting onto him off, so we can have more fun. I'm going to be starting an engagement class with him next week, really hoping that we can learn a lot and help our training relationship. Seppel is an awesome dog and I appreciate all of the things he has taught me and I am so proud of all the things I have taught with him. I am also super proud of the things we have accomplished together.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Fit Dog Friday: Pain Management

I thought the information I have to share today would be a great topic for a Fit Dog Friday post. For those of us with older dogs or orthopedically compromised dogs, pain management plays an important role in keeping them mobile and fit.

I have written about it before but my dog LiLo has hip dysplasia. I discovered it when she was around 3-4 years old when I took her for a long camping trip. She had always walked kind of funny but when we came home from our trip she was very sore. X-rays revealed that she had started to get arthritis in her hips.

I can't say for sure but I believe I started giving her adequan injections when she was around 5 years old [possibly sooner]. Up until now I have maintained her hips with monthly adequan injections, fish oil, and the occasional dose of an NSAID. The adequan has been a miracle, I feel that without it she would not have the range of motion she still has and that she would have been worse off earlier on.

Over the last few weeks I've noticed LiLo has become increasingly sore after activity. LiLo loves to play ball and flirt pole, I've noticed the last few times after playing ball she is so sore afterwards that she can hardly walk. This is something new, she has always been kind of sore after a hard workout, but not to this extent. I took her swimming a few weeks ago and even that caused her to be very sore, she was even limping on the front end.

I started giving her Metacam daily a few weeks ago, as well as tramadol.

I am a firm believer that our animals when painful should NOT go without pain medication. We know so much more now about pain than we did years ago and there is no reason not to treat your pet's pain.

I had an old timer tell me that they withheld pain medication from their dog because "if he feels it, he will rest and not over do it." I'm just going to say it, that is bullshit. Who has the opposable thumb? If your dog is hurt and needs to be quiet, instead of allowing them to suffer, you give them pain medication and you crate as needed, sedate as needed, and leash walk as needed. It's called management.

Anyway, I digress, LiLo will be 11yrs old this year and I intend to make the time I have with her as comfortable as possible. I have always been leery about giving NSAIDs daily due to their toxicity to the liver and kidneys. I feel like I have been extremely lucky that we did not have to go that route for so long and I am willing to do it now because she really needs it. The truth is, for me it is all about quality of time, not quantity. I would rather LiLo have a few great years than have many miserable years.

I am hoping that by managing LiLo's pain properly she can still continue to lead a fairly active lifestyle. I intend on taking her swimming a few times a month for something low impact and will still allow her to play ball or flirt pole but will probably lower the duration for those activities so that she can participate, but won't be so sore she cannot walk. We'll see how things go.

There are different types of NSAIDs, the most commonly used ones at the practice I work at are Vetprofen/Carprofen/Rimadyl and Metacam. I talked to my boss and we send Vetprofen and Metacam most often because they seem to produce the least amount of side effects and cover a more broad spectrum as far as pain. It's a bit more technical than that, but that's the basic reasoning. There is previcox and deramaxx but those drugs tend to be harder on the guts. The truth is, all NSAIDs have side effects and what works for one dog may not work for another.

LiLo and Seppel both have a rough time with Vetprofen, when used daily they vomit and I think Seppel actually started to get an ulcer. I have used previcox on both of them and when I inquired about using an NSAID daily, metacam was recommended. LiLo has been on the metacam almost daily for the last few weeks and it doesn't bother her tummy at all. I give it to her almost everyday, especially if I am going to throw the ball for her or let her play flirt pole. So far when she has been active the medication has worked and has prevented her from being nearly as sore as she would be without it. Without medication she is miserable just a few hours after activity.

I think it is really important in aging or orthopedically compromised dogs to address their pain and treat it adequately. I know as she ages LiLo will slow down, and that is fine, but I also know managing her pain properly will help keep her healthy and as active as she can be, even for an older dog.