Thursday, September 29, 2011

Companionship, Class, and Bug-date

Zeek & Zoe

First the great news, the g-pigs are getting along famously. The change in Zeek is dramatic, to say the least. He was a pig that was practically “nose to the corner” (i.e. g-pig slang for giving up/dying) and how he has a new lease on life. I find myself watching the two of the eat hay! And when I hear purring or wheeking my heart swells.

Zoe was a bit shell-shocked the first day or two, but she has started to come out of her shell. She still does not really trust me, but she does now bolt out to eat when I put new hay or pellets in their cage (versus hiding until I leave). I have also spotted her trying the vegetables. My g-pigs have always loved veggies (spring mix, carrots, bell pepper, parsley, watermelon, and the list goes on). Zoe never had any of those items so there are a lot of new experiences going on at once for her. I think one of the reasons she is so overweight is because she ate primarily a pellet diet. Ideally pigs should eat hay as their primary food with 2 cups of veggies a day. A tablespoon of pellets is okay every other day as a treat, but not as the primary diet. I should weigh her because I suspect she will lose weight with me.

This experience with Zeek really illustrates to me how much animals NEED companionship. Had I not gotten Zoe I have no doubt Zeek would have died or been euthanized. What planted the seed of pursuing a companion g-pig for Zeek was a piece I heard on The World on NPR last week on guinea pigs in Switzerland. In Switzerland you can not own a single pig. It is illegal. There is a woman there who raises g-pigs, and she rents our g-pigs to people who have lost a pig and need a companion for it. I know a friend of mine, who is the Assistant Director of a ferret rescue, said they do the same thing (well, they lend them out – not rent them out) because they find ferrets grieve quite deeply for their companions.

Ikey P.

Ike had agility class on Tuesday night. He still needs to be adjusted in stride and his a-frame was a bit off, I think as a result. He was not quite jumping off early, but his stride was off coming off the a-frame and it did not look comfortable to my trainer. Other than that he had a nice class. It was dark out, the outdoor lights were on, and he was still willing to go in the navy tunnel. Yes! Finally tunnels are becoming more rewarding.

He also interacted with a 4 month old poodle and it was a positive interaction! Ike has always disliked puppies. However, since Hush stayed with us and he discovered she was just annoying and desperately wanted him to love her….ta-da! He is not longer so bothered by puppies. There was also a 9 week old Belgian Terv there and Ike didn’t even blink at his presence. This attitude about puppies is new and I certainly hope it stays.


Bug is scheduled to have a Bile Acid Test (BAT) on Saturday. Bug will be fasted (12 hours), have blood drawn; be fed a fatty meal, have blood drawn again. The whole process is scheduled to take 2 hours. I am unsure if the test will be processed in house or if I will be waiting for the results. The vet will look at the bile acid levels to see if the liver is processing the meal correctly.  From my conversation with the vet, and research, this is a common step in ascertaining whether the liver is functioning properly.

Here is a blog post I found called Demystifying the Bile Acid Test

If the BAT comes back high the vet suggested the next step might be a liver biopsy. In talking to some friends/acquaintances who’s dogs have liver issues (all diagnosed at different ages [5, 4, and 10] with different symptoms) their path seemed to be CBC, BAT, then ultrasound. We did CBC, ultrasound, and soon to be followed by the BAT. In some ways I suppose it would have been easier if the ultrasound showed a shunt. All three of my friends’ dogs had developed shunts that were immediately apparent with the ultrasound. The great news is the ultrasound did NOT show any growths! All the organ structures were “unremarkable.

I have decided to suspend Rally lessons with Bug until we figure out what is going on. His stamina seems impacted by whatever is going on and he isn’t 100%.  I am tired, distracted, and not devoting enough time to training.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

TTouch Seminar

Today I attended a 3 hour TTouch seminar with Bug. It was excellent. I learned so much and it is just scratching the surface! The presenter, Sally Sizer, gave us a brief introduction to the philosophy of the Tellington TTouch (created by Linda Tellington-Jones [LTJ]) and then began to introduce us to some of the various TTouches and their purposes.

The seminar was geared toward performance dogs, but I was there purely because I am interested in TTouch. I recently read The Tellington TTouch (<-- use this link to support ForPaws Corgi Rescue) for the first time and was blown away by the possibilities, behaviorally speaking. In addition, since I do have a dog with hip dysplasia, I thought it would be beneficial to his overall well being. TTouch uses what LTJ refers to as non-habitual movements to activate unused neurological pathways to the brain. By stimulating different parts of the body and brain you stimulate the animal to think and make different choices.

The foundation to all the different TTouches is based on circular movements of the fingers and hands. When doing TTouch it is suggested you visualize a clock and start at 6 o'clock with your fingers. You will move clockwise, past 6 o'clock to finish at 8 o'clock.

Pressure is a very important aspect of TTouch. TTouch uses very light pressure in a range of 1 - 6. The 1 pressure is the equivalent of the amount of pressure you can apply with a fingertip on your eyelid - moving it gently clockwise. We practiced our movements on our own arm prior to working on our dogs to try and establish a 3 pressure.

We then went through a variety of TTouches (circular slide, Noah's March, Llama TTouch, Abalone TTouch, Racoon TTouch, Ear TTouch, and the Tellington Heart Hug) and when would be appropriate to use them. We also discussed using tools like a mitt to help lessen the energetic impact for a sensitive animal.

We discussed the benefits of using a t-shirt or body wrap (with an Ace bandage) for anxiety and to increase proprioception. For dogs that are dealing with any sort of leg or hip related injury Sally specifically recommended the full body wrap 2x/day for 10 minutes at a time. She taught us how to do both the Half Wrap and the Full Wrap.

I would say there were only 3 dogs out of 12 that were not displaying some form of anxiety in the workshop (Bug , a 6 yo Pom, and an older Golden). By the end of the class one of the stress-y dogs was sound asleep and the energy in the room had changed dramatically. It was pretty amazing and an awesome experience to witness something that is somewhat inexplicable work so effectively.

If your dog stresses I highly recommend looking for a TTouch workshop. Even if your dog doesn't stress I think you would find it incredibly beneficial. I noticed a big change in my energy too. I have had a very stressful 2 weeks and I found myself feeling incredibly centered and grounded.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Yesterday Bug had his ultrasound. He was awesome, such a good, good corgi.

He had to lay on his back with a vet tech holding his forelegs and a vet tech holding his rear legs. Dr. H shaved his belly and off we went.

Everything was unremarkable. His liver looked great. His gallbladder, which can sometimes be responsible for elevated GGT enzymes, looked "pristine." His spleen was large and not where Dr. H expected it to be, but it also looked great. She was unable to see his right kidney past his liver. His left kidney did show some sign of crystallization, but since he is not prone to urinary tract infections she is not worried about it.

He was down another pound on the same scale as the day before. Very, very weird.

Dr. H and Dr. M are going to confer and let me know what the next step is. Dr. M thinks the weight loss might be metabolic. Hyperthyroid is not as common in dogs as it is in cats, but it does happen. I have also e-mailed my tick list to see if they think it could be a TBD he hasn't been tested for.

His only symptom is the weight loss and loss of muscle mass in his rear. I think the bacterial dermatitis is just an indication his system is stressed. He has a voracious appetite (interesting considering the continued weight loss), his bowel movements are normal, and his activity level is very similar. He might be tiring a little bit quicker.

Does this sound like anything you've ever experienced with a dog?

Introducing Zoe

Introducing Zoe, the guinea pig. She is a 2 year old smooth coated American. Her coloring is tortoise shell and white. She is not well marked though, as she truly has only one small splash of tortoise shell coloring. The only downside is I really wanted to get a senior pig and she is only 2 years old. All the senior pigs out there are males and I just wasn't sure how that would work out.

We introduced her to Zeek in a neutral pen and they hit it right off. Zeek was showing more interest than he has in quite some time. He even ate some hay there!

Here's hoping this is what little Zeek needs.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lucky Bug - Blueberry Kale Slurry

This is Bug in his Soft-E-Collar. Unfortunately the topical anesthetic wore off and he decided he must go after his tail again.

I just spoke to Dr. F and he recommended I make a Blueberry and Steamed Kale slurry for Bug. He said he finds the combo very healing for skin related issues because both items are so high in vitamins and antioxidants. It is a 1 to 1 ration with some water added in if it is too dry. He said to give 1/4 c  with every meal.

Looks like I am off to Whole Foods since CVS does not carry aloe without alcohol and I am afraid I am going to decimate my aloe plant before Bug is healed up.

Edit: Kathy asked for more specifics about the Blueberry Kale Slurry. I re-read the post and realized I wrote it as though you'all could read my mind or were listening in on the conversation with Dr. F. Here are more specific instructions for the slurry:

Steam one bunch of kale, today that ended up being 2 packed cups worth after steaming.

Reserved the water used to steamed the kale.

Since it is a 1 to 1 ration use 2 cups of blueberries.

Add 2 cups of steamed kale and 2 cups of fresh blueberries (but frozen would be fine too) to blender.

To make it more of a gruel and not quite as thick, add some of the reserved water. Today I used roughly 2/3s of a cup of the reserved water.

 Voila! Feed 1/4 c of the mix with each meal.

Patchwork Corgi and Pig-date

Poor Bug. He has bacterial dermatitis which is a precursor to a hot spot. The spot on his lower back was shaved and cleaned last night. This morning he was going after his tail and I saw blood. I shaved that spot down, too, and cleaned it. Fortunately the vet gave me a topical anesthetic spray. Once I sprayed his tail with the topical anesthetic he has left it alone.

Needless to say I have scrapped the grains! I am going to buy some squash and sweet potatoes at the supermarket. I also just bought a boatload of quinoa (dirt cheap) via a local co-op so I will try some of that for him too.

I will also think about a new more sensitive shampoo for him.

The bloodwork is a bit of a mystery. His liver enzymes were elevated (GGT and bilirubin), so we are going back for an ultrasound this afternoon (more shaving!). Many things (that aren't that alarming) could cause the enzymes to be elevated - it could be casued by the weight loss itself! So which caused which? I have many more questions than answers at this point.

Hopefully we will not see anything alarming like a growth, etc. I know the elevated enzymes can be treated fairly easily.

He was very stress-y at the vet's office yesterday. He is usually a model patient, so I must assume his behavior was related to how he physically feels and my stress level. Needless to say my stress level is a bit high. :O)

Oh the g-pig front, I have decided to adopt a senior guinea pig to keep Zeek company. I truly do not feel, in my gut, that there is anything physically wrong with him. I really think he is broken hearted over the loss of his companion.

He has a vet appointment today and I am meeting a friend's mum who raises g-pigs tomorrow. She has two g-pigs she thinks might work for Zeek - one is a sow and one is an undersized boar. If that doesn't work out the Boston MSPCA has multiple seniors. The only issue I forsee with the MSPCA's seniors is that they are all male. Zeek is neutered (he came neutered from the shelter), so there is a chance he could live happily with another male. Two intact males will fight all the live-long-day.

There you have it. Hopefully I will have good news later today and the mystery of Bug's weight loss and liver enzymes will be solved! Or at least closer to a conclusion.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

When it Rains....

Oh where to begin?  I have been so busy.

Zeek (g-pig) is failing, Ike has been sick, and Bug is randomly losing weight. Initially I attributed the weight loss to playing with Hush. I increased Bug’s food and he regained the 4#s he lost. He was feeling skinny to me over the weekend and I weighed him on Monday - he is down 1.5# …. He is still getting the extra food and Hush is gone. I made an appointment to have bloodwork done, which the CVH really wanted me to do after the initial 4# weight loss. Then last night I discovered some sort of skin issue on Bug’s back. Dr. F thinks that is great – he hopes it is a curative skin eruption. I am a wreck due to it coinciding with the weight loss. I am hopeful (ha) it is a hot spot. I have added a cup of oatmeal to Bug’s diet in hopes of getting the weight back on him. I know grains can trigger hot spots. He also had a bath on Saturday. I did blow him dry, but perhaps the two items together caused a hot spot? I have never had to deal with a hot spot, if that is what it is, before and freaked out when I found it last night. It is not in a spot he can reach which should be good in terms of healing.

In other news, we have been attending agility class and just started up with our Rally lessons again after about a month off. We are going to start looking for some matches to attend in the fall, but first I have to get everyone healthy.


Yesterday John and I celebrated our 9 year wedding anniversary! To celebrate we went out to dinner at our favorite local Indian restaurant, Coriander Bistro, followed by cupcakes and pupcakes from Bread & Chocolate Bakery. Yum!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bye-Bye, Hush

Hush went home on Sunday. Very sad for all of us here (especially John and Bug), but happy for Holly and her pack. She was a joy to have stay with us and to have the opportunity to watch her blossom!

Me and my favorite corgi-girl

Thursday, September 1, 2011