Thursday, February 10, 2011

Getting To The Bottom Of My Dog's
Start Line Stay, Literally
(Part 1)

Recently, I observed my agility dog break his "sit" start line stay, yelping and looking at his rear end. Yelping at his rear end was nothing new, and neither was breaking the start line stay, but seeing the two behaviors together was new. Could this be a clue?

For the past year and a half, my Doberman Lucas, has been struggling with anal gland issues. These issues have been steadily getting worse. For example, after yelping at his rear end in practice and breaking his start line stay, I took him to the vet to have his anal glands expressed. The anal glands were impacted and his entire rear end was very sore. 

Five days later, Lucas had a sleepless night, standing and pacing. Having not ever seen Lucas act this way before, I was very concerned. Honestly, I thought he had bloat. After taking him to a different vet. for a full evaluation, the prognosis again was impacted anal glands.

Clearly, Lucas' anal gland problem is very painful. So much so that I can not express them myself anymore. All that can be done at this point is to add more fiber to his raw food diet, and regularly get his anal glands expressed. Having the anal glands removed does not seem like a good option at this point, for it could cause fecal incontinence.

Lucas' History With The Start Line
In the beginning (novice level) of Lucas' agility career he did not have a problem with his start line stay. 

Months later (open level), he started to have concerns with the dogs standing behind him, resulting in him breaking the start line stay. He would run around the jump to be with me. After working on this problem, he developed confidence and was holding his start line stay. 

Sometime, after moving up to the Excellent level, his anal gland problem started and his start line stay was off and on. (More off than on)

Wanting to fix this problem, I started implementing the popular start line solutions and games. I religiously walked him off the course in trials and practice if he broke his start line stay. The result, still Lucas was still breaking his start line stay. (We walked off more courses in 2010 than we ran)

My Light Bulb Moment
After watching Lucas break his "sit" start line stay, yelping and looking at his rear end last week, I realized, his anal gland problem and sore rear end, could very likely be a large contributing factor to why Lucas breaks most of his start line stays.

In practice, I have started putting Lucas in a "down" at the start line. So far, Lucas has held a solid down until his release cue is given. Could it be that simple? I think the true test will be in a trial setting.

Look for part two of "Getting To The Bottom Of My Dog's Start Line Stay, Literally" in mid March after our first trial of the year.

Note: Although Lucas' anal gland problem is painful at times, he has not exhibited any pain or discomfort running a course or playing. In fact, he is eager, happy, and energetic during his physical activity.

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Paw It Forward" & Help A Dog In Need

Two ways to "Paw It Forward" for Rommel, a Doberman in need of surgery, who has been diagnosed with Laryngeal Paralysis. Donate through the ChipIn donation site or purchase a "Paw It Forward" shirt, and a $5.00 donation will be made by Much About The Mutt to Rommel.

Laryngeal Paralysis And The Effects
Laryngeal Paralysis (LP), is a disorder in which, the nerves that control the muscles / cartilage that open and close the larynx, do not function properly. In short, this disorder causes difficulty with eating or breathing. LP may become so severe that the dog cannot take in sufficient air, which can become a life-threatening situation. Severe cases of LP can damage the windpipe so badly resulting in a respiratory collapse or even death.

What Causes Laryngeal Paralysis?
The cause of LP is currently unknown. It has been reported that LP is more likely to effect large dogs.

About Rommel the Doberman
Terise Anderson, Rommel's mother, affectionately describes him as, "the perfect gentleman to all creatures", a "big boy with a gentle personality and a huge heart", and "a true Doberman ambassador".

At the age of six, Rommel began his career as a therapy dog, working for Dogs On Call at the VCU Medical Center. Rommel was so important to this program that he even had his own business card. Sadly, his LP disorder now keeps him from being able to visit the sick and do his best work, which is cheering up others.

Rommel's Favorite Toy and Activity: 
Rommel loves stuffed toys, the bigger the better! His favorite activity is walking at the park (dangerous now, because of his Laryngeal Paralysis disorder) and spooning with mom on the couch or bed.

Rommel's Surgery
The good news, is that Rommel's vet feels like he can fix his disorder with a small surgery. The bad news is that it's expensive. Rommel's Mother, Terise, is a nurse who is currently in graduate school full time studying nurse anesthesia. There is not much time to work while in this program, so big expenses are a big problem. Hopefully, the dog-loving community will come together and "chip in" to help offset the cost of the surgery.

There Are Two Ways To Help

Make a donation for Rommel's surgery
through the  donation site, ChipIn.pIn.

Purchase a "Paw It Forward" t-shirt and 
Much About The Mutt will donate $5.00 
of each shirt sale to Rommel's surgery.