Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another Seizure

Iris had another seizure Monday morning. It was almost exactly the same scenario as the last one. The sound woke me up at 6:30 am (her previous seizure was at 7:30 am). The seizure itself looked exactly the same as well. Again, no loss of bowel/bladder control and a pretty quick recovery. She was begging for breakfast about 30 min later. At least I was able to stay a lot more calm this time because I knew what was going on. Iris seemed a lot more disoriented this time than she was after the last one. I was really hoping the first one was a weird isolated incident, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

We did run a 4DX snap test to check for tick borne diseases, which was negative. Because she has no other symptoms and did go three weeks between seizures, we're going to stick with a wait and see approach. Iris' vet still thinks we should hold off on medication for now. If she has another seizure within the next couple weeks, then we'd think about putting her on meds. If she goes a few months, then we'll continue to hold off on meds. Other than time of day, I can't think of any other parallels between the seizures. We did have a thunderstorm and drop in temperature the day before her second seizure, but I can't remember the weather before the first one. Katrin sent me a couple of very good links about epilepsy: Canine Epilepsy Resources and Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels. So I've been doing a lot of reading these last couple weeks.

On a much lighter note, we did have agility class on Tues and Iris was a happy girl. Chris commented that the way Iris runs makes her looks so happy. I agree, you can really tell Iris' mood based on how she's running. She gets so bouncy when she's having fun!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Training Marine Animals

Ok, so it's not dog related but it is training related. I just found this blog: Marine Mammal Trainers Blog. There are some very cool videos on there, and it's definitely not all mammals.

My family took a trip into Boston yesterday and visited the New England Aquarium. I haven't been there in years. We were able to get discount passes from the public library (most public libraries around here have discounted passes to some museums and zoos. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum might be next on my list. It's my favorite museum and if you've never been, you should!) Anyway, while I was at the aquarium I was talking to one of the staff members. She told me that while they're renovating the marine mammals area, the mammal trainers have been keeping busy seeing what else they can train. Cool! It looks like they're working with lobsters, sea turtles, and a very impressive lumpfish names Blondie.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tues Classes

Since I've been blessed with a healthy happy dog these last few weeks (no more seizures to my knowledge), we've been keeping busy with classes instead. Phew! Right now, we're still in our regular agility class on Tues nights and also in a reactive agility class on Wed. Some notes about what we've been doing on Tuesdays:

A few weeks ago, we had our introduction to Gamblers. It was a lot of fun! In gamblers, you basically have a set amount of time to make up your own course, picking up points for each obstacle the dog does correctly. When time is up, a whistle blows and the dog has to do the gamble (a set sequence of obstacles? We didn't do that part in class). I think with a little more practice (I need more confidence!) I would really enjoy it. Iris, however, was pretty much melting down. Why? Because of the whistle. She flat out refused to take treats while she was in her crate. When I had her out, she was very distracted anticipating the whistle and trying to figure out where it was coming from. Looks like I have to buy a whistle to desensitize her. Because she was so stressed, I mostly just made it a point to send her over the dogwalk a few times because it's her favorite. The best way to get some enthusiasm out of Iris? Point her at the dogwalk. Silly girl.

This Tuesday, we worked on distance, mostly focusing on "out." Iris was awesome! She seemed VERY happy to be at class. There was a few instances where the dogs had to discriminate between a tunnel and the a-frame or between two tunnels. Iris was awesome. I admit, I had visions of her running back a forth over the a-frame, completely ignoring the tunnels. Nope! It seems as though she has a better understanding of "out" than I thought. My smart red dog! Now I just need to remember that. I tend to not use much for commands and instead I probably use her name too much if I'm using anything at all. Bad habit.

I was able to have her out and relaxed for most of class on Tues. Now that the weather is nice enough to have the doors open at the indoor, I can have Iris watch the other dogs from outside. Last class, I was even able to bring her inside (out of her crate) at the end of class. She did great. It was partly because the course was small so it was only at the back of the arena. We had more space between us and moving dogs, and the small dogs were last, which is easier for Iris to handle. She was awesome about giving me attention and doing little tricks while we waiting. Maybe the Wed night classes are helping? I'll have to give an update on that class later.

I'd say overall it was one of the best classes we've had in a while.

Monday, May 4, 2009


So far Iris hasn't had any more seizures. It was just the one on Saturday. She's acting completely fine. If I hadn't been home to see it, I wouldn't have known it happened (which is actually something that scares me. I'm still looking into setting up a webcam).

We got her blood work results today and everything came back normal. That is good news even if we don't have an answer. Iris' regular vet called about her blood work (not who we saw on Sat, we got squeezed in as an emergency and saw their part-time vet), so I got to talk to him a bit about what might be going on. He really seemed to feel that we should take a wait and see approach. Everything about Iris seems perfectly fine otherwise. The vet thinks the two most likely scenarios are that it's a response to some sort of toxin or the beginning of epilepsy (something that's becoming more common in Aussies). The other possibility is that it's a tick borne disease, although Dr K didn't think so because she's showing no other symptoms and her blood work looked good other wise. I still might have her tested.

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to go talk to the leasing office to see if anything was sprayed in or around my building or if anything was put on the lawn. My room mate thinks the landscapers were here recently, but she can't remember exactly when. Also, we used to have a lot of bugs hanging out in the building foyer because it's warm and sunny in there. The bugs disappeared recently, but I don't know if that's a change in the weather or if something was sprayed in the foyer or around the building foundation?

While I'm sitting a stressing about toxins, ticks, and epilepsy, the red dog is stretched out on the couch perfectly fine without a care in the world. I think I'm going to go join her.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I woke up this morning to the sound of Iris having a seizure. *&^@$%@! Luckily, it's Sat so I got her in to see my regular vet as soon as they opened.

As far as I know, she's just had one grand mal seizure. I'm not positive on how long it lasted because it took me a few seconds to realize what was happening. Maybe 20 seconds? Seemed like an eternity. It's the first time she's had a seizure (that I know of) in the not quite 2 years that I've had her.

The vet checked her over and everything seemed fine. We're waiting on blood work results which will hopefully come in on Monday. At the beginning of Jan, we did blood work because of her eyes which all came back normal, so at least we have a baseline.

Iris seems back to normal now. She's tired, but that might be from the stress of being at the vet (according to Iris, getting her temp taken is something akin to medieval torture). I've got no real plans for the rest of the weekend, so I can hang around here to keep an eye on her. I'll decide about work on Monday depending on how the rest of the weekend goes. Alternately, I have been thinking about setting up a webcam to get a better feel of her separation anxiety. Would it make me crazy to watch my dog while I'm at work? Probably. I might do it anyway.

I have considered that there might be something environmental that caused Seamus' death and Iris' seizure, but right now I don't think so. Because of how sensitive birds are and because of Iris' allergies, I've been pretty careful about chemicals/cleaners/etc in the house. I've racked my brain and can't come up with anything. Unless it's coming from a different apartment and getting circulated through the building? Most people here have kids so I think that's pretty unlikely. Right now, I don't believe the two are linked, though I haven't ruled it out completely.

Now we just get to wait and see. I know one isolated seizure isn't something to panic about yet, but it's still scary to have seen her like that.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Seamus Keeper

Long weeks, rough weeks. Glad this week is over.

My sweet budgie Seamus died earlier this week. He would have been 11 years old at the end of May. I was always amazed by how much personality such a small bird could have. He sang constantly. He was very social, very affectionate. He was one of my first pets to learn what a clicker was (he was so enthusiastic about touching a target stick for a bite of millet!)

Seamus was with me for so many major transitions in my life. Starting high school, starting college, euthanizing my Wheaten Terrier, Packy, graduating college and finding a job, struggling through my brief career as a wedding photographer, moving into an apartment. Seamus had gone on family vacations with me, done volumes of homework from his perch on my shoulder. He is the longest lived pet I've ever shared my life with. Seamus was always a constant.

The average life expectancy for a budgie is 8-10 years, although I have heard of them living up to 14. At almost 11, Seamus certainly lived a full life with a larger than life personality, but that doesn't necessarily make it easier.

The apartment is very quiet without his sweet song.