Tuesday, August 25, 2009


All is quiet on the canine front. We haven't been doing much of anything lately. Ok, actually Iris hasn't gotten to do much of anything lately. I've painted every room in a 2 bedroom condo, moved countless boxes (many thanks to the local liquor store for free boxes) and all of my too-many plants, and have vowed never again take a "vacation" at the same time as my room mate. I think my vacation has been more work than my job! All that has left my poor dog severely neglected. Thank the dog gods for bully sticks. Not only does it keep her busy while she's chewing it, but also she always zonks out after she finishes. At least Iris is starting to relax more in the condo. The last of the furniture is getting moved in the weekend, so it will finally feel more like "home."

I am really starting to miss doing classes with her. Plus Iris is starting to get antsy too. I might be exhausted, but Iris hasn't gotten nearly enough exercise the last couple of weeks. I am taking her to one day of a Jan Wesen clinic on the 4th, so the red dog will get to do some sheep herding. After that, I think we'll probably hold off on group classes until after the Control Unleashed class in Oct. Maybe we'll try to get in some herding on the weekend or a drop in agility class. We'll see just how crazy my bored dog makes me. At the very least, I think there's a NADAC trial in Sept we should be able to watch for "being around other dogs" practice.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who does that?

First, an Aussie health update. So far, no seizures since last Wednesday night. I still think it had something to do with refilling the prescription. Iris has always been on the generic for Keppra; the only difference is where I got the prescription filled. The tablets look exactly the same from both prescriptions, so I think it's likely they were from the same manufacturer.

I know that using a generic drug for seizures is sometimes considered a little bit like playing with fire. For a generic to be bioequivalent to the name-brand, the FDA requires the generic's rate and extent of absorption to be between 20% below and 25% above (USPharmacist.com) the name brand. Seems like a large range to me. Ok, so I know there is variation between the generic and the name-brand, but I haven't been able to find out if the FDA allows variation within the generic. For example, if company X makes a generic drug that is 90% equivalent to the name-brand, do they always have to be 90% or are they allowed to vary between 80% and 125%?

Regardless of why Iris had a few seizures last week, she seems stable now. When I refill her prescription again, I'm going to ask the vet for a few doses of Valium just in case. Her prescription lasts 60 days, so hopefully she'll be ok until then.

Now a weave poles update. Or lack of weave poles update since that's what I seam to have. We finally got a break from the humidity tonight, so I decided to take Iris out for some weave pole practice. Because we're in the process of moving, I've been storing a few things under the stairs just outside of the apartment (we live in a basement apartment). It's only a few things, and only things that I doubt anyone else would care to steal. There's a x-pen, a folded up wire crate, a few empty plant pots, and the pvc weave poles. I actually had the weave pole bases inside the apartment, but the 6 poles were under the stairs.

I'm loading the dog stuff into the car so I can drive over to the tennis court, and just to be sure I'd grabbed everything, I counted the weave poles. One, two, three, four, five.... I counted them again. Still five. I can't find the sixth pole anywhere. I know I left all 6 below the stairs. Nothing else was touched. Someone stole ONE pvc weave pole. Who does that???? The only thing out there that was worth anything was maybe the crate that I got off of craig's list (yes, my one dog needs 3 crates) so I didn't actually pay much for it. But the pvc pole? At least I have a few more poles already cut at my dad's house. Even if I didn't, I'm only out a couple bucks.

My guess is that it was one of the kids. There is a rather large pack of small children that run loose around the apartment complex. It's one of the things I won't miss about this place. I know I ran loose around the neighborhood when I was that age, but I like to think I had better manners than these kids. I don't ask much, but I do want my personal space respected. Do not ever touch my car, run up to my dog, or take things that don't belong to you. I don't think that's asking too much. I can deal with them screaming outside my bedroom window all day if they'd learn to stay out of my personal space.

And the end to the story? I have a pvc jump bar that I was going to substitute in for the missing weave pole (my weaves are 3/4" pvc and my jumps are 1" pvc, but with the cages on, it's close enough). When we finally made it over to the tennis court, there were other people already using it. They were actually using the tennis court to play tennis! Who does that? Clearly, tennis courts are fenced in for dog training. I'm starting to think the dog gods are against us.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Yet Another Round of Seizures

I just really wish life would give my little dog a break.

Last night, I took Iris over to the park for some exercise. My original plan was to bring her over to the tennis court to get some training time in, but it was a beautiful night so we opted for the park instead. We did get some practice walking politely past other dogs.

At 10 pm, Iris had another seizure. Then she had another one at 1 am. The first seizure was about 4 hrs after she got her evening med, and the second seizure was only one hr after she'd had her before-bed dose (she gets her meds 3x a day). Now I'm starting to worry if she's on the right drug. It's been 6 weeks since her previous round of seizures. Before going on medication, she was going 3-4 weeks between seizures. This time she only had two seizures instead of the seven she had last time. That's a definite improvement in the number of seizures, but I was really hoping she'd go longer than 6 weeks. I wish I knew what was triggering it.

Iris is on levetiracetam (generic for Keppra). I refilled her prescription last weekend, and she started the new prescription on Sun night (exact same drug and dosage, but I had it filled at Costco instead of Wallgreens because of a significant price difference). It seems odd that she had a seizure 48 hrs after the switch.

Maybe Iris came in contact with something on our walk last night? One of the paths runs alongside a cornfield. Were they using any pesticides or fertilizers on the corn? Also, Iris has been having allergy issues for the last week or so too. She's itchy, and her eyes are runny. On Tues morning, I increased the amount of fish oil she's getting because the extra omega 3s seem to help her allergies. I have seen a couple studies which indicate that omega 3s decrease the frequency of seizures in humans, so that's my least likely suspect unless it's something else in with the fish oil?

Iris just had another seizure while I was typing this. Crap. I'm not sure what to do next. Try switching her meds? Refill her prescription at Wallgreens? Have her seen by a neurologist for a second opinion? It took her longer to snap out of this last seizure. Every other time she's had a seizure, she's been up (or at least trying to get up) as soon as it's over. After this last one, she just lay still on her side panting for 3-4 min. Now she's up and searching for food (typical for her post-seizure. She was eating dirt earlier tonight. Dork) and pacing around the apartment.

Hopefully we'll both sleep through the rest of the night.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Reactive Dogs - Part II

After Tuesday's events, I figured Iris would be a complete bitch in class on Wed. Not so! I'd say she was pretty average on her scale of reactivity.

For the last couple months, we've been going to a reactive agility dogs class. The emphasis is on getting your dog to work around other dogs without exploding. Not an easy thing for a certain red dog! The class we're in now is usually 3-4 dogs - a very little Poodle, a Border Terrier, and a Bernese Mountain Dog.

The class starts with everyone walking the dogs in a circle around the room. Heel position isn't important, just loose-leash walking. It gives the dogs a chance to settle in and see the other dogs moving around a little bit. Even this is hard for Iris. When we started taking the class, I was tossing treats on the floor pretty much every time Iris took a step. "Hey, you just took one step without exploding! Cookies rain from the sky!" She's gotten better and will usually take treats from my hand. We switched classes a few weeks ago, so the dogs in class are relatively new to Iris, which means Iris got worse again. Not horrible, but if either of the other dogs moves too quickly (in Iris' opinion) or make any noise, she'll get in a couple woofs.

Next, the dogs spread out around the room and they all do one obstacle each simultaneously (everyone is on leash). Carolyn has been having all of the dogs do a jump first and then everyone switching to something else, usually a contact obstacle. Moving dogs, especially if they're doing something that makes noise (like running across the dogwalk), are the biggest trigger for Iris. This part is HARD for her. Getting her to go over one jump while there's a dog on the other side of the room going over one jump is not easy for her. She has a tendency to walk through the jump if she's trying too hard to watch the other dogs. This is BY FAR the most difficult thing we work on in class.

For the last couple weeks, we've worked on having one dog off-leash doing one obstacle (last week it was the dogwalk) while the other dogs lay down on matts nearby. Iris actually does better with this. She has no problem with working while the other dogs are laying down quietly (which is close to what she's used to for agility class anyway), and she does pretty good about laying down while the other dogs work. She's not really relaxed, but she's not exploding either. I end up doing sort of a combination of asking her for attention and playing the "look at that" game while we wait.

The biggest accomplishment of the week is that the events of Tues did NOT seem like a major setback for Iris. She wasn't any more reactive in class that she usually is, and she's certainly still less reactive than when we started the class. Big sigh of relief!