Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Corgi Loves Lennon?

I don't know why this video is so hysterical.  But it really is.  I love that the dog only responds to the guy's Beatles impersonation!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Purple Day - 12/52

Today is Purple Day, a day to raise awareness about epilepsy.

I don't usually celebrate "awareness days," mostly because I tend to forget what day I should be celebrating on.  But Toby's Foundation (which is a really great organization) is collecting photos of dogs decked out in purple, and well, Iris is a show off.  For anyone visiting here for the first time, my beloved Aussie dog, Iris, was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2009.

Purple Day - 12/52

For this photo, she's also looking out the window - something she knows she's not allowed to do.  During her photo session, she kept glancing out the window and then looking back at me.  On a seizure day (yesterday started with 3 seizures), Iris' brain doesn't seem to be functioning all the way for the rest of the day.  It really lowers her inhibition so things she normally never does (looking out windows, stealing food off tables, getting in the trash, etc) she will definitely do on a seizure day.  On her worst days, she'll pretty much forget all her training including basic commands and housebreaking.  She's also a lot less subtle.  I'm pretty sure she thought she was sneaking glances out the window.  Except I was sitting right next to her so she's not very subtle at all.

Sometimes it's really frustrating, but most of the time she's just sort of silly.  Yesterday morning after her seizures, I had her in the kitchen on a leash while I was getting her breakfast.  She'll sometimes try to eat non-food objects after her seizures, so that's the reason for the leash.  I wasn't paying very close attention to her and all of the sudden she started pulling on the leash and tangling it up.  I looked over and she'd managed get herself just outside of the kitchen and was sitting waiting for her breakfast.  A lot like this, actually.  Especially after her seizures, once she gets an idea in her head then there's no talking her out of it.  At least this idea made sense!  Sometimes she comes up with weird things, like needing to sit 2 ft away from where she's currently sitting.  Also, seizures made her smell weird.  No idea why, but there is definitely a "post seizure smell."  My roommate has noticed it too.

In honor of Purple Day, I thought I'd share some of my favorite epilepsy links.
  • Toby's Foundation - I know I already shared this one above, but they have some good information and they also do a good amount of fundraising for epilepsy research.
  • Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels - A lot of really informative articles including articles about medications and other causes of seizures besides epilepsy
  • Canine Epilepsy Resource Center - Another great collection of articles, similar to the Guardian Angels site
  • Canine Epilepsy Network - This website was initially put together by the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. The articles contain a lot of good information, including info on the latest research.  Definitely a slant toward traditional medicine.
  • Australian Health and Genetics Institute - Dedicated to improving the health of the Australian Shepherd breed.  One of the things they do is fund research trying to identify the genes associated with epilepsy.
  • University of Minnesota Idiopathic Epilepsy Research - The big research project searching for genes connected to epilepsy.  There actually was some promising news for Aussies in February.  Even though there's a long was to go, any progress is good to see!

I think it's easy to get caught up in learning about the disease itself and all the meds and side effects and progression....  And being informed is a good thing.  But really, the most important thing to remember about living with an epi dog is enjoy life! Iris certainly does!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Finding Phenobarbitol

I'm not sure if there are any epi dog owners reading this blog, but here's a heads up just in case.

I just tried to refill Iris' pb prescription and had a hard time finding a pharmacy that had any in stock.  The first couple of places I called told me that pb is back-ordered and it would probably be another 30 days before they had any in stock.  Not good!  I did find a pharmacy that had some but had to get a smaller amount than usual (I normally get 150 tablets but was only about to get 119.  That will still last just over a month, so I'm not too worried but it probably means they're low too).  I'm guessing this is related to the pb recalls?  I've never had a problem finding it before.

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up that you may be in for a bit of drive to fill a pb perscription so definitely allow yourself sone extra time.  Also, the price was more than double what I usually pay.  Not really a big deal since pb is very inexpensive, but it's a pretty good illustration of supply and demand!

Witch Hats - 11/52

Just a quick photo of the red dog that I wanted to share before tomorrow.

Photo of just Iris' eyes and ears.  There's an out-of-focus but very colorful bookshelf in the background.
Witch Hats - 11/52

Iris' crazy ears are one of my favorite things about her.  I think it was Katrin who first said that Iris' ears look like little witch hats.  I love my mixed up pup with her ears that can't decide if they go up or down and eyes that can't decided if they're blue or brown.

This post also means that I've caught up on the 52 weeks project!  Perfect because tomorrow we're celebrating Purple Day.  I think Iris missed the memo and decided to raise awareness early by starting today off with three seizures.  Sometimes Iris is a little too type-A.  I'd have settled for a purple bandanna.


I'm not sure why we're back to a 3-4 week seizure schedule.  Sigh.  And she was doing so well.

Feeling much more disappointed in today's seizures than the round that broke her 15 week stretch.  I have no idea what changed for her.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beauty Sleep - 9/52

Photo of Iris sound asleep on the couch.  She's sprawled out on the couch on top of a blue fluffy blanket. You can see more pillows in the background.
Beauty Sleep - 9/52

This week Iris decided to take a break from the life of a supermodel.  If I could please take my camera somewhere else, that would be great.  As you can see, the red dog is really rather busy right now.

It is hard work being beautiful.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Housing Complexes and Reactivity - Part 1

What is it about housing complexes that seems to create dog-dog reactivity?

Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood where it seemed as if every house had a family dog. As a general rule, all of the dogs in the neighborhood got along. Sure, a dog in a yard would bark at another dog walking down the street, but the dog passing by would never bark back. It was almost as if the walking dog knew he had the upper paw. And the same dogs who would bark from their yards would politely greet other dogs if they were out on leash.

After moving into an apartment, I was shocked by the number of reactive dogs living there. I'd estimate that 80% of the dogs there were reactive to other dogs (I couldn't say how many were reactive to people because I always had Iris with me). After moving into the condo, I was again shocked at the number of dogs who are either very reactive or very inappropriate in their greetings. I would say that about 80% of the dogs here are reactive and another 15% like other dogs but are way over the top in their greetings (barking, jumping and pulling in excitement). I can only think of two other dogs here who are well behaved around other dogs.

Why such a high percentage of reactive dogs?  I'm guessing that it's a combination of factors.  Without a yard, every dog in the complex is walked on leash multiple times a day.  It doesn't matter if they behave well in public or not, they still have to be walked.  That makes reactive dogs a lot more visible than in a neighborhood where all the houses have yards.  With a yard if your dog doesn't behave, you don't have to walk him.  Even still, I can only think of two dogs from my neighborhood who were never walked because of behavior.  It was a much lower percentage of reactive dogs than the apartment/condo.

Everything about the housing complex environment just seems to really encourage dog-dog reactivity.  Because there are so many apartments and condos that don't allow dogs, the ones that do tend to have a lot of dogs.  So there's a lot of dogs on leash in a relatively small space.  It's also a lot of untrained dogs in a small space.  Odds are good that with that many dogs, there's going to a few reactive ones and I wonder how much of a domino effect that has.  I know that every time Iris sees another dog outside, she's anticipating that the other dog is going to explode at her.  And nine times out of ten, she's right.  That certainly doesn't help.  It seems like a pretty quick way to turn a non-reactive dog into a reactive dog.  Without proper management do a few reactive dogs very quickly "poison" the atmosphere of the entire complex?

I'm curious to hear if anyone else has any thoughts on reactive dogs in housing complexes.  Has anyone else noticed the same scenario?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Look - 8/52

Yesterday was the first day of spring.  Today it snowed.

That's right.  Friday was absolutely gorgeous, a perfect day to be a New Englander.  Today, well, today is probably just a reminder that it's still only the very beginning of spring and we're still in New England.  My snowdrops are flowering outside.  I guess they're aptly named at least.

Since the snow confined us to the house, I decided to practice some indoor lighting techniques and figured I'd torture Iris a bit by making her model.  Today I came to the realization that Iris has only one look.  Have you ever seen the movie Zoolander?  Blue steel, magnum, or whatever, it didn't matter what he did.  It was always the exact same "look."

Photo of Iris resting her head on her paws looking straight at the camera.
The Look - 8/52

I also realized that all of the training I've done with Iris actually worked.  Maybe too well.  We've done a lot of "self control" games.  This was a good thing for Iris the crazy dog.  Turns out it might not have been the best thing for Iris the supermodel.  I'm sure most people are familiar with some version of doggie zen?  Well so is Iris.  Doesn't matter where I hold the treat, she knows that game.  Eye contact is the way to get the cookie.  Telling her to stay and then tossing treats to get her to turn her head?  We've played that game too.  She's certain the answer is "make eye contact."  Yup, Iris has only one look.

So I might be a little proud of her for remembering all those self-control games.  And she's lucky her one look is damn cute.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Shadows - 7/52

Shadows - 7/52*

Lately I've been doing a lot of reading about lighting with off-camera flash, so this was a bit of an experiment.  The flash was positioned to the left behind a plant, which created all the shadows  Also, I just can't resist the oppertunity to highlight my dog's blue eyes.

*Ok, I know we went from 6/52 to 10/52 to 7/52.  Maybe counting just isn't my thing...  Actually, it's because I'm a bad blogger and I've gotten a few weeks behind.  This week should be the 10th week and I really wanted to post the Mardi Gras photo this week.  So that's why that one got posted out of order.  Look for a few weeks with two "52 weeks" posts!

Phenobarb Recall

I just came across this recall and figured I'd pass it along in case there are any other epi dog owners who read this blog.

Mislabled Phenobarbitol Recalled

The affected lots were distributed nationwide to retail and wholesale pharmacies between Sept. 21 and Dec. 29, 2010.

So the wrong medications were distributed in September and a recall was issued in February?  WTF?  I'm so angry right now.  Whatever happened to quality control?  I don't believe Iris has taken any of the recalled drugs.  The Pb I have right now is from a different manufacturer than the one affected by the recall, and Iris usually gets 30mg tabs (the recall is for 32.4mg tabs).  She hasn't had 32.4mg tabs in quite a long time.

I just think it's unbelievable how long it took them to issue a recall.  I get Iris' prescription refilled every 30 days.  Any medication she took in September is long gone by now.  I'm pretty sure I'd have noticed something was VERY wrong as soon as she started taking the wrong medication, but would anyone have figured out it was because the drug was mislabeled?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blue Dog - 10/52

In honor of Mardi Gras, the red dog has decided to be a blue dog for the day.

Blue Dog - 10/52

And in case you'd like to see the actual blue dog, check out this blog post from artist George Rodrigue's wife.  Happy Mardi Gras!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Not the Best Morning

Three seizures for the red dog isn't exactly how I wanted to wake up this morning. Yuck. Each seizure lasted a little longer than is typical for Iris - about 1.5 to 2 min each (she's normally about 1 min). The good news is that she only went about 5 min between seizures, which means we're probably done for the day. When she's going about an hr between seizures, then we're in for a bad day.

All things considered, 15 1/2 weeks between seizures isn't bad. Far longer than I ever thought she'd go. Prior to this, she was going about 4 weeks between seizures.