Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Poor Iris has been limping off and on for about a month now.  We've already been to see the vet once and he felt that it was just a pulled muscle in her right front shoulder (of course when I brought her in, she was prancing around showing no symptoms at all).  He gave her front leg and shoulder a really thorough exam and she showed no sign of pain, so we decided to wait and see instead of doing x-rays at the time.

Over the last week, her limp had almost completely gone away, but of course after traveling for the holidays, it seems to have gotten worse again.  She really only limps at night, and it's definitely worse on days that she does a lot of running around.  Now I'm debating about what to do next.  I could take her back to her regular vet for x-rays and bloodwork (she hasn't been tested for lyme recently), but it just seems to be acting like an injury or maybe arthritis.  She is 9 1/2 years old now, and her balance really isn't what it used to be before she started on phenobarb.

I am going to make her an appointment with the chiropractor next week.  I probably should have done that weeks ago, but I've been so busy with work before the holidays that I just haven't had the chance to get her in.  She already gets glucosamine and fish oil daily.

I miss being able to take my girl out for a walk.

Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from me and the red dog!

photo of Iris wearing reindeer antlers

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Long Overdue Update

Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted an updated about the red dog! Is anyone still following this blog?  Both the summer and the fall flew by.  I've actually been quiet busy with my photography work, especially this fall. Things are starting to get quieter now with the holiday right around the corner. Unless it snows, winter isn't the prettiest season for photography so I expect the next couple of months to be quiet too.

Things with Iris have been so uneventful, I haven't even thought about writing. However, we did just pass a big milestone for my girl - she's been seizure free for seven months!  I actually meant to post when she passed the six month mark, but I forgot.  Although, I don't mind celebrating seven months instead!  I'm not really sure why she's been able to go for so long, but I'm certainly not complaining.  We did increase her Pb after a bad episode last February.  She still had an episode in March and one in April, but nothing since then.

black and white photo of Iris sitting in a chair

Other than that, not much else is new.  Iris is enjoying the cooler weather because it means I'll let her ride in the car while I visit all of my dog-walking clients.  Even though my roommate has been working from home for the last few months, Iris would still rather spend the afternoon in the crate in car with me than be left behind.  Silly girl.  But who could say "no" to that face?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Annual Blood Work

May is always a big month for the red dog.  May 6th was her birthday - my girl is 9 years old!  That I can't believe.  When she hits double digits next year, we're having a party.  Since she's sometimes a bitch, she probably won't want to invite any of her friends.  She'd rather keep all of the cake for herself.  Oh well, if she wants a cake, she's going to have to wear a party hat too.  And I'll probably invite her friends anyway.

May is also when Iris is due for her annual exam and blood work.  Her vet said she looked great although she is starting to get some tarter on her teeth.  She'll probably be due for a dental next year since I'd like to clean her teeth before they get too bad.  Dr K thought her corneal dystrophy looks a little worse, but still not bad enough to affect her vision.  Other than that, she's looking good!  Got her blood work back today and everything was normal.  Hooray!  Even though I had no reason to think that she'd be anything other than normal, I still worried and worried.

Her phenobarbital levels are right smack in the middle of the therapeutic range, so we're where we should be on her pb dose.  We did talk about whether we should make any adjustments to her meds given that she's still having 4-6 seizures roughly once every 4 weeks.  The next option would be to try switching her from keppra to zonisamide (we'd have to wean her off keppra gradually).  It's a gamble (she might do better on zonisamide, or she might be doing better on keppra), and weaning her off keppra could trigger more seizures even if the end result could potentially be an improvement.  Her vet doesn't feel it's a necessary switch to make right now, and I don't feel like it is either.  In terms of quality of life, she has four weeks where she feels completely fine, one day that she's miserable, and then four more weeks of being totally ok.  It is nice to know that there's something else we can try if she gets worse.  We've been adjusting her dose roughly annually, so maybe we'll have to revisit this in the fall.

But for now, Iris is a (mostly) healthy nine-years-young crazy dog.  And now, we're off to enjoy spring!

Photograph of Iris standing under the cherry trees.  The trees are covered in pink flowers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Epilepsy Update

I've tried a few times to write a "seizure update," but it seems like I only think of writing one after Iris has had a couple seizures.  Problem with that is I am tired after "seizure day" (or two days, as has been her recent pattern).

At the end of 2010, Iris went 15 weeks without any seizures.  I was hoping she might do the same this past winter, but unfortunately, that was not the case. She continued right along on her every-four-weeks schedule.  Even more stressful is that her clusters had been getting gradually more severe. Rather than having 3-4 seizures per episode and being done after a few hours, she was up to around 10 seizures over a 24-36 hr period. I talked it over with her vet and we made the decision to increase her phenobarbital dose (again) on Feb 7th.

Iris' seizures almost always start in the middle of the night, although lately they've been starting closer to morning.  In the past, she would have one bad night of 3-4 seizures and then by the next night, she'd be starting to feel better.  Starting last November, she's been continuing into the second night.  She was up to 4-5 seizures during the first night, maybe 1-2 over the course of the next day, and another 2-3 the following night.  Which means 48 hrs or so of postictal crazy dog.

After increasing her meds in Feb, it seems like the total number of seizures she's having is better.  Yesterday she had 4 seizures starting around 5am (all fairly close together) and then had one more around 6am this morning.  Definitely better than the ~10 seizures she was having before increasing her meds.  But two nights of seizures means two days of postictal dog.  And honestly, I'm more worried about her doing something crazy and hurting herself when she's postictal than hurting herself during a seizure.

Sometimes I feel like it's hard to determine what is an "acceptable" level of control for Iris.  Ten seizures is definitely unacceptable.  Is 5 seizures per episode ok?  Is two nights in a row as "acceptable" as we're going to get?  She's due for her annual exam and bloodwork in May, so I guess we'll reevaluate then.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

If I knew then what I know now...

I've been seeing a lot of these "if I knew..." posts today, mostly regarding agility training, so I thought I'd do one for Iris.  I originally adopted Iris to be my agility dog.  While we did do some agility training, in the end I don't think our agility adventures had much to do with jumps or tunnels.  But it did have a lot to do with building a relationship with my crazy little red dog - the dog who tried my patience, drove me tears, and made me want to scream.  The dog who makes me smile every single day.

To my red dog, if I knew then what I know now, I would still choose you.

Red on Red - photo of Iris sitting on the futon

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Temper Tantrums

Iris has come so far since I first adopted her. Sometimes I really can't believe she's the same dog. But she does have one lingering bad habit I'd really like to work on with her.

Whenever I leave Iris in her crate, she throws a "temper tantrum." I really can't think of a better way to describe it. I'm pretty sure she's barking mainly out of frustration and not anxiety (although there probably is some anxiety too).  She barks and barks and scratches at the crate and then barks some more.  I think this goes on for about 15 min or so. Then she settles down and is quiet for the rest of the time I'm away. Living in a condo, I do really worry about her bothering the neighbors.  I generally try to time when I have to leave Iris for when I know my neighbors are at work, but sometimes that isn't possible.

A few things about the situation.
  • The barking is specific to being left alone at home.
  • She'll bark regardless of how I contain her at home (I've tried an x-pen, different crate, gated in a bathroom).
  • She does not bark if I crate her in the car and then leave her alone in the car, which is why I think it's more of a frustration issue than an anxiety issue.
  • When I come home, she's completely silent (when I first adopted her, we did work on not barking to get let out).
  • I've tried leaving her with a kong.  She won't touch it.  I might be able to get her to chew on it if I was right there.

Iris MUST be crated when I leave.  She's gotten herself in some really weird (and dangerous) positions during a seizure while I've been home and able to help her.  If she has a seizure when I'm not home, the crate is the safest place for her.  I don't generally leave her for long, usually only 1-2 hours.  Occasionally, I'll leave her for longer, but that's unusual.

So any ideas?  For the next couple weeks, I don't think there will be any days when I have to leave her home.  It seems like it would be a good opportunity to work on this issue.  I'm just not sure quite how to start.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I'm a bit of a night-owl. Iris is really not at all. She usually goes upstairs and gets in bed around 9:30pm. Around 11:30, she comes back downstairs and refuses to go up to bed unless I go with her. She's ok with napping upstairs by herself, but when it gets to be bedtime, she can't go alone.

Sometimes she's adorable.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Peanut Butter Face

Ok, a quick post just for Raelyn....  I know I'm way overdue for a real update, but for now you'll have to settle for a few photos of Iris enjoying one of her favorite activities - making strange faces at the camera.  :-)

Iris looking at the camera making a silly face with her nose twisted to the side

Iris really is such a weirdo.  Does anyone else have a dog who can bend their face that way?  Iris' best faces happen when she's enjoying her favorite treat - peanut butter! And since she gets peanut butter with her pills 3x a day, I get to see plenty of funny faces.

Series of photos of Iris sticking out her tongue while she's trying to get the peanut butter off the roof her of her mouth
(click on above for larger view)

"So all you want me to do is sit here and eat peanut butter?"

Iris sticking her tongue out.  You can see the peanut butter on her tongue.

Iris thought this was the most fun photo session ever.  The thing I love most about this dog is that she makes me smile every single day.