Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The return of Lassie

In the past, I’ve written about my family and our history of collies.  My Uncle was the first to fall in love with the collie breed.  He also loved to travel, and he would pack up his children and collies in their RV, and they traveled all over the United States.  He would send letters to his mother, my grandmother, about their adventures.  They traveled as far east as Cape Cod, and as far west as Alaska!  I inherited those letters, and I wonder what it would have been like, to see all those amazing places, with my collies by my side.

My uncle gave my grandparents their first collie, Jade.  He was a sweet, tri-color, rough collie and made a lasting impression on my sister.  Because as an adult, when she was ready for a puppy, she asked my uncle to send her a collie of her own.  That collie, another male tri-color, was different than Jade though.  My sister’s first collie was a smooth collie, and she named him Reggie. 

Jade with my Grandmother

I grew up loving all dogs, completely dog crazy.  (and that hasn’t changed)  But I was also a huge fan of the Lassie movies, and Albert Payson Terhune’s books, which were written about his Sunnybank Collies.  I eagerly looked forward to my Uncle and cousins visiting us, but also couldn’t wait to see their beautiful collies.  So it isn’t really a surprise that I planned and dreamed of the day I would one day have a collie of my own.


When I read one of Terhune’s books or when I watched one of the old Lassie movies, I am transported back in time, back to a time when I believed a collie could fix all of life’s problems.  I remember how much I loved watching those reruns of the old Lassie movies on a rainy afternoon, or reading those musty, out of print books.  So it was with both delight and some misgivings that I learned of DreamWorks Animation’s intention to produce a new Lassie movie.  In the past whenever a new movie came out featuring a specific dog breed it would mean disaster for that breed.  There would be a rash of individuals and puppy mills producing the puppies of that particular breed.   The puppies were mass-produced to cash in on the current popularity of the breed, and the parents of these puppies were not health tested, and little thought was given to temperament or genetic issues.  Before long, all those poorly bred puppies, that were the current fad, ended up in rescues and animal shelters. 

 (Scarlett puppy loves Lassie movies!)

Because of this, I naturally worry what a new Lassie movie might mean for the collie breed.  However, it would be wonderful to see Lassie capture the hearts and imaginations of a new generation.  When people were asked what words they associated with Lassie, the most common answers were “loyal, brave, hero and heartwarming.”  When we take our collies for a walk, someone always calls out to them, “Hi Lassie!”  And all too often I hear people say to each other as we pass, “Look, it’s a collie, isn’t she beautiful?  You never see collies anymore!”  In fact there are so few collies being registered with the AKC these days, that collie owners are encouraged by the Collie Club of America to have their collies act at ambassadors for the breed.  So while it would be great if there was more recognition of what this wonderful breed has to offer, collie breeders are greeting the news of a new Lassie movie with some trepidation.

What do  you think?  Is a new Lassie movie a good thing or a bad thing?  Do you have a dog breed that was part of a past fad? (Dalmatian, Chihuahua, German Shepherd, Great Dane, etc)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Busy, hot summer!

Wow, has it been hot here! Yesterday it was 105 degrees outside! The collies are spending most of their time inside, laying in front of the air conditioner. Even Pumpkin is spending most of her time trying to stay cool!

Last weekend our collie club hosted a puppy match.  We didn't get a big entry, because it was a hot and rainy day.  But a few people showed up and we had a lot of fun.  This little cutie won the Best puppy and Best in Match.
We hope everyone is managing to stay cool in this scorching, blistering, unending heat!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

What a weekend!

Our dog show weekend is over, and what a weekend we had!  Scarlett was entered on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  She won Winner's Bitch and Best of Winner's all three days! I'm so proud of Scarlett and my daughter!

This was from today's Winners Bitch class.  I'm already looking for new shows to enter!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy Scarlett!

Yesterday, we spent the 4th of July at a dog show.  It was an all-breed show, with over 1,500 dogs entered, and over 150 different breeds.  So it was a fun way to spend the holiday, for a dog lover!

It was made even more exciting, when Scarlett won!  She won Winner's Bitch and then beat the Winner's dog, for Best of Winners!  We are so proud of our little girl!


She is pretty pleased with herself too! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A danger to any dog...

Everyone has an opinion, and if you search the internet on any subject you are likely to find a variety of differing opinions and conflicting information.  I wanted to address one particular illness that is affecting our dogs.  The illness is called bloat, and it kills many dogs each year.  If you search for information on bloat in dogs, you will finds many sites telling you what to do and what not to do, to avoid this tragic illness.  Since bloat is something that collies can suffer from, it is something all collie owners should educate themselves about.  However, it is not limited to collies, bloat can be found in many dog breeds, so everyone should learn more about this illness. 

One veterinarian has written articles on how bloat is caused by feeding kibble.  He believes that feeding dogs a diet of kibble weakens the stomach, and to keep our dog’s stomachs strong and healthy, we should be feeding them a raw diet only.  But search for info on raw diets, and you will once again find conflicting information.  Some veterinarians feel raw diets are dangerous, and some expound on it’s virtues.

One thing I have read, did make some sense to me.  Dr. Peter Dobias has written that feeding a dog fruit too soon after a meal is a possible cause of bloat.  Dr. Dobias has stated that "fruit should never be fed together with the protein meal. The main reason is that fruit and protein digests very differently. Fruit digestion time in the stomach is relatively short and it will ferment and produce gas if it stays in the stomach longer.  If you feed a protein meal together with fruit, the digestion time of protein is longer and fruit fermentation is more likely to happen. That is why I recommend feeding fruit at least one hour or longer before a meal and at least four hours after eating."

With so much info to sort through, what do we do?  We look for the facts that everyone agrees upon.  I wanted to write the important information down, because knowing these facts can save your dog’s life.  Here is what you need to know:

The clinical term for bloat is gastric dilation volvulus, or GDV.  The mortality rate for dogs who suffer an attack of bloat is 50%.  That means 50% of all dogs who bloat will die, but you can do a few things to increase your dog’s chances of survival.

Bloat occurs when two things happen.  The first is that the stomach distends with gas and fluid, causing gastric dilatation. The second  thing to occur is the volvulus, which is when distended stomach rotates on its long axis.  The spleen is attached to the wall of the stomach, and it will rotate with the stomach, so splenic torsion is also a common problem in bloat.  Not every dog with gastric dilatation will suffer from a volvulus, or torsion, especially if it is caught early.

When the stomach twists, it prevents air/gas from escaping.  As the stomach becomes distended, blood flow is compromised and this can result in necrosis of the stomach and intestines.  Which means the lack of blood flow actually causes the tissues of the stomach and intestines to die.  The bloat leads to other organ problems, and the dog becomes dehydrated, can develop cardiac problems, gastric perforation and death.

Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to bloat, but any dog can develop bloat.  In most cases, the dogs are middle-aged or older, and dogs over 7 years of age are twice as likely to develop bloat as those who are 2-4 years of age.  Large, deep chested dogs have a greater incidence of bloat.  The most common dog breeds suffering from bloat are:

Great Dane, German Shepherd Dog, St. Bernard, Newfoundland, Airedale, Alaskan Malamute, Labrador Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Golden Retriever, Irish Wolfhound, Great Pyrenees, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, Weimaraner, Old English Sheepdog, Irish Setter, Gordon Setter, German Shorthaired Pointer, Collie, Bloodhound, Samoyed, English Springer Spaniel, Standard Poodle, Chinese Shar-Pei, Basset Hounds and Dachshunds, who are also deep-chested.   (there are other breeds prone to bloat, but these are the most common.)

At first veterinarians did not believe bloat was a genetic condition, but studies over the years have shown that there is a genetic link to this disease.  If both parents have deep and narrow chests, then it is likely that their offspring will have deep and narrow chests and the resulting problems that may go with it. This is why in particular breeds we see a higher incidence in certain lines, most likely because of that line's particular chest conformation.  Most reputable dog breeders will not breed to a dog that has bloat in his line.  "Because of the genetic link involved with this disease, prospective pet owners should question if there is a history of GDV in the lineage of any puppy that is from a breed listed as high risk."

 Signs and Symptoms of bloat:

abdominal distention (swollen belly, which may feel hard)
nonproductive vomiting (animal appears to be vomiting, but nothing comes up) and retching.
Restlessness or pacing
Walking stiff-legged
Hangs his or her head
abdominal pain
rapid shallow breathing
rapid heart rate
Profuse salivation

The dog may go into shock and become pale, have a weak pulse, a rapid heart rate, and eventually collapse.

In early bloat the dog may not appear distended, but the abdomen usually feels slightly tight or hard. The dog appears lethargic, obviously uncomfortable, walks in a stiff-legged fashion, hangs his head, but may not look extremely anxious or distressed. In the beginning it may not be possible to distinguish dilatation from volvulus, so if you suspect your dog may be beginning to bloat, do not wait.

So what can we do to prevent bloat:

Dogs that are nervous, fearful or stressed are at an increased risk of developing bloat.  Many dogs who are fine at home, can bloat when sent to a boarding kennel or put in a stressful situation.  So knowing how your dog reacts to certain situations can help decrease his or her risk.

Divide the day’s ration into two or three equal meals, spaced well apart.

Do not feed your dog from a raised food bowl.

Avoid feeding dry dog food that has fat among the first four ingredients listed on the label.

Avoid foods that contain citric acid.

Restrict access to water for one hour before and after meals.

Never let your dog drink a large amount of water all at once.

Dogs should NEVER exercise after eating, limit their activity for 3 hours after they have consumed a meal.

Dogs fed once a day are twice as likely to develop Gastric Dilatation Volvulus as those fed twice a day.  Dogs who eat rapidly or exercise soon after a meal are at increased risk.  Dogs who respond to nonsurgical treatment have a 70 percent chance of having another episode of bloat, and should be closely monitored around meal times.

If you suspect our dog may be suffering from bloat, take your dog to a veterinary hospital IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT WAIT.  Time is of the essence, as a dog who is bloating will die without medical intervention.  And treatment must be begin immediately. 

If your dog has a history of Gastric Dilatation, or has a family history of bloat, you can buy a bloat kit.  You will need to be trained by a veterinarian on how to use the kit.  Gastric dilatation without torsion or volvulus is relieved by passing a long rubber or plastic tube through the dog’s mouth into the stomach.   When the tube enters the dog’s stomach, there should be a rush of air and fluid from the tube, bringing relief. You should then take your dog to the nearest veterinarian because he/she will need to be monitored closely.  The dog should not be allowed to eat or drink for the next 36 hours, and will need to be supported with intravenous fluids. If symptoms do not return, the diet can be gradually restored.

 A diagnosis of dilatation or volvulus is confirmed by X-rays of the abdomen. Dogs with simple dilatation have a large volume of gas in the stomach, but the gas pattern is normal. Dogs with volvulus have a “double bubble” gas pattern on the X-ray, with gas in two sections separated by the twisted tissue.  If you suspect your dog is bloating, and the veterinary staff is not moving quickly or not taking your concerns seriously, you may need to insist that they immediately do an x-ray.  Any delay in treatment will reduce your dog’s chance of survival, so do not be afraid to speak up!  Even with treatment, 25 – 30% of dogs with GDV die.

In most cases, if a dog has bloated, the veterinarian will suture the stomach to prevent it from twisting again. This procedure is called a gastropexy.  If a gastropexy is not performed, 75-80% of dogs will develop GDV again, so it is strongly recommended.

Just remember, with bloat you never want to wait, early treatment increases your dog's chances of survival and should not be delayed.  Bloat can kill a dog in under an hour.

***I have been told by many sources that anyone with a breed prone to GDV should keep Gas-x in their home, car and grooming bag. If your dog is beginning to show signs of Gastric dilatation, a Gas-x can help relieve some of the gas, and buy you time to get your dog to the closest veterinarian.