Absolutely RiGOATulous

This is Sloane’s story.

SloaneHer journey began on St. Patrick’s Day, the day of luck, except it seemed there wasn’t enough luck to go around for this tiny baby goat that lived in the pasture next to my backyard. She was standing in one spot screaming, and every step she took was backwards and to the left, putting her in the same spot over and over again.

She was barely a month and a half old and standing there completely helpless. Her eyes were glazed over and because of her backwards circles everyone suspected she was blind. I called her owner who in turn called a veterinarian and described the goat’s symptoms. The vet recommended we give her a shot of Banamine, an anti-inflammatory painkiller similar to Advil, which would help ease her pain, but he didn’t have positive expectations. He said she wouldn’t live through the night. I spent that evening in tears while praying hard for the goat kid. I could not understand why the vet wouldn’t suggest another option, one that possibly included some type of treatment and a more optimistic outcome.

The next morning she was alive. She was on the ground and unable to get up, but alive. I called the owner again but the vet still said she had little chance of surviving. At this point Jerry and I were both getting a little frustrated. We understood there wasn’t a good chance for the goat, and most people won’t pay high dollar vet bills to treat random goat kids when the veterinarian is telling them most don’t survive with similar symptoms, but how could we just let her lie there and suffer?

March 18, 2014

The next morning I decided to text a friend of mine in vet school. I explained her symptoms and asked if he knew of anything we could at least try. The first thing he thought of was a worm called Haemonchus Contortus and he recommended an antihelminthic wormer such as Panacur. We were willing to give anything a try and after a few phone calls to friends who worked in veterinary clinics we got the Panacur. Jerry administered the first of three doses to the kid then we both got online and started reading about this worm. Our research led us to information about other goat illnesses including goat polio and listeriosis. Listeriosis is a disease that affects the brain stem and the recommended treatment is radical antibiotic intervention; it takes a TON of Procaine Penicillin G to break through the blood brain barrier and treat the illness. Polio in goats comes from a thiamine deficiency, and vitamin B, given intramuscularly, is needed immediately. We rushed to the barn in search of medication and found injectable penicillin and syringes, but no thiamine. By 10:30 that night we were making a trip to Wal-Mart for liquid thiamine, but could only find the pill form. After returning home we crushed the pills up and Jerry did the math on how much water to put with each so we gave her the right amount. We went out to the goat house and, at that very moment, became emergency goat vets. It was the start of a very long journey and many overwhelming days and nights.

The recommended radical antibiotic treatment they suggested meant very high doses of penicillin, given intramuscularly, every 6 hours until 24 hours after the symptoms subside. We set our alarm clocks to alert us at 10:00 A.M., 4:00 P.M., 10:00 P.M., and 4:00 A.M. to give the shots. I also gave her a bottle with goat electrolytes as often as she would drink it. She couldn’t move very well or walk at all, but would swallow on her own every time I gave her a bottle.

Her head stayed pulled tight to her left flank.

Her head stayed pulled tight to her left flank.

March 19, 2014

Sloane got her name on March 19, during a drive to the vet clinic to purchase liquid thiamine. The clinic could not sell me the medication without creating a chart for the animal, so I had to select a name. I thought about words meaning things such as courageous, strong, and a will to live. She deserved a meaningful name. After all, most would have been dead three days ago but she was still fighting to live. There it was! I had it. I wanted to name her Sloane, a word from the Irish Gaelic language, meaning fighter. I like using Irish words as names. I train a lot of Irish Labs, my family is from Ireland, plus she did get sick on St. Paddy’s Day. Maybe an Irish name would give her some of the luck she needed!

It was after returning from the vet and giving the first dose of liquid thiamine that we realized she was paralyzed on the right side of her body. She couldn’t shut her right eye and it was caked with dirt. We tried to clean it out as best as we could with saline solution. I found a plastic box top to lay her on to try and keep her eye out of the dirt, and a blanket because she was shivering. This is where she stayed for the next couple of days.

She couldn't move at all, and was shivering because of the cold, so we wrapped her in a blanket and put a heat lamp on her.

She couldn’t move at all, and was shivering because of the cold, so we wrapped her in a blanket and put a heat lamp on her.

Friends advised me to rotate her from side to side as often as possible to help her rumen continue to function properly and prevent edema. Because of the paralysis, her head was pulled back tightly to her left flank. This made it hard to rotate her from side to side. When I tried to pull her head around straight so she could lay on her left side she screamed out in pain, and my heart broke each time.

March 20, 2014

I began reading more and more and found some pretty cool information on physical therapy for goats. Her muscles needed to be worked to keep them mobile, and movement is important for ruminants because of the digestion process. Goat physical therapy began immediately.

I worked her legs back and forth and massaged her entire body. I gently massaged her neck while attempting to pull it straight. When she cried and let me know it hurt I took a step back and just rubbed her neck. Each time I could move it a little farther. Before long I could straighten her neck out all the way, but not turn it to the right at all. I read more and more about the outward signs of pain in goats and realized her teeth grinding was all because of the excruciating pain she was in. I began to wonder if I was being cruel. Should we have put her down in the beginning? Was I prolonging the pain for her and just dragging out the inevitable? I spoke with another veterinarian and told her Sloane’s story. I detailed each day and the vet said if she didn’t make any improvements by Friday that it was probably going to be time to let her go. It broke my heart to hear that, but it hurt more to think I was prolonging pain for this sweet little girl. I spent countless hours sitting and holding her in the goat house and praying for God to heal her. She had an incredible will to live. She just needed His help.

Friday morning Sloane was drooling profusely and had some greenish, black stuff in her mouth. I spoke with the vet and told her about the drool. She asked if Sloane was still drinking from a bottle and pooping and tee teeing OK, and if I could move her legs. I told her I could and she was, so the doctor said that day wasn’t the day. Can you say sigh of relief and renewed hope! I was overjoyed. This little fighter wasn’t about to give up. She had the good life coming to her and she must have known it. The vet told me to give her a shot of Ivermection and Dexamethasone. We got a hold of the drugs and gave them to her immediately.

March 22, 2014

Sloane began to kick her legs and wiggle around. Although she still couldn't get up, the wiggling was a good sign!

Sloane began to kick her legs and wiggle around. Although she still couldn’t get up, the wiggling was a good sign!

Saturday morning I woke up hoping to see my little girl bouncing around the pasture with the others but was sad to find her lying in the same spot she had been all week. I started to clean the dirt out of her right eye with saline solution and suddenly she shook her head to get rid of the water on her face. I jumped up and ran, with tears in my eyes, to tell Jerry to come and see her. I squirted more saline solution in her eye and she shook her head again! She even drank her bottle more vigorously, nudging at it to get the milk to come out faster. She was wiggling around forcefully enough that she was coming off of the plastic box top so we put her in a cardboard box to keep her out of the dirt!

By that evening, she was lifting her head up on her own and chowing down on some hay. We feared that she might be blind from the illness but she could most definitely see. While I was videoing her that morning she actually turned and looked at the camera. Joy doesn’t even begin to describe what I was feeling at this point. She was beginning to get stronger. I could hold the front part of her body up and she would push up with her back legs. She was making goat physical therapy into a serious workout with “butt ups” instead of pushups.

March 24, 2014

She tried to stand up all morning this day. She kicked and kicked and couldn’t actually accomplish it, but she was trying like crazy. The more she tried the more her muscles tensed up and her head pulled back to the left. We made a sling from fabric to try to help her walk. It went around her belly with little leg holes but wasn’t useful at all because her head was always pulled so far to the left.

Her eye infection was terrible. I wish we had figured out a way to keep her out of the dirt sooner than we did.

Her eye infection was terrible. I wish we had figured out a way to keep her out of the dirt sooner than we did.

At this point we were still giving her shots every six hours and now she had developed an eye infection from the dirt. I found antibiotic eye ointment and began putting it in every four hours.

March 25, 2014 

One week after she got sick Sloane began to brace herself on the side of the cardboard box and pull herself up. She couldn’t really stay standing once she was up, but it was progress! By the end of the day she was practically climbing out of the box so Jerry and I fixed up a dog kennel for her to stay in.

March 26, 2014

Wednesday morning she greeted me by standing up in her kennel and walking!! The steps were backwards…but they were steps. My baby girl was walking. I took her out into the grass and set her down. She stayed there for a while and ate some grass until eventually she decided she was going to stand up and walk. She walked, albeit backwards, around and around until she was exhausted.

This was the first time I saw Sloane pull her head to the right on her own!

This was the first time I saw Sloane pull her head to the right on her own!

March 27, 2014

Thursday she appeared to be extremely tired and didn’t fight the shots like she usually did. She had TTed in the kennel and it was all over her. She was shivering and her temperature was 100, low for a goat kid. I took her inside and put her in a warm bath. After about 25 minutes in the tub her temperature was back up to 103 so I pulled her out, toweled her off, and laid her on a heating pad while I blow-dried her hair. She slept there on the floor for several hours.

Sloane's temperature came up after her warm bath and to keep it up, I blow-dryed her hair and laid her on a warm heating pad.

Sloane’s temperature came up after her warm bath and to keep it up, I blow-dryed her hair and laid her on a warm heating pad.

Later that day I put her in my front yard to eat some grass. She actually took a few forward steps, but remained very sluggish. She wasn’t very interested in the bottle of milk anymore, and didn’t want water from the bottle either. I took her to the large water bowl in the goat pen and stood her next to it. She leaned over and got a big drink! I decided to make up some electrolytes in a bowl and she drank those also.

March 28, 2014

Friday she was still lethargic, didn’t fight the shots at all, and couldn’t hold herself up well. Her temperature was low, so I put her in a warm bath and on the heating pad again. She didn’t stand up on her own at all and didn’t even try much. When I held her she was like a limp noodle in my arms. I began doing research and read about things called enterotoxemia and Floppy Kid Syndrome. I found that milk replacer, which I had been feeding her, could be very bad for kids. The website recommended giving the kid baking soda, a shot of something called Bovi-Sera, and not feeding any milk for 36-48 hours. I did all of the above. She continued to eat grass and hay like it was her job.

Sloane enjoying some grass and late afternoon sunshine.

Sloane enjoying some grass and late afternoon sunshine.

By that evening, I had coaxed her to get up and walk by placing her on the wooden deck, with luscious grass just out of reach. She got herself up and made the short walk to the grass to have a bite. Although progress seemed to have slowed over the past few days, she was still making baby steps toward being better.

March 29, 2014

Saturday was a better day. She began walking more and taking most of her steps forward, although they were all to the left. I started to include a daily walk in her goat physical therapy and we spent hours on the gravel with her walking and following my hand full of grass. It was very hard to get her to walk in a straight line, but she could do it. I began giving Rooster Booster as a B vitamin supplement and probiotics to help her overall health.

My parents come to visit Sloane frequently. In this picture, my mom is giving her goat electrolytes in a bowl. She was drinking from a bowl pretty well by this time.

My parents come to visit Sloane frequently. In this picture, my mom is giving her goat electrolytes in a bowl. She was drinking from a bowl pretty well by this time.

This was the day I realized she knew me, recognized me, and wanted to be with me. She was in the front yard and as long as I was outside with her she was happy. If I went inside she bleated at the top of her lungs until I returned. My neighbors were a little unhappy that evening and the next few days! I didn’t care what the neighbors were thinking, though. Sloane was happy. She even began to hold her tail up for the first time. I learned it means goats are happy when they hold their tails up.

I read online that you should keep an eye infection out of the sun and that purchasing an eye patch was a good solution. I couldn't find anything but a cow eye patch (which was too big) so I made Sloane a patch! She became known as the Pirate Goat. Argh!!

I read online that you should keep an eye infection out of the sun and that purchasing an eye patch was a good solution. I couldn’t find anything but a cow eye patch (which was too big) so I made Sloane a patch! She became known as the Pirate Goat. Argh!!

March 30 – April 2, 2014

Over the next week Sloane spent a lot of time in the yard. I could sit her in the middle of the yard and several hours later she was still there. She was walking, but sadly she couldn’t really go anywhere. Every step she took was forward and to the left so she kept returning to the same spot in the yard.

Sweet Sloane was almost two months old when this picture was taken.

Sweet Sloane was almost two months old when this picture was taken.

One evening I went out and just sat in the yard with her. She ate some grass and eventually walked over to me, crawled in my lap, and laid down for a nap. Did I mention she laid her head on my arm?? It was the sweetest thing. I didn’t ever want to get up. I read online that if a goat comes and lies beside you they have accepted you in their herd. I’m Sloane’s herd now. She trusts me and loves me and I couldn’t be happier.

April 3, 2014

By the end of the week Sloane was meeting me at the kennel door in the mornings and walking out on her own. She was walking straighter, shaking, bending down to scratch (which she hadn’t done before) and even following me around the yard. I spoke with the doctor about when to stop the medicine. Everything we read online said to continue until 24 hours after the symptoms stop, but it had been 14 days at this point and she was so much better, yet still had a few symptoms. The doctor advised that we stop the meds and see what happened. We did and I was a nervous wreck all night.

Friday she was doing pretty well. Well enough, that when I put her in the front yard and went to pooper scoop the back yard (expecting her to stay walking in her little circle) she managed to wander all the way across the yard to my garden and enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet of expensive flowers! I then found a nice puppy playpen for her.

She continued to get better and we spent more and more time walking around and working on getting her stronger. If I walked in the grass she would always stop to eat so I found that taking her to the barn worked great. She would follow me all around up and down the barn aisles. Goat physical therapy continued with exercises such as climbing up on and down from a wooden block.

April 16, 2014

We kept all the shot needs so we could dispose of them properly. Here's the cup full of approximately 70 shots that we gave her over 14 days. Poor baby :( She handled it like a champ!

We kept all the shot needs so we could dispose of them properly. Here’s the cup full of approximately 70 shots that we gave her over 14 days. Poor baby 🙁 She handled it like a champ!

An equine vet that visits the barn occasionally met Sloane about a week after she got sick and then again on Friday. She was shocked and couldn’t believe it was the same goat. She ended up telling me she never thought the kid would live but didn’t feel it was her place to tell me that a few weeks ago. What she told me this time was that she didn’t know if Sloane would ever be strong enough to go back and live with the herd. That made me pretty sad but Jerry made a very good point. He said, “Baby, the vet told us that she didn’t even think the goat would live, and others said the same thing. And look at her! She’s ALIVE. So don’t you underestimate her. It’s very possible she will be fine to live with them again one day.” (That’s why I picked him. He’s pretty awesome.)

Sloane wanted to learn place training with the rest of the dogs. She took quickly to the Kuranda bed!  April 16, 2014

Sloane wanted to learn place training with the rest of the dogs. She took quickly to the Kuranda bed! April 16, 2014

The other goats haven’t been the nicest to Sloane. I guess I somewhat understand though. If she was sick with something that was contagious it was necessary for them to exile her to protect the entire herd. But they were just been plain, old mean in the beginning head butting her and hurting her. Since she was better now I wanted to see how it would go with her loose in the goat pen. I placed her on the ground and one of the other kids came up to her with her ears pinned back and her head ready to butt. Sloane completely blew me away as she pinned her ears back, stood up on her back feet and head butted the crap out of that goat. Are you kidding me? That was awesome. She was getting stronger and stronger by the day. She only had the one head butt in her. She kind of fell afterwards and didn’t try it again. But the one was awesome.

She was used to baths by this point. I even think she started to enjoyed them!

She was used to baths by this point. I even think she started to enjoyed them!

We spent the evening at the barn, just walking and visiting the horses. Sloane followed me around, stopped for some hay, did some exploring on her own, and even climbed a few stairs. She was doing so well. I even found her a cowboy hat and Jerry nicknamed her, “The Sloane Ranger.”

The Sloane Ranger

The Sloane Ranger

April 18, 2014

Wednesday was such a great day with the trip to the barn, climbing stairs and ramps, and head butting her goat friends, but all the excitement took its toll. Friday wasn’t a good day. When I went to get her in the morning she stepped out of the kennel and her head wrapped around the crate to the left. She used it to support herself and get out then she circled around in the goat house instead of following me out to get her breakfast. She seemed content all day, but not very active. That evening at the barn she kept walking in tight left circles. I could tell it was frustrating her. She wanted to follow me but couldn’t get to me. She would start walking forward but then veer to the left. She would stop, look, and then complete the left circle and try to walk straight until she veered left again and repeated the whole process. It was bad and we could tell something was very wrong.

I called the Emergency Vet Clinic at Mississippi State and spoke with a doctor. She said to give her the same meds again like we used to then bring her to Starkville the next morning. We did just that.

I didn't want to leave her at the vet school at MS State, but I knew it was best, and I knew she was in good hands.

I didn’t want to leave her at the vet school at MS State, but I knew it was best, and I knew she was in good hands.

By the time we got her to Starkville on Saturday, April 19, she could barely stand up again. It was so scary. It was Easter weekend so the vet who specialized in goats wasn’t around. They asked me to leave her so she could evaluate her on Monday but told me that it didn’t look good at all. I knew she was in the best hands possible so I left her, even though I didn’t want to. They promised me calls with updates frequently and they held up those promises. The next day the doctor called to tell me Sloane was doing surprisingly well. She didn’t expect to see her up and moving about so much. Monday, the vet called back again to tell me Sloane had recovered just fine and was the life of the party at the vet school. We could go pick her up on Tuesday. I couldn’t wait!

Sloane in her temporary house while at MS State Vet School.

Sloane in her temporary house while at MS State Vet School.

When we got there, they described a lot of different things that could have caused this “relapse” including, most likely, the eye infection. The doctor explained how serious an eye infection was in goats and that it could make them decide to lie down and not get back up, leading to eventual death. They did do another round of antibiotics, something called Nuflor, and gave me Atropine and Neo-Poly-Bac eye ointment for the infection. We went back to get Sloane on April 22 and she was just chilling in the office with everyone, walking around and enjoying herself. They told us they were afraid she was deaf, and blind in her right eye. I asked if it was cruel to make a somewhat blind and deaf goat, with potentially vast brain damage continue to live. The doctor explained that when I brought her in they never expected her to live through the night, but she made such dramatic improvement so quickly, and had reached such a level of “wellness” that they thought she was going to live a long and happy life. They said she was happy, completely content, and free of pain. There was no reason she shouldn’t live her life.

April 22, 2014 until Now

Sloane continues to make vast improvements day after day and we continue to bond through all of the activities we do together. Sloane works dogs with me, rides horses with me, helps with farm chores, cleans the house, and relaxes on the couch to watch a good movie with me. I even found her some outdoor play sets to enjoy. She’s incredibly smart despite the cognitive issues they predicted for her. She’s learning to target, has learned to jump through a hula-hoop, and will hang out on place like all of my dogs!

Dad comes to visit Sloane often. She enjoys hanging out with him. April, 25, 2014

Dad comes to visit Sloane often. She enjoys hanging out with him. April, 25, 2014

It’s been a long and overwhelming journey, but every step has been incredible. God heard my prayers and He healed baby Sloane. Little did I know He was doing so much more. He taught me so much and I grew as a person through this experience. I’m so thankful to have such an amazing little miracle like Sloane in my life.

May 2, 2014

May 2, 2014

June 28, 2014

June 28, 2014

Sloane is helping Jerry put out new shavings in the goat house. May 25, 2014

Sloane is helping Jerry put out new shavings in the goat house. May 25, 2014

"No Mama! No! I don't want a bath! The other goats make fun of me when I smell like a tropical rainforest!" -Sloane

“No Mama! No! I don’t want a bath! The other goats make fun of me when I smell like a tropical rainforest!” -Sloane

Sloane got a nasty cut while in the goat pen one day. I bathed her and cleaned the cut well, and Jerry and I put liquid bandage on it to protect it. It heeled perfectly and you can't even tell she ever had a cut now! May 23, 2014

Sloane got a nasty cut while in the goat pen one day. I bathed her and cleaned the cut well, and Jerry and I put liquid bandage on it to protect it. It heeled perfectly and you can’t even tell she ever had a cut now! May 23, 2014

Sloane got a cute pink bandage for her cut! May 23, 2014

Sloane got a cute pink bandage for her cut! May 23, 2014

I came home to find Sloane in my backyard and had no clue how she got there. I put her back in the goat pen and waited….and it didn't take her long to scurry down to the hole she found under the fence and come right back into my yard! June 12, 2014

I came home to find Sloane in my backyard and had no clue how she got there. I put her back in the goat pen and waited….and it didn’t take her long to scurry down to the hole she found under the fence and come right back into my yard!
June 12, 2014

Don't fill my hole, Dad! Then I can't get into the backyard! June 13, 2014

Don’t fill my hole, Dad! Then I can’t get into the backyard! June 13, 2014

C'mon, Dad! Leave the hole so I can get into the backyard! June 13, 2014

C’mon, Dad! Leave the hole so I can get into the backyard! June 13, 2014

Sloane enjoys helping with farm chores. June 16, 2014

Sloane enjoys helping with farm chores. June 16, 2014

She's the only goat in the world that enjoys a cool pool! June 18,. 2014

She’s the only goat in the world that enjoys a cool pool! June 18,. 2014

Sloane loves to nap on the couch while Jerry and I watch TV. June 18, 2014

Sloane loves to nap on the couch while Jerry and I watch TV. June 18, 2014

Sloane loves her new playset and sleeps there often! June 20, 2014

Sloane loves her new playset and sleeps there often! June 20, 2014

Sloane went shopping at Hollywood Feed to pick out a new diaper! June 25, 2014

Sloane went shopping at Hollywood Feed to pick out a new diaper! June 25, 2014

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I’m a Yankee Doodle Doggie

Danner, Dean, and Lola are doing their celebrating on July 3rd, before the noisy fireworks begin!

Danner, Dean, and Lola are doing their celebrating on July 3rd, before the noisy fireworks begin!

The Fourth of July is an exciting holiday where family and friends gather to celebrate the day our country declared independence from Great Britain. It’s usually a day spent outdoors enjoying family fun in the summer weather in your back yard or even on the lake. You don’t want to leave your beloved pets out of the celebration; they would enjoy the fun and games, too. But maybe you should.

Our canine companions enjoy every outing we take them on. For all they know, everyday is Independence Day! So on this one day, and maybe even the day after the fourth, just decide to make it the most pleasant that you can for your dog and give them a place in the house where they feel safe to enjoy the holiday.

Dogs experience the world differently than we do. We share the same five senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch) but dogs perceive the world differently with these senses.

  • While a dog’s brain is just one-tenth the size of a humans, the part that controls smell is 40 times larger. They have about 20 times the amount of smell receptors than humans. According to Alexandra Horowitz in her book Inside of a Dog, while we might notice if our coffee has a teaspoon of sugar in it, a dog can detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water, or two Olympic-sized pools worth. Can you imagine what fireworks smell like to them?
  • Dogs have much better low light vision than humans, but their overall vision is only about 20/75 compared to our 20/20. This means dogs don’t see well at a distance. They are, however, more sensitive to light and motion and many times will see things in the distance before humans. They see shapes, and shades of color, but cannot determine what the objects are in the distance. Can you imagine what fireworks look like to them?
  • Many dogs are fearful of thunderstorms and they know when they’re coming. Dogs can feel the barometric pressure change and it gives them a warning that a storm is coming. Without a pressure change like thunderstorms, the explosive sounds and frightening sights of fireworks suddenly appear out of no where and can cause a rush of adrenaline, increase in stress hormones, and an increased heart rate in your dog. Can you imagine how fireworks make them feel?
  • Some dogs are much more sensitive to sound than others. This usually has something to do with how well the dog was socialized as a puppy. Regardless of this, all dogs hear the world differently than humans. A dog can hear much higher frequencies and at somewhat greater distances than humans (although the hearing at a greater distance is currently up for debate). The construction of their ears allows them to move them to better absorb a sound and determine what it is and where it’s coming from. Dogs then rely on their other senses to decide whether the sound is ok, or if they can’t make that determination, they go into fight or flight mode. Can you imagine what fireworks sound like to them?
  • Taste, obviously, doesn’t apply here. Unless you choose to keep your dog inside during the holiday and give them a tasty Made in the U.S.A. treat to enjoy as their Fourth of July celebration!

Many dogs aren’t afraid of fireworks and you can work to help your new puppy never develop this fear through socialization to sound. You can even work with an older dog to help them learn to cope with their fear in a more effective way, but that process takes months and months. You shouldn’t put them in the situation for them to be afraid and try to cope until you have worked extensively with them. You can start work on July 5th for New Years Eve fireworks, but don’t start by throwing them out in the yard under a loud fireworks display.

Lola is wearing a Thundershirt and Danner is holding a bottle of Quiet Moments Calming Aid. You can purchase these products at your local pet store.

Lola is wearing a Thundershirt and Danner is holding a bottle of Quiet Moments Calming Aid. You can purchase these products at your local pet store.

There are many products that can help your dog cope with the loud holiday. One of my favorites is the Thundershirt. This shirt wraps around your dog tightly and basically swaddles them like you would a newborn. Humans and canines alike benefit from being held and hugged. Experts believe pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system by releasing calming hormones called endorphins.

Other products include calming sprays called D.A.P. spray, calming treats and tablets, and even room atomizers that are like air fresheners that you just plug into an outlet. D.A.P., dog appeasing pheromone, is a spray that helps alleviate anxiety in dogs during travel, storms, noisy events, confinement, and other situations that cause stress to your dog. Lactating mammals release substances call appeasing pheromones that function to reassure their offspring. D.A.P. spray works in a similar way to reassure your dog that they are safe. You can get the sprays as room atomizers and simply plug them into the wall, or as sprays you can spray directly on the dog or their Thundershirt.

Calming treats and tablets include ingredients known to soothe dogs and humans such as chamomile, passion flower, and tryptophan. Dogs generally love to eat their treat or chewable tablet and never know they’re getting a dose of chill out!

Like I said before, it’s always best to leave your dog in a place they feel safe in your home. According to petamberalert.com, more dogs go missing on July 4 and the following days than any other day of the year. Why would you even risk it?

If your dog enjoys relaxing in their crate put their crate in the room furthest from the noise of the fireworks and give them a nice toy or treat to enjoy while they chill out in their “den” for awhile. If they don’t spend time in a crate but have a comfy bed in your bedroom, send them to their bed, give them a treat or toy, and shut your bedroom door. Turning the TV on for some distracting noise can help, too.

Don’t forget about your pooch. Go check on them regularly but remember to act normal. You can pet them, for sure, as petting is one of the most therapeutic things for a dog, but don’t coddle them or go overboard if they are showing fear. This will only justify their fear.

One other thing to note about the holiday is that it’s HOT. Remember that you dog will need a lot of water and frequent breaks in the shade or the house. Heat exhaustion is REAL and it will kill your dog. It’s a super scary thing that I hope no one ever experiences, but unfortunately it happens all the time and can happen to your dog before you know it. Know the warning signs and do everything you can to prevent it from happening to your dog!

Remember, your dog doesn’t know what they’re missing out on. Don’t feel bad that they’re inside while you’re outside enjoying the show. They don’t need to be a part of your fireworks celebration. They will enjoy celebrating in the safety of their bed or crate.

Happy Fourth of July!!!

Sloane is celebrating Independence Day, too!

Sloane is celebrating Independence Day, too!

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The Long Trail Home

Pictured Left to Right: Mr. Raymond, Me, Sloane, and Matt. The guys were pretty excited to meet Sloane and they love the way she chose to show her support for them. Doesn't she look sharp in her cowgirl hat and bandana?

Pictured Left to Right: Mr. Raymond, Me, Sloane, and Matt. The guys were pretty excited to meet Sloane and they love the way she chose to show her support for them. Doesn’t she look sharp in her cowgirl hat and bandana?

Sloane, Dean, and I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting two amazing men on a journey from Camp Lejeune, NC to Camp Pendleton, CA. Did I mention they were on horseback? Yes, that’s right. These guys are riding mustangs from coast to coast to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund and raise awareness for all of the brave veterans who have risked it all for our country.

Matt Littrell is a former Marine infantryman from Colorado who served in the Marine Corps from December 2001-December 2005. He served two tours to Iraq during his enlistment. He and close friend, Raymond C. Avery, are on a mission to raise $7 million for the Semper Fi Fund. Littrell says Avery has been instrumental in making this whole thing happen and he couldn’t ask for a better companero to ride with.

Mr. Raymond was a pleasure to get to know. He had so many wonderful stories to tell.

Mr. Raymond was a pleasure to get to know. He had so many wonderful stories to tell.

We all understand what he’s talking about after meeting Mr. Raymond. He’s such a wonderful person and as hardworking as they come. We heard stories from Mr. Raymond all evening then after he went to bed Matt filled us in on even more! You can hear the passion in Matt’s voice as he speaks. You can feel the loyalty and trust the two have for each other. Each looks up to the other for different reasons, but both are heroes to each other. They are quite a special duo.

Ruby and Jayne did a wonderful job of decorating the farm to welcome the men and their horses.

Ruby and Jayna did a wonderful job of decorating the farm to welcome the men and their horses.

The pair left Surf City, NC on May 1 and began their journey using I-40 as a guide. They’re traveling with four horses now, after picking up a beauty named Siren in Georgia, a contribution to the ride by Eddie McFarlin. Matt is riding his horse named Crow, Raymond rides his girl, Tequila Shelia, and Roy is a pack horse. For now, Siren is helping carry the load of packs to give Roy a break, but in the future Matt will give Crow time to rest and ride Siren along the journey. She certainly seems ready and willing to take on this monumental task.

Roy was quite a character. He and Sloane were fast friends because they shared a common love for a good cowboy hat!

Roy was quite a character. He and Sloane were fast friends because they shared a common love for a good cowboy hat!

Matt explains, “The Semper Fi fund is an organization that provides assistance to wounded veterans who suffer from visible and invisible wounds suffered in combat. The need to help our veterans is great. Government funded organizations such as the VA are so back logged and inadequately staffed that claims are taking too long to help our vets in time.”

We had a great turnout at the farm. Lots of people "showed up" to show their support for the guys and hear their story.

We had a great turnout at the farm. Lots of people “showed up” to show their support for the guys and hear their story.

There are 22 veteran suicides each day in this country. We cannot begin to understand what these men and women are going through, and it isn’t our job to. Matt speaks so passionately about the need to show up. He says there isn’t a need to say “thank you” or to try to feel empathy. These warriors have been through hell for us and they bare that burden. They don’t want us to know what war is like for if we do they have failed their job. That’s why they made the sacrifices that they did. They just need us to be there for them when they return home. They need us to show support, to help them in their transition to becoming a civilian again, to listen to what they have to say, to respond with “I have your back” and to mean it. They need to be acknowledged, but want to be shown that they are relevant and wanted and an important citizen of the country they risked their life defending, not just told, “Thank you for your service.”

Matt and I spoke about his love for animals, horses and dogs in particular. I asked him his opinion of PTSD service dogs. I’ve been interested in training them for quite some time, but haven’t made the leap and actually gotten a dog to train. He feels they are so important for veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. He knows first hand what the human-animal bond can do for someone. It’s no surprise that a relationship with an animal can help veterans overcome emotional numbness, panic attacks, and isolation. Veterans are able to trust dogs and get out of their own heads.

It seemed that Sloane had a little crush on Roy! She kept giving him kisses!

It seemed that Sloane had a little crush on Roy! She kept giving him kisses!

Talking with Matt helped me decide that this is something I want to do. I don’t know whether Dean’s future is in the PTSD service dog world, but I can guarantee that there will be a puppy here soon with the goal of becoming a lifelong friend for one of the brave men and women who keep us free everyday.

If you want to follow Matt and Raymond along their journey please visit their Facebook page, The Long Trail Home. You can also help them reach their goal of $7 million dollars by donating to the Semper Fi Fund through this link.

Be sure to share the Facebook page with your friends. This isn’t just about raising money. This is about letting people know there are people out there who need them. These people were there for us by fighting the wars of this country, and now they need us. Let’s show up for them.

“I have witnessed too many of my own brothers die long after the shooting stopped to remain idle any longer. This is my mission, this is our Long Trail Home.” -Matt Littrell

And they are off…"riding away from the sun" as Matt says, on the long trail home.

And they are off…”riding away from the sun” as Matt says, on the long trail home.

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Social Butterflies

Your Puppy’s First Week Home, Part One

One of the most important things you can teach your puppy is that the world is a safe, fun, and amazing place. No one wants their new friend to be scared when they experience something new. We want them to be confident, and if at times they experience some insecurity, we want them to turn to us for guidance. The pup’s mother starts the process of socialization, the breeder continues it, and once the puppy is home with you it’s your job to carry on with good socialization. If you do the work to properly socialize your puppy, they will grow into a confident and outgoing adult.

Dean and his litter mates, with their mother, Hazel.

Dean and his litter mates, with their mother, Hazel.

The moment your puppy is born they begin learning. By playing with their litter mates they become aware of their surroundings and develop their senses and physical abilities, as well as learn about the hierarchy process, bite inhibition, and communicating amongst themselves. Human interaction is just as vital to the socialization process. Without proper handling and introductions a puppy can have great difficulty forming relationships with people in the future.

Many people see a fearful and/or aggressive dog and immediately think the dog was abused at some point. While this is sometimes true, improper socialization can also lead to this type of fearful dog. Developmental stages are very important. Understanding what your puppy is experiencing during each stage can help you better prepare for training and socialization.

From three to seven weeks old, puppies begin to learn how to be a dog. They learn specific behaviors and communication methods, such as body postures, from their mother and littermates through playful chasing, biting, barking, and wrestling. This is the ultimate time to introduce loud noises, different types of surfaces, and strange objects. Pups are curious, brave, and eager to solve problems.

During the next developmental stage, eight to 10 weeks, a puppy experiences it’s first fear period. This coincides with the time young pups, in the wild, begin to explore their new world outside the safety of their den. Mother has taught them well, and they are aware of certain dangers that exist. Without caution, they could end up dead.

While you shouldn’t stop your work on socialization during this time, introductions should be made carefully and tactfully. Everyday objects can cause a pup to feel real fear and can permanently affect the rest of their life. Everything should be kept positive and exciting. During this time, don’t assume your puppy will be eager to meet every person, go to every place, or approach every object. If you observe hesitation, encourage the puppy in an exciting and positive way with treats and enthusiastic vocal praise. Take it slow. Make progress over time but don’t rush an introduction.

For example, to introduce a puppy to a noisy air purifier in your home, first turn the machine off. Sit next to the air purifier and call the puppy to you. Give him treats and praise. Place treats around the machine, or even on it, and encourage the puppy to eat them. The next step can be immediately after the first, or it could be the next day depending on how your pup did with the initial introduction. Next you should place your puppy in another room while you turn the machine on a very low setting. Get your puppy and return to the room with the air purifier, but remain a great distance away. Place your puppy on the ground and give him a treat. Sit on the floor next to him and scoot a bit closer to the air purifier. As the puppy follows you, give him a treat and a lot of encouraging praise. Continue getting closer and closer to the machine and rewarding your pup for following you. The moment you sense hesitation from your puppy, stop. Scoot back to the previous position and reward your puppy. You can try scooting closer again, or wait until tomorrow. Be very observant of your pup’s behavior. Be on the lookout for cowering, tail tucking, his ears being down, lip licking, or yawning. If you see these behaviors, back up a step and then proceed. Some stress is ok, and even good for a puppy, but you shouldn’t flood the puppy with a spooky experience. Give them the chance to make the decision to be brave and take a step forward. Then reward like crazy. Once you have gotten all the way to the noisy machine, back all the way back up and repeat the above steps with the machine turned on a higher setting.

While socializing your puppy, his health should be first and foremost in your mind. Remember, taking your young pup (who hasn’t yet received all of his shots) to the local pet store or dog park isn’t the best idea. Think about it. Were you required to show shot records or verify your puppy didn’t come from a litter that had experienced a potentially deadly disease such as parvo or distemper? No, and that means that no one else was required to do that either. You are exposing your puppy to an environment that potentially could have dangerous diseases that can affect their health. Don’t do it. Your puppy isn’t losing anything by not getting to run amuck with others at the park, and they can still gain the vital socialization needed to become well-rounded dogs through other options such as these:

  • Have everyone in your home interact with the dog.
  • Invite friends and family, and their safe, friendly, and healthy pets to a meet and greet at your home. Follow the puppy introduction guidelines in this post.
  • Take your puppy to as many safe places as possible. But keep the safety guidelines in mind. You will have to take your puppy to the vet for their shots, but you don’t have to let other patrons pet your puppy, or place your puppy on the floor at the office. You should even go as far as to carry the puppy from your car into the office, and never set him down. If you don’t already know about parvo, trust me, you don’t want to learn about it.
  • Introduce your puppy to as many different animals, objects, and situations as possible. Don’t forget to work with objects such as nail clippers and a dog brush! Again, keep safety in mind and find healthy animals for introductions, and keep your puppy in safe locations.

There are tons of ways to make socialization fun for your pets. The possibilities are endless. Here are a few examples.

  • Give everyone in your family a different treat and have them sit in a circle on the floor. Place your puppy in the center and let each person call him, and pick him up or handle him in some way, then reward him with a treat and place him back in the center of the circle. The next person should call the puppy and handle him in a different way, then reward and place him back in the circle. It’s very important for pups to learn that being handled in different ways is ok, as well. Some examples of ways to handle a puppy are to hold him on his back in your arms, to hold a front paw in the air, to hold him in your lap and lightly squeeze an arm or leg, to carefully open their mouths, to examine their ears, etc. Think of situations the puppy might find himself in that would require him to be comfortable with different types of handling.
  • Place an object on the floor and a curious puppy is going to go straight to it. When they do, use a clicker to mark that behavior and then give them a treat. The puppy is likely to go back to that object because it landed him a delicious reward. When he does, click and treat again! Move away from the object, further and further as the puppy successfully go to and touches the object, to make the game more difficult. The puppy will be so excited that he figured out when he goes to that strange object treats come, that he won’t be as hesitant to approach a new object when the game changes the next day. This is also a great way to start work on recall.
  • If you find your puppy in a particularly difficult situation but you have an adult dog that already knows everything is ok, you can let them work through it together. Make sure the adult dog and your puppy have bonded first, then, let the older dog approach the scary object first. Place the puppy on the ground and see what happens. If he walks towards the scary object and the adult dog, praise him and give him treats! We know a lot about canine communication, but we can’t compete with nature. An adult dog will be able to communicate whether or not the situation is dangerous much more effectively than any human.

Handling Techniques for Socialization:

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During socialization, your puppy needs to meet several new dogs and people (including children) a week. Just because you have kids and one other pet doesn’t mean your new puppy will get what he needs. It takes a lot of effort, but the work will pay off. Don’t miss out on the opportunity, as the window of time for socialization will close around 16 weeks of age. You want your dog to be a part of your every day life, and a member of your family. Spend time now, working with your puppy, so that he becomes a well-rounded and happy member of the family.

socialbutterflies

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