A Maizey Update – The Key to Success is Choices

First of all, migraines stink. Migraines that hang around for days and days stink even more.

Okay, now that’s out of my system I can get down to business. I should be working. Well doing paperwork for work. No one has any idea how much behind the scenes work there is for dog trainers. I enjoy it, but today’s been a day of blowing off serious stuff and being a bum, so why stop now?

Don’t you love to take a day like that once in a while? It’s something our dogs are so good at. They never take themselves too seriously. Well, except Maizey. She takes herself incredibly serious. I suppose that’s as good a place to start catching up as any.

I was thinking last week how good my girls doing. I think generalized anxiety is something that’s so painful to deal with that when it’s bad you can’t ignore it, but progress is so slow that it’s easy to not notice when things improve. I’m not good with statistics and stuff, but I can say she has more good days than bad. Her recovery time is shorter and she can access her skills a lot easier. That’s improvement for sure!

Since starting on Perfect Form her stress colitis only shows up on very stressful days, and those happen less and less. It’s so nice! The stroller has been a life saver for her. She mostly chooses to ride on our walks, but if she wants to walk I encourage her to do so as much as she wants. This weekend she choses to walk a few blocks, but when her anxiety got too much for her and she asked to be picked up and I just told her she could hop in and she did. She rode calmly the rest of the walk.

It was terribly windy Sunday night and Monday. Wind is not Maizey’s friend. It’s one of the most frustrating triggers she has since, awesome as I am, I can’t control the weather. (Shocking, I know!) After using her Thundershirt, Composure Liquid and doing some Relaxation Protocol on her mat she was still quite anxious. Then she asked me to get her stroller out and took herself a nice nap. As I posted on Facebook, “I can not emphasize enough the importance of conditioning safe spaces for our fearful pups.”

Then last night a miracle happened. It’s such a long story, but the short version is we had no choice but for my brothers dog to be here for a while. She was in full on reacting mode and though she could access her skills at a distance from him as long as she was in my arms she was very over threshold. It’s the worst and longest reaction she’s had in months, but you have to play the hand that’s dealt you and there wasn’t much I could do about the circumstances that brought us into that situation. When it was clear she wasn’t going to be able to manage we put up her stroller, zipped the bonnet closed and she immediately calmed down. Not ONE more bark! It was amazing! After a bit she was able to be about 8 feet from him and was laying down in her stroller! Yes I said, laying down! It was amazing. She feels so safe there. It’s quickly becoming the best tool we have for her.

I think the key to her improvement is choices. We’ve trained so many things in hopes it will help her anxiety, boost her confidence, lessen her fears and her reactivity. But not all them work. Some just don’t help at all, some help more than others. They key though is that we have lots of tools in her our tool box and if we pull one out and it doesn’t work for that moment we try a different one. You can pound a screw in with a hammer, but it’s not the most efficient way to do it and a screwdriver makes the whole job easier. Maizey has choices now and since I know she will always be Maizey I know we have to keep training so she has even more choices. It helps me too, since I don’t feel so helpless on days when there is little I can do. I trust her to get through it and I trust she’ll choose something that will help herself. I have resources for her too and together we seem to be getting through this.

I still have hope we can get to the place I read some of our friends have achieved. Sarah and Oreo deserve high praise for all they’ve accomplished and what Crytsal and her Maisey have done to manage her anxiety is nothing short of amazing. So I’ll keep working with my Princessface and maybe one day we’ll get to the place where she’s healthy like them. Until then I’m just happy for her to have the tools she needs to manage so well.

Magnus would take a whole other post to catch up on and since we have a recheck for his eyes and see Tena, the rehab therapist, again tomorrow I’ll wait till then to post about him. Suffice it to say he’s doing good. The back is still not ship-shape, but I’m hopeful his eyes have cleared up. We’ll just have to see tomorrow.

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Maizey as the Amazing Mother Hen

Late last night the dogs were tootling around in the living area of the house. I was in bed, but could hear them making their before-bed rounds. I wasn’t paying that much attention. Maizey had a good day yesterday, but suddenly she hit high alert. She started pacing, and panting. She got that pop-eyed whale look and her jaw was so tight the corners of her mouth were pulled back practically into her ears. A lot of time when she triggers suddenly like that I sit back and let her have a chance to work it out. Lot’s of times she accesses a skill like getting on her mat, choosing to lay in her crate with the door open where she can see me, or if all fails she’ll come curl up on my face. (That’s her policy, “When all else fails, smother mom!”)

After a few minutes I could see she was escalating, not calming down so I asked her to come and lay with me. That was a total no-go and instead she stood at the end of the bed, shuffling her feet and looking towards the living room. It was about that point I noticed Magnus wasn’t in the room with us, definitely a strange occurrence.

I got up and asked her to show me what was bugging her. She led me straight into the living room where Magnus was laid out in the middle of the hard wood floor. That in itself was not so weird so I asked again for her to tell me what was wrong. She stayed hovering over Magnus who still had not moved. Now that was starting to look strange and I have to admit I did a little panic attack in my head. It was just that dramatic split second where everything he’s been through in the last week flitted through my head ending in the thought that he’s dead. (I told you it was dramatic!)

After that split second of insanity I leaned down and started petting him. He was awake and not dead (of course) but he didn’t want to move. He was all stretched out on his side and I’m sure he’d had a back spasm while they were scurrying around and just froze there. He’s been having a few back spasms and when he does he stretches himself out as long and flat as possible and then just stays where he is. I have to wonder if it’s because he gets a little scared to move afterwords. It must be weird and it’s not like I can explain to him why it’s happening.

The whole time I was petting and massaging Magnus my Princessface just hovered over us. When I helped him get up and move onto the bed she immediately came and settled with us and went to sleep. Her job was done. Her brother wasn’t feeling good and she got her mom to come take care of it. Problem solved! She’s such a little mother hen. No matter who it is that’s in pain, emotional or physical, she’s there to take care of them. She’s my little emotional empath. I love her so for it. Especially as I know it’s hard on her and causes her worry.

I really get that about her, I’m the same way in human terms. (Let me just acknowledge this is some gratuitous anthropomorphizing, but human emotions and words are the only ones I have to describe what I see in her so they’re they ones I’ll use. If you’d like you can just crack it up to poetic license.)

So back to how I relate to my girl. I’ve seen Maizey reach out to comfort people that most people don’t dare to. You know the stoic types, that are intimidating to approach, never admit they need comfort so are very hard to empathize with. Maizey doesn’t care if YOU think you need comfort. If she sees a problem she’s gonna smother you out of it, or at the least tell me to take care of it, like she did last night with Magnus.

I have that affliction too. It’s hard to for me to see someone hurting and not do something, say something, try to help in some way. Like her I tend to see, or think I see, pain that people don’t admit and, admit it or not, I want to help. Being that kind of insightful person takes a toll. It’s tiring sometimes. It’s not rewarding sometimes, because sometimes people just don’t want smothered into comfort, so they reject your efforts. Sometimes people are distracted and don’t see your efforts to help, and sometimes as happens with myself and Maizey, they really don’t need your help. In which case the smothering is met with little tolerance.

Then there are those times when circumstance won’t let me offer comfort. And the times when there just really isn’t anything I can do. I hate those times the most. No matter who it is, or why they’re suffering I hate it as much as Maizey does and I wish I could always do something, no matter what.

But sometimes people listen and are comforted, sometimes when I try to help I actually have the right words at the right time, sometimes I actually manage to reach out to the right person to provide help when I can’t do the job. In those times I’m glad I’m like Maizey. Still, I need to be more like her- I need to learn when the job is done and just let it go, curl up and go to sleep.

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Answers At Last! And Good Ones to Boot!

Magnus must have heard my discouragement in my previous post, ’cause when we went to his recheck at the ophthalmologist today it was good news.

He’s magically cured!

"My Crazymomlady won't take me for a decent walk! Can you believe she only lets me walk 1/4 of a mile??? I'm a wild boy! I need my exercise!! Can someone please have a talk with her?"

Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. He still has dry eye, but the big concern was over the low pressure in his eyes and today they couldn’t have been better. The measurement was perfect. 14 in the right eye and 16 in the left eye.

Uveitis is low pressure in the eye. Normal for Magnus would be between 8-18. So 14 and 16 today was perfect. A vast improvement over the 2 and 3 it was last Wednesday. It’s a very bad thing for a dog to have since it leads to all kinds of even worse things like corneal ulcers, cataracts and blindness. Plus it just made him so miserable and look so pathetic.

We will probably never know why it was so low, but as long it stays normal I don’t care! The normal eye pressure means no Prednizone, another thing that thrills me. So after hitting a low point this morning I’m super relieved this afternoon. We’ll continue the eye drops he’s on for another week then cut back the dosage for a week after that and then recheck his eyes.

The eye drops have been good proof that dogs learn by association. Did you ever see that friends where Rachel has to get eye drops and it takes the whole gang to tackle her and get them in her eyes? That was Magnus and I last Wednesday. He gets 9 drops a day and basically he was having nothing of it after the first time.

Enter the best ooey-gooey treat dispensers ever. I bought three of these little bottles and put his absolute favorite canned food in them so after each drop he gets a good slurp of something super high value. It worked like a charm, he practically lifts his head up for me to put the drops in now. They’re made for carrying lotion and shampoo and things when you travel, I bet the people who made them never new they’d make great treat dispensers too. I’m looking forward to using them for Maizey when were out and about. I’ve always wanted a way to fill her mouth up with ground chicken liver, the treat of the gods. Now I’ve found it.

The next step in this saga is to get his back better. We’re going to do cold laser treatments, massage and Rymadyl, and the new rehab therapist we’re seeing will set us up with some good core strengthening exercises. Until then the no activity thing will kill us, but it will be worth it if there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

I suppose I should apologize for the dreary post this morning. It’s probably crazy how much these little dogs’ health affects me, but of course it does. My bleariness was not all from Magnus, this cold really is the pits and I’m ready to be over it now, hopefully another night of rest will help since I have a full day of classes tomorrow. Thanks again for all of your thoughts and well wishes. We have a great little bloggers community!

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The Search For Answers Yields Little Results

I should have posted before now, but we really don’t have any answers and I just didn’t feel like it.

It’s been another crazy week, although not as crazy as last week, thankfully. We saw our regular vet on Thursday and she did x-rays of Magnus’ back and tested for Lyme disease. The x-rays showed his hips look good, which is a relief. Most of his spine looked good, except there was a slight luxation in the SI joint. Basically that just means his back is out a little and that could be from the fall he took. She did cold laser, massage and adjusted his back. She is so gentle I felt quite confident with her handling Magnus.

The Lyme test finally came back yesterday. It was negative. I know that’s a good thing, but it leaves us not knowing what’s causing the low pressure in his eyes. We see the vet again today, but on the phone she said when they’ve ruled out all the obvious things that cause Uveitis they call it an immune mediated response and treat for the symptoms. That just sounds like doctor speak for “We don’t know what’s causing it, but hopefully if we treat it, it will go away and not come back.” Which would be fine if it really goes away and stays away. They treat it with Predizone and I’ll have more info on that after we see the vet today.

I guess I’m discouraged. The eye drops they’re giving him help, but when they wear off his eyes get bad again. They’re better than they were so that’s the good part, but I wish they knew what was causing this. I don’t like to give my dogs steroids, especially with the heart problems I know they’ll end up eventually.

His back seems better, but that’s been the pattern for months now. It gets bad, we go to the vet and spend twelventy million dollars on diagnostics that only diagnose what he doesn’t have and it clears up. Until it gets bad again. I was almost hopeful he did have Lyme Disease, at least that would be an answer we could treat.

Meanwhile the no activity limits are killing us. It’s impossible to keep him down. Last night I left the kitchen chair out just a little bit, but that little bit was enough for him to get on the kitchen table. Thank goodness I caught him before he jumped off. I’ve always said the world is this little punks’ playground, limiting his activity is always challenging.

So there it is. I suppose I should also add the perspective that I have a cold and have had two days of limited activity myself so perhaps this case of the blahs has as much to do with ME not feeling good as it does with him not feeling good. It’s ironic since I do think he’s feeling much better, but we haven’t done anything fun in way too long and two days off work just isn’t my style.

On a Maizey note, she’s been a fascinating study in managing her own anxiety through all this. There were several times I caught her in a pretty high level of anxiety and she was laying on the bed instead of coming to me and asking for help, or acting it out with cat chasing and barking. She’s been extra needy of Mehusbandy, which I think is a really interesting turn of events. Dogs are so insightful. I’m really happy she’s doing well, I don’t think I could handle them both being down at the same time.

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A Sick Boy and the Search For Answers

Magnus says 4 vets in two days is 4 too many. I agree wholeheartedly.

We have been on a whirlwind of vet visits and still don’t have answers. I have started this post about ten times and I still don’t even know how to get it all down.

Friday night Magnus fell off the back porch, with his history of mysterious pain I knew I’d need to keep a close eye on him. It was a pretty bad fall, not far, but a hard, awkward landing. Saturday I saw no signs of pain in him and we took a wonderful walk. With Maizey in the stroller and Mehusbandy with us we were able to walk over a mile. It was the longest walk Maizey’s been able to take.

On Sunday afternoon I noticed he seemed really sore. We have a 4legged friend that’s getting rehab for a muscle strain. Since she’s from out of town the physical therapist comes to our house to work with her. After she was done with our friends treatment she noticed how sore Magnus looked. By that point he was sitting really hunched over, all round with his tail tucked way under, he was really hurting. She’s a certified canine therapist and can only work under a vet’s referral so she just gave him a bit of massage and we talked about what had happened. She, of course, didn’t make any diagnosis, but she did think he might need to be seen.

When he wasn’t better Monday we made an appointment to take him to the vet she works with on Tuesday. Having such knowledgeable people around me is what has gotten me through the last two days and I’m thrilled to know both the rehab therapist and this new vet.

So Tuesday morning found us at the vets office and it was none too soon as I had one sick little boy puppy on my hands. Not only sick, but sick with some very new and very disturbing symptoms. We weren’t far into the hour long appointment when Dr. Blum confirmed her fears were those two letters no Cavalier mom wants to here: SM (Syringomyelia)

The longer she spent with Magnus I could see her fears growing and of course so did mine. He was in pain. Everywhere. I loved how she listened to him. Each time he got too painful she graciously told him she saw it was hurting and several times told him. “Okay, let’s take break.” I LOVE a vet who cares more about listening to my what my dog’s telling her than her time schedule. She was so gentle and patient and he was in a lot of pain so I was very grateful.

The strangest symptom, and perhaps the most disturbing, was brand-new. That morning I remember thinking his eyes were extremely red and by the time we got to the vet they were totally blood shot. On top of that the third eyelid was closing over most of the iris and his right eye was not tracking right. Both eyes looked like they were pointing towards the outside of his head. It was really scary looking. After she examined him he just went and laid in the corner. My heart was just breaking for him.

Although we knew the eye symptoms were not typical of SM, but she was concerned enough to send us straight to the specialty clinic for an MRI. So what started as me taking my boy in for a muscle strain turned into a marathon day of worry and scary diagnosis. I can’t get into how awful the vet who did the MRI was. Suffice it say he was the rudest, most unprofessional, egotistical vet I’ve ever dealt with. I’m thankful I won’t have to deal with him again.

He basically made up his mind this was SM before he ever did the MRI, he was unkind to me and negligent with Magnus. I hated leaving him there, but there are only two places to get a canine MRI here and this is supposed to be the best, my options were just so limited. So they did the MRI and I got to pick him up a few hours later.

The MRI had to be sent to a radiologist and it was late last night before we got the results. After getting my boy home and as comfy as he could be I spent the rest of the night networking. Again, it was the wonderful people I have supporting me that got me through the night. By the time I got the results back I already had images from the scans and a better explanation of what they were telling us than I’ve got yet from a vet. Mary Beth really came through for me and she and my friend Marie spent hours chatting with me so I could understand what I was seeing.

I’m going to do post with the complete explanation of the scans, but the short version is the radiologist came back with a positive for CM and mild SM diagnosis. The debate about how to read MRI’s for Cavaliers can be fierce and I’m not getting into it now, I’ll just say based on the scans and his symptoms I don’t think he has SM and the CM diagnosis is not a surprise at all.

So last night found us tired, a substantial amount poorer, still sick and knowing nothing more than we started the day knowing. This morning he seemed much less sore, which could be due to the day of sleep and Rymadyl he had. The eyes on the other hand were worse. So by 11:00am we were at the eye care clinic seeing yet another vet. I love our Ophthalmologist. She is kind, knowledgeably and practical. After a thorough examination revealed he has low pressure in his eyes (Uveitis) and Dry eye something I would never have considered came up.

Lyme disease. Lyme is not something we see here in Utah, like ever. For her to connect the dots like she did was really a shot in the dark and actually makes more sense than the common SM diagnosis. Magnus was rescued from a puppy mill in St. Louis, Missouri. In that part of the country they have ticks. A lot of them. The lady that rescued him gave him a tick bath the night before I picked him up. Still that day he was covered in ticks. As we sat in the airport waiting to fly home I picked so many of the little buggers off him I lost count of how many there were.

It’s still a shot in the dark and as I can’t for the life of me remember what kind of ticks they were it’s hard to say if they could even be the Lyme carrying type of tick. We’ll see our vet tomorrow and decide whether that’s a logical thing to test for. If she doesn’t think it is we’ll proceed with x-rays for the back and pain therapy. The treatment for the eyes doesn’t change so we’ll continue that.

So at this point I really don’t have answers. Magnus is hanging in there. They way his eyes look make him very sad and pathetic looking. I debated about even posting the pics I took for the vets, but in the end decided they’re part of the story. I really hate it when my dogs are sick. I want them fixed NOW not poked and prodded, but I understand it’s a journey to figure out such strange symptoms.

I’ll try to post the technical details of all these symptoms and treatments in the next couple of days. For now we’re keeping him comfy as we can and getting lots of snuggles in. Keep us in your thoughts and I’ll keep you updated.

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