Recovery From Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia

This is the post I’ve started over and over and can never finish. Magnus was diagnosed with Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMT) on September 3, 2012. His diagnosis, recovery and subsequent treatment has been one of the most emotional things I’ve ever lived through with my animals.

The story actually started before I even knew it had, on Sunday, September 2. I noticed Magnus’ gums had some tiny blood spots on them. I noticed it, in that way you do when something is odd, but not alarming and never thought another thing about it. The next day Ryan and I took the boy dogs up the canyon to celebrate our 14 year anniversary. Thank goodness we did, or I would never have found the IMT in time. Around eleven o’clock that night I was doing my typical tick check on the dogs and saw these strange dark reddish, purple spots on Magnus’ belly. At first I thought maybe he poked himself on a stick, or perhaps it was poison ivy? It was late on a holiday so I did what we all do, posted a picture to FB and hit Dr. Google. I felt alarmed. I always do when something weird happens, but never did I imagine how bad it could get. One of the trainers from work mentioned Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia, but I really didn’t take that too seriously, I mean what are the chances? Turns out the chances were pretty good.

While all of this was happening I searched the rest of this body and he had the spots everywhere, plus the bloody spots on his gums. As I sat there for 20 minutes trying to decide what to do I watched the worst one on his belly go from the size of a nickel to the size of an extra large egg. I didn’t know what it was, but I was scared so off to the new Emergency Room we went. At about one in the morning the news came back.

Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia. It took me a week to even be able to pronounce that mouth full.

Photo by Kari

The spots were petechial hemorrhages. His immune system was attacking the platelets in his blood and he was bleeding into his skin. They started treatment with a massive steroid shot, Prednisone and several other meds that night. Over the next three days we were at the vet or in the emergency room every day or night. This is where the words stop. This is where I just can’t convey the terror I still feel even remembering it. On Tuesday he developed a major GI bleed and by Thursday he was bleeding into his lungs. He and I sat in the vet with few options left. The message was we had 24-48 hours left and the only treatment option left was to hospitalize him and give a transfusion of immunoglobulins. It would be $1800.00 to start that treatment with small hope it would be successful. After a tearful talk with him I decided to just take him home. If we were going to lose him I wasn’t going to let his last hours be in the vet alone. It would be with us at home. So our wonderful vet sent us home with every med we could hit him with to wait and see. Now the tears come. . .

Through the whole week my team at work was fabulous. They were all the support I could have wished for. Covering my shifts, letting me take calls from vets and be late coming from or leave early to go to the vets. After that vet visit it was so late I had one class to teach and no time to take him home and though I have no idea why, I just decided to take him with me.

He was still so amazingly perky at that point. He was so incredibly. . . HIM. He had toddled into the vet and snuggled right up to her, happy as could be to say hi and give her a chatter. When we walked into work he just snuzzled right up to his Auntie Nikki to tell her it was okay, don’t be sad. He clearly was sick, but dying? That cough meant he was bleeding into his lungs? How can that be? He just never gave up fighting. So he crated up with me while I taught my tricks class and we got so much support and love from my wonderful team and my wonderful clients. Our friend Kari took these wonderful pictures of us for me. I will always treasure them. It was amazing to experience such care.

Photo by Kari

That night things got bad. He couldn’t breath. He was coughing. I just laid and listened to him. . . He wanted to lay on the hard floor stretched out as long as he could stretch so I just laid with him. I just laid there a listened to his lungs and his heart, petting him until we both settled into an uneasy sleep. . . I didn’t think he would make it through the night.

He did though. Friday morning he still had the GI bleed, the bloody stool was unlike anything I’d seen. It was unnatural and scary. Still though, he never seemed as sick as he was. We took pictures that morning too and he was still mugging for the camera. I had a chat with my little sister that morning I will never forget and always treasure. She told me not to lose faith. I had, but she reminded me not to give up.

That was the miracle day. We spent it together snuggling and just waiting. We took a long sleep together that day and when we woke up, about 5:30 that evening, he was perking up. He wasn’t coughing and wanted to be outside. My mom came to sit with us and while she was there he had a normal stool. I could hardly believe it. NO blood. In about 8 hours he had stopped bleeding into his GI tract. That was the beginning of a miraculous recovery.

Since then we’ve spent umpteen dollars in blood tests, vet visits and medicines. We worried with each blood test and rejoiced when each one came back as good as the last. Medical miracle are words we hear every time we go the vet. We complained regularly about the evils of Prednisone and thanked goodness that he had it. For all the trials of treating this disease he’s alive and that’s all that matters.

Now we’re back in classes. He’s rocking Rally class right now and will soon take Prestigious Pooch and finally get his CGC. Who knows, we might even venture into the Rally ring sometime. All I know is he was always a miracle to me and now he’s a true miracle.

His prognosis is good, but he has a systemic autoimmune disease and something we’ll fight the rest of his life. He had a minor setback this weekend with his eyes and it really made me realize how fragile he is.  I’m in an acceptance process of what all that means. He will never have vaccinations again and will always be on meds, but with strict management we hope to have more good days than bad days. However long his life is I treasure every second with him.

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You are Your Mothers Daughter. . . or Son

Warning: Do not continue reading if you are uncomfortable with gross anthropomorphism.

I raise dogs that are like me. I don’t know how, well I sorta do, but I make dogs that are their mothers daughter or sons. Maybe I raise dogs to be introverts like I am.

I’m doing it again with Calvin and play. He doesn’t love puppy play. He’s okay there, not hiding or afraid, but he doesn’t love it. As a puppy momma I feel the same way. As a trainer I enjoy puppy play. I’m in charge and that must satisfy the control freak in me. As a puppy mom I hate it. I get uncomfortable and nervous. It’s called puppy social for a reason and the word social and I? We aren’t on good terms.

Introverts are most comfortable with just a few people, or even just one. We don’t need a crowd to satisfy our social needs. In fact crowds are overwhelming. To me crowds are like watching 10 TV’s at once, all on different channels, all with the volume full blast. It’s input overload. Put me in a room with 10 families and 10 puppies and my head is absorbing way too much. That’s why introverts like smaller groups. My brain absorbs so much as once, it’s exhausting.

“It’s okay mom, I can be your snuggle puppy!”

It’s not that I don’t like people, I do! I find people fascinating. I love the capacity for showing human compassion we were created with. I love teaching. I love learning. But put me in a group that big and I can only handle it for a short period of time before I want to just shut down. Put me in a group that big with a puppy to protect and I go into overload even faster. That’s where the problem comes in, that’s where I make dogs that are their mothers daughter or sons.

When Maizey was a puppy I was reactive, to say the least. It was a very anxious time of my life and I was having regular panic attacks. None of that equipped me to help her. I know her genetics and my genetics are not a good match. We have a conflictedly parasitic/symbiotic relationship. If there were such a thing. While I’m convinced there are few people equipped to handle her I also know she would be much better off with a calmer person, especially when she was a puppy. Sometimes we do trigger each others anxiety, but we also take care of each other and I think I understand her in a lot ways other don’t and couldn’t.

By the time Magnus came along I was not so reactive and more settled into my introversion. I think it shows, when it comes to dogs he’s a lot like I am with people. He likes dogs, he’s okay with dogs, but he prefers one or two and in small doses.

I can see it happening with Calvin too. I like kids, I don’t have kids, but I like kids. I especially like to interact with one or two kids at a time. I don’t really like the loudness of kids, it goes back to that input overload thing. I prefer adults. He’s already like that with puppies. He doesn’t really like puppy play, but he really loves to play with grown up dogs. Today at puppy play he interacted a little. He doesn’t hide and he would really like to play with the big dogs, but he doesn’t really dive in there and enjoy himself. Then this afternoon this sweet blenheim, Cheeto, came in with his dad. Calvin loved him! LOVED him! They played until Cheeto was pretty sick of Calvin, but Calvin would have just kept on chasing! All Calvin’s work Aunties were so surprised. I told them, he’s his mothers son. He doesn’t like crowds, it takes him a minute to adjust to new environments and he does best one on one with grown ups. I was very similar as a kid.

“It’s okay mom! We can just play with you!”

I worry about it a bit. I don’t care so much of they are doggy introverts as long as, like Magnus, they have the skills to deal with being around dogs peacefully. Calvin is nothing like Maizey was and I bear little resemblance to the mom I was to her, so I’m not worried about him being reactive. I just hate to think I affect them with my stress. It’s a pointless thing to worry about. What I should, and am, more concerned with is giving them the skills to deal with me being their mom and them being their mothers children. But isn’t it crazy how in tune dogs are to us?

It’s their ability for compassion that I love so much, but also makes me worry about them. Maizey especially. It is just crazy how she reads me. I can be totally quiet on the outside, but she knows the instant I reach a certain level of internal anxiety. She comes and taps me and if I don’t calm myself down she insistently smothers me. I love it, but I hate for her to take on that self appointed job.

It will be interesting to see how Calvin grows. He’s certainly more people oriented than either of my other two. We’re working already on when you can say hi and when you can’t. However he turns out I’m proud of who he is already. I can’t help but be who I am and if that makes them a bit more reserved I guess we can deal with it. I don’t believe dogs need to play with other dogs to live fulfilled lives, but I do want them to be comfortable around other dogs. We’ll keep working on puppy play and who knows, maybe I’ll let one of his trainer Aunties take Calvin to play next time!

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Sacked out post puppy socialization party

Sacked out post puppy socialization party

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Company for Colds and Sicknesses

I had two days off in a row, which is some kind of record for the last few months so of course I came down with a miserable cold. I’m fighting to keep it from going into my chest, but I’m losing. I’m afraid I’m getting bronchitis. I’ve also been having a string of bad migraines so I’m feeling pretty lousy.
Company for Colds

My pups have been very good company. They are so patient when I’m sick. I really value having dogs that are happy to get up and go with me, but can also kick back and keep me company when I need to lay low.

When Magnus was a puppy I was really sick. I was in a severe depression and slept a lot. He as such a good boy to sleep with me even though he was a puppy. Looking back on the blog I don’t think that really comes through in my posts, but it was not the best time in my life. Being down today made me start thinking of this next boy puppy coming into my life. Actually nearly everything makes me think of the puppy.

It will be so different this time. With Maizey and Magnus I wasn’t a working mom. I had much more time than I do now. But being such an introvert I also had to work harder to get them the socialization they needed. We already know I didn’t do a good enough job with Maizey, but with Magnus I really did work hard to get him the socialization he needed. Socialization will be built into this next little guys life as he’ll be coming to work with me quite a lot. That means lots of people and dogs will be built into his life from the beginning.

Remember the battle I had about what do with Magnus and puppy class? Thank goodness I ended up taking him to Calling All Dogs as that was the beginning of my eventually working there. That’s another difference with this puppy. His first three classes are already scheduled out. He’ll start visiting classes as soon as he comes home, then start his own puppy class in the beginning of September. It will be really interesting to be a student in a class I teach now.

So many things are different with this guy. He comes from wonderful lines, Embee Cavaliers has already sent me health certifications on his parents, and grandparents. His first weeks of life have been totally different than my two monkeys. He has been getting early stimulation, good nutrition and wonderful love from day one. Those are all things Maizey certainly didn’t get with her rocky start and things there was no way Magnus had in a puppy mill.

All of this adds up to me being incredibly unworried about this little guy. I was such a worry wort with my last two. I had a list a mile long of things I wanted to accomplish with them. Some of which we’ve done and some we haven’t got to yet. With this guy my only expectation is to love him and have fun.

In general I’m just in a much more settled place, which is funny since many things in my Real Life are the same and some even worse, but the one thing that’s not the same is I’m not sick anymore. I’m stronger and happier and I guess that’s sort of the bottom line with this post. If you suffer from depression, don’t give up. Sometimes things don’t change, but take a lesson from my dogs and sleep when you need to sleep, get up and go when you can, sit in each moment for what it is and just let it be. I know it’s easy to say that and hard to do it, and harder still to remember it when you’re in the pit, but make a note today and let your dogs remind you when you need it.

On a final lighter note, my new little guy needs a name! I have two front runners in mind and think I want to stick with the ‘M’ theme so does anyone have any ideas? Leave me a comment with your favorite puppy name!

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Happy Maizey and Healthy Magnus

If you read last June and July it’s all about limps and anxiety. Ironically this April and May would have been all about limps and anxiety too, but a totally different story. This years story is about progress and recovery.

June 25, 2011

June 25, 2012

May 15, 2012



These photo’s from last year clearly show that Maizey was feeling stressed even in the front yard. As I read through posts from last year my sadness and frustration all came back to me.

This year is is a totally different story, as I think the photo’s show. She still has a long ways to go, especially when it comes to other dogs, but her general level of anxiety is much, much less. Hooray! Her recovery time is better and even on high stress days she can still enjoy getting out for a short walk as long as she has her stroller.

Last year she couldn’t even be in the front yard without her stress level sky rocketing, this year she’s not only enjoying being out there, she’s doing so quietly! Since we’re not fighting with the anxiety I started using timeouts for her barking at the fence and she almost never does now. A funny side effect is that when I say, “That’s enough”, her timeout warning cue, Magnus comes running. He thinks it’s good recall cue since if she comes off the fence with the warning she always gets a treat and of course so does he. That boy just cracks me up.

I’m worried about fireworks season coming up so we’ve added Amitriptyline to her Fluoxetine. We did a two week trial which wasn’t long enough to tell anything so we’re trying another two weeks. I hope to be able to use it on an as needed basis, for just the most stressful times. We’re still using Composure Liquid and it’s a life saver. For the first time I feel hopeful about my girl.

I appreciate how many tools we have in our anxiety tool box now. Not only is her stress level lower, but we have many more skills and resources to draw from on the bad days. As a trainer it’s something I’m always advocating for shy dogs- train a variety of skills and try a variety of supplements so when you need it you have options. One thing that was so frustrating last year was not having enough things to try when things got tough.

On top of all that good news Magnus is doing great! His back is all clear, we’re back to training, I even let him zoom at the park the other day. It was his SI joint that was out, but now I think this all started last June with a pulled hamstring. That’s the only thing left that’s sore on him now. So were still seeing Tena, the physical therapist who he LOVES. Now that we’re actually down to what we think was the original cause of all his back problems I hope we can clear it up for good.

As if all that good news weren’t enough I passed my CAP 1 certification. I can’t remember if I really posted about this, but before Magnus got hurt I was taking a class to earn a certification for Kay Laurence’ Clicker Trainers Competency Assessment Program. When his health fell apart in March we had to put taking the assessment on hold until he was healthy again. I’m happy to say the delay between the class and the assessment didn’t hurt me as I passed with distinction. It’s a huge honor to be able to take this class in person, there are only a few assessors in the states. I’m very pleased with passing and even more pleased with how great a team mate Magnus was.

It’s nice to have good news and happy pictures to post. And now in a bit of shameless self-congratulations I have to post a copy of my CAP certificate.

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2 Year Blogiversary

Another year of blogging has come and gone as February 26 marked my two year blogiversary.

Time is such a fluid thing. The older I get the faster it screams by me. The busier I get the harder it gets to pay attention to it’s passing. I try to quantify it by measuring X many months since THIS or THAT happened. But it still doesn’t seem concrete in my head.

This last year of blogging has had some real up and downs, as every year does. Which highlights another aspect of time passing- each year is a different set of events repeating the same pattern. In my Real Life there have been some major changes that I never thought I’d see and that pattern holds true in my Dog Life too.

If you told me last February I’d be a professional dog trainer I would never have believed you. Even writing professional today doesn’t seem true. I just don’t tend to think of my self in those terms. I’m a learner and even in my teaching roles in life I never feel qualified to claim a title of “Knower” since I consider my life a continual process of learning. Plus, the more I learn the more I realize I don’t know. Since I find not knowing quite aversive my 4legged lesson from last February is still true, “. . .let your pups teach you all they can as fast as you can learn. You never know what they are preparing you for.” I certainly could never have predicted my pups were preparing me to take training into a career!

It wasn’t all lessons and learning, when I look back I’m reminded of some silly moments too. This post about snip and snails and puppy dog tails reminded while some things have changes greatly some remain the same. Magnus is still bringing me disgusting things, but none as gross as the dead mouse he brought in a couple months ago!

Looking back there are some things I wrote that surprised me. Last March I wrote, “I’d say I use 85%, maybe even 90%, positive methods. . .” I can’t think why I wrote that at the time, I would say now I am 100% positive reinforcement trainer. I think it reflects one area I’ve grown greatly in the last year. I have a much better understanding of learning theory and the 4 quadrants of positive reinforcement training. I also value that understanding more since I really feel like understanding how negative reinforcement, negative punishment and positive punishment work helps build a more comprehensive training plan. Interestingly understanding the other quadrants has only driven me to find solutions in positive reinforcement even more. I’m proud to say I really have become a “serene trainer” as I set out to in that post.

I really love looking back through the months. It reminds me of things I learned and forgot. This post about Maizey taking Petite Pal’s class really shows that. It’s weird that a year ago she was in classes at all. I would never put her through that now. And though the post is full of lessons and things we learned in class, what it’s most full of is how much I love her. I guess it looks like we’ve lost ground since then, but in reality we’ve gained ground since our relationship has grown to where I’m much more confident in letting her be her.

I’m really glad I have the blog to remind me what we’ve done. It puts things in perspective. Especially things that are easy to get emotional about like Maizey’s progress. It also reminds me of things we trained that I didn’t really take anywhere, but learned from the journey. All in all it was a crazy year and I’m glad I have a record of it.

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The Roller Coaster Ride of Life

I know when I’m getting tired from the daily do’s- I always end up writing as a way of sorting out all the going-on’s. Really it’s just a fancy sort of procrastination.

The pup’s are doing well. I’ve been so busy, but we’re getting in a ton of training time. I’m taking a CAP class. CAP is The Competency Assessment Program by Kay Laurence. We have one of the only accredited instructors in the States working at my training center so it’s an amazing chance to get to take CAP class in person. If you want to improve your training skills I’d highly recommend it. I can’t believe the things I’ve learned in just two weeks. I think we want to train all the “sexier” things, tricks and Rally and stuff, but CAP has taken me back to basics and since it’s really about what I’m learning not what the dogs are learning I’m using a lot of foundation behaviors to practice with. The result is I’m cleaning up a lot of things in their training that I let get sloppy and when we train the funner things they’re doing so much better. I LOVE CAP class!

I have three classes of my own now. I have a 12 different dogs I’m teaching and boy does it push my brain! Dog training is amazing. Each dog is an individual and has individual needs, but you also have the handlers needs to consider then it gets really complicated when you start adding in families and family dynamics. 12 dogs represents way more than 12 students when you put it all together. My biggest class is only 6 dogs and I really appreciate the chance to work in more depth with the smaller classes. It sure presents challenges in dog training I’ve never run into.

My dogs each have their own set of talents and challenges and the dogs I teach are no different. I have to say there’s a huge difference between studying and writing up a behavioral plan and actually teaching someone how to apply it. Dog trainers need to think on the fly and adjust second to second as the dog responds. It’s not as easy as it looks!

Then there’s the amazing amount of paperwork that comes with training. You’d never believe the behind the scenes stuff that goes into a class or session. Rosters to maintain, lesson plans to write, lesson plans to adjust to each classes needs, issues to research, the list goes on and on. Writing it all out sounds sorta droll and dreadful, but it’s not! It’s wonderful and though I worried the more I trained at work the less I’d train at home, it’s exactly opposite. Of course my dogs end up being Guinea Pigs, but they like it, it means we play a lot more games.

Magnus gets to go to work with me sometimes now. He makes a very boring shop dog, but boy does he love it! You can see in the pictures the main job he wants is napping! Everyone that was worried about the torturous snoods will be glad to know he doesn’t hate it anymore. Association is a powerful tool in the dogs brain and now he’s diving into it, just like Mary Beth said he would. He even brought it to me the other day like, “MOM! Here’s the good snood now where’s my good stuff!” He just keeps me laughing.

I’m still keeping up with everyones blogs, just don’t have time to comment much. We’re still here though. Just adjusting as life changes. Isn’t life like a roller coaster that never ends? You strap in and there’s no getting off. You just take the highs with the lows and ride the ride. Scream loud when it gets too crazy and try to take a breath in between. At least my life. It makes me love the quiet moments with me Monkey’s snuggling close and keeping my company.

The most exciting news is we get to shoot with Seth Casteel of Little Friends Photo’s. He’s hard to miss lately as his underwater stuff has gone viral and is everywhere, I saw his stuff on GMA this morning. We get a couple of hours with him and I’m just thrilled. I’m worried about how Maizey will handle two hours of that much stimulation, but it was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. Can’t believe it but our shoot is next friday so I better start getting prepared!

All in all we’re good. Taking the ride as it comes for us and hoping it wasn’t designed by a maniacal roller coaster builder. It’s a hope I think we all share!

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