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On Losing a Dog

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Source: On Losing a Dog

BLOAT: A Major Breakthrough!

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BREAKING NEWS: A MAJOR Breakthrough on Bloat ! Sharing Recommended !

Source: BLOAT: A Major Breakthrough!

Sketch: The Missing Months of Dealing With Megaesophagus! Part Two

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As any dog lover knows, emergency surgeries, complications, tests, long vet stays… it all costs money and lots of it. Knowing Auburn wasn’t going to be cheap with their tests on Sketch, we began a “Go Fund Me” fundraiser for Sketch. Several people suggested it and while I wasn’t thrilled with asking for help, I knew I had to, for Sketch, but also for Chloe – my youngest daughter (13 yrs old when this all started) and Sketch’s “soul mate.”

Chloe has worked HARD doing her part in Sketch’s care.  She has tirelessly held Sketch up after feedings, spent countless hours in prayer for him, been up all night with him more than once, held him while I’ve poked needles in him for sub q fluids and medicine injections, cleaned up more vomit/regurge than most people have even seen in their life, and so much more.

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She told me herself that people would help us to Save Sketch – we only had to ask.  20140906_144130_Android

And so we did…. and she was right.  People cared and they gave with all their hearts.  It was humbling to see the outpouring of love our poor sick “free” dog on Craigslist was getting.  People gave on the online Go Fund Me site and they gave to us privately. People just poured their hearts and money into our Sketch and Chloe’s hearts.  It was truly an incredible experience!  We raised almost four thousand dollars to go towards Sketch’s ever increasing medical expenses! It helped us more than I can say – both financially and in our hearts.

Picnic lunch and walking while Sketch was having tests done at Auburn University Small Animal Hospital.

Picnic lunch and walking while Sketch was having tests done at Auburn University Small Animal Hospital.

Finally, Auburn gives us a diagnosis for Sketch.  It was the Megaesophagus as I’d suspected, but he also had a kink in his intestines which was making it that much harder for food to move through his system. Another surgery would be required in order to fix this kink.  We took Sketch home and began planning to take him back to Auburn for this next surgery.

Before we could even begin to plan, Sketch bloated AGAIN.  I’m still not even sure how that happened as we were still hand feeding him very small meals, numerous times a day, but it did happen.  And I must say, as far as Great Danes and bloat goes…. PLEASE, PLEASEif you suspect any possibility of bloat, get an x-ray.  Do not just go with what your vet says, no matter how much you love and trust them.  Get x-rays.  I LOVE our vet!  I truly do, and can’t imagine taking my dogs anywhere else, but both times that Sketch bloated, they said they didn’t think it was bloat at all. He didn’t present like most dogs do that bloat, but because I insisted on x-rays, they were able to catch it and save him.

Back to surgery Sketch went and once again, there was torsion.  He had the gastropexy done during the first bloat surgery, but it did NOT stop the torsion from occurring again for some reason.  It wasn’t as severe, but it still happened.  A lot of Great Dane owners believe that gastropexy will completely prevent torsion with bloat, but that is NOT true.  Yes, it can help, but it’s NOT a guarantee.  

Sketch made it through another emergency surgery for bloat with torsion (they also corrected the kink in his intestines while in there) and once again we were more thankful than words can say.  When he was able to come home again, it was back to upright feedings, vertical holds, sub q fluids and tons of love.

Sketch getting sub q fluids and love from Chloe.

Sketch getting sub q fluids and love from Chloe.

Weight loss still being such a huge problem, we began checking into feeding tubes.  We talked to our local vet and decided to try a temporary one.

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Sketch home from getting his first temporary feeding tube.

We were so excited to be able to bypass his no longer working esophagus and use the tube to go straight into his tummy with the MUCH needed nutrition.  It was awesome.  While it lasted…..  On only day two of having the feeding tube, Sketch stood up and regurged the tube right out of his tummy.  We were devastated.  Our vet looked to see if there were different tubes we could try, or something we could do, but wasn’t successful in the search.  If we want to do a feeding tube, it will need to be a permanent one instead of a temporary.  We’re currently continuing to feed him small meals with the highest calorie food we’ve been able to find and doing vertical holds.  He had recently gained a little over 10 pounds, but sadly lost a good bit of it during a bout of aspiration pneumonia.

We’re currently continuing to feed him small meals with the highest calorie food we’ve been able to find and doing vertical holds after each time he’s fed.  He had recently gained a little over 10 pounds, but sadly lost a good bit of it during his first bout of aspiration pneumonia.

Megaesophagus is a horrible disease, but many dogs still live long lives with the proper care.  We’re still struggling to get weight on Sketch and keep it on him.  He can’t run and play the way he used to due to needing to not use up any calories, but there’s still a light that shines from him and lets us know that he is NOT done with this world – he still has more to do, share, experience, and give.

Sketch is a very inspiring Great Dane with a will to live unlike any I’ve witnessed in my own life so far. His joy is utterly contagious and makes you want to experience life beside him.  God has answered many prayers concerning Sketch and I’m curious to see what happens next in this life we now share with our MegaE dog.


Sketch and Daddy praying 🙂


Sketch, Chloe, and Isaiah

Do you have a dog with MegaE?  I’d love for you to comment and tell me your story!  With knowledge being shared, more dogs can be saved!


Until next time, Sketch says to have a wonderful day of full tummies and lots of extra love!

Sketch and Chloe

Sketch and Chloe

Sketch: The Missing Months of Dealing With Megaesophagus! Part One

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Hello again – It’s been months since I posted.  We adopted our fourth Great Dane, Sketch, and were watching he and Isaiah grow like weeds when the unthinkable happened…. Sketch bloated.  As of June 30th, 2014, our lives were suddenly very different.

Anyone who loves Great Danes and has them in their life knows, and greatly fears, bloat.  You read about it and do everything to try and prevent it from happening to your fur baby.  We did the same. We followed all the “rules” for keeping the bloat monster at bay.  Unfortunately, the bloat monster doesn’t play by the rules we were following.

Sketch underwent emergency surgery at our local vet when x-rays showed bloat with torsion (twisting of the stomach).  He pulled through the surgery like a champ and it seemed like everything would be back to normal in time.  However, as time went by Sketch wasn’t recovering his ability to eat and keep food down.  We tried everything and I do mean – e v e r y t h i n g .  He began to lose a LOT of weight and things got very scary.  He was “vomiting” pretty much everything he took in.

Our local vet did a barium study, but didn’t come up with a diagnosis for anything, they did loads of blood work and various tests…. but came up blank.  Sketch continued to lose weight and we were becoming VERY afraid of losing him.


At the vet – Losing weight and losing more weight…


Then a friend sent me a website describing an illness that affects some dogs called Megaesophagus.  I read that article and a “knowing” just dug deep in my own gut and I KNEW – this is the answer. This is what Sketch is dealing with.  So, we began to learn more and more about MegaE and what to do about it and I began a dialogue with our local vet.

At home, we went ahead and began treating Sketch as if we had the diagnosis of the MegaE since everything we read about it fit him and what was going on.  We had a friend come over and build Sketch a Bailey Chair, which is basically a doggy highchair that’s used to help keep them in an upright position in order to help the food they eat move through the esophagus and on into the stomach.  Being in this upright, vertical, position gives gravity a chance to work on the food since the esophagus is no longer doing its work in pushing the food downward.


Sketch’s first Bailey Chair – almost done building it!


Even with all our tireless efforts with feeding Sketch, and doing 30 to 45 minute vertical holds, we still weren’t seeing much in the way of weight gain and we wanted to know if we were correct in our own diagnosis of the MegaE.  Our local vet referred us to Auburn University Small Animal Hospital for more tests. Off to Auburn we went, taking Isaiah with us for Sketch’s, and our own, moral support.

On our way to Auburn University Small Animal Hospital!

On our way to Auburn University Small Animal Hospital!

Sitting in the waiting area for our turn to see the doctors.

Sitting in the waiting area for our turn to see the doctors.

So, what did Auburn say?

See part two of –  Sketch: The Missing Months of Dealing With Megaesophagus!

Isaiah’s Five Month “Chair Pic” and an Update :)

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As promised, here is the 5 month old Isaiah “chair picture!”   Hard to believe how fast this boy is growing!

Isaiah's "chair pic" of May 2014

Isaiah’s “chair pic” of May 2014

He’s doing well with his training too!  I have him in a group class so he can learn while being around other dogs in a class situation. Even us trainers like to have our dogs experience what we recommend for our own students and clients! 🙂  When training puppies, you want them to have good experiences in as many different places, around as many different dogs and people as possible.  It’s all a vital part of socializing them.  Just because they’re good with the dogs at your house or around your friends or families dogs, does not translate to them doing well with other dogs that they might meet out in public.  They need to practice meeting new dogs on a regular basis in lots of various places.  It’s more about the act of meeting the new dogs (and people) than it is the actual dogs (or people) themselves.

Isaiah is currently in an Intermediate level group class and doing great!  Plus, I just started him in a dance class (yes, I said dance class….) yesterday!  Can’t wait to see how THAT goes!  ha ha!   We’re doing it for fun and for the simple experience of it all.  Even dogs like to have fun and dance sometimes!

If you’ve ever taken a dance class with your dog, leave me a comment about your experience!  I’d love to hear all about it!

I told ya…. you never know what these boys will do next! 🙂



Then they went crazy and added two more!

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I’ve had puppy fever for over a year now.  Great Dane puppy fever.  Yeah…. that’s a big puppy to take on.  My beloved Streifen is four years old now – as of March 8th – so yeah… it’s been a while since I’ve done the whole puppy thing.  Being able to take care of other people’s Great Dane puppies when they board them with us has helped tremendously, but well… there’s nothing quite like having your very own.  I fought it long and hard.  I truly did cause I knew my husband wasn’t all that thrilled with the idea of having three Great Danes.  However, I lost the battle this year (2014).  In a big way.

I lost the puppy battle, but a puppy who we named Isaiah, hit the family jackpot!  At least, we think he did 🙂   I have a sneaking suspicion that he agrees!

Isaiah is part European and American Great Dane, which means he’s going to be a big boy.  He’s 5 month’s old now and already over 80 pounds!  Here’s a few pics….

Isaiah at 3 months

Isaiah at 3 months

Isaiah at 4 months

Isaiah at 4 months


Isaiah's first "chair pic" in March 2014

Isaiah’s first “chair pic” in March 2014

Isaiah's "chair pic" of April 2014

Isaiah’s “chair pic” of April 2014

The “chair pic”, as we call it, started out as a “see how big he is compared to Streifen at the same age” kind of thing and has just become something we look forward to each month.  It’s actually time to take it again so I’ll have to post May’s “chair pic” when we take the next one!

So, you’ve met our adorable Isaiah now…. 🙂

Well, apparently puppy fever hits me seriously bad once it hits cause we actually ended up with TWO Great Dane puppies…. though the 2nd one wasn’t exactly planned…

It all started with a Craigslist ad for a FREE Dane.  A friend of mine that does a lot of rescue ran across this ad and contacted the guy.  The guy told her he didn’t have time for questions or anything else and that if she wanted this dog she’d better just come on and get him.  😦   Our biggest fear was that dog fighters would get to him.

So, she drove to Columbus, GA and saved this poor fella.  He was 8 months old then and in pretty horrible condition.  He has a large tumor on his front elbow and several small tumors inside his neck that you can’t see, but can feel.  His hair is very very thin in many places, which the guy said was because of some new bedding he put in the dogs pen.  Apparently, the poor baby had to live in this small pen pretty much all the time.  His eyes were all infected and red and gooey.  And… he was scared to death of everything.  He was over 100 lbs and he had to be picked up and put in the car due to his fear.

Heartbroken doesn’t begin to express the sadness I felt when I first met this boy.  My friend brought him to our house to stay for a couple of weeks, so we had him from his first night away from that horrible place he’d had to call home for so many months.  We were standing in the kitchen looking him over and my friend was telling me about the “sketchy” neighborhood he’d come out of and it hit me… Sketch!  His name should be Sketch!  And the name has fit… for all kinds of reasons besides his original neighborhood.

He was so scared… of everything.  I honestly looked at this poor boy and couldn’t imagine him being a puppy at all.  He acted more like an old dog.  However…. I reckon my little girl has some of what my husband calls “doggy dna” in her cause it wasn’t long and she had this boy ready to go and confront the world… as long as she’s by him!  You could say that this boy sketched his love right on her heart and hers right on his too!   They became inseparable and well… we got our 2nd Great Dane puppy!

Sketch 8 months old

Sketch 8 months old

He and Isaiah became great friends and brothers!  Even Streifen and Suki (our other two Danes) enjoy goofing off with “the boys” as they are so often called now!   You seldom find Isaiah without Sketch or Sketch without Isaiah (and my daughter lol).

Isaiah and Sketch - April 2014

Isaiah and Sketch – April 2014

Kinda scary when I think about the fact that in this picture, Isaiah is 5 months old and Sketch is 9 months old!!!  Isaiah looks almost as big as Sketch here!  And he’s honestly not too far off…   He’s gonna be a big ole boy!

Yep, so that’s how we went crazy and added, not one, but, TWO Great Dane puppies to our family!

We are enjoying them so very much!  They bring a boat load of laughter and fun to our family.  Isaiah loves to get in any chair that he even thinks I might sit in, regardless of size….. his or the chair!  Sketch now bounds all over the house in pure joy, playing and romping with his brothers or with his little girl.  You can’t stay sad or down for long around that fella cause he sure shows you the simple things in life are worth smiling over.

Now our goal with them is to let them both give back a little and we want to give some back too…  God gave us their amazingness and we want to use it to help other people find their smiles too!  We’re going to train them into “therapy dogs!”  🙂

Check back for training and other fun stories of Isaiah and Sketch!  There’s no telling what the boys will do next!


January is National Train Your Dog Month!

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So, did you know that January is National Train Your Dog Month?  Well, it is!  Yay!  As a dog trainer, I love that we have our own month, so to speak.  Training is such an important aspect of owning a dog and often it gets neglected.  So anything that helps get awareness out there is a huge bonus!

The sad fact is that many puppies are given as gifts at Christmas and by February many are being dumped in shelters all across the United States.  Why?  Largely because of a lack of knowledge on how to train the puppy.

Potty training can be challenging enough when you do know how, but imagine what it’s like for those that have no clue!  Then add to the fact that there are so many out there teaching methods that do more damage than good.  It’s a sad situation for many.

Having a National Train Your Dog Month will, hopefully, help get the word out to people who are struggling right now with that Christmas present puppy, and maybe save a few from being dumped at a local shelter.

So, how do you choose a trainer?  Which method do you go with?  Should you do a private class or is a group class better?  All great questions!  Questions I’ll be answering over the next few days, so check back here at Praising Paws!   You know the saying…. Praise will get you everywhere!  🙂

Retractable Leashes: Handy Tool or Fifteen Feet of Doom?

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Retractable Leashes: Handy Tool or Fifteen Feet of Doom?.

via Retractable Leashes: Handy Tool or Fifteen Feet of Doom?.

Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around The Old Oak Tree…. Or….

around your dog’s leash if he/she is reactive, or needs space, for any reason.   I love this new idea that’s sweeping around the block these days!

Three of our six dogs have some issues with reactivity.   One is an itty bitty boy (Max) that has had a serious fear of men and strangers since we adopted him.  He came to us with these issues and though we’ve worked with him over the years, we finally had to accept the fact that he’s always going to react negatively to men and people he’s not sure of and it’s up to us to simply protect him and the people he fears most.

Then we got an Australian Shepherd (Raider) from a breeder who had tossed him out into her yard and ignored him completely, outside of giving him the extreme basics of food and water.  He “made the mistake” of having too much white on his ears to be sold as a show dog…  seriously.  *sigh * He was terrified of everything due to six months of being completely ignored!  And I do mean everything.  Everything was a struggle with him, but with training and lots of love he’s a different dog than the one we originally picked up.  However, he has issues with dogs, on leash, that he meets away from home and will growl and snap if they come too close too quickly.  If he’s given some time and they’re not super energetic, then he can accept them.  At home, where he’s comfortable, he’s fine meeting new friends.  He also has had issues with the people at vet’s offices.  It’s a scary place to him!  Once they’re done with his vaccinations, or whatever they’re doing, then he’s fine, but until then and during the exam, I prefer him to be muzzled.  It’s taken a lot of working with him to get him to be okay with them after they’re done with “the scary stuff”, and we’re happy with that – if he can’t ever be un-muzzled during the exam, then we accept him that way.  We also have to watch him around strangers if we’re out at a park or someplace else.  It doesn’t take too much to scare him or make him feel the need to protect us, so we’re always watchful of who and what is around us.  When I take him to work with me, he’s perfectly fine with the people he meets because that’s always been fun for him, but meeting new dogs there is a different story.  Once he’s met them at home, he remembers them when he sees them out and is fine.

Last, but not one bit the least… is our Great Dane, Streifen.  You may have read about him… ha ha 🙂    Sadly, he’s the more sensitive sort of Great Dane and developed some intense fears of strangers pretty young.  Small children are particularly scary to him.   Taking him to work with me where he was around large amounts of people turned out to not be a  good way to socialize him due to his sensitivities.  Too many people in the general public are scared of the giant breeds of dogs, we discovered the hard way.  It won’t always stop them from wanting to approach them either… nope… they’ll approach and ask to pet them and then scream bloody murder in your dogs face, out of the blue…  Yes, they sure will.  Why?  I haven’t a clue, but they do that.  They’ll also let their terrified child scream in your dog’s face when you least expect it and laugh…. Laugh at their child’s terror and the terror your dog feels.  Crazy – yet true.  Streifen was my first Great Dane and I had ZERO idea that they were quite this sensitive/nervous of new situations.  Once I caught on to the fact that he was seriously being scared to the point of it doing damage, I quit taking him to the store I work in.  I kept hoping he’d have more good experiences than bad, but it just wasn’t working out that way.  We often dog sit for people at our house too and it only took one dog meeting to go wrong to do it’s damage in him with meeting new dogs.  He had loved all other dogs until that one bad meeting where a chocolate lab didn’t want to be friends and reacted poorly to him wanting to play.  So now he has issues with new people, small children, and other big dogs.  Made walks with him a bit difficult at best.  So, I decided to walk him only in places where I could control the distance of other people and their dogs so he could still get his exercise and yet not suffer the results of up close meetings.

Having a “yellow ribbon” tied to his leash to warn others to not approach could be a wonderful thing for him – for all three of my fearful/reactive dogs.   I would seriously like to see this information get passed around so that everyone, even people that don’t own dogs, will know what a yellow ribbon means.  It could make a huge difference to the people and their beloved pets that have issues (of any type) or that are learning to be service dogs.  Education is the key!


I agree completely with Jessica Dolce when she says, “DINOS are GOOD dogs, they just need space!”  

DINOS: Dogs in Need of Space

The Yellow Dog Project – Some Dogs Need Space! 

The Great Dane ♥

554435_328354013905069_104144246326048_812289_707331022_nAs you may have already guessed the Great Dane is one of my favorite breeds of dog.  I would even go so far as to say that they are my number one most favored breed!   I’m not 100% sure of exactly why they’re my favorite mainly because there are so many reason to love them.  It’s hard to pick any one single reason.  Maybe it has to do with the silly fact that Scooby Doo was my favorite cartoon as a child? Who knows?!  Whatever the reason, I just adore them!  So comical, goofy, loving, loyal, fierce when necessary, grand, and regal all wrapped up into a single very large canine.

After I fell in love with the breed, and we decided to get one ourselves, I started researching and learning about them. In doing so I, discovered that though they’re most often called a Great Dane here in America,  there’s absolutely nothing Danish about them.  They’re believed to have originally come from Germany and are thought to be a cross between an English Mastiff and an Irish Wolfhound, though dogs that closely resemble the Great Dane have been seen on Egyptian momuments dating as far back as 3,000 BC.  The French naturalist, Compte de Buffon, gave them the name “Great Dane” after he first saw them back in the 1700’s while traveling in Denmark.  The name was apparently popular to the English since it stuck, though the Germans still preferred to call them Deutsche Doggen.

Great Danes come in many various colors, but only six are considered “show acceptable”.  Fawn, Brindle, Blue, Black, Harlequin, and Mantle are all acceptable colors at dog shows.  Blue Merle, Fawniquin, Merlequin, Merle, White,  and Fawn Mantle are a few of the unacceptable colors – unacceptable in dog shows at least.  My sweet fella, Streifen, is one of the Blue Merles and we love him regardless of the fact that his color isn’t accepted by the AKC.  🙂

Great Danes are often referred to as Gentle Giants because of their usual sweet nature.  However, if not properly socialized, or if they have too many negative experiences when they’re young, they can become overly fearful and that sweet nature will “hide” when around strangers.  It’s been my experience that when you have a Great Dane puppy that’s showing fear of a situation, it’s best to get them where they’re comfortable and allow them to choose when to move closer.  They’re very sensitive and often won’t do well with forcing them a scary situation on them.


Zeus – Tallest Living Dog record holder as of 2011

The title of Tallest Dog in the World is often given to Great Danes.   Currently, a Great Dane named Zeus is the World’s Tallest dog (as of 2011), measuring in at 44 in from paw to shoulder. When he stands on his back legs, he’s 7’4″ – Can you imagine?!?  And we thought Streifen being able to steal items from the top of our refrigerator was impressive!

Because he held the record when I first fell in love with Great Danes, I feel the need to recognize Giant George in this post too.  Giant George  was officially verified by Guinness World Records on February 15, 2010 as the World’s Tallest Dog.

There are so very many things I love about Great Danes, but there’s one thing I don’t like… bloat.  Also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV).  Bloat is the second leading killer of Great Danes.  Cancer is first.  Bloat can kill a Great Dane within an hour and is extremely painful.  Be sure to learn about Bloat and know who you should take your dog to in the event of an emergency.   If you know me,  you know that I HATE BLOAT.

Even with the risk of heartbreak when you are the parent of a Great Dane, they are more than worth it.  I’ve never had as much fun with, or enjoyed a breed of dog more than I do our Great Danes.  They are the most loving, amazing breed of dog in the world  – at least to us 🙂

Streifen - 2 years old

Streifen – 2 years old

What’s your favorite breed?  I would love to hear about it in the comments section!

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