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On Losing a Dog

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Source: On Losing a Dog

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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.

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Sketch and Daddy praying 🙂

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!  🙂

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