Shepherd Stories

Saying Goodbye

October 24th 2012 4:00 pm
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Bianca lost her fight with hemangiosarcoma on the morning of October 23rd 2012.

We will miss you, girl.

 

Emergency surgery and Diagnosis

September 22nd 2012 12:48 pm
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Bianca had to have emergency surgery a few weeks ago. We had no idea anything was wrong with her until she suddenly started acting funny that afternoon. It all happened so quickly, the night before she had gone for a long 2-3 mile walk to the park and she was acting normal that morning as well.
The first thing I noticed was that afternoon, she was limping slightly, but when I called her to see if I could tell why, she stopped limping and was walking normally again. I felt her leg and could not find out why so I let it go. Then a while later she started limping again, and when I called her to me that time she was not wanting to get up, even when I had food, and when I checked her gums they were pale so I knew something was seriously wrong. So I rushed her to the vet. It turned out she was bleeding internally and had an enlarged spleen. She had to be transferred to the emergency clinic because it was too late in the evening for my regular vet to perform the surgery. She had emergency surgery to remove her spleen that night. When they did the surgery they found several masses that had ruptured on her spleen, that's what caused the bleeding. She also needed a blood transfusion during surgery.

We had brought her to this specific emergency clinic partly because this was the clinic where Bianca had been a blood donor herself for two years (retired recently because the age limit is 8 years), they have a volunteer blood donor program where people sign up their pets to be donors. Luckily for us they happened to have blood donor dogs who were there the day we had came in with our emergency and they were able to immediately use the blood from one of the donors for Bianca.
I highly recommend the canine blood donor programs, if your dog is the right size to be a donor(usually over 50 pounds) and friendly, many areas have these volunteer programs. Sometimes they have the volunteer programs for cats as well, one of my cats has also been a blood donor (they have to be 10 pounds or over and have the right temperament for it.)

Bianca went through surgery with no complications. Sadly this was not the end of things, as they had also found some small masses on her liver and took samples of those as well as of the ones from the spleen and a sample of the spleen lymph node to send for biopsy. The biopsy results came back positive for cancer (HSA).
We consulted with an oncologist who recommended a metronomic chemotherapy protocol.
Bianca is doing well right now, healing very well from her surgery so hopefully she will do well with the chemotherapy treatment also.

 

My Day at Dog Camp

October 13th 2009 10:43 am
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I'm going to let my human tell the story of my first visit to Dog Camp (Camp Dogwood in Ingleside, IL.)

I took Bianca to a dog camp for one day over the weekend. It is normally a 4-day camp but they have an option of just coming for the day.

Well, I discovered why Shepherds are called one of the most versatile breeds! We did a bunch of activities, several of which Bianca was trying for the first time and she did really well at all of them!
We did herding, tracking, lure Coursing, preparing for the Therapy Dog Test, agility, and carting.

Herding-
The first thing we did was herding. This was a herding instinct test, we had to drive from camp to the testing site. Bianca did really great and got her "Herding Instinct Certification." She was very funny to watch because for some reason she bounced her way through the testing. If you've ever seen a dog bound through deep snow, that is what she looked like she was doing! I put up a video of part of the test on her Dogster page if anyone wants to see it.
Several of the other owners there commented on what a nice looking dog she was. One of them said they just couldn't take their eyes off her. smile
You can see some photos from her herding on her Dogster page too.

Lure Coursing-
The next activity we did was lure coursing. I think this was Bianca's first time trying it, and at first she wasn't sure about chasing the lure, she kept chasing and then stopping. However the guy running it switched it to a furry lure and as soon as Bianca saw that one she was off!

Tracking-
The next thing we did was tracking. This was "beginner's" tracking. Bianca has done some tracking training in her previous home but I don't know how much and I've never done any tracking. They had the owners taking turns laying a straight track with an item at the beginning and a glove with food at the end, and then hiding near the end (with the dog turned around so they couldn't see where the owner went) while another owner worked the dog. The woman who was working with Bianca was amazed at how good Bianca was. The instructor said we should do the "tracking level 2" activity which was the next day, but unfortunately I was just there for the day so I couldn't go to that.

"Preparing for the Therapy Dog Test"-
The trainer for the therapy dog stuff was one I have taken classes with before (with Pooch mostly) so she knew me but she was surprised to see Bianca (she actually referred to me and Ginger when she made a comment to me because she had assumed I was with my Golden, then she looked closer and realized it was a different dog with me.) Bianca did very well. The segments of the therapy dog test we practiced were from the Delta Society test because that is what the trainer is experience in. The segments the trainers did were: Clumsy Petting, Restraining Hug, Staggering/Gesturing, Angry Yelling, Bumped from Behind, Crowded and Petted by Several People (two, since they only had two trainers there), Leave It (with toys) and Offer Treat. They also used a wheelchair and a walker to see the dog's reaction to a person using those and also to the items on their own.
Bianca did very well on all the segments. She was a little unsure about what was going on with the hugging but she didn't mind. She was also not quite sure what to make of the wheelchair but was not scared or anything like that.

Agility-
Since she was still raring to go we did agility next. Bianca enjoyed it and especially took to the A-frame, she didn't really need the trainers' help on any of the obstacles. She has tried a few obstacles in the past but only briefly (we took a single session of a drop-in agility class before).

Carting-
There was supposed to be a break time before dinner at that point but I had talked to the guy running lure coursing earlier as the schedule said he was the person to see about having a "mini session" on carting. When I got there he had a cart out already. He first had me walk Bianca next to the cart to get her used to it. She was kinda nervous about it at first but I encouraged her and she got over it quickly. Once she was comfortable with that he actually hooked her up with a carting harness and hitched her to the cart! He held on to the harness at first and we walked around with her hitched to the cart with me encouraging her the whole way and giving her the start and stop commands. We did a few turns and then she was doing so well that he let her go without him holding the harness (with her walking in between us, and me holding her leash.) She actually pulled the cart all by herself with no problem, including turning, starting from a dead stop and going uphill. The instructor commented that she was very strong and on how good she was doing. She even sat down while hitched up. He said that he thought we could probably have it all down in about a week if we practiced every day and that he thought she could be ready for a drafting test in a month.

Bianca did very well! I was hoping to use the camp to kinda see what dog sports she might be good at and like so I could decide what to train in, but she did good and enjoyed everything we did! So, that doesn't narrow it down any.

 

Herding Instinct Test

October 12th 2009 4:54 pm
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I took Bianca to a dog camp today (for the day) and the first event was a herding instinct certification, held at another location. It was a lot of fun and Bianca did really well in the herding test! I had no idea what her reaction was going to be, I'm not sure if she's seen sheep before. When we were waiting for our turn she did not seem that interested in the sheep. When it was our turn the tester took her in to the pen on leash and she started to circle the sheep almost immediately. It was really funny though because she basically bounced through the whole test! She looked like she was bounding the way dogs sometimes do with really deep snow. I am not sure but I think maybe it was because she really wanted to RUN fast but in the small pen and with the sheep not moving too fast she had to keep her speed down so instead she did sort of a slow-motion bouncing run. After the test she reeaallly wanted to go back in and herd more! The tester and the other people getting their dogs tested all commented on how pretty she was and they thought her bouncing was great heh. It was a great start to the day, and later she her first try at lure coursing and carting (see other diary entry for that).


So Bianca got her HIC! This is what she got on the Herding Instinct Certification testing form (the stuff in parentheses was added by me):


STYLE
- Shows gathering instinct
(Gathering is a style of bringing animals to the handler.)

APPROACH
- Runs wide
(Wide running means the dog makes wide passes going around the stock, naturally keeping a good distance off the stock.)

EYE
- Medium
(Medium eye means the dog shows "eye" but without the crouching approach.)

WEARING
- Shows wearing
(Wearing is the side-to-side movement of a dog to keep the stock grouped.)

BARK
- Force barks
(Means the dog works silently except to bark to move challenging livestock.)

AGGRESSIVENESS
- Forceful without excessive aggression

TEMPERAMENT
-Appears readily adjusted


In the comments section they put "WOW - She really liked it."

 

My first vet visit!

January 6th 2009 7:48 pm
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Ok this is not REALLY the first time I am going to a vet. This is just the first time I am going with my new owner to her vet, and the first time I am going to a vet in this state!
So my visit went well. When I first came in the door there was this brown and white dog who came running over barking! I was not sure what to think so I fluffed up my hackles at him. He didn't like that so he kept barking but he let me in. I went into the waiting room and I saw a guy dressed in "scrubs" and so I went up to say hello to him. He was nice. That crazy dog kept barking at me though. Then I got to meet my new vet. Apparently that was HER dog barking. He usually doesn't bark so much, we don't know why he was acting like that. Maybe because he didn't understand why his friend (my owner) had a strange dog with her. I found out that he is a Tracking Dog (TD) which my owner wants to train me for also, so we might go to the same trainer.
After that I got in an exam room and I had to ride on a table that goes up in the air, which was weird. Then I got blood taken and I tried to bite the needle (I thought it was biting ME!) They also poked me again for something called a microchip and then they stuck some water in my nose for a "bordetella" whatever that means. I didn't like that part but I did like the part where I got petted and attention!
After the vet we went to the pet store and I met another German Shepherd, they were going out the door when we were coming in and we both stopped to greet each other and blocked the doorway for a while. Then I got some yummy treats from the cashier and my human bought me a nice raw bone to chew on later.

 
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