a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: November 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Tika's Mouth

SUMMARY: That odor. That dripping blood.

The symptoms were the same, Thanksgiving morning, as the previous huge lumpy infection/lesion thing that she had a couple of months ago that antibiotics (and losing part of her cheek) made better.

But no matter how hard I looked in her mouth (and, surprise, she was willing to let me), I saw nothing. OK, turns out it's because it's under her tongue. This--if you've never tried it--is an astounding adventure to try to see or get at.  Anyway--on antibiotics again.  (Actually a larger one and a smaller one, and then the original site is a little iffy, also.)

Tika was not thrilled with going to the vets (AKA "This torture on top of forcing me to swallow thousands of pills all the time").

I convinced her to overcome her justified concern and get out of the car. We strolled around the parking lot for 10 minutes, and her agenda consisted entirely of coming back to the parking spot and pointing out that there are doors on MUTT MVR that could conceivably be opened to let her back in.

But mostly she handled things OK and we're now both home, resting from the ordeal.

On a side sad note, the vet said that it's possible that these mouth lesions are as a result of her kidney gradually failing. Which I already knew was happening from the blood test that we did when she had that first infection.

She seems to be racing to find as many problems to survive as she can before she leaves this opportunity for extra Zukes and crosses the so-called Rainbow Bridge.  To prove what an over-achiever she is. Which, OK, Teek, I already knew.

I can commiserate. Aging is not for the hyperactive of heart and mind.  She's so slow now. Back legs weaker. Heart hanging in there against all odds.  Abdomen full of fluid despite aggressive diuretics. Occasional bouts of incontinence. The last two of which I suspect are not unrelated.

But just look at how beautiful she still is!  And smart. Good old girl, knowing exactly what car doors look like from the outside.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Morning

SUMMARY: Not much going on this morning. But poor Tika.

Because at least two of us aren't up to it, we skipped our traditional quiet us-only Thanksgiving morning hike and instead lazed around the house.

The only down side is that Tika has another infection--or whatever it is. Something horrible that she had growing in her cheek a couple of months ago that ended up dying back and leaving a gap in her cheek. Smelled awful.  Well, thought I might be smelling the same thing, but I've looked very carefully in her mouth several times the last 2 or 3 days and have seen nothing. Thing is, the smell is somewhat like the refrigerated food I've been giving her, so I decided it must be that.  But this morning, whoa!, the smell hit me in the gut when I came downstairs. Whatever it was, is back, and somewhere that I can't find. And, of course, it's the first day of a holiday weekend.  Last time, a combination of antibiotics and, well, it dying and falling out with a piece of her cheek took care of it. Don't really want to go to the emergency room. Don't know whether my vet is working tomorrow. Crud crud crud. Why didn't I just take her in yesterday to be sure? Poor girl.

However, her appetite doesn't seem to be affected.

Because we (OK, the beasts) had pumpkin pie. Well... new recipe.

Then we dashed off to Marie Callender's to -- ahem -- finish our baking for the day. French Apple Pie. Glad that I paid in advance. That's a busy place for pick-ups today! They had a whole outside tent for Feast Pick-ups, and inside they had marked the floor with colored tape leading you to the proper place for your specific pie ordering method. Pretty efficient. I think it's interesting that plain Apple pie is by far the largest stack of prepaid pies.

Now I must head off for the human feast.

Whatever you or your loved ones are eating this weekend, I hope it's delicious.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

At the School Park

SUMMARY: Just a note.

Took the Merle Girls and Chip to the school park today--first time in a long time. Drove because Tika can't manage the walk over any more. (And not sure whether I could, either.)

Let them all out of the car uncontrolled--Tika actually picked up to an excited trot to get to the gate, then did all her favorite sniffings around. Chip toted a 20' lead because we haven't worked enough on recalls in distracting environments, but I got a lot of good responses (unlike last time) and distributed a lot of treats.

Our Park friends Jake and Sheba (and their Human Parents) showed up--Chip tried to get Sheba the Pug to play, and she wanted to, apparently the first time in a long time since she has a sore back and isn't much into other dogs. Then Chip rolled over on his back to get a big tummy rub from the Human Parents.

Boost, meanwhile: All frisbee all the time.

Followed by a beautiful sunset. And through all of this, of course, I'm wishing that I hadn't left my camera in the car.

Altogether, a good outing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Myopia in Agility Dogs

SUMMARY: Guess who's nearsighted?

I do not have detailed data nor even much in the way of data at all.  But I can give you a very quick overview of measurements that identify myopia (near-sightedness). Bear with me--I'll get to the point.

Myopia is measured in diopters--OK, you don't need to know the technical details, just get the idea that 0 is normal and -5.0, for example, is very very nearsighted. From Wikipedia's article citing numbers for humans:

Myopia, which is measured in diopters by the strength or optical power of a corrective lens that focuses distant images on the retina, has also been classified by degree or severity:
  • Low myopia usually describes myopia of −3.00 diopters or less (i.e. closer to 0.00).
  • Medium myopia usually describes myopia between −3.00 and −6.00 diopters.
  • High myopia usually describes myopia of −6.00 or more. Roughly 30% of myopes have high myopia.[27]

I can also point you to a study of myopia that shows it's more common in all breeds as they age (just like in humans)  (and incidentally indicates that it's less common in guide dogs, which makes sense really--dogs who don't see optimally are unlikely to make excellent guide dogs): Myopia and Refractive Error in Dogs.

That study includes this graph--if you follow the line across, you'll see that younger dogs tend to be somewhat far-sighted (somewhere between 0 and 2) but tend to get more near-sighted with age (see that the line dips below 0):

Note also that, even with age, there are very few dogs with worse than -2 diopters.

I have had myopia since I was in about 5th grade. Wow, the world looked so much different when everything became sharp and clear as I donned my first pair of glasses!  Now, after all these many years of aging and becoming more myopic, my left eye is -2.0 and my right is -4.5 (which, if my glasses were actually made of glass, would be very very very thick).

So.  Some folks in the agility community and at UC Davis are doing studies on myopia in agility dogs. This apparently came out of one of many discussions about why some dogs have trouble jumping or who take off early when jumping.  Or, for example, knocking bars when they jump or refusing jumps.  (For anyone who has followed along here for 7 years or so, might recognize my frequent agonizing about Boost.)

They had an event at the end of August where we drove out to Davis and put our dogs over a straight line of jumps. We did this three times with and three times without some kind of contact lens in the eye (Yes! they make contacts for dogs!), sometimes to make the vision worse, sometimes to make it better) They took several people's evaluations of whether the dog did better in the first set of three or the 2nd set of three, before anyone other than the eye doc knew the state of the eyes.

I took Boost.

I have no recollection any more of whether she did better with or without the correction. However, her measurements are -3.5 in one eye and -3.25 in the other.

To understand how extreme that was, the largest adjustment in contacts that they brought with them were 3.0.

So. No wonder she knocks bars and bars and bars, and I get refusals so often, and she looks at me more and more for what to do next.  Poor girlie, if it's been like this her whole life, she's done amazingly well. Seems like it can't have been--she always seemed superfast and confident on course to begin with.

Anyway. Now, what with my back issues and all, she's retired from jumping 22" in USDAA. I'm trying not to let it break my heart that we haven't gotten the 3rd Super-Q and completed her championship. But she has really done amazingly well, with or without consideration for her eyesight.

We'll probably just play at agility from now on, assuming that I can actually run and feel safe doing so.