Sunday, September 30, 2012

Another Weapon in the Arsenal?

  Years ago, I gave the dogs brewer's yeast with garlic to help combat fleas.  My vet at the time said it was an old wives tale that it worked and that I was just wasting my money.  Since we weren't battling  fleas then , I stopped the supplements but still kept the idea in the back of my mind.
  With the severe problem we've had this year, I've been willing to try just about everything and anything to get rid of these pests.  A recent column in the paper by Dr. Fox made me reconsider the garlic.  I bought garlic supplements from Costco and started adding one pill to each of the dogs' breakfast bowls.
    The dogs were a week or so away from their monthly topical flea treatment and had started scratching and I was seeing fleas here and there when I started the garlic. Within a couple of days, the dogs stopped scratching!  I looked on bellies and legs and didn't see one pesky flea.  I think the garlic is working!  Coats are growing in nicely and everybody is happy.  Lauren will often spit her garlic pill out and I did find a few fleas on her the other day.  But, a dose of K9 Advantix and she's flea free once again.  I'll keep the topical treatment in readiness, but a bottle of garlic pills is much cheaper than several doses of Advantix!
  Our annual fall pest, the stink bug, has taken up residence in the kennel this year.  The outside walls are covered, dead stink bugs are always in the dogs' water buckets and I'm being dive-bombed as I feed the dogs their dinners.  I was going to keep the shop vac outside and try to reduce the numbers by vacuuming each evening (stink bugs congregate at the end of the day) but then learned about a spray called Talstar when I attended a Barktoberfest yesterday.  The vendor said she had used it her farm last year and it was so effective that she only needed one application.  It also kills fleas which is a very nice bonus!
  I had planned on working in the kennel today, fixing some fencing and painting door ways.  I'll add spraying this treatment to my chore list and hope the vendor is right!  The weather is forecast to be beautiful today.  The dogs will get to play all day in the yards and have a tidy and pest free home by the end of the day!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


  As Facebook fans of Hillcroft Collies already know, we have lost another dog.  It was too soon for Phoebe to leave us, and her death has us hurting more than usual after a dog dies.
  Phoebe was diagnosed with severe arthritis in her spine about three weeks ago.  It was very painful for her but she managed to hide it from us for quite a while.
  In late spring, she started dragging one hind foot every so often.  This usually happened after she had been laying down for a long period and once she took a step or two, would be fine.  On rare occasions, she would be slow to get up, but we thought it was normal aging as she was going on 9 years old.
  By July, she was loathe to play or move too much.  This was during the heat wave and she was never a big fan of hot weather, so again, we were not overly concerned.  At the end of July, though, I got a feeling that something was not quite right but couldn't put my finger on it.  Phoebe wasn't exhibiting any consistent symptoms or troubles and she had just received a clean bill of health in April. I wasn't sure my vet would be able to diagnose anything when I myself couldn't give a reason for a visit!
  In the middle of August, though, Phoebe did not want to play with the other dogs and would just sleep behind a bush near the fence.  I had to encourage her to eat that week-end, which definitely was not the norm for her.  I made an appointment first thing Monday.  By the time of our appointment, she was running a high fever and could barely walk.  I carried her into the vet office and feared the worse.
  An x-ray showed the arthritis and we quickly had a course of action.  Phoebe received a metacam shot and we had prescriptions for additional metacam and clavamox.  The injection worked quickly--Phoebe was able to walk by the time we got home!  Her fever was down by the afternoon and gone the next day.  Each day, she was steadier on her feet and enjoyed her new status of permanent house dog.  I could tell when she had walked too much or the time or two of trying to trot as she seemed to slip back a bit in her progress, but it was always temporary.
  At her re-check the following week, Phoebe was moving almost normally!  Her weight had increased quite a bit and she was almost the happy girl we knew and loved.  We went home with more metacam and more clavamox with the goal of weaning her off the metacam and only using it when she needed it. 
  Just four days later, Phoebe couldn't stand up without help.  When I boosted her up, her legs couldn't support her and I could tell the pain had returned with a vengeance.  We made a quick trip to the vet, Phoebe frequently crying softly. 
  Phoebe had lost all the weight she had just gained, plus a little more.  During the exam, she blew her cheeks out, then pushed her head against the tech's arm.  I knew she had to be in unbearable pain as she would never show when something bothered her. 
  The vet recommended a course of steroids and heavy sedatives for the pain, then re-check her in two days.  If she did not have improvement, she would need to be euthanized. 
  David and I discussed the hard decision before us.  If the steroids worked, we could expect another episode that Phoebe was enduring.  The steroids may not work at all, could last six months or as long as two years.  We both felt that another episode would be much worse than what Phoebe was experiencing.  We didn't have high hopes that the steroids would work at all since this downturn had happened so suddenly.  We didn't want Phoebe to live her life in a heavy medicated state and most important, I had promised Phoebe that her pain would end.  We made the painful decision to have her euthanized rather than more treatments.As she slipped away, we saw the pain leave her eyes and then she smiled before closing her eyes. As hard as the decision was, and as much as we hurt, we knew we had done the right thing for our beautiful girl.

 Phoebe as a young adult, this is one of my favorite pictures of her!
 Phoebe's championship photo.
  Phoebe and I did a library program  about a posh puppy--she had a matching tiara to mine!
 Another favorite picture!
Phoebe was clearly a fair weather dog--impatiently waiting for the door to open!