Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Limber Tail Syndrome

Yesterday, I woke up to find something wrong with Siff.

Her usually tightly curled tail was horizontal with her back. When I lifted it, it dropped back down like a limp noodle, and she seemed unable to curl it or wag it. When she sat down, she didn't seem to be able to even exert the control to move it out of her way.

Very concerned, I texted my husband. I told him that I was worried that her tail was either dislocated or broken. I asked if I should call the vet, which I really wanted to do, but not without talking to Grig first.

He gave an affirmative answer, and I quickly phoned our vet. She is amazing, and told me that she could come by our home by 1:30 p.m. She is an At Your Door Veterinarian, and so she comes to our home to give shots and do exams. I used to work for her in college, and she's one of my favorite people.

I really enjoyed worked as a Veterinarian Assistant, and I learned a lot from her. I knew she would know if Siff's tail was dislocated or broken. I didn't remember her being injured or yelping. If it was broken, it seemed like I would have heard something or noticed it sooner.
This is how it hung all day yesterday. It was very strange.
We went on a nice long walk to get the excess energy out of the dogs, but Siff was pretty tired at the end. Her energy level wasn't anywhere near normal. It was weird though, because she didn't seem to be in pain either.

The vet arrived promptly at 1:30. She greeted the dogs and tried to hug Siff, but she was too excited. She asked me if Siff ever calmed down enough to hug, because she looked so huggable. I told her that she was super huggable and that she quickly calmed down.

Then, she examined Siff. After a few minutes, she told me that the tail didn't feel broken or dislocated, and Siff didn't seem to be in very much pain. Then, she told me that she had seen this kind of situation before. I guess some dogs, especially Labradors, hounds, and other hunting dogs, will sometimes get limp tails like this. They call it Limber Tail Syndrome or No Wag Syndrome. They usually get it after long periods of rest followed by sudden exercise or after swimming in cold water. She wasn't sure how Siff had gotten it, and neither was I. We've been walking, but not an extreme amount.

She wondered if it might have to do with Siff's heat. She told me that she had once seen a German Shepherd that had gone lame when it entered its heat. That makes sense, since there is a softening of some tissue when dogs go into heat.

She gave us some anti-inflammatory drugs, and, after a few more minutes, left.

Today, Siff's tail is already better.

This is how it usually sits on her back.
I looked up Limber Tail Syndrome yesterday, and on the internet it said that many veterinarians have not even heard of it because it is such a rare condition. I'm really grateful that our veterinarian had and was able to diagnose it. It definitely was comforting to know that nothing really serious was wrong with our baby girl.

It was kind of a funny realization too, how much we care about her.

Grig grew up on a farm, so he's always been a little bit on the "dogs are tools, not family," side of things. I didn't feel entirely the same, but our dogs were always outdoor dogs, and so I loved them, but they weren't a huge part of our lives.

Siff and Arkhon are. They are with me nearly 24 hours a day, and we do tons of things with them. They aren't on the same level as Kevin, our son, but they are definitely part of our family.

At the thought of Siff being severely injured, both Grig and I got pretty stressed about it. He was surprised later by how bothered and upset he was. We have fantastic dogs. They are very well trained, and rarely cause us stress. Mostly, they are stress relievers.

We're so grateful that our beautiful Norwegian Elkhound is alright. I'm also really grateful for our Veterinarian. She is wonderful.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Rainy Day Miracle

A couple of weeks ago, a couple friends and I decided to start walking together. We walked Monday through Friday last week and had beautiful weather everyday. 

I have two dogs and a kid. One of my other friends had two dogs and a baby, and the other friend has two kids and a three-legged dog. 

This week has started on a completely different note though. For the last two days, it's been raining nearly constantly. The great thing about walking with other people though is that it kind of forces you to get up and go, regardless of the weather. 

It wasn't raining when I left the house, but by the time we got to the park where we meet, it began pouring. Kevin began to cry and we quickly put his sweater on (he had refused it before). The other friend with two dogs had almost reached us, but she didn't have a rain cover on her stroller yet, so she had to turn back home. We didn't blame her.

My other friend was waiting at the park, and we stopped at her house quickly and grabbed a couple of extra blankets. However, even with the blanket, the wind was blowing cold rain into Kevin's face, so I took off my sweater and covered the front of the stroller with it.

A few moments later, the rain stopped. We kept walking up the sidewalk, and then I suddenly noticed something. We were completely surrounded by storm clouds on all sides, but right above us, the sky was blue. 

I pointed this out to my walking friend, and I told her I thought it was a blessing from Heavenly Father because we'd gone walking even though it was raining. 

For the rest of the walk, the sun came out and it warmed up. However, as we finished up the walk, the storm clouds rolled back in. Shortly after we entered the house it began raining again. 

Some people might say that was a coincidence, but I don't believe that. I know it was a tender mercy and a miracle. 

The Lord does care about us and what we're doing. Even something as seemingly unimportant as a walk. I'm so grateful for another example of the Lord's love for me. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dog's First Heat

I have sure learned a lot this last week and a half!

I've been a dog owner since 1998. Before that, I was a major dog enthusiast. I read everything I could get my hands on, and I devoured dog encyclopedias and literature like a starving baboon.

In 2003, I bred my dog successfully and raised and sold a litter of eight puppies.

At that point, I thought I had dog heats all figured out.

It turns out, I pretty much knew nothing.

Growing up, our dogs were outside dogs, and so the heat wasn't that big of a deal. If they bled a little, it was outside, so you very rarely could find evidence of it.

Having an indoor dog on heat is a completely different story.

It turns out that every dog in estrus reacts differently to the hormones raging through their fuzzy little bodies. I don't remember if Dakota bled that much, but Siff certainly does. She started bleeding last Tuesday (the 4th). I probably wouldn't have noticed for a while, but Arkhon was quick to point out that something wasn't right. At first, the blood flow was fairly light, so I was just going to leave her alone and let her clean up after herself.

Halfway through the afternoon, I changed my mind and, at a suggestion from a friend, improvised this:
It's one of my old t-shirts turned backwards with a feminine pad placed in the rear of it. It worked okay, but it was too loose, and so it wasn't very effective. The blood went everywhere, but on the pad.

So, that day I ordered some washable dog diapers. They arrived on Thursday, and things have been so much better. We received three with a washable insert. The diapers are made to help with incontinence, so when we eventually spay Siff, we can still use them if the dogs ever struggle with that.

The diapers came in pink, blue, and orange. I kind of love them.The orange one is especially a good color for Siff. Here is the pink one:
If you're interested in dog diapers, we really like the brand we bought. They've been really easy to clean too.

So, I thought the bleeding stage of the heat lasted 2-3 days at most. It turns out that it is closer to 7-10. She's still has some dark red bleeding, though it is slowing down. When it turns to a pink color and becomes more watery, that is when the dog is fertile and read to breed.

The other interesting thing I learned, is that dogs don't bleed for the same reason as humans. That makes sense, since the blood comes before the dog is fertile. In women, we bleed afterward due to our bodies shedding our uterus lining. All other animals reabsorb their lining. Humans are unique in that aspect. No one actually knows the reason that dogs bleed.

It also turns out that being in estrus can impact a dog's mood, much as it does humans. Dogs usually either become more cuddly or rather cranky. For the most part, Siff has been super cuddly. Usually she's a little more standoffish, but for the last week she has been constantly leaning against people. Tonight she was trying to get my attention and gave a little "woof" at me. She's never done that before.

Once the external vulva's swelling goes down, we won't have to worry about her getting pregnant anymore. That can be 4-7 days later. A dog can be "in heat" for two to three weeks. (Link) We're just grateful this is only going to happen every six months or so.

Honestly, if you're not going to breed your dog, save yourself a headache and get her spayed. Life will be a lot easier on you. Siff is only eight months old, so she is too young to breed, but eventually we want to bring a couple litters of elkhounds into this world. Before that though, it's dangerous for the female's health if you breed her too early. Most authorities recommend not breeding your dog before she is two years old.

It's been an interesting week. It will be nice when Siff doesn't have to put diapers on every time she comes into the house.

It's worth it for us though. She's going to be such a great mother.

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