Friday, September 24, 2010

Head, Shoulders, Knees and - Oh NO...

So I just came back from the vet with Milo (who, despite his loving adoration for the techs, is the world's most difficult patient). I wanted to share our experience in hopes of helping others, and am open to feedback from someone who is experiencing a similar situation, or has the veterinary know-how to offer advice.

For the past two weeks, we noticed that Milo would randomly thrust his right hind leg out, straight as an arrow, and limp around on the other three legs. He would fidget a bit, and then begin walking on all four feet like nothing had happened! Milo showed no pain when we touched the leg, and still runs and walks like normal, aside from the spasms. Yet there is a history of leg problems in Milo's family (one of his brothers experienced severe issues with his cruciate ligaments), so we made the appointment to go.

I recommend this to all pet owners, no matter what the animal - if you have a "gut feeling" about your pet's health, just go to the vet! Animals hide pain and illness, it's part of their instinct to do so, so if you're sensing something's wrong, something could be really wrong.

Thankfully, there's nothing REALLY wrong with Milo, but after some poking and prodding our vet diagnosed him with a luxating patela - a trick knee. I watched her pop the knee out, and pop it back in. The ligaments that hold the kneecap in place have likely been weak since birth, or recently torn in one of his many high-speed laps around the yard. In small dogs, it's normal and not a big problem, but in dogs of Milo's size, it's rare and more serious. Thankfully, it's treatable. From here he'll need to see a veterinary orthopedist. Our vet believes he'll need surgery to fully correct the issue and help prevent severe arthritis in the future. In the meantime I'm looking for alternative, natural treatments to help ease any pain he may have (although he's not showing any) and help him maintain the absolute best mobility he can throughout his life. The only thing I know to do for sure right now is to take him on shorter, more frequent walks, and train him in proper leash walking techniques to ensure he's not straining himself.

Has your dog or cat ever experienced a trick knee or other orthopedic issue? What did you do/are you doing to give them the best quality of life?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mutt of the Month, September 2010: Meet Bernard!

    "Ask me to talk about my dog or share pictures, I could get carried away," says Patti M. of PA. It's hard to believe that nearly six years ago, her beloved Pit Bull/German Shepherd mix, Bernard, almost lost his life. When he was only twelve weeks old, Bernard was saved by an Allentown-based rescue group from a high-kill shelter in Ohio. He was about to be euthanized, simply for being born part Pit Bull (Pit Bulls have a notorious reputation as fighting dogs, and while some unfortunate Pits have been used for this reason, it is important to remember that this is not a breed trait, but a learned behavior from a cruel and abusive master). Thankfully, Bernard was saved from an unnecessary death by his rescuers, and by Patti, who adopted him after viewing his profile on
    What many people don't understand about Shepherds and Pit Bulls is that both breeds display traits that make them highly desirable as pets and pack members. They have an unconditional loyalty and love for their pack, they are practical decision-makers, and display phenomenal strength and intelligence. They can also be hopelessly goofy and lovable. Pit Bulls and German Shepherds require the guidance of a strong and confident owner to properly socialize them and direct their energy in a positive way.
    Thankfully, that Christmas Eve, little Bernard settled into life with his new family, and Patti learned how to deal with his "quirks" in a way that any good dog owner would.
    As Bernard grew, he proved to have a mind of his own on walks; And, with his 65 pounds of mostly muscle, when he decided he wanted to go somewhere, Patti used to have no choice but to go with him. Until, that is, she saw a helpful episode of "The Dog Whisperer" by Caesar Milan. Milan recommended using a "doggie backpack" to control a dog's excessive pull. This pack is made to fit over the dog's back and secure on their underside. "We saw Caesar use this backpack for a working dog, and decided to try it out for Bernard's walks" says Patti. "He carries four bottles of water, hand wipes and my keys in his backpack." And how does Bernard feel about this task placed, quite literally, on his shoulders? As it turns out, he enjoys his job. "We think this may give Bernard a sense of purpose on his walks, that he is helping me out by carrying these things. In truth, the water is weighing him down to make his walks easier on me."
    Do you have a Pit Bull or Pit mix that tugs at your heartstrings? Bernard is a sweet, fun-loving dog who has found an owner with the patience, consistency and unconditional love that it takes to ensure he'll live a safe and happy life. For his happy-go-lucky nature, his commitment to his "job" and to his family, and the example he sets for both of his breeds, we proudly name Bernard our Mutt of the Month, AND wish him a Happy 6th Birthday (Sept 23rd)!!!

Bernard loves to walk with his special backpack!

Play ball!

Can you spot the one with the MOST Christmas spirit?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Credit Where Credit is Due

I have to give credit for this awesome blog name and tagline to my great friend Melissa, a fantastic writer and a blogger herself. I can only hope to someday be half as skilled and creative as she is!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Puppy Pictures

In honor of Milo turning ONE just a few weeks ago, I am taking this opportunity to share a few snapshots from his puppy days. They grow up so fast!

Milo meets my brother at Lindenwold Animal Rescue. He is about 10 weeks old.

Most of Milo's litter contracted severe pneumonia during their stay in the shelter.
 Thankfully, Milo recovered quickly after IV antibiotics at the vet...

...and gained more energy than he'd had in his whole short life.

A Method to My Madness : The FIRST Post!

‎"Many years ago when an adored dog died, a great friend, a bishop, said to me, 'You must always remember that, as far as the Bible is concerned, God only threw the humans out of Paradise.'"

To the untrained eye, our family dog is nothing special. Four white feet, two brown eyes, and a nose that runs when the pollen count is high. Yet it recently became apparent to me that my dog is more popular than I am.

Friends and acquaintances began approaching me - gasp - in public to tell me how much they enjoyed Milo's updates on my Facebook...That's right, Milo's updates. My family adopted Milo from the Lindenwold Animal Rescue on Halloween of 2009, and ever since then, my FB friends have followed my posts on his activities and achievements more closely than my own news. I can't say I blame them, but then, I am biased. I considered giving Milo his own Facebook, but I'm not THAT kind of crazy. A blog is much more appropriate. ;-)

For those of you still shaking your heads in disbelief, some further explanation is necessary. See, I believe that we gravitate towards dogs, and all animals, because of their undying love and non-judgmental attitude about everything. Our animal companions are an illustration of God's love for us - they never hold a grudge, and give us the time and attention they feel we somehow deserve, even when we don't give it back. And, on occasion, an animal gives their own life for the good of the human pack.

We also see, illustrated in the eyes of some animals, the pain, fear and suffering that happens when we abuse our relationship with another creature. In NJ, some counties enjoy the luxury of no-kill shelters. In the quiet back rooms of theses shelters you may find a few cages of "unadoptable" dogs. Cowering beasts, with snarling growls and cut up faces, lash out at anyone or any dog that walks past their personal prison. No matter how much one may reach out to ease their pain or make a connection, they will not have it. All they have ever known is pain at the hands of another. They are tired, and afraid. How often have we been hurt or abused by another, only to retreat further and further into our own personal prison?

So, this aim of this blog is not to be a Twitter-esque roster of what my dog ate today (although I may dedicate at least one post to THAT topic). Milo and I want to hear about you and your stories, too! I have not blogged much, aside from a mandatory assignment in my undergrad classes, so we will figure this thing out together.

Love and Pats,
Milo and Me