Dog trains man

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What Every First-time Hovawart Owner Should Know

Updated October, 20

The complete series as it turned out with the the contributions of Africa, Jan Wolfe, Evelyn B., Peggy S., Yvonne B., Anna N., Katja K., Sascha L., Björn S., Loes K., Flora B., Verena S., Heini A., Dave H., Maria E., Judith L., Lone A., Mary A., Hester O., Ine C., Min I., Silvia I., Karina J., Ellen G.
Thank you so much!

A Hovawart's Guarding Instincts
A Hovawart has a huge guarding instinct. Like all dog breeds that were bred for a purpose, either herding, hunting, or guarding, it is that genetic baggage they take with them in our modern society.With the Hovawart, it is guarding instinct.

Not A Retriever, Still A Family Dog
Being part of a family is as essential for them as breathing air. Only being with you and your family can really make them thrive. You'll have to earn it first. They bond with anybody who will treat them fair and invests time and effort in play, exercise and fun training.

Whether your Hovawart's personality is to be the clown of the house, the placid matriarch, the work-a-holic, or the clever manipulator, they all have something in common when it comes down to Personality.

Traning and Exercise
Dog training and exercise are god's gift to Hovawart owners. Without it, things tend to explode in your face. But when you train and exercise, you are set up for success.

Socialization with Dogs
Puppies have a “critical period” that spans roughly from 8 – 16 weeks of age. This period marks the time when your puppy is most impressionable, and they learn best.

More Socialization
Next to dogs, we also need to socialize our puppy with all the things we do in our daily life, so they can become a full-fledged member of our family.

Before You Buy
You are officially armed to meet some real Hovawarts in real life, although .... be prepared to find out we hardly even scratched the surface!

Original post:

When I was invited by "Dyrenes Beskyttelse" to speak to the families that adopted the Hovawarts rescued from the puppy mill in March this year, I gladly accepted the invitation. The idea was to inform them as good as possible what they could expect, as many of them became first-time Hovawart owners.

It was a great way to meet new people - and Hovawarts of course - and it shouldn't be too difficult, as I could pick most of it from the blog I guessed. Browsing through the blog I realized it was not as easy as it seemed. I missed some very important topics - i.e only one piece on socialization and one, incomplete, on health. Other information was hard to find in the first place in the chronological format of the blog.

The presentation I gave went well nonetheless and was well received, but I promised myself to re-visit the blog at a later time. One of our main goals is exactly to be of help and interest for people familiarizing with the Hovawart, and I was doing a disservice to future Hovawart parents.

I am very aware a lot of you that read this blog, are already quite educated Hovawart parents, and I would really appreciate your help in selecting the subjects that need attention.

So. If it was up to you, what is the most important subject(s) to write and discuss about if you had to chose? What should every first-time Hovawart owner know?


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meanwhile, at the West-coast

Kenzo does, what Kenzo likes best:

The best Hovie is a tired, wet - and sandy - Hovawart.
But we are not finished yet, in the evenings, Viva joins:

Now we reached perfection. A bed full of sand.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Spotting Pain

I'll keep on smiling
"Don't worry, she is not in pain" the vet said. Her comment left me baffled. Really. Viva's nose looks like a raw steak, and you tell me that doesn't hurt.

"It is itchy, which is uncomfortable of course", the vet persisted. "It is just not a nice sight." - the emphasis is mine.

We'll get back to that discussion later.

I really don't blame her. Spotting pain in dogs is difficult, and even worse, it is individual from dog to dog. I respond to completely different triggers depending if it concerns Kenzo or Viva.

It is best illustrated by comparing Kenzo and Viva's response to acute pain, with something they both have experienced, which is stepping into a thorn. They both start with a couple of short limping steps. After that, the similarity ends.

Kenzo stops walking almost immediately. He sits down, starts panting, and holds his injured paw up into the air for me to see: "Dad? I made a boo-boo". On investigation, I find the thorn and pull it out. When we move again, the same scenario tends to repeat itself a couple of times, as the paw is still hurtful, and Kenzo wants to double-check I did my job removing the thorn.

You can probably guess what Viva does. Right, after those first limps that look like a series of missteps, she just continuous like nothing happened. Not even a puff or a pant. After I stopped her, I pulled a 1 cm long thorn out of her paw.

Viva reminds me of Tom Sizemore in Saving Private Ryan, saying "I just got the wind knocked out of me" after taking two bullets in the chest. And I never forget when we treated her for her spondylosis - painful in itself - , and not getting it quite right as she didn't improve the way she should. After more investigation, the vet found a thorn completely embedded in her paw, that probably has sit there for quite a while.

Maybe she has experienced so much chronic pain in her life, she even responds differently to the acute pain caused by a thorn. Maybe she is just "tough". Either way, she does feel pain, even if she hardly shows it.

To be able to see how Viva is doing, I keep a simple diary, the "Chronic Cushing's Diairy", that would alert me of any issues or chronic pains. I use it to be able to compare for how long she played, walked and run on any particular day. Any slowing down in either department, and something is not right. The diary has enabled me so far, to predict each outcome of her quarterly Cushing's test and blood work.

Other than that I watch for the tiniest of clues which brings me back to the discussion with the vet. Viva soon started to make "grinning faces" and she sometimes rubbed her nose against me - both to relieve the itching - only to quickly stop. She also shows discomfort when she bumps into Kenzo with her nose when they are playing: she closes her mouth.

Other than that it is just plain common sense. She has open wounds on her nose. Her nose. That thing a dog sticks into literally everything. Put something in your open wound and see how that feels.

"Well, I don't have any other clients that are tuned in with their dog as you are, so I'll trust you on that", said our vet.

And therefore we both wondered again what it is we are looking at. Could it be a drug-induced side-effect, are we not dealing with DLE after all?


Monday, August 26, 2013

A Hovie's Nose

The best summer ever in Denmark. According to meteorologists, the best since 1860.

The summer already started in early May, during our visit to the Danish West-coast. Viva's favorite place on the planet. We enjoyed being outside the whole day. Temperatures where not high, but nonetheless we all got a little sunburned. Also Viva was, on her nose.

The sunburn would soon heal we thought, and hoped the summer would stay, so we could go out into the light again and wash off the Danish winter and its short days.

Now, it is the end of August. We returned to the West-coast, and are looking back at this "best" summer ever. How different has the summer turned out to be. Viva's nose is still "sunburned". The vet thinks it is Lupus (DLE) - also called "Collie Nose" - an auto-immune disease, and in Viva's case, difficult to treat as the medication doesn't go along well with her Cushing's disease. We have been trying three different topical treatments so far that don't interfere with her Cushing's, to no avail.

The vet's best advice was to avoid the sun, as the ultraviolet rays seem to be a main trigger for lupus. We dodged the sun as much as we could in the short sunless window of opportunity, between 23:00 and 04:00, given to us in the South of Scandinavia.

We went for late walks, hunkered inside during the long summer days and only made short trips to potty in areas with an abundance of shadow. It did seem to help to an extend. Although about every two weeks it flared up again to it's worst state.

For us humans it is a strange experience going against the little Nordic voice in our heads telling us to suck up some sun and light now we had the opportunity. Although going nocturnal was counter-intuitive for us humans, Viva really doesn't care when she goes out, as long as she does go out. Her spirit is high, and I wonder how she can. When I look at her nose I know it must itch enough to make one crazy. It must be painful. I don't even have the stomach to add a close-up of her nose to this blog, it looks too horrible.

But somehow Viva sucks it all in and can muster enough fight to remain her cheerful self. Enjoying the little things like she always has. Tough girl.

Two vets and three treatments have not been able to help so far, leaving me in despair and self-hate for not being able to help my girl, and seeing no options other than doing a rain dance and pray this summer will soon end.

Let it storm, rain, hail and thunder. Go away sun and blue skies, you are not welcome any more.

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