Dog trains man

Monday, December 29, 2014

Our Year In Review

Looking back at 2014 made me realize I took you on a bumpy ride when you have read our blog throughout the year.

There were a lot of highs and lows, and you probably both shed a tear and laughed with me along the way.

It was certainly colored by Tilde, and how the start of her story as the The Last Rescue From The Hovawart Puppy Mill ends, to give birth to hope and a new life through her adoption by us.
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Friday, December 26, 2014

General Kenzo And Sergeant Tilde On Patrol

It might be just my imagination, but...
It might also make sense my friends nicknamed Kenzo, "The General".
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tilde Hits The Office, A Christmas Miracle

At least fifteen people were working in the office that day and all heads turned towards the door, to see who was coming inside.

Tilde stopped in her tracks, closed her mouth and took one step back.

Even for Miss Social herself, it was a lot of people, looking at her all at once in a new environment.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hovawart TV: Lamb Love

Warning! Cuteness Alert!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0EC4CXBJCA

And? Did you say "awww....." ?
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We Have A Winner! FITPAWS Balance Disc Giveaway

And the Winner of our FITPAWS Balance Disc Giveaway is ....

Astrid Reijerkerk!

Congratulations! I hope you and Zerline will enjoy your balance training with the disc as much as we did. Or maybe you would like to use it for your doggy clients in your dog training school, de Spoorlijn.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Observations From An Outsider

"Kenzo is an exemplary dog", my friend said.

"Really?", I mumbled in surprise, stunned to hear such a statement coming from him. He knew Kenzo since puppy-hood and never seemed to approve of the grown-up dog, Kenzo had become.

Actually, he always has been Kenzo's biggest critic. When Kenzo was young, my friend always had something to complain about. Kenzo didn't listen. Kenzo pulled the leash. Kenzo barked. Kenzo was never happy to see him. Kenzo .... and the list goes on - I agree on the never happy to see him point though, and fully support Kenzo in that excellent choice.
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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Keep On Smiling

It's very difficult to be sad with Tilde around.

We had a bad week over here. First, we learned that Kenzo's best friend Joska the Viszla had passed. Then our cat, Jule, also passed.

Loss had hit once more, and we were automatically drawn to travel to the West-coast. Away from human troubles and every day life. In a place that for us like no other embodies the end of the world, and where nature does its work of repairing the soul. Maybe we could pick up a sign from Joska and Jule they were ok, once we were there, too.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tilde's Paradise Shelter Days Caught On Camera

I mentioned it before. The shelter did an excellent job socializing Tilde. My little princess herself is living proof of that.

And now I have got my hands on some video clips to give a small peak into Tilde's shelter life, and what they did to socialize her!

Have a look, and see if you can find Tilde The Puppy between all the dogs:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jafbg5T2MD0
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Giveaway: FITPAWS Giant Balance Disc

To celebrate Kenzo's full recovery, and because I am absolutely raving about this product, I'd like to do our very first Giveaway on this blog.

As a thank you to our most faithful readers, who have been following and supporting us along the way.

What other product can we choose for our Giveaway, than a

FITPAWS Giant Balance Disc !

... for Free!
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I Told You So

It bothered me. Kenzo didn't allow the young German Shepherd dog anywhere near Tilde.

He hardly allowed him to move at all actually.

A few days later, the same happened with a sweet Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Kenzo and me usually agree who we would like to meet and who not, but sometimes he sees more than I do, and I learned to listen to him. I know I can trust his judgement.

But this time, I didn't agree with Kenzo.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Are Two Dogs Twice The Work?

With two Hovawarts, I occasionally get the question from people we meet, if two dogs are twice the work.

I remembered when I only had Kenzo, I asked others that question too.

"Not at all", has always been my firm answer.

Some people buy it, while nodding their head with a smile. Some people don't and say "Really?". I am so glad they asked.

We do have twice the nails to clip, twice as much fur to groom, twice the meals to prepare, twice the bills, twice the vet visits, and I can go on. Clearly something is not adding up.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Degenerative Myelopathy Part 2: Should We Worry About The Hovawart's Future?

After Degenerative Myelopathy Part 1: What Can You Do For Your Dog?, we continue with part 2 about what scientists, breeders and clubs are doing, in the fight against Degenerative Myelopathy, DM.

***

The news hit like a bomb shell.

"From the samples of 1,200 Hovawarts we investigated, the DNA test for the SOD1 mutation, a gene believed to be a major factor in degenerative myelopathy, showed 45% are free from the mutation, 45% are carriers, and 10% are affected."

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Degenerative Myelopathy Part 1: What Can You Do For Your Dog?

"Your dog probably suffers from DM, Degenerative Myelopathy".

For my friend Thomas, the vets' verdict was like hearing a death-sentence.

After months of testing, x-rays, blood tests, and CAT scans, several vets couldn't find the cause why Cliff was dragging with his rear right leg. And when no diagnosis can be made, the final diagnosis is always, "it's probably DM". DM is only diagnosed, when everything else has been ruled out.

Thomas knew it was severe. Maybe one year, two at best, for Cliff to have some quality of life.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Groundhog Day Has Arrived

It seems our achievements to make a perfect Hovawart lady out of "you know who I mean", is suffering a minor setback.

I am afraid to call her by name, as I am sure just mentioning her name will wake her up for a new round of mischief.

It all begun, when I felt waking up started to resemble a lot like going through groundhog day.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hovawart Puppy Mill Breakdown: Change On The Way?

Many of you probably remember when the Danish Hovawart puppy mill was closed down in January last year, and the Hovawarts in the shelter welcomed an unexpected V.I.P. visitor, the Danish Minister of Agriculture & Animal Welfare, Mette Gjerskov.

She paid them a visit to learn more first-hand about the "puppy mill case" and the efforts from the shelter, "Dyrenes Beskyttelse", to re-home the survivors.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sleeping Apart Together

The day after Tilde's arrival, we bought her a nice dog bed, an upgraded deluxe version of the one, Kenzo was already using for years. She was quite fond of it, and already on the same day, she claimed it as her own.

But sometimes, one bed, isn't enough. And at bedtime, she rushed ahead to pick her spot for the night. "Which dog bed do I, the princess, like to sleep in today?". Kenzo followed, and patiently waited for Tilde to make her choice, after which he trotted towards the remaining empty spot. Just before he could step in, a growling Tilde was rushing over to occupy it for him.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Hovawart Meme's

Those meme's quickly get addictive. If you missed them on our Facebook wall, here they are. Feel free to copy and share away - click on them to get full-size, then download.



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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hovawart TV: She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

Bard - the Herd-Wart - is brave enough to explore the mysteries of cat body language.



She does love you, Bard. It is a cat thing.
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Saturday, October 4, 2014

That Day To Day Stuff

"It's benign", the vet said over the phone, and the longest exhale in my life could start making its way to freedom. In fact, I had to call her back the next day to recite the whole report she gave me, as I couldn't remember a lot more of what she said, other than those three words.

Nine days of waiting, pondering, worrying, pacing, and some more worrying, it all came to an end in one exhale. Live from day to day, they teach us. Dogs that is. And didn't Kenzo gave me yet another lesson in that department when we returned from his surgery, when he tried to make a high-five. I am a lousy student of dog life-lessons.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Sheepshit

"Tilde? ... Tilde!!", I shouted, to no avail.

Ah yes, you might have noticed, a lot of my recent posts seem to start with exactly that shout, although eye-witnesses claim I use the F word.

Before you read on, I want to reassure you, no person or animal got hurt, other than yours truly's confidence in having any control whatsoever over Tilde, was dented once more.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Looking After Me

We lay down in the grass and cuddle. I am glad you are back. I take a deep breath and pick up the phone, to break the news with people abroad, who expect us to come and visit.

God damnit Kenzo.

It should have been a thorn they found, maybe even a copper wire, whatever, embedded in your foot. Like they found with Viva before you.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

The "Shitbag" Checklist

If you have been reading Jan's Chickenshit post, well, Tilde wasn't finished with us yet. And this time, she was caught on camera.

I was looking forward to the weekend, and also to meet Emil in person - as Jan mentioned in her post, we were spending a weekend with friends we know for quite a while from FB - I always followed Emil's story on Dina's FB page, and watched him grow from a shy and insecure puppy mill dog, into a happy and thriving Hovawart.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chickenshit

Today I turn the blog over to Jan Wolfe about what should have been a textbook display of Tilde managing the "Leave It" command.

Note to self, never go on a weekend with a blogging friend.

***

It started out as a quiet Saturday afternoon walk in the woodland surrounding our rented cottage at Henne Strand – six humans and three dogs enjoying the warm September weather and each other’s company.  The dogs were sniffing in the undergrowth and reading the various scents as we would read a newspaper.  We humans were chatting about this that and the next thing and enjoying the meeting that we had looked forward to for months.  As we walked, we passed numerous cottages, each of which we admired and passed comment about, and wished that we owned or at least could live in.
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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hamletgate

I have a simple rule for this blog. It should be about dogs. But rules are there to be broken. And when yesterday a group of 33 pilot whales were butchered in the Faroe Islands, for the first time in this annual event the Danish Navy and Special Forces were present, and kept the Sea Shepherd activists away from the locals that were driving and killing the whales.
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

People Skills

We just hit the trail and I could see in the distance, one of our pals was on it as well.

I stepped up our pace to see if we could catch up with them and then play a little, maybe.

I noticed our friend had seen us. She waived, waiting for us to catch up.
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Friday, August 15, 2014

Tired Dog, Good Dog

You have heard the cliche before, "a tired dog is a good dog", or, "... a happy dog". Although it takes a lot more than that, I like it enough to say, it is one of my favorite motto's.

Tilde clearly never got the memo though, and she challenged us in this department in a way we could never have imagined. From almost day one she was like an energy bomb bouncing around.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Beauty and The Beast

I can see most dogs think twice before they approach.

On one leash I have the Beauty, wriggling like a worm, bouncing as much as the leash allows, while the smiles on her face work like a magnet, "I want to lick you up!".

And on the other leash I have the Beast, sizing you up, to determine if you are worthy of approaching his awesomeness. And not in the last place, approaching his Beauty too.
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Hovawart TV: The Herd-Wart

Bard wants to be a Herd-Wart. And he is not doing bad at all for a Hovawart!


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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Run, Kenzo, Run!

It is such a beautiful sight. To see Kenzo run. After last month's failed attempt, we made some great progress. There is still a small limp sometimes, but he can correct it himself now, by choosing another pace, or with my help through some stretching. And we don't leave the door before we have done our warning-up.

I also saw him do his special prancing pony imitation again. A wonderful sight.
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Saturday, August 2, 2014

About Blue Flag Emergencies and Feeling Naked Around Nudists

Right after hitting the beach, we went down to the water's edge. The weather was so hot, Kenzo and Tilde needed to be cooled down, as soon as possible. I noticed a lot of people still took their dogs down to the beach, even though a week earlier the news came out, all dogs should be banned from Blue Flag beaches.

The Blue Flag indicates the beach and water is clean enough for tourists to enjoy, but some bureaucrat somewhere dug up a WHO report, that dogs foul the beaches, and they weren't allowed on Blue Flag beaches anymore. Just like that.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coffee Please

"Tilde? Tilde!", I shouted, to no avail. Tilde disappeared around the corner at the end of the driveway, barking at whatever it was she had laid her eyes on. Beyond that corner, only miles and miles of heath-fields and dunes followed. My stomach knotted up when I started running down the driveway.
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Sit Still And Say Cheese

In the category totally useless information, the photo shoot report, of how Tilde became a model, supporting "Oranje".

 "ok this is new, how exciting..."

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

That Guy With The German Shepherd Again

It might be hard to imagine there is a soul on this earth that doesn't like sweet, beautiful and popular Tilde.

"Our" - it is a long story - German Shepherd girl, is one of the few non-believers. Her name is Dina btw, and yes, I really have to get a photo of her.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Run, Stumble and Fall

Two comments Kenzo's surgeon made after his tendon surgery, regularly wake me up in the middle of the night, as in a nightmare. "Some never recover." was his most famous quote. When I asked questions, he downplayed it.

"Some need the same surgery over and over." was the next. Apparently, when you don't find the cause of why his tendon was injured in the first place - and keep on doing what you are doing - it is likely to come back. Which made sense, but what was the culprit?
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Little Tree On The West Coast


We laid Viva's ashes to rest under a little tree we planted on the corner of our property on the West-coast, overlooking her beloved heath fields. The West-coast, with its rough and harsh nature, was contradictory the only place where a vulnerable soul like Viva could feel genuinely safe and be happy, all day long. I couldn't think of a better place, as the West-coast was where she thrived most.
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

It Could Have Been My Dog

Once you had a reactive dog, you'll never see things the same.

I can see around corners, have a set of eyes in my back, and are constantly on my toes. Ready to step in front of my dog at any moment. I rent a holiday-place as isolated as possible, avoid other dogs, and scout the paths I want to hike for escape routes. The best moment of a walk is when we made it home safe and nothing bad happened. I am misunderstood, get blamed, and called names, and couldn't care less about it.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Love Bites

Tilde is doing great. So are we. Like I said before, she is settling-in rapidly, especially for a Hovawart, and we already earned her complete trust.

She is as self-assured as a pup, now 16 months old, can possibly be. Meaning some new things can still scare her, like roller-bladders and umbrellas we noticed so far, but with a little help of us and some desensitizing tricks she quickly overcomes them and bounces back. It's a joy to witness, and a huge compliment of how the shelter and her former family has socialized her.
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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Feeling Thankful

We return to the West-coast coming Friday. There is a lot I have to look forward to. Kenzo is fit enough. It will be Tilde's first visit. Viva will be there, waiting for us. And this time, also a first, we'll have our own little place to share.
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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hovawart TV: Boxing Match

Ladies and Gentlemen. In the left corner, weighing 78 pounds, Kenzo! And in the right corner, weighing only 56 pounds ... Tilde!


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Sunday, May 25, 2014

König The Hovawart Founder Revisited: From Mice and Hovawart, to Heimwart

As you could read yesterday, in König The Hovawart Founder Revisited: The Myth Of The Hoffwart, it was the conviction of Max von Stephanitz, to favor function over looks in the breeding of German Shepherd dogs, what appealed to Kurt F. König. König was a diligent breeder of German Shepherd dogs and became a very active member in the local branch of the "Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde" founded by Max von Stephanitz, in Thale, Germany.
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

König The Hovawart Founder Revisited: The Myth Of The Hoffwart


During the dark ages, dog breeds as we know them today, weren't established yet. Dogs were kept and bred mainly for their function. And in Germany during that time, one of those types was the "Hoffwart", the farm guard. The alleged predecessor of todays Hovawart.
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Wizard Update From Susanne: Rico's Growing Pains

And we received more Hovawart Wizards updates, which make me very happy. This time, it's Hovawart Wizard Susanne. She wanted to share this especially for all those other two-Hovie households out there.

Look how that Rico has grown, he is even gotten bigger than Mammoet...
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Wizard Update From Jacque: Welcome Oggy

Hovawart Wizard Jacque was so kind to send me an update, she wanted me to share. Maybe you remember how Jacque found out her adopted Golden, was actually a Hovawart. Jacque opened her heart and home for a new Hovawart again with Amber, and a while ago asked for advice on the blog through the comment section on getting a second puppy.

As you are about to see, Jacque decided to go forward with a second puppy, so let's give a warm welcome to Oggy!
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Friday, May 16, 2014

I Am So Really Happy To Meet You

Tilde is so happy to meet people. Really happy. When I took her out to walk in a small and not too busy shopping street, her excitement went sky-high.

There were so many people to meet. And then they were on the left, and then they were on the right, it was hard for her to keep up, if she hadn't missed and disappointed somebody.
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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Walking Like A Girl

"I will show you!" the trainer said, and I handed the leash with Kenzo over to her. She made sure everybody was silent, and took off, wiggling in a way that would make Beyoncé faint, while talking to Kenzo in such a high-pitched voice it made me wonder if she might have been abducted by aliens.
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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hooked On Swimming

Tilde is not very fond of water. All that liquid in one place, it's just so very wet and eeky. It is hard for her to see the fun of it. I remember Mie - the lady of the shelter - told me, it gets better when you go in the water with her. I'll have to keep that in mind for when the water temperatures are better.

In the mean time, Kenzo can come to the rescue.

Although I am not sure. Is he an excellent swim instructor showing Tilde how to do it? Or is he rather the right bait on the hook to catch Tilde? You tell me. That juicy stick in Kenzo's mouth might have something to do with it too.

That is not fair, you are swimming with MY stick!


Almost there ....


And we are swimming ...!


Ah I forgot, it wasn't about swimming, but about a stick ...
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Monday, May 5, 2014

The Last Rescue From The Hovawart Puppy Mill

Tilde was one of the last Hovawarts rescued from the Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill. Here is her story, and that of her parents, Cherry and Aapo.

It is a sad story, which is why I kept it to myself and a couple of close friends for almost a year, but after adopting Tilde I felt obliged to write it, in honor of her parents Cherry and Aapo.
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Friday, May 2, 2014

Kenzo's New Personal Trainer

You already guessed it, right? Indeed, Tilde is Kenzo's New Personal Trainer.

Kenzo is very close to his recovery, we just need a little more muscle and leg awareness before he can go - controlled - off the leash.

In Tilde's boot-camp, he is getting just that, with simple and plain old-fashioned play-wrestling.
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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tilde's Mothers: Farm Dogs Like Kenzo's

Just because I am curious, I thought I'll research Tilde's roots, like I did for Kenzo. Although I know her father was most likely Aapo vom Moseleck, I cannot get that confirmed to be certain. I do know though with certainty who her mother was: Cherry van de Rovihof.

Unfortunately Cherry's family tree, like Aapo's, ended up in the wrong hands, to say it mildly. I couldn't find info online about Cherry, but Cherry's breeder was helpful to give me the names of Cherry's father and mother, Tilde's grandparents, and that enabled me to trace Tilde all the way back to the first Hovawarts, and even learned Kenzo and Tilde share a common ancestor in 1946, around 14 generations back:
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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Viva Sunday #11: One More Easter Egg

I couldn't even have imagined adopting a dog, just a week ago.

When I rewind to the week just before Easter, instead of looking forward to some time off during those public holidays, I was bracing myself.
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Taken By A Storm Called Tilde

Driving down to the shelter of "Dyrenes Beskyttelse" in Roskilde to meet Tilde, I wasn't sure we could have her home with us. Kenzo would be the judge of that, not me.

But at least I was looking forward to meet Tilde. At last. As one of the first to see a picture of her as a week old puppy, and following her journey from the puppy mill to her rescue and into her new home, I finally had the opportunity to meet her in real life. With only 14 months on her age-belt, Tilde was up for adoption again.
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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hovawart Health Problems and What to Look For

Dr. Eloise Bright, veterinarian from Love That Pet, offered to write something about the main diseases for the Hovawart, and what to watch for. I am sure this can help us all in keeping our Hovawarts sound and healthy, so the floor is Eloise's today:

***

Photo courstesy of http://hovawart-pp.hu/
Hovawarts are generally considered to be a hardy breed, highly intelligent, trainable and very energetic. Hovawart breeders have done an excellent job at ensuring genetically unsound animals are removed from the breeding pool, so those diseases that are purely genetic are extremely rare. However, as with any breed of dog, occasionally health problems occur. It is important as the owner of a Hovawart to know what to look for and when to worry. During 2004 a survey of purebred dogs in the UK attempted to identify important breed health conditions. The survey had a low response rate, but did have some interesting results (note Kenzo: the specific results for the Hovawart are here). Among the diseases identified in the survey, the more common and important diseases for Hovawarts are discussed below, with emphasis on what to look for and how to reduce the risk of the disease occurring in your beloved friend.

Hip Dysplasia


Hip dysplasia rates are estimated to be below 5% in Hovawarts, mainly due to selective breeding. Unfortunately it can still crop up in any breed of dog despite ‘good’ bloodlines and no previous hint of hip dysplasia in the parents. Hip dysplasia develops due to an overall genetic design problem that leads to loose or lax hip joints and leads to erosion of joint cartilage and osteoarthritis. There is more than one gene involved and environmental factors such as nutrition and exercise have a big part to play in the development of hip dysplasia. Bones and joints are constantly remodelling, particularly during the growth phase of development, so what we are born with can be changed through nutrition and exercise.

Signs to look for
  • A bunny-hopping gait where the hind legs move together rather than independently at a run
  • Excessive swaying at the hips when walking
  • Reluctance to run, walk or climb stairs
  • Difficultly rising
  • Pain when patting, brushing or walking
  • Lack of interest in normal activities like playing
  • Muscle wastage in the hind limbs
  • Narrow hind limb stance, or standing with hind limbs further forward to take more weight in the front legs

How to limit the risks

Overfeeding a growing puppy increases the risk of hip dysplasia in predisposed animals, so the key message is to ensure your puppy is not eating too much and is growing at a recommended rate. Your Vet can help you develop a good nutritional plan, but if you notice your puppy has wobbly bits, or a little tummy, you need to slightly reduce the amount you are feeding. Also avoid diet supplements, unless on medical advice, particular calcium.

Bloat and Volvulus or GDV


Large deep-chested breeds are prone to developing this devastating condition, for which early identification is extremely important.  In simple bloat the stomach becomes full of gas and fluid, while in volvulus it rotates, blocking the blood supply to the stomach. Volvulus is fatal if left untreated and decompression and/or surgery must be performed as quickly as possible.

Signs to look for
  • Restlessness, pacing and discomfort
  • Retching and unproductive attempts to vomit
  • Enlarged abdomen or tight feeling abdomen
  • Painful abdomen
  • Panting, particularly if associated with the above signs

How to limit the risks

Avoid feeding one large meal a day and, feed 2-3 smaller meals instead.  Avoid strenuous exercise for 1-2 hours after eating, particularly after a big meal. Other risk factors include eating rapidly (there are special bowls that slow down eating for the gobblers, or you can place an upturned bowl in your dog’s plate to slow him down), being thin or underweight, moistening dry foods (particularly if citric acid is listed in the ingredients), feeding a diet that contains animal fat among the first four ingredients), history of aggression (laid-back happy dogs are less likely to bloat) and feeding from an elevated bowl. Having a family member with bloat also increases the risk factor of your dog bloating, so ask your breeder if they know of any cases of bloat, so you know whether to implement some preventative strategies. In general a dog should rest after eating anyway to aid digestions, so at the very least feed your dog morning and night and let him rest for at least an hour afterwards.

Hypothyroidism


Hypothyroidism is a disease that has insidious signs and is very easy to treat and relatively cheap to diagnose. Thyroid hormone affects metabolic rate and can affect almost all the organs and cells in the body. It is the most common hormonal or endocrine disease in all dogs. Often the signs are so gradual they are confused with the aging process, but on treatment affected dogs gain a new lease on life. If you have any concerns that your dog is slowing down ask your Vet for blood tests to check for this easy-to-treat condition. Hypothyroidism is caused by immune-mediated destruction of the thyroid gland and can cause a variety of signs.

Signs to look for:
  • Lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Skin problems
  • Thin hair, hair loss and dry skin and coat
  • Neurological signs such as weakness, head tilt, altered gait or paralysis on one side of the face
  • White patches in the eye

Otitis Externa


Ear infections are common in dogs that have floppy ears and can be seasonal in nature. The ear canal in the average Hovawart is approximately 10cm long and there is a sharp right angled turn. The combination of floppy ears, a dark, warm and humid environment can create the ideal environment for bacterial or fungal infections. Dogs that swim, have allergies or have hairy ear canals are also more likely to get frequent ear infections.

Signs to look for
  • Head shaking
  • Scratching at the ear
  • Smell from the ear
  • Red ear canal with increased discharge (a little bit of wax is normal)
  • Pain when touching the ears

How to limit the risks

Dogs that swim and get their ears below water level should have their ears cleaned regularly. There are many ways to clean your dog’s ears, and the main precaution is that if your dog is at risk of a ruptured ear drum, you should not put anything down the ear without the advice of a Vet. Generally a specialised dog ear cleaner is the only thing you should put down an ear canal. Never use cotton buds, as they will just push debris further down into the ear (and there is nothing worse than having the tip break off deep in the ear!).  If your dog is prone to ear infections, ear cleaning on a fortnightly basis can reduce the frequency. You could also book in for a chat to your Vet about allergies to see if there is an underlying cause.

Steps to clean the ear
  1. Get some treats, ear cleaner and cotton wool ready
  2. Fill the ear canal with the ear cleaner until it starts to overflow
  3. Without letting go of the ear, move your hand to the base of the ear where it meets the head
  4. Massage the ear canal for 10 seconds, you should hear a squelchy noise as you massage
  5. Again, without letting go of the ear, wipe out the external opening with the cotton wool
  6. Stand back and allow your pooch to shake out the excess ear cleaner and give a treat!

While I hope that your furry friend never has any health problems and lives to the ripe old age of 15 years, knowing how to identify some common diseases can help you keep your Hovawart healthy and happy. As a Vet, I love those owners who are so attuned to their pets that they know immediately when something is wrong. The best thing you can do for your dog is feel him all over and identify any lumps, bumps, smelly places or sore spots. Get used to what is normal in your Hovawart, but in particular look for these things:
•    Lethargy and weight gain
•    Hairloss, skin changes, red patches of skin or smell from the skin (including the underside of the paws)
•    Panting, breathing problems, discomfort, retching and a bloated or tight abdomen
•    Lameness, altered gait, abnormal stance, slowing down on walks or loss of play drive
•    Ears that are painful, smelly or red
•    Changes in appetite or thirst, particularly increased thirst

***

Bio: With 7 years of small animal practice, Dr. Eloise Bright came to Love That Pet with as animal lover and advocate for all animals from baby birds to stray kittens. With two sons in tow, Eloise mainly practices in Sydney, Australia. Chat with her and the dog, Duster and cat, Jimmy on Google+.
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Viva Sunday #10: Searched & Rescued

As soon as we dropped the leash on the deserted camping place, both Kenzo and Viva dashed into the falling darkness. "Kenzo! Viva!". The silence of the evening was clear. They were gone.

"I told you it was a bad idea", my wife said. I agreed. This can't be happening. What an idiot I am, Viva had been spotting rabbits the whole day from the window of our holiday cottage. Of course she took the first opportunity available, to start a chase. Great. Leo ... what were you thinking.

I hate not to give Viva at least some off leash time every day. Would it this time be my biggest mistake? Soon a minute passed, and then another. And another. We called out, but there was no reply. No happy Hovawarts returning while saying, "Here we are, we had a blast!".

I seriously started to worry now, and we agreed to split up. I would try to search in the direction they disappeared, while my wife stayed put, in case they might return to the same place.

Fighting my way through the forrest, branches were whipping in my face, and I felt my panic rising. I wondered, why Kenzo didn't listen to his recall and set an example. Viva would have probably continued without him, and she wouldn't stop for nothing, too exciting for her not to give chase. And Kenzo would never leave her side. Damn me.

Suddenly I bumped into something solid, and I could tell with the help of the remaining moonlight, it was a fence. A sigh of relief went through my body, they couldn't be miles away, "Thank You O Thy Fence, for being exactly here!".  Looking to the right, the forrest was engulfed in darkness, but to my left I could see some shadows, indicating there was light, and I instinctively went that way.

I didn't have to go far, before Kenzo and Viva, with my wife behind them, came running as dark shadows through the narrow corridor along the fence, "There you are dad, you been on a rabbit hunt as well? how cool!".

I was so happy to see them. "Where have you been?" my wife asked. "They have been back for ages. We worried something happened to you".

I guess I just got searched & rescued.

Viva spotting juicy rabbits ahead!
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Viva Sunday #9: Improved Treatment and Diagnosis of Cushing's Disease

The treatment and diagnosis of Cushing's disease is under constant improvement and research. During the years Viva had Cushing's, a lot already changed, and more changes are ahead. If there is one thing Viva and me learned, it is that this is not not a disease you can manage by sticking a pill, but you have to be constantly on your toes, and take the clinical signs you notice very serious.

Cushing's is caused by a tumor in the pituitary or the adrenal gland, causing an over production of ACTH hormones which in turn triggers an overproduction of cortisol. A life threatening condition affecting inner organs like kidneys and liver. Some of the most common signs are hair-loss, a pot-belly, lethargic behavior, incontinence, and being overly interested in food and water. Cushing's is many times mistaken with normal aging signs of dogs, making it a silent killer.

This is what we learned along the way:

Diagnosis
Back in 2011, Viva was diagnosed with Cushing's based on a urine test and a ACTH stimulation test. During her life, she continued to have ACTH tests quarterly to measure her cortisol levels for possible adjustment of her medicin dosage. Although the test is reliable to measure levels for treatment adjustments, it proved unreliable for the diagnosis itself, when the results are negative. Negative test results should always be followed up by at least an LDDS test, and even better, by an ultrasound, to indicate the type of Cushing's which is significant for what treatment options are available.

Large dogs
The recommended dosage of Trilostane (Vetoryl), the medication for Cushing's disease, was set too high for larger dogs. Something Viva found out the hard way. But thankfully our vet read the signs correct and adjusted her doses far below the recommended dosage for a dog of her size. Later, in 2012, research was done that confirmed that at least dogs weighing more than 30 kg. need a significant lower dosage of Trilostane, maybe even dogs weighing more than 15 kg.

Once or twice a day administering of medication
The last has not been said on this subject. Basically Trilostane works up to 8-10 hours, and that might require a twice-a-day administration, instead of an only once daily which is standard. Research is still being done, and some vets are already recommending twice daily administration of Vetoryl. At least some research here and here has shown, there is hardly risk in trying. We never got that far with Viva, it was something I was discussing with our vet, as I could see she consistently was showing more lethargic signs during the end of the day.

***

A dog with Cushing's requires continuous research, together with your vet, and to be vigorous about measuring the clinical signs of your dog. We always kept a Cushing's diary, and it was a great help in supporting Viva in her battle against Cushing's. Whatever research was available at the time, or not, the diary was always right.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Kenzo's Hopes

We went out the back for Kenzo's first 15-minute walk of the day. I already had him leashed with his "Halti", to prevent him from dashing through the garden, and thereby risk a new injury to his tendon. Especially in the morning it is difficult. Both Kenzo and Viva always launched themselves as rockets through the door, straight towards the bird-house, in an attempt to surprise attack a squirrel that might be in it. They found out if their attempts paid off, once they reached the bird house. But usually it was empty.

Kenzo never caught one, but Viva caught two squirrels this way.

The squirrel family in the back garden have already gotten used to the new situation, and when I get out with Kenzo, they won't move until we literally are only feet away. They are getting more and more bold, and we have a visitor nearly every other day. They will come to regret that later on when Kenzo is fit again, I thought when we passed the bird-house. 

Suddenly a squirrel jumped from the bird-house, and Kenzo launched himself towards the speeding creature. Instinctively I loosened my grip on the leash attached to Kenzo's "Halti". That's how dogs get hurt. But Kenzo made an abrupt stop, and watched back at me. I was still standing, looking horribly worried what he would choose to do next, and still faced the backyard's gate.

He took one last look at the squirrel, and quickly returned to me, in hopeful anticipation to get through the gate, and start his walk. "That's how much you miss your walks, huh. You would even give up a good squirrel hunt for your walk, big guy?". I talk to him a lot more these days.

He must know it only will take 15 minutes before we are back again. But he never stops hoping. Every time we leave for a walk, "Maybe this time you will take me for a good walk!". I hate to disappoint him. Four times a day. Every day. For the last three months. "Well, we can have some extra sniffs this time, Kenzo!", I say, while I repeat in my thoughts a hundred times, it is for his own good.

When we reach the point in our walk where Kenzo notices we are on a path that would return us to the house again, he brings on the charm. With excellent heel-work, glued to my side, face up, looking at me, "See dad, how much fun we are having?". He is cunning, and proves me wrong again, when I said, he wasn't a pleaser.

The closer we get to the house, the more slow we go. Kenzo's head goes down. He is alerted by branches that move in the wind. Grass is sniffed extensively, and he points in different directions in an attempt to suggest alternative routes. He is trying to avoid the unavoidable. The walk is already over.

Almost back, Kenzo gives up and we quickly make it to the driveway and through the gate. At the door, Kenzo takes one last look at the bird-house. Maybe next time. Maybe the next walk, will be a good walk again. "It will, big guy. It will".


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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Frustrations

Three months into Kenzo's physical therapy to recover from a tendon injury, the side effects on his mental health are starting to show. Being leashed since December, his frustrations are mounting rapidly.

Physically he is doing great. Recovery is slow, but we are making progress. We do our exercises and a lot of extra training and activities to tire him out. People that already went through this, warned me how difficult it could be, but I underestimated it. What he lacks from walks, being social around other dogs, and expending his energy, can't be compensated by upping in other area's like training and nose work. At least, in Kenzo's case.

The first signs came when he started to misbehave when spotting other dogs - which I avoid as he is not allowed to play. Then the other day we met one of his long time favorite girlfriends, a nice calm girl, called Frida. I shouldn't have gone up to let them meet. I expected them to turn around each other with tail wags, as they usually do. Instead, he harassed her on a very rude way.

Kenzo and Frida last December, before his surgery, best friends
Kenzo is no saint, and he can be a bully on occasion, but this was past all limits. An explosion of cropped up energy and frustration.

We will have some serious re-socializing to do. I discussed it with our trainer from the club, who knows Kenzo since puppy hood, and his vet team. There is not much more we can do at this time. We have to finish our physical therapy first, before we can repair the mental damage. The only thing we do try is some damage control. After I tire him out with nose work, we go for a walk - on a short distance - with another girlfriend of him.

So far, it doesn't help, and his frustrations are very visible during those walks.

I am sure he will return as the Kenzo we know, but all of this is going to take a lot longer than I could ever imagine. Still 3 months of physical therapy to go. After that, rebuilding his social skills for an unknown time to come.

But we are in good spirit. We will get stronger out of it when we reach the other end, whenever that might be.
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Monday, March 10, 2014

About Hovawarts, inbreeding, and Crufts 2014

It started with a moment that made me feel proud. The Hovawart winner of Crufts 2014 wasn't inbred. The "mate select" from the Kennel Club showed an "inbreeding coefficient" of 0.0%.

It just took 5 minutes before a friend with access to the Swedish Kennel Club database could prove, this wasn't true at all. The winner was inbred. His coefficient was 5.1%.
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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Viva Sunday #8: The Dream

We had a dream. When we learned how much Viva loved the Danish West-coast and its open spaces, we laid down a plan to change our lives. A plan to sell the business and create more time, and move with the family to the West-coast.

It was a dream where Viva could dash through the dunes and heath fields of the West-coast together with Kenzo, free of the day-to-day fears she suffered from a life in the city. We even dreamed of spending our holidays traveling along the whole length of the Wadden Sea shores, from the north in Holland, through Germany, to the south in Denmark, with its amazing nature, wild-life and abundance of open spaces.

We thought we had time, but as you know, we ran out of it far too soon.

The master plan, Viva's plan, was set in motion long before she passed and is rolling still, up to this day. My business is sold. We are looking at places to live. It is bitter sweet. We measure homes up to Viva's standards. She would have loved that view... She would have loved to have those heath fields in her "backyard"...

Was it Viva's gift to the family to guide us down this path? Or are we trying to live a life that is no more? I believe it was Viva's gift but I am aware I still can't see clearly. The family is split. And I am told it would be a real possibility I'll find myself waking up every day, not on the West-coast, but in a place that will only be a harsh reminder of the fact Viva is no longer with us.

It is difficult to see how much of the plan was for us all, and how much of it was for Viva. Our lives were so intertwined, it is impossible to dissect what part of the dream was for who.

I am told too, I need more time. More time to see clearly. More time to figure this out. But my relationship with time is tensed, because of Viva. Those three years we were given were over in a heartbeat. Isn't time measured while you wait, and seem to play no role when you move ahead, follow your instincts and your heart, bringing you to places where things happen you never expected.

Still, the doubts I have do show, I am slowly waking up from my dream, the dream I had for Viva. Waking up I hope, will give room to a new dream.


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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Viva Sunday #7: Incoming!

Kenzo was the only dog in Viva's life, she trusted enough, to engage in some rough play. He was her favorite wrestle partner and body-check victim. But he was hard to knock down. The absolute premium was when she occasionally managed to let him tumble, by using strategies to ensure Kenzo either didn't see it coming, or to add some downhill advantage:

Down slope + midships! the perfect body check

Bracing for the upcoming opportunity...

Other then those perfectly timed attacks, it was a whole lot of hard work, to bring her pal down to his knees, even if she tried to seek it higher up:

Puf, puf, it's a lot of work

Maybe try from higher up

She didn't liked when he played rough in return, it was most fun when Kenzo was on the receiving end. He gladly played the victim part though, and if he would get too aroused by all the action and was looking to return some cookies, Viva send him the "off-switch look". When that didn't help, the last resort always was to come running back to me and hide under my skirts:

Enough I say Kenzo! I am pressing your "off" switch now

Dad! Help!
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