volume 6, issue 5
bark in translation
canine seizures a critical time in animal law
Beyond Best Friends dogs who guide & comfort
Publisher Leah England (843) 478-0266 email@example.com
Interns Gillian Nicol, Communications Christian Broder, Social Media Salvador Vilardo II, Editorial Guest Photographer Laura Olsen Imagery www.lauraolsen.com Staff Photographer Ashley Smith Blackburn www.lowcountryfocus.com Accounting Carrie Clark Financial Services (843) 367-9969 firstname.lastname@example.org For Ad Rates Call
(843) 478-0266 Lowcountry Dog Magazine PO Box 22 Mt. Pleasant, SC 29465 www.lowcountrydog.com Web: lowcountrydog.com Twitter: www.twitter.com/leahengland Facebook: facebook.com/lowcountrydog This magazine is printed on 100% recycled paper. Continue the green process by recycling this copy. Lowcountry Dogâ€™s mission is to be the leading local resource for dog owners regarding regional events, health and wellness information, trends, style and lifestyle choices. We also strive to be a mouthpiece to the public for various dog related non-profits and promote pet adoption and other responsible pet care practices. Dog lovers can pick up the bi-monthly magazine for free at most area veterinarians and pet stores throughout the lowcountry, as well as numerous restaurants, coffee bars and retailers. A full distribution list is posted to the magazineâ€™s web site, lowcountrydog.com. Subscriptions are also available. Please call 843-478-0266 for more information.
august/september 2010 a critical moment 4 top stories on lowcountrydog.com 8 beyond best friends 12 calendar of events 21 health and wellness 22 Canine Seizures training 24 Bark in Translation adoption 26 Furlife German Shepherd Rescue
The entire contents of this magazine are copyrighted by Lowcountry Dog Magazine with all rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue is expressly forbidden without permission of the publisher. Lowcountry Dog Magazine does not endorse or guarantee any product, service, or vendor mentioned or pictured in this magazine in editorial or advertising space. Views expressed by authors or advertisers are not necessarily those of the publisher.
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a critical moment I by Kimberly Kelly
t’s no secret that when it comes to animal welfare, South Carolina has a lot of room for improvement. With relatively weak legislation and a sometimes appalling lack of law enforcement, too often we let down the animals who rely on us for protection. Thankfully, one area in which South Carolina has successfully been combating animal cruelty is dog fighting. Thanks in large part to state Attorney General Henry McMaster who, with the unwavering support of the Charleston Animal Society (formerly the John Ancrum Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), created a task force to crack down on dog fighting, the underground society has somewhat diminished. Thus, while dogfighting, and its secondary problems of drug trafficking and gambling still challenges law enforcement officials, there is reason to be hopeful: since its inception in 2004, the task force has made dozens of arrests and convicted scores of offenders. The conviction of David Tant, however, stands out above the rest. If Michael Vick is the nation’s most notorious dog fighter, then David Tant is most certainly South Carolina’s. Described by prosecutors as “the country’s number 2 breeder of fighting pit bulls,” Tant is a highly recognized, if not wellrespected, member of the dogfighting community. A self-proclaimed “oldtime dog man,” David Tant has been involved in the underground industry for over two decades. As a recognized referee, trainer, grand champion owner, and most recently, fighting dog breeder, Tant has been involved in just about every aspect of fighting circles. For years he evaded authorities, but following a 2004 incident in which a land surveyor accidentally set off a booby trap and was pummeled by birdshot on Tant’s Charleston County property, it was discovered that dog fighting paraphernalia such as cattle prods, harnesses, homemade gun silencers, caged treadmills, a bear
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trap, dogfighting magazines and a former dogfighting ring were on his property, in addition to forty-seven dogs showing signs of scarring and abuse. So damaged were his animals from years of torture and mistreatment that every single one had to be euthanized. Tant was arrested and charged with forty-one counts of criminal animal fighting and assault and battery with intent to kill. Upon his guilty plea, the charges were reduced, but he was still sentenced to an unprecedented forty years in prison, which was reduced to thirty after paying partial restitution. But, on July 21st, less than six years after his sentencing, Tant appeared before a partial parole board. That meeting resulted n a 2-1 vote in favor of parole and Tant is one step closer to being released. The full parole board will consider his release the end of August. To secure his release in that hearing, he will need 4 votes in his favor. With the announcement of Tant’s parole hearing, dog fighting has once again been propelled into the spotlight with animal welfare proponents calling for his continued incarceration, and Tant’s supporters claiming he has been punished enough. Whichever side prevails however, one thing is for certain: the parole board’s decision will have a tremendous effect on the future of dogfighting in South Carolina. Prior to Tant’s sentencing, the enforcement of South Carolina’s dogfighting laws was marginally in line with other states, but since then, only one other out-of-state conviction has carried a harsher sentencing. Perhaps Judge Wyatt Saunders did “make an example” of Tant, but his prison term, in conjunction with McMaster’s powerful task force and harsher penalties passed by the legislature, are important steps in eradicating dogfighting from South Carolina. The efforts have not gone unnoticed, and have even received national attention. In the wake of Tant’s conviction, the Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization, partnered with the task force, pledging up to $5,000 in rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved with animal fighting. John Goodwin, Manager of Animal
Fighting Issues at the Humane Society explains why the Attorney General’s office, the Humane Society, and the state legislature have invested so much time and attention to an activity that to many South Carolinians, seems relatively innocuous: “Dogfighting is lose-lose for a community. The animals endure brutal suffering and ultimately death. The fights attract criminal elements that come to the area to watch the carnage, and municipal budgets are strained dealing with the canine victims that are discarded in the streets and end up in animal shelters. It is important that officials at every level of government, from the parole board to the sheriff’s department
Dogfighting is loselose for a community. The animals endure brutal suffering... The fights attract criminal elements... municipal budgets are strained with the canine victims that are discarded in the streets and end up in animal shelters. to the governor’s office, understand the negative impact of dogfighting and work to eradicate this nasty pastime.” In addition to elected officials and public servants however, local citizens serve a critical role in the arrest and conviction of dog fighters. In many cases, the offenders are arrested and prosecuted thanks to the simple acts of citizens alerting police to known dogfighting rings in their neighborhoods. Additionally, citizens can call their local
representatives and voice their concerns about animal fighting; by continuing to pass stronger animal welfare laws, South Carolinians can help ensure that violators are met with consequences far greater than an inadequate fine or short detention. Finally, when an offender such as David Tant comes up for parole, citizens can contact the parole board and submit a statement which may be considered during the review. For decades, David Tant subjected pit bulls to unfathomable cruelty. Even after he claimed to have left the “sport” of dogfighting, he continued to perpetuate the cruelty by breeding dogs who were sold into a life of absolute torture and misery. Serving only six years of a thirty year sentence hardly seems like a punishment to fit such a crime, and sends the wrong message to other would-be dog fighters. South Carolina cannot afford to lose the hard-fought progress that has been achieved to eradicate dogfighting from our state. Hopefully the parole board will agree. To oppose Tant’s (Inmate # 306170) parole: www.dppps.sc.gov/oppose_parole.html
photo by mezon e, Flickr Creative Commons
lowcountrydog.com online stories you shouldn’t miss
7 Ways to Stop SC Puppy Mills
10 Ways to Help Shelter Animals w/o Adopting
A concise list of actions we can take to raise awareness of puppy mills in our state and how to help lawmakers pass regulations on commercial animal breeding. Click to http://bit.ly/9hT1gC
Budget tight? Still want to help shelter pets? Check out 10 ways to help without spending a dime. Click to http://bit.ly/9EiIIQ
Socializing a Rescue Dog If you are thinking about fostering or rescuing an animal with a tragic past, this article gives you tips on reintroducing the dog to society. Click to http://bit.ly/aBDCaf
Signs of a Bad Breeder photo by fanfan2145, Flickr Creative Commons
A Favorite Reader Comment
Arm yourself with the knowhow to determine if that breeder is truly interested in the welfare of the breed, or just after a quick buck. Click to http://bit.ly/bJsZus
This article couldn’t have better timing. Just got a rescue a couple weeks ago. She wasn’t abused but she is a little overwhelmed by other dogs. We just started her in obedience class and she’s making great progress already! ~ anonymous, in response to Socializing a Rescue Dog
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Unless you have a strong medical background, it can be difficult to know if your dog is sick. Dr. Danielle Cain gives us a basic primer on symptoms of common diseases. Click to http://bit.ly/bEIUNf
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Heard Round the Hydrant Dear LCD -Please help us spread the word that Lowcountry Lab Rescue needs foster homes! Currently we cannot pull ANY dogs because we don’t have any open foster homes. The summer time is very hard for us because people go on vacation so we end up juggling foster dogs around or some of our regular volunteers end up with 2-4 extra dogs for a week or 2. Or we end up paying for boarding....money we don’t really have when we need to be paying for medical care. Adoptions are down in the summer for the same reasons. If anyone is interested in adopting or fostering a loving lab, please contact www.lowcountrylabrescue.org. We need you more now than ever. ~San Mitchum Dear LCD -Did you know one in every four dogs dying in shelters is a bully breed or bully breed mix? Humane Net and the ASPCA, in conjunction with Pet Helpers and the Charleston Animal Society, are offering specially priced spay/neuter surgeries for these particularly at-risk canines. This limited-time offer allows bully breed owners to have their pets “fixed” for just $20 in an effort to reduce the number of unwanted puppies that end up at shelters or in the hands of dog fighters. $20 surgeries available for the first 100 dogs. The cost also includes necessary vaccines. Pet Helpers is located at 1447 Folly Road, James Island and can be found online at www.pethelpers.org. Charleston Animal Society is located at 2455 Remount Road, North Charleston and can be found online at www.charlestonanimalsociety.org ~Katie Mehle, Pet Helpers
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Best Friends text by Stratton Lawrence photography by Laura Olsen Imagery
Grace is attuned to Tateâ€™s every need.
ogs, with their infallible trust and loyalty, are naturally therapeutic. Fifteen minutes with your pup in your lap can quickly quell the anxiety of a stressful workday. With fur brushing through our fingers, our minds calm their clatter. Some dogs go beyond their duty as pets. From aiding the recovery of hospital patients to guiding the blind, many of the Lowcountry’s brightest dogs are behind the scenes heroes. And of course, there are heroes behind those dogs as well. Learning over fifty commands doesn’t happen automatically. Local groups like Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS) and the K-9 Care Unit literally change human lives through dog-assisted living, and their positive impact on our community is constantly growing. Distinguishing between guide/service dogs and therapy dogs is important; authorized, trained guide dogs can accompany their owners to places that other dogs aren’t permitted. Therapy dogs are typically pets, with owners as gentle and loving as their animals, an important requirement for working with the infirm or handicapped. Although therapy dogs typically wear a scarf or other identifying garment, they don’t normally have access to businesses and places where pets are forbidden. Logistical details aside, the real impact of both service and therapy dogs is in the immeasurable and dramatic changes they bring to the lives of the people with whom they interact.
Top: Scamp tells owner Sharon Fields she loves his work as a therapy dog. Bottom: Scamp and a new friend see eye to eye. Lowcountrydog
Life Partners Before Smith Pruitt got Aubrey, his three-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, trips into town could be difficult for his mother, Erin. The thirteen-year-old has moderate to severe autism; conversations are limited to keywords he’s learned. Among those he uses the most these days are “lean” and “hug.” When Aubrey hears those commands, she quickly complies. The simple pressure of her warm, soft presence is enough to calm Smith down when he’s upset, easing an unpredictable anxiety that can suddenly arise. Smith no longer has to hold his mother’s hand when they’re out shopping or at the library, instead gripping tight to a handle on Aubrey’s harness. And Aubrey attracts people to Smith, which helps his peers to understand that any out-of-the-ordinary movement or vocalizations are a result of his autism. “She’s been a bridge to a lot of kids in explaining what autism is and what a service dog is,” says Erin. “Aubrey has been such a great help in terms of signifying that he’s ‘got something up with him’, so people might be a little more understanding, instead of thinking he’s just some weird kid or his parents can’t control him. She’s served to teach a lot of children.” Aubrey can do everything from turning on and
Aubrey is Smith’s calming force.
A detail shot of the harness that allows Zack to do his job.
Zack rests at Audreyâ€™s feet. Lowcountrydog
Chai the Border Collie rounds up the children at Buddy Camp.
off light switches to pulling Smith’s socks from his dresser in the morning. They share a single bed, and Smith is responsible for feeding and walking her. Training Aubrey to work so diligently with a person with autism was a two-year process, undergone by PAALS. The Columbia-based group will soon match their second round of about five trained dogs with their owners, who attend an intensive two-week training session (and annual refresher courses) to learn how to make the best use of their dog. Recipients are also asked to contribute to the roughly $28,000 it takes to raise each service dog. In Smith’s case, the boy’s twin sister helped organize a Swim-a-thon, raising $11,000 for Aubrey’s and the family’s training. “What I like about PAALS is that it’s not a factory of service dogs,” says Erin. “They really are in tune with the client’s needs and really know what they need the dog to do.” The majority of PAALS recipients are mobility-challenged, hence the value of a buddy who can pick up dropped items, close doors, or activate an emergency phone. That’s been particularly useful for Tate Mikell, a Charleston police officer who suffered an aneurysm five years ago, leaving him half-paralyzed and blind in one eye. His PAALS-trained yellow lab, Grace, can even distinguish between a
house phone, a cell phone, and a remote control. She also nudges Tate to alert him when someone is approaching on his blind side. “He’s been much happier with her around,” says Tate’s mother, Marsha. “They spend all their time together and go for walks and play ball in the backyard. She attracts people to herself, and by that, attracts people to Tate.” Most service dogs tend to be labs, although PAALS has trained two ‘Labradoodle’ mixes. Labs’ intelligence and gentleness are conducive to the work, but they’ve got to be the crème de la crème of their breed to become a service dog. From allergies to temperament issues, the dogs must be nearly perfect to become full service dogs. Another local group, Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, caters specifically to the blind. Former club president Audrey Gunter gradually lost her vision over many years due to retinitis pigmentosa, and Zack, her ten-year-old yellow lab, has served as her eyes for the last eight. By the time Audrey retired from her job as transportation director at MUSC, her field of vision was just two degrees in each eye. She wasn’t comfortable crossing streets and parking lots with a cane, so she researched finding a dog guide. Before long, she was at a month-long training session in Florida, matched with Zack.
. g doors openin t a d le skil Grace is Neelix the poodle is a regular visitor to assisted living facilities and is clearly loved by all the residents.
“He knows right from left, and can find the curb or a set of stairs, doors in and out, gates, trash cans, lanterns, a bench, chairs,” Audrey boasts with pride, as Zack lays at her feet in the West Ashley mobile home that serves as headquarters for Dixie Land. “He also does what is called intelligent disobedience. If I’m trying to navigate across the street and he perceives danger, he’ll do a body block and push me back on the sidewalk. He will literally give his life for me or stand in front of me to block me.” Audrey calls Zack her guide, and considers herself his handler. “Together, we’re a team,” she says. The pair regularly use CARTA to travel around Charleston, giving Audrey an independence she’d lost with her sight. “Before I got him I would have to use somebody as a sighted guide, which meant I was totally dependent on where they wanted to go and when,” recalls Audrey. “Zack’s ready to go when I am.” Zack joined Audrey in 2002, and the pair quickly found support and friends in the newly formed Dixie Land group. They’ve more than doubled their members since then, to nearly twenty, and even hosted a Top Dog national convention last January that attracted over 100 guide dogs and their owners from around the country.
Audrey and Zack coauthored a book together in 2004, “Zack’s Tales - Travels of a Guide Dog.” Using software that reads words on a computer, Audrey sought to tell their story, in hopes of educating and enlightening people who hadn’t had experience around guide dog users. “I realized most people had never seen a guide dog before,” says Audrey. “Zack’s paws were too big, so he told me what to write, and I just typed.” Service dogs like Zack are identified as being individually and specifically trained for a person who is unable to provide that service for themselves. But a dog doesn’t have to know 50 commands to be useful. Charleston’s dozens of part-time therapy dogs are brightening the days and easing the treatment of the infirm and handicapped on a daily basis.
Instant Buddies In a side room at a Daniel Island Baptist church, a group of kindergarten-aged children rush excitedly through the door. Today is the highlight of their annual trip to Buddy Camp, an outreach that
Top: Chai lays down for some loving. Left: Caroline Hunt with one of her Shetland sheep dogs.
pairs ten children with Downs Syndrome with a furry friend for a week of learning and play. The kids have been asking about the dogs all week, and now four of the friendliest dogs they’ll ever meet are awaiting the affection of the adoring children. The K-9 Care Unit is on hand, a local organization of over 50 nationally registered therapy dogs. From that pool, teams visit hospitals, Hospices, nursing homes, and events like Buddy Camp almost daily. Chai, a Border Collie, shows off her tricks, waving to the children as they approach, then kissing them on the nose. Across the room, Scamp, a Schmoodle (miniature schnauzer and toy poodle), happily offers herself to multiple petting hands. Scamp’s owner, Sharon
Field, took up therapy dog outreach after retiring from Hospice nursing. She and Scamp visit MUSC’s children’s hospital a few times each week. Sharon tells of one boy terrified about his broken arm who refused to hold still. When Scamp arrived, he quickly settled down and let the doctors set his arm. “I sat next to him on the opposite side with Scamp right by the child, and he focused on Scamp the whole time,” she recalls. “It’s amazing to see the kids respond.” Not every dog can be a therapy dog. They must be friendly to other dogs and people and have basic obedience training. Owners must clean them before sessions, and follow rules about leash length and maintaining control. Another local therapy dog group, Southeastern Therapy Animal Resources, does similar work, with a focus on individual care at hospitals and nursing homes. The group has about 80 handlers, with participation levels varied from one visit a month to several each week.
STAR member Caroline Hunt has two Shetland sheep dogs, one an entertainer and the other a comforter. Subtle differences in a dog’s personality can make a difference with whether they’re best for the elderly or for a nervous child in the ER. When people inquire with Hunt about training their dog for therapy, she starts with general questions about the owner and their pet. An extremely friendly Golden Retriever might be a great pet, but not suitable for hospital work if they tend to jump on people. Careful questioning may also reveal that a loving but protective Australian Shepherd has nipped at two or three people. That history is enough to discourage therapy work. If a dog passes the initial questioning, STAR invites the owners out to shadow a therapy session. “That’s when we lose them,” says Hunt. “They’ll say, ‘I had no idea that it would be so depressing to be around people who are this sick.’” A dog’s good temperament and their owner’s dedication are the necessary factors for therapy work. When the combination clicks, it’s a consistently rewarding experience that most handlers stick with. Hunt has stories of her dogs provoking speech in people otherwise silent since a stroke or accident. “It’s an experience you never forget,” she says. “All the nurses go nuts.” On Wednesdays at St. Francis Hospital, STAR brings a team to visit with kids about to go into surgery. “If they can sit with a nice big dog before the anesthesiologist shows up, they’re much more relaxed, and medically a better candidate for what they’re about to undergo,” Hunt explains.
Top: Scamp gives kisses at Buddy Camp. Middle: Barbara holds her “STAR” therapy dog, Mac the Westie. Bottom: Will, an Australian Shepherd, smiles while he works.
At Your Service From inspiring smiles to easing anxiety, the potential of guide and therapy dogs is still being fully realized. PAALS is currently working with veterans and others with posttraumatic stress disorder, utilizing the same leaning pressure to reduce anxiety that Aubrey uses to help Smith’s autism. Behind the scenes, the same dogs are transforming lives during their training; PAALS recently began a prison program at which approved inmates learn to care for the dogs and assist in their early training, giving the incarcerated a purposeful and calming task. None of the aforementioned organizations seek to make a profit, and funding is scarce, relying on individual fund-raisers and private donations. Whether it’s a family pet visiting a Hospice or a highly trained Labrador opening doors for the immobile, therapy and service work is truly a labor of love for both the handlers and their dogs. But with tangible results from every visit, these highly intelligent and loving dogs are definitely worth barking about.
Learn more about these groups at www.lowcountrydog.com
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upcoming events August 4th 6:00pm-9:00pm charleston greyhounds yappy hour at red’s ice house. Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant. Visit www. adoptcharlestongreys.org for more info.
august 7th 11:00am-3:00pm cas adoption event at petsmart. Come join us at the Mt. Pleasant PetSmart to adopt a new pet into your forever home! Adoption fees start at $105 for dogs and $95 for cats. www.charlestonanimalsociety.org
august 11th 5:00am-8:00pm lcgrr yappy hour at two rivers tavern. Enjoy a relaxing evening with Man’s Best Friend on the patio of Two Rivers Tavern on Daniel Island. This is livin’! Don’t miss the fun. www.lcgrr.org for more info.
august 12th palm avenue shop n’ share with pet helpers. 251 King Street, Downtown Charleston. Visit www.pethelpers.org for details.
august 14th 7:00am daniel island animal hospital get fit dog walk. In conjunction with Get Fit Daniel Island. Open to the public and free for all walkers. Pre-register by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
august 14th 10:00am-4:00pm carolina coonhound rescue meet & greet. Get to know some hounds who need forever homes and find out about our foster program! Buffalo South 1409 Folly Rd Charleston.
august 14th 11am-2pm charleston greyhounds meet & greet at petsmart. West Ashley. Visit www. adoptcharlestongreys.org for more info.
august 14th 9:00am-1:00pm tractor supply company vaccine clinic. Ravenel Location, 4405 Savannah Hwy. $10 rabies and distemper vaccines, $15 microchips. Call 302-0556 or email email@example.com for details!
august 14th pet support team. Pet Helpers’ Junior Volunteer Club
for ages 6-11. Meets the first Saturday of every month in the Pet Helpers Education Room. Contact Christine Bush, Volunteer Coordinator at cbush@ pethelpers.org or (843) 795-1110 ext. 25.
august 28th 11am-2pm charleston greyhounds meet & greet at petco. West Ashley. Visit www. adoptcharlestongreys.org for more info.
september 4th 10:00am-4:00pm carolina coonhound rescue meet & greet. Get to know some hounds who need forever homes and find out about our foster program! Buffalo South 1409 Folly Rd Charleston.
september 5th 12:00pm–1:00pm bully walk. Join the SCPBR and the Pitchicks for our monthly Bully Walk. It’s a great way to meet other “bully” lovers and it gives the dogs an opportunity to socialize. All breeds are welcome, no retractable leashes please. For the locations and specific rules regarding Bully Walks, please visit www.scpitrescue.org
september 11th leslie mccravy memorial 5k run/walk. Folly Beach. For all the details and registration information, visit www. p e t h e l p e r s . o r g / L e s l i e M c C r av y R u n
september 11th the 7th annual pawker run. Dorchester Shrine Club. All proceeds benefit the Frances R. Willis SPCA. $20 per person registration fee includes a BBQ plate lunch, free t-shirt, and goody bag. The run includes 10 stops along a 100-mile route. Bluegrass music, a 50/50 drawing, door prize drawing and other fun! Ride for the Paws! More information at frwspcagrants@hotmail. com or www.summervillespca.com
september 11th 7:30pm charleston men’s rugby team bachelor auction. Music Farm. Benefits Pet Helpers, Carolina Youth Development Center, Ralph Johnson VA Medical Center, MUSC Hollings Cancer Research Center, MUSC Children’s Hospital, Charleston Habitat for Humanity.
Visit www.pethelpers.org for more info.
september 18th 11:00am-4:00pm lowcountry paws & claws pet expo. Exchange Fairgrounds, Ladson. There will be fun and educational demonstrations and presentations. You can check out the adorable adoptable pets and numerous local businesses looking to cater to your needs. For more info visit www.lowcountrypaws.com
october 9th 9:00am-3:00pm cas 26th annual paws in the park walk for animals. Park Circle N. Charleston. $10 per dog. Visit www. charlestonanimalsociety.org for more info.
october 16th 10:00am grateful goldens tee off for goldens. Oak Point Golf Course, Kiawah River Estates. $100 per player includes: bloody mary/mimosa bar, box lunch BBQ dinner provided by the Crazy Dutchman. Complimentary water, soda and beer. Hole in One contest, silent auction, live auction, and raffle prizes Live music by Bogan Mask. Visit www. ggrlc.org or call 810-0146 for more info.
november 12th-14th a way to play dog agility club cpe dog agility trial. A Dog’s Way Inn Training Facility in Murrells Inlet, SC. Trial information will be posted on the CPE website soon. www.k9cpe.com.
Questions? Comments? Call 843-478-0266. Want to submit event information? Visit www.lowcountrydog.com and click on Add an Event. We will do our best to include your event as space allows. Our online calendar lists all events in full. Lowcountrydog
S E I Z U R E S by Danielle Cain, DVM Animal Hospital of N. Charleston
Watching a dog have a grand mal seizure for the first time is a very scary experience for most people, especially when it happens to your own four legged family member. Imagine you are making dinner when Cooper the three-year-old family Golden starts pacing and acting restless. You say, “hey boy, what’s the matter?” Maybe he is panting more than usual, or maybe he just collapses on the floor with no forewarning. Then he starts to tremor so violently that he doesn’t respond when you call his name. You’re worried he will hit his head, and then he does. All four legs stiffen, or start paddling like he’s running a race – but on his side. His neck arches back in an unnatural direction. He’s drooling so much the side of his face is wet with 22
saliva. Maybe he passes stool and urinates too. Jaws clench shut then chatter fast. Cooper is crying or barking in a way that you’ve never heard before and you think he must be in pain. You think he’s dying! Then it stops. He just lies there for a minute, but still doesn’t respond when you talk to him. After a minute, he tries to get up, but falls. When he gets up, he’s wobbly and bumps into things. He stumbles around for a while before lying down to fall asleep. By now you’re calling the vet: who tells you “Cooper had a seizure – you should bring him in. “ This is an example of a classic grand mal seizure. But even grand mal seizures can vary from dog to dog. They can have some or all of the symptoms seen in Cooper. Dogs can have focal seizures involving only their head or a leg twitch, while remaining fully conscious. These are not considered grand mal seizures because the tremor doesn’t involve the entire body. Fly Biting is an example of a behavioral seizure where the dog starts biting at imaginary flies in the air. Petit mal seizures involve the entire body but are minor tremors, and the dog often does not lose consciousness. Seizure severity can range from a two second focal episode that goes unnoticed by dog owners for years to a grand mal “status epilepticus” that lasts indefinitely and ultimately can kill a dog if untreated. If your dog has a seizure, keep calm and don’t panic. The seizure episode itself usually is not harmful unless it lasts more
than 2-3 minutes. Check the clock and time the episode because one minute can seem like an hour when your dog is seizing. While they are convulsing, protect their head from smacking into things, but avoid being bitten. Your dog may bite without even knowing he’s doing it. Most dogs will stop seizing before you can get them in the car, but you should still bring them into the vet. When a seizure continues for a long period of time, the body temperature can elevate high enough that there are potential life-threatening complications. We can’t always find out why seizures happen. Doctors know that the tremors are the result of uncontrolled/abnormal electrical activity in the brain. There is a huge list of possible causes of seizures, but the majority can’t be traced to a specific causative factor. When no abnormality is found, the condition is called Epilepsy. Currently, there is no blood test for Epilepsy, although Dr. Munana has been working on it at North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine. Currently epilepsy is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning we have to eliminate all of the other possible causes of seizures, one at a time. This workup is important because if a puppy needs sugar supplements or a senior dog has a disorder that can be managed with medications or surgery, it would be best to fix whatever abnormalities are found or the seizures may continue despite treatment with anti-convulsant medications. When your dog goes to the hospital after a seizure, many vets will immediately place an intravenous catheter (IV) into a vein. Should another seizure occur it is much easier to inject medications into a catheter than into a vein on a shaking leg! Valium is very effective at stopping most seizures, but is not safe in high doses or for long-term use because it will build up in the liver and cause damage. This is one of the reasons why vets will check a seizing dog’s blood work - to make sure the liver is healthy enough to administer certain medications. The blood work is also the first step in a full workup for seizure disorders. Phenobarbital is a drug used to control tremors in dogs while we are working them up, or if a diagnosis of
Epilepsy has already been reached. But not all dogs need Phenobarbital after their first seizure. The general consensus for when to start the drug is 1. When the seizures are in clusters (more than 1 in 48 hrs) 2. When seizures occur every month or more, or 3. The convulsions are especially violent or prolonged (more than 3-4 minutes). Once anti-seizure medications are started, they should never be stopped (other than very rare circumstances under direct supervision of your vet). The blood work that monitors Phenobarbital levels and liver health needs to be done several times while initiating anti-convulsant medication treatment. When the Epilepsy symptoms are controlled and the blood medication levels are within safe limits, then bloodwork can be reduced to every six to twelve months. Phenobarbital was first introduced to human medicine 100 years ago and is the most commonly used anti-convulsant in the world. It works really well, and we have lots of information on how to use it and monitor it in the body. It usually makes dogs sleepy after starting treatment, then with time most dogâ€™s activity adjusts, and if not the dose can be lowered. But there are some other options available. Alternative drugs are usually used in conjunction with Phenobarbital in order to reduce the necessary doses of each drug or to achieve control via two separate mechanisms. Potassium bromide is less offensive to many dog owners because it is a natural salt rather than a drug. It is actually older than Phenobarbital, and was the first known anti-seizure medication on Earth. In the US, it has to be specially prepared by a compounding pharmacy because it is not controlled or monitored by the FDA. The Bromide salt works well for dogs that are not completely controlled on Phenobarbital alone, but it takes about 2 months to reach therapeutic levels in the body. It also has some potential unwanted side effects like pancreatitis. The drug companies are always working hard to develop newer and better medications. Some of the human designer anti-convulsants (Keppra, Zonegran, Neurontin, and Felbatol) have been used in dogs with varying degrees of success, and much research is still needed. continued on pg. 25
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Bark in Translation
by Nef’esh Chaya, animal psychologist
First, become more aware of the different types of barks your dog has. Is it a playful “I’m bored, let’s play” bark or a “stranger alert!” bark? Different types of b a r k s require d i f fe r e n t Lucy listen. types of d an sh ’e ef N hile Reba “talks” w action slie Le on er photo by Cam f r o m you as pack leader. If it is a “stranger alert” ou’re sitting at home bark, then physically go see what the trying to enjoy some down time, and dog is barking at. Is there an intruder your dog is barking incessantly. The only in your yard? Perhaps the alert is a cat thing you can think to do is yell “stop!” that is not a neighborhood regular or or “quiet!” This does not yield the results a neighbor with a new dog walking by. you want. Actually, your dog barks even more -- as the four-legged feels the intense Ask your dog to “show you” what it is energy of the two-legged and is thrilled that they are barking at. You might need you are joining in on their vocal activity! to be on their eye level to see how things look from their perspective. Once you Since the animal is doing what have figured out what they are telling you is instinctual to them what other about, thank them for alerting you to the ways could one approach the issue danger and comfort your dog by telling him of barking? Recognizing that the that you have seen it and that he is safe. animal is doing what comes naturally and honoring this is good first step. If it is “I’m bored, let’s play” bark, then How do we best honor a barking dog? find your dog’s favorite toy, throw a ball with him for a few minutes, or even get
down on the floor and play a game of tickling their tummy! Giving them one-onone interaction and attention is important. If none of the above are seemingly the issue, and your dog’s barking just keeps going on and on, don’t lose your cool and scream at the top of your lungs for him to stop. Instead, concentrate on what a precious gift this animal is to you, even when he is barking. The Bible says: “Make a joyful noise!” So try saying in a loving, gentle tone, “Thank you for that joyful noise!” This does two things; it shows the animal that you are thankful for his presence in your life and it assists you in looking at things from a different perspective. As you calm down, your dog will calm down, and more often then not, the barking will subside. Also consider that your dog might need more physical or mental stimulation. Barking dogs are often bored dogs with lots of pent up physical energy. A good long walk might be just what you both need to decompress. Animals come into our lives because we are in need of learning various lessons. Becoming more aware of our needs and the needs of others help us to grow in many ways. A deepening sense of awareness is always a positive thing to add to our lives! Animals can be our conduit into the types of lives we are meant to live. Learn more about Nef’esh Chaya and her training techniques online at her website, www.animalpsych.com
continued from pg. 23
Many people want to do absolutely everything possible for their epileptic dogs and may research alternative and homeopathic medications. Homeopathic medicine means the use of life-style alterations to improve a disease rather than typical western medications. Homeopathy does not necessarily mean herbal remedies. In fact, most accredited veterinary herbalists will agree that commercially offered prepackaged herbs are bogus treatments. Beware of quick fixes and grandiose promises made by some of these companies that have great marketing departments, but almost zero research to backup their claims. One common example is â€œVet Select Seizure Formulaâ€? that claims to be veterinary developed, when the drug doesnâ€™t even have the endorsement of the American Herbalist Guild and is not used by Herbal Veterinarians in general. That being said, Dr Linda Shell (a board certified veterinary neurologist) who treats many seizure patients has seen 5% of her caseload improve with some of the following homeopathic remedies. Keep in mind that these patients were not cured of their seizures, but the frequency of the episodes decreased, or the seizures grew milder after some of the following changes. Labs, Goldens and German Shepherds improved when fed a hypo-allergenic diet. Hypo-allergenic means NO protein antigen, although protein molecules are present, so that the diets are nutritionally balanced. Ask your vet about prescription diets. Acupuncture has been studied in a controlled research setting and shows some promising results. In one study nine out of fifteen dogs had half as many seizures as usual after treatment with acupuncture over 15 weeks Spaying your epileptic female dog may actually make seizures go away since estrogen lowers the threshold for an episode. Neutering male dogs does not seem to improve the symptoms, but it is helpful in preventing further breeding of the genetics present in the epileptic dog. Vaccinations are not thought to be a cause of seizures so please continue regular vaccinations.
photo by ChrisK4u, Flickr Creative Commons
adoption Furlife German Shepherd Rescue
Furlife German Shepherd Rescue is a new rescue in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. We became a registered non-profit organization in February 2010 but have been working in animal rescue since 2008. We will hopefully become a 501C3 organization in January 2011. We have a passion for saving the lives of less fortunate German Shepherd Dogs and strive towards finding each one of them a home where they can be loved and cared for. Our mission is to educate and protect. We want to educate the public about how GSDs make outstanding family dogs! We want to teach dog bite prevention and want everyone to understand the responsibilities of owning any dog. We want to inform the public about animal cruelty and how often it takes place and how we can help stop it.
We are in desperate need of foster homes and volunteers. We are also in need of donations including:
We also want to protect our GSD breed! We will take in GSDs from high kill shelters, abuse and neglect cases, strays, and dogs with health issues, including seniors and dogs with special needs.
dog food dishes (metal) kennels (medium and large sizes) paper towels 4’ leashes heavy duty buckle collars towels old blankets dog beds dog toys chew bones dog food
If you think you may be able to help, please contact us. Every little bit counts! Our email address is FurlifeGSR@yahoo.com or 843-225-6188.
Window is a 3 year-old female lab. She is house broken, crate trained and obedience trained. Window prefers to not live with cats, birds, rabbits, small animals due to her high prey drive. However, she is fantastic with kids and plays very well with other dogs her own size. Window makes a fantastic companion dog. She is a super sweet dog that had a pretty bad start to life, but now she is waiting for her furlife home!
Hannah has so much love to give despite her horrible upbringing. Rescued the day before she was to be put to sleep due to heartworms and a severe ear infection, her previous owner kept her in the yard with an intact male who bred her repeatedly. She is approximately 6 years old, even tempered, house broken, gets along with other dogs and does well off and on leash.
Meet El D. This gorgeous red and black boy comes from German lines. He gets along with dogs of all sizes. He has a stage 4 heart murmur. According to the vets, he could live a pretty normal life and could have a normal life span for a GSD. He is on medication to help him and it is very affordable!! He really needs someone to love him for who he is. He deserves it. He will melt your heart!
Bear is a 1-year -old male German Shepherd. He loves to play!! Bear gets along with all animals including cats and bunnies. He is great with kids older than 6 years old due to him being all shepherd puppy. He is a big teddy bear and is known as our “Velcro” dog. He loves to be with his person. Bear is crate trained, house broken and obedience trained. Please consider giving Bear his Furlife Home!
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