Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Note About Sam [looking for a home]!

Sam giving kisses at an adoption event

Pool time!

Sam is the sweetest boy ever!  He falls madly in love with every person he meets.  His big yellow eyes lock onto yours, and plead, "Love me.  Love me and never stop."  Sam is a bit insecure at first and needs a lot of positive reinforcement to boost his sensitive personality.  He likes to sit on the couch with you and doesn't have a clue what personal space means.  He is right there smack up against you wanting your undivided attention.  Sam will follow you from room to room, with his head at your hand while you walk up the stairs, or have his nose wiggled in-between you and counter while you are chopping up vegetables.  It is not unusual for Sam to stare at you through the glass door when you are taking a shower...and lay on your bed watching you while you are fixing your hair.  He wants to be with his human constantly.

Sam went to obedience class with his foster mom, in hopes of giving him more self confidence.  Sam was a star student!  Being that he is so in tune with his human, he follows commands with ease.  The only problem Sam had in class and with "homework" was to "sit" from a distance.  When given the sit command he would want to sit right on top of his foster mom's feet!  He loves to take walks and loves riding in the car as long as he can sit in the back seat and put his head on your shoulder.

Because of Sam's rough beginnings he is not too comfortable with being brushed.  Brushing must go slowly, and be accompanied by soothing, calm talking.  When he is brushed, he is beautiful.  Sam's full, soft beard is just as stunning as his yellow eyes.   

Young children make Sam a bit nervous, but he is fine with older children!

Understanding "Cherry Eye"

The condition referred to as "Cherry Eye" gathers a lot of questions from dog owners.  More often than not, dog owners have heard of the condition but aren't really sure what is going on.  Great Pyrenees are not predisposed to this condition; Basset Hounds, Beagles, Boston Terriers, and Cocker Spaniels are sited as being prone. (Common Disease of Companion Animals, Alleice Summers)

We know that our dogs have a "third eyelid".  We see it when they awake from sleep, and sometimes it is exposed when our dog's are sick or dehydrated.  It protects the eye, and helps spread half of the fluid which keeps their eyes nice and moist. That eyelid (called the nictitating membrane) is embedded in a superficial gland.  The eye can position itself in such a way that it allows this gland to prolapse (poke out).

The part of their eye closest to their nose fills with the red, swollen membrane.. and it looks like a small "cherry".  It is most commonly associated with younger dogs, and there are other conditions found in older animals which can cause this appearance, such as growth of new tissues (a tumor) unrelated to cherry eye.

It's irritating to the dog, but not thought to be painful.  In addition to the swelling, they will probably have teary eyes.  Your veterinarian can make this diagnosis quite easily.  To treat this, your vet will surgically tack down that gland back where it should be.  Some dogs have the gland removed, but it is not advised unless there is a tumor present.  Without the gland, their eyes cannot effectively keep the eye moist and they will have chronic dry eye.  Surgery is important, because without your dog may injure the eye and compromise his vision.

What Do Cloudy Eyes Mean?

There can be a lot of questions and confusion out there regarding the changes we see in our dog's eyes, especially as they age.  I've noticed a tendency for dog owners to assume their dog has cataracts, when in fact there are other causes for that cloudy look that concerns us.

To dispel the myth that cloudy eyes is caused only by cataracts or glaucoma, let me introduce you to a condition called senile nuclear (lenticular) sclerosis.  Sounds scary.. it isn't.  It is a very normal change in the eyes of many animals as they age.  As the cells in their eyes grow older, the cells can become dehydrated and the cells begin to overlap each other.  The light reflecting off of those older cells looks differently, and it appears cloudy.  The eye may appear grey or opaque.  The good news, is that on the whole their vision is maintained!  I think often we see this cloudy look emerging, and we say "Oh, he's going blind".  There can always be other medical conditions at play, but if it's simply nuclear sclerosis, this may not be true.  (Your cats can have this happen also.)

Cataracts, however, do cause blindness.  Your veterinarian will determine which condition your dog has.  While often an inherited disease, it can also be caused by diabetes, trauma, electric shock, hypocalcemia (lacking calcium) and vitamin deficiencies, to name a few.  Cataracts are removed by surgery, and of course we address and treat any underlying conditions which may have caused them.

There are many conditions which affect the eye, and the above picture isn't meant to be diagnostic.  On the whole, it's important for owners to be aware that some changes in the eye can be normal due to aging!

Vote for Reg!

I couldn't resist.. Christie has her handsome boy, Reg, in a contest for best smile..  What do you think??
I knew you'd agree with me.  Yep, the best smile ever!  And, of course, he's a Pyrenees so he already has a "handsome" leg up on all of the other dogs! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Naming Your Dog!

Here is a link to a fun site listing the most common dog names!  I think someone should come up with a list of names that are most common for Pyrs!  Pyrs always tend to have such large, powerful, dignified names!  However, I did meet a lot of Pyrs in the rescue days named fun things like 'Princess' and 'Fluffy'.

Some common names much more suitable for Pyrs have been Sampson (by far the most common!), Titan, Hercules, or Thor.  Surely any name conjuring images of great strength and beauty are befitting these huge angels!

This site also points out the value to naming our dogs something simple, preferrably with no more than 2 syllables.  My Cahota responds well to a shorter version.. whether "Coatsy" or simply "Coats".  I think there is  real reason that no matter how complex of a name we select, we still elect to find nicknames that are much shorter and simpler!

I always found it helpful, when trying to name new pets, to visit websites for human names.  Even more, visit a site specifically geared towards a heritage you like.  Looking up "Irish names", for instance, may yield a fantastic name for your new Irish Setter.  For Pyrs, I've looked up sites for French or Spanish names (since the Pyrenees Mountains border both countries) but have never been able to find anything I liked.  

Having worked in a vet clinic, I saw added value to unique pet names.  Not that anything is an excuse for a clinic to confuse your dog, but I recall once someone saying "go grab Duke".   To which I replied, "which Duke??"  And needless to say, if I pulled up the name "Duke" in our computer, I'd find about 100 results!

A Dog Named Beau: Jimmy Stewart

He never came to me when I would call
Unless I had a tennis ball,
Or he felt like it,
But mostly he didn't come at all.
When he was young
He never learned to heel
Or sit or stay,
He did things his way.
Discipline was not his bag
But when you were with him things sure didn't drag.
He'd dig up a rosebush just to spite me,
And when I'd grab him, he'd turn and bite me.
He bit lots of folks from day to day,
The delivery boy was his favorite prey.
The gas man wouldn't read our meter,
He said we owned a real man-eater.
He set the house on fire
But the story's long to tell.
Suffice it to say that he survived
And the house survived as well.
On the evening walks, and Gloria took him,
He was always first out the door.
The Old One and I brought up the rear
Because our bones were sore.
He would charge up the street with Mom hanging on,
What a beautiful pair they were!
And if it was still light and the tourists were out,
They created a bit of a stir.
But every once in a while, he would stop in his tracks
And with a frown on his face look around.
It was just to make sure that the Old One was there
And would follow him where he was bound.
We are early-to-bedders at our house--
I guess I'm the first to retire.
And as I'd leave the room he'd look at me
And get up from his place by the fire.
He knew where the tennis balls were upstairs,
And I'd give him one for a while.
He would push it under the bed with his nose
And I'd fish it out with a smile.
And before very long
He'd tire of the ball
And be asleep in his corner
In no time at all.
And there were nights when I'd feel him
Climb upon our bed
And lie between us,
And I'd pat his head.
And there were nights when I'd feel this stare
And I'd wake up and he'd be sitting there
And I reach out my hand and stroke his hair.
And sometimes I'd feel him sigh
and I think I know the reason why.
He would wake up at night
And he would have this fear
Of the dark, of life, of lots of things,
And he'd be glad to have me near.
And now he's dead.
And there are nights when I think I feel him
Climb upon our bed and lie between us,
And I pat his head.
And there are nights when I think
I feel that stare
And I reach out my hand to stroke his hair,
But he's not there.
Oh, how I wish that wasn't so,
I'll always love a dog named Beau.
~ Jimmy Stewart ~

What Are The Health Concerns with Great Pyrenees?

There are always a few main questions people ask when considering a new dog.  How much do they shed?  How much do they eat?  Are they good with other dogs/kids/people? Lastly..  What are the health concerns specific to the breed?  I combined research with my personal experience working with dozens and dozens of Pyrs over the past 2 years, and complied this list as a helpful guide to those conditions a Pyr owner should be aware of.  This isn't meant to include contagious disease conditions, as those awful things have no breed preference!  While I have encountered Pyrs suffering from other conditions such as cancer, I have not ever found any material which suggested a breed disposition to anything other than listed below.  If you have questions, feedback, or have experienced a disease you feel Pyrs are predisposed to, please comment or email us!
  • Hip Dysplasia: Generally speaking, most people think of this when they think of large breed dogs in general.  You may be surprised to learn the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals) actually sites Pugs way, way higher than our precious Pyrs with regards to instances of documented Hip Dysplasia.
  • Luxated Patellas: This is often a consideration for large breed dogs, especially very active ones.  The term itself describes a condition where the knee cap (patella) pops out of joint.  It is most often corrected by surgery.  Your vet can easily diagnose this; the owner will see occasional limping and favoring of other limbs.  The knee can pop in and out, so the limp isn't always consistent.  
  • More On Patellar Luxation
  • Gastric Dilative Volvulus (Bloat) : GDV is considered a disease condition where all deep chested dogs are prone.  While there are mostly only theories about GDV, the theory is that their deep chests can allow for more room for the stomach to twist.
  • Ear infections: All dogs with longer, floppier ears are prone to ear infections, as those kinds of ears are better at trapping bacteria, yeast, mold, etc.  If you own a Pyr, you need to be proactive and clean their ears no less than once a week to avoid infections.  Ear infections won't go away on their own, and prolonged infections without treatment can lead to deafness and other conditions.
More on Ear Cleaning 
  • Entropion: Your first clue is usually teary eyes.  Pyrs can get a condition where their upper lids fold under, causing their lashes to scrape their eye surface.  Correctable with surgery, this condition can lead to blindness if left untreated.
  • Obesity: I find obesity to be frequent in long haired dogs.  Let's face it.. it can be hard to see those guts under all that fur!  Your dog should be eating 1 cup of dry food for every 20 pounds of ideal weight.  Also, you should easily be able to feel their ribs with only a little bit of pressure when you rub their chests. 
  • Heartworm: This one is a biggie for Pyrs.  We have met far too many positive Great Pyrenees.  I feel confident concluding that it is likely due to their use as livestock guardians.  Pyrs used in this capacity spend a lot of time outside, exposed to mosquitoes.  Sometimes those who use them as working dogs expect the dogs to be very independent, and they may have limited contact with their humans.  Regardless of if you think there are a lot of mosquitoes where you live, remember it only takes 1.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Success Story [BDHP] - Walker

Just look at that silly, happy, handsome face!  Walker sure looks to me to be a great spokesman for his breed!  It's hard to believe anyone ever gave up this gentle giant!  Below is a link to his BDHP profile and a note from his foster family!

"Walker is a very handsome, 2.5 year old, White, male Great Pyrenees. He has fully acclimated to his new indoor life and is not a barker at all now that he is allowed to be inside and part of the family. Walker is just a great big teddy bear who loves to be loved! He has a wonderful temperament and gets along well with other dogs, cats, and kids. He can't wait to find his forever family and promises to give back the love you show him tenfold! Walker is sportin his summer buzz cut right now but has a long gorgeous coat that will require regular grooming. He is trustworthy with free roam, loves his walks and getting attention from humans. He is praise motivated more than anything else and is constantly learning and improving on being an obedient dog. Walker is a laid back guy who loves relaxing and taking a nap in the shade or cool air conditioning!"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Klondike--Available for Adoption through Akbash Rescue

White Anatolian Shepherd
Available for Adoption through Akbash Rescue

Klondike is a gorgeous young white Anatolian Shepherd. His personality is as stunning as his looks! Klondike has not met anyone or anything he does not love....dogs, cats people, anyone who will say hi is fine with this big fellow! He was found with a Pyrenees buddy and impounded in such a small shelter it was really a shed. No internet access and no hope of adoption or rescue. Were it not for a concerned local citizen that tries to get help for the dogs in this shelter, Klondike's time would have been up! He was taken into rescue and has had the full treatment! Shots, neuter, bath....he is heartworm negative and a healthy young, (approx one and a half), year old male. It would not be possible to find a nicer or more magnificent dog! Klondike awaits his new forever home! 

For information on Klondike contact Akbash rescue coordinator Janet Davis, cell# 510-410-0149 Adoption application, reference checks and home visit required for adoption.

A Dog's Bill of Rights

  • I have the right to give and receive unconditional love.
  • I have the right to a life that is beyond mere survival.
  • I have the right to be trained so I do not become the prisoner of my own misbehavior.
  • I have the right to adequate food and medical care.
  • I have the right to fresh air and green grass.
  • I have the right to socialize with people and dogs outside my family.
  • I have the right to have my needs and wants respected.
  • I have the right to a special time with my people.
  • I have the right to only be bred responsibly if at all.
  • I have the right to be foolish and silly, and to make my person laugh.
  • I have the right to be forgiven.
  • I have the right to die with dignity.
  • I have the right to be remembered well.
  • Author Unknown

An Animal Rescuer's Creed: Author Unknown

 I'll never bring about world peace. I won't single handedly save the rain forest. I'm not a brain surgeon and I'll never transplant an organ to save a life. I don't have the ear of a powerful politician or world power. I can't end world hunger. I'm not a celebrity, and God knows I'm not glamorous! I'm not looked up to by millions around the world. Very few people even recognize my name. I'll never win the Nobel prize or end global warming. There are a lot of things that I'll never do or become.
But today I helped place an animal!
It was a small, scared, bundle of flesh and fur that was dumped at a shelter, or on the streets by unfeeling people who didn't care what happened to it, but yet who were responsible for it having existence in the first place.
I helped find it a loving home.
It now has contentment and an abundance of love. A warm place to sleep and plenty to eat. Two little girls have a warm and playful new friend who will give them unending affection and teach them about responsibility and love. A wife and mother has a new free spirit to cuddle, nurture and care for. A husband and father has a furry friend to sit in his lap at the end of a hard day of work and help him relax and enjoy life. And a sense of satisfaction, that when he is gone all day at work, that there is a gentle spirit in his home keeping watch over his family. 

No, I'm not a rocket scientist. But today, I made a difference! And I'll do it tomorrow, too, if given a chance. 

Author Unknown

Toby--Available for Adoption through Mt. Dog Rescue!!

Available for Adoption through Mountain Dog Rescue
in Nederland, CO!

Young Toby is very sweet and looking for a permanent home in Colo. He is friendly with other dogs and will crawl in your lap for attention. He is lonely after spending months in a shelter and boarding kennel. Toby is a complete lover and wants to say hello to everyone he meets. He is great with dogs and people. He rides nicely in the car and walks great on leash. He loves long walks in the open space of Colorado. 

He is about 7 months old and is to be neutered this week. He is HW negative and fully vaccinated. His adoption fee is $350 through Akbash Dog Rescue International. Toby will not be very big. He is 60 lbs now and will probably be 90 lbs when he is fully mature. But he makes up in heart what he lacks in size. What a sweetie pie.

If you are interested in being Toby's new best friend contact Mountain Dog Rescue!

Pyrs are Prone to Digging... My Arm!

It's amazing to me that I couldn't Google and find a million pictures of Great Pyrenees, laboring away at their owner's arms or legs with their pawing.  Myself and other Pyr owners have laughed over and over again, as we share stories of our Pyrs pawing incessantly at our bodies!  I've tried to look up what it is.. why do they do this, all the time, without relent?

My Cahota will jump on the sofa and do this for ten minutes, to say the least.  Paw..  paw..  "Yes, Coatsy, we know you're there.  Thank you."  He will paw at the other dogs heads, he will paw anything.  In talking with other Pyr owners, the same!  The paw.. paw.. paw..  I won't discuss how to get them to stop doing this, as of course there are ways to train it out (I suppose..  stubborn Pyr!) however I've resigned this is a Pyr thing, and leave it at that.

Back in the adoption event days, you'd see 2 things.  The inevitable "lean" against whichever human made themselves available, and then the "paw".  "Oh!  He likes me!".  Yeah.. I'm sure he does.  However, I think I'd be quicker to teach my Pyr to drive my car than to stop leaning and pawing!  We've talked in groups about why we think this is! 

Clearly it's affection based.  I doubt anyone would disagree with that.  Why don't they ever stop?  I theorized that perhaps pawing was a benefit as a lifestock guardian.  In that capacity, the dogs hang out with their sheep and follow them wherever they go.  They inevitably "love" them, and protect them from those who approach.  Did the pawing come about as a method to wake and/or encourage sleepy sheep to move along?  "It's time to go", the sheep thought.. and there is your Pyr.. making sure even the laziest of sheep get up and move along.  Perhaps they pawed away at them..  "wake up!  time to go!  I love you!"

As with most things common across a breed, there is a reason.  This is probably the only thing I could think of!  Of course, there is the obvious suggestion that it is merely a ploy for more attention;  but then why do all Pyrs seem to do it?  I have not experienced this degree of "pawing" from any other breed!

At the end of the day, we've taught one of our Pyrs to just 'lay down' and snuggle.. and stop trying to dig for gold in my arm.  He still paws at first, but then we pat the sofa and he finally relents.  I want him to tell me why he does it, but alas he insists it is a Great Pyrenees secret of which he cannot divulge!

Newly Emerging Pathogen in Dogs: Canine Influenza

The "dog flu" is a new disease; it was only identified in dogs 7 years ago.  While there is a vaccination available, it is not contained within our 'distemper combo' shot.  Because this disease is new, nearly all dogs who are exposed will get it.  They have no pre-formed anti-bodies from their moms, and they likely have not been vaccinated.  They first discovered the disease in Greyhounds:

From the CDC website:
The H3N8 equine influenza virus has been known to exist in horses for more than 40 years. In 2004, however, cases of an unknown respiratory illness in dogs (initially greyhounds) were reported. An investigation showed that this respiratory illness was caused by the equine influenza A H3N8 virus. Scientists believe that this virus jumped species (from horses to dogs) and has now adapted to cause illness in dogs and spread efficiently among dogs. This is now considered a new dog-specific lineage of H3N8. In September of 2005, this virus was identified by experts as “a newly emerging pathogen in the dog population” in the United States.

Canine Influenza (CIV) has had outbreaks in 30 areas, including Colorado.  It is not transmisable between your dog and other animals, which includes you!  It can survive 2 days in the environment, and can be passed from your hands and clothes for 24 hours if you've not disinfected them.  All bodily secretions are considered contagious, with aerosolization being the most concern: the infected dog coughing.  My studies suggest that while there is a vaccine, it doesn't so much prevent your dog from getting it, as it merely reduces severity and duration. 

Some dogs have no symptoms, while others manifest it as an upper respiratory infection that may, at first, not look too dissimilar to "kennel cough".  In fact, it may be hard to discern the difference, and your vet cannot test in-house for this (lab work needs to be sent out).  Your dog, if infected, will develop a high fever and possibly pneumonia.  Dogs with the Bordetella virus don't necessarily develop pneumonia, and Bordetella in general isn't as severe as CIV.  Though I said "severe" this describes it has potentially looking worse than Bordetella, but in no way suggests survival is an issue.  Your dog will likely recover in a couple of weeks with care from your veterinarian. 

Owners always need to know that there are many things which cause upper respiratory symptoms in our dogs.  It's always important to be aware of new diseases.  I felt pretty certain that when I adopted my Ana, she had much more going on than Bordetella.  She was anorexic for a week before I got her, and a week after I had her.  I had to force feed her, as well as do meds 3 times a day.  It always seemed much more "serious" to me than "kennel cough"! 

I think it's important to be aware of new contagions, especially for owners who expose their dogs to day care, dog parks, and other scenarios where they meet a lot of different dogs.  It's important to know the Bordetella vaccine doesn't vaccinate against everything that causes coughing in dogs.  Lastly, always make a trip to the vet anytime your dog shows symptoms of upper respiratory infection!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Protecting our Friends From Parvo

Parvo is one of the most well known diseases we fear.  The average person knows it exists, knows it tends to afflict puppies, and they know it's very serious and contagious.  This is all very true!  Because that may summarize the extent of most people's knowledge, I decided to offer some additional information you may find valuable to know!  It's not just about protecting your new puppy, but also about spreading knowledge to friends and family so they understand this disease too!

Parvo is a virus affecting your dog and potentially other canids.  Your ferret cannot get it, and neither can you or your cat (cats have their own comparable virus).  There are two main strains of this virus: one causing gastrointestinal signs (what we think of) and the other causes signs in puppies less than 3 weeks old, impacting their hearts.

Our pups get this virus through feces, which they tend to ingest orally.  Saliva and vomit are potential transmission modes, but less certain.  It can also be spread through vectors (a bug that, let's say, rests on infected feces and then lands on your pet) or fomites (fomites are inanimate objects..  floors, door knobs) which can be touched with infected feces and then touched again and spread.  Humans can pass this by holding an infected pup and then picking up an uninfected pup.  Our dogs get it from walking on floors that infected dogs walked on.  It gets on their paws, and then they lick their paws!

For all these reasons, if you believe your pup to potentially have Parvo, tell your doc before you bring him into the clinic.  They may have you enter through a different door, as well as keep your pup off of surfaces that healthy dogs may touch.  Everything your Parvo pup has touched will need to be disinfected.

Parvo tends to impacts dogs between 2-6 months old.  Symptoms of the gastrointestinal strain include fever, vomit/diarrhea, and lethargy.  It breaks down the cells in their intestines, thusly diarrhea being the symptom we most think of.  Their diarrhea can be bloody, and usually has a distinct odor. They can die in only a couple of days if they are not treated, but if hospitalized/treated, they can recover in a week. There are no symptoms of the heart (myocardial) strain of the virus which impacts our newborns between 1-3 weeks of age.  The only way to know that was the cause of death is necropsy.

It takes about 1 week to see signs in your pup after exposure.  They also become able to spread the virus 3 days before signs appear;  so if you realize your pup has Parvo, you'll want to think back to who they interacted with a few days before you got them diagnosed.  Ask your friends who played with your pup if they have pups at home, or touched anyone else's puppies!

Your vet will be able to diagnose your puppy in house with a quick Parvo test using their stool.  They will be hospitalized and put on fluids to replace what they are losing through vomit & diarrhea.  It may resolve in a couple of days, and it may take a week.  In addition to fluids, your doc will have them on anti-biotics.  Why anti-biotics?  Isn't it a virus?  Yep.  Often when our animals are fighting off something else, their immune system spends a lot of energy killing that virus.  It makes them susceptible to other bad things.  Anti-biotics will help support their immune system in fighting off whatever else may be trying to gain access to their little bodies!  Your doc may also give them something to help stop them from vomiting.

Don't freak out if your pup is diagnosed with Parvo.  It's potentially very serious, but no reason to think right away that you will lose them.  Survival rate is 80% with treatment, which will likely include hospitalization. 

Once your pup is being treated, they can still pass the virus for 3 weeks even after they have recovered.  So your pup may be okay to bring home, but he will still need to be quarantined and his surfaces disinfected. 

Another thing to be aware of, is that while this primarily impacts puppies, dogs of any age can technically contract it.  We tend to think of older dogs with compromised immune systems being at most risk.  And of course, there is a vaccination available that most owners will already be getting.  It's contained in your "combo shot" your vet gives you. I have to say, I've seen puppies who've received the combo shot still get Parvo.  After receiving a vaccination, our dogs don't walk out of the clinic immune.  It takes time for things to build in their bodies; ask your vet about timing and when it's okay. 

Additionally, everyone's pup is still susceptible to Parvo until they've completed their entire early vaccination series!  Too many pups get Parvo because they are "under-vaccinated".  Just because your pup has gotten 1 combo shot in his series, don't ever mistake that for him being impervious to the things we're trying to prevent in that combo shot.  His immunity still isn't strong enough!  Keep him off the floor at Petsmart!  Don't let him play with other puppies yet!  Please wait until your vet says it's okay for you to exposure your new friend to high risk areas.

To me, one of the most important things for everyone to know about this virus, is that is remains tough in the environment.  If you've moved into a new house with a back yard that hosted a Parvo

The bottom line in Parvo prevention in your young dogs and puppies is vaccination and resisting the urge to shop your new family around too much before he's completed his puppy vaccination series.  We can prevent this horrible virus by refraining from taking our puppy everywhere we go; to Petsmart, to other dog areas.. to friends houses.  Resist the urge to want to show your pup off to the entire world!  I know it's hard.. they're so damn cute.  Just be cautious;  they are at risk, and while it is treatable, hospitalization is expensive.  Diarrhea and vomiting are always reasons to get your dog or puppy into the vet ASAP, and if your young puppy his showing these signs, isolate them from other dogs and get them into your vet as soon as possible.

Lost Dog in Missouri: Leslie

Sadly, we received some images of a beautiful boy who is lost in Missouri following the tornado.  We wanted to put his picture up here for any readers who may be in that area.  Plus, we know dogs can migrate quite a bit when they are looking for their parents! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Finding Homes for Pyrs in your area: Big Dogs, Huge Paws

As a Great Pyrenees Community Resource site, we are hopeful that more and more local organizations dedicated to Great Pyrenees, or dedicated in part, will share their message with us as well as their dogs who need forever homes.  Recently, we have profiled 3 dogs available through BDHPs, and we hope you will share their stories with Pyr lovers and those looking to adopt!  You can access these dogs directly through a new "labels" tab found on the right side of this blog (or via the link directly below).

BDHP Available For Adoption

From BDHPs website:
"Big Dogs Huge Paws was founded on the core philosophy is that every "BIG" dog deserves a chance. Our goal is to make sure that every dog receives only the best of care, food, and training. We will also ensure that they are properly evaluated (medically and behaviorally) and placed according to their special needs. Our medical officer and veterinarian team will provide first aid training to all foster volunteers and health seminars about the latest developments in animal medicine. We work actively with professional behaviorists who train each foster home how to handle introductions, properly evaluate dogs, work through specific behavioral issues, etc. Foster families undergo quarterly training sessions in order to maintain everyone's skills and abilities and ensure that the entire foster team is on the same page and has the tools they need for success. We will be working toward a special therapy dog training program as we identify dogs that would be good candidates and other potential partnerships. Eventually, our goal is to secure an actual facility where we can work with special behavioral or medical cases to give them the optimal chance of success!

The dogs we have chosen to focus our rescue efforts on include, Great Danes, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, Mastiffs (All Types), Irish Wolfhounds, and Scottish Deerhounds. There is a huge need due to the fact that most of these breeds do not have any legitimate rescue options and there are always more dogs in need than any one organization can help.

We will be taking a unique approach to public awareness and reaching outside of the box in our efforts. Community outreach and public relations are extremely important to Big Dogs Huge Paws. We believe that through being proactive and serving as a resource to the public as well as working together with the rest of the rescue community, we can decrease the number of dogs needing rescue in the first place and ensure that no gentle giant in need is forgotten or left behind."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pierre-- Available For Adoption Through Big Dogs, Huge Paws

Just look at that face!  Can you stand it?!  Pierre is a seven year old male that so far has not had much luck in finding a forever family.  He has been with his foster family for months, and they just know how special he is!  He is a wonderful older dog that just wants to be loved and made a part of a family.

He is available through Big Dogs, Huge Paws, and here is his profile from their site:
Pierre is a very handsome, 7 year old, White Great Pyrenees male with tan markings on his ears. He came to us very matted so we had to have the groomer completely shave him down but he will have a long, gorgeous coat when it grows out! He is a total sweetheart and his owners were unable to care for him any longer so he came into rescue due to no fault of his own. Pierre has an excellent temperament and gets along great with other dogs of all sizes and completely ignores cats! He is very outgoing and friendly to everyone (adults and kids alike) and makes friends wherever he goes. He is house trained, not destructive and is learning his basic commands. Pierre loves to go for walks but is very lazy and laid back around the house. Any family will be very lucky indeed to call Pierre their new addition and he will give back the love you show him tenfold! He is quite the distinguished gentleman!

If you are interested in Pierre, please visit him at this link:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Idiopathic Vestibular Disease

Not too long ago, one of our previous adopters and volunteers had an experience with his sweet dog, Titan.  His vet concluded he had been afflicted with Idiopathic Vestibular Disease.  Since reading of what happened to Titan, I was inspired to write more on this disease.  In school, this was a disease we covered, which leads me to believe it's not entirely rare; I have been in school for 2 years which isn't long enough to cover the super rare diseases!

Idoipathic Vestibular Disease tends to impact both cats and dogs, and dogs middle aged to older.  For the lay person, the "Vestibular" system is a system in our dog's inner ear which regulates balance, posture, and spacial orientation.  The term "Idiopathic" by definition is any condition with which we cannot discern a true cause, because there isn't one; sadly, they "happen for no reason".   In a class, someone shared information suggesting there may be a correlation with dogs who've had persistent, untreated inner ear infections.  I cannot vouch for this fact.

The bottom line is it happens seemingly out of nowhere.  A dog who seemed perfectly healthy may encounter symptoms such as loss of balance, nystagmus (the eyes are moving back and forth, together, quickly), disorientation, and ataxia (uncoordinated movement).  Dogs may also encounter nausea.  While scary, they tend to recover quickly and clinical signs tend to resolve in 3-6 weeks.  There isn't a way to prevent this in your pet!

Your vet will diagnose your dog primarily on clinical signs.  They will want to run blood work to rule out any other possibilities.  They will also do an ear exam to rule out any other potential inner ear problems.  Because this condition tends to pass quickly enough, there may not be any prescribed treatment.  If your dog has lost their appetite or suffers from any other side effects, your vet may want to offer supportive therapy.  Every dog is different and may have different individual needs.

Our previous volunteer recounted what his vet concluded was in fact a seizure.  I recall learning that seizures were a possible manifestation of this disease.  If anything can be learned from Titan's scary ordeal, is that sometimes the things we see with our dogs are not always horrible and terminal.  Because our pets cannot speak, it sends us into great distress to see them undergoing anything.  Naturally Titan's owner was right to react so quickly and get him into the vet!  Many things can cause seizures, and fortunately Titan seemed to experience Idiopathic Vestibular Disease, which his body will recover from!

What Is Megaesophagus?

As the name implies, Megaesophagus is the enlargement of the esophagus.  While I cannot speak to how common this disease is per se, I can attest to the fact that I have encountered enough people who have had dogs, or known dogs, affected by this condition. 

"Peristalsis" is the term used to describe the motion in our digestive track that moves food along.  In megaesophagus patients, this motion isn't there.  The esophagus becomes enlarged, and food cannot effectively navigate its way into the stomach.  As a result, (and thusly a symptom), the dog regurgitates his food.  Regurgitation and vomiting are not the same.  A dog regurgitates when the food hasn't reached the stomach, and vomit implies it has. 

There is a congenital form, as well as an acquired form.  If congenital, you will often realize the condition to be present when your pup starts to wean.  That's when they have moved on to trying to consume more solid foods.  Great Danes, German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Newfoundlands, Shar-Peis, and Greyhounds are on the list of potentially being predisposed to the congenital form.

Aquired Megaesophagus can occur at any age.  I have read that potential diseases linked to this onset can include distemper, tick paralysis, lead poisoning, and other neuromuscular issues.  Like many diseases, the onset may not have any apparent causes. 

When our dogs are afflicted, we tend to try to feed them in an elevated position, to allow the food an easier passage into the stomach.  I have heard of an invention called The Bailey Chair, which was developed by a pet owner whose dog suffered from this condition. The elevated position asks gravity to help the food we give our pups move "south" easier.  I have not owned a dog with this condition, so I cannot speak to the effectiveness of this device, but here is a link:

I book I have (Common Diseases of Companion Animals, Alleice Summers) also sites that sometimes liquid diets may be effective, as the liquid is more easily passed through the throat.  The author also sites that other studies find small, "meatballs" of canned food can simulate a small degree of natural peristalsis.  Ultimately, the owner wants to decrease regurgitation and prevent any further enlargement of the esophagus.  Smaller food portions, more frequently through the day, is the bottom line protocol.

The main symptom is regurgitation, but because we cannot always "catch" our dogs doing some things, we may notice lack of growth or weight loss.  Due to the regurgitation, we fear our pet can breathe in some of those fluids (aspiration) and thusly contract pneumonia.  Other symptoms are coughing, difficulty breathing (dyspnea) and drooling.

Your veterinarian can diagnose this condition with radiographs.   The picture below shows a megaesophagus, made visible by the use of a contrast agent given orally to the dog before the x-ray was taken.  While there is no way to cure this condition, it is very treatable!  Elevated feeding, high caloric food given in a soft form, and feeding several small meals throughout the day makes this disease manageable. 

Remember that while many of us get our dogs while young and seemingly impervious to health issues, everyone grows older one day.  If it's not a condition like this, it's potentially another condition where we as owners are called upon to give our dogs the extra care they so deserve.  If considering adopting, never let a potential special need deter you.  Speak to your vet.  Every dog is different, and I can't express this enough!  Before adopting a dog of any age, always remind yourself that the time our dogs need from us may change throughout their lives, and we need to always be ready to give them the extra care and time they have earned in order to maintain their quality of living!  We see owners surrender dogs once their health isn't perfect, yet this needs to be a consideration made before you adopt.  Pets are forever!

Maximus & Paylar- Available For Adoption Through Big Dogs, Huge Paws

Big Dogs, Huge Paws was kind enough to share our site with their Pyr fosters, so we can get more exposure for these gentle, giant angels!  These sweet boys need to go home together.  They are both special needs seniors.  Whenever I think of senior Pyrs, I always hope that dog lovers out there will consider the benefits of adopting older dogs.  Not only are their amazing personalities well established, whatever reward we seek to have by owning a dog from a puppy is replaced by the equal reward of knowing we are giving these dogs the amazing 'retirement' that they so deserve.  We never know how much time we have with even our youngest of dogs, and the joy a dog brings is not weighed in years, rather moments.  These two boys will undoubtably give their last forever home a million smiles, and they have a lot of life left to offer irreplaceable joy and memories.  For me, just looking at the pictures of these two gorgeous polar bears makes me smile.  I know if I met them in person I wouldn't be able to wipe the smile off of my face for a day! Below is an account of Maximus & Paylar from their current awesome foster mom.  I've also attached her flyer.  If you are interested, contact her or BDHPs!

"They are truly sweet, sweet boys.  When they got here they had spent the previous 9 years living in an outdoor dog run.  They weren't fixed or house-trained, and it took them a bit to adjust (when I had them inside during their first few days here they would whine and pace and stand at the door to go out).  Now they are happy to be inside and are happiest when close to their people.

They are strongly pair-bonded.  When we were working on house-training, I would limit their access to the rest of the house while I was gone by putting tables across doorways.  Once while I was at work one of the boys knocked down a table barrier and it landed partly across a dog bed, making it a bit wobbly like a teeter-totter on the floor.  One of the boys apparently crossed that table with no problem but the other one wouldn't cross it so he stayed behind in the dining room.  That meant that they could see each other but that they were separated by the 30inch width of the table.  Now, I have no idea if it happened 10 minutes after I left for a full day at work, or if it happened 10 minutes before I got home, or something in between, but when I got home and set the table back up and allowed the wayward child back into the dining room, the boys did this almost-frantic happy dance that seemed to say "I haven't been able to touch you in SOOOOO long!!!!!"  It was a hoot!

The vet that did their neuter surgery reported something similar.  She said that Maximus came out of surgery first and was put in one of the recovery pens.  Paylar came out a few minutes later and was put in the pen next door to Maximus, separated by a chain link fence.  When Max first opened his eyes, it seems that the first thing he did was look around to find his brother.   Seeing him in the next pen, Max hauled his anesthesia-impaired body up to the separating fence, and then he tried to climb it!  He simply wouldn't settle down until the techs moved his brother (still out cold) into the same pen with him.

It is for this reason that we will only place these boys together. 

I am continually amazed and impressed at the people who are willing to adopt senior or special needs dogs, but now I am looking for a very special forever home that will take on two, senior, special needs, dogs.  Both boys are on medication - it is inexpensive medication but it is still medication, and they both have some health issues.  Like I said in the flyer, they are looking for a retirement home.  They don't need a big yard (they seem quite content with my small yard), and they don't require long walks (30-45 mins is Max's limit), and barring thunderstorms and fireworks (for Max, not Paylar), they seem pretty bullet-proof (we've never had an issue with other dogs or kids of any age, even when one little 2yo girl at the park started swinging Max's tail like a pump handle he just looked at her like 'Do you have to do that?' and moved a step away).
Their web postings are not completely up-to-date (the write-up that I've attached is the most current), but here they are:

And if anyone wants to imagine something funny, just imagine 9yo senior-boy Maximus in agility class with a bunch of labs and border collies (courtesy of the ZoomRoom in Longmont, who offers free classes to all of our foster dogs - they deserve a shout-out if you can manage it).  The other dogs race up the A-frame or through the weave poles like their tails are on fire, and Maximus has to scrabble hard to pull his bulk up the incline or plod slowly through whatever event he is doing.  Like I said on the write-up, he will never win any time trials, but he seems to really enjoy the interaction.  And it provides endless entertainment to watch him do this!  Besides, I'm a firm believer in learning new things keeps you young."

From Their Flyer:
Maximus & Paylar are 9yo Great Pyrenees brothers looking for a retirement home.  They are littermates and have never been separated, so we are looking to place them together.  They are really great with other dogs and kids of all ages.  They have expressed mild curiosity about the resident cat at the vet office (no chasing), but they haven’t lived with cats before. They were surrendered due to no fault of their own.  Their owner fell on hard times, couldn’t afford medical care for these boys, and eventually lost his home, so he couldn’t keep the dogs. Both boys have health issues and require inexpensive medication.  Maximus (the first one below) has a thyroid condition and Paylar (on the bottom) suffers with megaesophagus.   Their medications have helped them tremendously and both boys are doing marvelously well.  You can see them on the Big Dogs, Huge Paws website at  Click on Available Dogs on the right and scroll down until you find Maximus and Paylar (about halfway down the list of available dogs).  On the website you can also find information about applying to adopt.

Please contact their foster mom, Shannon O’Brien, at 720.985.37.53, if you have any questions or want more information.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We Are Looking for Contributors!

Because we really want this site to be about sharing information, stories, lessons learned, cute anecdotes, etc. we are inviting our visitors to share with us!  You can join our forum to post pictures, questions, and comments, but you can also email us content to post!

Regardless of who or where you adopted your Pyr or Pyr mix from, you can share your success story with all the other viewers!  Send pictures (especially before and after, if applicable) and your story.  You can also add your friend who has passed to our Rainbow Bridge section.  If you foster an available dog through a rescue, you can send us their bio and pics and we will feature them on the site!

Great Pyrenees Coat Colors

The Great Pyrenees reputation as big, white dogs has caused some confusion when people see Pyrs with darker colors throughout their coats.  I attended an AKC show once, where all the Pyrs were pure white.  (The AKC defines the Pyr color as "a white or principally white coat that may contain markings of badger, gray, or varying shades of tan.") 

In our rescue days, people were quick to dispute a certain Pyr or two of ours as not being "full" Pyrs, due to some of the color variations they'd see.  In addition to the potential for badger (the darker trimmed colors around the ears), gray, and tan, I've also read that it is acceptable to see colors more reddish in appearance.  Such was the case with a couple of Pyrs I've met. 

Pyrs can have any or all of these other colors anywhere on their body!  The only general rule of thumb as a disqualifier is if these darker colorations cover more than 1/3 of their total body.  So your true Pyr could have a white head, with dark colors throughout.  They could have a very dark, masked face and a white body.  Any combination is okay!  My Ana had a very dark grey mask as a puppy; people thought she was a mix.  These days, it looks more black than grey.  Christie's Reg has colors which can only be described as more caramel in color, and they are seen frequently throughout his coat.

Naturally, it is also quite common to have a litter of pups with all different variations.  All of Ana's siblings were pure white!  If you are in the market to adopt a Pyrenees and really want to get one you perceive to be pure, don't be concerned about some of the fun colors you will see!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Paws & Give Event - Tuesday, August 30, 6 - 9PM

Join us for a Great Cause...
Stapleton Dog Park
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
6:00PM - 9:00PM 

Paws & Give is an initiative of of The One World Heart Project, a 501c3 dedicated to spreading the message of hope and inspiring positive change one person at a time.  Paws & Give brings together dogs and their people to support small non-profits with unmet, non-monetary needs.

They meet once a month at Stapleton Dog park and partner with 2 non-profits each month--one animal related, one "other."

This month's event will be supporting Peak Pet Pantry and Dolls for Daughters & Kenzi's Kidz
, so they will be collecting:
  • Dry Dog & Cat Food (open bags are welcome); and
  • Stocking Stuffers for Dolls for Daughters & Kenzi's Kidz's December toy shop for underprivileged kids
    • Ex:  yo-yos, playdoh, jacks, matchbox cars, crayons, puzzels, Rubiks cubes, silly puddy, etc.

Bring your dog for a fun play date and lend a helping paw in the process! 

Check Out Paws & Give's results from last month...
Non-profits for the month of July:
They collected dog food for P.A.W.S....

P.A.W.S. helps senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and those coping with life challenging illnesses keep their pets...because we all know that's usually when people need their fur-babies the most!

...and school supplies for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless' Back to School Fair!

Collection Totals:
  • 180 notebooks
  • 126 boxes of crayons
  • 55 boxes of pencils
  • 47 various school supplies
  • OVER 200 lbs. of dog food!!