Sunday, December 21, 2008

More Comments Q & A (Long and Informational)

I know... I know.... I haven't gotten to replying to your comments again (something I normally enjoy doing). But between holidays and family coming in and having seven dogs (our five plus the two pups) on site, and crate training, housebreaking, and obedience training the pupsters... well, there are only so many hours in a day.

And this IS my hibernation season, too, after all (SAD makes me want to sleep my life away -- but I don't -- meds and lightboxes help).


In any case, I am finally getting to more of your comments/questions (you've even suggested I answer some of these here for everyone's benefit). Anyway, here goes:

1. How did we get Parvo here when we're so careful? From what I've read and from what our vet tells us, you can pick up Parvo just about anywhere (the pet store, public parks, walking trails, sidewalks, etc.). It can be transferred from yard to yard by utility company meter-readers or postal workers. It can come in on car tires and delivery vehicles' tires. And it often comes in on people's shoes. Apparently, any kennel or breeder or facility with more than a dog or two, no matter how sanitary, is bound to get Parvo sometime (it just happens -- we just ended up getting it sooner than later). Our vet is still landing that he thinks it probably came in on visitors' shoes when we started allowing puppy visitations (since it's never been an issue here before, and we've had dogs here for nearly 15 years). Though we were careful about hand-washing and sanitation, it never occurred to me to have people step in a pan of bleach-water before coming into the backyard (when the pups were younger than six weeks old, all people entering our house had to take off their shoes). Lesson learned. We'll do that next time.

2. Why did the pups get Parvo if they'd already had their first vaccine? Again... another lesson learned. Apparently, the immunities the pups receive from their mother's collustrum actually interferes with the effectiveness of the first vaccine (something we didn't know before). Studies indicate that only about 25% of pups show resistance to Parvo after the first vaccination at 6 weeks. In fact, most researchers are saying now that full effectiveness of the vaccine doesn't occur until well after the third shot (usually given at 14 weeks of age), so pups are vulnerable to contracting the disease until that time. The recommendation now is to limit a pup's exposure to unknown or unvaccinated dogs (or to places traveled by unknown or unvaccinated dogs) until the pup is over 20 weeks old. Most people don't know to protect their pups that way (we didn't either, but we do now and have made that recommendation to our buyers).

3. What was wrong with Rudy? We (and our vets) think Rudy contracted a bacterial infection of some kind 12 days after he went to live with his new family. He first presented to their vet with GI symptoms and possible bowel obstruction. He also had two ear infections, the start of pneumonia, a high fever, and joint inflammation in all four legs. Their vets suggested Rudy had an inflammatory bone disease (HOD) as a preliminary diagnosis (a very scary diagnosis implicating lifelong pain for the pup), but all indications since and now are suggesting that that their vets' working diagnosis was incorrect. Several of the vets at our practice have carefully studied Rudy's x-rays and none think Rudy has what their vets suggested (his x-rays just don't look like classic HOD x-rays). The way he has recovered also indicates that it is not HOD, but rather a treatable infection. Our vets are concluding that his bacterial infection went systemic which would better explain the multi-system issues -- GI, respiratory, skeletal, ears. Where the bacterial infection came from we're not sure (he could have aspirated on his own vomit or picked up something in his environment; we'll never know for sure). All that is to say, he had a serious infection (separate from and unrelated to his Parvo experience, and not HOD) that responded very well to antibiotics and anti-inflamatories, he's doing fabulously now (acting, running, playing like normal), and his prognosis is excellent. He should lead a full, uncompromised life.

4. How many pictures do I take? I take literally hundreds of pictures a week. And for every hundred pictures I take (or so), I get about ten good shots. Yes... you read that correctly ... about ten. Ninety percent of the pictures I take are boring or blurred or out of range or have the wrong lighting or the dogs have looked away or their eyes glowed-- you get the idea. DH got me a wonderful camera last year for Christmas (a 35 mm digital SLR), and that has helped considerably (my point-and-shoot pocket camera blurred more often than it took decent action shots -- but it takes all my movies for me, so I can't complain). And investing in a good telephoto lens and the right filters for the SLR has helped, too. Sometimes I just click away hoping to get something, and sometimes I do (the more I click, the greater the odds that I'll get something).

5. What do I do with all the unused photos? After I take a batch of photos, I transfer them from my camera to my computer (either the laptop or desktop -- doesn't matter) where I look at them and edit them (I do crop a lot of the photos you see to center them or to improve their balance or to help them be more visible). I often dump them onto to a back-up external drive so they don't take up too much room on my harddrives. Long term, I keep only the ones I like, and delete the rest (I could never do this with film... it would be way too expensive -- isn't digital wonderful!).

6. Will we breed again? We're still thinking it through. I'm still a little discouraged about the whole thing -- emotionally and financially (we took a sizeable hit on this litter: though we don't do this for the income, we can't afford to take huge losses each time). Reading about Joe Biden's German Shepherd puppy purchase hasn't helped -- again, I can't help but wonder why less-than-careful-breeders prosper. The plan for now anyway is to NOT breed Kenya this spring because of any possibility of lingering Parvo contamination (it lives in the environment for 6-8 months). She's in heat now, and we will not breed her this time, so her next heat should be in June, which means the earliest we'd have puppies again wouldn't be until at least August (if Kenya's cycle is on time) -- a full nine months after we disinfected for Parvo. Despite how I'm feeling right now, we would like to breed Kenya once to Ridge (we already have a notify list of about fifteen people interested in pups from that litter) and once to Tuc (in another two years). And then we might be done. We'll retire Ridge (and have him neutered) after his mating with Kenya.

One of the biggest issues for me personnally is how my life gets put on hold with puppies. I don't mind most of the time: I love investing in the pups and preparing them to enrich the lives of their future humans. And I think we do a good job (at least I hope we do). We DO have bills to pay, though, and I can't work outside the home as long as we have puppies to nurture and raise. My work as a freelance writer has been the ideal situation for me in past, especially between caring for puppies and needing to drive my 24 yo son (who is disabled and doesn't drive) to his work and appointments and such (I can't hold a 9-5 job anywhere anyway because of my need to be available for him). But I haven't been writing for income as much as I should this year (haven't been able to because of the puppy crises of the fall and family crises of the past year).

So that's where we stand. It's kind of unknown right now.

In any case, we'll take it a day at time -- as we should anyway, and we'll try not to "borrow trouble" as my mother calls it (as in worrying about a future we can't predict).

And that's enough for now. The sun is shining, and we just had our third ice storm in five days, so it's really glistening out there right now (great for taking pictures -- my fun hobby). It's hard on the dogs (slip-sliding away is NOT good for Labs), but it certainly is beautiful.

Time to take some photos!

'Til next time,

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