Friday, February 24, 2006

13 - 14 Weeks

Except for the roundworm episode things are progressing wonderfully. We're getting some good deals on turkey backs and chicken livers so I'm not completely broke yet. That will happen when I buy the new truck (it's got sooo much space in the back of the cab!). Tonight we will tape ears again. In a couple days I will give him his distemper shot.Savage discovered his tail the other day and now finds it amusing to chase it in circles. R. has been working with him on the "shake" hands command on and off, strictly for the humans' amusement, and today I worked a little with him on that.The speed at which he grasps new commands is startling. So far he's got "sit", "down", and "shake" mastered. He will go into his crate and sit down when I point to it and say "crate". Roll "over" is a little tougher, but I'm making the training sessions as much fun as possible. Because the weather is cold and Sav's not too pleased with being outdoors long we haven't had a lot of opportunity to train on a leash. I'd like to do that before he weighs 100+ and can train me! My baby is now 40lbs and 21" high at the shoulder. Still cute as hell. I had to post another picture of him and Ted since they are such a contrast in size it amazes me.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Poor Savage was diagnosed with roundworms on February 20th. I was warned that most puppies do end up with worms so I brought a stool sample in to my vet to check. They wrote Savage a prescription for Anthelban, which is a medicine in a liquid form that comes in a syringe to feed him with. Apparently it's banana-flavored and he loved his first dose, which R. fed him yesterday. He gets another dose on March 6th, and the third and final dose on March 20th. I can bring another stool sample to the vet after that to check and see if he got reinfected along the way. Which is the problem I'm having. I'm not sure how roundworms' life cycles run, so it's possible that he may get reinfected by eating his poop (though I've never seen him do that) or eating worm eggs that have been tracked into the house. I really don't understand this yet, so I have to do some research. The lab test and treatment was relatively cheap. Time will tell if the treatment works. I don't know what other steps I need to do preventatively. In any case, Savvy's showing no symptoms and feels and looks fine. In the picture above he's playing with Ted, his best friend. While Sav's ears have been untaped for a week while his cuts heal, you can still see the HUGE difference in cropped and uncropped ears. The pups are getting so comfortable with eachother. Ted is now 130lbs, while Sav is a mere 39lbs! It's hilarious watching them interact!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

11 - 13 Weeks

Much of Savage's training and experiences have been limited a little lately; for the past week I've been sick and haven't been spending a lot of time outdoors. We have gone on a few walks and have been visiting friends and their dogs. We went to the harbor and walked around on the Lake Superior shoreline. This was Sav's first experience with moving water. So far all he's known is snow and ice. He seemed a little wary of the waves. So many new things!
We visited my cousin and her 4 year old Doberman, Dillon, and he and Savage played until Dillon became too excited and started knocking the puppy over. Savage gets overwhelmed when there is a lot of activity going on.
I got a great deal on a huge load of turkey backs (39 cents/lb) so we're set for food for awhile. I have another butcher who will save chicken livers for me, since Sav still won't touch beef liver. That seems to be the only food he's picky about.
As far as ear-taping goes, here's the story so far. I began trying to correct the right ear that was folded over his head by wrapping them without a stay inside the ear and no brace between ears. This caused them to fall out to the side, which is what I wanted, but of course the left fell out farther since it didn't have to work against the way the right was turned in. Make sense? I used a kind of taping system that K. uses, which is plain masking tape round-wrapped all the way up the ear. The only drawback to this is that the masking tape doesn't "breathe" and therefore, has to be redone often.
Well, this worked for a few days and then the right ear started leaning in again, and I went back to Caulk-Sav'r foam and athletic tape. Only at this point I had run out of cloth tape so I used masking tape in place of it. Everything looked even and straight and beautiful. However!!! This morning R. and I took off the taping to let the ears get some air and clean them. It seems that the edges of the masking tape on the bottom had cut into his ears a little down at the base near the front fold in the ear! I freaked out and applied Betadine madly, and plan on leaving the ears free for a while. I also ordered 12 rolls of Johnson & Johnson Zonas tape online! Both ears are doing their best to stand even through all the mistakes I've made with them. Other than those small cuts they look healthy and relatively strong. I will contact K. and ask her opinion, but I think if these cuts heal soon, I have a good foundation and with a little more preparation (Zonas tape) and care the ears should be okay and on their way to standing. None of this seems to bother Savage. In fact, he doesn't even scratch at his taping anymore. We shall see.I finally got around to sending in his AKC registration. With the basic registration and a three-generation AKC-certified pedigree it cost $32. They also give you a free trial of health insurance, which I plan on utilizing. It took me ages to decide on his registered name. I wanted his "call name", Savage, to correspond with the registered name, and because of the gun company Savage Arms we finally decided on "Saturday Night Special". He is kinda gun-metal blue, anyway. I've been clipping his nails every week, though I am still very conservative about only taking off the hooks. I end up feeling sorry for my puppy because I feel I'm making so many mistakes in ear-taping, training, etc. But then I look at him stretched out in the sun on the futon, snoring away like crazy, and I think he's probably pretty content. He gets all the love in the world from R. and I. Maybe I'm doing okay with him.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

First Vaccination

Because of Savage's vaccination protocol (required by my breeder) I found it will be a lot less hassle to give his shots myself. Therefore, on the 11th he got his parvo vaccination administered by yours truly.The schedule goes like this: At 12 weeks old, Savage gets his parvovirus vaccine. At 14 weeks old, he gets a distemper shot. After he's 6 months old he recieves his rabies vaccination, which, because it is the only one required by law, must be given by a licensed veterinarian. And that's it!The reasoning behind the limited number of vaccines is that as a puppy Savage retains the maternal antibodies to diseases for an unknown amount of time. It makes no sense to give three parvo shots when the first two may be completely useless because his system is still immune anyway. When those antibodies his mother provided him become inneffective, at that time he should be immunized with vaccinations. We can be sure we're vaccinating our dogs effectively by having our vet draw blood and have it checked by a lab to see if the vaccination "took" (titer testing). A low rating on the titer will confirm that maternal antibodies have worn off and the shot has been successfulSavage will have 2 more shots, then.These three total vaccinations are believed to last a lifetime. According to the USDA Center for Biologic and Therapeutic Agents, there is no scientific data that backs up the idea that dogs need annual boosters. Not only does this make common sense, it also costs a pet owner a lot less money, which is an added benefit. I paid $3.75 for Savage's parvo shot, which is a modified live virus administered subcutaneously (under the skin). Because it needs to be refrigerated I ended up paying more for overnight shipping but compare my total cost of $20.75 with a vet clinic office visit. Also, I have to add in driving time (2 1/2 hours) and cost of fuel, as well as loss of a day's wages. Financially, it works great giving your own vaccinations.
Now, a word about the vaccines I plan on giving Savage; these are both simply parvo and distemper shots. Vets give combination vaccines as a rule (a bunch of viruses combined as to make the process quicker and less of a hassle). The problem with combinations is that they may confuse the puppy's immune system and stress it out trying to cope with all that information. Why should I put my puppy through that?I've heard of people getting a single shot (influenza) and getting sick from that. Imagine if that shot also included another vaccination (say, hepatitis) also. Wouldn't that really overwhelm the immune system? I am under contract to follow this vaccination protocol, though I believe in it anyway. I think of my puppy as a baby, and I think over-medicating, over-vaccinating, etc., are unneccessary and probably harmful. However, the above information is a combination of my personal research and reccomendations from my breeder and fellow puppy-owners. Please make your own decisions regarding your own dog(s). As far as administering the shot itself, I was a little (okay, a lot) concerned about hurting my little guy, but my boyfriend R., who takes a more practical approach to these things, assured me that Savage would quickly recover. Which he did. He squealed when I put the needle in but seconds after it came out, he shook it off and wanted to play again. The package came with instructions, so if it's your first time giving a shot just follow the directions. Pretty simple.Also, I have been warned to keep a record of Sav's vaccinations myself, since he won't have a vet record of them. I peeled the label off the vial and stuck it on a 3"x5" piece of card stock, dated and signed it. And I kept the order confirmation. I hope that's sufficient. Savage seems healthy and happy and I feel that I'm doing the best I can for him. I've had a terrible cold for the last week, which is why there haven't been any posts. Taking care of my little blue puppy takes up ALL of my free time.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

10 - 11 Weeks

This week I've been really thinking about Savage's training. They say it's never too early to start teaching him good behavior. Everything is done in baby steps because I don't want to bore him or overwhelm him. The easiest to teach is "sit"; he naturally sits expectantly when you hold a treat over his head. (The treats I'm using are very, very small slices of hot dogs.) The next thing I decided to teach him was laying down on the floor ("down") because it starts from a "sit" position. And that's it for now! He's really grasping the "tricks" and I just want to keep asking for those instead of introducing new ones. I've been reading a few books on puppy training and each one cautions that you must wait for the behavior before saying the command. Or else he won't have any clue what you mean. For instance, I can't just hold a treat and exhaust myself saying "roll over" continuously because he has no word association to work with. If I get him into "down", which he should already understand, and gently make him roll over myself, while saying "roll over", he now will put the behavior and the command together in his mind. Which is logical. I'd like to point out that I haven't attempted to teach him "roll over" because I don't see much of a practical use for it. I'd rather use his intelligence on useful commands like "stay" and "heel", though those two are expected to be a lot more challenging. Of course he already has heard "no" more times than even I can count and even though I'm sure he understands he still tries to get away with biting, chewing the bathmat, climbing on the coffee table, etc. Well after all, he's just a puppy.
But I'm very proud of him for learning "sit" and "down" already. With "sit" he almost does it automatically when I hold a treat, but with "down" I started by holding the treat in front of him on the floor, waiting for him to lay down from a "sit" position, and then saying "down", treating, and praising him like crazy. From there it evolved to me leaning over and tapping the floor in front of him. Finally, now I can simply point to the floor while he's sitting and say the command and (when he's in an eager mood) he will willingly lay down and wait (which is amazing, I think) for the treat. I'm very impressed, to say the least. In a later post I would like to explain some of the training strategies I've been reading about (variable schedules of reinforcement, associative learning) because in just using them a short time I'm seeing pretty cool results with Savage. It all sounds very technical but I'm making sure our training sessions are short and fun for him. And he's on the way to becoming a spectacular dog!! Another thing he is (slowly) learning is that it's not okay to chew on people's exposed flesh. He responds pretty quickly now to "no", and then is rewarded with a toy he can chew on, as opposed to my hands. One of the annoying things I'm running into now is people playing with him and either rewarding his bad behavior or trying to "teach" me how to teach him. A friend insists that because he is a puppy and needs to chew that I shouldn't discipline him for chewing on anyone's arms. Early in Sav's "sit" training a guy I met tried to impress me with his dog-training skills by telling Sav to sit, while pushing down on his butt with the hand holding the treat, at which point the smart little puppy turned around toward his butt to get the treat from the man's hand! Which is also logical. It bothers me that other people's ideas may only confuse my dog, but he needs to be socialized, and I can't keep him away from everyone that thinks they know what's best for him. Still, it's pretty annoying.
Speaking of socialization, Savage is now getting to meet more friendly dogs. One thing I'm making sure of is that all the dogs he's meeting are up to date on their vaccinations, something my breeder K. warned me about. Savage himself is due for his parvo vaccine (his first) at 12 weeks. Other than that, I'm just trying to keep everything calm and controlled, though that is a huge challenge. During Savvy's playtime with Ted, the blue dane in the previous post, Ted stepped on my puppy's foot and tore the rest of the injured nail almost off! Savage was startled, squealed, and ran back to his mama. At that point Ted's owner and I decided to just pull off the nail and be done with it. We cleaned it with Betadine (povidone-iodine, which is a common first-aid antiseptic) and she simply pulled the nail out while I held him. I expected yelling and crying but little Savage couldn't have cared less, didn't even look at it. Actually, the whole time he was eyeing some homemade fudge on the counter, which took precedent over his injury. Anyway, the wound on his toe looks very healthy and pink, no infection present, so I've just been applying Betadine to it once or twice a day and hoping it all heals quickly.
Ear taping is going as well as expected. It's kinda touch-and-go since the tape doesn't seem to be sticking that well, and the tubes keep slipping out once in a while. So I redo the whole deal often. Eventually I hope I hit on something that sticks and remember exactly how I did it. It occurs to me that maybe the foam tubes are coming out just because his ears are growing up so fast. Is that possible?!
I'm also realizing that I'm going to really NEED that chest freezer pretty soon. I ended up with a quickly diminishing supply of chicken leg quarters, an overstock of ground beef (which he eats only sparingly), two remaining hot dogs that belonged to the humans but became Savage's when I began giving pieces as treats, and a pound of frozen beef liver that my puppy WILL NOT eat, and neither will either human in the household. I have got to figure out a meal plan and stick to it in order to avoid driving to Duluth (150 miles) every week for more dog food! Sweet potatos, canned salmon, etc., have not been a problem since they keep well and are easy to store anywhere.
In the meantime, my Savage is happy and healthy and spends the entire day with me, doing chores, visiting friends, playing with his stuffed animals. When I go to work, he and my boyfriend R. usually crash on the futon, watching the Military Channel on t.v., and cuddling. (See the above pictures!) I get home around 11pm - 1am and fall asleep listening to R. snoring and Savvy "talking" in his sleep.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Best Friends

This picture shows how much difference 5 months makes. Savage is 26lbs and about 16" high at the shoulder at 10 weeks and 5 days. Ted is 120lbs+ and measures over 32" already at 8 months old. In better lighting you can also see the radical difference in color; Savage's dusty blue-gray and Ted's charcoal blue. Makes me wonder if Savvy's coat will darken as he grows older, too. Their eye-color, also, is different. Savage's have changed from light blue to a dirty bluish amber. Ted's have stayed the same blue as they were when he was a little puppy. Even as young as they (both) are, their heads are very different, Savage's being more short and blockier as opposed to Ted's more streamlined look. Of course the cropped and un-cropped ears lend a completely personal look to each one. I find it fascinating to watch them together.