Monday, December 29, 2008

Tooth Trouble

About a month ago I noticed a swelling on Savage's gum above his teeth. I originally guessed it was from a sliver of bone that got stuck between tooth and gum, or a chunk of wood from the sticks he's always chewing on. In any case, I assumed it was a foreign object that would work it's way out in time. Only a week ago did I realize it was infected and leaking pus, and I took him to the local vet. She confirmed what I was dreading: the swelling was from an abscessed tooth.
Savvy chipped his right upper canine tooth a long time ago (possibly on a raw pork hock, or one of those beef "pet bones" sold in grocery stores, neither of which I give him anymore), and I didn't realize the importance of having it treated right away. Apparently, though, the fracture exposed the pulp of the tooth, and eventually bacteria found it's way up the root canal. Right now my poor doggie is on what seems to me to be a very high dose of antibiotics; three 375mg tablets of Clavamox (amoxicillin trihydrate/clavulanate potassium) twice a day for a week.
I have an appointment next week with the local vet to discuss further options - root canal surgery or extraction. At this point I'm considering root canal first, since I feel it's important to keep his tooth, and because it's supposed to be less painless for the dog than taking it out. Also, extraction of the canine (fang) tooth is a not a simple surgery, due to the size of the tooth - the root of a canine is almost twice as long as the visible crown. "Pulling" the tooth can have some complications, and I've heard it may even weaken the bone where the root was. On the other hand, getting rid of that tooth altogether will effectively get rid of the problem once and for all. I'm disappointed in myself for not taking the gum swelling seriously because I'm sure Savage is in some pain. Both surgeries can be very expensive but it I feel something should be done as soon as possible. I know that some infections, left untreated, can spread into the bloodstream and lead to heart and kidney problems and beyond.
Making the decision to have him undergo oral surgery is tough, considering possible complications, different anesthesia and sedative medications he's not used to, pain during aftercare, etc. One positive thing is that the oral surgeon may also clean all Savage's teeth at that time, which is fortunate because he seems to have collected a bit of plaque in his 3 years, as evidenced in the first picture of this post. The raw diet generally keeps his teeth looking pretty good, but it would be nice to have them cleaned professionally. Hopefully the Clavamox is destroying the infection right now and easing his pain. I will be posting updates on his dental dilemma along the way.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Season's Greetings

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Regarding Wolves

The last few days have been bitterly cold, and my dane can't stand to be outside for more than a few minutes. His paws get cold so quickly that even eliminating outside in the snow is uncomfortable. Regular readers of my blog will remember my previous attempts to find Savage sufficient exercise in the really cold months, namely the treadmill I bought that he refuses to walk on, and the booties I bought that are impossible for him to walk IN. Today the temperature climbed all the way up to 14 degrees, so Savage and I could finally spend a good amount of time outside. He enjoyed bouncing through the deep snow and burying his whole head into snowbanks to sniff out rabbit tracks, and I enjoyed watching, knowing he was getting a little exercise.
What surprised me today was the number of wolf tracks on our driveway and the gravel road that runs perdendicular to it. There have been a couple incidents involving the native wildlife since we've moved to our new house, but none so close as this. A few months ago Savage and I were on a walk about 1 1/2 miles from our home when I started hearing wolves howling on the ridge above us. Another time Savage woke in the middle of the night, let out a long, loud howl and went back to sleep. The next morning I found where a wolf had gone to the bathroom next to the corner of the house. As we walked today, it was kind of an eerie feeling to realize that wolves had been on the same trail only last night. Timberwolf (gray wolf) attacks on dogs are rare(though much more common than attacks on humans), but they do happen. The general theory is that wolves will seek out dogs as prey when the moose/deer population in the area is very low, and/or lack of, or insufficient snow cover, makes it easier for wolves' normal prey animals to move around, and therefore harder for wolves to kill them. In addition, wolves that have become habituated to humans get less shy and are more likely to approach a domestic dog, even on a leash and accompanied by his owner. Living on the edge of the wilderness, as I have all my life, people get used to the wild animals that live in the woods, but in my opinion, the tracks we saw today were a bit too close for comfort. All I can do is watch Savvy carefully when he's out in the yard, and I plan to start carrying my handgun again when we are out roaming around: better safe than sorry. The majority of people I've talked to about this don't seem to understand that Savage's size is no deterrent to a determined pack, or even a single wolf. Regarding wolf attacks on dogs, Alaska state wildlife biologist Bob Stephenson said, in a 2007 Anchorage Daily News article, "Newfies, Great Danes, it doesn't matter. Wolves know how to kill like nobody's business".
While not treating these situations lightly, I would still like to stress that they are indeed wild animals that try to avoid humans and our habitats as much as possible. As I said before, attacks are rare, and vary from year to year. I think that with well-thought-out population management the relationship between wolves and humans (and their dogs!) could be controlled in a way that is beneficial to all.
Note: In some states, and in Minnesota specifically, wolves and wolf management continue to be controversial because of the importance of wolves as a supposed symbol of wilderness and a protected species, and on the other side the threats (real or perceived) to deer populations and pets and livestock. I have tried to temper this post so as to not offend any readers while still expressing my personal beliefs. As always, if you have any thoughts or comments, feel free to post them!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Quote III

"DOG, n. A subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world's worship . . . . [H]is master works for the means wherewith to purchase the idle wag of the Solomonic tail, seasoned with a look of tolerant recognition." - Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday

No cake, no singing, no silly party hat this year. Just Savage, Randy, and me hanging out and relaxing in our new house.
Because we are pretty much living in the guest bedroom and most of our things are stored there while the rest of the house comes together, Savvy's bed (an old twin mattress) is set up out in the empty living room area. Which is not to say that Savvy actually spends much time out there. Being a true "Velcro dog" (he sticks close to his mama and daddy), he started laying his big head on our queen-sized bed and giving me sad puppy eyes, so I relented, and now he stretches out and naps on our bed until Randy and I kick him off at bed-time.
He's getting more comfortable with his new home, and the loves to race around our yard. Can't wait until next year when we have grass for him to roll in and tear up. We have lots of deer on our property, and Savage feels it's his duty to alert us to their presence, but nothing more. I actually set up a trail camera close to the house, but I mostly end up with pictures of a great dane instead of a big buck. During deer season he barely goes anywhere without his 2" blaze orange collar on, and I'd like to once again include the link to Morrco Pet Supply, where I bought it. If your dane spends much time outdoors during hunting season, the safety aspect is well worth it (especially for fawn-colored danes. Seems that they are called fawns for a reason!).
My baby Savage turned 3 years old this year. It's amazing that we've been together that long. Sometimes I think the time has gone by so slowly, considering the exhausting training, stressful vet visits, endless raw food packaging, etc. But on November 17th I remember swimming in the lake with him, sharing his joy over new squeaky toys, cuddling together on the couch, and laughing at his unique reactions to the world, and the reality is that 3 years can truly fly by. Happy Birthday, my awesome blue guy, and many more!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Monday, September 29, 2008

Changing Seasons

As September nears it's end I've had quite a few great photo opportunities involving my favorite subject, my amazing Savage. However, having just gotten a new digital SLR camera, I'm a little overwhelmed and pretty much just experimenting at this point. In any case, I feel that Savvy's beauty comes through even with an amateur behind the lens
This fall has been packed full of activity for our little family. While keeping busy with my new job, Randy's longer commute to his new job site, and working evenings on the construction of our house before winter sets in, I have had to consciously set aside time to spend with my great dane. Thankfully, he revels in our walks, and is becoming in much better shape than a couple months ago. At his last vet visit he weighed in at 162 lbs, and I vow never to let him get overweight again, even though the winter weather is nowhere near as enjoyable to exercise in. I continue to keep his food portions smaller, since I have come to the conclusion that I have been over-feeding him from the very beginning. I remind myself that he is my first dog and that with the raw diet it's somewhat difficult to measure portions and judge how much is needed. In spite of his humans' mistakes, Savage is healthy and active.
He did visit his vet earlier this month because I had concerns about an area of red, irritated skin on the insides of his upper back legs and groin. After a visual inspection and skin-scraping (nowhere near as scary as it sounds), the lab results came back normal except for a small increase in white blood cells, and the vet could only guess that the problem was possibly a mild allergy. I began applying a triple antibiotic ointment to the affected area daily, and the irritation disappeared in a few days. I can't help but suspect that it was a case of heat rash where his fur is very, very short, and the skin is hot and moist. General opinion holds that dogs can only sweat through their footpads, but I've read that dogs also have something called apocrine glands that (while not used for thermoregulation) produce secretions, probably including scents and pheromones for the purposes of communication with other canines. This is something I'll need to research a bit more, and I'd like to hear the opinions of this blog's readers on the subject.
It's amazing how much I still have to learn about dogs. Even now I find myself puzzled over Savage's behavior as he makes the long transition from overgrown puppy to adult male great dane. For example, during his first two summers I've encouraged him to swim every time we have been near a lake, and each time he'd bounce around near the shore, splashing and acting silly, but he would never actually swim unless I was in the water myself, coaxing and shouting encouragement. Suddenly this summer he decided to take the plunge, literally, and for a couple months now he has joined Randy and I in the lake, paddling around us and racing me through the water. Savvy will even retrieve sticks from deep water with only a shout of "Get it, get it!". Actually bringing them back and dropping them at my feet is another thing. He'd rather play keep-away, but at those moments he's having so much fun, I can't help but laugh at my giant "retriever".
A month ago he also got in a fight with another large breed dog which surprised me. Savage has been in a few dog fights in his life, and with only one exception, they have all involved (and been initiated by) an intact male. All have ended, or been broken up, without injury. The above-mentioned fight was a shock only because the opponent was a neutered dog Savvy has known since puppy-hood, and he ended up with 3 or 4 small wounds around his neck. He also came away from the brawl with a whole mouthful of black fur. The circumstances preceding the fight were not really normal for Savage: lots of people laughing and yelling, dogs barking and running wild, everyone confined to a small space and full of energy. Minutes before, he had already been growled at and challenged by a smaller dog when they were both on-leash and more easily controlled. I don't know which dog actually started things since I had my back to both when the fight began, but there is no doubt that it was a more serious altercation than my dog has been involved in before this. Because I have been a big believer in socialization and have tried to acclimate Sav to many varied animals, people, and situations, Before, and even after that episode, Savage has had no problems with other dogs, providing they don't attack him. He has displayed reserve and sometimes even avoidance when another growls or snaps at him. I can only wonder what caused him and this familiar dog to become aggressive toward each other. It's something I don't understand, but I have a tendency to over-analyze and would probably do better to move on.
As my puppy nears his 3rd birthday on November 17th, I hope our relationship always remains strong and trusting, our time spent together light-hearted, and our future with each other long and full of promise.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Friday, August 15, 2008

Quote II

"Dogs don't know about beginnings, and they don't speculate on matters that occurred before their time. Dogs also don't know — or at least don't accept — the concept of death. With no concept of beginnings or endings dogs probably don't know that for people having a dog as a life companion provides a streak of light between two eternities of darkness." ~Stanley Coren

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Summer Update

In the process of making our new house livable by the coming fall, Randy and I have been very busy working on the construction, plumbing, electrical work, etc. This partially explains why I haven't posted anything on the blog, but during this time I also haven't had Internet access in the the trailer I'm temporarily living in, either. Additionally, during the move from the old house I somehow misplaced my digital camera (!), which is devastating to me, considering how many photos I regularly take of Savage on a daily basis.
Now for the good news: Savage is really thriving this summer. I've been making it a point to get him in the water as much as possible, and now, at 2 years and 9 months old, my boy is finally getting more comfortable swimming. Maybe the hot weather is weakening his inhibitions in that area. We've been exploring our new neighborhood and finding good, safe trails to walk, and we are trying to spend as much time as possible at my parents' lake home in Canada. In a funny turn of events, Savvy has decided that as soon as we get out of the boat at my parents' place, my dad suddenly becomes his new master. Baby Dog follows him everywhere, oblivious to my cajoling and commands, and cries when we leave him.
And now the great news: Savage has lost weight! Along with moderately increased exercise, I've been feeding him smaller portions at each meal and cutting down drastically on high-fat treats (no more Slim Jims!). No longer my "Fat Boy", Savvy is now down to 167lbs, and I'm very proud of him for enduring his diet and not complaining (too much). I will continue to regulate his food intake and commit to exercising him frequently in hopes that he can reach and maintain a healthy weight.
I will do my best to continue updating The Story Of Savage when I get Internet access at home, and share more pictures as soon as I get a new camera. In the meantime I'm hoping all Sav's loyal blog visitors are having a spectacular summer!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wanna Go Raw?

During my recent 5-day bout with food poisoning (from an unknown source), I was understandably suspecting my dog's raw chicken backs as the cause. My symptoms, which I won't go into detail about (!) absolutely matched the lists of salmonella enterocolitis symptoms I found on numerous websites, so I decided to do a little research into the chances of improper handling of Savage's raw food being the source. What I found is that the bacteria Salmonella can be present in any food, depending on the right conditions and unsanitary preparation. Because I'm generally careful about where and how I feed my dog, I'm inclined to think that this illness could have been caused by pretty much anything, but specifically (and probably) a certain pre-packaged "convenience" food I consumed the day before the onset.
In any case, I decided that this experience was a good opportunity to learn more about food poisoning in general, Salmonella in particular, and because of my immediate suspicions: the various myths about raw feeding that make pet owners wary. I gathered a few links containing some relevant, interesting information, so please visit the websites and judge for yourself.

Myths About Raw Feeding - check out the myth about raw feeding making dogs "bloodthirsty"! I have gotten this comment more times than I can count.
The Salmonella Myth (requires Abobe Acrobat Reader)
Raw Feeding FAQ -This one is very aggressive and anti-kibble, but also explains the many benefits of feeding raw, for those who have never considered it.
Medline Plus Encyclopedia food poisoning information, including steps to prevent infection.
The Raw Diet: Getting Started 101 - Last but not least, Eastwood Danes' recommendations for beginning the transition to raw.
There is a lot to learn on these sites, though the tone of some may make people who feed commercial dog food upset. I personally don't try to force my opinions on the raw diet onto other dog owners, but I respect people with enough of an open mind to explore different options than kibble.
Savvy was weaned on raw, and I've fed him raw for over 2 and a half years without any bacterial or digestive problems, and I am thrilled with his overall condition. Obviously Savage himself is quite enthusiastic about the raw diet (see the previous post)! I've recovered from my food poisoning episode, but it has made me more aware of the way I package, handle, and prepare both Savage's and my food. Which is a good thing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Well, it's official. My great dane is fat. At his veterinarian visit yesterday I was absolutely shocked by the read-out on the scale: 180.5lbs!
While he is a true giant breed dog, he is overweight. I blame this on lack of regular exercise this winter, as well as not cutting back on his food during that time. Savage also has a way of convincing everyone around him that he's starving at all times, so he can get treats from anyone. Great danes are known to be susceptible to bone and joint problems even at a healthy weight, so any gain at all just adds to the risk of health problems. In addition, excess weight can lead to arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, hip dysplasia, etc.
Therefore, I need to get him back in shape as soon as possible. This means increasing his exercise and endurance, while at the same time reducing his calorie intake. Sounds simple, but I know it will be tough for me to commit to getting him out running, rain or shine, and for Randy to resist his sad, droopy puppy-dog eyes when he's eating his dinner.
Lately we have been doing more biking and walking, and I did put him on a diet, but I have to admit that I have to get more aggressive about this. His nickname is still "Fat Boy", after all. 180.5! It boggles the mind...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Tick Season

Tick season is here again in Northeastern Minnesota, and Savage has been doing his best to collect as many as possible. For as long as I can remember, ticks weren't seen here often, but in the past two years the dog tick population seems to have exploded, probably due to mild winter weather. Because of the scarcity of true deer ticks in our immediate area, Lyme's disease is not one of my main concerns, though the entire state's Lyme's infections hit record numbers last year. Just the experience of plucking a tick off of Savage or (heaven forbid!) finding one crawling on myself is enough to make me shudder.
We have around 13 species of ticks in Minnesota, but the most encountered ones are American Dog Ticks (or Wood Ticks), Brown Dog Ticks (or Kennel Ticks), and Deer Ticks (or Black-Legged Ticks). In any instance, I try not to examine them that carefully, but I'm positive that the ones that we are dealing with on an almost daily basis are American Dog Ticks. They are found in fields and underbrush, using carbon dioxide, scent, body heat, vibrations,etc. to locate a suitable host. They are known as "three-host ticks" because each stage of their lives: larva, nymph, and adult: uses a different host and their life cycle usually takes two years to complete. According to my research, American Dog Ticks are carriers of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (a bacterial illness), and tuleremia (also known as "rabbit fever"), but apparently these diseases are very rare in Minnesota.
I have never treated Savage with any commercially available tick/flea preventative such as Frontline or K9 Advantix, or any sprays, dusts, or flea collars, because of the possible adverse reactions. The Evironmental Protection Agency oversees the sale of all pesticides in the United States and their website has a fact sheet on flea and tick control products if you would like more information.
I have always believed that a poison designed to kill a living organism, no matter how small, cannot be good for dogs, either. Therefore, Savage and I will be experimenting with natural tick prevention this summer. Last year I boiled lemon slices and fresh rosemary to spray on him to control black flies, and it seemed to work pretty well. I've read that apparently this is helpful for repelling ticks, also. The only problem we have with the lemon/rosemary mixture is that he wouldn't tolerate the spraying, so I had to rub it on him with my hands.
American Dog Ticks are considered generally active between April and June, so maybe we will be lucky and get through the next month without encountering too many of the disgusting little parasites.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quote I

Monday, May 19, 2008

This morning Savage and I took a quick 15 minute bike ride in order to get rid of some excess energy, and then attempted a walk with the Halti. The Halti Headcollar by Coastal is looks similar to a horse halter, and is designed to discourage dogs from pulling or lunging ahead by transferring the forward motion into turning the head sideways. The idea is that where the dog's head goes his body will follow. I spent about $20.00 at PetCo on Savvy's black Halti. According to the advertisements, the Halti calms boisterous dogs, simplifies training, restrains biters, reduces fears, reforms fighters, assists with restraining dog during veterinarian or grooming visits, and calms hysterical car travelers. I simply want Savvy to walk nicely and respond to "heel".
After the first introduction to the headcollar, he seemed very apathetic about it. The instruction booklet it came with made it clear that the fit was important, so I tightened the adjustable collar around his upper neck and silently thanked Randy for making me buy the largest size (5 - designed for bloodhounds, large danes, mastiffs, St. Bernards, and similarly sized dogs). Today I put it on him and quickly took off for a walk up the hill behind our house. About 6 steps into it, Savage started pawing at his nose, so I said his name and when he lifted his head I offered a small piece of cheese. This went on for about 8 times before he got resigned to the collar. It obviously bothered him, but after about 10 minutes he started sniffing the ground, looking around, and getting involved in his surroundings, instead of being focused on the Halti
The strange thing is that during the whole walk he stuck like glue to my side, even though I intentionally left the leash slack to minimize his anxiety. I think what bothered him most was the band over his nose because he kept his head lowered. Maybe his confusion over this different sensation was what actually kept him right next to me. Whenever he is scared or uncomfortable he wants to be as near as possible to his mama. I kept offering him treats during this time but he wasn't extremely interested in them. They seemed almost an afterthought, and I ended up actually placing them in his mouth while walking. It was very, very weird to see my boisterous, energetic puppy walking slowly next to me with his head hanging down. While this is what I wanted to accomplish with the Halti, I would ultimately like him to be more comfortable and content with it.
I've read some online reviews on the Halti and most are overwhelmingly positive. There are a few concerns I have based on the more negative reviews, including my dog wrenching his neck if he got too excited and started jumping ahead, and the nose strap cutting into his nose (though I think this is a matter of incorrect sizing). According to some of those reviews, the Halti headcollar appears to not be suitable for some dogs. Overly energetic dogs seem to go crazy over it, pawing and scratching at the collar, and it is possible to slip it by backing out if the fit isn't perfect. (The newer design has a safety strap that connects the headcollar to the dog's regular collar so the leash will still be attached in that situation). Some owners of short- or pug-nosed breeds say the fit doesn't work at all for their dogs, making the Halti unusable. On a side note, I've personally noticed when I'm around other dogs wearing headcollars that strangers tend to assume it's a muzzle and get frightened. Especially with a huge dog this reaction could be a small disadvantage of the Halti, but the avantages no doubt outweigh it. Just one more question we dane owners will have to answer.
Savage and I will keep training with it, and I'm very interested to know how the Halti is working for other great danes and giant breeds.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Busy Week

Last weekend was fishing opener, and of course I brought Sav's bed along in the boat and his fleece jacket in case it got a little too chilly. Just as he has the last two summers, he enjoyed boating immensely, and loved eating the minnows we used as bait. Afterwards he got a meal of rainbow trout and mashed sweet potatos.
During the week we have all been working to get things done in the new house, and I brought an old twin mattress up to the property so Savage has a comfy place to relax in the yard.
Yesterday we drove 140 miles to the nearest big city to buy more construction materials and I also finally got my dog a Halti headcollar. I've been considering the benefits of one for awhile, and this morning I put it on briefly and he didn't seem to mind after a couple minutes. I'll be working with him on his acceptance of the Halti, and also the heel command using it as a training tool. When I get some more time I will be posting more about the Halti, it's specifications, uses, and how my great dane is doing with his. I've heard good things from other dog owners and I'm really optimistic about this.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Two Happy Dogs

Here are Savvy and his friend Nala at Lace Lake, one of our favorite hang-outs. Even though temperatures are still cool, the ice on the lakes is slowly melting, allowing the pups to do some splashing around and giving me some nice photo opportunities.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hard At Work

My boyfriend and I have been working this spring on making our new house livable. The floor plan is roughly 2000 square feet, with a big attached garage, dog door, and fenced-in yard for the pup. Savvy absolutely loves being at the property, because he has lots of room to run, and no busy roads nearby. He follows us all around the house, supervising our work, tearing up rolls of house-wrap and insulation, and generally getting in the way. The picture above is Savage "helping" Randy with the electrical wiring. We are all really looking forward to moving in sometime this summer.

Friday, April 18, 2008


When Savage was younger I bought him the Dog Training Kit from because I had heard so many good things about this method. Initially it worked well for us, but somewhere along the way we stopped practicing with the clicker. The other day I decided it was time for some training, refreshers for the basics: sit, stay, etc., and decided to use the old clicker. Well, this time around Savvy was so scared of the clicking sound that he refused to even come near me, even when I was offering him treats. Obviously I was perplexed and frustrated, and with the dog becoming increasingly nervous and confused, I ended the failed "training session", and put the clicker away.
I intended to give the clicker kit to a friend and her dachshund, but shortly after that I began pondering another use for it. You may recall our first exhausting experiences with "The Evil Bicycle" from October '06, wherein Savvy kept barking, circling, and biting at the bike and generally wearing himself out. This kept happening every time we biked, and eventually got so out of control that I planned on not even using the bicycle for exercise this summer. (You can probably figure out where this story is going.) Yesterday I got the bike out of the garage and took it and Savvy out to test my new theory. As soon as I started pedalling my puppy started barking and biting the front tire. But when I clicked the clicker he backed off and moved away, allowing me to pedal without fear of him knocking me down or me running into him. We spent about 15 minutes biking in this way, and he each time he got in front of the bike or started whining, I clicked. Success!
Of course, with Savage I never know if this is just a one-time thing or if he truly "gets it", but I'm pretty confident that this method will help us both enjoy biking more this summer, without all the barking and anxiety. Ironically, how I'm using the clicker is the opposite of the way it's supposed to be used, that is to say: positive reinforcement. But this is the "training" that worked for us the other day, and really the only thing I've found that has stopped him from freaking out about the bike. Now I'm looking forward to biking with him, instead of dreading it.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I spend so much time taking pictures for, editing, and reorganizing The Story Of Savage that I rarely check in with my other favorite dog blogs, a few of which have been gracious enough to link back to this site. Imagine my surprise when I was presented with the online "Excellent Blog Award" by a regular visitor to this site (a black dane girl named Behr). In order for me to accept this fun award, there are some rules, listed below:
1. By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, I agree to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy.
2. You can give the award to more people, but please award at least 10.
3. Link back to the person who gave you this award.
Therefore, I would like to pass on the Excellent Blog Award to some of my favorite blogs, in no particular order. All are centered around great danes, naturally.

Behr Rake's Blog
I'll start by returning the favor to Behr by posting the link to her site. It's a pretty informative one, with lots of interesting and funny posts.
Great Dane Addict
Professional photographer + two great danes = amazing photos and inspiration.
Sarah's Dawgs
The online home of Roger the rottie and Nala the dane, and occasional random foster dogs.
Albert The Great Dane
Sarah's elderly brindle dane, Albert, has his own blog, detailing his rescue, fostering, and finally forever home (with Sarah, as it turns out).
Ready For Rally
Leslie's and her dane, Roxy, are just beginning to compete in the canine sport of Rally Obediance and Agility. Visit her blog to follow their training and progress (?).
Blog de Dane
Another Rally novice from Puerto Rico, Huey also competes in Conformation. Oh, and his best friend is a cat named Mr. Bigglesworth.
Gunther The Great Dane
All these talented great danes make me wish Savvy and I had access to these canine sports. Young black male Gunther is active in RallyO and regular Obediance. This blog follows The Gun-man through puppy classes, vet checks, obediance training, and everything in between, including the addition of a younger brother, Truman, to his household.
Lisa hasn't updated Frank's site lately, but it's worth a visit to check out the pictures of a beautiful black dane. Funny enough, her posts ended right after she got a second dane, Django. Maybe she's a big overwhelmed...
Our Girl Blue
Newlyweds add a baby blue puppy to their family. Chaos ensues! But in a good way.
DaDane of DaWeek
Last but not least, this site (while not exactly a blog) deserves a link. Ginnie is another professional photographer, and her great dane portraits and dog show photos are amazing. The posts are usually updated weekly.

I know how much commitment is required to maintain a blog. The sites above deserve recognition, not only because they showcase the magnificent breed that is the great dane, but also because a lot of time, work, and thought went into them. By all means, check out the dog blogs and let the authors know what you think. I really appreciate knowing that people around the world are following The Story Of Savage, and genuinely care about my baby dane. Congratulations to all the Excellent Blog Award winners, and please pass it on!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Playing Peekaboo

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Savage never stops surprising me. Today I realized that he recognizes just about every word or phrase his humans use when referring to food. First it was "are you hungry?", which was a given since I used those words every time I fed him. Then I taught him "food" almost as a command because it helped so much when I was attempting to teach him recall. Now it's gotten to the point where Randy and I can't even use the word "hungry" or "food" in our home without causing Savvy to stare and drool. A few months ago we realized that he knows the word "chicken" (which makes up the main part of his diet). Today I found out that he knows the word "eat" and the phrase "something to eat" when I told him I was going to make his dinner later. My boy is a genius! Now I just have to remember to watch what I say.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Growing Pains

Recently a visitor to this blog contacted me asking about Savage's hypertrophic osteodystrophy, and if I truly believe that diagnosis. First of all, based on his symptoms and clinical signs, I have no reason to believe that this "disease" is anything more than another episode of panosteitis (also known as "wandering lameness"), which my dane was diagnosed with last summer. On August 15th of 2007 I explained his original pano episode and treatment:

"At the same vet appointment she addressed my main concern, which was limping affecting Savvy's right back leg. This had been going on for a few weeks, with one episode where he wouldn't put any weight on the leg at all. It was possible for me to gently feel along his leg, hip, and joints, with no pain or discomfort for him. However, as his vet palpated the long bone in his lower leg (shin area) his pain was obvious to both of us. Savvy was diagnosed with panosteitis and given a cycle of anti-inflammatory pills called Deramaxx.
Panosteitis is an inflammation of the long bones in growing pups, and doesn't normally occur in dogs as old as Savvy. The good news is that it will eventually go away on it's own. Because he is no longer limping and doesn't seem to be in any pain at all, I decided not to give him the pain pills. I generally don't like to put any medication into my doggie's body that is not absolutely necessary. I've been limiting his exercise a bit, and keeping his diet the same. Savage is now acting completely normal and I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

After his vet appointment of February 5th, 2008, I expressed a bit of frustration concerning his doctor's decision to treat Savage for HOD, even though his x-rays didn't show anything out of the ordinary. At that point I was "...inclined to think that this limping may just be a continuation of Savvy's pano, albeit more severe." I still believe that because Savage never had some of the classic symptoms of HOD, including swollen joints, fever, lack of appetite, etc.
After much research on the internet, and talking with other dog owners, I've found that some vets immediately make presumptive diagnoses in cases involving certain breeds because of the overwhelming prevalence of certain illnesses in those breeds, perhaps overlooking a simpler but less serious condition. The great dane breed in general is known to have some health concerns which a dane owner and his/her vet should be aware of and watch out for, and HOD being one of these, it seems easy to assume the worst when dealing with a limping dane. Pano and HOD are both classified as conditions affecting long bones during rapid growth phases, and danes seem to be predisposed to both. The good news is that these diseases are usually self-limiting, and with treatment the affected dog can recover completely, though at least regarding pano, relapse can sometimes occur (as in Savvy's case).
To sum things up: In my opinion my Savage was mis-diagnosed with hypertrophic osteodystrophy. At this point he seems healthy and active, with no more limping lately for the past couple weeks, so I am hoping that this episode of panosteitis was the last.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Looking Forward

Due to internet access problems I haven't posted to the blog in a month or so. I'm glad some of you are still checking in and looking for updates on my baby dane. So here you go:
Savvy has only had a couple of head tremor episodes since the last post, and none at all (that I have noticed) in the last three weeks. His limping is still intermittant, but goes away quickly with a day of rest. I now have him on his normal vitamin B complex pill to boost energy and maintain cardiovascular function, plus a complete amino acids supplement which is supposed to promote healthy tissue growth. I still have more research to do, but so far the the pills seem to be safe for him. I'd be interested to know if any dog-owners visiting Savvy's blog use these dietary supplements for their pets.
Savage has admittedly gotten a little overweight through all of this, so when he is active and healthy we are stepping up his exercise. His food intake remains the same, because I want to make sure he's getting all the nutrition he requires.
I promise to post more in the upcoming months. We are both looking forward to summer, and waiting for the snow to melt so our hiking options are more interesting than wandering around frozen lakes and trails.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Photo Contest!

I'm shamelessly asking everyone I know to vote for Savvy's photo on The vacuum cleaner manufacturer is sponsoring a contest to find a new pet model to represent their Pet Hair Eraser vacuum, and I've entered a picture of Savage. The weekly winner receives a free vacuum, and the grand prize winner gets their pet's photo on the actual vacuum, and a $10000 donation to the pet cause of their choice. Think about what that money would mean to local rescues and shelters! Starting February 19th you can go to Bissell's voting page and cast a vote for your favorite pet photo (hopefully my puppy!). Also, you can upload your own doggie's picture for a chance to win! I saw a commercial for this contest on television and figured we'd give it a shot. Wish us luck!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Shaky Dane

In the last few previous posts I've mentioned Savage having incidences of side-to-side head-shaking which generally last 1 to 2 minutes. From doing a lot of searches on the internet I'm inclined to attribute these episodes to a condition known as idiopathic head tremors. This condition seems to be seen more often in dobermans, boxers, and bulldogs, from what I've read. Enter "idiopathic head tremors" on a search engine and you will find some information, though not a lot. I've also found user-posted videos on YouTube of dogs going through these tremors. Each looks almost exactly like Savage's, one of which I've posted below for anyone interested. Baby Dog has been having these an average of once a day since about a week ago.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Positive Changes

The day after we got back from Savage's vet visit I started him on 1/2 a buffered aspirin twice a day - for both his breakfast and dinner I crushed the aspirin and sprinkled it over his food. I used buffered (coated) aspirin because it is generally gentler on the stomach, and only gave his such a low dose because he has never been on any drugs before, and I hoped a small amount would effect him greatly. In only 3 days the change has been amazing! Even after the first dose his limping decreased noticeably, and he rapidly became more active. Now he is down to 1/2 aspirin once a day and the results continue to be effective. I'm only allowing him a little exercise, though with temperatures as low as 30 degrees below lately he's not inclined to spend much time outdoors, anyway. The limping has virtually disappeared.
I declined to use the Deramaxx he was prescribed because even though aspirin has similar "possible" side effects, there seems to be many more documented cases of stomach ulceration, kidney failure, and even death resulting from the use of Deramaxx than with aspirin. While my decision to give my dog aspirin is ultimately mine alone, I encourage all dog owners to research the medications your dog is prescribed. In Savvy's case, the aspirin is working well, so far with no negative side effects that I can see. Which makes us both happy.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Savage has been limping very noticeably in the past week, to the point where he refuses to put any weight at all on his right front leg. At first I thought he had slipped on ice or fallen (though I had not seen him do so, and we've been relaxing at home for a few days because I've been sick with a cold). I waited for the limp to correct itself, but 4 days ago he began exhibiting a weird head-shaking behavior at least once a day. Though horrific for me to watch, the head shaking was not like a seizure, with Savvy completely aware, not drooling, eyes not dilated, etc. These episodes each lasted about a minute each and I "snapped him out of it" by offering him a treat - in two cases the treat was a Dorito (could this be the cure? LOL.) Then 2 days ago I took him for a short walk and about a minute into it, he started limping even worse, gave a few high-pitched whines, sat down in the snow, and wouldn't follow me further. That was enough to make me call his vet and make an appointment.
Yesterday we met with a vet at our regular clinic (not his normal doctor) and after moving his leg around, three x-rays, and lots of head-scratching and consulting with other vets, Savage was diagnosed with hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD). The new vet attributed the head-shaking to him just dealing with the pain, but I have researched this enough to believe that it may be something called "idiopathic head tremors", which is a condition most commonly affecting dobermans and english bulldogs. It seems that neurological diagnostic tests come out normal with idiopathic head tremors, and the affected dogs are otherwise healthy.
The HOD diagnosis scared me because I know some danes that struggled with this as very young puppies and went through incredible pain. Only when we were driving home did I remember Savvy's episode of panosteitis back in August. Because both diseases seem so similar to the lay-person (me) I'm almost inclined to think that this limping may just be a continuation of Savvy's pano, albeit more severe. In both cases, the diseases should resolve themselves in time, and the best I can do is let my boy rest and treat him with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. I was given Deramaxx at the clinic, but given the terrible possible side-effects I have not given Savage any yet. Both my vet tech cousin and my dane's breeder reccommended buffered aspirin (another NSAID) in very low doses and I think I will start him out on that with breakfast tomorrow. The side effects with aspirin appear to be almost the same as Deramaxx, but we will try aspirin first.
It's very difficult to be proactive with my dog's health without having the knowledge of different diseases, medications, etc. I'm hoping that these current health problems will eventually go away, and I will keep researching them and sharing my findings on the blog.
In the meantime, Savage is being his normal wonderful self, except for the lethargy and limping. He's very happy to be home after dealing with the nervousness of the vet's office. He did behave very well considering the strangers poking and prodding at him. The x-rays were difficult because he's so big and doesn't really fit comfortably on the table, and hates being held down against his will. I was very proud of him for being so willing to go through those things. In retaliation for those dreadful two hours he drooled all over absolutely every thing and everyone he possibly could.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

This is only the second time Savage has been out ice-fishing with us, but this time I remembered to bring a camera.
My big puppy doesn't exactly LOVE riding on the snowmobile with my boyfriend, but he tolerates it in order to get to our favorite fishing spot. There he spends time wandering around the lake, eating minnows, and singeing his tail on the heater in the fish house. Every time one of us catches a fish it immediately gets presented to the great dane, who treats them like slippery, squirmy toys. As soon as I can figure it out on Mac I'll post a video of him harassing a rainbow trout. Good times.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Savvy and I have a New Year's resolution to tackle in 2008; we both need to lose a little weight. At 160+ lbs, my 26-month-old puppy is not really fat, but inactivity on colder days, and me being out of shape and motivation, has added some extra pounds on him. We are now walking absolutely every morning (snow or shine) for at least 30 minutes, and making time to play catch with the tennis ball. What really gets him moving is playing with his friends, so we'll be spending more time with Nala, especially since they can run wild on the lake in the winter without getting in trouble or going anywhere near a road.
By the way, this date is also a cause for celebration for our little family. Two years ago on January 11th Savage came home for the very first time, to live with Randy and me! You can check out his puppy pictures and read about his first month with us here. It's been a wild ride so far, and so worth it. Thank you, Kim, for allowing me to share my life with such a sweet, gentle soul.