Archive for the ‘Belgian Sheepdogs’ Category

Star and me

Star and I earned his Beginner Novice title with second place in Beginner Novice B at the Irish Setter Club of Colorado obedience trial on August 16, 2013! He is now Realta’s Starry Starry Night RN BN HIC CIG. Star_BN His heeling was abysmal. I need to prepare him better for heeling in the ring. It’s like he loses his mind when doing the heeling pattern and the Figure 8. Strange. He did great on the rest of the exercises.

I’m very proud of my Star.

How smart is Star?

Star can be guardy with his toys and bones. Yesterday Lacey decided that she wanted to steal his new bone, so she tried to engage him in play. She was quite persistent; bowing, spinning, jumping, running. But he knew what she was up to. He stood over his bone the whole time and refused to play. I called him to me with the promise of a bully stick, and of course she dove for the bone.  I’d like to think that another dog would have fallen for her trick!

Star’s progress

Star developed a limp with his right leg about two weeks into his recovery from his arthroscopic surgery on 4/15. It didn’t get better with rest or even a cold laser treatment. So we began a series of three HA (lubricant) injections in his right elbow, spaced two weeks apart. He had his first injection on 5/28, and is scheduled for his next this Friday. We didn’t see any improvement until yesterday. He limped only a few steps on our walk yesterday afternoon.

I’m optimistic, but realistic too. We may have to repeat the surgery on his right elbow. It’s possible that scraping out a fragment of his coronoid may have uncovered an underlying issue. Time will tell.

Star’s surgery

If you don’t keep up with me on FB, you may not know about Star’s surgery. He was diagnosed with bilateral elbow dysplasia about a month ago. We consulted an orthopedic specialist about arthroscopic surgery. That’s the only way to get an accurate picture of the damage – by scoping and, while in there, doing what they can to mitigate the damage. We were expecting the worst. You can imagine our relief by the reality, which was revealed in yesterday’s arthro surgery. In his right elbow, he has an abnormal coronoid in situ – it’s not fragmented, nor can it really be cleaned up. It may or may not be trouble later. His cartilage was beautifully white (I got to watch the scoping from the doorway to surgery as the video feed was displayed on a monitor). Not ten minutes later I was called back in to see the left elbow. There it was, the fragmented coronoid (about 1mm in size). The surgeon cleaned it out, patched him up, and he was in recovery within the hour. I sat with him for about an hour. Took him home. Marty helped him out of the crate. So relieved. Yes, the healing process will be slow, and it’ll be hard to keep him quiet, but he’s young and should heal nicely. Loves our boy!

Star and his surgery

This Thursday, I take Star to the orthopedic vet specialist for arthroscopic surgery. X-rays don’t tell the whole story. We won’t know the extent of damage until they get a scope in and look around. If it’s fragmented coronoid process (the “rock in the shoe”), then they’ll clean up what they can. We’re looking at 2-1/2 to 3 months of very limited activity.

If it’s worse – medial compartment disease (bone on bone, with cartilage worn away), then they’ll perform the SHO. SHO is Sliding Humeral Osteotomy, which involves cutting the humerus, inserting a large metal plate, and shifting the load “from the diseased medial compartment to the healthy lateral compartment.” You can see more at

It’ll take up to 4 months for him to recover from an SHO – four months of extremely limited walking on leash only. No obedience class, no playing with Lacey, no unsupervised trips to the backyard to pee and poop. And that’s just on one elbow. If both elbows need the surgery, then we take him back and do it all over again with the other elbow. Just to be sure, the vet’s going to scope his left shoulder while Star’s out – to rule out damage if none is there, or to assess damage and determine treatment.

Sure, it’s not the best time to undergo surgery. We’re going camping with the dogs several times during recovery. We’re taking a vacation to Seattle over the 4th of July. But we’d rather do it now than wait til winter and risk more damage.

I’ll keep you posted.

Star’s treatment

Started Star on 3.75mg of Meloxicam daily, and are curtailing his crazy activity. We’ll see how he does. In a couple of weeks, we take him to an orthopedic specialist for a consultation on surgery. We were completely misquoted on the cost of arthroscopic surgery; instead of $30,000, we could be facing $3800. Much more reasonable! We’ll see.

Star likes blueberries…and more!

Star has decided that blueberries aren’t poison. It’s taken him awhile to go from dropping them as soon as he takes them in his mouth to actually eating them. Lacey, of course, loves blueberries.

Funny how much he’s learned from Lacey since he joined our family two months ago. Now he likes to lick dirty dishes in the dishwasher. The other day, he delicately removed a piece of cheese from Marty’s dinner plate on a tv tray, watching Marty the whole time. Said cheese was removed from his mouth by Marty. He knows that sitting next to us at the dinner table might, just might, result in tidbits from the table. We’ve created a monster 😉

Star has bilateral elbow dysplasia

I believe that it’s not the breeder’s fault, nor any of the dogs behind him. I believe it’s because he was neutered too young (5 mos) and got heavy. According to recent research, if a dog is neutered or spayed too young (before the age of 12 mos), then the growth plates don’t close properly. The dog’s bones continue to grow, and become long and thin. Star stands 28″ at the withers, has long bones, but now is at a good weight (60lbs). The damage that we saw on the xrays also could have been exacerbated by his full-out ball and Frisbee fetching. Star has no middle or low gear.

We have begun researching our options. Surgery? Maintenance? One ortho specialist’s technician stated breezily, “Yes, it could cost around $30,000 to do the arthroscopic surgery.” I replied, “So we need to take out a second mortgage to pay for this?” That’s a rhetorical question, folks. Um, no, we can’t do that. I’m going to contact other orthopedic specialists to read his xrays and give us their opinion. What’s the grade (degree) of dysplasia? What are our options? I’m also going to contact a local pain-management-specialist vet who’s certified in acupuncture. We started him immediately on glucosamine/MSM supplements. Need to purchase additional supplements, and talk about anti-inflammatories would work best. Star already has arthritis, and still limps occasionally. Star toes in with his left foot, and shifts to distribute his weight differently. Our vet likens the sensation to having a rock in your shoe.

We’re in this for the long haul. We will do what we can to help him. Because we love him.

Realta’s Starry Starry Night HIC

Yep, he passed his CDHA herding test at TerraNorte Ranch in Wellington, CO. So great to see him turn on to the goats. I was nervous when we entered the pen, because the tester hooked a long line on Star. I told the tester that Star would likely freak out because he’s so sensitive to trailing leads. The tester said he needed to do it, because if Star did something naughty (like try to eat a goat), then the tester needed to be able to catch him. It wasn’t too long before it was apparent that Star wasn’t going to eat a goat (unlike a Berner who had hold of a goat during his test!), so the tester removed the long line. That’s when Star got down to business. On his assessment, the tester wrote, “Nice dog. Keep working with him!” And of course, getting applause as we left the pen was quite the ego boost.

Looking into taking classes in tending. In this herding activity, the dog becomes a living fence; he drives the stock in a line and doesn’t let them move beyond this invisible boundary or that. A lot less stressful on his elbows, and it uses his intelligence in a whole new way. “Regular” herding, where the dog keeps the stock in a “bubble”,  might be too hard on his joints. I have a lot to learn about tending, but I’m excited!

PAL is incorrecto!

Got the AKC paperwork for Star’s PAL (Purebred Alternative Listing) today. I was so happy until I saw the Breed on his certificate: Belgian MALINOIS. Everything else was correct.Um…what part of Belgian Sheepdog that I clearly indicated on his PAL application did AKC not understand?!?

Hoping to get this straightened out quickly…sigh.