Monday, March 29, 2010

Still having restless nights...

I'm not sure why, but Merlin is still having restless nights. The last two he has wanted turning 5 or 6 times and wanted out to pee and poop around 4 to 5 am. I think he could have a UTI though the only symptom is the restlessness. His urine is so dilute it is hard to tell from that but I may have to take him to the vet this week and check it out. Maybe if I do a urine catch from after all day in the car (when it is more concentrated as he drinks less) they can tell.

During walks and stroller rides and in the car he is still happy. I think part of the problem at home is wanting attention, part is he drinks more, and part is being nervous around the other dogs. Yesterday morning he was up at 5:30 and the only way I got another hour in bed (not asleep) was to lie with my arm on his head for the hour (he won't come up on the bed but he was next to it.)

Monday night update: He whined and barked all day today (he wasn't out sleeping in the car) except for about half an hour after eating and on our walk/ride. It was too warm to take him in the car with me for a noon appointment so I never took him out there. I also thought maybe being awake more of the day would help him sleep tonight. We shall see.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A night with five interruptions...

Since Merlin got me up at 5 on Monday I tried to head to sleep at 9 PM last night. He was sleeping, everything seemed fine. Then, at 10:30, he whined, and I got up and turned him over, but no, he wanted to bark. Finally he dosed off again.

At 11:30 he awoke again. I gave him a Benadryl then, hoping he would sleep.

Then at 12:30. Finally I put him in his cart and carried him and cart outside and expressed him and he pooped. Came back in, went to sleep.

At 3:30 he woke. This time what settled him was bringing him closer to me and holding him a bit, and I also gave him a Rimadyl.

And at 5, just rolled him over, and finally he went back to sleep again.

I awoke at 6:30, he was still sleeping. So maybe the wakefulness was discomfort. We did do a lot of walking yesterday, 3 1/2 blocks in the morning, then 2 at night. It's just so hard to know why he is not sleeping when he isn't sleeping. (Considering his anti-seizure meds he should be sleeping all the time.)

I'm not nearly as tired as I should be but it will probably hit me about the time I get to work. It is free pastry day at Starbucks which probably means no Starbucks due to a long line that I won't have time to wait in. (There really isn't room for a long line at the Starbucks I go to, anyway.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Must you be so stubborn, Merlin?

It is warm now so I walk Merlin this morning at 8 am. We have half an hour to get around the block. Merlin is reluctant to go but happy to cross the street where he tries to pee on the hydrant; I am unable to express anything. Then we toodle on down the block. It is now 8:15 so I attempt to get him to turn around. He plants his feet. Merlin does not like to go back- a walk should end when he says it ends, even if he is too tired to move.

So we go on, past the turn up the alley and start up the long block. Now, almost to the corner as far as we are going to get from my house, he decides he has had enough walking and wants to lie down. He just does not understand that half his walk has to be on the way home!

I find a piece of string and basically drag the cart, with him walking with it, the remaining two blocks. Merlin periodically tries to lie down but I have to go to work.

Next walk the stroller comes along.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Goodbye, Jack

Merlin's friend from the beach, Champion OTCH Golden Road's Jack Straw, who turned 12 last week, finished his four year journey through DM today. Some of you will remember Jack's 11th birthday video.

Jack's 11th birthday video

and the new Scout's house website

Jack has been our shining example of a life as good as it can be for a dog with DM and then from January 2009 with lymphoma. His owner Lila kept him happy and active and engaged right up until today, when she let him go.

Our tears today are not just for Jack and Lila, but for all who ever have or ever will lose a dog to DM, and especially for Merlin, who will continue to follow in Jack's pawprints for awhile longer.

Rest in peace, Jack.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Merlin and his car and why we hate warm weather

Merlin loves to sleep in the car and ride in the car. This past weekend, we left at 5 am Sat for a rally trial in Redwood City. Merlin rode up in the car, napped all day at the trial in the back crate, slept out there, napped all day Sunday, and rode home. Never a peep, he was sleepy, happy, and never grumpy.

FF to Sunday night and Monday night at home: bark, bark, bark and so on.

Monday he slept all afternoon in the car, had his walk, and came in and barked for two hours.

I've been letting him go to work and sleep all day in the car but this week is in the 70s. He'll have to start staying home. I'm thinking of putting a crate in the trailer for a while until it is too hot in there for him and see if he seems happy.

In Washington in summer he can sleep there all day except in the very hottest weather because I can drape the car with reflective tarps and leave all the windows down and it stays cool. Can't do that in Fresno- not only would the tarps be gone, so would the car.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A peaceful night

Yesterday after work (about 5:30) I took Merlin for his usual post-car-day walk. We went two blocks up, two back, he peed and pooped with a little help. Came in, had dinner...and he went to sleep! He dosed until almost 8:30 PM.

This meant no walk for anyone else as there was no way I was going to wake him or let them wake him by barking excitement about a walk. So we just all laid around and enjoyed the quiet. No barking, no fighting, no rowdiness. It was pure bliss.

Eventually I had to wake him for meds but after that he went to sleep without much hassle, and only stirred once before six AM.

It occurred to me maybe he wasn't feeling well but I have to admit I was just going to ENJOY the quiet. Then I also remembered giving him a GABA in the morning yesterday. We'll try that again this morning as he is already starting to bark. Or it could be that he didn't sleep much in the car yesterday as it was windy (though I don't think he'd have heard the wind.)

Now he is barking- I think breakfast was somehow inadequate. I'll double the GABA again and see if the daytime dose made a difference somehow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Interlude: the DNA test

As many of you know, there is a new test for the inheritance of DM (Degenerative myelopathy.) You can find information on it here: DNA Test

Initially, on hearing the gene had been found, I was delighted, and thought, no one will ever need to breed a dog with that gene again!

Well, as details emerged, it became apparent that in Pems, at least, this was not to be the case. First, although it appears to take two copies of the gene to cause DM, the gene is firmly entrenched in the breed, with up to 50% having the dreaded two copies and another 40% being carriers. (These stats will probably improve as more dogs are tested but won't be anything but dismal.) So not breeding any dogs that have the gene (an SOD1 mutation) is not going to work. There are, to date, precious few clears (no mutated genes) for anyone to breed to, so even breeding dogs to clears is not always a possibility.

A further complication is that not every dog with both copies of the mutated gene (At Risk dogs) get DM. The percentage that do is still unknown but my guess is between 20 and 50%, with the percent increasing with the age of the dog. I hope it is lower, I fear it might be even higher. Nobody knows, but luckily we should know soon, as researchers are testing a large number of dogs over age 10 and following the At Risks to see if they develop the disease.

So it turns out that the best breedings (Carrier or Clear or At Risk to Clear) are hard to come by, and some breeders will have to breed Carrier to Carrier to get Clears for future breeding. Some are adamant that they will not do this and produce a possible DM dog, but I think, being realistic, its going to take one more generation to get enough clears.

So that's the situation, and you'd think Pem breeders would be jumping on board with testing and doing selective breeding. And a few are, but sadly, these are mostly the ones who themselves have nursed a DM dog to the end and know just what kind of heartache this disease produces. Not everyone- I know at least one breeder who has never had the disease in her line but still is breeding to eliminate it, and kudos to her and to everyone else who cares enough to select against the SOD1 mutation.

If you are a puppy buyer, be aware that YOU can ask for the test. It takes only about two weeks to get a $65 cheek swab test done. Put your deposit down contingent on the pup being clear or carrier (neither of these can get DM.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Walking with Merlin

Merlin is walking mostly in the counterbalanced Eddie's Wheels cart now but he can still make it in the K9cart if he has to. He has not become any less stubborn. This morning we walked around the block before work since it was supposed to rain. Which it did, but by 5 it had cleared up, so when we got home he wanted to go again. And he likes to go south, across the road, so we went over there to pee. He peed, anyway, I didn't, though I was beginning to wish I'd gone at work before starting home.

Because then he refused to go home. I put the leash on his cart and pulled; he planted his feet and refused to move. I gave in and we walked to the corner, turned, and started up the alley. No wwwayy.... he planted his feet again. I pulled without giving in this time. Finally we got home and got dinner (he wanted some kitty snacks on the way which I refused to allow.)

I've started expressing him but it is hard as his bladder is SO full and stretched (he drinks a ton) and then when it gets partly empty it becomes flaccid and hard to find or squeeze. He does better with a Robaxin so I'm going to give him one in a few minutes so he can empty before bedtime.

Merlin has also decided March 1 should be daylight savings time so he has started waking at 5:30 AM instead of 6:30.

Speaking of life with stubborn corgis, check out our friend Dancer on Draw the Dog.