Ovariectomy and Gastropexy on Ivy

22 Feb

I haven’t had to alter a dog for 16 years – the age of my oldest dog Simon. Everyone else has joined the family as an adult dog and were already spayed or neutered before I got them. Back in the day 17 years ago, most people didn’t realize all the connections of early spay and neuter and health risks, and usually dutifully altered pets at around 6 months of age, which I did with Simon.

Ivy is 3 1/2 years old and has gone through 5 heats. They were pretty easy to manage and really not that much of a hassle. Being way more aware of the possible detriments from the procedure, I had been contemplating when to spay and how do to it for 3 years.  Traditional spay, Ovariectomy, or OSS?  I finally decided on and Ovariectomy done laproscopically, but still wasn’t sure when I should do it.  One of my biggest worries was a change in behavior caused by the effects of the surgery and the absence of hormones. I had planned all along to perform a gastropexy, or stomach tac, at the same time as her spay.

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In November 2015, her sire bloated. Then in Dec 2016 – her littermate bloated. Having two of her direct relatives bloat presented enough risk for me to go ahead with her surgery, with torsion now being a bigger concern for me than temperament change.  I finally booked the appointment for a Thursday morning.

A friend of mine had recently had her bitch spayed and told me about an alternative to an eCollar – a Surgi Snugglie.  Its kinda like a body suit for dogs. I went ahead and ordered it so Ivy could get used to wearing it ahead of the surgery.

The morning of surgery came, and she was excited to see that she was getting to go for a car ride (but wondering why she didnt’ get breakfast) This is always the worst part of a vet visit for me – when my dogs think they are getting to go tracking or dockdiving  or barnhunting, and end up at the vet 😦


Hmmm, where are we going?

I dropped her off at the vet at 7:30am, signed all the paperwork and releases and left. She was fairly calm when she walked off with the technician, so that made it easier on me. I called at about 10:30 asking for an update, and they were just getting started. I called back at noon, and they said she was waking up and could be picked up at 4pm! A benefit of the laproscopic surgery is that is usually same day release.

So of course I was there at 3:45. She of course looked groggy and sad 😦 I put the Snugglie on her in the vets office before leaving since I wasn’t using an eCollar. I slowly walked her out to pee, and carefully lifted her into the car and snapped this.


Have you ever seen a sadder face?

She cried all the way home. She seemed to be in pain. After speaking to people who have had procedures performed via laproscopy, they told me that they were in quite a bit of pain after being “inflated” with  gas during the procedure and stretched out. After getting home I let her potty again, offered her water, gave her a little bit of food (which she ate fine) and her first pain pill with was Novox. She was pretty uncomfortable and just stood in her crate for an hour crying – she just wouldn’t lie down. I finally took the Snugglie off her to see if she would relax – and she finally laid down and slept for a bit. At about 10pm I rousted her one last time for the evening – let her go back out,  got her into an ex-pen for the night, and slept beside her on the couch. Thankfully, she slept through the night.



What happened to me?

The next day was much better. She was still moving carefully, but seemed more comfortable and had stopped crying and was eating and drinking normally. I got the Snugglie back on her. I made 2 small slits around the front arm holes to make them a but wider to see of that made her more comfortable.


Ivy had just 2 small incisions -one through which the ovaries were removed, and another through which the the Gastropexy was performed. She had no bruising, no swelling – the incisions looks fantastic from day 1.



Spay incision 48 hours after surgery

So – that was it!  We kept her really quiet for 4 days – crated or expen and leash walked. By day 5 and 6 I let her walk around a bit more and she was “off restrictions” by day 7.  I still didn’t let her really run or play ball  until day 10.


Company while recovering. 

The Surgi Snugglie was great! Would definitely recommended it. Made it much easier on both of us to not have to deal with the dreaded cone. She made no attempt to mess with her incisions with it on, and just barely cared about them once I took it off (Day 6) I would recommend getting two so you can wash/dry one and have a spare if needed.

This picture was taken just 5 days after surgery. You can see both incisions. (Barely!)


Here is a breakdown of what the Ovariectomy and Gastropexy cost.


It hasn’t even been 2 weeks since the procedure – but I haven’t noticed any changes in her behavior or demeanor. I am glad its over with. The wondering about what the “right” thing to due for the past 3 years was worse than actually doing it. I will post any updates if they occur – hopefully there are none!



Tracking, IPO, MACH and More.

12 Nov

Lots of updates since my last post.He didn't get the whole thing!

MACH! – Wyatt got finally did it! He just turned 8 and is starting to really enjoy sleeping in – so very glad we reached our goal.  I will probably enter more trials with him here and there, but frankly the long long days of hanging out at AKC trials just aren’t that fun for me anymore. Here he is getting his MACH STEAK! He got to enjoy this over several meals 🙂

Nosework – Not much going on, and not sure if I will go back to the sport. Maybe eventually with Ivy… Frankly am a little put off with all the drama around the sport, the clicques (PUN INTENDED) and what I have personally encountered with censorship of my opinions. Enough said on that topic.


Tracking – Ivy got her TD. To confess, we probably only practiced tracking 10 times. She certified her first try, and got her TD the first try, and the test day was the first time I had ever been to a TD.  She is a very confident tracker – and comes off the start with great precision. Again, I had never seen another dog track before, so was surprised to see all of the other dogs at the trial not even make it past the first flag. I am VERY spoiled with her!
My Nosework experience really helped us on the track – following her and letting her do the work.

This past summer she tracked my best friend back from a hike. My friend left the hike early, and Ivy was a little upset by that. After we turned back, Ivy eventually picked-up my friends scent, and tracked her all the way back to our cabin – head down, over streams, roads, and through the woods. I quickly realized that she WAS tracking and made sure not to lead her, I just followed. At that point I thought, Hmmm – she is pretty good at this – we should try and get our TD.  And we did 🙂

IPO – I finally have a sport/club to focus on with Ivy. I have joined a fantastic Working Dog Club in Atlanta. The club members are welcoming, supportive and have some really nice working dogs.  We are going to start over with Tracking and I am starting to teach footstep tracking (We will come back to AKC tracking later). We have a really good foundation in Obedience and other skills as I have been enrolled in the Denise Fenzi Dog Sports Academy for about a year now.  We have worked with a helper a few times now – Ivy in confident and unphased by anythign the helper throws at her. This is her favorite part of the sport. Schutzhund

+R Competition Obedience

28 Aug

ren1Years ago I trained my first Obedience dog, Tess (Springer Spaniel). Each week we went to a training center in Winnipeg Canada and dutifully heeling around the ring, popping our dogs via a choke chain when they went too slow. Yanking them back up if they laid down on the long sit. Poor Tess. I wanted it to be fun, but it wasn’t. I wanted to have fun. I found Obedience training boring, and Tess sure wasn’t jumping for joy when it was training time. We got our CDX, and that was about it.

Fast forward 15 years to my Whippet Simon.  We found a fairly progressive instructor in Atlanta who was using positive methods for training. Actually thinking back she was way ahead of her time.  Simon got his CD, but again wasn’t excited about training – he just did it. My this time I didn’t have a very positive association with Obedience. We moved on to agility and stayed there about another 13 years.  After spending that amount of time in one sport I was ready for something new.

I got Ivy in the fall of 2012 with no particular sport in mind – just something besides agility.   When Ivy was 6 months old I started to check out several of the  Obedience training classes in the area.  After being in the mostly +R agility world for so long, I was actually a little surprised to see what was still going on training method wise in the Obedience world. Prong collars were standard equipment and referred to as “power steering for dogs”.  I always pretty  much TRY to mind my own business when it comes to other people and their training methods – I prefer to try and educate and enlighten rather than condemn.   Even though I had planned to do things “my way” at the class, I realized I wasn’t going to really be able to learn anything from the instructors about the +R route I was planning to go down.

I have had dogs in the past that worked for me because I made them to do it.  I then discovered +R and agility and realize how much I enjoyed it when my dog is as excited as I am to compete and train.  I enjoy the training time as much (or as more) as the actual competition. When Wyatt and I running a rockin’ agility course together as a team, there is no better feeling. I also enjoy(ed) the social aspect of having a weekly class to go to, and always hope I will find a group of people that think and train the same way I do, but unfortunatley that hasn’t happened yet in Atlanta.

I stopped going to Obedience classes and tried some IPO, but found things to be pretty much done the same way there.  I think the IPO club members found me somewhat amusing with my “crazy” approach to training.

Wyatt had lived on a cattle farm for a year before I got him and was highly reactive to large running animals. Just so happens that 90% of the agility trials I planned to attend with him were held 50ft from a horse show and a ring full of lunging stallions.  It took me over a year doing LAT (Control Unleashed – Look at that!) and Take A Break to work through his focus issues around horses, but we did it. It became second nature for me to allow my dogs to “settle in” to an environment before asking them to work.  Let them get out of the car (on leash), pee, and just take in the environment. When they look back at me after a minute or so, I know WE are ready to start working.  This didn’t go over so well at the IPO club.  I think everyone almost died when I let  Ivy look around  in order to feel comfortable – and was waiting for her to engauge on her terms.  Basically when there is a conflict  of methods within the first 3 seconds of Ivy getting out of the car, you know things aren’t going to get much better from there.

That left me training on my own, as usual.  Then I discovered Denise Fenzi.

II found this post on her blog:  http://denisefenzi.com/2012/12/05/doing-our-best/. Here is a quote from it

I’m hopeful that as motivational training becomes better understood, kind and thoughtful trainers with a traditional background will find access to the answers and resources that make them more comfortable training their next dog with a different philosophy, but change is hard.  Competition training is in the middle of a shift, and it’s a struggle for many who find themselves in between two worlds – both attractive for different reasons.

It’s at that moment I realized I wouldn’t have to train “on my own” anymore

Agility Hiatus

19 Jun

If it wasn’t for Ivy we could have had a pretty quiet spring as far as training goes.  Wyatt and I had a very active spring planned as far as agility trials went. He just needed (and still needs) one more QQ for the long awaited MACH!!  We got Not happyvery close, missing QQ #20 by just one knocked bar.

On top of agility I had hoped to do some Terrier trials, CAT Lure coursing and Barnhunt with him. Our plans changed…

A few days before what was supposed to be the trial where he finally got his MACH sometime in March, he injured his toe chasing a squirrel in the yard. I wasn’t that concerned as that happens quite often.   The following day he was still really limping, so he went on crate rest and Metacam. Next day, still limping to we took him to the vet.  Turned out his toe was infected so he had to spend the week in his crate on antibiotics, and we pulled from the agility trial.

This went on for months. They toe never really got better. I soaked it,  tried homeopathic remedies, laser treatments, specialists, xrays… All the doctors told me nothing was wrong. But there was something wrong. Wyatt wasn’t limping anymore, but he was destroying his toe by chewing on it. He was obsessed with it, he was miserable, I was miserable. He wouldn’t go outside, eat, play, tug – he only wanted to chew on his foot. He wore a cone 24X7. Because he couldn’t get to his toe to chew on it because he was wearing an eCollar, he would drag his toe on the floor, back up, then lick the ground where his toe had been. This went on for weeks. The vet starting talking Amputation…

He went back to the vet a few weeks ago (3 months after the original injury) I told nothing had changed and suggested doing a culture on the toe. They took 2 cultures and said it would be weeks to get results back.  I couldn’t take him home to watch him in his zombie-like toe eating mode without trying SOMETHING else, so asked them to give him some injectable antibiotics, which they did.Jack Russell in eCollar

He was 100% better within 24 hours. This was about 2 weeks ago. The cultures just came back positive for Enterococcus and Pasteurella. He is going back on another round of antibiotics today, just in case there is anything left lurking.

We attended a Rally Obedience workshop this past weekend, and Wyatt was SO thrilled to be doing something. He is at Daycare today for the first time since the incident. We are entered in an upcoming agility trial and Barnhunt fun day.

On another positive note,  I filed my first Pet Insurance claim with the carrier we have been with for a few years, Pet Plan. The process was fairly easy, and I got my reimbursement check for exactly what I expected within a few weeks!

So fingers crossed the toe stays well – and we can get back to having fun.


18 Jun
Doberman disguised as a Standard Poodle

Doberman disguised as a Standard Poodle

We recently spent a week in Vermont at Camp Gone to the Dogs.  One of the events that is held as part of the camp is a costume contest.  Ivy had a bit of a rough week with all of the travel, not being able to run around in the yard, sleeping in hotels etc. However, when I got her dressed in her Poodle costume, she totally owned it. At first the crowd of people watching didn’t “get it”. Feedback I got later was that people really thought she WAS a Standard Poodle, and the costume with just the pink bows in her ears. After a few seconds though people realized they had been fooled 🙂



10 Apr

Ren & Wyatt

Teaching Dogs to Leave Odor

2 Apr

Japanese Chin -NoseworkI volunteered the second day for the NW1 trial. My job was videotaping Interiors. Interior was again held in a classroom, but in a more traditional classroom with tight rows of desks. The hide was under the seat of the desk on the outside front corner of the room, opposite the entrance.  I was SO very lucky that the judge (very experienced K9 Handlers/trainer) shared his observations with the volunteers in the room between most searches. Luckily Ren doesn’t have a problem leaving odor, but I thought some of these takeaways could be helpful in certain circumstances.

-Teach your dog a search pattern from the beginning so the dog learns to search the entire room.

– The dog’s indication should be clear enough so that during training a friend could recognize behavior and call the alert with handlers back turned

– Don’t ever LURE the dog to then source then reward. Dog should put their nose on source first, then they get the reward

– Have other people in the room reward the dog so they aren’t just always looks at handler

– Don’t pre-cue your dog that they are correct (by hand in pocket) if you think they are getting close. Wait for the final response and the “YES” before reaching for the treats.

Here was the big one though. Dog’s should never be rewarded for an indication on odor after they have left and come back.  Many dogs in the NW1 went to the odor, never indicated, quickly left, and may or may have not gone back. The judge said this was a “trained” behavior. That during training, probably during non-blind hides, that the handler was doing something to cue the dog when they dog close to the odor that wasn’t happening in the trial (because the handler didn’t know the dog was close) and because that dog wasn’t getting the subtle queue or assistance, the dog was moving on.

Think of this scenario – you are doing a non-blind hide in class, your dog is getting close, maybe your breathing changes or you start slightly bending over, or your fingers re-grip the treat. Your dog has learned this pattern as a “hint” that he is close and he should alert. But in a trial he isn’t getting these pre-cues and simply walks away from the hide.  Another habit many of us are in is rewarding the very moment the dog gets their nose odor. I have even heard about instruction to try and BEAT the dog to the hide with food (which doesn’t make sense to me at all). Again, in the trial, the dogs aren’t getting the reward at that very moment. They have to first alert, you have to call it, wait for the judges YES, and then reward, which is again a very different picture then training. When the dog doesn’t get the reward the moment his/her nose hits odor (what the are expecting),  they move on.Whippet -Nosework

The judge suggested varying the delivery time for the reinforcement – moments, seconds, then minutes. Regardless the dog should stay at the odor. After the dog is confident it its job, the reward comes more for staying at the odor vs finding the odor.