My brothers' dog Jeddah had 13 puppies, they were tiny and could fit each into a hand. My brother picked out the two smallest girls for me, I think he thought I was taking on more than I could handle!
I called my girls Fire and Ice. This seemed like a good idea at the time. Only when they grew older did I reaslise the flaw I had made. Can you guess it?
Where is Fire?" "Fire's in the kitchen." "There's a fire in the kitchen!?"
Yep, never call a dog Fire if you live in a fire prone area. You call her name and half a dozzen people come running with water buckets. Ooops! When calling for them try to use a distortion of their names, always the same one, so they get that they are being called and nobody panics. It goes something like this "Firefirefire, Iceiceice, Girlsgirlsgirls!"
When born they each fitted nicely onto one hand. Things changed!
The terrible two as puppies.
And as grown dogs in their winter coats.
Fire's bones grew to fast in her neck, and began to push against her spinal cord. I had always thought she hunched her lower back a little funny, then one day on a long walk along Grenough River, she started to sway horribly, then collapsed. A friend of mine (Hi Reachel,) helped carry her back to the car (she weighed 82 kilos then). I took her to the caravan park nearby and borrowed their hose to bring her temperature down, then went strait to the vets.
After much drama and a rush trip to Perth, (where the only x-ray machine big enough to be used on her resides.) we discovered she has 'The Wobbles'. It is caused by too much calcium being deposited inside her spinal column, putting pressure on the spinal cord. Any inflammation i.e. over heating, over exercise etc would make the spinal cord swell, and the calcium deposits wound pinch into it. That caused her legs to buckle.
I was asked if I wanted to put her down. Walking into the room to see her, Fire struggled to regain her feet, even though she knew she couldn't. It hurt my heart to see it. How could I see her fighting so, and not fight with her? She now takes a tablet called Solone once a day in the morning and is on a diet to keep her weight down. The less weight she carries the less strain there is on her neck. Years have past and she is doing well. I don't regret keeping her one little bit!
I took both girls to obedience classes, it was a tricky prospect. One had to be tied up while the other was training. Ice in particular proved quite adept of freeing herself and running up to the class to be reunited with her sister. In the end I had to double tie her, with an ordinary leash and a chain one!
For anyone who owns GreatDanes, I recommend buying a Halti. It slips over their nose and applies gentle pressure there to stop the dogs from pulling. Used with care it is the best thing, especially for dogs like Ice that pull. On an ordinary leash she would pull and pull, literally choking on her collar. With the Halti she walks by my side on a loose rein.
Oh yeah, we have passed Basics!
When we go for a drive, I use these harnesses to keep them in the back of my Ute. One of my brothers' dogs once leapt out of a nearly stopped Ute and was run over by it's wheels. He was devastated. These restraints are easy to put on, available at pet, vet and even some commercial shops. They must be secured to a stable link in the 'middle' of the Ute's tray. They can also be attached to seat belts for those who have dogs travelling in the car with them.
I made this resting platform from a wooden pallet, some spare carpet, and furniture glue. In the picture Fire has been playing her favorite game with Ice; 'Get the collars off!' They are both good at it.
When we took Fire to Perth for her scan, Ice came too. She stayed at Nanny's, and was let inside, and even onto the furniture!
Then, on the way home, we stopped at a riverbank for lunch, and she repaid my mum for looking after her and her sister by rolling in some fresh poo. 'Really' rubbing it in, too. Before she could get back into mum's 4wheel drive, I had to wash her in the icy cold river. Yuck.
I love walking the girls and used to walk them round the block at midnight when I got home from shift. Alas now Fire is restricted to walks up and down the street. At least I have an excuse not to take them to the beach and more! I kept getting bogged in the sand and having to be rescued, very embarrassing!
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