Friday, August 18, 2017

When The Perfect Smile Isn't Perfect

Anyone who has spent even 30 seconds browsing our Instagram page knows that Barley is basically the smiliest dog in the world, especially when we visit the arboretum.

A post shared by Beth (@eedevore) on
As you can probably guess, having anything happen to that smile would devastate me. And that is exactly what happened in January when I noticed that one of Barley's upper canine teeth had a slight chip in it. I noticed the chip about a week before her annual check up and I spent many hours debating moving the appointment up, but Barley was her normally, happy, smiley self and didn't mind me lifting her lip or poking at her tooth, so we waited it out.

By the time we got her appointment, the tooth was discolored and our vet said that usually means that a nerve has been affected. She said she could pull the tooth, but since it is a large tooth, it would be a complicated extraction because of the longer roots. She also said that a veterinary dentist might be able to repair the tooth. I decided to take a little time to think about our options.

A Google search revealed that there are 157 active diplomates of the American Veterinary Dental College, which is the program in which vets complete an additional residency (just like human doctors do when they specialize in something like cardiology or psychiatry) for several more years to become board certified in dental care. These vets receive training in more advanced dental care than the extractions and cleanings that other vets are trained in. None of these 157 diplomates are located in the state of Ohio. There was one in Pittsburgh, but depending on what part of the city you're going to, that's at least 2 hours from our house--doable if necessary, but not easy, especially during the semester when it's hard enough to find time for an appointment at our local vet between classes. There was, however, a veterinary dentist about an hour from my parents' house.

We decided to wait and watch the tooth. I wasn't mentally prepared for Barley to lose such a big tooth even though I trusted our vet to be able to extract it if necessary.


For months, Barley continued to smile, to walk her daily 3+ miles, to go to agility class, to wrestle and tug with Rye, and to eat normally. She wasn't favoring that side of her mouth or acting like she was in pain when she'd play with Rye. So, I continued to just watch.

Then about two weeks ago, I noticed that tooth had chipped a little more and was missing a larger portion. I also noticed that her other upper canine had a tiny chip that looked like the first tooth started out, except it wasn't discolored. I knew we needed to do something.

The slightly chipped tooth.

The discolored broken tooth.

We had a trip to my parents' house planned, so I researched the veterinary dentist near their house. The website was very thorough in explaining his training and the different types of procedures that could be done. My Googling didn't reveal any negative reviews for his practice, so I reached out to him to explain our situation. 

The vet explained that he didn't like to extract teeth like canines if there were other options and said he'd be happy to meet with us while we were in town and then try to fit us in for surgery during our visit if necessary. 

We scheduled an appointment for the first full day of our visit. The vet tech took us back to the exam room and asked me to show her the teeth I was concerned about. While she was looking, she pointed out that it looked like Barley's right upper 4th premolar had a slab fracture as well, which the vet confirmed when he came in.

The vet took a lot of time to show us pictures and diagrams of the teeth that were affected. He explained that he didn't like to pull canines because they were such a big part of the structure of a dog's mouth. Without them, the upper lip could sag a bit and sores could form from the lower teeth rubbing on the lip. The tongue could also suffer from dryness since the teeth wouldn't be there to hold them in. He recommended a root canal to keep the tooth from getting infected and abscessing. With the premolar, much of the tooth is under the gum, so the vet explained that he couldn't tell how far the fracture went up without x-rays, but if it was fractured up under the gum then extraction would be better than a root canal because bacteria and food could get trapped in the gum where the fracture was. 

After he'd answered all of our questions and discussed our options, he said he'd look at the schedule for the week and see where he could fit Barley in for the procedure. About an hour later, the office called to let us know they could fit her in Friday.

We had to drop her off between 7 and 8 a.m. and they said since they were fitting her in, she'd have to be with them most of the day. I hated that I'd have to leave Barley all day long, but I ended up having a lovely time with my mom and Rye while we waited for Barley to be ready for us to pick her up. 

I was finally able to pick Barley up a little after 3:00. The vet spent a little while explaining the procedure: she'd needed the extraction of the premolar, the discolored tooth had needed the root canal, but the other canine didn't have an exposed nerve, so they just smooth it out a little and said it wasn't a problem right now. He also showed me the photos and x-rays they'd taken, which showed the premolar was starting to abscess although the canine wasn't and he explained the different medications (an anti-inflammatory pain medicine, a regular pain medicine, and an antibiotic).


When they finally brought Barley out to me, she was so excited and wagging her whole body. She curled around my legs like a cat and didn't want to leave my side. Everyone in the office loved her and asked if she did any therapy dog work--and I had to explain the whole wet grass thing.

My poor girl was so loopy that she wasn't entirely sure how to get in the car, but she also wasn't sure she wanted my help with that, either. Eventually, we got settled and she cried almost the whole ride home unless I was reaching back between the rows of seats and keeping my hand on her. Once we got back to my parents' house, she just wandered around and it was obvious she was confused about just about everything. 

I felt like a nurse for a few days as I handed out multiple pills a day (not to mention that Rye and Soth were also on medication), but after about 24 hours, Barley was less confused except for the hours right after her pain medicine was administered. The vet had said she could resume activity when she wanted to as long as she wasn't carrying things in her mouth, so I just let Barley decide what she felt like doing. She thought she might want to go for a walk the day after her surgery, but we made it .25-miles before she decided she wanted to go back to the house. The next day, though, she made it for two miles (but then decided she didn't feel like an evening walk). By Monday, she wanted to play with Rye and I had to keep refereeing to make sure she didn't put Rye's head in her mouth or try to play tug with Rye. She was back to a full three miles of walking between her morning and evening walk by Monday.

We came home on Tuesday and she handled 14 hours in the car like a champion. I decided to keep her home from agility this week and took Rye instead--which Barley was not happy about. The vet said she could do agility again when she felt ready, but since she was still on pain medicine, I didn't want her to be confused or have a negative reaction to her classmates because of it. Rye had fun running off energy after a day of travel and Barley will be back to her routine next week.


She's done with all of her medications and seems to be feeling 100% like herself. She still has stitches in her mouth from the extraction, so she has another week of wet food only and no tugging with Rye, but she wants to be back to her normal life. I had to intervene when she tried to grab a stick from Rye and she's snuck snacks out of the trash can on more than one occasion despite my efforts to make sure she's only eating soft things.

We have a follow up appointment with our regular vet next week just to make sure the stitches absorbed properly and everything has healed, but my happy girl is already back to her usual smiley self.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Brew Dogs Hit Birmingham

As summer vacation is winding down, we decided to squeeze in one last trip before going back to work. The girls are always ready for a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house, but this time we added in a couple adventures into Birmingham and my brew dogs got to add a few more breweries to their lists.

Early in our trip, Barley had a consultation with a board-certified veterinary dentist (more on that later). Since we had to drive about an hour to get to the appointment, we decided to make the most of the trip by stopping at a brewery on the way home.

After browsing some Instagram pages for dogs at Birmingham, we decided on Red Hills Brewing Company since their website even had a counter of how many dogs had visited.


Aunt L and Grandpa (and Grandma--not pictured) came along for moral support.

I love the industrial feel of the breweries in Birmingham. There are weird rules about serving food in breweries in Alabama, so the breweries we've been to there allow the dogs to come right inside. A lot of them have fun exposed brick walls and other interesting features to the buildings.

"We take beer seriously, not much else."

In addition to having a cool atmosphere, most of the beers were enjoyable. We started with individual pints--my sister and I both had an Underdog IPA--and then split a flight so we could try some of the styles we weren't as crazy about.

Contrary to this picture, the Pils was not one we actually finished--we just had to get it out of sight!

Until some thunder rolled in, Barley was pretty happy at Red Hills. She was the only dog in the brewery at the time and she had plenty of space to relax with us. I was a little surprised at how little attention she got, though, especially since the website had the dog visit counter! Nobody--including the bartenders--even acknowledged her presence. I'm not sure that has ever happened in an outing with Barley before.

Later in the week, Barley went back to the vet to have her dental work done. Since I don't function well when I don't know exactly what Barley is doing at any given moment, we brought Rye along to distract me. Instead of driving an hour to drop Barley off and an hour back home and then doing that all over again when it was time to pick Barley up, we decided to adventure around Birmingham. 

Last year (in life before Rye), Barley and I went to Red Mountain Park before visiting our first Birmingham brewery and we enjoyed our walk there so much it seemed like the perfect place for Rye and I to go with her grandma.

We walked to the old iron ore mine shaft and stopped for some pictures and a water break. Thankfully, the day was overcast and much cooler than it had been a year earlier when we'd gone with Barley.


Rye and I got our first non-selfie hiking picture together since we had my mom along to take one for us! 

She had a much easier time balancing than I did.

Y'all, if I knew how to share live photos from my phone, you'd be horrified by the way Rye's tongue moves.

We got in over 4-miles before we were all hot and tired and ready to move on to the next adventure. We stopped at the same pizza restaurant we'd gone to the year before with Barley to get some lunch while we waited for the breweries to open. Rye was such a good pup despite the crowded patio and people moving around her the whole meal. During lunch, the vet called to update us on what procedures needed to be done based on the dental x-rays, but Barley hadn't gone into surgery yet, so we still had time to fill.

Next up was Ghost Train Brewing Company. We were the only patrons in the brewery when we first arrived--which is perfect for my shy pup. She needed a little time to decompress after such a busy lunch.


The beers here were pretty good--I loved the IPL and the brown ale, so we picked up some cans of the IPL to share with Rye's grandpa. 


I may have picked my wardrobe to remind the vet that I needed my Barley girl to come out ok.



Before we left Ghost Train, the vet's office had called back to let us know that Barley was out of surgery. They said that her anesthesia was still wearing off, so she wasn't walking around yet, but she was sitting up and had done very well. They asked us to come in a couple hours later for the post-surgery consultation, so we had time for one more brewery visit with Sweet Potato Rye.

Our final stop of the day was Cahaba Brewing Company. While I enjoyed all of the breweries the girls and I visited, this one was my favorite.


This one had all kinds of fun touches like a wooden plank wall, some sort of interesting upcycled wood for the tables, and really good beer.


Cahaba had the most options to choose from for my flight. As a hop head, I was excited to see so many IPAs on the list! There were so many IPAs that I couldn't even try all of them in one flight, but I did my best and picked out a white IPA (you just can't beat a beer with coriander in it), a regular IPA, a double IPA, and a Belgian IPA. They were all delicious and earned each one earned at least a 4-star rating from me on Untappd


I'd hardly had a chance to take a sip of each beer before my pup passed out on the nice cool brewery floor.


She slept the rest of the way to Pet Supplies Plus to get the wet food Barley needs to eat for two weeks and immediately fell asleep for the rest of the drive to the vet's office.


Rye was so sleepy she hardly noticed when Barley joined us in the car. Even though any day one of your pets has to be under anesthesia is a stressful day, I really had a nice day adventuring with my Sweet Potato Rye and my mom. I can't wait for our next visit to see what other adventures Birmingham has in store for my brew dogs!

We're happy to be home and looking forward to finally catching up on our blog reading, though!

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Training the Humans in Your Dog's Life

Over the years, I've written many times about how important it is to have a a village to help you out when you have a reactive dog (especially when dealing with kids, bikes, training challenges and other changes). Sometimes, though, the village also needs a little training to help make your dog successful. This month, our theme for the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop is Training the Humans, so we're going to share our top four tips for training humans while you train your dog.


Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Most of the humans in my pups' lives are people who are very familiar with dog training. They are trainers or classmates and they've been working with dogs long enough that they have a lot of knowledge. They are always willing to help without us even needing to ask for it. Keeping their dogs a safe distance from Barley? No problem. Circling the wagons around Barley when new people come in to watch class? You got it. 

In other situations, though, people don't instinctively know what to do to help your dog and the only way they can learn is if you tell them what you need. Rye has a bad habit of jumping up and trying to steal bags of treats out of people's hands when they are getting a treat out. If people hold the treat bags up high, Rye sees that as a challenge to jump higher to get to them. She was not interested in listening to me when other people had treats because she knew that she'd get one from them. I asked her friends' humans to never give her treats and all the sudden I had a lot more value in Rye's eyes because I was the only one she was getting food from. There are still moments when she tries to steal bags of treats from her friends' humans, but as soon as I call her, she's back at my side. Her friends' humans were more than happy to help me train my wild child.

Treats taste better when they're stolen.

Have Clear Rules
In Rye's obedience class, our trainers had us practice our responses to the question "Can I pet your dog?" every week. If our dog was ok with being pet, we were supposed to say some version of "Sure, but let me have her sit first." By making sure the dogs are sitting before someone approaches them, the dogs learn that they get all of the love by not jumping up on people. 

Rules are made to be followed.

Barley especially knows there are clear rules for everything. Going for a walk? You better sit to get your leash on. Opening the door? You better sit and not budge until you hear the word ok. Human meal time? If you have any hope of getting a bite, you better be laying down. Dog meal time? You better stay in a down and not think of taking a bite until you hear ok. Sitting? If your butt comes off the ground before you've been given the treat, you're not getting the treat until you're back in a sit.
If we stay here, we might get a french fry.

But you have to teach people those rules, too, and the more you practice communicating those rules, the easier it will be to get people to help reinforce your dog's training.

Choose Your Battles
When you have a lot of rules, it's hard enough to remember them all yourself sometimes, much less communicate them to other people. We have our set of non-negotiables: other people's dogs can't ever say hi to Barley, children who look under 10 never get to pet Barley, if the door opens and butts come off the ground before the dogs hear ok, the door closes until butts are on the ground again. Our non-negotiables are the ones that are essential for safety of the people interacting with my dogs or for my dogs. 

It doesn't matter if there's a squirrel out there. If the butt is off the ground before the word ok is heard, nobody's going out.

Then there are the other things that are more for just good manners. Our mail carrier loves the girls and always has treats for them. Sometimes she pulls the mail truck up alongside us while we're walking and leans out to get a treat. If the girls stay sitting to get their treat, she can't really reach them to hand out the treats--so Barley and Rye usually put their paws up on the steps into the mail truck to get their treats. If we see her out on the sidewalk, the girls bounce up and down like they've been eating jumping beans all days. The girls are so excited to see her that it can take a long time to get them settled down enough to stay in a sit to get their treats. Our mail carrier doesn't have all day, so I don't make the girls sit for their treats from her. There are some downsides--Barley thinks that every mail truck we see belongs to our mail carrier and she starts pulling towards them every time we see a mail truck, but it does give us a chance to work on reactions to distractions. Letting the mail carrier give the dogs a treat, brings her and the girls enough joy that it makes it worth bending the rules a bit. They still know they aren't getting a treat from me unless they are sitting calmly to get it.

You Can't Change People, You Can Only Change Yourself
Sometimes, people just need to be told the rules in order to help you train your dog and you can ask them to change their behavior, but you really can't change anyone except for yourself. I spent the first year of living in our house thinking that one day my neighbors would stop letting their dogs charge at the fence between our yards. Then one day I realized that was never going to happen and the only thing I could change was my own approach to the situation. While I couldn't convince them to train their dogs, I could change the way I trained my own dogs. We went back to basics and did on-leash training with sits, downs, stays, heeling and slowly decreased our distance from the fence. The girls got some much needed practice on staying focused on me and ignoring distractions. There's still plenty of work to be done, but I can usually get the girls to come away from the fence and stay with me if the other dogs come running now.

Ultimately, I can only control these two.

Training dogs is a lot easier when you have support from the other people your dogs interact with, but from my experience, as long as you stay consistent with your expectations for your dogs, the world doesn't end if other people bend the rules a little bit every now and then.

Be sure to check out our co-hosts for the Positive Pet Blog Hop, Wag 'N Woof Pets and Tenacious Little Terrier, as well as all of the other great blogs linking up with us this week! Our theme for this month's hop is Training the Humans, but we welcome any positive training posts.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Hunting Down Fun With Pet Treater

To say the last few days have been stressful would be an understatement. We've had a phone go swimming and a handful of non-life-threatening, but stress-inducing, vet appointments scheduled. Thankfully, Pet Treater always knows when we need them and shows up with a box of fun for everyone.


As always, the box was filled to the brim with a variety of different items for all of us.


While everything in the box was exciting, there were three especially big hits with the girls this month. First was some pretty cheese snacks with a carob icing from Three Dog Bakery. Barley was nosing around in the box while I was getting ready to take pictures and she went straight for these. She was especially happy that there were two pieces in the package so that she didn't have to share with Rye (and of course, being the big sister, she got the bigger stick).


Next Barley dove into the box to get to the Puppy Scoops ice cream. We got some of that in one of our earliest boxes, so she knew that little container when she saw it. Since we've had some cooler weather, we decided to hold off on mixing it up and freezing it until we get some warmer weather again.


The biggest hit of all, though, was a beaver toy from Animal Planet. This little guy had everything Rye loves: a squeaker in his head, a tennis ball body, and a crinkly tail. My little hound puppy couldn't wait to start playing with this guy.



The only problem is he didn't survive for very long. About 5 minutes after I turned her loose with him, the tennis ball was no more. 



When I got back from throwing out the tennis ball, I came across a shocking sight in the middle of the yard.


Rye didn't care that the toy didn't hold up to her style of play, though. In fact, now she has two toys to play with because she is still carrying around the crinkly tail and loves chasing after the severed head.

We also got several other goodies in the box a monkey toy, a set of collapsible pet bowls, a bath caddy with a cushion for kneeling on while bathing dogs, a bag of I'd Rather Be With My Dog treats, and Burt's Bees wipes for humans. The girls have always enjoyed I'd Rather Be With My Dog treats and we can never have too many training treats on hand. We didn't really need the pet bowls--we're on the go enough that we already have travel bowls we use regularly--and we have a dog shower in the basement, so I don't need to kneel on a pad, but the local shelter was happy to have those items to add to a basket for a future auction at one of their fundraisers. The Burt's Bees wipes are meant for post-workout refreshing during the middle of the day, and they'll be perfect in my desk drawer for those classes when I'm writing enough on the board to work up a sweat!

As always, Pet Treater made all of us happy! If you'd like to try Pet Treater for yourself, you can get $5 off your first box with the code PT-5OFF at checkout.

Disclaimer: We were provided with a Pet Treater box in exchange for our honest review.