29 September 2012

My furry baby: Taj

Reading over last weeks blog about the post-paralympic haze I thought I would clarify something about my dog Taj the "special needs dog" I mentioned. My dog HAS special needs. He isn't an assistant dog that the phrase 'special needs dog' kind of implies. I probably should have written that a bit better. My dog wouldn't have passed his assistant dog test (he will fetch for you, but getting the object back from him is the real task!).

When Taj was small enough, his fave place to sleep was underneith me!
Just before Taj turned one (2 February 2012) he was a very sick puppy. It was also just after Lee and I came back from our honeymoon so we thought at first maybe it was something that had happend at the kennel he stayed at for the two weeks we were away. Basically he was throwing up all the time, lost all his energy and happiness. It was hard to see your puppy go from a happy, crazy, cheeky little thing to a sad puppy who didn't even have the energy to wag his tail when he saw you coming.

He spent many long days at the Vet where we would drop him off in the morning and pick him up at night just so he could be on a drip and get some fluids/nutrience. He also had a whole range of different tests and scans done so would come home with different patches of hair missing where they shaved his hair to get closer to him.

No happiness in that face. Bright bandage where his drip was.
He spent a lot of time lying on the cold tiles in the bathroom, so that's where I moved his water bowl.
After all those scans and tests he was eventually diagnosed with having arrhythmia. His heart was beating irregulary. Basically rather than having the normal tha-thump tha-thump heart beat, every now and then his heart would go tha-tha-tha-tha-thump. His heart was racing without him needing to do anything! We originally thought maybe he had eaten something non-biodegradable and it was somehow stuck, hence the vomiting everytime he ate or drunk. It would have involved one expensive but fairy simple proceedure to cut it out of him.

Arrhythmia was a very scary diagnosis for us. I remember when Lee called me to tell me the news about Taj's diagnosis. It was after I had just finished an exam at uni and I was in my car still parked in the carpark with the tears streaming down my face. If anyone saw me they probably thought I had just flunked an exam. My furry black baby has a heart defect! This would be something we would have to deal with for the rest of his life. Taj would spend the rest of his life with:
  • Various tablets at various times during the day. We actually bought one of those weekly medication storage things that have morning, noon and evening compartments so we could sort out which tablets were once a day, twice a day or three times a day and at the correct dosage. We eventually bought another one so I only had to sit there with a pill cutter once every two weeks. Some tablets had to be hidden in small cubes of dog roll and dinner tablets are hidden in his can food (see below about his diet).
  • No exercise at all. His heart was already racing so if we were to take him for a run (which Lee did quite often beforehand) then the chances of Taj having a heart attack and dying on us was very high. We were also told that we may even just come home one day with him not with us anymore. The thought of him having a heart attack outside alone was very upsetting to me. Try telling a puppy to not run around! Those of you who have owned dogs will know the little 'spazzes' they have when all of a sudden they get in the mood of running around the house. In my case it involves 'drifting' on the floor boards and slamming (all 30kg) into the walls. He likes to use the carpeted hallway to stop safely - kind of like a 'runaway truck ramp' on the side of a hilly road.
  • A special prescription diet. Gone are the days of ducking down to City Farmers to get a bag of biscuits. He is now on a strict diet of portion controlled low salt, high good-for-your-heart-stuff from Royal Canin. With no exercise we don't want him to get fat so each day he has 129g of Royal Canin cardiac dry biscuits and 1.5 cans of Royal Canin cardic canned food. About every month and a half I will spend an hour with the electric scales and fill about 40-50 plastic snap lock bags with 129 grams of biscuit.
  • Regular trips to the vet. A big thank you to the girls and guys of Kingsway Veterinary Centre and Perth Vet Specialist who know Taj very well. I should mention just how glad Lee and I are that we took out Pet Insurance as soon as he was 8 weeks old (the earliest you can get insurance). Vet appointments aren't cheap. Vet appointments plus EEG's, ultrasounds, blood tests, hospitalisation, special diet, prescription medication = 1000's and 1000's of $$. Pet Insurance has been wonderful!
This is something that he has probably had since birth but for some reason never came to light til just before he turned 1. It isn't genetic, there is nothing wrong with the breeding. He has an impecable pedigree. It is just one of those unfortunate things that happen to people (or animals).

Now a days Taj is a happy and very cheeky dog. If I am on the computer and he gets bored and wants a cuddle he will jump up and squirm his way onto my lap (just his top half, he is way too big to be a lap dog). You can tell when he has something he shouldn't when he tries to sneak past you but as soon as you look up or say 'hey!' he bolts down the hallway where you have to chase him and try sheppard him into a corner. He loves his Kong toys, especially the type that you put the treats inside and he has to roll them around to get them out. He doesn't even need the treats inside (he isn't allowed many treats anyway). He will play with them for hours without anything in them! We have had to throw out many toys (anything soft, or rope-like) because he has chewed them to tiny pieces. He is a bit of a Marley :-)

The duck and the basketball are no longer around.
The red Kong toys have lasted!
Over the last few months the Vet has been weening him off various tablets to see what we can get away with. His heart is beating at a fairly regular pace which is the best news. I don't think he will get off tablets entirely but at the moment he is no longer on the annoying tablet that had to be given to him 1 hour before food (which meant getting up extra early and getting home in time so he isn't being fed dinner at an unreasonable hour) and he is no longer on the one that was needed 3 times a day. He is currently on 1 tablet with breakfast and 2 and 1/4 tablets with his dinner.

We still aren't taking him on walks but he is a happy dog. When the weather becomes better and consistant we will start taking him back out in the world of different smells. Definitely no running with Lee but short slow walks are fine. Will have to take that 10m lead out somewhere :-)


1 comment:

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