Posted by: arcticpacksiberians | September 27, 2015

Acryse Senator of Arcticpack. 16/03/01 – 27/09/15

There inevitably comes a time in every kennel when you lose the first dog that you bought, that got you well and truly hooked on getting more.  For us, that day was today and I am typing through tears.

Kifa was our first dog we bought together and some 14 years later we now have a kennel full of dogs and lead a life that revolves around them.  We owe all that to Kifa.  We could never have imagined that such a gorgeous, cute, innocent little thing could turn out to be so much hard work and quite the little terror.   He was a rather possessive, wild little guy and taught us a heck of a lot about dogs in a very short space of time.  He grew up to be a real nice dog and with some understanding was no trouble as an adult.

Of course, being our first dog and totally new to the breed, we thought we could train him and let him off lead.  Which we did and it all went fine until he got past the puppy stage.  Then, as happens to the vast majority of them Siberian-ness got the better of him and things were too tempting not to disappear after.  He especially loved people and running after children in the park to say hello to.  Not all children were particularly happy to have a young Siberian launch themselves at them and try to lick them to death.  And although the woman whose car he jumped in was very nice about the situation, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t all that impressed either.  The toddler seemed pretty happy though and was giggling away while Kifa said hello. After the jumping in the first car he could find with a door open escapade, he was relegated to on lead exercise only unless in a properly secure area.   As a youngster Kifa was also incredibly embarrassing when out for a walk if he wanted something.  For example, we couldn’t walk past the local pet shop without him going in for a biscuit.  Otherwise he would stop in his tracks pull back on his collar and just scream like he was being tortured.   He would do similar on walks if there was a dog or people he wanted to say hello to.  He was a great dog for doing fundraising events with.  He loved everyone.

In less than a year along came Kai and the two of them became lifelong best friends.  As they aged and became elderly gents, they were much happier living together with just each other and of course spent a lot of time on the couch. As youngsters they ‘worked’ in harness but it quickly became apparent they much preferred the going somewhere aspect of running in harness, but not so much them doing the work part of it.  They did run a few races though and always got round.

with his lifelong pal kai. taken a couple of years ago.

with his lifelong pal, taken a couple of years ago.

In the last couple of years Kifa developed various health problems, some of which were worse than others.  Until this morning he was still eating everything we gave him and although slowing down quite a bit, still enjoyed his walks.  This morning he refused food and pretty much just didn’t want to get up at all.  Things went downhill from there and along with our vet we made the decision to let him be at peace.

It will be very, very strange and sad here without him.   He has been with us from the start.   I am so glad he came into our lives and that he opened up a whole different direction for our lives to go in.  We have both lost such a good friend and I truly hope he loved his life with us as much as we loved having him.   Kai will be lost without him.

Sleep tight our wonderful old man.  We will miss you forever xxxx

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Posted by: arcticpacksiberians | August 22, 2015

Our dogs are trying to kill us….

Okay, so maybe not quite.

But the last month or so certainly feels like there is some sort of canine conspiracy going on to at least make my hair turn grey overnight.

Having this number of dogs is certainly a huge responsibility.  It can be a bit overwhelming at times when things aren’t going quite as planned and the dogs are poorly.

Following on from my last blog, our wonderful girl Betty, very sadly developed glaucoma in her remaining eye and went blind.  It is so dreadfully unfair that she had so little time left being able to see since having her first eye removed.  She did get quite a fright when she first went blind as it happened while she was sleeping.  How awful that must be to wake up and everything be dark.  We started he on glaucoma meds straight away and she had a couple of days where her vision would come back, then go again.  The day came when she lost it for good.   Betty coped superbly throughout and amazed us at how quickly she ‘mapped’ inside and out.   She was keen, eager to learn her way around and faced everything with an enviable enthusiasm.  She was happy to jump on and off boxes outside and could wander round the pens without bumping into anything.  She was so scarily good at getting around that we wondered if she could actually see.  When we took her somewhere she wasn’t as familiar with though, it was very apparent she couldn’t see anything.  She also had no blink reflex and couldn’t see a cotton ball dropped in front of her face.  It became quite obvious within the first week that Betty felt she should still be running in harness.   So we let her, and tried to help her as best we could to enable her to do what she loves.

A very smiley, blind Betty after a run in harness.

A very smiley, blind Betty after a run in harness.

Her willingness to continue to run in harness even totally blind was a major factor in having to make one of the most awful decisions we have ever had to make.  Given the fact she would need to be on meds, highly likely for the rest of her life, and that she would continue to suffer painful pressure spikes along with the probability of her getting poked in the eye from bushes while running, we made the decision to have her remaining eye removed.

11 days post op and she has stitches removed and is looking good.   It wasn’t all plain sailing though!  The second removal had a lot more swelling and definitely took longer to look healed.  It was also much more stressful this time round, as obviously she couldn’t see while she recovered.  We had to guide her everywhere to make sure she didn’t bump into anything and damage her wound.  This had quite a negative effect on Betty who had suddenly went from being pretty independent, to being ushered around, on a lead outside in the pen, confined to a crate indoors and us being quite worried and stressed.  Because we were worrying, so was she and she lost a little confidence.  Midway the swelling around her eye socket and wound went down (as expected), only to reappear the next day.  Panic stations and back at the vets for some reassurance that all was indeed, ok, which it was.    Betty is now very happy to be let out of jail (her crate) and is very much looking forward to getting back to (her new) normal and back in harness.  Her confidence is back and she is getting herself in and out, re-mapping her environment and turfing the others off the couch when she wants up on their spot.

patiently waiting to be let out of jail

patiently waiting to be let out of jail

While Betty was recuperating Omar decided to have a 5 second brawl with Pirate which resulted in a burst lip for Omar.  Idiots.   Girls fault as usual.  It was one of those small skin rips where you think, ‘hmm, wonder if that needs a stitch’.   But i was right, it didn’t and it is healing fine.

A few days later Vixen went one better and decided to eat a wasp.  This did not go well.  I just happened to look out the window and saw the girls looking like they were up to something.  I went out to look and was confronted with Vixen looking very sorry for herself.  My immediate thought was, ‘you’ve been stung’ so i ran back in and got antihistamines.  Once I had given her one i then discovered the various piles of fluidy vomit.  And a little bastard wasp crawling about on its last legs.   I made sure it was definitely its last legs!
Vixen rushed to vets where she got IV drugs.  That whole night we were awake just watching her and making sure she stayed hydrated.   Her breathing was so rapid and her muscles were solid.  She had a temp of 103.5 and she was very, very poorly.  By 4am her temp had come down to 102, which is still hot for our guys, but she was a little brighter and very hungry.   It has taken her a couple of days, but she is finally back to normal.  She is back indoors being guide dog for the blind dog.   I think we will have to make her a kennel run covered with mosquito netting! Of course, the next morning I caught Omar on the bench with a bee.  Like an angry tennis player i’m screaming at him ‘You CANNOT be serious!’, while he just looks at me as if to say, ‘what? it’s buzzing.  must eat it’.   Dogs! Stop eating buzzy things!

Blind Dog and The Wasp Eater out for a walk.

Blind Dog and The Wasp Eater out for a walk.

So, after two weeks of very little or no sleep, enough stress to cause an ulcer and grey hair, we are looking forward to some cooler weather, dying wasps and getting dogs back out in harness.

Posted by: arcticpacksiberians | June 8, 2015

Glaucoma is a bitch.

Yes, indeed it is.  A horrible, sight stealing, pain causing, traumatic, bitch of a disease.

Last week was a very shitty week.

One of our beautiful, innocent, trusting, loving, wonderful dogs developed this disease last Sunday.  She showed no outward signs she was in any discomfort until it was too late to save the sight in her eye.  The only sign something was up was a pupil slightly larger than the other and even then it was still reacting to light.  Not as much as it should, but still reacting nonetheless.  We had her at the emergency vet within an hour but by that point the eye had already started to enlarge a little.  At this point we were still pretty sure she could see out of it.

Betty was immediately started on glaucoma medication which consisted of two sets of eye drops geared at lowering the eye pressure. She also had Loxicom to help with the pain. (although she wasn’t showing any whatsoever!)  The Tonometer our vets have is shared between two practices and unfortunately it was at the other branch 45 – 50 minutes away,  so we couldn’t test her eye pressure on the Sunday.  (we were willing to travel to the other branch, but the treatment wouldn’t have been any different had we known her pressure was high on the sunday.  It would have been more undue stress to the dog so we took her home to keep her calm and quiet and hopefully give the drops the best chance to work.  We would take her back on the Monday  to check pressure then,  once they got the equipment they needed. )  Despite the quick action of both us and our excellent vets at getting her on the drops, we think she went blind sometime on Monday.   Her eye pressure on the Monday was at 48 in that eye.  Normal range for dogs (and humans) is between 10 – 20.   Her good eye was at 12.  On the Monday afternoon her eye had started to cloud over which is really not a good sign.  I made an appointment to see our ‘local’ eye specialist Tony Wall for the Thursday.  We needed to know for absolute certainty she had lost the sight in that eye and for him to give us a prognosis for the ‘good’ eye.

Overnight on the Monday into Tuesday was the only time she showed any signs of being in discomfort.  She wasn’t screaming, or crying or pawing at her eye or anything, but she was incredibly restless and couldn’t settle to sleep.  She would groan a little and change position and was generally not all that happy.   In the morning the eye looked pretty awful.  It was weeping and red and she mostly had it shut.  I phoned the vets in the morning first thing and we started her on Tramadol to help with the pain/discomfort.  From the first dose she was opening the eye and seemed neither up nor down with it from then on.   Three cheers for Tramadol!

Thursday couldn’t come quick enough, although Betty was carrying on as normal, eating, telling off her brother and I’m fairly certain if we had put her in harness she would have ran.  These dogs never cease to amaze me with their ability to cope with things that would have us in a darkened room screaming, doped up with every drug known to man.  Unfortunately Tony did not deliver good news.  She had lost the sight in her eye, despite being on the drops as quickly as we could possibly get her on them.  Her pressure had come down to 33 in the bad eye and remained low in the good eye at 11.  An eye pressure of 33 is extremely uncomfortable and would be like a constant migraine.  (i can only imagine what 48 must have been like for her.)

Unfortunately we do know a few people who have been in this position and they were invaluable in helping us decide how to proceed from here.  Cam and I were very glad we had a conversation long ago about ‘what if’ and ‘what we would we do if’.  From experience and seeing friends dogs first hand with the disease, coupled with reading up about the disease previously, we had made a decision that if we were ever in this position we would remove the eye.

The general consensus from people who have had dogs with glaucoma is that they wished they hadn’t persevered with drops and that they had the eye removed sooner.  The eye is blind with no hope of regaining sight.  The drops were only bringing the pressure down to the 30’s, which is still very uncomfortable.  She couldn’t run (Betty LOVES to run) with an eye like that as every time she did the pressure would be sky-high again with the raised blood pressure and excitement.  She would likely need to be on pain meds for as long as she had the eye.  So, with all that in mind and after discussion about it with the specialist, we booked her in at our own vets for the next day for enucleation surgery on her left eye.

We felt, and still feel physically sick about doing this to her.  It does feel very like we have mutilated her and she does look like something out a Frankenstein movie at the moment.  But day 3 after the surgery it is rapidly becoming apparent this was indeed, the right thing to do for Betty.  Already she isn’t needing the full dose of her Tramadol and even on the Friday night when she came home she lay with her head flat on her bed on the side she had the op on.  She hadn’t lay on her left side at all last week.  She must have felt some immediate relief with the eye gone.

Today one week after she developed glaucoma and 3 days after she had her left eye removed, she is bright, happy and very, very bored with being indoors and in a crate.  She will have to stay quiet another couple of days (wish me luck with that!) and as our dogs are not known for being particularly gentle (read they are a bunch of louts!) she will have to stay separate from the others a while longer too.  She has been out eating her breakfast and dinner with the two old boys Kifa and Kai as they are too old now to run about daft like the youngsters.

We have to thank those involved in helping me get where I needed to be with Betty during last week, Tony for his  expertise and never ending patience and our super vets for carrying out the op so quickly.  Her wound looks excellent and the swelling and bruising is starting to look much better too.    As far as Betty is concerned she says, ‘No eye… No problem!’

 

Outside enjoying some sunshine post surgery

Business as usual relaxing belly up on the couch

Business as usual relaxing belly up on the couch

 

Posted by: arcticpacksiberians | November 11, 2014

Langfaulds Xera of Arcticpack.

Last night we had to say a sad goodbye to one of our best friends.   My only comfort is that we could be with her when she left us.   It’s an inevitable fact that dogs get old but sometimes it sneaks up on you so fast you really aren’t that aware of it.   I am very guilty of believing  our dogs are always going to be there and I just wish we could have longer with them.  Much longer.

Caileag or Witchy as she became known, was a wonderful big dog.  She was our third dog and our first GSD.  She grew up with Siberians and every time we added more of them she just accepted it and took the puppies under her wing.   Her favourite Siberian puppy was Norris and she was very protective of him.   She took on the roll of keeping an eye on the on lead Siberians when we were out for walks.  If one managed to escape (which happened on a couple of occasions) she would go get them and bring them back.  It was like she knew they weren’t supposed to loose and boy would they get a row from her for it!  Witchy also loved to work in harness and was actually pretty good at it.   She would often free run with the team on training runs.  She loved to play fetch with you and absolutely loved carrying around and chewing sticks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As all GSD puppies are, she was adorable as a youngster and grew to be a very beautiful girl.   She did try a bit of showing, but she got so excited she couldn’t keep quiet and barked the whole time she was in the ring, wagging her tail and generally finding the whole experience way too much fun.   That was how she looked at life in general.   Everything she did she did with enthusiasm.   She had a fantastic temperament with people and would regularly attend fundraising events with us when we used to do working displays etc with the Siberians.

 

It is very sad and quiet here without you Witchy.   Hexie is looking for you.  We are so sorry you had to leave us but I hope you are now at peace.

Sleep tight my beautiful girl, we will miss you forever  xx

 

 

 

 

Posted by: arcticpacksiberians | August 19, 2014

Only a year late…..

Well, the puppies are now 15 months old and I have finally got around to adding them to the website.   Lewis and Hudson’s pages are still a work in progress, but will be added very soon.

 

If you are interested in reading about the dogs then follow the link to   The Dogs.

Also, our super vets and team at Bellevue Veterinary Centre have a new website.  Find it here at Bellevue Vets .  

If you are in the Banff area we would highly recommend them.  They are now also running acupuncture clinics. 

 

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