Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It's coming up on 2 months since April arrived, which is the amount of time I figured it would take for her to completely settle into her life here and get to know us (and for us to get to know her!). For the most part, we've been absolutely thrilled with her. And we seem to have successfully adjusted where needed to deal with the less than thrilling parts. Like hating cats and wanting to maul chickens. (More on the chickens below.)

April physically has been going through a rather large adjustment as well. I think it's safe to assume that she's never eaten a raw diet before coming here, and just like clockwork, she began experiencing some icky skin issues right at the the 6 week mark. This sort of thing is called "detoxing", because her body is getting rid of the toxins it's built up from eating kibble over the course of her life, and is to be fully expected when changing the diet so drastically. She has a few weepy sores on her skin (you can see one in this photo, just in front of her hip up on the spine). These sorts of things will heal themselves in time, so right now I'm just keeping an eye on it, putting on fly-repellent ointment when the weather is warm enough for flies (which is not often at this point), and making sure it stays clean. (April takes care of keeping it clean pretty effectively.) Although it looks pretty nasty, she lets me touch these spots and it doesn't seem to be painful to her at all. They should clear up over the course of the next several weeks.

We still keep her locked in her kennel at night, because the ducks are also locked in and don't need protecting, the sheep are locked into their main pasture which her kennel adjoins, and because it keeps her barking to a portion of the property where it's less likely to annoy neighbors (she's behind the outbuildings, so the noise is primarily pointed towards the woods). She's very cooperative about this and just loves her kennel and shelter, but she's always raring to go check out her territory in the morning when we let her out.

We've been leaving her with the sheep full-time (except nights) for the past 4 weeks or so. She seems to be doing her job of protecting them just fine, even though she still seems mildly uninterested in them. She does protect her kennel from them, with growling and barking, but they pretty much don't go near it anymore, so that sort of thing has died down. Other than that she's not shown any sign of aggression towards them at all, even if she's got her head in their feed trough scrounging up the last few morsels of grain with them. So I feel she's completely trustworthy with them. And she's great with the ducks -- they are not physically with her, but she guards at the sides of their yard and you can see her check in regularly (it almost looks like she's counting them to make sure they are all there -- if they're not all out in the field, she'll trot down to their shed and look in the window to make sure they are all present and accounted for!). She seems protective of them and interested in them. Chickens, however, she is obsessed with. After her mauling a few of them (which all lived without serious injury, by the way, but it was very alarming to look at), and watching her obsess over them when she could see them (to the point that she wasn't guarding anything else), we had to move them to an area where she can't see them anymore.

So basically things are working out just great! She did experience some sort of heart event the middle of last week -- she suddenly collapsed, was having trouble breathing, had an arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat rhythm), and her gums were cyanotic (blue, meaning she wasn't getting enough oxygen). We decided that a trip to the vet would be too traumatic for her (and for us, just getting her into the car would have been an issue, she's BIG), and that it wouldn't be safe for a vet to come examine her in her kennel. Fortunately, I have years and years of experience working for vets, and a good friend who is our vet just a phone call away. We felt comfortable that there wasn't much we could do for her at that point, and that rest was the best thing for her. She was back to her bouncy self by morning, but the best guess is that it's Congestive Heart Failure. There's also the possibility that this was some sort of "healing crisis" and a part of the whole detox process, and may never repeat itself. (We can hope!) I've got her on some natural products to help support her heart, and if it happens again we can start her on Lasix, which many dogs do very well on for years after a Congestive Heart Failure diagnosis. So hopefully she'll be around for a long time to come -- at this point I just can't imagine this place without her!

That's the hard part about adopting an older dog, but we wouldn't change a thing, we just love her!


  1. I'm so glad that she's working out and has a good home but sad to hear about the possible congestive heart failure. Poor old girl. Sorry to hear about the chickens

  2. Flies are a big problem where we live in northern WI and our daughter made a natural bug repellent for me to try on our Kangal Dog pup and it worked well.

    It was a mixture of olive oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, basil and garlic powder.

    The flies were biting her ears so I would apply it liberally to her outer ears and rub it in so that it soaked clear to the skin. Once a day applications seemed to do the trick.