Well, the big news this week is that Marge's blood tests have arrived back from Dr. Jean Dodds' Hemopet lab. Because the Postal Service got it there so much later than it should have, the Complete Blood Count (CBC) results were a little bit wonky so I'm not sure how much stock to put in them. A couple of the levels were a bit high. Everything else, however, was normal, according to the report.
This means thyroid issues are pretty much out at this point. One thyroid level was a low normal, (I believe the Free T4) but Dr. Dodds indicated that it could be due to a "concurrent non-thyroidal issue." She clearly stated in her message that there were no signs of thyroid problems.
I have a call in to my vet and I expect to hear back from him tomorrow. I'm really not too worried about something being very medically wrong since the blood was so old when it finally reached the lab. Dr. Dodds did suggest another round of testing next year, so if nothing else changes, it looks like we'll do this yearly.
Next time, I might use UPS or Fed-Ex though!
I don't like getting into food talk here on the blog since feed choices can be a very touchy subject. But, I recently added in Taste of the Wild to Marge's usual Merrick Grammy's Pot Pie Kibble. (I later found out that TOTW is manufactured by Diamond, which bothered me a little, but I decided to give it a shot anyway - I have spoken to LOTS of people who love this food). Though I think Merrick is a fine quality food, it is about middle of the road in terms of meat content, and, given Marge's up-and-coming agility career, I thought her body would benefit from a grain-free, protein-packed boost.
Initially, I loved how she was doing on the food. Her poop hasn't looked this good in a year! Everything else appeared the same. Coat looked good, eyes looked clear, et cetera.
However.. and a big however..
After about a week, I started to notice some behavioral signs that I did not like. Marge was antsy. She was constantly seeking attention and seemed like she could not be satiated with any amount of anything (food, exercise, attention, etc). And, most importantly, there was a resurgence in reactivity. (Some of this I mentioned in my last Tuesday Training post from agility class.)
I didn't immediately make the connection that the food could be causing the problem, but once I did, I pulled her off of it and put her back on her own food.
My hunch is that TOTW is too much protein for Marge. I don't want to get all psych-nerdy here, but apparently high-protein foods flood the body with amino acids, which may dilute the affects of tryptophan, another amino acid. Tryptophan plays a role in the production of serotonin, a feel-good/calming neurotransmitter.
I have read before that fearful/fear-aggressive/aggressive/anxious/etc. dogs do better on low protein diets. Merrick is about 10% lower in protein than Taste of the Wild is, BUT, TOTW is by no means a very high protein food. Am I sure it was the food that did it? No, not at all. Am I comfortable using the food? I'm not sure yet. The search for a new food may very well continue.
Because the fact that she did well (from a digestive point of view) on 3/4 Merrick and 1/4 TOTW, I feel like Merrick is missing something rather than my initial hunch that the fruits and veggies in it were too rich for her. If Merrick was, indeed, too rich, Marge's poop wouldn't have firmed up so noticeably by just adding in a percentage of a new food. So, I think I might do 1/2 Merrick and 1/2 something else - whatever that something else might be. (No, raw is not an option for me right now.)
Helping Out with HTP
On a related note, I've begun researching the supplementation of 5-hydroxytryptophan, which is over-the-counter. 5-HTP is what comes after tryptophan in the metabolism of tryptophan and ultimately becomes serotonin. Studies indicate that 5-HTP can cross the pivotal blood-brain barrier, which is why it is able to produce behavioral effects. It is slightly more risky than my current go-to, Melatonin, but it has been suggested to me so I am taking a look at it.
Walks haven't been had as of late.
We hit one rough spot yesterday, but I think it had more to do with me than it did with Marge. She was getting all antsy, asking for dinner two hours before she was supposed to get it, and I decided to grab a handful of kibble and take her for a walk. Perhaps the fact that I was being bothered by her incessant begging trickled down the leash to her.. she saw a girl get into a car and drive away and that set the stage. She then saw kids playing across the street in the field, and that made things worse. She got all flighty and shut down Of course, this frustrated me, which probably made her more scared. Eventually, we both chilled out enough to walk around the field clicking and treating.
Nobody's perfect, I guess. Human or canine.
Here are a few more pictures from our nice walk in the field a couple of days ago. I use my red 20' leash a lot, and as you can see, Marge really enjoys running around on it. (I just bought a 50' one last night.. should be a lot of fun in the snow!)
RUN RUN RUN!
Agility class was canceled for tonight due to Marisa's trip to a competition. But, I went to the field anyway for run-thrus.
The course was EXTREMELY challenging, with VERY hard tunnel entries especially. Unfortunately, the camera battery was dead so there are no videos. I tried really hard just now to draw the course in paint, but, ultimately, I failed at it. Ha!
I'll just recap it as best I can:
- Led out over first jump, second obstacle was the tire. UGH, Marge hates the tire. I've started saying jump to get her to go through it, because I think "tire" makes her think of "tunnel" so she decides to crawl under it.
- Next was pull to jump- another back- A-Frame. She was a monster over the A-Frame tonight. Completely haphazard. She did hit her contact once I put her back on to it, but never on the first run over it. Has to do with speed, no doubt.
- After that, it was jump-tunnel-teeter. She had so many problems with the tunnels tonight, and I'm not sure if it was my handling, the fact that the tunnels were super dark and spooky, or a combination of things. She did NOT want to go in them! Of course, once I got her in she went barreling out at full speed to the teeter. The first time she did it she flew off, but in subsequent runs, she actually operated the pivot point beautifully and stayed on until I released her. WOOHOO! Big progress there.
- Jump-table. Apparently she likes the table because on more than one run, she totally bypassed the completely obvious jump to go straight to the table. Nice downs on the table, too.
- After that was another tunnel that she gave me a ton of trouble with. She decided on most runs that when I said "tunnel," it was more fun for her to go barreling across the ring and totally ignore the tunnel.
- Jump-weave. No problems here, for the most part. She flew by the weaves once or twice but after I made her redo it, she was fine.
- Jump- HARD backcross to tunnel. She wasn't so bad with this tunnel as long as I was right there to get her in it.
- HARD turn to chute. Poor girlie got caught up in the chute on one run through no fault of her own, but, thankfully, wasn't spooked afterward.
- HARD turn to jump. This was fine as long as I screamed her name at the top of my lungs after she came out of the chute.
Not a very forgiving course, I'll tell you that much. You absolutely had to be in the exact right spot to run it clean (at least for a novice dog and a novice handler). She did pull some of her zoomy crap at the end, but I did a few more obstacles with her before we left and she was under control.
No reactivity tonight whatsoever. I brought her crate, actually, and although she much preferred to be outside of it with me (and begging for cookies from everyone else), I think it definitely cut down on the snark.
She saw her old friend, Russ the Viszla, who hasn't been at class lately, and that made her super happy.. in the middle of one run she went running over to him to play bow and jump around. Silly girl.
Over all, it was a lot of fun for a night I wasn't even supposed to be at the field!Late Night Rendezvous
I returned home to find the family friend over who Marge had a bit of a run-in with in September. Fortunately, this time, it went better. They were on their way out as we were coming in, and I simply had him feed her (but NOT ask her to do anything) a few pieces of cookie, and that was that. It was a bit of a relief to see that Marge didn't fly off the handle and go nuts as soon as she saw him in the house (though I know that the biggest problem is when people enter).
There you have it.. another very long, very technical Tuesday training post!