|Updated Jan. 2019
We had been talking for a couple of years of eventually
adopting a semi-working dog to protect the chickens and just hang out
around the property. Last year ,when some of our chickens got taken by
a fox and a weasel, this became
a bigger priority. We had thought it would be nice if we got something
we MIGHT be able to turn into a herding dog, provided we could learn to
train it. So we focused on the idea of something along the lines of a
Border Collie or some cross thereof.
Well, family friends offered my father a BC and
an Australian Shepherd from their first litter of working dogs. When
Dad said he didn't want another dog, they offered one to us if there
were enough, as they had a list potentially longer than the likely
litter. In May of 2004, when some had
backed out, we got called over to check out the tiny pups and pick one
out from three that hadn't been fully claimed yet (there were five all
together, not everyone had picked theirs yet). Sadly for us they had
docked the tails to make them more like Australian Shepherds already,
we would NEVER have chosen this to be done. The other two were female
and red merle, the one male was pure black like the BC mother. We
choose him for several reasons...we like black dogs here, we figured
that Irony would be more accepting of another male coming into the pack
than yet another female (although she accepted Scolaighe well enough),
this was a chance to get another male while we have Bran as the pup
will be too small to kill him and
will be used to him by the time he's big enough, and males are, after
all, cheaper to get fixed. After all, at that age it's a little hard to
judge on personality.
We feel a bit weird about getting a puppy, being
hard-core dog adopters and spay/neuter advocates. But he was a
we were told a buyer, not of the original list, was interested in him
if we didn't take him...but the breeders didn't really want to sell to
that person...who was being insistent, apparently. We figured we'd
still be giving him a sure good forever home, even if he wasn't in a
bad spot, he might end up in one if we didn't take him.
So we have now Gleann ("valley," see, we were
going to name him Beinn or "mountain" because we live on one but
decided two dogs with names starting with "b" and ending with "n"
might be confusing for them...so we went with where he came from...we
wanted something really simple for the folks, although most people seem
to want to read it as Glee-an. *sigh*).
At first we though Scolaighe showed prey interest
but it turned out she has "aunty" tendencies, wanting to play and fuss
over him. Irony was ill, so we were afraid this might stress her, but
she dealt with him here very well. Bran wanted to play, but again, that
also had to wait until Gleann was closer to his size.
We had a fun teething stage, which lasted a
very long time it seemed. He's shown some herding interest. He's
showing himself more willful than the "puppy testing" showed before.
But I think he's going to make a nice addition to the pack.
Due to his willfulness, we did take
him to a Basic Obedience class and as the youngest there he still did
Gleann continued to be a handful for awhile,
however. As he matured, he has become an excellent dog, very snuggling
inside, very adventurous outside. Scolaighe had
a great deal to do with
that, undoubtedly, becoming his pack "aunty" and happily playing with
him. Often very
rough, but no dogs were hurt in the making of this photo. When she
became ill, she stopped playing with him like this. It seemed to make
him sad, but he adjusted and was very lovey and caring to her. Her
recent loss has been devestating to him as was teh previuos loss of his
much less aggressive buddy Bran. He
did have “rlaith to help hin through.
Wow, once again, I can't believe how long it's been. I update on the Facebook
page and never get to here. And, unfortunately, on several
fundraisers for the dogs.
the start of 2017 has been hell when it comes to our
pack. We lost Sachairi in February
of 2016 and in April started a health crisis
with Gleann and GrŠinne, with Gleann coming
through while we lost GrŠinne to cancer March 2, 2017.
And here I haven't even talked about Gleann since before we adopted Cý and “rlaith, let alone
Sach, Merlin and GrŠinne.
Gleann tried to bond with “rlaith like he did with Scolaighe, but she
was not inclined to wrestle. He seemed a bit intimidated by Cý,
who could get cranky. However, Cý was intimidated by “rlaith so
everyone stayed in check.
With Sachairi joining us, Gleann finally had another "farm dog" to romp
loose in the woods fields with. Sachairi was older and smaller, but for
most of the time he was with us, his energy level was typically
BC/Aussie high. They both watched over the animals, as much as we
let them (outside is supervised time, even for the farm
dogs). But Gleann has always been our key Ritual Dog, while
Sach often found the whole thing odd except for the sharing food part.
Gleann, however, loves ritual. Looking back we remember that at
first ritual, as a puppy, he
just ran and ran in a deiseal circle
around the fire for most of the time we were on site. Over
time he calmed down and then became "on duty." He now patrols the
area before ritual and keeps watch, he does the border offering with me
and at the end of the ritual, while I deal with letting the fire die
and Aaron takes the other dogs home along with the first load of gear
(someday we do hope to have locked, waterproof storage up there but
have failed to figure out anything secure enough for our peace of mind)
to the house, he usually sits against my back. Sometimes, now, he'll
lie amongst the graves of our Shadow Pack, who I know join our
rituals. When the fire is out and it's time to head back home, it
is often difficult to get him to leave.
is such a perfect dog now that it's difficult to remember that at one
point we were worried he'd never pay attention. It took a lot of
work to become more interesting than things he might seek out on his
own. Now he a Velcro dog with a huge vocabulary (including some
spellings). He is very high energy when he's out playing,
even now as he approaches 13, but
is as relaxed as a Greyhound when
inside. He loves to snuggle as much as he loves going out into
the woods for adventures or running through the field or playing,
although it's debatable if anything matches ritual. He does also
still try to herd the animals, sometimes, usually only when they are
somewhere he knows is "wrong." The goat,
however, usually counters him vehemently.
As I noted above, 2016 and the beginning of 2017 have been rough ones
for us and for Gleann. The loss of Sachairi
was a blow for both Gleann and GrŠinne, we
were all just adjusting to the loss when in April we took these two and
the cat to
their annual checkups. Due to Gleann turning 12 and showing signs
of slowing down as well as the puzzling
symptoms that GrŠinne had been showing that were not yet diagnosed, we
had full blood work done on both. Both came back with terrifying
results. GrŠinne had leukemia and Gleann was hypercalcemic.
This all came as a major blow and we entered a rather extreme roller
coaster of a year.
life threatening condition was a puzzle as there could have been any
number of causes of excessive calcium. He had to have more tests
at Peak Veterinary Referral Services
to try to determine the cause and find a treatment. We had to do
a lot of fundraising and scrimping just to get the exact diagnosis.
Finally, a nodule was found on his parathyroid and we were given two
options. To have it chemically destroyed which was iffy as to the
results or to have surgery to remove the parathyroid. We opted
for the surgery.
With the help of a friend we did an auction of Sarah Connor/Terminator
items., along with more fundraising We finally were able to do
the surgery. Which led to a completely surreal day with everything
going along as expected when suddenly the surgeon came back and decide
we should postpone because Gleann wasn't sick enough. After all, he
didn't have the symptoms that usually bring dogs to this diagnosis and
surgery, because it was found early
by a blood test. While 15 minutes before the surgeon was noting
that it was good his levels weren't as high as he usually saw with
this, because that might mean he's level off and not be hypocalcemic
after the surgery, he now felt they were too low. On the one
hand, we kept noting that Gleann was lethargic, that he was eating even less (he's never been a
big eater) and lost a lot of weight, that
we were seeing symptoms but this was ignored. On the other hand
we didn't want to push too much, we were scare
d of having our "baby" get surgery if it wasn't needed. We opted
for an abdominal ultrasound that day which showed bladder stones! So,
there, a major symptom. Yet it was so late in the evening that we
took him home still rather confused as to what happened (we still do
A few days later we rescheduled for both the removal of the parathyroid
and removal of the stones from his bladder. The surgery went
great. We had several sad, nervous days here while Gleann was at the
hospital, calling checking on him. He had nervous days there, not
eating much although he did get to like one of his nurses.
GrŠinne, still hurting from losing Sach was beside herself until he
came home. Once home he recovered quickly, started getting his
appetite back as much as he ever had one. Energy-wise the
difference was amazing, we had our puppy back! The lethargic old dog, which many would
just assume was due to the fact he was 12, was completely a symptom!
We monitored his calcium levels, which leveled off quickly. If it
weren't for the memory of the months of lethargy and the shaved areas
that are still growing out it is like nothing ever happened to him.
During this time he also developed another odd, but unrelated symptom.
His head began to atrophy. It was on both sides, his eyes not able to
close right (and he already has an autoimmune issue with his eyes,
which make them become irritated and runny). We got him Doggles
(the brand name) for running through the woods to protect his
eyes. He looks adorable but we have to admit he hates them
and will face plant into plants and the ground to try to get them
off. This seemed of little concern to any of the doctors.
Eventually all the muscle on one side came back and much of it did on
the other. He can close his eyes now, but there is still an
"indentation" on the left side where the muscle hasn't come back.
Gleann is about to turn 13. He has out lived six Greyhounds and another
farm dog (all adopted later in their lives, but adopting "special
needs" Greyhounds may account for a shorter average lifespan here, but
we'll likely pick another hard case when we are ready again). He
is now experiencing being an only dog for the very first time in his
life. And it's hard on him. It's always been hard for him to lose his beloved
packmates. He does have his cat, who he is utterly mad about, but
the relationship is different although they are both clearly mourning.
Update Jan 2019
Gleann is now approaching 15. After losing GrŠinne he appeared
depressed and more lethargic. It was difficult to tell how much this
was emotional and how much might be due to age. His appetite, which was never very big, was even less. When we adopted Cairbre, Gleann seemed to "perk up" a bit, but then began to decline again. (Likewise a year later when we adopted RuadhŠn)
Over the winter of 2017/2018 he began having issues walking, which
continued to get worse. There were clear signs this was largely
neurological (possibly connected to him having some atrophy on his
head, which they've not been able to pinpoint, possibly related to CDD,
but see below) but our vet kept insisting it was arthritis (which he
probably does have, but does not seem to be in considerable pain from)
and put him on meloxicam which created a vicious circle with his food
issues, so he was hardly eating at all, which became a problem with
giving him a medication that was harsh on his stomach
As he wasn't eating they put him on Gabapentin, which made his
neuroalogic issues much worse, although he did start eating a bit
more.We were supposed to keep him on it when we
restarted the meloxicam but we let them know we were taking him off of
it when we did, At this point he began refusing to more than a
few hundred yards from the house on walks. He was barely able to walk,
really. His ability to walk improved a bit, he had been wobbly
for awhile so it wasn't great, but better. He still wouldn't go any
real distance, however. Back on the NSAID he began to top eating
again. We stopped the Meloxicam again. He showed no real signs of pain,
just the same....not wanting to walk, being wobbly and out of it.
But, again, he's eating a bit better. Mostly. But at least if he
skips a meal, we don't have to worry that the NSAID is burning a hole
in his stomach.
In 2016 he started a mild "barbering" habit, that would hast only
through the fall. I figured it was connected to the seeds that start
sticking to fur at the time it would start and likely the stress.
It started when he and GrŠinne were sick. He'd chew the hair off his
lower legs. Then he'd stop at some point before we became too
concerned. In 2016 he stopped before his surgery, in 2017 he stopped
shortly after Cairbre joined us. This past fall he got much more
into it, started in on his right hind leg (it might, again, be related
to the atrophy which is on the left side of his head). He denuded
the entire leg, up over the hip, and his underside on that side and the
inside of his left hind leg, and started up his right side. The vet
thought allergies or a skin condition were to blame although he doesn't
gnaw at the skin, just cuts and pulls at his fur. Allergy meds not only
didn't stop it, it made it worse as it interfered with is sleep even
more than he was having issues with already. Skin scrapings showed
nothing. I kept saying it was behavioral, but that's falling on deaf
ears. He does trance a bit with it, but is also determined. He will go
to another room in order to keep from being stopped. We've looked at
many solutions but none will work for him, it seems. He is too unsteady
as it is to even consider a cone, he won't be substitute chewing bones
or use a Kong or such things because he never really had the interest
in those. At this point I try not to let him out of my sight for more
than a few minutes, which is a problem.
I kept noting since he first began to decline that
he had signs of Canine Cognitive Disorder, but was ignored for over a
year after I first mentioned it. But as his "sundowning" got worse,
Aaron finally pushed about that and in December of 2018 he was finally
put on Amipryl. The Anipryl has helped, somewhat. He still walks slow
and wants to sniff a lot more than in the past, but not as bad. He'll
also keep going, although he is, of course, deconditioned now.
He's obviously much clearer, responding to both of us and the
other dogs better. But he is still sundowning and chewing his hair
So that's where we're at. Still trying to get some help to get him to
rest through the night so that we can and stop chewing his hair off.
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where noted otherwise below, copyright © 2004 -2019 Saigh Kym
and Aaron Miller
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