Tag Archives: Leo

Poodle Clip

White poodle in snow-photo-D-StewartLeo was filthy.  His hair was long and matted.  He smelled.  But cold weather and his arthritis made me reluctant to take him to his groomer.  “What about we try bathing him in the tub?” my husband said.

I had only before clipped his feet and around his eyes between salon visits.  We had hosed him off a couple times when needed.  But bathe, shampoo and clip him completely?  Never.

“Worth a try,” I said.  I gave him a preliminary clip first.  I figured it would be easier to wash him without long hair in the way.  So an afternoon of clipping while he lay on his side.  Then I had to get him to turn over.

Leo-in-bath- after first clip photo-D-StewartNext day, bath time.  A length of hose borrowed from some other plumbing in the house to go over the faucet.  Jim in the tub awaiting Leo as I lift him in.  Leo’s feet scrabble wildly but he gets a foothold.  Charlie, the other dog who detests baths, kept very quiet and far away outside the bathroom door.  He hoped we wouldn’t notice him but he wanted to see what was going on.  (His ploy didn’t work:  he got bathed next.)

Leo was very good and stayed still for us.  He slipped a few times.  We realized we should have got a rubber mat for the tub so he could get a better grip.  With his hair shorter, it was easier to shampoo him and to rinse him thoroughly.

bathtime-photo-Dorothy-StewartJim lifted him out to me, I wrapped a towel around him then let him go to shake himself.  It was a mild sunny day so he air-dried.  While not ideal for poodle hair, we thought it was best to not torture him with a hair dryer.  I have only a small hand-held dryer, not a powerful one like groomers use.  Leo doesn’t like dryers and it would have taken so long with my dryer that it didn’t seem worth scaring the wits out of him.

Clip again after the bath

After he was completely dry, I brushed and brushed and brushed him.  When he was all fluffy, I clipped again.  I only used blunt-nosed grooming-equipment-photo-D-Stewartdog scissors.  I don’t have groomer clippers nor do I know how to use them.  Because it’s winter, I didn’t want him clipped really close.  I left the hair on his body about an inch long (more or less depending on my accuracy) and trimmed his legs to about the same length.  I trimmed the base of his tail short and left his pompom long.  Then I neatened up his ear fringe at the bottoms but otherwise only brushed them.  I left the hair on the top of his head and back of his neck and shoulders long.

When it’s warmer, he will go to his groomer.  Considering that this took me the better part of two days and Leo began running from me clean poodle in snow-photo-D-Stewartwhen he saw scissors or brush in my hand, I think the money spent on a professional grooming job is well worth it.  Groomers do more than I can do, and do the whole job better.  Poodles need the hair inside their ears plucked to avoid infection and I don’t have the confidence to try that.  But for an occasional clean up job, I think what I call Leo’s “casual sporty clip” looks just fine.  So does he.

First posted Feb. 28, 2013 on my St. Thomas Dog Blog. When Leo got too decrepit to stand in the tub or even be thoroughly wet, I bought Wahl No Rinse Shampoo for Dogs. Lightly massage it in his coat, then towel it off. It worked fine, and I could do it as he laid on his side.

Puppy Mill

I supported a puppy mill.  Not directly, but I puppy mill poodle Leo May 23 2010contributed to the financial well-being of one. My Standard Poodle Leo had spent five years in a US puppy mill as a breeding dog. His adoption fee from All Breed Canine Rescue was $100 higher than the usual because the original rescue group in the States had paid the puppy mill owner $100 each for the dogs they had taken from him. I truly hope he just didn’t go out and buy new dogs. He may well have, since this wasn’t an official “seizure” of the dogs by animal welfare authorities. I am glad that Leo and his cohort got away but it breaks my heart to think about their replacements. I wonder how long they’ll have to live like these dogs did before they get out, to a better life I hope.

When I went to pick him up almost two years ago, I saw all the dogs. Volunteers from the American rescue transport group Open Arms Pound Rescue had brought them to Canada. The majority were adult Labradoodles,  so breeding dogs. They were cowering in the cars in which they’d been traveling. Some almost skeletal, matted dry hair – just laying there looking terrified. Some I was reluctant to go near – bared teeth warning. Two were outside their car. A big blonde adult male was standing defensively in front of a smaller adult female. She was pressed against the side of the car, trying to disappear. He wouldn’t let anyone near her. Some of the younger ones were happy to be petted and fussed over. A couple small pups, Poodles, were soaking up affection in people’s arms.

Meeting Leo

My chosen foster dog, Leo, meanwhile, was trotting around on the end of a leash meeting and greeting. I thought he Leo's first day home Sep 2008belonged to the man holding the leash, until that man said to me “I think this is your dog?” When I put him in my car, I realized that he reeked – dirty dog smell, urine and faeces. We drove home with the windows wide open.

It wasn’t until we were at home, away from the truly sad cases, that I realized just how weird he really was. Not just that he wasn’t housetrained and didn’t know how to get up or down steps – neither of those things are surprising in an outdoor kennel dog. He just didn’t connect with humans at all. He wasn’t overtly scared or show dislike of people – just seemed to not see them. With dogs and cats, he was fine – didn’t pay a lot of attention to them but wasn’t nasty. He wasn’t nasty with anyone, just wasn’t there somehow. I’d never seen anything like it.

Puppy mill autism?

He bonded with me right off the bat, but still didn’t really look at me. Just stayed very very close to me. I thought about naming him Velcro, but it seemed like a joke that was very sad. It was like I was his safety base, but he never really saw me even though he kept his eyes on me constantly. It seemed like a severe case of autism – man-made.

LeoWhite-haired man-made I realized the first time I heard him bark. We were at my mother’s and her neighbour came over. He’s tall and white-haired. Leo barked frantically and showed great fear.  For many months after, even after he’d settled into normalcy, Leo reacted that way with any white-haired man, especially if he was tall. So I know that much about the puppy mill operator. Leo’s only other fear/aggression reaction to people came when anyone, but especially a male, would touch his rear end. Even now, after almost two years, he still moves quickly away if a man pats his rump.

Inability to connect with humans, fear of men and of having his rear touched – those were his main psychological problems. His physical problems – I think at least one vet’s child can thank Leo for a year’s university costs. The amount of money that went just in the first few months to get Leo to a healthy state was stupendous. Parasites, bad teeth, gastrointestinal problems, urinary tract infections – all part and parcel of poor nutrition and bad living conditions.

Maybe a show kennel start

It’s been a learning process for me as well as Leo. He ate his meals well right from when he came to us. He had no idea what treats were and was reluctant to take food from your hand. That proved problematic at obedience class. His teacher said “Poodles are often fussy eaters.” Not him. Once he got the idea of treats, that ceased to be a problem!

Interestingly, the hardest thing to teach him was what is usually the easiest – sit. It took three weeks of classes, with plenty of homework done, before he would sit when asked. His teacher and other people have suggested that he may have started life as a prospective show dog. Apparently the main thing show dogs are taught is not to sit.

Sitting is the one thing they are not allowed to do in a show ring. And Leo, Leo and Charlie Dog Park Grand Opening photo John Blakeeven when he was getting the hang of all the other basic commands, would not sit. It was a wonderful moment when he did the first time. Now he plunks himself in a ‘sit’ in front of perfect strangers if he thinks he might get a treat out of it.

Dog show people have also looked at him for the stance that show dogs have or learn. It’s called ‘stacking’, where they position their legs to show themselves to best advantage. Leo does it automatically. So he may have come from a show dog kennel to the puppy mill anywhere from 4 months to a year old. He’s short, so that alone would disqualify him from show ring aspirations.

Puppy Mill ‘stock’

Dogs that don’t make the cut have to go somewhere and some breeders will let them go anywhere. So dogs that aren’t “good enough” for kennel club standards are turned into breeding machines for “substandard” pups to supply the pet store, private sale and Kijiji markets. Leo’s days of making babies are over. But I wonder how many Labradoodles and Poodles that I see on line for stud service or for sale are his descendants.

Leo really brought home for me the horrors of puppy mill dog production. Lois, of ABCR, said that these dogs weren’t bad compared to others she has seen. Her guess is that they came from a small-scale ‘miller’ operation, those with more dogs than ‘backyard breeders’ and less than ‘puppy mills’. I’ve seen the pictures of dogs seized in raids on puppy mills, I watched the documentary on Oprah. I cried for those dogs and for the inhumanity of the people responsible. But I never felt the deep pain in my heart until I had Leo, and realized just how sad it was that a sentient creature should learn to live as a means of production and have none of the joys of being alive.

Leo learns to be a dog

Watching Leo the first time he realized it was ok to sit when he was asked, the first time he picked up a toy and clumsily played with it. The first time he willingly approached a man he didn’t know to make friends. All these were moving moments for me, watching my weird dog do regular doggy things. And the day Leo first ran full tilt in a field! I’d had him loose before, and he’d just walk around by my side.

Leo running Sept 2009 photo D Stewart

But finally he took off after Charlie, a few steps. Then he decided to keep going. Charlie got tired and stopped running, and Leo just flew across the field – ears flapping, front feet high-stepping. He didn’t stop for a long time. I cried from happiness as well as sadness when I realized from his look of joy that he had maybe never done this before, and he loved it! Everyone who saw him run those first few times said that “he runs like a gazelle.” It was as if he’d just discovered that he had legs. To this day, he really doesn’t run with other dogs, he runs for the sheer joy of running.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, June 25 2010.

Arthritic Dogs

One week ago today at 7:15 pm AT, my dearly beloved Standard Poodle Leo died. He was about 14 years old. He’s been with us for eight years and leo-18-may-2009-at dan pattersons before arthritissix weeks. Since 2012, he had severe arthritis. Arthritis and old age finally took him. Took a big chunk of our hearts too.  This post was first published Jan. 30, 2013 on my St. Thomas Dog Blog in memory of Leo’s predecessor Jack.  Now it’s in honour of Leo too.

Jack

Five years ago today at 2:15 pm ET, my beautiful German Shepherd Jack died. We had his vet euthanize him before his body did it by itself. It was getting pretty close; I don’t think he would have survived another night. He had a number of physical ailments. We don’t know exactly what all. but I suspect a fast-growing cancer was involved. He was only 9 3/4 years old. He had been my best friend, teacher and “baby-dog” for 9 1/2 of those years.

flowers and Jack photo by Dorothy StewartOne problem he had in his last year was arthritis in his hips. He would get up slowly and painfully. He would shift position a lot, trying to get comfortable. I gave him Medacam for it. I don’t know how much good it did because other ailments began developing soon after. His arthritis became the least of his problems.

My dog before Jack, Jamie, had developed severe arthritis in his legs. Poor soul got so he could hardly walk at all. Lying down was almost as painful for him. At the time, the only thing I could give him for pain relief was a Bufferin once a day. He could have had cortisone shots but I didn’t want to due to the bad side effects of steroid drugs. In retrospect, I might as well have tried it.

Leo, one of my present dogs, is arthritic now. X-rays a year ago showed severe damage to his hip joints and his spine. So we are getting to know all the pain relief medications that now exist. There are a lot more than sixteen years ago when Jamie needed something so badly.

Leo’s Arthritis Medicines

Leo started on Medacam. It can work wonders but not for Leo. So he went to Deramaxx, another anti-inflammatory. Again, when it works, you can see the change and, again, there wasn’t a visible improvement. So now he’s getting shots of Cartrophen in addition to the Deramaxx. It is said to mend cartilage. His doctor said you should be able to see a difference after a couple of shots. After three shots – don’t know. We will ask about the next level of treatment. (2016: the drug combination that worked best for him was Gabapentin and Deramaxx,}

Jamie and Jack showed classic signs of arthritis; stiffness when rising, limping after exertion. Leo’s early symptoms were quite different. He began slipping even when standing. Because Jack developed severe problems with his paw pads getting paper-thin, I first checked Leo’s feet. They looked fine. We googled it: can be due to arthritis. His vet explained: even slight movement isn’t easy with stiff joints so there can be a loss of balance. Slipping, if not falling, can be the result.

I read in “A Case History of Maggie”  that the elderly Golden Retriever could no longer squat to do her business and would do it while continuing to walk. I hadn’t thought of that being connected to arthritis in the back legs but it makes sense. Restlessness, moving from place to place to sleep, can mean arthritic pain. All these may be less obvious signs of osteoarthritis.

Our present dogs came to help all of us, including the cats, fill the void created by Jack’s death. They have done that and more, but our happy, very silly boy is never forgotten.

(My Dog’s Arthritis has more. Commodity Dogs tells the story of how Leo and Charlie came to us.)

My Dog’s Arthritis

my dog runs at Clearville beach, Lake ErieMy Standard Poodle Leo has arthritis in his spine and left hip. Joint degeneration. His running, jumping and dancing on hind legs must be curtailed. I am sad and furious.

He’s maybe 9, no longer a young dog. So you might say: he’s had good years, aging happens. I’d agree – but. He only had 3 “good years.”

Leo spent 5 years of his life in a cage, not running, probably not even walking much. When he came to us, he had trouble climbing a step. At first, he just didn’t know what to do, he’d clearly never seen steps before. But even when he figured out how, he didn’t have the strength in his legs to do it. He gained strength. He loves to run fast, climb hills and dance.

He’d been a breeding dog in a Georgia puppy mill. That’s why I don’t know his exact age. I know from the record that came with him that he’d been purchased December 12, 2003. He was at least 6 months at that time, I figure. I doubt they get them until they’re of breeding age. Why feed unproductive mouths?

Poodle running at Conservation Area, St. ThomasHe got out in September 2008 via a rescue group and came to Canada. He and his Labradoodle cellmates were not seized in a raid that closed the puppy mill. The rescue group bought them. They were old breeding stock, used up, and young dogs who hadn’t sold. No one put the miller  out of business, he just got cash to buy new stock. I know it was a man, white-haired. They’re the only people that Leo was truly scared of when he came to us.

So his joint degeneration makes me angry, angry at that white-haired man in Georgia and all puppy mill operators. They use up animals’ God-given vitality without care about what quality of life those generations of dogs will have. They abuse animals in order to make themselves “a living.”

Joint degeneration ends agility

The note on Leo’s rescue assessment says he’s “a really nice friendly Poodle doing agility jump at Moore Water Gardens Port Stanleyboy. He would do great for agility or obedience.” He loves agility.  I took him to a horse show once and he jumped the low bars set up for kids and ponies.

Now he eats ‘joint health’ kibble with glucosamine and omega fatty acids. He takes anti-inflammatory and pain pills. The medications are his for life, as worry is mine when he slips or limps. I hope only to avoid surgery. He can still run, his doctor says, just don’t overdo it, watch for signs of pain. Get in the habit of nice walks.

Puppy mill or not, he might develop arthritis at his age. My other dogs did. But they had more than three years of healthy freedom before bone and joint degeneration afflicted them.

Here’s a simple thing I did: put his dishes in flowerpots. The higher one is for Leo’s bowl raised in flower pot for dog with joint degenerationdog bowls raised with two sizes of flower pots photo D Stewartfood so he doesn’t have to lean down, thereby avoiding strain on his joints. The lower one is for water that he shares with smaller pets. Here are more good hints for arthritic dogs.

Country Club for Pets in London ON set up the agility course that Leo tried near Port Stanley at Moore Water Gardens. Since I posted this (St. Thomas Dog Blog Dec. 30/11), Leo’s arthritis has worsened but he still gets around. We tried laser therapy but his condition is too bad for it to help. For younger animals or less severe arthritis, it’s well worth a try.