Traveling Dog Lady: July 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

massachusetts legislators take a bite out of lyme

Today, Massachusetts legislators announced a proposal by Rep. Jennifer Callahan of Worcester that would result in a special facility, possibly located right here in Worcester (!!) devoted to educating health professionals about chronic Lyme disease which is often undiagnosed and untreated. Here is a news article on the topic, which was announced just one hour ago.

In addition, here is an article written about three weeks ago regarding the controversy over chronic Lyme diagnosis, and the difficulties patients like me often encounter in trying to geta diagnosis.

This, along with the recognition of Fibromyalgia by the FDA just last month, is fantastic news for people like me who have been living with these bizarre and annoying symptoms for many years with no diagnosis.As you know, I've long suspected that I may have chronic Lyme disease. I was tested for Lyme by a reluctant physician in 2004 when I first developed chronic fatigue, pain and other symptoms consistent with Lyme (as well as MS, fibromyalgia, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and several other syndromes). That test came back negative. This is a common problem with chronic Lyme because only one testing lab in the U.S. is equipped to properly test blood samples for the presence of the Borelia bacteria in the blood. If your test doesn't get sent to that lab (and most don't), and you don't have the telltale "bull's-eye" rash, then your test comes back negative and you're told you don't have Lyme. This is more than a common occurrence, and part of the focus of Ms. Callahan's proposal.I have been exposed to ticks constantly due to my interactions with my dogs as well as the frequency of my visits to Cape Cod. Ticks are also rampant in Worcester County as well. The way I figure it, if I don't have Lyme disease, it would be a miracle! While I have, to my knowledge, not seen the typical bull's-eye rash, I have often found ticks on myself, although I am not aware specifically of an actual bite. I check myself and my dogs for ticks constantly, and I'm more than vigilant about doing so. We are over-run with ticks here on Cape Cod, and it's not unusual to find one crawling up my leg! The dogs, who often sleep with me, are always loaded with ticks. I spend a good part of our post-walk routine picking ticks off everybody.Since neurologists are the specialists most often dealing with chronic Lyme, it is more than ironic that these two newsworthy developments would occur just days before my upcoming introductory appointment with a neurologist.I intend to discuss both issues with her: Lyme and Fibromyalgia.Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

k2 announces k2k9 group on Yahoo Groups!

Having been a member of several Yahoo groups over the last year or so, and always being a natural-born leader, I wanted to have a group to call my own.

Click here to join k2k9
Click to join k2k9

When I started searching Yahoo Groups I was astonished to learn that there are over 50,000 groups in the "dogs" category.

Wanting to make my group stand out in a crowd, I knew I'd have to come up with something unique, original and upbeat.

As the proud owner of two dogs when I was a child (Sam, a wonderful old howling Beagle; and Fritz, the scariest dog in the whole neighborhood --a German Shepherd Dog that my brother had gotten when he was a recruit at the police academy), I knew the special challenges that came with owning a pack of dogs.

I was fortunate enough to spend the lion's share of my adulthood with my most loyal friend and companion, Timba, a black Labrador Retriever who lived to the ripe old age of 18 (that's about the equivalent of a 125-year-old human). She died when I was 41 years old, and at the time I knew her longer than I'd known most people, including my sweetheart,Gil.

Shortly before Timba's death, I adopted Hobie, a yellow Lab/Shepherd mix who instantly took on the role of the love of my life, but not the well-behaved "perfect" dog that Timba had always been. Nevertheless,Timba actually taught Hobie many things, and when she passed away that sad day on Memorial Day weekend in 2001, I was ready to have Hobie takeover Timba's job.

But a very interesting thing happened. One September 4, 2001, exactly one week before "9/11", my dear friend Nancy announced that her daughter's dog, Oreo, had just given birth to a litter of black Lab-mix puppies. Missing Timba like crazy, and having such a good time raisingHobie, I decided I'd take a puppy when they were ready.

When 9/11 hit, it was like a ton of bricks to me personally. You see,I work in the travel business in a specialized "niche" market, and the terrorist attack hit our business hard.

Sad and depressed, I started visiting the puppies at Nancy's farm everyFriday afternoon. Hobie actually picked out the pup we would eventually take home: Hector, a black Lab/Coonhound mix who howled from the moment we put him in our car one November afternoon, and hasn't stopped howling since! I describe my Hector as "the nicest dog in the world." He hasn't got a mean bone in his body, and I often wishI could draw cartoons because he'd be a perfect cartoon character! If you watch Hector's antics for a while, you can see what kind of canine must have inspired the creators of Pluto, Snoopy, Marmaduke, and all the other cartoon dogs!

But soon after Hector and Hobie, who are both male and very close in age, reached adolescence, I also reached my mid-40s. I would never change a thing in the world (except my leadership skills, which are often weak)! Having two dogs is often challenging, difficult and exhausting, but at the same time rewarding, fun, joyous and did I mention exhausting!?

It is that which perhaps sets this group apart from others. I want to hear from others who live in multi-dog households. Whether you feel outnumbered, or want your pack to grow to epic proportions, we can help each other grow and have some fun doing it.

Before I sign off, I have two requests:

1) Please refrain from personal attacks or flaming of any kind.

2) Do not ever say anything bad about Cesar Millan here. Go do that somewhere else. Bashing of the Dog Whisperer is not allowed.

Violators of either of these rules will be removed from the group without additional warning.

Now, claim that gate, come on in (in front of your dog)!

Welcome to K2's Dog Park!

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

dog whisperer week in review

I spent every single night this week watching Dog Whisperer, riveted to the TV and even rewinding the DVR to watch some parts over and over. The show was run in a marathon format since it's on hiatus, and we fans need our "fix"!

Gil was away at the Cape, and I am back at home, so I had the whole house to myself and was able to watch it without his complaints or comments (he likes DW, but gets annoyed at the "marathons").

I learned SO MUCH even though I have seen the episodes so many times before (except for the two new ones). The show is so inspiring for me. Every night when I finished watching (sometimes I'd let the repeats run while I was sleeping lol)I would be so PSYCHED to take my dogs for a walk, but of course it being 11 pm I couldnt lol.

But the next day I would take what I learned and use it. I can't believe how many new things I learned, even from episodes where I thought it wouldn't apply to me. Like last night was the "Desert Bulldogs" episode. I've seen that 50 times before. But when the Cocker Spaniel ran to the fence and the other two dogs followed and Cesar explained that he had to correct them at thefence, and then let them go away from the fence, something clicked in my brain. That's why the dogs keep charging the fence -- because I'm not correcting them and calming them down at the fence! I have so much trouble at the Cape because we're on a public walking route, and everyone walks their dogs past our house. My dogs have no problem with dogs they KNOW (like at home, it's only dogs we KNOW that walk by). But the UNKNOWN dogs? Fergit it!! My dogs go berserk. I now know exactly what to do,and I can't wait to go back there and try it again. Thanks to Cesar!! That's just ONE example of what I learned.

Another thing was repeating over and over and over until you get the right results. I would try to get Hector to go down the stairs AFTER me, but if he didn't do it after one try, I'd just give in and follow him. I don't know why it took me watching these episodes 100 times beforeI realized that I have to stop on those stairs, bring the dog up again, and make him sit, and do it over and over until he stops trying to go first. What a revelation!! I did it today, and it only took three times and he "got" it!

Today, I walked my dogs in a completely different direction. I threw them for a loop because we always go on the same route every day.Or, lately I've been so frozen in fear that we go nowhere. Today,instead of taking a right at the end of the road and then doing "the safety zone walk", I went LEFT and went across the bridge over the lake. It's only a 5-minute walk, but that's ok because there are no other dogs and it was really hot out anyway. I had both leashes slack by my side and gathered them up holding them like a purse, instead of Hector running WAY out front, and Hobie being at my side. What a great walk we had! Every time Hector pulled, I corrected to the side or up, just like Cesar explains, to surprise the dog and keep him a little off-balance. It worked!!

What I need to do is watch Dog Whisperer every single day. I have not been this inspired in months. I'm going to set small goals each day, and go different routes to keep the dogs paying attention to me as leader.When we go back to the beach next week, I'm going to walk them up and down in the same 50-foot area in the public parking lot until I'm comfortable to go further -- back and forth, back and forth.

My ULTIMATE goal is to be able to walk them both, as a pack, safely on the beach with no problematic encounters and no angry humans. I AM going to do this. It may take years, but with the inspiration of Cesar I know I can do it. I'll just pop the DVD in and watch it,even if it's an episode I've seen 100 times who cares? I can't wait 'til Season 2 comes out on DVD, so I'll have more material to inspire me.

Well, I am so psyched right now. I hope I can continue this positive mindset, and not go back to my anxiety-attack state. BTW, fans of DW: don'tcha just LOVE the episode with A.J. that lady who has the Panic Attacks? That is one of my favorites (and obviously a lot of other people's since it was on fan-favorite night!). And wasn't it cool to see her in the new episode at the nursing "hotel"? I had mixed feelings, that woman inspires me so much, but at the same time I felt the other lady with the two little dogs had a bit of an "in" with Cesar because of the connection. Oh well, whatever works I guess. Good for her!!

And of course they played my favorite, favorite episode which is at the beginning of Katrina Dogs Part 2 -- Major Jones. I LOVE that segment with the older woman and her GSD Major Jones. I cry everytime I see it. That woman is truly an inspiration to us all.