Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Penny's long car ride

The notorious pukey Penny hates cars with abandon. Or so we thought. Maggie took Penny and Thomas for a multi-state car ride from Indiana to her mom's house in Misery (oops, wait, Missouri). Penny never puked!!! Actually, she seemed to have a good time. Here she is on the ride back home, soft pointer gums flaring in the wind.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Penny - all "ticked" off

Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
We recently received a call from Lisa with IBR: Penny did not receive the proper bloodwork and needed to be screened for tick-borne diseases such as Lymes Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Maggie had just taken her to the vet a day prior, so we made a return trip and awaited the results. And we waited, waited, and eventually forgot. I believe we posited that "no news is good news".

Wrong: the sample was never processed. Someone at the vet or testing lab dropped the ball (Vet's own words). So ... back to the vet for more blood work.

Penny was negative for Lymes Disease and exposure to E. cannis. However, she did have a positive titer for RMSF, at a very low level. Our vet suggested we monitor and resample in a month, IBR treats all positives with antibiotics. We are in the middle. Penny, well, she could care less. Last I knew, she was galloping around our house yipping at Thomas, trying (in vain) to get him to play with her. She did steal his ball, much to Thomas' chagrin, but he didn't chase her or do anything other than look/leer at her.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thomas and Penny

Thomas and penny
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
An early morning with Penny snuggling Thomas

Monday, January 18, 2010

A long hike and Penny in action

On Saturday, we went for an 8 mile hike up and down the Monon trail. We decided to see if Penny would like to work as a pack mule - earlier in the year we stopped at REI and bought a saddleback carrier for dogs. We thought it might give Penny and Thomas a sense of purpose when we go for long hikes or walks, plus we got tired of carrying their slimy bowls in our pockets.

At mile 6, Thomas and Penny saw the juciest, luscious, tastiest squirrel they have ever laid their eyes upon. They froze (on the trail, oblivious of the passing bikes and runners) and started to point. I was walking Thomas and he was at full attention. Maggie called for me to look at Penny, and I saw her at super-full point:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quick Health Note

Penny's fine, weight is holding steady at 47 lbs. Doctor is pleased with her health and condition.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween 09

Halloween 09
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
We don't have two legged children - just two four-legged kids (although Thomas in nearly 12 but still acts like a kid). Like good parents we dressed the kids for our neighborhood parade. Thomas went as a "Hound King" - think Elvis minus the shades. Penny went as a devil.

We met at the rally point with other assorted adults, kids, and pets (all in various forms of costumes) and the Carmel fire department came by with a truck full of gear. They allowed the kids to climb in the fire engine to see what it was like. Maggie wanted Thomas to climb into the rig, but the first few steps were incredibly steep. I had to pick him up and lift him about five feet or so up so that he could get into the rig. Penny started to whimper and decided that she couldn't be without her big brother so she scaled the steps without any help.

Anyways, they two dogs and Maggie had a good time squirming around inside the rig (and leaving an abundance of little white hairs inside, I bet).

Friday, October 9, 2009

Squirrels? Where?

Penny loves squirrels. And by "love" I mean she wants to chase and catch them. She's fast enough she probably could catch one. Thomas caught one two days ago and killed it. Thankfully, he didn't eat it, just licked it for a while and left the carcass in the grass for me to find.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wabash Heritage Trail Oct 09

We packed the dogs and cool weather/rain gear and went hiking last weekend on the Wabash Heritage Trail located north of Lafayette, Indiana. Penny has not taken a long car ride with us yet, but we've carted her around town a few time. The notorious pukey-P seems to enjoy car rides now - she stands on the side panel console and sticks her drooly head out of the window, ears flapping and gums flaring in the breeze.

We hiked about eight miles in the forest and Penny and Thomas had a splendid time. So many sights and smells, things to sniff and pee on, small woodland creatures around every turn. They pulled and wanted to run their dog paws off, only to be restrained by cruel human inventions called "leashes". We could have let them off leash - I am pretty sure Thomas would have stayed within a mile or so of us. Penny, well, I don't think we would have seen her again.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Where's Penny? I could not find her this morning.

I wasn't able to find Penny a few mornings back - she wasn't by the front door waiting to go potty, looking out the front window for squirrels to chase, or dozing on the loveseat. Instead, she had returned to our bed and encased herself underneath the covers, with only her nose poking out from underneath.

Friday, July 24, 2009

An educated Penny

Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
Penny graduated from her first round of obedience school last night. She learned several commands, such as "Sit", "Down", "Come", "Stand", "Down/Stay", "Stand/Stay", "Front", "Heel", "Halt", and a few others I cannot think of at this time. We may go for the 6 month continuance class with her, but will play that by ear.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Penny at dog training

Penny at dog training
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
She's been in training for the past 2 months or so. We have actually repeated the initial class, as no other dogs were enrolled. Penny has done well so far but we wanted to see how she would respond when other dogs were around (more stimuli).

She has been the star of the class so far, way better than the other dogs in her class. We still haven't broken through on heeling while walking. She still wants to lead the pack and hunt small woodland creatures while out and about.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Progress, she learned a new command (somewhat)

Maggie and Penny
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
Penny has started basic puppy class, and although she already knows several of the commands, we need to learn a few more.

We had started working on "Come" over the week as part of our homework assignment. Essentially, Penny is leashed to us, and when she isn't paying attention, we put a treat by her nose. She smells the treat, and snaps her head around. When she does this, we back away and say "Come". Penny races after the treat in hand, and when she comes to the hand, she is awarded the treat and given praise. Sounds simple enough.

Well, three days ago, we had finished out walk and were in the garage. I took Penny off her leash, and was messing around in the garage looking for something. She wasn't far from me at all, but saw the open garage door and took off. She does this every now and then, and spends her time running like a psycho in our neighbor's yards looking for squirrels. She doesn't go far at all, and when tired, returns.

I saw her in our neighbor's yard and called out to her. She saw me, and started to gallop towards my general direction. I learned not to hover over her, as she seems to think she may get in trouble and runs past me. I lowered myself to the ground, and she was making eye contact with me. She started to run past me, when I called "Come" to her. She was about 10' past me, did a hairpin turn, and came right back to my hand looking for treats.

Sometimes, the best way to a dog's heart and mind is through her stomach!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Caught in the act

Caught in the act
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
Guess who was snuggling with Penny this morning on the couch? I made myself some breakfast, and when I returned to the living room, Thomas had crawled onto the couch and decided that Penny's rear would make a nice pillow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How to turn your dog into an idiot by using a laser pointer

We recently found out that Penny will chase a laser pointer, trying to catch it with her paws and mouth. She will run from one end of the kitchen, around a dividing wall into the great room, and to the front door with abandon. When on the wall, she will either freeze and point or try to bite it.

Maggie was sitting in a chair in the great room so naturally I directed the light onto her leg. Penny tried to catch it in her mouth, essentially using her doggie lips to "grab" the light on Maggie's leg.

I also put the light onto Thomas the grumpy old man. Penny didn't hesitate and went up to Thomas and tried to "grab" the light again. He growled at her and she recoiled but was still interested in trying to figure out where the light went.

Monday, March 30, 2009

How to share

How to share
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
One sits in the chair, the other looks out the window for squirrels.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another of Maggie and Penny snuggling on the couch

Ahh, being held, feet in the air, looking for squirrels. What could be better?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Maggie and Penny

Maggie and Penny
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
A picture of Maggie and Penny, sharing a moment on the couch.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Good God she is fast

In his prime, Thomas was fast dog capable of running down squirrels, chipmunks, and an occasional bird. He has slowed down some in his elder years (well, he is going on his 12th year) and hasn't caught anything in several months.

Last night (maybe it was two nights ago, can't remember) we were coming home from a walk in the late afternoon and let Thomas off his leash as we entered the driveway. He yipped, saw a squirrel, and took off around the back of the house at full speed.

Penny got excited so we let her off her leash, and she sprinted to behind the house in pursuit of Thomas. Maggie and I looked at each other and realized that she, while being half the size and 25 pounds lighter, was faster than Thomas ever was in his prime. She hit her top speed in a few paces and just rocketed around the side of the house to the back yard. I would love to see her chase a squirrel and see what happens - she is more than fast enough to catch one, but I'm not sure what she would do next. She would probably try and de-fuzz it like every other stuffed animal she has come across.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Minor progress

Well, Penny went about 7 miles in a car without puking. Granted, we didn't feed her anything and she had a motion sickness pill. At this rate, it will take us three years before we can leave Indianapolis with her.

Monday, February 23, 2009

They're Playing!!

They're Playing!!
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
Here is Penny chasing Thomas in our front yard after the large snow we had about 3 weeks ago.

Penny in the snow

Penny in the snow
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
We had just under a foot of snow a few weeks ago, and both Penny and Thomas had a good time romping around in the fresh powder. They even played!! Could not believe it (I was at work, Maggie witnessed it) until I saw the photos. This one is after they were done bodychecking each other.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New Running Partner

Thomas has always been Maggie's favorite running partner, but he is now over 11 years old and he seems too gimpy following longer runs. Maggie is training for two half marathons in May so she needs some company while out on the Monon Trail.

We have started to take Penny with us when we go running. I only run for two or three miles and Maggie continues on from there. Yesterday, she took Penny for a five mile run and had a good time. Penny has such a powerful and graceful stride it really looks effortless, almost like she glides along at a steady pace. When they made it back, Penny bounced around a little bit and eventually curled up on the love seat and slept for most of the morning into the afternoon. She looked content, yet pooped. I bet she would love to go for another run this morning or afternoon.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quick note

I woke up two morning ago to find that Penny had decided to leave the comforts of her doggie bed in our room and sleep with me. I faintly remember calling her up when she started to rouse and investigate the socks left in the hamper. She may have whined a bit as well, the memory is a bit foggy.

So I heard a thumping noise and couldn't place it - it was like something slapping the pillow in front of my face. When I opened my eyes and focused, she was still asleep but her tail was going back and forth, thumping on the bed right in front of me. Guess she was having a good dream!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Health update

Penny is fine and dandy! No health problems to report, and she is up to a whopping 47 pounds - which she is carrying around very well. Maggie has started her mini marathon training and Penny has been going (or taking Maggie along for) on 4 mile runs without any problems.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Penny - A year in review (well, half of a year in review)

We've been lucky to have Penny grace our presence for the past 6 months or so. She first walked into our lives in early July (the 10th, I believe). So ... how is she doing and progressing?

Weight and health: When we first met her in June, she was skin and bones. Very skinny, to the point where we could see every muscle fiber and her spine. She weighed about 35-37 pounds then and had gained wait with her foster parents. We have her on Solid Gold's Huntenflocken (or something like that) which she eats with abandon. She has filled out nicely and is probably around 45-6 pounds. We may have to start to watch her weight a bit in the future, but right now we aren't the most active clan due to the weather outside. When warmer, we'll take her for longer walks and runs. Otherwise, she has no health issues from what we can tell.

Attitude: She was pretty passive for the first 2 months or so, but now she is a bit of a fireplug. She greets you at the door with her tail rotating in a circle (instead of a back and forth motion) and will whine and moan in excitement. When you say her name, she picks her head and tail up and will get a little playful.

This morning as I was lacing my shoes to go to work, she came over and stuck her muzzle in my face. I haven't seen this before, but she puts her nose directly onto you to smell. So you have a cold wet nose being pressed against your lips, nose, forehead, ear, and eye socket as she tries to get a scent. One time, Maggie was dozing in bed and Penny hoped up and started to sniff her back. Maggie shrieked when the cold nose found home.

Anywho, Penny puts her nose on the side of my face and I make a playful motion towards her. She lowered her chest into a playful set and we started to romp around the living room. She has really opened up within the past 2 months or so and seems to be very comfortable with us.

OK - another addition. I was snoozing in bed when Maggie came home from work one morning. She let Thomas and Penny out to go potty. After coming in, Penny made a mad dash to our bedroom and jumped up onto bed with me. She did a partial roll, wound up on her back, and started to lick my face, neck, and arms while whining and yipping. Not sure why she was so excited ....

Appetite: She doesn't have a problem eating foods. We have given her treats of vegetables (carrots and green beans) which she enjoys. I've also seen her eat sauerkraut which is a favorite of Thomas our other dog. She will finish off his food if we aren't vigilant. But then again, I've caught Thomas eating from her dish while she eats from his dish. Go figure.

Walking on a leash: Not good right now. We are using a gentle leader with some success. At first, she tries to get the leader off her face but accepts it within the first 50 yards or so. From there, she pulls a lot. She is always hunting and if she sees a squirrel, she freezes and points. She will point for a good 5 minutes if you let her or the squirrel doesn't move on. Maggie has taken her jogging and she does better. This is something we need to work on.

Socialization skills with other dogs: She is very interested in other dogs and likes to initiate play. She romps with Daisy (our friend's dog) on a regular basis. Unfortunately, Thomas doesn't have much interest in playing with her. I haven't seen her try to dominate Daisy or any other dogs, but I don't think she is a follower. My guess is she isn't quite an alpha female but may not be far from the pecking order.

Socialization skills with other humans: Where she is genuinely interested in other dogs, she doesn't like humans she has not met before. She cowers and barks at them (in particular our friend Rex). I've held her in my lap to calm her down, given friends treats to give to her, petted friends, you name it. She still doesn't like other people that are not her humans. She loves our friend Betsy (Daisy's momma), though.

I should also mention she is a great watch dog. She barks at neighbors, dogs, the mail man, leaves rustling through the yard. I often think she barks to bark. And of course, when she barks, Thomas has to bark. We can incite a chorus of barking and howling from the two. Crazy.

Commands: She knows sit, down, and give paw. That's about it. We have started to work with "Come" and "Stay". I really had a great time working with her one-on-one a week or so ago and she picked up "Give Paw" in three days. She is smart and food motivated. Unfortunately, Thomas likes to butt in and get some treats and love as well.

I would like to have "Stay", "Come", "Sit Up", "Up Up", and an emergency recall word by the end of spring. We will also have time to work with a trainer now that Maggie has a more balanced schedule.

Electric fence: Not good. Actually quite bad. I tried for about 1-2 weeks and she didn't seem to pick anything up. Actually, she spent more time looking for squirrels than paying attention to me. I tried to see how far she advanced and let her off leash while wearing the collar and she bolted from yard to yard to and fro, through the fence over and over again without hesitation. We really need to work with her on this!

Squirrel awareness: Oh my. I thought Thomas was bad, but she may be worse. Thomas is part setter, so he likes to point and flush. Penny just points. And points. And continues to point. She has excellent eyes and a great nose. I caught her pointing while out for a walk after she caught sent of some animal. I could never see what she was pointing at, but she definitely knew that a squirrel was around somewhere.

Future: So what does the future hold? Well, Penny will be getting a private trainer in a few weeks. With the onset and continuance of winter, we are reduced in time spent playing and walking outside. She needs more activity, and hopefully in the spring (with more daylight as well) we will really have some fun. Maggie is training for long runs so Penny will be her distance running buddy. I think that if Penny has direction and motivation she will excel in learning and her behavior will continue to improve.

Feel free to ask questions or comment ....


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pointing at squirrels

Pointing at squirrels
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
Penny is very prey-oriented. Very squirrelly! We often go for walks and she will either see or smell a squirrel and freeze instantly. Her body goes taunt and she'll point every now and then with her left paw. One day, I stood for about 10 minutes in the neighborhood whilst she pointed at a squirrel munching on who knows what on the lawn about 20 feet from her.

She also has some outstanding eye sight and can pick a squirrel out in the trees from a tenth of a mile or further.

Unfortunately, she also hunts while walking, so she doesn't always listen or pay attention to me. She also doesn't care to work on training for the electric fence - instead she looks across the yard over the warning flag - for squirrels in trees.

Daisy and Penny

Daisy and Penny
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
Penny has a doggie friend (unfortunately, not Thomas). Penny loves to romp with Daisy, a friend's dog. They body slam each other, try to bite each other's collar, and create mayhem wherever they go.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Penny playing ball

Penny playing ball
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
The weather has turned much colder now and we are playing inside a lot more. Thomas and Penny aren't playing together very often, so we try and keep her entertained as much as possible. Here is another picture of her playing ball.

I didn't have the chance to catch Penny playing with Daisy, a friend's dog, yesterday in the living room. Penny was quite energetic, hip checking Daisy and trying to bite her collar.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Penny playing ball

Penny playing ball
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
We found out Penny likes to play ball inside instead of outside (less distractions like squirrels and bunnies). She does a pretty good job of being a goal tender inside. Please note Thomas' lack of interest in the background.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yet another shot of her sleeping

Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
Really, she does more than just sleep in her (or Thomas') bed. She's just soooo cute when she is sleeping, though.

No thanks, I don't want to play ball right now

Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
Penny's persona has continued to evolve. She's started to play with our friend's dog (Daisy) and has even romped once or twice with Thomas. But in this picture, she was watching Thomas and Daisy playing ball in our front yard. We tried to get her to play ball with them, but she sat there and watched.

I should also mention she is VERY prey oriented! Squirrels, chipmunks, birds, rabbits, and cats - watch out! There is a new sheriff in town.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Monitoring the yard for squirrels

Thomas and Penny
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
I managed to catch Thomas and Penny side by side looking out the front door the same day they were snoozing next to one another. Thomas wouldn't typically let Penny sit next to him, but this was different. Maybe because they were chasing a squirrel earlier in the morning ... but Thomas didn't really care that she was there by his side. Maybe his is relenting a bit in his old age.

Thomas and Penny

Thomas and Penny
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
We turned the page of the calender and caught Thomas (right) and Penny (left) nearly head to head relaxing and dozing on their doggie beds. Quite an accomplishment considering Thomas doesn't really want anything to do with Penny. But this time, there was the lack of the sideways glances and low, rumbling growl that emanates from one of them when the other encroaches upon their bed or toy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Penny and Cuke

Penny and Cuke
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
See - as if you didn't believe me - she LOVES cucumbers. I can't even get her to play ball anymore. Thank God the semi-ferile cat that has adopted our neighbors (Angel) doesn't smell or taste like a cucumber.

Sleeping Penny

Sleeping Penny
Originally uploaded by dhoopercu
Here she is, asleep and not eating cucumbers or shoes. She has learned to steal cucumbers directly from the vine. I caught her this morning running around the back of the house to the garden to explore, and porbably grab, a fresh cucumber from the vine. I hope she doesn't go for eggplants or tomatoes - then we are going to erect the rabbit/deer/Penny fence.

Friday, August 8, 2008


So - she's on a course of antibiotics right now. It may be a bit overreactive; however, the vet decided to err on the side of caution. Plus, the antibiotics are helping reduce any inflammation within her intestinal tract.

She weighs around 42 pounds, and is in good health. Nothing significantly amiss with her, just a few loose stools. Good BM the next day (figures).

What else - she went to the local town's gazebo and outdoor concert and did OK. She relaxed in the grass after calming down a bit. At first, she didn't know why all of the humans around her were clapping, and where the annoying racket (otherwise known as 'music') was originating. After a little bit, she calmed down. Thomas was loving life - rolling in the grass, going for a walk so he could hunt in the ivy and ground cover next to City Hall, and just being the center of attention. There must have been 15 kids that came up to him and wanted to pet him. Penny even got some attention, and for the most part seemed to enjoy being petted. The only time I was a bit apprehensive was when she was surrounded by 4 kids that wanted to pet her at once. I told the kids she was a bit nervous and probably needed a bit of space. Granted, I was probably talking about me more than her. Overall, she did a good job and didn't even vomit in the car!

This morning both dogs were full of energy. It seems as though the cooler weather has invigorated and awakened their senses. Penny has more life when walking - her body english is more aware and interactive than when we started walking. She keeps trying to play with a neighborhood cat (named Angel). The cat doesn't really mind her and Thomas, who can't decide whether the cat is something to hunt or play with. Both dogs sniff the cat, but Penny bounces to and fro next to the cat while Thomas sniffs away. He probably wants Angel to run so he can chase her, but she just purrs and rubs herself on my shins without caring about Thomas and Penny.

Till next time (and she needs to get used to the sound of a camera) ...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Off to the doctor this morning

Over the weekend, Penny seemed to be a different dog: she didn't have as much of an appetite, was a bit lethargic or melancholy, and had loose stool. Naturally, I visited my parents in PA leaving Maggie to watch the kids (Penny and Thomas) - so I attributed her symptoms to separation anxiety from me. Maggie really wasn't receptive to that idea.
She had another loose stool this morning, but it had more "substance" to it than previous ones. Last night, she was romping through the yard playing with me and a tennis ball. I didn't notice any perceptive change in her demeanor and she ate her dinner with abandon. Maybe the heat was getting to her?
Anywho - we'll keep those that follow the blog and her adventures informed of what we hear this morning. Hopefully, it's nothing other than a bit of stress.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cucumber? Oh ... CUCUMBER!!!

Penny has progressed from romping with a tennis ball to finding cucumbers recently picked from the garden. Last night, she made off with a cucumber and was running around with the cuke stuck out of both sides of her mouth. She would drop the cucumber, pounce on it, and throw it into the air. Too bad she is not as much of a camera hog that Thomas is.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ball? Oh...BALL!!!!

So cute today!!! Penny was playing ball in the front yard-by herself...she doesn't enjoy having the ball thrown to the other end of the yard like Thomas does.She is more content to pick it up and drop it, pounce on it at her own leisure... so funny!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Drooly P

Since Penny's first shopping trip with Thomas and I to Broad Ripple went so well on Friday (minimal drool), Dave and I took her shopping for a larger crate on Saturday-mistake. We met the Drool Monster! And she upchucked-twice! SO Saturday night and Sunday were much more low key than the first two days for Penny here in Indy. She is slowly learning our vocabulary, and just like a Pointer she uses her selective hearing very well!

Dave has a little white shadow with him most everywhere he goes in the house and I swear today she was looking for him around the yard! We've started working on the in-ground fence training. The first few days are the toughest, the nice thing about Penny is she kinda sticks near you in the yard, unlike Thomas who, until he understood the fence, would spend as much time 2 yards down as he did in his own yard!

On our first jog down the Monon on Friday the three of us got lots of compliments! Ok, they got lots of compliments, I was just holding the leashes!

All in all these first few days have been good, I'm still looking forward to when she knows all of our words and is less timid-we see signs of this already-she has growled at Thomas when he looked at her and her bed too long!

Friday, July 4, 2008


Thoughts from a late night in Cedar Rapids ...

On pins and needles, almost akin to going on a first date. "Will she like me?", "What should I say; how should I act?", "I hope her parents don't hate me.". Ahh ... things that go through the mind.

For those of you not in the know, my name is Dave and we will soon be taking Penny into our care and making her one of our own. My wife, Maggie, and I have bantered back and forth about adopting another dog into our clan for some time. I have often questioned whether we be capable of spreading our love equally between two dogs within our new pack? Thomas (our current dog) has been our child for the past 6 years, and we are awaiting our new arrival with some trepidation and anticipation. Thomas isn't the most social dog, but he'll just have to learn and overcome.

The three of us will have a lot to learn and adapt to - we have to, in order to make sure she is welcomed into our pack. We will make sure she is protected with love and grows to be the confident girl she is capable of. Maybe Thomas will even let her help keep the yard free of those mean, evil squirrels and bunnies.



Monday, June 16, 2008

Penelope Pit Stop

Ben thinks Penny looks like Snoopy when she's sitting or lying down and looks from one thing to the next so quickly that her ears fly up. I didn't see it at first, but now I do. She has Snoopy's intelligent look about her, too.

We went out of town over the weekend and left Penny and most of the other dogs with the world's greatest pet sitter, Gina of Hamsters to Horses . Pen was a good girl for Gina, and it was good for Pen to be cared for by someone else, as I think it helps build her confidence and trust in new people.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pen - Porchin' and Parkin' It

Pen at Rennick Riverfront Park on the Missouri River in Washington, MO, tonight. She clearly enjoyed lounging in the grass and watching the world go by after our walk.

Pen, Lila, Greta, and Sam on one of the back porches (taken through the screen door).

Today was a good day in the life of Pen...relaxing on the porch, hanging out at the park (where she was such a good girl), and, best of all...a great piece of news in the mail. Her test results from Texas A&M showed perfectly normal pancreatic numbers with the exception of slightly low amylase numbers. So, according to the experts at Texas A&M, she doesn't have EPI after all, and we think it was a grain intolerance all along, which is becoming more and more common among dogs today. She's continuing to do very, very well on her raw diet, and now that she's had a great week on it, we're going to start increasing her meal sizes to help her gain a few more pounds.

Happy Penelope Day!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Possibilities for Pen...

I'm a fiddler - not the kind who can play the stringed instrument but the kind who has to fiddle with things and can't leave things alone. That normally gets me into trouble and leaves me wishing I had left well enough alone. But in this case, I'm blaming it all on the IBR founder and president...

We tried a little experiment on Penny - a raw diet, no Viokase or enzymes. So, after four days on ground turkey, green beans, kale, and okra, what do we have? Perfectly solid stools. Now, to those of you who haven't been following Penny's tale, that may seem like an odd thing to celebrate. But for those who have, and who know about her initial diagnosis of an insufficient pancreas that seemed to indicate she would need medicine with every meal for the rest of her life, this truly is celebratory news.

I'm no vet. My own vet will be the first to tell you that. But IBR's founder and president has likely dealt with more digestive issues in Pointers related to poor diet and neglect than anyone else, and she encouraged trying the raw diet. And I listened. So far - knocking heavily on wood - it's working, and we've been able to cut out the prescription Viokase.

So, what's going on? Well, again, I couldn't even play a vet on TV, but I'm wondering if there isn't a grain intolerance in Pen coupled with a weakened pancreas. While Pen did score an 8 on her TLi test - which measures enzyme reactivity and falls within the healthy range - it's still on the lower side. But going raw and cutting grains out made a dramatic difference overnight. We're going to try beef and chicken; while turkey seems to be working, we want to make sure there aren't any allergy or intolerance issues with the other types of meats. But we're very encouraged by the developments of this past week and cautiously, cautiously hopeful that the right diet, combined with non-prescription supplements including enzymes and probiotics, might hold the key to her overall health.

Today was an example of one of those days I'll use to badger my husband to replace our bulky digital camera, because I would have carried a small one to photograph Pen at a doggy festival. She was such a good girl - shy and a bit reserved but incredibly quiet, well-behaved, and patient and curious with adults, children, and other dogs. I was so proud of our little foster girl - she still has a long road to building her confidence, but she's making great progress.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Test Scores

Our lives are punctuated by test scores. I remember taking a weird test in kindergarten that I later realized was an IQ test. Then there were the spelling tests and the math tests and the science tests I dreaded so much. My score on the all-important driver's license test showed deductions for driving our whale of a Mercury Grand Marquis too slow - yes, too slow - on the road section of the test, and then came what felt like the most important test of my life - the ACT college entrance exam.

Now that I'm older, cholesterol, gum health, and vision tests have become the barometers of my well-being; early in life, it's all about the mental fitness tests, but later in life, our test scores more often reflect our physical fitness - or lack thereof.

I didn't imagine I'd be checking my phone and the answering machine several times each day, waiting for test scores from Texas A&M to determine the health of our foster Pointer's pancreas, but I did. Pen's first test for pancreatic insufficiency was low-cost and fast - a measurement of the impact of the enzymes in her stool according to their ability to dissolve geltain on unexposed X-ray film. The poor results of that test were pretty conclusive, but I wanted more, so we had her blood drawn and sent to Texas A&M, the only lab performing blood-based EPI testing.

A healthy dog's pancreas scores between 5 and 45, and Pen's came back...(drumroll)...8. Her score is low - in the healthy range - but low, but it's high enough that Texas A&M does not consider her to be a dog with clinical exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

So, where do we go now? Well, our vet and I think there are two issues at play here - food allergies and a depressed pancreas. So, we're feeding a hypoallergenic food but cutting back on her enzymes, and I'm happy to report excellent results. So, the good news is that Pen may not need medication for the rest of her life after all and may be fine with good digestive supplements in time. The bad news is that we'll have to do some experimenting to figure out what her food allergy is, whether it's a certain kind of meat, wheat, gluten, or something else. But with today's excellent foods and the success of raw diets, I'm confident we'll get it figured out.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

For Whom Would Pen Be Perfect?

Good news on the health front...a weigh-in this week revealed Pen has gained 4 pounds since she was pulled from the shelter. That means her diet and enzyme supplements are working, and she's regaining her health and achieving a proper weight.

Our hearts sank when the preliminary diagnosis of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) came in; we went back this week to have her blood drawn and sent to Texas A&M University for the more exhaustive EPI test. But assuming it's positive, we're still concerned - is there a forever home for Pen out there somewhere?

The EPI was scary and overwhelming to us at first. But now, about a month into it, we're finding managing it really isn't requiring any more attention than what we give to supplementing the diets of all our animals. My horse gets a vitamin supplement, Ben's gets a joint supplement, and both get feed-through fly control supplements. All our dogs get skin and vitamin supplements, and two of our older females get Proin tablets. So treating Pen really isn't that much different; I crush her dry food with a rubber mallet to make it easier for her to digest, mix in a little water and a teaspoon of enzymes, and let it sit anywhere from 20 minutes to overnight, depending upon what works best for our schedule.

Once we got past the initial fear of dealing with the EPI, it's become routine. And in some strange way, there's something satisfying about the nurturing aspect of it. Ben would be the first to tell you I'm no cook, but the little bit of preparation that goes into her meals is not only fulfilling in a strange way but also makes me feel closer to this sweet little girl.

The type of person or family for whom Pen would be perfect would also be perfect for Pen. If you're the type of person who is devoted and nurturing to your animals and want the same devotion and love from them, Pen would be perfect for you. If you enjoy finding and feeding good diets and paying attention to your animals' well-being, Pen would be perfect for you. If you want a dog that will fill a big part of your life and a dog who will make you the center of their world, Pen is the dog for you.

Pen bonds quickly and strongly; she seeks closeness and companionship; she wants to lay next to you on the couch with her head in your lap. She wants to go jogging and on walks with you; she wants to follow you while you're working in the yard; she wants to lay on the patio with you while you relax or barbecue.

Pen will give all the love, loyalty, affection, and devotion she has to a person who will return the same to her. Special needs dogs usually have a way of loving their people more deeply and completely, and Pen loves deeply and completely with every bit of her now 41 (yay!) pounds.

Monday, May 5, 2008

So close...

Well, we had hope for a bit...a wonderful young couple from our area - who loved Penny, hit it off with her, and understood and were ready to work with her EPI - went through the process to adopt her and then found out he was being sent overseas for work for three weeks out of each of the next three or more months. Her long hours as a CPA combined with his travel convinced them now is not the time to add a new four-legged family member. The unfortunate part is that they were ideal for Penny, but the good part is that we had the opportunity to meet two wonderful, giving, and fun people, and we hope things work out for them and that they're able to bring a dog into their home soon. That will be one lucky dog when the time comes...

Pen is doing well with her EPI, but we're worried her condition might scare potential adopters away from a really great dog. Fortunately, her EPI is responding not only to the expensive Viokase but also to Pancreatin (average cost 60 cents per day) and to raw pancreas (less than 10 cents per day). Administering the enzymes is easy - we mix the enzymes or pancreas in with her food and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before feeding her. That's it.

Somewhere out there is her perfect family - one who will enjoy walking and jogging with her and relaxing with her in the house and cuddling up with her on the couch.

And if that family wants an instant Pointer family, Pen and another of our fosters, Radar, get along beautifully... :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Penny Puzzle

It's been a while since I have posted to Pen's blog, but it hasn't been for a lack of activity.

While at the veterinary hospital for a full day to be spayed, Pen's vet started to tackle the chronic soft stool issue we had been having with Pen, which was resulting in her inability to gain weight. We initially thought it was her heat cycle, and we then thought it was food allergies. But changes in food made minimal and sometimes no difference, and the soft stools continued after her heat cycle ended.

Fortunately for Pen, our vet, Dr. Hezel of the Pacific Animal Hospital, decided to test Pen's pancreatic health to determine if insufficient production of pancreatic enzymes was resulting in Pen's inability to digest food and therefore diarrhea and weight loss or the inability to gain weight. When the test provided evidence of EPI, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, we were saddened by the diagnosis but relieved to finally have a direction to pursue with her. But the bad news was that one type of the medication used to treat her condition is expensive and could be a life-long commitment with her.

Pen will require either prescription medicine, pancreatin, or raw, natural pancreas with every meal for the future and perhaps for the rest of her life, as well as quality, low-fat food. However, the pancreatin is a low-cost solution, and the natural pancreas is an extremely low-cost, natural, and healthy solution. With proper management, she can live a full and otherwise healthy life, and administering the medication consists merely of mixing it in with her food and letting her food sit 15-20 minutes before feeding. EPI is seen mostly in German Shepherds, but I would encourage those of you dealing with similar issues in your own dogs or your foster dogs to ask your vet about testing for pancreatic health and enzyme production.

Although we're still experimenting with her medication to determine the proper dosage, we're seeing improvements not only in her stools but also in her energy level, weight, and overall happiness. To see her tail, which stayed tucked between her legs for the first several weeks she was here, alive and wagging with joy is a wonderful thing.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pretty as a Penny

Pen is so good on walks, including our walk down the lane this morning. No pulling, no tugging, no lunging - I could have held the leash with my pinky.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sleeping Beauty

Penny does more than curl up in sphere chairs with Radar...really, she does. But she's so darn cute when she does it that I can't help but take pictures.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pointer Yin and Yang

Radar: Look at me - pretty girl, brand-new sphere chair from the Tar-zhay boutique (that's Target for those Pointers who don't speak French)...

Penny: Radar, did you cut the cheese?

A movie of Pen!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Play Time

Friday, March 7, 2008

Pretty Pen