Letters April 1999 Issue

Seizures, Mobility Cart Rentals, and "Show People"

More on Seizures

I read with great interest your article on alternative treatments for seizures (WDJ November 1998), but I must relay to you my own experience. I have had Huskies, Malamutes, and Labradors for many years and have had to deal with this affliction. My females have never had seizures, but several of my males have. The latest episode involved my five-year-old Siberian Husky, Mars. For about a year he would have a very mild seizure about every two months. Then one weekend in early August, he had one Friday night, and three on Saturday, all very bad. Saturday night I added 1/2 teaspoon of dolomite to his dinner and also to his Sunday breakfast. He had one very mild seizure on Sunday.

Monday morning I took Mars to the veterinarian. He took blood tests, said Mars has “idiopathic epilepsy” (seizures for no apparent reason!) and told me to give him Phenobarbital. I wouldn’t take Phenobarbital, and have no intention of giving it to my dog. Obviously, I had to solve this problem myself. So I continued adding dolomite to Mars’s food. After a month I tried decreasing the dosage, but he had another mild seizure, so we went back to 1/2 teaspoon.

These pound puppies seem too tall for Border Collies.

Mars has not had a seizure for over two months. The blood tests showed no abnormalities. I asked if they had checked for magnesium deficiency. The veterinarian said that test wasn’t done. I told him what I had done and he was not pleased. Too bad.

I told this story to the man at my health food store, and his reaction was that everybody knows seizures are caused by a magnesium deficiency. He said that there is a veterinarian in town (I’m trying to find out who it is) who often sends people to get dolomite or magnesium citrate for their dogs. So much for getting help from the medical and pharmaceutical folks. I’m glad we have people like you to rely on.

By the way, dogs can get tapeworms in more ways than the one (fleas) mentioned in “As the Worm Turns” (WDJ December 1998). I had an Alaskan Malamute who lived all his 14 years in a flea-free environment (fleas can’t survive in Alaska), but he did have tapeworms once. Dogs can also get tapeworms from raw moose and rabbit meat, as well as from the feces of those animals. I always cooked the game meat scraps for my dog, and he never had tapeworms again.

-Carol Jeffus
Anchorage, AK

Mobility Cart Rentals

A friend of mine just introduced me to your journal and I was amazed that the first thing I saw was the headline in the February 1999 issue, “Recycled Mobility Carts?” We recently started a small company, Eddie’s Wheels, and we make carts for disabled pets. We understand that the cost of a cart is a significant investment for many folks, so we are offering rental carts to help out people with short-term needs or to help them finance the cost of the cart over the period of a year. Basically, if you rent it for a year, you own it. And after you no longer need the cart, we’ll buy it back and recycle its parts for another disabled pet. We can do this because even though each of our carts is made from scratch to order, our carts are designed to be so durable that the machined fittings and metal parts can be recycled to make new carts.

We got into this business because we had one of those great dogs, a blue Doberman named Buddha, who lived up to her name and taught us the meaning of compassion. When she lost the ability to walk due to a slipped disc, we built her a cart. For the five months that she used it, she taught us how to care for her; attending to her needs deepened the bond that had already been forged over 10 years. Cosequin, physical therapy, and daily walks through her familiar patch of woods kept her spirit strong while her body healed. Eventually, she no longer needed her wheels and lived another three years on her own foot power.

Many people who saw us walking with Buddha told us about a dog they put to sleep because it couldn’t walk any more. Our veterinarian referred people to us to build carts, and over the course of eight years the carts evolved into the lightweight aluminum vehicles they are now. An article in the local newspaper brought us a dozen inquiries, and a new business was born. Now we have a website (www.eddieswheels.com), referrals from our regional SPCA, and a workshop out of our basement in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. We feel blessed to be using mechanical and industrial skills honed by 30 years in the manufacturing industry to serve animals and the people who love them. This is a very satisfying way to make a living. We’ve been contacted by rescue groups, and even made a quadriplegic cart for an orphaned opossum. Each client’s special needs represent a challenge that keeps the work interesting. We rely on the Internet and on word-of-mouth referrals. Any help in spreading the word is appreciated.

-Eddie and Leslie Grinnell
Greenfield, MA

Defending Show People

Thank you for a great Journal. I have been waiting a long time for someone to publish something like this! I look forward to each issue!

After reading the article about feeding a natural diet to show dogs (WDJ November 1998), I wanted to respond. The first few paragraphs mentioned some examples of the horrors of the show world. Many of us who show and compete with our dogs love and care for them as much as “non-show people.”

In my years of competing with my Golden Retrievers in conformation, obedience, field, agility and tracking, I have indeed seen some of the things mentioned, but rarely. Ninety-nine percent of us who show take careful and loving care of our dogs at all times. Most of do not take any of the cheating measures mentioned, nor do we condone the actions of those who do. I also wanted to mention my concern with the opening paragraph in which the author writes, “By ‘finishing’ her dog . . . a breeder helps assure potential buyers of his puppies, that they come from high-quality breeding stock. The more the dog wins, and the better known he becomes, the greater his earning potential.”

In my opinion, there are two fallacies present in this statement. First is the implication that the only reason we show a dog is to be able to breed him (or her). There are many dogs who are shown and even “finished” without ever being bred. Many of us show for the joy of showing, not for the breeding potential.

Second, this statement implies that breeding is a money-making game. IT IS NOT. The amount of money a breeder must spend, from health clearances and stud fees to veterinary bills, almost always exceeds the amount of money made by selling puppies. I know very few breeders who actually make money on a regular basis.

The show world is very concerned about those who feel we shouldn’t be allowed to compete with our dogs. There are a number of animal rights groups who would like to see dog showing banned forever. These misguided people believe that we are cruel to show, to train, and even to keep dogs. All of us who love our dogs, whether we show them or not, need to band together to fight the efforts of these groups. If a respectable, well-meaning Journal such as yours helps perpetuate the exaggerations of the dog show world, then we may be losing this battle. Please help us hold the dog show world to the standards most of us espouse.

Melanie Field
Glenbow Kennels
Medina, Ohio

Readers, I’d like to gather more information from you about conditions for dogs in the show world. It would seem that dogs who are judged by their condition and appearance would benefit even more than the average dog from intelligent, holistic dog care practices. But what about the charges that unhealthy drugs and supplements are over-used by some who show? How common or uncommon are unscrupulous or abusive owners and trainers? What proportion of the competitors that you see are using gentle training and healthful diets?

We’ll gather your opinions, and report them in a special feature this summer.

Vaccine Reaction

I was very interested in the case history in the December 1998 issue – the dog with diabetes insidipus. I have a 13-year-old Brittany that has been on DDAVP medication for four and a half years. We have been able to get it at our local Wal-Mart pharmacy for $64 for 2.5 cc’s, which normally lasts 24 to 28 days. This amounts to almost $1,000 a year.

I feel the cause of my dog’s DI dates back to rabies vaccinations. Three weeks following his 1993 vaccination, we thought he was bloating. He was also in extreme pain in the kidney area. We rushed him to the veterinarian. Radiographs showed nothing unusual, but he showed some neurological deficits. We took him back the next morning for more x-rays, and did some blood tests, etc., but found nothing. The veterinarian gave him prednisone and he improved almost immediately. He showed no further problems until the next spring, when he had his next rabies shot. Same symptoms, but he didn’t get better this time. We took him to Auburn University, and $500 worth of tests showed nothing. In August, he woke us up trying to lift the toilet lid, and getting in the shower and tub searching for water. He was finally diagnosed as diabetic, and went on DDAVP.

The following spring, he had another rabies shot and began drooling 21 days later. He drooled until mid-October, which is when I contacted Dr. Charles Loops (a Pittsboro, North Carolina veterinarian who uses homeopathy). He agreed with my assessment of what had happened to Happy. As you stated in your article on vaccinations (“Not Quite a Sure Shot,” July 1998), people really should be aware of the risks, as well as the benefits, of vaccination. I’d love to see a support group for those of us who have dogs with this problem.

-Jeanetta Sharp
Albany, GA

Sorry to hear about your poor dog. Unfortunately, your story perfectly illustrates the potential pitfalls of vaccination, especially for certain sensitive individuals. Resources

We’d like to underscore the importance of noting ANY symptoms that arise following vaccinations, and, when possible, never repeating any of those vaccines.

We repeated your story to Dr. Jean Dodds, one of the country’s leading veterinary immunologists, for her comments. She definitely recommends not repeating any vaccination that causes a bad reaction in an individual animal. Rabies is, of course, the one vaccine that dog owners are required by law to administer to their dogs, so getting around that vaccination can be difficult. However, Dodds says, following an adverse reaction to a rabies vaccine, some dog owners have chosen to direct their veterinarian to administer a “titer test” to their dog, which could determine whether the dog had a sufficient amount of protection to rabies already present in his system. Armed with a letter from their veterinarian, explaining the dog’s past history of reactions to the vaccine, as well as the results of the titer test, these dog owners requested an exemption from their state or community’s rabies vaccine requirement. Some owners have been successful taking this approach, though some stories have circulated through the dog world about cases where a state would not budge, even in the face of lawsuits.

If a person feels she has no other options than to vaccinate their dog, even following bad reactions, Dodds suggests consulting a veterinarian who uses homeopathy. Some homeopathic remedies have strongly demonstrated an ability to blunt vaccine reactions, without reducing the protection offered by the vaccine.

The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, listed in the section in every issue of WDJ, can direct people to holistic veterinarians in their area. Another great resource is the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.

I just finished reading the February issue. Thanks so much for your article in the “Top 10 Dry Dog Foods.” It can be so hard to find these better foods. Even when owners want the best foods, if they only go to their local PetsMart or PetCo and ask for the “very best food,” they’ll almost always get sent home with Iams or Eukaneuba – which are nothing but expensive junk foods!

By the way, you had a picture in that article of two young dogs eating from the same bowl. The dogs look awfully like the puppies you wrote about last fall; I think they were your mother’s puppies. Are those the same dogs? If it is them, they are looking pretty tall for Border Collies!

-Robert Everett
Portland, OR

What a sharp eye you have! Yes, those are my mother’s pound puppies, and clearly, they are not Border Collies; they just keep getting taller and taller! Although, if you look at the first photos I ran of them (September 1998, page 22) it was kind of hard to tell what they were when they were so tiny. Here is a shot from a recent visit to “Grandma’s house.”

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