28 July 2012

Stevie's Joint Care+ Challenge, Week 1 - The Stairs

Over the last year or so Stevie has definitely slowed down and has really started to struggle with the stairs - especially since being diagnosed with arthritis.  Some evenings he has to do several approaches and retreats before he can even attempt going up them.

I hate seeing any of my hounds struggle and whilst I realise that the ageing process is inevitable and that it’s likely to bring health problems, I want to do everything I can to help Stevie.  He has always taken everything in his stride and seeing him struggle with the stairs makes me sad (and realise how much we should treasure the time all our pets are with us).  You can see from the video that he makes several attempts before bounding upstairs.

I’m hoping that the Pedigree Joint Care+ treats will help Stevie with his mobility.  We’re all keeping our fingers and paws crossed that by the end of the challenge Stevie will be able to tackle the stairs like he used to.

*Disclosure: I have been provided with 6 weeks' supply of Joint Care+ treats by Pedigree  as part of the Joint Care+ Challenge.  I have not been paid for my views and all views expressed are my own.

24 July 2012

Summer's arrived and there's a spring in Stevie's step

At long last, after the wettest April and June since records began in 1910*, the sun has finally put in an appearance in this week.  As well as generally putting a smile on the face of the great British public (but let’s not mention the effect it has on people’s choice –or lack – of clothing), it seems to have helped put a spring in all the hounds’ steps too.

In the evening, when it’s a bit cooler, I’ve been spending some time playing and training with the hounds in the garden.  I’m not sure whether the sun helps Stevie’s joints, after all he’s only been on the Pedigree Joint Care+ trial** for just under a week, or the fact that he loves his new toys but something’s put a spring in his step.

It’s so nice to see him playing and having fun - especially as yesterday the vet diagnosed him as having arthritis and joint problems-  and we’re keeping fingers and paws crossed that it continues. As the video shows, it seems that Stevie's quite taken with the Kong Air.

*source: Met Office: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2012/wettest-June

**Disclosure: I have been provided with 6 weeks' supply of Joint Care+ treats by Pedigree  as part of the Joint Care+ Challenge.  I have not been paid for my views and all views expressed are my own.

23 July 2012

It's not the genes - it's how you wear them

We’ve always called Mina a greyhound but technically she’s a lurcher.  She looks about 99.9% greyhound but if you look really closely, you can see that her head shape and her stomach aren’t quite ‘full greyhound’.  Mina never raced and isn’t tattooed in her ears and she certainly responds differently to training than Stevie and Jasper (although this may be more to do with nurture, rather than nature – something I’d like to explore a bit more in the future).

In my training classes, I often ask clients to find out what their dog was originally bred for.  It’s not just that I like setting homework (honest!) but once you are armed with the knowledge of what your dog was bred for, you can use it to your advantage in training.  For example: a Border Collie is bred to be a working dog, herding sheep and to be busy., knowing this you can channel your Collie’s instincts into training and games that fulfil this need; likewise with retrieving breeds or using nosework to motivate the scent hounds.

Mina wonders what her DNA results may reveal
Mina wonders what her DNA may reveal
So, I was intrigued to see if there was anything in Mina’s DNA that would explain some of her behaviour.  After a bit of searching I plumped for the Wisdom Panel DNA test, which is easily available in the UK.  I only ever meant it to be a bit of fun, after all the DNA results state that they use - and what sounds to me, like a very complicated - computer algorithm to predict the most likely combination of pure and mixed breed dogs in the last 3 ancestral generations that best fit Mina’s DNA marker pattern.

The process of taking a swab of Mina’s DNA was really simple.  The test is easy to purchase via Amazon and costs around £59.99.  Everything arrived very quickly in pre-sealed, sterilised envelopes with easy to follow instructions.  The swabs themselves looked a bit like very small bottle cleaners (with bristles at the end) and all I needed to do was not touch the bristles and make sure that I took 2 separate swabs from inside Mina’s cheek/gums.

Betsy - the Cocker Spaniel. Any similarities to Mina?
So, swabs taken and returned to Wisdom Panel, all I had to do was wait.  Handily, there is an online results tracker which shows when the swab has been received and how it’s progressing through the labs.  In 3 weeks the results were through….

I thought Mina may have some terrier genes and I took the greyhound genes as read…. but the results revealed something I wasn’t prepared for at all!  So what did they say, I hear you ask?  Well, according the DNA markers Mina has Greyhound (no surprises there), Cocker Spaniel and Clumber Spaniel DNA!  I’m still somewhat dumbstruck by this, especially as the Clumber Spaniel is such a rare breed.

I’m not sure if I can really see any Spaniel traits in Mina – although for a sight hound she is incredibly sniffy on walks and does seem to spend a lot of time sniffing the ground.  It will be interesting to see how she gets on at the Sirius Sniffers Seminar this September, with Kelly Gorman Dunbar, as the seminar is dedicated to nosework.

Mina's Breed Ancestry Certificate
Mina's DNA certificate

So, what does Mina make of it all? Not a lot, I suspect.  She’s still the lovable, demanding, pretty greyhound/lurcher I fell in love with all those years ago and greyhound/spaniel or not, I love her just the same.

20 July 2012

Stevie Goes on Trial with Joint Care+ Treats

Stevie turned 10 at the beginning of July and in the last year or so has definitely started showing signs of his age.  In particular his back legs seem to have stiffened up and sometimes he struggles with stairs.  I find this quite distressing and always worry.  The chances are that it’s just wear and tear and the result of his racing days.

I’ve looked into dietary supplements such as chrondroitin and glucosamine – all of which aim to help with joints – so, I was pleased to be invited to participate in the Pedigree Joint Care+ 6 week trial*.  The trial is exactly what the name suggests - a 6 week trial of the Pedigree Joint Care+ treats. They contain chrondroitin and glucosamine which include green lipped mussel and shrimp shells.

Stevie, greyhound, inspects his Joint Care trial pack
Stevie inspects his Joint Care+ trial pack

Our Joint Care+ trial pack arrived yesterday – a rather nifty yellow rucksack which is embroidered with Stevie’s name and which contained a ball launcher, four balls and 6 weeks’ supply of Joint Care+ treats. 

The timing of the trial couldn’t be better.  We’ve been on a mini break for the last few days and all the hounds joined us.  Whilst Mina and Jasper could manage the internal stairs to the room, Stevie struggled and we had to use the external approach to the room (which involved a slope and about 3 steps).  I noticed that he’s slowed down on walks quite a bit too; he still gets excited at the sight of his lead (think a big blue Zebedee like greyhound) but doesn’t always seem to be up to the walk.

I’ll be recording Stevie’s progress over the 6 weeks and reporting back when I can.  And, just in case you wondered if Mina and Jasper were missing out, they’re not as..they each have a 3 week supply of the Joint Care+ treats!

*Disclosure: I have been provided with 6 weeks' supply of Joint Care+ treats by Pedigree  as part of the Joint Care+ Challenge.  I have not been paid for my views and all views expressed are my own.
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