Friday, November 18, 2005


Canine Influenza:
What You Need To Know

This stylized image of a single influenza virion is shaped like a globe with a halo of projections, an innocent looking blue golf ball with tiny tees sticking out of it. These viruses, however, when they travel in groups become important diseases in mammals and birds. The primary source of influenza A viruses is aquatic birds which migrate from continent to continent. Other animals susceptible to influenza include humans, domestic birds, mink, seals, whales, pigs, and horses. Recently an equine influenza virus has been found in dogs.

The case of a virus crossing a species barrier is very uncommon and causes high concern in medical circles. Some of this concern has been triggered by the recent crossing of bird flu into humans. This is why the Center for Disease Control has become involved in monitoring cases where viruses cross species boundaries. The CDC is monitoring all such cases including canine influenza.

The canine influenza virus was first detected among racing greyhounds in Florida and other states where Greyhounds race. The virus is thought to to be related to equine influenza which has a vaccine available and has been known in horses for over 40 years. Canine influenza is being studied in various places including the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dept. of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences. A recent test summary issued by the Cornell Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, on November 4, 2005 identified 232 cases of positive samples for Canine Influenza from 1224 samples submitted.

Geographic distribution was fairly wide ranging and included 16 states from New York to California. The state with the highest number of cases was found in Florida with 92, followed by New York City (46), New York State (31), California (15), New Jersey (13), Connecticut (9), Massachusetts (6), Washington, D.C. (5), Arizona (4), Washington State (3),Ohio (2), North Carolina (2), Georgia (1), Wisconsin (1), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (1). These results, however, only reflect samples that were submitted to the laboratory for testing.

Signs and Severity of Canine Influenza

The symptoms of canine influenza may mirror signs of kennel cough and include sneezing, coughing and fever. Fever may be high and range from 103 to 105; these fevers require immediate veterinary attention. Nearly 100 percent of the dogs that come into contact with the virus become infected regardless of vaccination history.

Approximately 20 percent of dogs infected will not exhibit symptoms. Of the 80 percent that exhibit symptoms two forms have been observed: Mild infection – Symptoms include a low grade fever, nasal discharge, and a persistent cough that can last up to three weeks. Severe Infection – Symptoms include a high fever, increased respiratory rates with difficulty breathing and other indications of pneumonia. Researchers have reported that canine influenza is fatal in fewer than 8 percent of infected dogs. Because this virus is new to dogs, most dogs will not have a natural immunity to the illness.

Diagnosing Canine Influenza
A diagnosis of canine influezna infection is done by detecting antibodies to the virus. Serum samples from sick and recovering dogs can be collected and sent to the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University. Serum samples from recovered dogs can be submitted and will determine previous exposure to the virus. Collection of a pharyngeal (not nasal) swabs or tracheal swabs on dogs with fevers very early in the disease may help chances of confirming the
presence of the virus. Tissues from dogs that have died suddenly with acute respiratory signs should also be submitted (shipped in overnight cold pack).

Treatment of Canine Influenza

Your veterinarian should be contacted immediately if you think your dog may have contracted canine influenza. Your veterinarian will also be able to make recommendations regarding the symptom free dogs you may have in your household. Although most dogs will recover from the virus without any treatment, dogs showing symptoms of even mild infection can be treated with antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections. Those with a more severe form of the virus will require the same treatment as humans with influenza including fluids and rest. More severe cases will require IV fluids and antibiotics. Treatment has been successful in 95 percent of cases to date.

How Canine Influenza Is Spread

The virus is thought to be mainly airborne, most likely transmitted by infected dogs sneezing or coughing on each other. Dogs become symptomatic in two to five days after exposure to an infected dog. Infected dogs have the ability to spread the virus for seven to ten days after the onset of symptoms. As in human influenza the virus can be spread through direct contact with an infected surface. Prevention can be helped by washing hands after handling dogs and washing exposed surfaces with a detergent or mild bleach solution. Infected dogs that do not exhibit symptoms, (20 percent), are still able to spread the virus.

Prevention of Canine Influenza

Although vaccines for this disease are in the research stage, there is no vaccine available at this time. Using common sense is a key to preventing the spread of this disease. Watch for news of outbreaks in your area, check with your veterinarian to see if cases have been reported in your area. If you use a boarding kennel, grooming shop or dog training class ask them about what precautions they are taking to isolate any apparent cases. If your pet has a respiratory infection or is recovering from one, limit its contact with other dogs for a couple of weeks to allow for complete recovery. Assume that the more exposure your dog has to other dogs the greater the chance of becoming infected. With higher exposure such as dog shows and other events you will need to take more care regarding sanitation, hand washing after handling other dogs, and care when selecting areas to exercise your dog.
Usually this disease is self limiting and most dogs will recover in 2-3 weeks. There is no cause for panic among dog owners. However, there is cause for common sense and observation by dog owners, particularly in those cases where dogs are gathered in groups. Dog owners should be aware of situation in their area and maintain communication with their veterinarians.


American Veterinary Medical Association,
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine,
Florida State University, College of Veterinary Medicine,
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH,
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicind,


Center for Disease Control and Prevention: 800-243-2343
American Boarding Kennel Association: 877-570-7799 -

On-Line Resources

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Media Briefing Transcript, 9/26/05,

University of Florida Canine Influenza Virus Fact Sheet

Cornell University Canine Influenza Information

Monday, November 14, 2005

Daisy Finds Adventure and Blueberries in Newfoundland


Daisy was an "easy champion". She won a BISSW, quite handily, even beating her now famous brother, Andy, Am. Can. Ch. Foxfair Excalibur, BISS.

So, what is a dog show girl to do? Have puppies perhaps. But, just due to life circumstances, I was too busy to raise a litter when she was young and should have been bred. Bred when she was older, she produced one male puppy who now lives happily in Michigan with his snowmobiling family. The decision was made that Daisy, who in addition to not being a mom was not overly enthusiastic about her sisters who are moms, should be retired.

Enter Alan MacKenzie. Alan called one day and said his 17 year old Keeshond had died. He and his wife were retired and would like to have another Keeshond. He did not really want a puppy but was considering an older dog that would like to go for daily walks in the woods and acommpany him on fishing trips, etc. Did I mention that he also liked brush his dog daily? Daisy loves the woods, and loves being brushed. I knew she would also like being an only dog. A match was made.

Al then left Newfoundland for Ohio to bring Daisy home. Do you have any idea where Newfoundland is? It is 700 miles across the water from Greenland. It is two hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, it gets dark there at 4:00PM. And it takes three days of solid driving and a 12 hour ferry boat ride to get to Ohio. Incidentally, according to Al it was a ferry boat ride worthy of a amusement park with 11 foot waves. Al, a lifetime commercial fisherman, said he felt sorry for his fellow passengers who looked like they wanted to die! Al was supposed to arrive on Saturday, but he was put behind schedule by the ferry boat. He called my son from Buffalo, NY and asked if he was nearby. Well, that was relative, much closer than Newfoundland, but still a 6 hour drive.

Al arrived early Sunday morning in a mini-van with a nice new crate for Daisy to ride in since this is how show dogs are used to traveling. He assured me that if the ferry was too rough on the return Daisy would fly the 100 miles to Newfoundland.

We learned a lot about life in Newfoundland from Al's visit. There are still many Newfoundland dogs on the island. They are great swimmers and have the terrific Newfoundland temperament but they are short lived with 7 being old age. There is no commercial fishing allowed on Newfoundland since the government has sold the rights to Japan and China. However, there are many inland rivers and ponds. So many, that Elk and Caribou thrive there with a population of 500,000. Each islander with a hunting liscense is allowed one Elk, and one Caribou per season. Al gets his limit every year and has in his freezer, 100 lbs of trout, 50 lbs of salt fish, 400 lbs of Elk, and 60 lbs of Caribou. There is also an unlimited supply of blueberries and cranberries due to the many bogs on the island.

With such a healthy diet, primarily fish, and no air pollution, it is not uncommon for Newfounlanders to live into their 90's. There you have it. Daisy, who like many dogs, and her owner, has fought the battle of bulge all her life. She will now slim down from hiking, and eating fish and blueberries. We will miss Daisy but know that she and Al will be very happy and healthy in their Newfoundland home. Ryan and Al made some tenative plans for him to visit and go fishing. The great things about dogs is meeting wonderful people.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

How To Buy A Healthy Puppy

The watch word for every potential puppy buyer should always be, "caveat emptor", or "let the buyer beware." Here are some simple steps to assure that you will have the best chance of bringing home a puppy that will happily share your life for many years to come.

First, understand that there are no real guarantees, puppies are not widgets. They are living, breathing animals. As such, they are subject to a wide range of illnesses that can befall them throughout their lives, much like human children. That being said, we will first focus on things to look for whether you are buying a mixed breed puppy or a pure-bred puppy. We will then provide information and references you will need if you are purchasing a pure-bred dog.

What To Look For In A Puppy and A Litter

Puppies should be raised in a home, in a clean environment. Puppies that are not raised in close contact with humans, children, families and other pets may suffer from a lack of socialization. Look for a clean environment and happy, friendly, out going puppies. Coats should be shiny or fluffy and their eyes should be bright. Healthy puppies will not be coughing or have a discharge from their eyes or nose. They should be playful, unless they just had meal, which will make them sleepy. Stools should be firm and not runny. Puppies that are pot bellied and have dull coats may have worms. You should expect the breeder to supply you with a health record which will include the shots they have had and a record of their de-worming schedule or negative stool samples.

What To Look For If Purchasing A Purebred Dog

We plan more articles on this subject, however, here are some general guidelines.

The Breeder

Ask the breeder the following questions:

Q. How long have you been breeding this breed?
A. Hopefully they have some experience with the breed at least 5 years and 5 litters.
If not are they learning from an experienced breeder?

Q. What kind of health testing do they do before breeding the parents.
A. Good answers are: we test for those recommended by the breed club, like
OFA for hips, stifles, eyes, heart or whatever is necessary in that breed.
Poor answers are: we don't test because we have no problems, or there are
no health problems in this breed.

Q. Do you provide a health guarantee with this puppy?
A. Answer should be, yes, for hips, etc., and after your veterinarian examines the puppy
if things are not as they should be we will take the puppy back for a full cash refund.
Get this in writing, many breeders ask that your vet examine the puppy within the first
72 hours.

The Parents Of The Puppy

If you purchase your puppy from the breeder, you will be able to see the mother of the puppies. Some moms are possesive of their puppies and will act a little unsure around strangers. The mother should be in good weight and look generally healthy. If you are looking at a coated breed she will not be in good coat and you will have to forgive her raggedy looks. The breeders may have pictures of her in better condition.

General Guidelines

If you are purchasing a puppy from a breed that will mature over 25 pounds both parents should be OFA certified as fair, good, or excellent.

If you are purchasing a puppy from a breed that will mature under 25 pounds both parents should be OFA certified for tight stifles.

In many breeds eye disease is a problem. Do your research and study the breeds you are considering and their health requirements. Places to do this research are and the parent or national breed club website. Many breed clubs have codes of ethics you should read and become familiar with: a) the breed standard b) the breed code of ethics for every breed you are considering.

We welcome your comments and suggestions regarding this topic.




Hiking with Your Dog or Lauren and the Great Groundhog Adventure

Want a new adventure? Try taking a hike with your dog. Planning a special trip to a scenic place with your dog in mind is like a mini vacation for the mind and body. Exploring nature becomes more interesting with a canine companion.

A flexi-lead, a leash with a reel on it, can enhance this experience. Depending on what type of dog you have, your adventures will be different. An Afghan Hound will stare at the sky. Kazan used to stand transfixed and we thought he was a little odd. Then, looking at the same spot where he was staring, soon a plane or a bird would come into view. Thus the word sight hound!

Walking with a Keeshond is a completely different experience. Their number one priority is people. If you see a person on a hike with a Keeshond they will expect to stop, talk, pet, lick and generally say hello to everyone. Isn't that what life is all about? Well, at least it is to them.

If people are absent they will act like many other dogs, Terriers, Spaniels, Hounds and Herding dogs, they will look for wildlife. Once on a hike with Patty, a young female Keeshond, she suddenly dived into the weeds and came up with a MOLE! YIKES! While not exactly hunters in the big game sense, Keeshonden are more in the mode of, "Lets get rid of and/or have fun with all these little critters."

The largest "game" the Keeshonds ever tackled was a groundhog. One afternoon I saw my beautiful Lauren, she of the show ring and silver coat, running toward the house from the woods.

Covered with mud she slid into a huge puddle, dropped something into it, and looked up at me with the widest Keeshond grin, tounge hanging out - sheer happiness. Shortly my son appeared from the same woods, running and yelling at her, he leaned over and smacked her very upset. She absolutely did not care, obviously having the time of her life.

It seems that Ryan and Lauren were on a hike in the field when they came upon three young groundhogs. Lauren gleefully dispatched the first one by grabbing it off a tree and shaking it. One quickly dived down a hole saving its little hide. All the while Ryan was trying to stop the mayhem, while Lauren his 4-H obedience dog was blissfully unaware of anything he was doing.
She then snatched another groundhog shook it and started running to the house with her prize.

So, if you want to have an adventure - take a hike - and don't forget the dog.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Spanish Riding School Tour 2005 - Standing Ovation in Columbus for the Lipizzaners and their Riders!


I am and always have been an unabashed admirer of the Lipizzaners and the Spanish Riding School. So this review will be somewhat biased and I am going to admit it - upfront. However, that being said, this was a once in a lifetime experience and if you love horses it is a must see event.

If you can organize a group of horsey friends to attend so much the better. Even a group of dog/horse liking friends would enjoy this up-close look at animal training at its finest. I went with my sister even more horse snake bit than myself and three other horse friends. One an arabian enthusiast like me - for some reason Arabian people have a special affinity for Lipizzaners - and two quarter horse people who were simply amazed by what they saw.

We were able to attend a special clinic ahead of time. The clinic was held two hourse before the performance. This clinic was led by the chief rider. He explanied the training methods used at the school and how young horses are started and finished into school horses. He had a young horse come out that was not part of the show, except for a brief part of airs above the ground unsaddled. He was dark grey another clue to his young age. He is a beautiful horse with very correct conformation and elastic gaits. The plan with young horses is to start them only to go forward willingly at the various gaits. Interestingly, he was worked with an older horse who was very unsettled by the trip and the surroundings. The skittish behavior of the older horse gave his rider a special opportunity to show off the "glued seat" of the SRS riders. Amazing - nine out ten accomplished riders would have been unseated by this guy's antics, on one of his last dips and swings the rider actually laughed while guiding his horse back to it's correct trot.

The show itself highlights the various gaits and abilities of the horses. There is a marvelous pax de deux with two horses working passage and inricate patterns to classical music. Another daring feat "airs above the ground" on horseback with no stirrups - don't try this at home in your indoor arena! While some might think bull riders are brave, these riders are brave, strong and skillful as they convince thier stallions to fly and then ride them with such finesse.

A Quadrille with eight stallions and riders set to Mozart's music is breathtaking and beautiful. Since ours was their first performance after getting off the plane, the horses were a little excited. One stallion took a some convincing from his rider that the quadrille meant trot not canter. He soon settled down as his patient rider simply worked with him in the pattern until he quieted to a trot.

The master rider on a simply stunning white stallion with flowing mane and tail performed all of the exercises with one hand, under a spotlight in a darkened arena, it is a sight we will never forget. Remember there is a double bridle, so we are talking about four reins in one hand. The quarter horse folks thought it might be a precursor to reining, but I think it was so the cavalry man could hold a sword!

More than the airs above the ground, more than the intricate steps, what impresses the ordinary rider the most about this performance is the patience, kindness and grace of the riders. How they communicate with these beautiful horses so softly and effortlessly, the most demanding and intricate gaits with barely a detectable move of their hand or legs.

It was common when the riders were working from the ground to see them pat their horse and then reach back under their coat tails for a treat for the horse. The affection and respect between horses and riders was apparent. While all of us cannot achieve the level of skill produced by a 400 year old training program, we can emulate the patience and respect that these trainers demonstrate for their beautiful charges. If you get a chance to attend the tour will be visiting St. Louis, Missouri, November 12 and 13, Washington DC, November 19 and 20, Phildelphia PA, November 25 and 26, Atlanta GA, December 3 and 4 and Houston TX, December 10 and 11. For more information or for a video of their performance their url is:

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Puppy Observations and Bathing

Jack and Jill will get their first baths today. In breeders terms, a jack and jill litter is a litter of two, one boy and one girl. This is a small litter for Keeshonden which normally have litters of six, but it is nice to have a boy and a girl.

In small litters, like this one, you can observe more about the individual puppies and their behavior. One observation I made in this litter occured before the puppies opened their eyes. As they were sliding around the pool like baby seals they would sometimes get off the terry cloth and onto the slippery surface of the platic wading pool. I noticed that even at this very young age they could discimnate the surface texture and adapt accordingly. They would grip and walk only when on the terry cloth with their front legs. Their rear legs just dragged immobile until they were on the non-slipperty terry cloth. Once on a surface with traction they would move their rear legs and toddle forward.

Their gait also changed from the sideways head bobbing of a puppy with it's eyes closed, much like a blind person uses a cane - to the straightforward - I know where I am going walk of a confident puppy who can see the world.

As they are Keeshond puppies and they are, of course, adorable. They will dislike their baths but will submit willingly to our demented desire to see them clean and not smelly for their first show on Saturday.

Their personalities have already emerged. Jack when on lead for the first time zipped along like he had been waiting for this moment since birth. Jill stiffened her legs to posts screwed firmly in the ground as if to say, "When you get this gear off me then I will consider taking a step." Interestingly, Jill is the leader. Jack looks to her for her first reaction to something new. If she is bold and curious he will take a step forward, but behind her. If she is intimidated, he will run to the farthest corner. As in many litters his personality changes when she is not around. Alone he becomes much more self confident. This could have something to do with Jill smacking him in the face with her paw whenever she feels like it!

The steps for their first bath are as follows:

1. Place puppy in utility tub.
2. Run warm water and wet puppy. (Hopefully you have on a waterproof apron, if not that old scuba gear in the basement might come in handy here)
3. Shampoo with baby shampoo, careful not to get water in ears, pinch each ear closed
4. Rinse puppy with warm water
5. Place puppy in large warm towel.
6. Sit down with puppy on lap and dry with hair dryer on low setting, brushing as you go.
Tip; many puppies will be intimidated by this process and sit quietly, sometimes a puppy will become agressive and may attack the dryer of the brush - speak quietly and reassuringly - keep brushing and oh - good luck with this one - perhaps early puppy school enrollment would be a good idea)
7. Place puppy in clean pen with papers.
8. Repeat with next puppy.
9. Remove all wet clothing on bather - (usually all clothing including underwear)
10. Put on dry clothing - Check puppies and clean up before you have to start all over.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Breeding Dynamics Seminar

Debbie Lynch Presents Seminar
Bichon Club of America
National Specialty

The "Breeding Dynamics" seminar presents the most current information on canine genetics and helps breeders create a plan that will help them set and achieve their goals in producing healthy dogs that can win in any setting from performance to conformation. The seminar is available to dog clubs on a limited reservation basis. For information on how you can present this seminar to your club or group email: Posted by Picasa