16 June 2010

{15june2010: needles round 2}

We went back for our second visit to Dr. Kelleher yesterday.  Jason was able to come with us this time and I think it helped because we were able to control Darwin a bit more and Dr. Kelleher was able to place a few more needles than last week and even did some electroacupucture.

After the acupuncture she did a bit of chiropractic work on Dar, saying that she still feels a lot of stiffness in her lower back.
Darwin's doing well on her diet.  She LOVES her homemade meals and I think she's slowly shedding some of her roid weight.

(Let me note that a blender is not the ideal gadget to grind up raw veggies, but we don't have a food processor (oh how I wish we did), so this will have to do for now.)

I've been trying shake off some comments that the doc made to us yesterday but the more I think about it the more it bugs me.  When she was checking Darwin out, she was testing her reflexes in her back legs and when she picked up Darwin's left back foot and bent the toes down Darwin turned and let out a growl.  Not a ferocious "I'm going to eat you" growl, but more like a "what the heck is happening to me" growl.  Dr. Kelleher said she didn't like that Darwin growled and that she thought it would be best to put a muzzle on her for the acupuncture treatment in case Darwin decided to bite.  I was ok with that as she's the doctor and while I don't think Darwin would bite, it's better to be safe than sorry. 
Then while she was treating Dar, she made a comment about how Darwin is our first dog and how a Great Dane isn't the best dog to "start out with" as they are very big and you need to have total control over them and we don't have total control over Darwin because she reacted when her feet were touched and wouldn't let herself be manipulated to be examined and worked on.   I know that we need to work on Darwin's acceptance to being touched and handled especially by strangers, but at the same time I don't think it's a breed specific thing of her being our first dog and being a Dane.  

At the end of the session Dr Kelleher gave Darwin a small treat as a reward and then walked away and tried to call Darwin over.  Darwin walked over, but then walked away and the doc made a comment (I can't remember exactly what she said) about how we need to work on that as that wasn't good.
Darwin loves attention, but a lot of the times if people want to say hi to her, she'll go over and sniff them, but then walk away and not hang out to be petted.  Does that mean we don't have her trained or totally controlled?  I just figured she was being indifferent to the attention and that was just her being her.  
I always thought we've been doing a pretty good job with Darwin, especially for her being our first dog.  I know there are things we need to work on with her but I really don't think she's that out of control.


  1. I wouldn't let the comments bother you. I think some vets know a lot about medical and behavior issues, which are different than training. We've been to several vets in the city and almost everywhere the staff is encouraging our pitties to jump up and act crazy, and they reward the behavior with lots of "free" treats. You are obviously researching and educating yourself, so just keep doing what you're doing.

  2. Don't let those comments upset you! Seriously Dar, if woo need me to come show the chiropractor lady what a REAL out of control pup thinks of her piddly treats and pets, then I WILL SHOW HER!

    I would eat all her treats up and steal any noms that she thought were out of sight. Then I would come to her when she called. can woo say, "CHAAAAAAAAAARGE!"

    wags and woofs,
    Mack and Mia

    Woo are wonderful the way woo are and your pawrents are fabulous! Don't forgets it! Sometimes the two-leggers need help remembering.

  3. maybe she views things at constructive criticism? i wouldn't let it bother you, i think you guys are doing a great job! i'd be scared to see what she'd say about ollie! hahaha. do you notice any change in darwin since doing the accupuncture?

  4. First of all, it might be good to ask her more about her suggestions. How do I do it, why when I can tell her behavior, etc. Then Thank Her for her help, then go home and think about what she has suggested. You are lucky to be able to see a Top Dog Doc, so get the most you can from her would be my suggestions.

    Jo and Stella

  5. From Ammy's mom first: Those comments are purely opinion! Darwin IS your pup, first one or not, so there is no undoing that. Why wouldn't you start with a pup you love!?!
    As per the other remarks ... I once had a vet tell me my Aussie/Lab was a walking time bomb because when the vet cornered him (AFTER I warned him that he was afraid of men) and that his "domed forehead" (picture a Newfie...) meant that he was very, very bad. He recommended without examining him that he be put down. WHAT?!?!? I left immediately, then burst into tears. My husband calmly said to go to another vet -- and that's how we ended up as fans of KSU Vet Teaching Hospital. The MALE vet there quickly won our Booter over, then explained that of course he was cranky, he had a nasty ear infection (we had just adopted him; he was about 8 months old) that had to be quite painful! As to the "domed forehead", he said that was one of the strangest comments he had heard. We had Boots for 13 wonderful years, then sadly lost him to cancer. That first vet lost his practice shortly after our encounter.
    Basically, that first vet didn't like being growled at, got scared, and decided it was Booter's fault (even though he was warned - and I even said, "Please let me get him out of the corner and let him come to you...") instead of his own fault. Can you see where I'm going with this? Take what your vet said as situational. Frankly, if someone did a chiro on me (my pups get a full orthopedic exam as part of their Senior Care exams) and stuck a bunch of needles in me ... I'm not sure I'd want to go sit by them unless they were offering a big slice of carrot cake. :) Seriously. I don't see a problem with how Dar behaved in the slightest.
    You're doing GREAT. Don't sweat the small stuff!!!

    And now from Ammy: Poor Darwin!!! I think you need tons of hugs and "oh, poor baby!"s and extra play time and ... there isn't anything orange in your blender, is there? How about spinach? That's really yummy. I'm quite the fan of spinach. It's not orange.
    AND maybe your toes were sore and the vet gave you and owie when she bent them and you were just letting her know!!!

  6. I have a German Shepherd Dog. One of their character traits is to be aloof but alert. They DO NOT warm up to people the minute they set eyes on them. They need to meet them several times before they accept someone new.

    Don't take what was said to you to heart. Some people like big dogs - some like small dogs - some like cats. Just because Darwin walked to your vet and then left doesn't indicate anything. My dogs would do the same thing, for Pete's sake!

  7. Murphy's Mom here....I think it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job with Darwin. From all of your blog posts she obviously gets lots of socializing.

    I think Jo & Stella had a good suggestion. Call her vet back up, or wait til you go in the next time, and just mention that you'd been thinking about some of her comments and wanted to know if she could elaborate on them and give suggestions as to how you could do a better job.

    Dog ownership is a never ending learning process. I have had dogs ever since I was a little girl, and every single one of them has been different.

    If your vet thinks Darwin needs to get better at being handled, start working with her in between appointments. Touching her paws, toes, ears, teeth, lips, nose, tail, etc. Tell her to 'be still' and do these things every day using treats to reward her when she allows you to do all of these things without protesting. I really don't think its a dane thing, I think its a young dog thing. Murphy is really good at letting me mess with him and handle him, but if we are at the vet he gets nervous and forgets that these things aren't really scary. As he gets older (and as Darwin gets older) they will both become more comfortable with examinations, etc.

    Whatever you do, you don't want to correct her or punish her for growling. That's her warning to you that she's uncomfortable, scared or in pain. If you punish her for that, she'll soon learn not to growl but then you run the risk of her not giving that warning and someone could push her far enough where her only option to show you how she is feeling is to bite.

    Just a couple of long winded thoughts on your beautiful girl. Like I said, I think you are doing a great job with her!

    Murphy's Mom

  8. Beth here....I would of been offended! What nerve. Darwin is there because she doesn't feel the best for one thing. AND there are MANY MANY MANY breeds that demand more attention than our giant breeds! I know it was just her opinion. But people like that really tick me off! We do the best we can with our friends and the simple fact that you are taking her to this Dr. should show that! Sorry -- just had to vent....You ARE doing a great job and showing Darwin all the love you can is the most important! Keep up the great work!

  9. No, please, don't listen to the vet, I am sure Darwin is an angel. And I am sure the vet met worse dogs than yours. Poor baby she is in pain... what a monster... Believe me, it happened to me also. When they are so young they are a little bit emotional. My vet said the same to me. But it is because she is young... and even when they are older, they can sometimes be naughty or grumpy anyway! Like us... I am not always nice... Please keep on treating her, I am sure you will get good results soon. It is your love to cure her too. Ciao Nicoletta (& Lucille)

  10. I am sure she was just trying to be helpful, but really she needs to think a bit more before speaking. I have no problem with a vet giving advice on behavior when asked, but other than that, I think they should focus on medicine. An alternate response to the growl would have been a question like, "does Darwin have issues with her feet being touched?"

    As far as the impromptu recall goes, just not appropriate.

    BUT, I think your best course of action is just to mention it directly to her. Assume she is trying to be helpful, "I know you are concerned with Darwin's health and quality of life, but your comments about my fitness as an owner make me uncomfortable. Let's both keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn't get stressed out by the exam, OK?"

    Mango Momma

  11. Arr mommee finks dat woo iz dooing a grrreat job. Now she wants to rite woo:

    Waldo is unhappy with people that touch his back end without him seeing. It's like when someone comes up behind us and touches us--it catches us off guard! Waldo's also like Scout and Freyja: he doesn't want to be your best friend as soon as you meet him--he takes a few minutes to warm up to you before he'll just stand next to you for a long time.

    Just keep socializing him, and maybe do some exersizes like Murphy's mom suggests (rubbing his feet, etc), and you'll be fine.

    I know how easy it is to take these things personally--Darwin is your baby, after all! But just like human babies, doctors (and random strangers) think that they know how to raise your kid better than you. You have to take what they tell you and run it through the filter of what you believe is best for your dog.

    Keep up the good work--so glad you're able to get specialized help for Darwin!

    Gus, Waldo, and Dog Mom

  12. I thinks those comments are full of crap! Darwin is great, she plays with babies nicely, she goes lots of places and meets new people, she listens to you, etc. When doggies are in PAIN they act different cause it hurts and they are scared. I had to wears a muzzle at the vet for my ear infection cause I wouldn't stop barking. My vet never said anything bad, he just said the muzzle changes a doggies state of mind, it calms them. It's ok to be a DANE and be a first Dog. I'm Momma's first dog and we've enjoyed learning together - there's always room for improvement- but there is no room for mean comments.

    woof - Tucker

  13. I wouldn't take the comment the vet said personally, maybe the vet was trying to be helpful, she may really like Darwin and would hate for her to growl at the wrong person and then it could go very bad! :( I think some vets aren't very good at saying things in a nice way and don't explain themselves properly when they do say something that may not be very nice!

    Darwin is definately not out of control and you both have done a fantastic job at raising her, if it was me I would get darwin really used to being touched and examined, because even though the vet didn't put it nicely it is very important for big doggies to be well accustomed to be being examined by vets - makes everything less stressfull for them - I can just imagine Jasper when he is fully grown and gets to about 70kgs and if he wasn't used ot having his feet looked at, they would need 2-3 Vets just to restrain him, and he would get incredible stressed if it had to resort to that!

    I hope Darwin is feeling better and the acupuncture is working!

    ~Laura, Lexi and Jasper

  14. Sorry we're so late on this - have been falling behind on visiting blogs lately...

    Anyway, I agree with everyone - you're doing a fantastic job! I've always admired how you are continually trying to learn and train Darwin and socialise her - and you try to involve her and expose her to lots of thing. I wish more Dane owners are like you!

    Having said that, I have to say that I would tend to agree that Danes are not ideal first dogs FOR CERTAIN TYPES OF OWNERS - and I don't mean you - but I think you know the type I mean. The type who just get a Dane because they want the biggest dog on the street and would never think of taking their dog to training classes or doing any socialisation or training. I know this kind of attitude would affect any breed of dog but the reality is, a giant breed can cause more damage than a toy breed, whether one likes to admit it or not, therefore yes, poor handling in a giant breed IS more dangerous. And since people make more mistakes with their 1st dogs, then it does make sense not to choose one which is likely to be more challenging FOR THE AVERAGE PERSON who can't be bothered to do commite lots of time to educating themselves and training their dogs.

    I'm not saying Danes have more behavioural problems than other dogs - a Dane pup behaves like any other young dog - but the problem is that because of their rapid growth and huge size at a young age, all the 'normal' problems are exaggerated and therefore can't be as easily overlooked or ignored (how many other 5 month old puppies can cause a hip disolcation by pulling on the lead?!). Sadly, I have been contacted by a lot of 1st time Dane owners who are of the "idiotic, lazy type" and are in way over their heads because they never bothered to research or prepare - who come wailing to me because their now 5 month old pup is causing havoc and they want me to help them "fix" him/her...

    I don't think it should be a blanket ban - there are some dedicated, commited owners like you who would do great with any breed as your first dog - but sadly, you are very rare. Even though Honey is our 1st dog and we have managed to do OK with her, it was a LOT of work which I know realistically most people wouldn't do. So if I was going to advise the average person now, I WOULD tell them NOT to get a Dane as a first dog. It's the Dane that suffers in the end.


  15. (...continued)

    I don't think your vet knows Danes very well at all if she expects them to be instant 'cuddle bunnies' - Danes are know for being slighlty aloof with strangers (it's witten in their breed standard!) and to be honest, I quite like a dog that doesn't go fawning up to every stranger it sees on the street. Honey is like Darwin - she will often walk straight past people who are calling to her or tryign to pat her and just totally ignore them. Or stand next to them but look the other way. They have to earn her interest and her affection - so what? It's not like she's being aggressive to them! We have taught her a command "Say Hello" which means to go up to people and let them pat her - so I sometimes use that (we call her and encourage her over to the person, using that command) if there is someone I specifically want her to make the effort to meet (eg. if we meet an autistic child whose parent specially asks if they can pat Honey) - and she will come over then and interact with them. So if you're bothered about it, you could always teach Darwin something similar (get people to give her a treat after the "Say Hello" command and she'll start going to them very willingly!) - but if it doesn't bother you, then don't let the vet's comments bother you. It's fine to have a dog that's a bit aloof.

    You know we've met our share of idiot vets who don't know a thing about dog behaviour but maybe see their comments as pointing out areas you need to work on. You know it's a continual process with our dogs - there's always somethign new to work on! Even Honey at nearly 7 is still developing new "issues" all the time and we need to work on them. No matter how well you socialise them, there's always something you've missed or something new they have to learn to deal with. So don't see this as a reflection of your abilities as an owner but rather helping you pinpoint "weak areas" you need to work on with Darwin, which is good to know, right?

    As for the feet, I agree with what everyone said - one the one hand, it's perfectly natural for some dogs to dislike having their feet touched and the vet should know better. Our good vets have always asked "Is she OK with her feet being touched?" before trying to do anything - that's the sign of a genuinely knowledgeable dog person. But at the same time, it IS important for Darwin to learn to accept having all parts of her body handled. So like everyone else suggested, start working on it more - handled her feet more with treats for calm acceptance and see if you can get others to help you - maybe first people she knows & likes (your work colleagues?) and then gradually more "strange" people - but if you build up positive associations slowly, then you should be able to change her attitude to having her feet touched. She might not ever LIKE it but at least she'll learn to accept it calmly without complaints.

    Anyway, good luck - and just keep on as you are - you're doing great!


  16. Just when I was all ready and excited to make food comments and ... I'm pissed. A lot. The comments you referred to touched me and made me very upset. What a dufus of a doctor!!! If you think that Darwin is improving though, stay there, keep up with the treatments, use a nice pair of styling ear plugs, and get your girl used to a muzzle at home. Use treats and do it several times for short increments. Then leave it on for longer periods of time. Get her to like the muzzle since her doctor is a scared idiot! Feel free to give the doctor my email address and I'll explain a bit about how Darwin is cared for from her "beginner" parents. Better run before I start cussing