Saturday, November 24, 2018

Since my previous entry, several things have happened, one of the reasons I didn't feel like updating the blog. Exactly 4 months after she had come to live with us (6 days after my last blog entry), she broke into our aviary one night and killed one of our laughing doves. We were extremely upset (our doves and other birds are very special to us) and emotionally we became detached from her. We just took care of her physically, but ignored her further. We really did not want her any more, but couldn't find her a new home. She really sulked, it showed ... Gradually (since her conduct was good again), I could feel that the initial upheaval in me was subsiding, and I started relaxing towards her.

But then, barely a month after she'd killed our tame dove, she again attacked another dove, this time one of our wild doves, who visit us twice daily, for food. This happened early morning, just before we fed the doves. The poor dove was so mutilated, that Pierre had to kill it to stop its agony ... Both of us were very upset, because we love our doves, both tame and wild, and want our yard to be a safe haven for them. Again, we got detached from our dog emotionally.

She had already gone through one period where she was on heat, and we booked her for a sterilization. We decided to go through with it, even if we found somebody who wanted her. At least then we could give them a spayed dog ... The operation was done on the 25th of October, and she weighed in at 38 kg. She had already gained 17.7 kg since finding her just over 6 months earlier, which is about 87% of her initial weight.  For the first ± 36 hours afterwards, she did not want to eat anything, but she recovered well and regained her appetite soon.

It was raining often for a while, so we skipped her weekly mange treatment a few times because of the cold and dampness, but then the mange got a foothold again ... Now we make sure that we do not skip any – if we miss it by one day, we do it as soon as we can afterwards. Overall her skin is now in good condition, although the new hair has not yet fully covered her, so there are still some patches where the hair is shorter than in other places.

Now another month has passed, and her behaviour has been good (apart from the fact that she sometimes does things like damaging our small fig trees, by chomping off their leaves and branches sporadically 😕). Emotionally (towards her) we're not yet where we were in the beginning, but our dismay towards her (because of the two innocent doves) is gradually wearing off. She now leaves our doves and other birds alone, and is actually becoming a joy to have around. She also has not pulled our washing from the wash-line again, something she did a few times, right in the beginning.

One day we left our front gate open for only a few moments (wrong move!!), and suddenly we heard her barking very loudly and sounding quite aggressive. A stranger had seen the open gate and tried entering (we later checked it out on our security cameras), but she rushed towards him, and stopped about two metres from him, where he was standing in the entrance. At that moment my mother was sitting in her wheelchair in the garden under a tree (out of sight from the gate), and during those few moments of her barking, Kosbaar twice moved in the line between the stranger and my mother, like she wanted to protect my mom from him. Had she not intervened, there could possibly have been a tragedy that day ... She continued barking aggressively, until Pierre came out, and tended to the situation. She clearly showed that she is a very good watchdog! 😃

She NEVER barks when people merely pass by, and often several days go by without us hearing her bark at all! But when she does bark, we immediately go out and see why she's barking. Over the years we never allowed our dogs to bark for every bit of movement, because that can become a source of great irritation for one's neighbours. The only time she barks, is if it is necessary to alert us – like when a stranger comes to our gate.

She loves going for walks, and especially when she can swim – it is such a joy to see her play in the water! 

My sister brought her a squeaky toy yesterday, and she loves it! First looked at it suspiciously on hearing the first squeak, but then just enjoyed it! Unfortunately the light is quite poor in the video, because it was already early evening.

We've had Kosbaar now for just over 7 months.


Friday, August 10, 2018

7½ weeks after my previous entry, and I'm happy to say that things are going very well with Kosbaar! The pesty mange appears to be something of the past, but we're still spraying her weekly with a preventative dip to make sure it does not return. Her hair is growing out nicely, and the few places that still looks 'spotty', are getting less obvious. As you look at the following images and videos, see how her appearance has changed over time.  And perhaps it would be a good thing to look at her earlier images, from the time we found her, now almost 4 months ago.

When we took her to the vet for her check-up last week, she was pleasantly surprised at her progress. She had gained another 5 kg, which makes it a total of at least 10 kg of flesh and muscle that she has put on since we'd found her (after having taken her initial dehydration into consideration, and allowing about 2.7 kg for that).

Her energy has no bounds! Every mealtime she literally hops and twirls around as she accompanies us to her bowl!  

A while ago she started pulling washing off the wash-line. We got confirmation for that, when we checked our security cameras. She had deliberately jumped up and pulled several pieces off the line, and then played with it like a cat with a mouse ... Gave her a stern talking, and she looked rather apologetic.  After the 3rd wash-line episode, and another very serious talk, it did not happen again. We do hope she's now over it! 

I made her a toy by plaiting strips of old cloth, and she rather enjoyed playing with it, but soon lost interest again. It seems like she only likes to play with it if one of us plays along!  She also lost interest in the hooves we bought her to chew on ...

At a stage I thought she was slowing down as far as her eating speed was concerned, but I was mistaken. She regularly still seems to almost attack her bowl of food, as if she hadn't been fed for days. She gobbles her food down, and barely chews. All that time while she had struggled to survive, seems to have made a permanent impact on her.  She still has two big meals a day, and now I'm trying to cut down on the 3rd meal, middle of the day, by slowly replacing it with snacks. Gradually I want to phase that out, because we cannot go away from home for more than a few hours, as leaving her with a large bowl of extra food won't be good. She'll probably eat herself into a stupor.

Three weeks ago my 5-year-old granddaughter visited, and at a stage we were blowing bubbles. My daughter managed to capture Kosbaar while she jumped up and grabbed a rather big bubble with her mouth! I must add that it was the only one she got hold of, before losing interest in them. Perhaps it was the taste of that bubble that put her off! :-)

By now she has learned to sit, and is quite good at it. But we're trying to teach her not to jump up against us. She is heavy, and can easily hurt someone if she does that, especially as she appears to do so in a rather clumsy way. We also don't want her to annoy visitors. She frequently wants to give us her paw to hold – I guess we can call it "her default". This is such a nice gesture of hers, but her paw comes down hard and heavy if one happens to be in its way, and she can easily hurt someone that way. We'll have to work on that somehow, without crushing her friendly spirit.

It's fun (for both her and us) to have her catch her snacks, whether it is an apple core, or a pellet. 

Two days ago was a landmark for Kosbaar. We took her for her very first walk outside our yard.  It went much better than we'd anticipated, but when dogs charged towards their own gate as we were passing by on the other side of the road, we had difficulty restraining her. She still needs quite a bit of training!

10 August 2018

Sunday, June 17, 2018

It is now 3 weeks since my previous entry, and we can see a definite improvement in Kosbaar's condition.  Her diarrhoea is something of the past (what a relief!!) and she's getting more playful and energetic by the day.

She is still on treatment for her mange, which is still there, but it's looking much better. She is also getting more flesh on her bones, especially now that the pathogenic bugs in her intestines seem to have been given the final blow with her last bout of strong antibiotics.  We continue giving her probiotics and a herbal food supplement on a daily basis, to help her get back to where she should be.

She started chewing on wrong things (like my wooden garden board, painted by a friend) and also a piece of soap that was left at the outside tap ... :-(  So we bought her hooves to chew on, and at first she did not trust it.  Grabbed it, but then threw it down again, looking at it as though it may jump at her - it looked so funny! :-)  Eventually she got the hang of it, and now enjoys it.

Even if it is raining, and we arrive back home, she comes out into the rain to welcome us.  It's nice having her around!


17 June 2018

Monday, May 28, 2018

Soon after my previous blog entry, Kosbaar's skin condition deteriorated. The patch on her neck which I mentioned last time, spread to the rest of her body again.  And we still had to keep giving her anti-diarrhoea medication twice a day, just to keep her stools from being totally watery.  We were feeling very despondent, like going forward a few steps, and then sliding backwards again.  Yet, she was still in good spirits, and that encouraged us.

This morning we took her back to the vet (who was back from leave).  The good news is that she weighed in at 28 kg.  Deduct the weight of her jacket (it was very cold) and keep in mind that initially when we found her, she was dehydrated, then I think we can look at a total weight gain of about 5 kg of flesh added to her bones, despite her intestinal problem :-).

Dr. de Villiers confirmed that the mange was not yet under control, and prescribed more medication for that, and another course of antibiotics (targeting the pathogenic intestinal bug/s), as well as a short course of cortisone, to give her relief of the obviously irritating itching.  She also suggested we change her feed to another type, at least until her intestines have settled.

We do feel a bit more positive now, and trust that from now on, there'll be progress only, and no more regression.



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

It's now just over 5 weeks since Kosbaar has come to live with us. But for the past 2 weeks or so, she's been bugged with loose stools, clearly a bacterial infection of her intestines. Since her diet has been stable since we've had her, we concluded that the antibiotic which she'd been on for the first two weeks (aimed specifically at her skin condition), had suppressed the activities of the pathogenic gut bacteria. Because soon after it was discontinued, it started changing, and getting progressively worse, as the bacteria "got their feet in the doorway" again. The vet who'd initially treated her, was on leave, and another vet prescribed probiotics for her, to support her gut. Two days later there was still no improvement, and we feared the possibility of having to get her back on a drip again, since she was slowly, but surely, dehydrating, although she was still eating well. Even giving her anti-diarrhoea medication twice a day, did not seem to help. On Monday we went back to the animal hospital, and the senior vet gave us antibiotics for her, specifically aimed at the pathogenic gut bacteria, along with other medication too.

For the sake of the bigger picture, I'd like to share a gracious miracle we experienced during this time. We have a massive pin oak tree, which was in desperate need of pruning, because if our winter storms start, it could cause lots of damage to our house and garage, should any branches break. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we could not have it done earlier, and the date was set for last Tuesday. We would have to put Kosbaar inside our house for the day, for her own safety while the tree was being trimmed. On Monday evening the team leader phoned and said he had accidentally made our appointment with an overlapping doctor's appointment, and said he'd only be able to come with his team on the Wednesday. On Tuesday our doggy still had several watery stools, and we were very glad that she could stay outside. We could not postpone the trimming of the tree, as the first storm could be one too many. We asked God for mercy in this scenario. Early Wednesday morning we put Kosbaar in our front room, and put a few boxes there to cordon off an area, so she'd not go everywhere, and she lay down quietly on her blanket. There she stayed all day, sometimes got up and stretched, then lay down again. Every now and then we'd talk to her, so she knew she was not alone. Twice we took her outside for a few minutes, but she did nothing. By 5 pm the workers left, and she could go outside on her own again. Her diarrhoea had stopped completely for that day, and only recommenced again that evening. We were very grateful that we'd been spared a mess in our house!

We had hoped that the antibiotic would have taken effect soon, but after four days her diarrhoea still persisted, without any notable improvement. A friend from our former home town came visiting, and brought us a sample of Slippery Elm powder, which his wife had sent along (she was a practicing vet for many years). We started giving it to Kosbaar, and by the second day we started seeing an improvement. We are still giving her probiotics, and have completed the course of antibiotics, and they possibly all work together, so we're just very thankful. It does look like the Slippery Elm was the one that helped tip the scale. Although there is some improvement, the problem has (unfortunately) not yet subsided. We're keeping a close watch ...

I mentioned earlier that her paws were becoming swollen. The treatment we gave her, along with soaking them in a solution of 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a cup of lukewarm water, seems to have done the trick, because they are looking much better.

She's had several ugly sores on her body, and they have improved quite a bit, but the best improvement is her overall skin condition (except for an area on her neck that is still not good). Initially (after several treatments) her skin started healing slowly – it was a bright pink, and still had several cracks and looked painful, possibly from all her licking. (Note the dates on the images.)

Then we decided to not leave her without a jacket at all, because it functioned as a barrier against her licking and scratching. We treated the sores and massaged milking cream into her skin regularly. This decision paid off, because there is now a marked improvement! The once bright and tender pink skin has now darkened and is looking good, and is soft to the touch. The areas that had hair on a month ago, are now almost bare. As the skin infection started clearing, her hair in those areas started falling out. They were probably already loose in the hair follicles, but because she couldn't lick there, and had no-one to bath and give her skin massages, they just sat there. Here are a few images, showing the improvement in her skin. 

On Thursday we gave her a good bath again, and I sat with her in the sun, holding her so she does not run back to her kennel, until she was dry, and topped it off with another skin massage. The areas where there were no hair when we found her (face, feet, chest and belly) now have hair starting to grow back.

She had an infection in her left eye, but after treating it a few times with ophthalmic ointment which I happened to have, her eye is looking much better now.

We've come to realize that this dog has a very special character. She is thankful, quiet, and always comes to us when she hears and sees us outside. Then she wags her tail and her whole face smiles, and she often holds out her left paw for us to take. But she does not make a nuisance of herself. She also appears to have some type of "built-in decency", as we find that (after the first week or two here) she's been tending to make her toilet out of sight as far as possible, which makes the risk of stepping in / on a landmine, less, and cleaning up easier, because all the landmines are more or less in one area. :-) 

She is definitely showing a greater zest for life, and sometimes she acts playful – something we have not seen with her before. 




Wednesday, May 9, 2018

It is now exactly 3 weeks since Kosbaar has come to live with us. Her skin is still in pretty bad shape (although there is now not a trace of any fleas or ticks) and she has lost much more hair from her body, possibly because the treatment with the prescribed shampoo has caused the hair follicles to expel the loose hair. Previously she was possibly just too exhausted to bother about the irritation on her skin. Now she licks and scratches a lot, so much so that her skin sometimes bleeds. So she's still wearing a jacket constantly, and this gives her skin a chance to heal beneath it. Scabs are forming and the new skin looks healthy. We continue with the cortisone ointment (for the itching) and cream, and we noticed that the hairs on her legs are beginning to grow again, possibly because the mites are now gone. Her facial skin is also softening from the cream we put on it (this image below was taken after I had just put it on the first time - had to smile - but massaged it in so it does not bother her).

She does, however, lick her feet a lot, and that causes swelling (or perhaps it's the other way round). Initially we did not bother about washing her feet, as we concentrated on her body, but now we started washing her lower legs and feet too with the medicated shampoo, also between the toes. Hopefully that will help. But she's due for a checkup at the vet in about a week's time, so she'll then probably help to sort that out. 

She is now getting 3 meals a day: full meals mornings and evenings, and half a meal middle of the day. When she's hungry, she sometimes makes a few gentle noises at the kitchen door (not loud at all), possibly just to remind us that it's mealtime. We'd actually started wondering about her vocal cords … We have only heard her bark once in three weeks – that lasted about three seconds (mentioned previously). Since then she has not barked at all, despite our neighbours' dogs barking! But this morning our gardener came, and when she saw him (although he was here last week for a few minutes, and she had met him), she started barking very loudly and insistently, until we had to tell her to stop. She acted as if she realizes that she is now our watchdog, and she has a really strong and loud voice! :-)

She is showing more signs of enthusiasm for life by the day and she is visibly getting flesh on her bones. Her 2nd jacket is fitting really snug, and her first jacket (that initially was over-sized) is fitting much more comfortably. 

It's good to see her each morning as we open the door, and being welcomed by her smiling face and wagging tail.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

It's now the 9th day since Kosbaar has come to live with us.  She still spends quite a bit of time in her kennel (after all, she is still a patient and needs lots of rest after her ordeals), but smiles and wags her tail whenever she sees us.  Her appetite is very good, and she is quiet - so far we heard her bark only once, that was at dawn, several days ago.  I went outside to see why she was barking, and realized that she had heard our neighbour going to his car.  I spoke to her, said it was okay, and she went back into her kennel.  When she's recuperated well, we'll start training her to only bark when necessary.  We don't want her to annoy our neighbours by barking at every bit of movement and noise.

Initially, when we found her, her body was full of ulcers.  But because of her weakened condition, she probably did not have the energy to bother about it.  Now that she's getting better, she tends to scratch them severely, often until they bleed.  On Sunday morning Pierre went to the emergency chemist and bought a soothing ointment for the ulcers.  But as soon as it's been applied, she starts licking it, and they end up bleeding again.  Then we noticed that in the mornings, when we remove her jacket, the ulcers look less inflamed.  But a few minutes later, they're back to being inflamed and some even bleeding.  We came to the conclusion that the jacket (apart from keeping her warm during the cold nights) also helps prevent her from licking the ulcers.  So now I made her another jacket (again from one of her gift blankets), so we can leave it on during the day too, and can wash and rotate the jackets.  Hopefully it will help the ulcers to heal sooner, and with our weather becoming cooler by the day, the timing suits us.  We still continue with her medicated shampoo twice a week, as prescribed by the vet.

Here below is a snapshot of Kosbaar in her new jacket.