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Well, Emmy’s been back since January 31. When she arrived she had well-furred ears (!) and looked great. She, naturally, was a bit shaky on her cues, but we finally got those pretty straightened out.

Now, after 2 1/2 months, and the onset of deep Atlanta spring, Emmy is back to itching, licking, gnawing, and scratching. I’ve started wiping her off, especially her feet and legs, when she comes in from being outside. I have tried a wet washrag, dog wipes, and baby wipes. The baby wipes work as well as the other two, leave a slight fragrance that doesn’t seem to bother Emmy, and are easier than the wet washrag. They help some, but not enough. Emmy has also had her first yeast infection (R ear) of the season – despite cleaning and drying ears daily – sometimes twice daily. So, I’ve added Posatex to the grooming routine – again. She is taking Hydroxyzine Pamoate (one of the older antihistamines) and it works better than the (cheaper) benadryl. She is less groggy, doesn’t sleep as much, and can function fairly well despite it. But she still has some problems with paying attention while under it’s influence. I give her a cue, and she stares me (or off into space) as if to say, “I’ve heard that before, I know I should know it, but I can’t get it together.”

We have talked with my liaison at PAALS, and we are looking at a “re-career” move for Emmy – to being a pet with my youngest son and his family. As for me, we have a lot of thinking to do. A smaller Lab from this year’s class, or wait for a Golden Retriever from next year’s class. We have decided to not go for this year’s class because I really need a larger dog, so that will make it next summer before I can be partnered again.

Another option our liaison mentioned is to apply with another service dog provider who might have a larger breed. Well, that’s certainly an option, BUT – we are very strongly attached to PAALS, it’s programs, what they stand for, and the people who are there and who train the dogs. Our liaison said PAALS will understand whatever decision we make because we know what I need and how soon it will be critical.

So, here we are. Already grieving about losing Emmy as my partner – after only 4 1/2 years together. But she’ll be with our youngest son and we’ll be able to see her from time to time.

SIGH! It’s a big decision any way we look at it.

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Allergies – Again – Still!

Emmy has been on generic Atopica (cyclosporin) for over a month, now. I thought we were starting to win our battle against her allergies, but the last two days she has been utterly miserable – scratching, gnawing her paws, “snarfing” in her tummy, or curled up in a ball of misery.

So I thought I’d check the pollen count – just to see if there is a correlation. Oh Boy!!

Monday: Pollen count was {GASP!} 1633
Tuesday: Pollen count was {CHOKE!} 2967
Wednesday (today): Pollen count was {OMG!} 5733!!!
An “extremely high” count is 120+!!

Pollens out today are Birch, Oak, Pine, and Sweetgum. All this info is from the Atlanta Allergy Clinic’s Pollen Count page.

Since their clinics are not located in our area, and the types of trees vary from place to place, I suspect we have a slightly different “mix” here, but I KNOW we have Oak, Pine and Sweetgum – in our yard!

I knew the pine pollen was getting going when I noticed the back porch taking on a slightly greenish yellow tinge yesterday. But pine pollen is a large particle pollen, and does not cause “true” allergies – where your immune system reacts and you try to reject your nose, eyes and throat! Pine pollen is irritating rather than a true allergen.

Poor Emmy – obviously she is allergic to one or more of the Oak, Sweetgum and Birch. She has “eye-boogers” all the time. I keep wiping her eyes with an eye wipe that’s supposed to be soothing, but 20 minutes later, they are back. She is snorting and sneezing and licking and gnawing her legs and feet and tummy. Then she drops and scratches her head and neck and ears.

I’m cleaning her ears out 2 – 3 times a day to try to avoid yeast infections. So far, so good – cross fingers! It’s just a hard time of year for our little girl!

Suggestions are always welcome. Don’t necessarily expect me to follow them – I’ve probably tried them already, some of them twice! In the meantime, we suffer and wait. And she still works!

Emmy pulls blouse from washer

Onward and Upward!

We (Emmy and I) are trotting on. This morning I was amazed and pleased to watch Emmy trot on the treadmill for 25 minutes, going 1 1/2 miles. She didn’t even start panting until the 19 minute mark! Her stamina is picking up, and her muscles are strong and well-developed. I’m proud of her! She isn’t enthusiastic about our rather boring runs in the library area, but she does it because she loves me – and she wants those treats!!

It is interesting to watch her on these wet days – she HATES to go out in the backyard – and even in the front yard! It is wet and muddy – grass won’t grow under the heavy canopy of the trees around our house – and the soil isn’t so great, either. She would really prefer thick, heavy grass. But we can’t make that happen, so she needs to “adapt, improvise and overcome.” But my dainty little Emmy just HATES getting her feet dirty. So she stands on the steps leading from the back patio into the backyard and looks. And looks. And looks. She shifts from one foot to the other – because she really does have to “do business,” but just really HATES going into the wet weeds and yucky-mucky dirt.

The Vet says she has allergies – that’s why she gets the yeast ear infections. She has had 3 in the last year. I managed to catch and treat one of them before it got bad, but this third one really sneaked up on me. I wiped out her ears one day and they were clean – no brown flecks. The next day her right ear yielded MUCH dark brown gunk. So, off to the Vet. Yep, ear infection. Yep, yeast. Most likely allergy-related. OK, what do we do about allergies? Well, we treat the ear infections as she gets them, and if the paw-licking and nail-biting get bad, get steroid shots. Poor little Emmy! Itchy feet and itchy ears! But we’ll take care of it. Emmy and I are a team and we’ll deal with it as a team!

Today we go down toward Hotlanna to have lunch with my younger son and his wife. She is an HR expert, and I hope will be able to give us some guidance about our insurance problems. Hopefully we will be able to find something that resembles being affordable. Emmy will go with me, of course!

I’ve ordered some cards (from Vistaprints.com) that I’ll be sending out to people about doing demonstrations with Emmy. These are Emmy’s cards [redacted here to remove some personal info], and they look to be a great way to let people know about Emmy and what she does for me! In addition, I want to let people know what a good mobility service dog can do to help someone who is disabled.

Emmys Business Card - redacted

Emmys Business Card - redacted

Have a happy!

Otitis and the Flop-Earred Dog

Dogs, like Labrador Retrievers, who have ears that flop (as opposed to dogs, like German Shepherds, who have ears that stand up) have a tendency to have ear infections. In particular, in warm, humid climates (like the SE of the USA), they are more likely to develop infections than in cool, dry climes.

So, true to the possibilities, Emmy started scratching her ears and shaking her head. And she was simply miserable. I upped my cleansing of her ears to twice a day, some days, but once a day at all times instead of letting a day or so go by, but the ear secretions just got worse and worse. So, off to the vet we went! It was time for her Bordatella vaccine and her Lyme vaccine anyway.

Her weight was 55# (good weight). The vet and his staff were all charmed by Emmy – as usual!

Testing demonstrated she has a yeast infection – in both ears. Poor little girl! Itchy ears! So it’s time for the Momentamax, again. 10 – 14 days – every day without fail. I’m obsessive enough about Emmy that there will be no problem with THAT!!

I use not only my homemade cleansing solution (1/4 rubbing alcohol, 1/4 white vinegar, 1/2 water) but a commercial cleansing agent recommended by the vet. The combination worked well throughout the winter and early spring, but now she needs something more. So we go to using medication along with the cleaners. Once the infection is cleared up, I’ll start cleaning her ears twice a day every day.

Poor little girl! I feel so bad about this!

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