Category Archives: Illness

Daisy’s Story

Pup at 14 weeks

Daisy pup at 14 weeks

The White Wolf

Daisy’s story begins with a devastating loss for us. In the summer of 2009, we lost two of our five German Shepherds, Molly and Amy. One after the other within a week. Completely unrelated illnesses. They weren’t old, so it was totally out of the blue.

The grief was raw and for me, I couldn’t seem to get past it. I kept thinking puppy! I bought the local paper and trawled through the pet section. For once there was a distinct lack of German Shepherd pups for sale, but there was one ad that I decided to respond to.

I spoke to a woman who told me she had a 14-week-old white German Shepherd pup for sale. It wasn’t KC registered but was a full shepherd. If I was interested, I should act quickly as there were other people interested in her.

I had never wanted a white shepherd. We live in a very muddy place and I couldn’t think of anything worse than a white dog. However, she was all that was available at that moment in time and I felt like a pup was the only thing that would drag me out of my grief.

Neil didn’t take much persuading and we arranged to see the pup the next day.

On arrival, we discovered that the pup was living in a rented shed in someone’s back garden, with both its parents. The woman who was selling her, didn’t even keep her dogs in her own home.

Alarm bells should have gone off, but no. We saw her running around with both mother and father, who were friendly enough, so we took her. Instantly, I called her Daisy.

When we got her home, we carefully introduced her to the others, Sophie, Blitz and Fin. Sophie as always took charge.

That evening, despite the fact that she had never had much human contact, she spent the whole time asleep on my lap. She was a small white bundle of fluff and a real poppet. Although she was pure white, she had one single black spot on her front leg!

Daisy settled in well with the others, but it wasn’t long before she began growling at me. I was drying her tummy after she had been outside, and she started. I couldn’t quite believe it. I told her off, carried on with what I was doing, and she shut up.

From that day on, she was always a growler. She would growl at everybody apart from Sophie. Sophie wouldn’t have stood for it.

Our first encounter with DM

Not long after her arrival, we discovered that Blitz one of our rescue boys, had DM (degenerative myelopathy), a progressive disease of the spinal cord in dogs, most common in the German Shepherd Dog, although other breeds such as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Boxer, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Chesapeake Bay Retriever can also be affected. The condition has also been referred to as CDRM (chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy). It was our first experience of this horrible disease. The vet told us there was nothing to be done. As time went on, Blitz couldn’t move about much, so Daisy would cuddle up to him on his bed.

Daisy and Blitz cuddled up

Daisy pup with Blitz

We didn’t really know much about DM but learnt as we went along from various groups on the internet and although Neil made a wheelchair for him from copper pipe, we never tried him in it as he also had a mass in his gut and we were wary of putting any pressure on it.

Dog wheelchair frame

Our first attempt at making a dog wheelchair

Neil would carry him outside in a belly band that I made for him out of old sweatshirts. He was happy enough sitting in the garden. Then, of course, inevitably, the day came when we had to say goodbye. We were prepared, but it still hurt.

After we lost Blitz, Neil had to have physio for tennis elbow due to strain on his joints from hefting a large dog around day in and day out.

With just Sophie (Amy’s litter sister), Fin and Daisy, who was growing rapidly, we soon added to our numbers with Archie, then Jack came along. A collie. We had sheep, they needed herding and the German Shepherds just couldn’t quite grasp that concept.

We lost Sophie in the wintertime. She collapsed suddenly and died before we could get her to the vet. We were once again devastated.

The big Ginger Fin, our second rescue boy, was getting on and had his own ailments. Namely, anal furunculosis, a chronic, progressive inflammatory disease of dogs that results in ulceration and inflammation in the area surrounding the anus. He needed constant nursing, but inevitably we lost him too.

Daisy takes charge

Daisy was now in charge. She ruled the roost with Archie and Jack and continued her growly ways, but we were used to her and took no notice, although she could be alarming to visitors. She may have growled and snarled, but it was all show.

Daisy and a goat kid

She loved her life here on the croft, surrounded by livestock. There were two walks a day in the fields, the occasional rabbit to pursue and her favourite thing of all, chasing frisbees. She adored them from a tiny pup. When the Pullers came along, she was in her element.

In 2017, I started to notice that her back legs weren’t working quite as well as they should. There was nothing obvious, just a feeling I had, having been through a similar thing with our Blitz.

We buried our heads in the sand for a while because we didn’t want to believe that there was anything wrong, but during the winter months, I could tell from her pawprints in the snow that all was not well. It was apparent she was dragging her back legs very slightly.

Paw prints in the snow

December 2017

It was time to face up to it and get a diagnosis. A few years had passed since we had lost Blitz so there could have been some new treatment available.

DM strikes again

DM was confirmed, and we were disappointed to hear that there was still nothing that could be done to combat this horrible disease. We had recently discovered that we had a dog hydro pool nearby, Fusion Vet Therapy, so we decided to try physio and swimming.

Dog physio

May 2018:  Physio

We didn’t know how she’d react to the pool; she had never swum before, but during her first session, she took to it like a duck to water. She absolutely loved it.

Dog swimming

November 2018

As well as her swimming and physio, we scoured the internet and Facebook groups for something, anything that would help us prepare for what was to come.

As her disease progressed, and her back legs got weaker, we put her in Dog Boots to stop her from damaging her back feet. We tried just about every boot on the market with varying degrees of success. Some wouldn’t stay on her feet and we would spend hours looking for lost boots in the field. We quickly learned to tape them to her legs with micropore. Some wore out too quickly so we would reinforce them with duct tape. The boots that worked well for us, we decided to stock ourselves. Daisy tested them all!

After doing a lot of research, we learned that DM could be related to deficiencies in diet, after finding the following article: Does DM (Degenerative Myelopathy) and other Neurological issues like Seizures and Doggie Dementia, actually start in the gut? In desperation, we embarked on an extensive vitamin regime which was primarily based around vitamin B and magnesium.

Eureka!

We had one moment of triumph. Five days after we started her on the vitamin supplements, she suddenly stood up on her back legs for the first time in weeks and we were over the moon. We really thought we had found the cure!

Dog with DM stands up

December 2018: Daisy stands up

But it was short-lived, and we soon realised that vitamins weren’t the answer.

We continued with the weekly swimming sessions. She would get so excited when she realised it was time to go to the pool. She also had hydrotherapy sessions which she wasn’t quite so keen on but put up with them with good grace. Funnily enough, she never once growled at the girls at the pool.

She was at the stage where she couldn’t stand up on her own and we were using the belly band that I made for Blitz to get her out and about. She could drag herself along the floor so to help her get about indoors, we removed all the rugs that she was getting snagged on. This left wooden floors which were difficult for her to grip, so we bought metres of black rubber flooring and covered the ground floor of the house.

There was also some incontinence, so we got a cover for the sofa and invested in boxes of puppy training pads.

A wheely good idea

I really wanted to try a wheelchair, but Neil wasn’t so keen. I spotted a second-hand one on Gumtree which was not too far away from us, so we went ahead and bought it.

At first, it wasn’t a great success. It was a bit on the big side for her and she didn’t like the rigid saddle. She would just stand in it and not move. On the other hand, if we put her in the belly band, she would run around quite happily with Neil trying his hardest to keep up with her.

Sweatshirt belly band

October 2018: Out and about in her sweatshirt belly band

We decided to make some modifications to her wheelchair so that the belly band could be used to support her instead of the fixed wheelchair saddle.

When it was done, it looked a bit Heath Robinson, but she loved it. She had her freedom back. She could walk outside unaided, go to the toilet, run with the other dogs and even chase her beloved Puller.

Modified dog wheelchair

October 2018: We combine the wheelchair with the belly band

She may not have had her legs back, but she had her life back.

Her back legs were still very mobile, although they couldn’t support her weight, so we still needed functional boots.

There wasn’t the space to use the cart indoors, so she would crawl.

Her feet were of major concern to us, and every day we would check them over, put Sudacrem on any sore bits and bandage them up to protect them when she crawled. She also developed sores on other parts of her body from the friction of using the chair daily, and they also had to be attended to.

We rarely went out or left her alone for more than an hour as she got distressed. One day my mother was staying with us and offered to sit with her whilst we had a few hours away from home. Daisy was under the table in the kitchen. After a while, my mother detected an odour and when she looked, Daisy had pooed. As she was in such an awkward position, my mother couldn’t get to her to clean it up, so she used my extra-long wooden jam spoon to drag the poo nearer and pick it up! Needless to say, I shan’t be making jam with that spoon ever again!

But it didn’t matter what we did, there was no halting the progression of the disease and day by day, week by week, month by month, it gradually crept up her spine, leaving her more and more debilitated and reliant on us for her every move. She was too heavy for me to lift and take outside in the homemade belly band, but then we discovered the Solvit Mobility Harness, and with the aid of this, I could manage when Neil wasn’t around.

Her cobbled together wheelchair was wearing out, so we managed to get her another from a DM charity, Cure4DM. Once again, she had a new lease of life, only this time her back legs were no longer mobile, they were just dragging, so we hooked them up in stirrups. Still, she was running with the others and chasing her Puller.

Dog wheelchair with stirrups

April 2019: Her back legs are now in stirrups

It wasn’t long before we realised that her front end was struggling. She found it challenging to sit up. She was no longer dragging herself around the house and wasn’t finding it that easy to walk in her chair. There were also problems with diarrhoea and urinary incontinence.

The vet recommended Incurin for the incontinence and it worked. No more peeing herself overnight. The diarrhoea was a problem on and off. We knew we were having a good day if she ate her breakfast, didn’t pee herself and her poos were firm!

We lived day to day, hoping for the best. Worrying when she was under the weather. Neil slept next to her every night for months, holding her paw or rubbing her belly. He started off in a chair in the lounge and then graduated to a camp bed!

We decided to get her a new quad chair so that she would have support at the front end. We ordered her a snazzy, camo Walkin’ Wheels.

Daisy in her Walkin' Wheels

September 2019:  In her Walkin’ Wheels

Her new chair arrived, and it was perfect. However, we never did fit the front wheels. Our fields are rough grassland so we weren’t sure that she would be able to manoeuvre around it with the front wheels on. We were at the point where we were going to fit them on her wheelchair to try them. If they didn’t work for her, we would have looked for a flatbed trolley to take her out and about.

We lost the fight

Sadly, there was no halting the ever-creeping paralysis and the weekend just after Christmas she lost coordination on her right-hand side. Her belly was distended. She wasn’t peeing when we took her outside and she was generally sluggish and quite distressed.

As painful as it was, we knew the time had come to let her go while she still had some dignity, so we called the vet out. He examined her and agreed with us. It was her time.

On her bed in the lounge next to the wood burner, with a Christmas tree in the background, we said our goodbyes, told her how much we loved her and held her paws while she slipped peacefully away.

We buried her in the garden next to Blitz, Sophie, Fin, Amy and Molly. Some she had known and some she had never met, but we like to think of her running free with them all.

The pain of the loss seems unbearable, but we know from bitter experience that it will start to fade in time.

Knowing what to do with ourselves is another matter. Our days revolved around her care and now they seem to drag on endlessly.

We have the others to focus on. Archie, Jack, Toby and Tilly and already the pack dynamic has changed. We were always so focused on Daisy, her needs and her wellness, now we can see them coming out of their shells and blossoming with our attention. It must be hardest for Archie as he spent all his days in my office with Daisy and myself.

From the summer 0f 2017 until December 2019 was the time it took for that horrible disease to take our beautiful White Warrior. She fought it so hard and so did we.

We went to extraordinary lengths to care for her. Our whole lives were geared up to her needs and people must have thought we were crazy, but I know that there are hundreds, probably thousands of DM dog parents out there doing exactly the same. From diagnosis to progression of illness, to aids for caring for your DM dog, there are so many people seeking solutions. And we are passionate about sharing our experiences and knowledge with them.

Breeders take note

We have had Archie, Toby and Tilly DNA tested and we know that none of them will ever suffer from it which is a massive relief for us. However, we know Toby is a carrier. If mated with a bitch who is clear, none of the pups would be affected by DM, but there is a 50/50 chance that they too would be carriers. When I gave his breeder the results, she told me that none of her dogs had ever suffered from DM, but although she claimed her dogs were DNA profiled, they couldn’t have had that particular test. Without that knowledge, she could possibly mate two fit, healthy dogs that just happened to be carriers, thereby creating a new generation of dogs vulnerable to DM.

We will never buy another pup unless it has been tested.

We know nothing will stop the puppy farms and back street breeders, but to all those registered breeders out there, or even owners who think it would be nice to have a litter from their dogs, we urge you to DNA test your dogs before breeding from them. It’s a simple test. We used Animal Genetics, who offer a whole range of canine testing options. It doesn’t cost a fortune and it could stop other people and their precious dogs going through what we’ve been through, twice now.

Neil will once again be getting physio for his elbows, but he would gladly put up with the discomfort of carrying Daisy again in a heartbeat, if he could.

Daisy on the beach

April 2019: Daisy 2009 -2019 The White Warrior rides again

Tilly with the cone

Neutering – making that choice

Tilly wearing her cone

The cone of shame or e-collar

Tilly is Scored

It’s been a sad month for us. We had planned to breed from young Tilly. Such a lovely, bright, happy girl. Full of fun and love for everyone. Having waited for a long time to find a German Shepherd with the perfect nature, we wanted to ensure that her physical health was good too, so we had her DNA tested for DM (Degenerative Myelopathy, also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy – CDRM). Having had two GSDs with this condition, we wouldn’t risk perpetuating such a devastating disease. To our delight, she was clear. Next, we had hips and elbows scored. Her hips weren’t the best at 14, but the big let down was her elbow score of 3. It seems she has elbow dysplasia on the left side. This could be hereditary meaning she could pass it on to her offspring, but we will also have to deal with this painful condition that needs lifelong treatment.

X-Ray of Elbow

Choosing to neuter

Because of this, we made the difficult decision to have her spayed. It’s not easy to send a healthy dog under the knife, but we have two entire males in the house and it was the only sensible thing to do.

She came home from the op looking quite dopey, but we were certain she would brighten up later. Unfortunately, she didn’t and by 11 pm that evening, blood was dripping from her wound. We were told to expect some seepage and weren’t sure if that was what we were seeing.

A sleepless night followed and at 7 am the next morning, the blood was still dripping. By that time, there was a lot of it, so we couldn’t wait any longer and called the emergency vet. Back at the surgery, she was operated on again and the problem resolved. It was a really scary time and the guilt we felt for sending her in the first place was awful.

At the vet with a compression bandage to stop the bleeding

Cone versus suit

Thankfully, she has made good progress since then and it wasn’t long before her sore belly started to interest her. The inevitable cone or e-collar (Elizabethan collar) came out and she had to wear it. Everyone who has ever had a dog operated on will know the misery of the cone of shame. Shins, furniture, other dogs, nothing is sacred. It was a stressful week for all until we remembered a sample suit we had from the makers of the excellent Vetgood veterinary boots.

We used these Vetgood boots on Daisy to protect her feet when she was out and about and they were so brilliant, we decided we had to share, and now stock the full range.

We slipped the protective recovery suit on Tilly and hey presto, instant calm. Although it was a little big for her, it did the job and protected the site of the wound without causing upset to our girl or the rest of the pack and the gentle, constant pressure from the fabric had a dramatic soothing effect on her.

The two-piece design of the suit makes it easy to put on and take off when necessary. The vest and pants connect easily with Velcro. It’s made from 95% cotton with 5% lycra, so it stretches. It even has pockets inside where you can put ice packs, should that be necessary. It helps us humans help our pets heal and recover, and restores peace to a disrupted household!

We shall be stocking these suits very soon.

Tilly in her Vetgood Suit

Modelling the Vetgood Protective Recovery Pet Suit for Dogs and Cats

Blood Donation, it’s not just for humans

Could your pet save a life?

Back in 2015, Jack was rushed to the vet for an x-ray which led to an operation to remove part of a hard rubber ball that was firmly lodged in his gut. Thanks to our quick reactions he made a full recovery, but we were very wary of his tendency to pick up and eat rubbish he found in the field and kept him muzzled for several months whenever he was outside.

We felt it wasn’t fair to do that forever, so we stopped muzzling him hoping he had grown out of his obsession and indeed, it did appear that he had.

Muzzled!

However, earlier this month he began displaying the same symptoms, vomiting, refusing to eat and not being able to settle. Not really much to be concerned about in the dog world as a lot of dogs have off days, eat a bit of grass and are sick afterwards. But with Jack’s history, alarm bells started to ring.

We stayed calm, left it a day, but there was no improvement, so off to the vet he went. Whereas usually the vet might have checked them over, advised starving for a day (no need for that, he wasn’t eating anyway) and taken their temperature, Jack went straight in for an x-ray, followed by an ultrasound.

Both were inconclusive. Nothing could be seen apart from the fact that he had an enlarged gall bladder, but it didn’t mean that there was nothing there.

The vet seemed keen to open him up and take a look but we decided to hold off. He stayed overnight on a drip and we collected him the next day, Saturday. There didn’t seem to be any improvement from the time he went in and despite the tasty chicken and rice we had prepared for him, he still wasn’t eating. We had the option of taking him in for an op on the Sunday, but due to the fact that nothing was actually visible in his gut, we came to the conclusion that we would wait a bit longer, after all, it’s a big operation and not one that should be carried out lightly.

Finally, Sunday evening, he ate a couple of tiny cubes of chicken. We were ecstatic. Monday morning he was back at the vet having actually pooped as well, hooray! He had more antibiotics and very gradually started to improve.

He’s now back to normal, thank goodness albeit with a shaved and itchy tummy. No Cone of Shame for him this time! We are glad that we held out and decided against the exploratory op, although it was a tough decision.

The Cone of Shame!

However, the whole episode got us thinking about operations on dogs and particularly canine blood donation. We had considered it once before when Amy, our now sadly departed GSD, was ill and Sophie (her litter sister) was lined up as a potential donor.

There is a national canine donor service run by Pet Blood Bank UK, which launched in 2007, and is the only charity that provides a canine blood bank service for all veterinary practitioners across the UK. It is similar to the human blood service. Dog owners register their canine companions to give blood at one of the many sessions across the country and every unit of blood can help save four other lives, saving thousands of lives every year.

And cats can save a life too at Cat Blood Donors.com. Register your feline companion and help save a cat’s life.

Register your pets as blood donors

This year National Blood Week is 10-16 June, with World Blood day falling on 14th June. If you are considering signing up as a blood donor, why not also consider signing up your pet as well?

And should your pet be unlucky enough to be one of the animals in need of a blood donation and recuperation, have a look at our KONG Product Review which offers a number of ideas and enrichment products to keep your animal occupied in the recovery phase.

Muzzled!

We are worried when Jack falls ill

Jack has always been a bit of a chewer and a scavenger.  He likes to pick things up and before you can tell him to “leave it”, it will disappear down his throat.  Back in August last year, he swallowed a piece of rubber ball and had to have surgery to remove it from his gut.  Not long after that he was poorly again and we rushed him straight to the vet for an x-ray.

We realised that we couldn’t keep this up so decided that the only way to prevent him “snacking” on his walks, was to put a muzzle on him.

He wasn’t keen at first but he quickly got used to it, and after a while he developed a technique that turned it into a useful scoop to get things into his mouth – like snow or sheep poo!  He was also very adept at using it as a weapon on the other two, Daisy and Archie.  We called it his “warhead”!

After several months without incident we thought we would try him without it, as we really didn’t enjoy making him wear it, even if ultimately for his own good.

A couple of weeks of freedom later and he had severe diarrhoea.

We starved him for 24 hours then fed him cooked chicken and rice for a couple of days, but it made no difference and we were off to see the vet.

His temperature was on the high side of normal so the vet gave him something to get his gut working, a wormer, and suggested we carried on with the bland diet.

Over the weekend he didn’t improve at all so we took him back on Monday morning where he got a steroid injection and had blood tests.  We also had to provide a faecal sample.

Still no improvement, we were heading towards another x-ray but decided to wait for the test results.  In the meantime he had a course of steroid tablets to make him more comfortable and we were cooking him fish, chicken and rice every day.

All the test results were negative, we couldn’t find the cause of his ailment, so the vet put it down to colitis.

Just as we were at the end of our tether, he finally began to improve and is now back to his normal self, but with the muzzle reinstated!

 

Jack has a ball

After baling, we needed a break, but it wasn’t to be

We finally managed to get some hay baled but thanks to the continuing showers, it was very damp.  Fingers crossed that it doesn’t go mouldy and that we have some decent fodder for the beasts this winter.

Just when we were hoping for a bit of downtime and an opportunity to enjoy some outings with our guests who were here for a couple of months, Jack suddenly became unwell.

At first, we weren’t concerned.  He had vomited and was off his food but was still full of life, racing around the field with the others.  However, after a couple of days, he still wasn’t eating so we took him to the vet as a precaution.   They didn’t seem worried, just gave him some antibiotics for an upset tummy and steroids to get his appetite going.  We were told to give it 48 hours.

After 24, he still wouldn’t touch his food so we took him back on a Saturday morning.  He’s a chewer so we were thinking he may have a blockage.  The vet agreed, x-rayed him straight away and discovered that he had a large foreign body inside him.

We had no choice, they operated immediately.

Inside him, they found a piece of hard rubber ball which could have been chopped up by the mower.  He probably came across it in the field and swallowed it!

The operation went well and we bought him home on the Sunday resplendent in his Elizabethan collar, which he quickly learned to use as a battering ram.  There was a danger of peritonitis so we had to watch him closely 24 hours a day.

We spent the next week on constant Jack alert.  We couldn’t take our eyes off him for a minute.  Despite the collar, he was constantly trying to get to his belly.

Thankfully our guests joined in with the dog sitting, so we did get some breaks.

He’s had his final vet visit and has healed well.  Now all we have to worry about is making sure he doesn’t do it again.

Polka Dot becomes Patch

A flystrike survivor – not for the squeamish

We were feeling rather pleased with ourselves when we didn’t lose any lambs this year. Just when we thought we were out of the woods one of the boys was hit by flystrike. It was the same lamb that had been rejected by his mother, Geraldine, and had to feed from the goat. He had always been smaller and weaker than the others and therefore vulnerable.

Flystrike is awful. We have seen it once before on a ewe, but it wasn’t as bad as this. Flies lay their eggs on the fleece and the maggots hatch, bury themselves in the sheep’s wool and eventually under the skin, feeding off their flesh. This little boy was badly infected and as we started to clear them from his rear end, they kept moving further up his body. It took us days to rid him of them, every time we thought we’d got it beaten, we found more. Eventually, we put a stop to their migration and then all we had to do was hope he would recover – it can be fatal.

With much TLC from us he did pull through, but there were large areas of bare pink skin all over his back and sides, which we smothered with soothing cream. Now a couple of months later, his fleece is regrowing and he’s almost back to normal, apart from the patchy bits. He is definitely much smaller than the other lambs and probably won’t catch up now. However, he seems happy enough and has a great appetite.

In other news, we have been watching the grass grow and that too is a little patchy!

The ginger one

Getting to the bottom of Fin’s problem

It’s been a difficult month with regard to our 13 year old rescue boy Fin.  We adopted him from Vigil German Shepherd Rescue when he was just 2 years old (who can resist a ginger GSD!), and for most of his life, he has been fit and healthy.  However, last year he was struggling to go to the toilet, and since he absolutely refused to be examined the nearest diagnosis we could get for his symptoms was colitis.  He had a course of steroids which affected him quite badly at the time but seemed to cure the problem, along with a complete change of diet.  He was doing pretty well until recently.

The symptoms were back so we returned to the vet and this time he was sedated to allow a thorough examination.  The conclusion was anal furunculosis, also known as perianal fistula, which may have an underlying allergic or autoimmune cause.  We had no knowledge of this horrible disease so set about researching it online and joined a group dedicated to it, which was very useful.

Although steroids helped last time we didn’t want to risk the side effects again so, along with our vet, looked for other options.  The most popular treatment seemed to be Cyclosporine (Atopica) which is incredibly expensive and although we were offered an alternative drug, it ran the risk of pancreatitis.  We rejected that and plumped for the cyclo, combined with Ketoconozole, which reduced the cyclosporine dose and therefore the cost.  Having agonised over it and made the decision, we discovered that the keto had been withdrawn due to severe side-effects in humans.

We were back to the Cyclosporine on its own, although once the problem was under control, we could use a cream to keep on top of it.  We requested a prescription from our vet, which they gladly supplied, and sourced the cyclo from an online pharmacy at a considerably lower cost.

Once again we had to change his diet to a “novel” protein to try to rule out food allergies.  Given that our dogs are raw fed and we raise a lot of our own meat here on the croft, it was difficult to find something that he had never eaten.  Buffalo or kangaroo came to mind!  In the end we chose duck.  He has started his diet and seems quite keen on it and we are awaiting the arrival of the drugs.

We will let you know how he gets on and if anyone has any experience of this disease or advice to offer, we would be pleased to hear from you.

On another note, lambing has begun with three sets of twins so far and the cameras are worth their weight in gold – no more spending hours in the freezing cold watching the sheep puffing and panting!

 

The lamb after the storm

We discover a sickly lamb, just in the nick of time

We were doing our morning rounds after a particularly wild and stormy night when we noticed that one of the lambs was missing.

After racing over to the paddock, we discovered her laying on her side in a muddy puddle unable to get to her feet.

Luckily she was still alive but only just.  We immediately bundled her into a wheelbarrow and rolled her back to the shed.

Once inside we tipped her out onto a thick bed of straw, propped her up with a square bale and then hung the heat lamp above her to try and stop her shivers.

Next we had to try and get something inside her and since it was obvious that she was in no condition to eat anything, we filled a syringe with a ketosis drench (used for twin lamb syndrome) and squirted that down her throat.

For the next few hours we monitored her progress as she gradually returned to the land of the living, giving her another drench and making sure she had water and some hay to nibble on.

Within a couple of days she had made a remarkable recovery and could was eating normally but was still off her feet, so we lifted her up and held her until she got her balance.

She is now back to normal and baaing loudly for food every time we walk into the shed.  She will soon be fit enough to re-join the others outside.

Even though they have a shelter in their field, they rarely seem to use it, so we think she must have fallen over in the storm and wore herself out trying to get back up.

Thankfully this time it was a happy ending.

 

 

Weather and allergies

We lose our internet and Blitz’s allergy returns

Weather for the last few weeks has been pretty damp and misty, and finally broke with a spectacular electrical storm and heavy downpour just a week ago.

The storm knocked out our telephones and internet, leaving us with one single outgoing line which we finally rigged up for dialup internet! Difficult, but we managed to keep Training Lines orders rolling out thank goodness.

Outside, the sheep have been sheared leaving them a bit weedy looking, and we’ve just collected some of our boar from the butcher.

As he was approaching 2 years old, we were quite concerned about ‘boar taint’ and overall meat quality but it seems our worries were unfounded. The butcher told us that the pork was extremely lean, and our evening meal was absolutely delicious too!

As the grass gets longer and we prepare for hay, we are at the time of year when Blitz develops some kind of allergic reaction to something. Last year at about this time he had the same thing – his eyes and jowls become swollen, and the skin on his legs goes very pink.

It lasts for about 6 weeks, but looks extremely uncomfortable for him, so we are currently trying some homoeopathic allergy treatments and keeping him out of the long grass (just in case!).

Racing Amy

Amy, almost back to her old self after her surgery

Our piglets have grown quite a bit since our last update, and they are all weaned and living together without their mothers. Both the piglets AND their mothers recovered from the separation pretty quickly it seems – just one bucket of swill and it was all over. Most of the piglets will be sold but we’ll be keeping a couple for ourselves. We have also been asked to raise one or two by other people who love home reared pork but don’t have space. An ideal solution!

We’re also pleased to report that Amy is doing well after her cruciate ligament surgery and despite a few complications we’re told by the specialist that she should make a pretty full recovery. She certainly seems to have got her enthusiasm back, and it’s a struggle to keep her exercising calmly.