Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Posts Tagged ‘dogs

Personal Update

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Well our house sale fell through, so I’ll have to wait a while longer before I can get my Yasko genetic panel done. The first couple who were going to buy Fern Cottage pulled out after delaying their survey for about six weeks, for unknown ‘health reasons’. The next couple who were interested just pulled out the other week because they were worried about teenagers drinking in the park, which isn’t actually a problem now the park has been renovated and opened up. We hope the cottage sells soon, as we are pretty stretched paying for two mortgages at once. But if it doesn’t we’re thinking of setting it up as a holiday home, something that we should break even on. It would be nice to be able to keep the cottage as I love it so much, but also nice to have the cash to spend on our new house!

Jasper (also known as “The Beastly Beast”) is doing very well. He has been on a raw meaty bones diet since about a week and a half after we got him. We had to introduce raw food slowly as he seemed suspicious of it and rejected it in favour of cooked. Then one day I plucked up the courage to feed him a chicken neck and from that day forward he refused to eat anything except raw chicken, with which he became totally obsessed. It turns out he was suspicious of raw food because he doesn’t like beef, which is what we’d tried feeding him! I am still anxious about him not crunching up bones properly so I feed him by hand, keeping hold of one end of whatever neck, wing or thigh he’s eating to make sure it isn’t gobbled.

During the first couple of weeks his digestion wasn’t very good and he kept having bouts of constipation and diarrhoea, but after we got him on raw food that started to clear up. Apparently a lot of raw feeders give pumpkin to settle the stomach, and just a tablespoon a day did the trick, though we didn’t keep it up as the pumpkin gave him runny eyes. Dog biscuits also seem to have this effect so we don’t feed them. The only time he gets doggy junk food is when he’s visiting relatives! The only other bout of upset stomach he’s had was recently, when he started eating tinned (cooked) tuna, which he loves to bits but apparently it doesn’t love him. One plant food he does get on with that he loves is sweet chestnuts, and he has been sharing a few chestnuts with me for lunch. He learned to ‘sit’ and ‘beg’ for chestnuts.

He has a lovely sleek, silky, shiny coat. He didn’t when we first got him. He had a dull coat and dandruff, and he was being fed some dry junk food puppy chow. He was shaped like a barrel instead of a dog, with a big pot belly. I was worried when we first got him that he might have a bowel obstruction or bloat as his belly was so big. We fed him some dry mix during the transition to raw food. He started looking dog-shaped after four or five days, once they had been withdrawn. He also had a horribly strong ‘puppy’ odour. Sometimes his ears had that horrible sweet fungus-spaniel-ear smell. Once he was on raw food all smell disappeared altogether. His ears and teeth are totally clean, and now the only time he smells is if he is fed smelly food – like pork (pre-frozen to kill the worms) – in which case he smells of bacon the next day!

He has a slightly undershot jaw so I’ve tried feeding him cod liver oil and very expensive ‘activator X’ butter oil to try to correct it with vitamins A, D and K. To be honest it hasn’t made any difference so far. Withdrawing it hasn’t made any difference to the shine in his coat, so I think he’s getting plenty of omega 3’s from his raw diet. We’ll keep going and see what happens.

He’s had a few ups and downs. There was a while when he was really hyperactive and bitey and was driving us crazy. We couldn’t figure out what it was, but sometimes it was after food – especially tripe which is very very high in amines. Dogs have a high tolerance for rotten stuff (amines), unlike cats who must eat fresh meat, but there is still a tolerance level that can be exceeded. Eventually we figured out that he was eating ivy. Jasper has had a strange habit of eating garden plants ever since we got him. Not grass, but actual plants. Every time he went outside the back door, he was stripping ivy leaves from the plant overhanging the wall. Ivy is the only plant listed as causing hyperactivity in dogs! When I found out I went outside with a pair of scissors and manually cut down every single stem. The next day he was calm. Totally calm and perfectly lovely. He changed from being a baby crocodile for 8 hours of every day into being a baby crocodile for only one hour of every day! I think the little devil was addicted, because for several weeks afterwards he would make a charge for ivy tendrils whenever he saw them during his walk. He is still taking up a lot of my time – he needs plenty of supervision and a decent walk once a day.

I’ve started to try to claw back my time from my projects and obsessions. I recently realised I now have so many nutrition blogs in my RSS feed that it takes me most of a morning to work my way through them all, so I’m going to start jettisoning. I’d much rather read Perez Hilton, but he’ll have to go too.

I started writing a post today but I honestly couldn’t be bothered to finish it. This blog has been my aspie perseveration for almost two years now, but I’m getting bored. I’ve had a great number of wildly different obsessions over the course of my lifetime, none of which have lasted more than about four or five years. I kind of admire people who can stick with one thing for their whole life. I tend to run out of steam when I feel I’ve reached the limits of knowledge on a subject, and I’ve felt like that about this subject for several months now. I feel like I need some new challenges and I want to move on.

Also I’m just tired of the battle. I need to grow a thicker skin. I read several autie/aspie blogs and sometimes comment on them, but it’s very difficult to get across to people how crucial it is that they should try this diet for their physical symptoms or their children’s symptoms. Failsafe doesn’t ‘cure’ autism, but it makes a lot of the unpleasant physical pain/symptoms go away and makes you less likely to melt down, stim, or get upset about things. Failsafe hasn’t changed who I am, it’s just made me much calmer and more focused. And unless your genetics are totally up the wall, it does work.

I’m tired of caring about this but being ignored. I haven’t made the headway I wanted to with the Weston A. Price Foundation. I spent a lot of time last autumn feeling distressed about being invalidated and dismissed by people on the WAPF forums. I suffered from a lot of insomnia and stress purely because of horrible things people had said. This happened to me again recently when I dared to open my mouth again there, only to be shouted down by someone who regurgitates WAPF brainwashing and who has busily been undoing all the hours of hard work I put in to trying to get some acceptance for failsafe principles.

Also, after all the effort I’d put in to getting the message across to WAPF about the failsafe diet, I had hoped by now that they would have published something in Wise Traditions, but instead every time I open the latest WT I see something erroneous about the causes of colic, or how to manage ‘fussy eaters’ who won’t eat vegetables. I know full well that some of the most influential members still believe failsafers have ‘vitamin deficiencies’, not based on evidence but purely because it validates their world view. I have been thinking of leaving WAPF altogether since last spring because I’m so sick of the preconceptions and prejudices members have. I don’t think I will be renewing my magazine subscription, because I don’t think they will change, some of their members make me feel decidedly unwelcome, and I’ll be damned if I’m the one who’s going to compromise.

There’s a similar story going on in the low carb community. People just aren’t open minded. Low-carbers fixate on carbohydrate as the source of all the world’s health problems, and it just isn’t so. For ages I was fed the message that ADHD was caused by sugar, which pretty much put me off the scent of the failsafe diet.

I imagine I’ll still blog now and then, but I want to start tying things up with a bow. I have about twenty posts or so that I haven’t got around to finishing, along with commitments on the FailsafeNT forum. I also feel like I need to make several posts about Yasko’s genetic panel. Taty has suggested I write some posts clearing up my stance on a few things, like the validity of low carbohydrate diets, and I think that’s a good idea.

I want to focus on getting the Plant Poisons and Rotten Stuff information website up to date. I have been putting off doing this for months as I get huge writer’s block as soon as I have to write anything important or ‘official’ and I feel like banging my head against a wall. Writer’s block has been stopping me from writing a novel for the last decade! I was supposed to start writing that novel two years ago, but instead I started doing this, and thank goodness I have a partner who is understanding and has supported me while I try to get to the root of my problems. I hope that instead of blogging here, I can plough what remaining energy I have on this subject into the information website instead.

What I really want to do is write that fantasy novel I keep threatening about. Apart from the day-to-day looking after of a small furry brown puppy, the novel is all I think about at the moment. So I have to go away and try and work out this writer’s block and not have blogs in the way as displacement activities.

I’ll be posting again with a progress update in the new year!

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Written by alienrobotgirl

3 December, 2007 at 10:49 pm

Posted in Personal Diary

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Jasper the English cocker spaniel

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Jasper running with toyThis is why I haven’t been posting much lately! This is Jasper, our new puppy. He’s eight weeks old and we bought him home with us on Friday. He’s an English working strain cocker spaniel. That means he won’t have the very long coat and ears and the domed head of the English or American show cocker spaniels, instead he’ll look more like a miniature springer spaniel when he grows up, with a pointier nose and a smaller forehead than the show strains. He’s chocolate with ginger points – eyebrows, inside ears, nose, and paws. He has very even markings and unusual olive coloured eyes. We think he’s going to be a bit of a ladykiller when he grows up. If you visit Hawcroft gundogs, you’ll see a picture of his paternal grandfather, Sandford Black Mamba. And if you visit Rytex gundogs, you’ll see a picture of his maternal grandfather, Danderw Druid, probably where he gets his looks! His mum was an absolute beauty – soft as muck, with a slender nose and sleek ginger fur, and it looks like this guy has sired a few similar to her.
We chose a working cocker because they are a relatively healthy breed. Apart from heart problems, show strain cockers can suffer from something called cocker rage, where they suddenly see a red mist and turn around and bite their owners for no apparent reason. It’s thought to be a form of epilepsy and has something to do with overbreeding to get the solid colours, particularly the gold and red colours. The roans, chocolates and blacks are usually rage free.

Cocker spaniels were originally bred to run with shooters and flush out woodcocks from the undergrowth, then fetch them back when they have been shot. In the 18th and 19th century, they weren’t really a distinct breed from springer spaniels, just classified by size: smaller spaniels were cockers, larger ones were springers. My grandparents owned a springer spaniel called Rhona, and she was an absolute nutter – she always had a ball in her mouth and ran around wagging the stump of her tail like a helicopter. She was once so excited she tried to climb through the cat flap and got stuck half way through!

Cockers and springers are bred to be unaffected by loud bangs and to be quite confident. Some breeds are a lot more sensitive to sounds, for example border collies are very sound sensitive to the point of hyperacusis. J., my partner had a border collie called Bruce who was very sound sensitive and constantly being startled by things that the family couldn’t hear. Bruce had a metal tag on his collar and a metal food bowl, and he hated it when his tag clanked on the bowl – J. says the sound used to go right through him! I suppose if there was a kind of dog with aspergers, it would be a border collie – very smart, bored easily, sensitive to noise, incredibly particular and fussy, and a bit clumsy and stupid socially. Bruce didn’t know that people were scared of him when he barked. He once tried to make friends with me by throwing the whole of his weight onto me on the sofa and winding me. Another time he managed to catch a rabbit and shook it to kill it. He was next to a canal, and he shook the rabbit and dropped it in the canal!

Jasper is remarkably good at fetching things. He doesn’t know how to sit and isn’t house trained, but he already responds to the command ‘fetch’! When we throw him toys he tries to take them onto his bed to chew, but he just can’t stop himself from bringing them back after about three seconds! It’s quite funny to watch as he wants to sit on his bed and be smug about winning his toy, but he can’t overcome the compulsion to return it to us! We think he is fighting his genes.

Puppies are hard work! It must be exhausting having a toddler. He’s already attached himself to me like a baby duckling and pads around after me, lying on my feet when I stand still. He seems to have a compulsion to chew anything remotely furry, including my long cardigan, and I can walk through the kitchen and he will attach himself to it by the teeth and trail along behind me, wanting to play. For the first couple of nights he woke up crying and had to be reassured, but he’s been very good really – his litter were raised outside in a shed, so he’s reasonably independent.

He doesn’t seem to respond that well to training with treats and isn’t particularly food-orientated, which is a good thing as we won’t end up with a fat dog. I think he prefers praise to treats. He makes a lot of eye contact and is very attuned to reading our body language – so he’s not an autistic puppy!

We’re fans of The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. Millan uses dog pack psychology to modify dog’s behaviour, unlike traditional animal behaviourists like Ian Dunbar that use reward/punishment training. There seems to be a bit of a debate online between the Millan enthusiasts and the Dunbar enthusiasts. A journalist has really distorted Millan’s teachings to try to make out that he is somehow ‘abusive’ to dogs. Anyone who has seen The Dog Whisperer knows that Millan loves dogs and is gentle but firm when dogs get out of hand. Millan works to pack psychology and the idea that packs have hierarchies and you have to teach your dog that you are pack leader. Millan answers the criticism here.

The journalist quotes someone who says this has put dog training back twenty years by detracting from behaviourists like Ian Dunbar. I thought this was rather a surprising comment, because I remember studying behaviourism in my psychology class at university. Behaviourism is really a very crude theory that was popular in the 1950s to understand animal and human behaviour in terms of basic reward/punishment association training. It’s a school that started with Pavlov’s dogs. I don’t see what is so advanced about this school. It is thought primitive and robotic compared to other forms of psychology.

I think this journalist is a liberal who had a kneejerk reaction against the idea that any kind of social structure could be innate. I’m a liberal too, but that kind of prejudice will inevitably lead you to promote behaviourist training and criticise dog psychology without making a fair assessment of them both. Dogs are not robots. Acknowledging that they live in a social structure does not mean that their social structure is exploitative or justify exploitative human social structures. Sometimes things just work better when there is one person steering the ship. I could draw an analogy here. This kind of prejudiced liberal thinking is also determined to deny that autism and fibromyalgia have a genetic aspect.

Jasper went to the vets today – we were unimpressed by the diet the vet recommended – she told us to feed him dried dog food and not give him any bones, but we just nodded along like we were going to do as we were told. I think Jasper would be unimpressed with her diet too. Whenever we add a bit of kibble to his dish, he picks out the meat and eggs and leaves the biscuits as best he can!

We plan to feed him a raw meaty bones/BARF style natural diet. He was raised on dry puppy mix and when we got him he seemed quite constipated and barrel shaped. He’s puppy shaped now! We’re introducing him to raw food slowly – mostly we’re feeding him gently home cooked meat and eggs at the moment, though we’ve tried him on some raw beef mince. He seems a bit suspicious of it, and it can cause stomach upset if you introduce it too fast, so we’re going slowly. We’ve tried to give him a beef shin marrow bone, but he’s scared and wants to play with it! I think it’s because when he pulls it across the kitchen tiles it sounds like it’s growling! He likes fish, he wolfed down our leftover fish skins the other day. I fed him a spoonful of my mince and potatoes, and it gave him hiccups. Which is interesting, because potatoes are the only thing on earth that give me hiccups.

Lots of people keep buying us puppy treats, but I’m keen that he shouldn’t get any additives. He doesn’t really seem to like treats and biscuits anyway, and I don’t want to encourage him to eat junk food. I bought a basic puppy advice book from a pet shop, and it says puppies can be hyperactive when they aren’t fed right – the book blamed “high protein diets or something else in the food.” I think puppies don’t tolerate additives, just like children and some adults.

Written by alienrobotgirl

17 October, 2007 at 8:58 pm

Posted in Personal Diary

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