My story, faithful friend, happy companion – a dog.

In-breeding or Bad Luck?

Okay. Clowie, this is for you.

The truth, the truth and nothing but the truth.

The tell-all exposé – about my health.

My incredible weight gain.

The loss of my coat.

The reasons why I have been a regular at the local vet since I was born.

I try not to talk about it too much. Others don’t really want to know about sickness and I don’t want to become one of ‘those’ bores.

I suffer in silence (for the most part). I’m a dog. It’s what we do. We are stoic.

Beloved knows me though, she is the one who can see in my eyes when I’m in pain. She is the one I go to when my skin is so itchy that I just can’t cope and she reads the panic on my face and tries to help me.

Me as a youngster looking handsome and BLACK – okay so there is some silver in my tail which should have alerted Beloved but as a tiny puppy even my tail was all black.

But I’ll go back to the beginning.

My kennel name, as I mentioned before, is Bovais Double of Nothin’

Father is Bovais Takem by Storm.

His father (my grandfather) is Schaka-ta’s Pascal A’bovais
His mother (my grandmother) is Caerlaverock Ja Bovais

My paternal great grandfather: Schaka-ta’s Mankado
My paternal great grandmother: Schaka-ta’s Jazira

My maternal great grandfather: Boshanti Tyson
My maternal great grandmother: Caerlaverock Fan Maytok

Mother is Caerlaverock Ja Bovais

Her father (my grandfather) is Boshanti Tyson
Her mother (my grandmother) is Caerlaverock Fan Maytok

Me, showing my silver coat now but still a fine figure of a Tibbie

This is the secret that I don’t like to talk about too often, though Beloved seems to mention it, especially to the vet.

Have you spotted it?

My mother and my father are actually mother and son.

Now this does not have the same moral aspects that it does in the world of people. Wolves that are isolated will breed within the pack in order to survive, but I do not believe that it is ideal. Those wolves can become inbred and this will lead to a susceptibility to disease and a passing on of genetic disorders.

The same can be said for us dogs.

I understand that sometimes breeders do this in order to solidify special traits in their animals. After my experience I would ask them to be careful.

The Princess is not a mother and son mix, but she is from the same kennel. Her jaw is a little undershot so she would never make a show dog. I tease her about that sometimes.
She doesn’t have all the health problems that I have had but she is small for a Tibetan.

But back to me.

When Beloved brought me to my new home within the first month I had frightened the life out of her by suddenly screaming and then being okay again.

After this had happened a few times she took me to the vet and he diagnosed a Patellar Subluxation, my kneecap would suddenly slip out of place. This was very painful for me and distressing for Beloved.

The most frequent cause of this problem is congenital, it is inherited. Fortunately Beloved’s beloved learnt how to slip it back in for me and for the most part I have now grown out of it.

At around about this time Beloved noticed that I had a very strange walk where I tend to throw my front legs out forwards and to the side. I also limped a lot if we walked further than around the block.

Another trip to the vet and when they had another procedure to perform (which I do NOT talk about), they x-rayed my shoulders because of my lameness.

The vet mentioned that I most likely had Osteochondrosis and one elbow could be effected. This is another inherited disease.

The recommended treatment was exercise restriction and diet control. If it got too bad I could have surgery, but Beloved managed to restrain her passion for long hikes (not) and was content with the dog park and a walk around the block and although I now have arthritis in all my joints, including my hips, I have not had to have surgery. I remind you that I am only just eight, I do not consider that particularly old for a Tibbie who can live up to 15 years.

Me today, imploring Beloved to be kind with the pictures she posts – how will I ever look Clowie in the eye again? Inside I am still that youthful, beautiful Tibbie who was born all black. Outside….well, you’ll see!

I didn’t like the sound of diet control and I was right to be concerned, things were to get a lot worse.

From 6 months of age I had another problem, regular, almost constant, ear infections.

I have been back and forth the vet, had my ears plucked, been to a special clinic for allergies and had so many courses of treatments and ear drops that if anyone mentions ear to me now I am likely to hide! Not quite true because I am a very brave Tibbie, but I don’t enjoy it.

Beloved used to send me to be professionally groomed every eight weeks but when she noticed that my ears used to get wet and then shortly afterwards another infection would begin she stopped.

Now she and her beloved do their best to groom me. It is not the same, I am not as smart, but I don’t get as many ear infections either.

Then the skin problems began. Beloved knew I was scratching and then began searching the garden to check for anything that might be causing the irritation.

Anything that was put on the garden was scrutinized to see if it could be causing the itch.

Another trip to the vet another small fortune paid out and they broke the news to Beloved – I had allergies.

Then we went through what could be the worst period of my life. I went on a diet. You who know me know that I love my food. My tummy always has space for more food and to be on a diet when I wasn’t allowed any treats was agony. Beloved did her best and even baked the food we were allowed to make them like treats and The Princess and I did enjoy it when she baked the food, otherwise it was horrible.

I wrote about it here ‘Help I’m on a diet‘ so I won’t dwell on it now.

I don’t quite know how we managed to survive that time but we did. Kudos to The Princess, she came on the diet with me and didn’t complain. It’s these sorts of occasions when her good nature really is a bonus.

Still I itched. Still I broke out in sores. Still I licked my paws.

Another trip to the vet and he talked about options. I didn’t pay much attention. As soon as I heard him say that it was okay for me to eat whatever I wanted I was in heaven. I wasn’t allergic to food! I could eat anything. The vet said so – anything…. Sausages here I come!

We came out of there and Beloved and her beloved were looking a bit sad.

I realised later that  two medications were talked about. One was quite expensive and the other was the one the vet recommended to begin with. Funnily enough Beloved is on this medicine too so she knows all about how it can make you feel hungry all the time and increases your weight.

Sadly. This is what it did to me and how!! I went from a modest 12 kilos to 17 kilos at my last visit to the vet. There Clowie! You have it. It isn’t just that I love my food – it is medical – honestly!!

Me today, beginning to show the classic signs of Cushing’s Disease. Pot belly, spindly legs, poor coat and lethargy. Okay, a little hard to tell under the fluff but believe me, the signs are there.

My hair has begun to drop out not through the allergies, but because of the medication.

Because of the weight and because of the medicine causing muscle wasting, my limp and shoulder pains have become worse.

I feel like an old dog.

Ten days ago Beloved took me back to the vet and she now has me on Atopica, the more expensive medication. She is cooking my food and has been for a while even though I do not have food allergies and I have loads of supplements.

The vet said that the medicine was giving me Cushing’s Disease. This was why from being a handsome, cute, muscly Tibbie I was turning into a pot-bellied, strange shaped Tibbie.

This was not good. It made me lethargic and made it hard for me to enjoy my excursions to the dog park. I even struggled to jump up onto Beloved’s lap at times.

In the spirit of full disclosure Beloved persuaded me to have a photograph taken of my bald spots.

The good news is that now I have stopped taking the Prednisone, I have stopped drinking so much and it is expected that I should return to my normal Tibbie gorgeousness soon.

As long as I am not itchy I enjoy my life. When I am itchy I am miserable. When I am itchy I run to Beloved and implore her to make me better and I know she is very sad when she can’t make it go away completely.

It is early days for the new medicine but I am hopeful and Beloved is hopeful that my weight will come down and I will grow back my lovely coat and I will not itch.

There isn’t anything that they can do for my knees and shoulders. Arthritis makes them painful at times but losing some weight will help the strain a little.

So this is my story.

Are my health issues related to my genes? Or are they just bad luck? Without knowing more about what has happened to my brothers it is probably hard to be sure.

But in this humble Tibbie’s opinion, breeders need to very responsible or they can create a lifetime of problems and not all owners can afford or are willing to deal with a pet who is constantly sick.

As it is I will have to be on this drug for the rest of my life. Will it shorten my life? Very likely, but I cannot live in any kind of comfort or quality of life without it. We hope that after a time we can reduce the dosage which will be better for my body but we will have to wait and see.

Beloved and I are hoping to bring some after pictures in a few months which will show a new improved Zac The All Black. For the moment, I will take a break from all this honesty and have a little nap before lunch – e haere rā

Dreaming of a healthy future.

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19 responses

  1. Oh you poor thing. I hope you feel better soon. I think you look beautiful though.

    July 20, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    • thank you so much. Believe me I can look better. When I have lost a few kilos and had a bath and a hair cut you will see the new streamlined improved Zacinator!

      July 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm

  2. Goodness Zac, you do stoic in spades. We have to agree with you that breeders have a lot to answer for. You have been exceedingly unlucky with the string of inherited illnesses but you are also very lucky to have Beloved doing her very best to sort you out. You are still a very fine looking chap – we rather think the silver is more dashing 😉

    July 20, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    • Yes indeed. I am a stoic little chap and I would prefer to be able to run with The Princess and play like the other dogs but at least it isn’t a food allergy. I would not be stoic about a permanent diet!

      July 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm

  3. Zac, first of all – I hope the new medication helps and I’m sorry to hear you have health problems.
    The next thing I want to say is that I’m a dog, so I’m not going to get hung up on the fact that you’ve gained a few kilos and your coat is not at its best. It is bipeds, although not all of them, that put so much emphasis on appearance.
    That causes problems for animals. The first considerations when breeding animals should be health and temperament, but sadly for some breeders the emphasis is on appearance and winning shows.

    July 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    • As usual you are so right Clowie.
      I know that Beloved wants me to lose some kilos so that my joints don’t have so much weight to carry around. And as I have said previously, it just means there is more of me to love and that has to be good!
      I agree that health and temperament mean so much more than how we look. Fortunately Beloved wanted a loving pal and The Princess and I can give love in abundance. I have a special place in her heart even with all my health problems and that means a lot.

      July 20, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      • You probably would feel better carrying a few kilos less, but I can see that’s difficult with medication and not being able to exercise as much as you would like.
        My bipeds had a cat that wasn’t as well as they would have liked and they said it was very worrying.

        July 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm

        • Beloved does worry I know – but I’m worth it!
          I believe I am already losing some weight. I am not drinking tons of water and a lot of my weight was water – it wasn’t what I was eating 🙂
          Now I’m not on steroids any more I think Beloved might be able to relax and give me more treats, but I have to convince her about that yet. I am working on it!!
          I’ll have a hair cut in the next couple of months – that always makes me weight a little less too!

          July 21, 2012 at 7:12 pm

        • Do you have to watch your weight at all Clowie? I suspect like many mountain dogs (me included), you do not go on long runs like Labradors or Hounds. Maybe you are like The Princess and your tummy can be filled.

          July 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm

          • They weigh me every now and then to keep a check on my weight, but it doesn’t fluctuate much. Some days I don’t eat much at all – I just don’t want anything, a lot of my breed are like that. I go on very long hikes with my bipeds, when the weather is suitable and they have the time. I walk for at least an hour most days and I enjoy playing football. Lots of my breed don’t take long walks, but if we’re fit we can hike all day but still be happy to slob about and be lazy with our bipeds at other times.

            July 21, 2012 at 7:40 pm

            • I used to be a bit like that with food – amazing to think of now. When Beloved first got me I would skip meals. But then along came The Princess and all of a sudden it seemed imperative to finish my dinners. I like to think it was to save The Princess getting fat!
              I envy you the walking, I can’t manage that. The Princess could. But that’s okay, I enjoy watching.
              Glad to know you’re keeping fit, health and have loving bipeds. That’s the important things – ciao for now 🙂

              July 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm

  4. This is very sad to read. I think those kinds of breeders don’t care about the health of the dogs they breed; I think it’s all about the dollars.

    July 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    • I’m afraid I have to agree. They told us it was an accident! However, I note that they have done it since with the same mother and son so they are either very careless or it was no accident.
      The Princess is from the same line and they let us have her at a reduced rate because she was not good for the show ring or breeding – we feel we rescued her 🙂

      July 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm

  5. I’m sorry to hear about the things you have gone through but glad to hear that things are going to be better or at least easier to handle and live with. Inbreeding it’s an issue that up to 3 months I knew little about it but since a friend of mine got a dog just like Doggy, from a different breeder and paid top money(granted the breeder gave him guarantees that somehow looked unreal to me, like if the dog didn’t win a show he would then give him another puppy or give him back half of what he paid). A couple of weeks ago I was playing with both dogs and I started to touch his dog, all his joints, all over the place, call me weird but I do that often with Doggy to see if I see something “wrong” to my limited knowledge. There was something on his dog that puzzled me, Doggy and him are about the same age, but his dog has undescended testicles, I asked my friend if he was aware of it, he said he doesn’t touch his dog’s business, from his logic it made sense, I then asked him to go to the vet and ask.
    He did, it turns out the dog has Cryptorchidism, inherited disease that jumps a generation, he then talked to the breeder and what he said was that the dog could get a surgery and still enters the show (you know, a castrated dog can’t enter a show) that it was not a problem and could still breed. Just to show what it really matters, my friend is going to castrate his dog, I talked to Doggy’s breeder and apparently that other breeder does a lot of inbreeding, dogs for him equal money, nothing else.
    As Rumpy said, it’s about the dollars.

    July 23, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    • Wow! It seems I am definitely not the only one and that is very sad. I am glad that no-one bought me hoping to get a show dog because then I could have been in serious trouble. I’m glad your friend is taking care of his dog and hope he doesn’t have any other problems.

      July 23, 2012 at 10:29 pm

  6. I love this dog. Be well, Zac.

    July 29, 2012 at 9:32 am

    • Thank you, I will try. Beloved certainly hopes so, she loves me too 🙂

      July 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm

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