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.
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
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.
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!!
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.
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