Sunday, May 8, 2011

End of Candy's Career?

We had to scratch a trial in March due to Candy having a limp. I waited a couple of days too late to send in the May trial entry. The good news is, the trial filled in a week. The bad news is, Candy can't go to the one in June as we are gone then, same for October, and by next March not only will he be 15 months out of practice but almost 12.

It's bittersweet- I'm glad APDT is getting popular here. But I'm sad that we didn't get to go to either trial, and sad that Candy is denied the opportunity to compete in AKC, which IS available in Washington and closer to home here in California. APDT may reach Washington but it will be too late for Candy when it does.

It made me very sad not to get in to this trial- not only because I was surprised but because I think Candy should have gotten in since he is not eligible in any other available venue in the state. In fact, he ought to get his chance to enter before anyone else does!

Anyway, we thought about going to Canada and trying CARO but he'd have to start at Novice again and we'd be in the same position of only getting to go to one or two trials a year. So I decided to skip that. If I end up with another disabled corgi we might go that route but its too late for Candy to start all over.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Candy's ARCH

For anyone who doesn't remember, Candy is a 10 1/2 year old Pembroke Welsh corgi. He had a disk injury (IVDD) at age almost 4, and has been in a wheeled cart ever since. Candy does not let it stop him, and when he came to live with me at the age of 8, I started Rally Obedience with him. APDT Rally allows dogs with disabilities to compete. We turn in a modification form that states, among other things, that he doesn't have to sit! On downs just his front goes down, and on a couple of left exercises I take extra steps. Otherwise he is on an equal footing, so to speak, with able-bodied dogs.

This past weekend we went to an APDT Rally trial in Redwood City, California. This was Candy's fifth rally weekend. At the first he got his RL1 title, the second had only level 1 so he could not title, the third he got his Veteran's title and High in Trial, and at the fourth he got his RL2 and RL1X, which means he had ten extra legs in level 1. This weekend he got his RL3 title and his ARCH. The ARCH is a championship title. It requires 5 "double Q's" in 1B and 2B with scores of 190 or better, plus at least 100 points (one point is earned for each point over 190) with a minimum of 30 in either class. We went into the weekend needing two Level 3 Qs and three double Q's for the two titles. There would be three tries at the Level 3 Q and four tries for double Q's.

It was a little iffy because Candy was acting kind of wild at first, trying to race ahead of me, but finally I realized I had never carried reward treats in the ring before but I was because I was also showing Jack, who would have refused the whole thing without payment. Candy refused to go out to a jump twice, getting NQ'd once in Level 3 and once in Level 2 (spoiling a potential QQ.) So it came down to the wire Sunday afternoon but he finished with a respectable 196 in Level 2 and a perfect 210 in Level 1.

The video is the final Level 3 leg.

PS, Jack got his RL1 title, too!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Life expectancy after canine paraplegia?

Someone on Handicapped Pets said her vet said her dog, injured at four, would not live as long as a normal dog. She wanted to know if this is true, and I did a little research. Here was my answer to her:

Re: life span question

Post by Bobbie » Fri May 14, 2010 6:43 am
That's not really an easy question to answer.

Overall, life expectancy goes down for paraplegics, human or animal, because when you average them all together you include the ones who have recurrent UTIs or pressure sores, either of which can be fatal as they can lead to widespread infection or systemic organ failure.

Here is some info about people:


Life expectancy is the average remaining years of life for an individual. It refers to how much longer someone is expected lo live. Life expectancy for people with paraplegia is lower than normal, but has continued to increase over the years. Death rates are significantly higher during the first years after the injury than the later years. This is especially true as the severity of the injury increases. Also, younger people with paraplegia have longer life expectancies than older people with paraplegia.

The following are average life expectancies for people who have survived a spinal cord injury after 24 hours. It is important to remember that these averages represent group data and cannot be applied to a specific individual. For people who develop paraplegia at age 20, the average life expectancy is 45 years (meaning they will live, on averae, for 45 more years). By comparison, people at age 20 with no spinal cord injury have an average life expectancy of 57 years. For people who develop paraplegia at age 40, the average life expectancy is 28 years. People at age 40 with no spinal cord injury have an average life expectancy of 38 years. For people who develop paraplegia at age 60, the average life expectancy is 13 years. People at age 60 with no spinal cord injury have an average life expectancy of 21 years.


How to translate that to dogs, assuming it would be similar? A dog injured at 4 is like a person injured at about age 30. At that point life expectancy would be about 37 years, or something more than twice their current age, but about 75% as long as a non-paraplegic. So if your breed has a normal average life expectancy of 12 years, the average with paraplegia onset at 4 would be about 9 years. also states that death rates are higher sooner after the injury. That is, the longer the person survives with paraplegia, the higher her life expectancy goes. So Candy, injured at 4, but already 10 and still perfectly healthy, probably now has a close to normal life expectancy, compared to other 10 year old corgis.

Also, I doubt some of the things that decrease life expectancy in humans even affect dogs. Humans are at higher risk for pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the legs.) I don't know if dogs even get this, but a very active dog like Candy would be at lower risk for it. Another cause of death in humans is autonomic dysreflexia, which is when the nervous system basically freaks out due to some stimulus below the injury level, such as an overfull bladder. This is most common with an injury above T5 or with quadriplegia. T5 is at the level of chest muscles. Autonomic dysreflexia has been demonstrated in animal models but I doubt it has been identified clinically.

So, to make a long answer short, the longer your dog lives problem-free with a spinal cord injury, the longer she is likely to live. Keeping her active and avoiding UTI's and other infections will probably help. Candy, as I said, is now 10, six years plus post injury, and in the peak of health, and I doubt his life expectancy is anything below normal any more.

I would like to follow up this very interesting question when I have more time, and see what the research on animal models does say. I know of canine paraplegics who have died from multiple organ failure after recurrent UTIs, but I don't know how many have lived long, normal lives.

Monday, May 10, 2010

More APDT Rally and new titles

We left Friday morning to drive to Goleta for our fourth APDT Rally trial. It's down near Santa Barbara and a nice drive with glimpses of the ocean and green fields and hills and vineyards on the way down.

Friday: Well, no video today, I was too hot- it was at least 75 and very uncomfortably muggy with little breeze. Candy had a heck of time in the soft grass (spongy ground, though the grass wasn't terribly long it was thick.) But we finished Level 2 with a first place and a 203, got a 4th place and 205 in Level 1B, and a Q in Veteran's B with first place and a 208 (but the only dog in the B class- all the A's outscored him!) I'm happy although now I'm exhausted from lugging stuff- couldn't safely leave more than the frame of the canopy there. Candy and Merlin are napping in the car right now and Jack is in the motel with me.

Tomorrow I'll try to get video when I'm fresher and hopefully Candy is more attentive! He debuts in Level 3 but that might not be until afternoon sometime.

Saturday: Today: Q's and 5th places (202 and 207) in Level 1 and 2 and our First Double Q, but NQ in Level 3 as Candy did not want to do the directed jump (send off to the right to jump.) We should have practiced it more recently as it is his worst thing without practice but I didn't see the practice jump until too late. Otherwise he did great in Level 3.

We finished by 4 today so are vegging in the room for the moment but I'd like to see if we can go to the beach around 6- I need to check the tides. I'm sure we couldn't find parking there now as it is a warm day.

Tomorrow is levels 1-3 again, then off home.

We're home! Candy went 3/3 today. Level 1: finished his Level 1 Championship (RL1X). Level 2 made his second Double Q (3 to go for his ARCH.) And finally his first Level 3 leg. Video of the RL1X leg is coming soon.

And it was cooler today! Merlin was able to stay in the car most of the day so he was happier. I had one corner of the canopy tied to Jack's crate and at one point his crate was almost being lifted by the wind. I didn't enjoy driving back up 101 in the wind and was glad I didn't have the trailer.

Here's the Level 3 attempt one (NQ- the video is also not as good.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Judging widths

Candy has a tendency to run over things in his way. Mostly he runs over Merlin or my feet. I have usually excused it as he doesn't know how wide his back wheels make him.

However, I recently noticed that when the baby gate is leaning partway into the doorway, narrowing the opening, Candy can judge PERFECTLY whether or not he will fit through, wheels and all. He is afraid of the gate crashing to the ground and will not try it if there isn't room to pass through. So he KNOWS how much room those wheels need, he just doesn't mind running over Merlin's legs or my feet, and he does mind knocking down the baby gate.

Maybe I need to crash the gate to the ground the next time he runs over feet.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Candy is the big 1-0!

Candy is ten today! Six years in his cart, and he's the healthiest dog I have. When they line up for pills, he gets plain peanut butter while everyone else gets drugs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Fun Police

Candy likes a toy now and then, but he really does NOT like anyone else to play. Frapping, playing with toys, you name it, he has to bust it up. "Okay, you guys, knock it off, move along." Jack has the bunny toy (the wild-looking bunny) and Candy takes it and plays surreptiticiously with it, but when Jack sees him Candy barks "Back off, this is not a toy, I'm taking care of it!"