After some discussion with Jazz's vet, she is now taking a series of Adequan injections to help give some relief to her hip pain. We're still in the decision phase of surgery (not yet confirmed if artificial hips come in her size). Jazz has had 3 of the 8 injections thus far.

Adequan belongs to a class of drugs commonly referred to as “Disease-Modifying Osteoarthritis Drugs (DMOAD). It is an FDA approved water based liquid (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) available from and administered by a licensed veterinarian. It is an intramuscular (IM: injection into the muscle) that has been clinically shown to help treat degenerative or traumatic arthritis while giving relief from the pain due to degeneration of the joint and associated inflammation.

Adequan modifies the disease cycle as well as alleviating pain and inflammation. It stimulates the senovial lining while suppressing inflammation, thus nutrients supplied to the articular cartilage is improved. Simultaneously, Adequan blocks the excesses of degrading enzymes from affecting joint lubricant, fluid and cartilage. Adequan does not repair a poorly fitting joint, so it can't cure a hip problem, but it does aid in relieving the pain and slowing further deterioration.

Adequan is a viable option to relieve the stiffness from arthritis or joint disease. It can effectively prolong a pet's life when surgery is not an option due to age, cost considerations, non-candidate, etc.; or, by providing comfort and helping either delay or eliminate the need for surgery in some individuals. Adequan is a better choice over human OTC's (over the counter) as some human pain killers are harmful to your pet. Aspirin and Tylenol will kill your cat, aspirin will cause vomiting in some dogs, and Advil can cause severe stomach ulcers. Never use human OTC's without your vet's recommendation.

Adequan is administered in a series of eight injections over a four week period. Maximum benefits are achieved if the pet receives the full series of injections. Most pet owners begin to notice an improvement within the four week period. 70% of dogs receiving the full series show significant improvement. Lasting effects vary by individual, but I have heard of noted improvement lasting several months or more (anywhere from 6 mos. to 2 years). Brenna (my Rottie) was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at five years after showing symptoms of stiffness, difficulty getting up and refusal to jump. She was not a candidate for surgery so she took Rimadyl the rest of her days and had one full series of the Adequan injections. Before the Adequan, Brenna would whimper and cry out in pain when getting up after a nap as well as off and on during the day. After the Adequan she never again experienced that level of pain. She lived six more years. Of course her hips continued to degenerate and was her death sentence in the end, but that was due to spinal bone spurs pinching the nerves in her rear end which made her incapable of walking, not the hip joint itself.

Hip & Joint treatments should accompany careful monitoring of the dogs diet to avoid obesity which will further stress the body and increase pain/discomfort of affected joints. If your dog is already heavy at the time of diagnosis, assess and adjust his diet and intake accordingly.

Consult your veterinarian before using any other prescription or over the counter medicines including vitamins and supplements. What works for humans does not necessarily provide the same benefits for pets and can (in some cases) prove fatal.


Is Your Dog “Therapy” Material?

Back in the early 1990's I was picking up “Brenna” (an affectionate Rottie) from a boarding kennel when the owner suggested that my dog would make a great therapy dog. I had never heard of such a thing, so I spent some time with her learning about the program and left with a new interest to pursue. You could say that I sort of backed my way into animal assisted therapy (“AAT”) as I had no concept of what it was about and I was fortunate to have a dog that already had a fair amount of training and socialization under her collar. All I knew was that if the shoe were on the other foot....I would want someone to share their dog with me if I were stuck in a medical facility. That has always remained the fire that fuels my dedication to this rewarding field.

When Brenna entered the program it was somewhat of a milestone as “guardian” breeds, such as she, were rare due to perception problems and concern of frightening patients rather than offering comfort. She became an advocate for her breed, of which I was very proud. She loved her job and enjoyed over nine years in the program, retiring two weeks before her death.

Had Brenna not been an accomplished obedience dog, it would have been highly beneficial for me to do some basic training with her. Like a child learning good manners, it's something all dogs should have. With doing AAT, you will represent a valuable program in which your dog should behave well. Training also helps you and your dog learn to tune into one another and work as a team.

Is your dog therapy material? In this section I'll suggest things you can do to test the waters with your dog. Just because your dog is the ideal companion at home, doesn't necessarily guarantee that he'll be ideal in a distracting, public environment. In a section to follow, I'll cover some basic things you can do to socialize and prepare your dog for therapy work.


Take your dog to a public park. Walk the trails among joggers, walkers, kids and other dogs. Your dog should adjust and accept all this input without going nuts, showing fear or aggression.


Your dog should be able to do the basics (sit, walk on a loose lead, stay, down) in a mildly distracting environment.

Play Groups & People

Your dog should be able to adjust to being around other dogs and interact with them well. He should also be open and friendly towards strangers. A good therapy dog will have no aggression issues. Thanks to the Internet and Meetup.com, finding a local play group has never been easier. Play groups are a good way to socialize your dog with other dogs and dog friendly people.


Your dog should travel well without becoming a basket case every time he gets in the car. He should also be able enter a public place exhibiting good manners and behavior. A good therapy dog should not be worn out by the time he gets to his facility nor should he enter a facility acting like a maniac.

A great therapy dog is a well traveled dog, well mannered, used to accepting new things, comfortable, confident and trusting of your judgment. With all that in place, your dog will be a stellar therapy dog. New things your dog will likely be exposed to in a facility are: elevators, wheelchairs, crutches, janitorial equipment, medication carts, medical equipment & alarms, children and many noises just to name the most common. If you've done well to socialize your dog these new things will be tolerated well and it won't take long before your dog is at ease in such environments. Don't expect complete acceptance the first time, for example, dogs I've experienced take several times before being at home with traveling in an elevator.

I have been fortunate in that there is a regional pet therapy organization in my area. You may not be so lucky. In that case, a national organization is the route you'll be taking. Jazz is in the early stages of training for national certification herself. Look over their websites and what's required of you and your dog (see Jazz's Links to the right). Most require that your dog pass the AKC's CGC test. This is why I'll devote so many entries to training. A well rounded, well trained dog should be capable of passing this test easily.

Got a question? Post a comment.


Jazz's Spring Vacation

Jazz & her kids at the SC welcome center
On the steps of Magnolia Plantation; Charleston, SC
This was a lovely place.
We just toured the gardens...
which took several enjoyable hours!

Enjoying a snap dragon and poppy garden outside Magnolia Plantation

Salty dog.... Edisto Beach, SC

I believe this was Jazz's first experience with sand, waves, etc.
She learned to enjoy the warm tide pools.
She loved digging in the sand and a few brief bullistic romps!
Edisto Beach, SC

Below: Sunny and warm on Hunting Island, SC

Hunting Island was our favorite.
We found a private stretch of beach where we let Jazz off-lead.
She loved lounging in the shade near us.
She got to romp with one other small dog, much to her delight!
Above: With Sarah on the steps of a historic home in downtown Savannah, GA
Jazz enjoyed greeting lots of fellow tourists in Savannah
She also learned to perfect being a polite "city dog"

Below: At the summit of "the big mound" at Ocmulgee National Monument near Macon, GA
What a great hike around this monument!
Jazz was carried up and down this huge mound to save her hip.
She had a wonderful time!

In addition to these wonderful locations, Jazz highly recommends:

Reds Ice House

Shem's Creek; Charleston, SC. Amid all the Posh eating establishments this one is retains the flavor of the old Shem Creek eateries prior to Hugo in 1989. Better yet, their food is top shelf and they are a pet friendly restaurant! Jazz gives it two paws up!

Harry's Louisiana Grille
Acworth, GA. In the historic district. Jazz's folks love good Cajun cookin' and were happy to stumble across this great little place. The humans vote it as probably the best eatery ever in terms of organization, professionalism, menu, atmosphere, everything. Jazz says that Henry is a nice fellow and he smells good, too. Well worth visiting if you're ever in the area.

Oh, and she says the bacon from Waffle House is a pretty nice, too!


FHO or THR ?

Last Monday (March 10th) my lovely husband and I took his parents and Jazz on a peaceful hike near Tellico. It was a remarkably lovely day with a clear blue 70 degree sky. Since Jazz had been exhibiting such a reliable recall, I let her do this one off lead in spite of it being her very first hike. I felt confident of her abilities and she did not disappoint me. She was exuberant and energetic, but reliably obedient. She must have walked double the distance (with double the energy!) we humans did!

Tuesday she was tired, but seemed no worse for the wear. This was expected. Thursday night we observed her carrying her right rear leg, not continuously, but regularly. I gave her a thorough feel over and didn't find anything obvious, but I knew that I could not examine her skelatal system with the expert feel of a veterinarian. I would continue to monitor her.

Friday, she held her leg less, but she was still doing it so that by the end of the day, concern got the better of me and I dropped by the vets office. At first exam by an assistant, she discovered a luxated patella. Our dear vet did a thorough exam and in addition to the luxated patella (which seemed to be of no bother to Jazz), she found a rather sore hip. This called for an x-ray.

I saw it immediately on the vets face and the x-ray film. Her left hip is perfect, her right, however, is not properly seated in the socket, swollen and severely arthritic. Jazz is clearly in pain. I was floored. Surgery would be necessary to alleviate her discomfort and allow a long, happy life. She's not even two years old. Jazz will be on remadyl (an anti-inflammatory) till surgery. Although one option was heavily suggested, some research gave me two options:

FHO: (Femoral Head Ostectomy), essentially removing the head of the femur with a small saw, scar tissue forms over the bone end acting as a sort of cushion thus relieving the bone pain and allowing a small dog to return to a normal life. The drawback is a shorter leg and possibly a permanent limp as a result; loss in full range of motion (reduction of say 25%); stiffness; inability to jump, and decreased activity. This is what the vet suggested, but this procedure didn't sit well with me.

THR: (Total Hip Replacement), this is the expensive option as it's done at a veterinary hospital rather than in the vets office. Recovery time is a bit longer; recovery is near 95% with full range of motion (little to no reduction) and return to a full active lifestyle, including jumping. No permanent limp as there's no shortening of the leg.

At first the choice seemed obvious, having been given only one. However, cutting off the femoral head just didn't sit well with me, and thus I thank the Internet for my further education. Confirming my feelings on the FHO, the THR seems to be the surgery of choice given that Jazz is still such a youngster and has many, many good years in which to enjoy this life.... and fully enjoy it, she should!

No decisions have been set, I will speak with the vet at length and I (at this point) predict we will opt for the THR sometime this summer or early fall.

Dare I state the obvious in that my heart is crying for her?

We're on vacation this week. Jazz will have me post pics of her on the beach.


Blessing of the animals

A community event to benefit the Humane Society. Games, contests & prizes, food, fun and your beloved fur friend is welcomed.

HABIT will be there, and so will Jazz & her handlers! Come out to beautiful Maryville and have some fun:

Saturday April 19th
10:00 - 1:00

First United Methodist Church
804 Montvale Station Rd.
Maryville, TN


Bath Time

Jazz is an indoor dog who lives in a smoke & flea free environment. Because she interacts with the public on a regular basis, she gets a weekly bath. Regular bathing removes the buildup of oils from frequent petting as well as any germs that may linger in her fur. It also keeps her smelling fresh and clean. Jazz gets bathed with a mild oatmeal (pet) shampoo to avoid drying out her skin, with a touch of herbal scented (pet) shampoo to leave a light pleasant scent. Perfumed pet products are avoided in consideration of sensitivities.

Jazz stands patiently in the tub while she gets thoroughly shampooed. She shakes on command and gets dried a bit before leaving the tub where she is then thoroughly towel dried. While her nails are soft, they get a careful trim and then are expertly filed with a dremil tool to remove any sharp corners. About once a month the long hairs between the pads of her feet are trimmed. This reduces the risk of chewing gum getting stuck to her feet as well as avoiding tracking mud or water indoors. Next, Jazz gets her teeth cleaned. Finally, she is thoroughly blow dried..... something she greatly enjoys and is a reward for a job well done!


Emergency Transport

I came upon a woman by the roadside who was trying to coax an injured dog into a portable crate without success. By the time I got my vehicle turned around and returned to the scene, the woman had left, the crate left beside the dog and the dog covered with a blanket. The elderly dog still very much alive though obviously suffering either a broken back or pelvis (at the least) and thus completely immobile. Disoriented and very frightened, she was snapping and biting at anyone trying to help her. After some in-depth discussion with other passersby, a nearby resident promised to make calls and have the dog dealt with. I hated to leave the scene, but I had done all I was able to do under the circumstances.

An injured dog, no matter how loyal and sweet, is frightened, in pain, disoriented and prone to snap or bite as a result. This is not to be taken personally, simply taking effective, preventative measures is all that's necessary to prevent further harm to the dog and possibly to yourself. Something as simple as a bandanna will work as a makeshift muzzle in an emergency. Take the bandanna at opposite corners and roll it up to make a long, narrow cloth "rope". Begin at the bridge of the muzzle (top) with the center of the bandanna and wrap it around the dogs' muzzle, meeting at the underside. Cross the two sections over one another then bring them around and tie it off behind the head. The dog will not be able to wriggle out of it, nor open his mouth enough to cause you harm.

To safely move an injured dog you will need at least two people and either a large towel or sturdy blanket (depending on the size of the animal). Lay out the blanket alongside the dog with a fair amount of fabric gathered nearest the animal. Barrel roll the animal onto the blanket with the least amount of movement to the spine and limbs. Have someone at the dogs head to keep him as calm and quiet as possible. Once the dog is on the blanket, the extra fabric you had nearest him before transfer can be unfolded and then the dog is automatically centered on the blanket.

With as many people as necessary to move the dog, lift the blanket and gently move him to a ready and waiting vehicle for transport in a sort-of makeshift "litter" fashion. Someone should attend to the dogs head for providing support, comfort and ensuring the dog doesn't freak out thus causing himself or the handlers injury. He will be frightened. Most areas have at least one veterinarian that will offer emergency hours, or an emergency veterinary clinic dedicated to "after hours" needs. If the owner is not available, or can't afford emergency care, the local shelter may be all you have left. If nothing else, a local vet can euthanize the animal humanely.

Towels, a blanket and bandanna serve many useful purposes. Bandannas can serve as a cold water compress, a makeshift bandage, or for cleaning a wound. Towels are handy for the unexpected wet or muddy dog. An old blanket can protect your vehicles' interior, cushion the dog, warm him in foul weather. I tend to keep these items in my primary vehicle along with some plastic grocery bags for fecal pickup (as well as many other uses, too!).

If the dog is somewhat mobile, a towel can be used as a sling to support the rear end by passing under the abdomen, the handler holding each end. This is far easier on the handlers back than bending over and supporting the rear end without a towel.

I deeply hope this tidbit of emergency care knowledge is something every reader will never, ever need.


Jazz's Handlers

A handler is typically the dogs owner and the guidance and training behind the magic that is a therapy dog. A successful therapy dog begins with natural, suitable traits that are enhanced through many months of dedicated training, socialization and most importantly, a strong bond between the handler and dog, creating a team. The handlers job is to ensure the safety of the dog as well as to help guide it in reaching and enjoying other people.

Jazz's Mom has been a dog owner since the age of 4, sharing a strong bond that has helped her to overcome extreme shyness; a fine example of how the human-animal bond works. She has nearly 20 years of dog training experience in both obedience trials and agility competition. She has taught several obedience classes off and on over the years as well as a few agility classes. Her greatest experience in working with her dogs has been the therapy program which she has been involved with since 1992.

Gianna (“Kat”) has owned many dogs over the years, however only a Rottweiler, Border Collie and a Coonhound (in addition to Jazz) have worked with her in therapy programs. Facilities that she and her canine companions have worked with are: a children's in-patient psychiatric unit; an adult out-patient psychiatric facility; retirement home; surgical unit; two physical therapy units; transitional care; and an elementary school.

The human-animal bond presents particularly rewarding environments for those people visited as touch and acceptance from an animal provides a warm, calming atmosphere which aids in healing the human heart, mind and soul. Kat enjoys sharing her animal and the benefits that a canine companion brings to people in facilities as well as the staff that care for them.

Having a dog that possesses the unique qualities, aptitude and skill for therapy work is a rewarding gift. In her years of animal assisted therapy, Jazz is only the 2nd dog to possess the exceptional qualities for working well in therapy with children. It is a great service to be able to provide a child with positive, safe interaction with a well behaved dog. This gives a child the opportunity to learn to bond and effectively communicate with an animal as well as learning by example about responsible care and ownership of a dog. Working with a therapy dog also encourages a child to develop a sense of selflessness and caring towards others.

Jazz's co-handler is Kat's daughter, Sarah. Sarah is relatively new to participating in animal assisted therapy though she's been interested in the program since an early age and has eagerly awaited being old enough to participate. At 14, she must have an adult accompany her. A great age to experience giving back to the community as well as exploring whether animal assisted therapy is right for her.

Mac the Border Collie keeps vigil over his young leader.


Sunday in the park

Jazz enjoyed a lovely spring day a Springbrook Park. This is her favorite game, the slide! Today was her third trip, ever. She really seems to dig this and wasn't the slightest bit intimidated by the hoards of adoring kids cheering her on.


Why AAT?

Why is AAT (Animal Assisted Therapy) so valuable, so rewarding? Simply put, it's because an animal can touch a human in ways that another person can not. An animal can be a bridge from the confines of the deep internal realm of our being. Here are some fine examples:

At the children's psychiatric unit, a girl was admitted who for the first week did not speak. Not a word. Doctors were at a loss as to how to reach her. The dogs arrived on Tuesday and the girl visited with “Hershey”, a rescued Chocolate Lab who was rather scarred from a car accident. He was a gentle soul who enjoyed playing fetch. Upon seeing Hershey, the girl squealed with delight, threw her arms around him and began talking to him and asking the owner/handler questions about his missing leg, eye and ear. After that, doctors were able to reach and treat her. She was talking, thanks to Hershey.

A young man fresh out of a coma was depressed and unwilling to participate in physical therapy. Mac the Border Collie arrived and he worked hard to roll over to pet him. He'd do anything to pet the dog. He worked hard on his physical therapy so he could better visit with the therapy dogs who were his greatest motivation.

Patients lacking the interest to do physical therapy find joy and motivation in a game of fetch, or walking with a therapy dog. Playing or working with the dog provides some relief from the pressure and physical pain sometimes associated with physical movement, replacing it with the joy of interacting with an animal.

Oncology patients find comfort and can better relax in the company of a therapy dog while undergoing treatments.

Alzheimers patients who can be rather unresponsive are often reached through touching an animal. In some individuals, the only time they respond is with an animal or through music.

Patients who are otherwise intimidated, shy or reclusive may respond better and open up more in the company of an animal. Animals provide a sense of safety as they never judge, reject or condemn. Animals provide acceptance and affection regardless of appearance, disability or capability.

Animals relieve feelings of depression and isolation which can come from being in a facility, whether short or long term. People feel a sense anticipation knowing an animal is coming to visit as well as joy from the visit itself. Staff who care for these people also benefit from visiting with the dog as a healthy, happy outlet. Happy staff provide better care.

Children experiencing difficulty with an activity (such as reading or physical therapy), or have difficulty conversing with an adult, find ease, comfort and reward in sharing these tasks with an animal. A therapy dog creates a calming atmosphere for the child as he will lie still for petting. This is very rewarding for the child.

Animal assisted therapy (AAT) provides a valuable service to so many individuals. The animal enjoys it, the handler enjoys it, the people visited enjoy it and facility staff enjoy it. It's a “win-win” situation.

Elvis & William enjoying some snuggle time

Questions? Post a comment.