She’s Here!

Time for a new addition at The House of the Fox Dogs. Introducing, Zora!

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Zora at 6 weeks, photo by Liberty Akitas

Zora is an American Akita, bred by Liberty Akitas in Oklahoma.  I have been wanting a Liberty dog ever since I met the Bennetts several years ago, and I inquired about upcoming litters after we lost Bel.  Last weekend, little Miss Zora came home with us.

Years ago, I met her grandsire, Bugatti, at a show, and was quite taken with how friendly and even silly he was (he was just a pup then!)  I also met Demi  at that same show.   I really wanted a Bugatti puppy, but we were full up on dogs at that time, since in the intervening years we’d gotten our Whirlwind of Naughty, the Kai Ken Leo.

But this year, everything fell into place.  Zora’s sire is Bugatti son Clooney, and the lovely Demi is her dam.  Clooney is gorgeous, and it was fun to meet him and see he was as fun loving and wonderful as I remembered Bugatti to be, and Demi is a lovely lady.  And now we have Zora!

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Zora, 8.5 weeks

As you can see, she is a mostly white hooded girl, and while her head looks black in some photos, she actually has some brindle on her neck and cheeks.  And she has the black spot near her tail that a friend christened her “spanking spots!”  She’s a lively, curious girl, who has charmed everyone she’s met, including our dogs.   While it takes Oskar the big boy awhile to adjust to puppies, he’s already much less grouchy with her than he was with Leo (though they only are having very limited controlled meetings for now).  Toby ignores her (but he also only has met her while she was crated). Leo spent two days trying to ignore her and pointedly ignoring me (oh Leo’s feelings are hurt!  He’s not the baby anymore!) but Zora was determined to make friends and less than a week later, they are already comfortable with one another.

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Little Miss is busy, into everything.  She’s an adventurous girl, and in her short time here has already explored much of our large yard.  She climbed up the stairs on her second day here, and has already mastered going up the outside stairs, which are open stairs and harder for dogs.  Indoors, she loves a good game of tug, and outdoors, she likes to climb and jump and run.

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Indoor activities include getting into EVERYTHING!

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You had to wash these anyway, right?

So things have changed at the House of the Fox Dogs, and sadly, we are almost not really a house of Fox Dogs anymore, as now we only have one Shiba, Toby.   But I’ll keep the name, even though we’re becoming a house of Akitas these days.

I hope to have a few different type of blog posts in the next couple of months.  While I intend to keep up my sporadic dog updates (more pics of Zora, I promise!), I’ve also been working on two dog related writing projects, one a longish fantasy story about Japanese dogs, and also an essay about Bel.  I’ve decided to post both of them here, probably in a series of entries since both are long.   So look for that in the next few months, and I also promise to update with pictures of Zora, the Queen of Cute (and thanks to another friend for coming up with that nickname!)

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this photo of Little Miss on “guard” duty.

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Zora on her first day home (thanks Marisa for this pic!)

And a huge thank you to Liberty Akitas for trusting us with this sweet little monster, to Marisa for driving out to Oklahoma with me to get her, and for my husband for holding down the fort while I was gone, and managing the rest of the canine crew.

No More Yearly Vaccinations!

I’m hoping that this year, I’ll be able to keep up with the blog a bit more regularly, so I’ve decided to keep myself motivated by writing some posts on general topics related to canine health and behavior.

I’ll start this with yet another story of why I love my vets.  I went in with Toby to run some tests to see if he had Cushings syndrome (the answer?  Probably yes.  But that will be another post).  As we were there, my vet said in passing, “I notice that Toby has not been vaccinated for almost 2 years.  Toby is almost 9.  I see no reason to vaccinate this dog again, except for his rabies vaccination which is required by law, but I wanted to tell you that if you need to board him, you will not be in compliance, so this is just so you’re aware of his status.”   I was delighted not to have argue about my decision not to continue to vaccinate my adult dogs.  I thanked her, and we went on with the exam.   My vets, in case anyone wonders, are old-school in the extreme.  They don’t even use computers.   They are hardly out there on the fringe.  But they’ve been practicing for over 30 years, and they’ve seen and learned a lot.  They do not feel that animals need to be vaccinated every year.

A few days later, I came across a great link on vaccinations on the Shiba Inu forum, posted by an alert forumite.   This is a great video about vaccinations, over-vaccinating, and immunology.   It is an interview with Dr. Ronald Schultz, of the University of Wisconsin, whose speciality is immunology.  Dr. Schultz is not “out there” or part of the fringe of veterinary medicine; he is a doctor, teacher and scientist who has been working in this field for 29 years.   And he firmly believes that we are hurting our animals by over-vaccinating them.  (Coincidentally, my vets both went to vet school at UW.  They may well have worked with Dr. Schultz at some point!)

You can watch the whole interview, which is excellent, below.  It runs about an hour.

If you’d like to read parts of the interview and watch it in shorter chunks, this link has the interview broken up and has important points summarized as well:   link to interview with Dr. Schultz.

There are several important points to this, and it’s worth your time to watch the video, but I’ll try and summarize some of the things I found most important (and note, I’m simplifying this, and any mistakes below are mine):

  • There are core vaccinations that every animal should have.  For dogs, these are the so-called “puppy shots” of distemper, parvo, rabies and adenovirus.   (There is a lot more in the video about how and when to give these shots, but no one argues that these are important).
  • After the puppy shots, one adult booster is useful.
  • Beyond that, most dogs do NOT need more vaccinations, but one year after the adult booster, it would be good to titer test the dog to see how much immunity they still have.  If it is low, you may revaccinate (see below), but if it is not, you do not need to revaccinate.  (Note the video goes into much more detail on how titering works).
  • According to Dr. Schultz, the MOST anyone should vaccinate their dogs is every three years.  To do more is not to make them any “more” immune (as that is not possible) but it is possible to compromise the dog’s health with over vaccination.
  • Both vets agreed that any dog who has had a reaction to a vaccination should NOT be revaccinated using the same vaccine, and probably should not be revaccinated at all (watch for more details on what to do in cases where the titer test suggests an animal may not have full immunity).  This is especially the case if the animal gets a lump at the vaccine site.
  • Both vets believe that over-vaccination is hurting our animals, and it may be one contributing factor to a rise in autoimmune disorders in animals (there’s more to it than just vaccinations, but this is one component they believe), as well as other problems.

There’s a lot more to the interview, but those were the important points I took away.

I should note that Dr. Schultz is not the only one who believes we are over vaccinating our dogs; so do many vets, and finally some bigger organizations are following suit.  From this article (scroll down to the postscript, though the whole article is interesting), I discovered that “World Small Animal Veterinary Association now advocates a minimal 3-year interval between core ‘booster’ vaccinations.”  (Note three years is the “minimal” interval, and note that the producers of the vaccines do not agree with that.  Now I wonder why that would be? Could it have something to do with money?)

I wanted to start with Dr. Schultz, because as far as I can see, no one much argues with his conclusions, which are drawn from years of research.  (He started recommending in the late 70’s that we stop vaccinating animals every year, noting that the vaccinations are supposed to create life long immunity, as many vaccinations do in humans).

I’ve long also been a fan of Dr. Jean Dodds, who is a specialist in canine health (especially thyroid issues) and who has long recommended a minimal vaccine protocol.  Some people do see Dr. Dodds as being a bit more on the fringe, and some conservative vets get up in arms even at the mention of her name.  (My vets are a husband/wife team, and the husband is not a fan of Dr. Dodds, even though I note that his thoughts on vaccinations are almost exactly the same as hers!)

Still, she’s the go-to doctor for information on a more minimal vaccination protocol.  This page includes Dr. Dodds vaccine protocol.

In addition, here is a link to an article by Dr. Dodds on vaccinations (it’s pretty technical, but has a lot of useful information):

I got interested in this because Toby had a bad reaction a vaccination about 5 years ago.  He seemed very ill immediately afterwards, and was lethargic and off his food for a couple of days afterwards (which you all know is NOT like Toby at all!).  I’d already heard of many people recommending less vaccinations, so I started reading.

While I didn’t find any information about Shibas, I did find that Akitas are a breed that is considered predisposed to vaccine reactions, so I was very careful with vaccinating Oskar.  I also suspect that ALL the Japanese breeds may have this problem–it’s only that Akitas are popular enough in the US to have this been taken note of.  (This is just a theory of mine, but there is much overlap in conditions in the Japanese breeds, hence my supposition).

Here is a link to breeds predisposed to problems, and what those problems can be, and it includes a discussion of Akitas.

Dr. Dodds notes the small orignal gene pool of the Akita as a possible reason for predisposition to problems (as well as other inheritable conditions) and I think that would also be true of other Japanese breeds.

This next page includes many links on problems with vaccinations, particularly rabies, and it discusses adverse reactions to the rabies vaccine.   It cites many sources, something I particularly appreciate.

So I will continue to follow Dr. Dodds protocol and be conservative in vaccinating my dogs.  I wish I had learned this a lot earlier, but at least Oskar and Leo will have the benefit of my new knowledge, and Toby and Bel will not get any more vaccinations, except for the rabies, which is required by law.

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Toby says “I’ve had enough!”