Reggie is an inspiration to us all.
Bridget, the Scottie who inspired the Scottish Terrier and Dog News, turns nine years old later this month. Apart from one or two bouts with allergies, she has always enjoyed robust good health. But, as of late, alas, that has changed. In the past two months, Bridget has faced a number of health problems.
It began with a cyst-like bump that’s a few years old but recently started growing. The vet doesn’t think it’s dangerous, but recommended nevertheless that it come off, and we’re going to get it done. Before she could go in for her surgery (just a local anesthetic), however, Bridget developed a sore front paw.
It flared up one afternoon and she couldn’t put any weight at all on it. I heard her crying during the night and nothing had improved by morning so off she went to the vet, rolling along like a Queen in a medically equipped grocery stroller.
The vet saw nothing more than the swollen left paw pads we had noticed. He trimmed back some of her paw fur and gave us an anti-inflammatory spray and told us to keep her quiet. He said if she wasn’t better in a few days, he’d do an X-ray.
Within 24 hours, Bridget was greatly improved. And within 48, she seemed almost completely better.
But that’s not all. On her cyst visit, the vet grabbed Bridget and put her on the scale where she weighed in at a whopping 29 lbs, more than four lbs heavier than her last weigh-in. She was ordered to go on a diet. For the next month, I monitored her food consumption carefully and cut back on meal portions and snacks. I was convinced she had dropped a pound or two.
Well, I was wrong. While she was at the clinic for her paw treatment, she was whisked on to the scale where it was noted she had, in fact, gained several ounces.
I protested. It couldn’t be. She was eating much less.
The vet suggested she might have thyroid problems and said he’d get back to me. For now, I’m still waiting.
Rita is having trouble with her Scottie Barney and his ears.
“I would like to ask a question regarding our Scottish Terrier (Barney) love of my/our life.! Over the past year he has started scratching his ear so much some times squealing as well, we took him to the vet he was sedated and his ear’s cleaned ( build up of wax & hair) and given tablets (steroids??) however this is continuing to happen vet is expensive any suggestions!!!!!!”
Has anyone else had similar issues? Please add comments if you have any suggestions for Rita.
Abby is still doing really well. Refocussing her attention to me changes her demeanour such that she ignores the other dogs. Even Ann admitted she is doing really well. (Thanks Ann!) It has been a pleasure to walk Abby over the last two weeks. Well, a pleasure in that she doesn’t freak out over other dogs..not so much a pleasure when she decides not to walk).
Something in the comment that Russie made on the first post really made me think.
Russie wrote “We had a much stronger relationship and he clearly trusted me, which was no small thing. He could be distracted with a click or a word–even when another dog was coming at him, teeth bared. He knew I was there to support him, and, more importantly, he was less afraid and had more confidence in himself.”
I think Abby now knows that I am going to handle the situation and it is not up to her. I once told Ann that Abby was not a confident Scottie as noises and new situations were difficult for her. Having her focus on me let her know that I could be trusted and that she could relax. I had her back. This has changed our relationship and I wish I had done this sooner.
Thanks again for everyone’s advice. I am getting the Abby I knew back.
We had some great feedback from everyone regarding Abby’s disposition toward some other dogs. I am glad to hear I am not alone in my Scottie experience.
Here is a quick update: We have had a really good week. I have restarted her training and getting her to “Watch Me!” (picture me saying that in a loud, squeaky, happy voice). I use treats and get her to stop, sit, and look at me in the eyes (done by holding a special type of treat by the tip of my nose). She gets the treat and lots of praise. I do this each time we see a new dog. It took a couple of times but now she moves away with me when she sees a new dog and waits for the treat and calmly watches the dog go by.
I don’t always give a treat but I will always praise her. We have not had any new incidents. (I am quickly touching wood as I type this.)
Thanks everyone for your feedback. Here is a summary of some the comments below:
Talk to the vet. Abby might need something like Prozac. Never used it myself but it might help”.
Oh do I know about walking the difficult Scottie! We are usually at the farm in mid state Georgia, of course, on a leash except for the family time we spend at the pond when Ansel is so busy fishing he can be trusted not to “break bad” and chase into the woods. When we have to be in the city we time our walks so to avoid other dogs. There is always the dog not on a leash whose owner asserts the friendliness of their dog and I assert the non-friendliness of Ansel. Usually I scoop him up and try to hold him to prevent his work on the other dog. Ansel was abused as a puppy (now eight years old) and the slightest event can set him off on fearful aggression. We tried a muzzle, but felt it was causing more damage than good. What seems to have worked is to provide him a squeaky toy to channel his fearful aggression onto the toy in lieu of the dog, cat, bicycle, etc….you know.
(Love her sign-off as Ansel’s Handmaiden)
Janet recommended the pet safe bark collar:
I had the same problem with a little breed mama that I adopted. A pet safe bark collar has really helped when it is needed. You might try it on Abby. It has done wonders for Stormy’s attitude. I talked to a dog behavior specialist in TN recommended by TN Scottie Rescue. He gave me some very good tips on how to handle the aggression issue.
Here is a link to Pet Safe Bark Collars on Amazon.
Joyce had success with the pinch collar:
I have a two year old with the same problem. I got her a pinch collar and used properly works like a miracle. I too have to be aware of what’s coming around the bend, but I found if I make her sit and give her the command “wait”, she is quiet as a mouse. Sometimes too, I just say wait and pass them and she is good. She has been a tough one, toughest I have had and she is my 5th. Takes patience and training. You may want to actually “set her up” so you can practice. Before getting the pinch my leg came between her mouth and another passing dog a couple of times. Ouch!
Good luck. The pinch is almost always loose because she behaves. But just a slight correction gets her right back on track. Just puts even pressure equally around her neck and is miles away from hurting. I never used one before, but it works so well, and is more humane than clipping a leash to a collar and her gasping for breath as the regular collar will choke her. Even a choke collar is better used properly will hang loose if the dog behaves, but good for corrections.
Pinch Collars on Amazon.
Judith has similar troubles with her little Molly:
Sorry to hear about Abby. It really sucks when your scotties go postal! I have the same issue with my Molly. Loves people, is insecure and bites when around other dogs! A walk is sometimes an exercise in futility. I’m really good at hiding behind cars when I see another person walking down the street with their dog. I truly can’t believe the sounds coming out of Molly! And to make matters worse, she has taught Angus (my wheaton scottie) the same aggressive tactics! Angus loves to run up to other dogs and bites them to get them to play! Needless to say, we no longer go to the dog park!!
Mary had success with her Yorkie, Buster, by enrolling him in a training class:
I enrolled him in a socialization class for a year in and half and it really worked. One night a week we would meet with the class and our trainer would have us run drills for an hour and half. We would line up with 25- 30 dogs in close proximity, criss crossing in front of each other, going over jumps but always following the leader, and always moving. We would take breaks away from the group and then get called back in to line up. It worked brilliantly! Now whenever Buster sees an approaching dog on our walks, it’s no big deal. I guess he wore himself out on being aggressive when he couldn’t tackle 25- 30 dogs all at once. I recommend looking in your area for a good trainer who works with socializing groups. It was a great experience and we were all there for the same reason, so you feel a lot less critical about yourself and your dog.
Russie provided titles for books that helped him and his little Scottie. Fluoxetine was also diagnosed which helped.
I relied on these books to help me gain insight into the mind of an aggressive dog:
- Aggression in Dogs: Practical Management, Prevention & Behaviour Modification
- Fight!: A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-dog Aggression
- Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog by Emma Parsons
I also love the book Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs by Suzanne Clothier. I don’t think I understood the sometimes fragile psyche of an aggressive dog. Parts of the book brought tears to my eyes. Hers is a relationship-based method of training. (She has a website with a wealth of information on this subject.)
But not really having the energy at that precise moment to try harder, I enlisted the help of drugs for my frightened and bite-prone boy. He was on the lowest dose of fluoxetine available, but it made a tremendous difference in his attitude and behavior. Training was easier as he felt relaxed. We had a much stronger relationship and he clearly trusted me, which was no small thing. He could be distracted with a click or a word–even when another dog was coming at him, teeth bared. He knew I was there to support him, and, more importantly, he was less afraid and had more confidence in himself. (You’d think confidence wouldn’t be the problem, right? But so often it is.)
Please check out all the Comments.
Tracy has written the Scottish Terrier News about her Scottie, Talulah, who is suffering from pancreatitis.
“Hello. My beautiful 5 year old scottie, Talulah, has been diagnosed with pancreatitis. This has come as a complete shock as she has eaten a hypoallergenic diet for most of her life and never gets human food unless a rare treat. Can you tell me if this is common in Scotties and any advice for her nutritional needs would be most appreciated. Low fat food is now the order of the day but any advice for anything yummy would be welcome. Thanks Tracy”
Has anyone had any a similar issue as Tracy? Please update the comments with any hints or tips for Tracy.
The last few weeks have been difficult as Abby has decided that she will only be nice to dogs she currently knows or to unneutered males. This is making walks more like traversing enemy territory. One must scout what is coming around the bend and try to get Abby’s attention focussed on something or someone else until the dog moves on.
She is really good at hiding her intentions. Other owners will say, “But she is wagging her tail.” I have to tell them that it is not wagging but a tail held tight with excitement that is moving back and forth as she tries to hold in the tension. The problem with her attitude is that she gets so excited that she will turn and bite anything. That anything is usually me, my jeans, and my coat. I have holes in my pants and coat and a nice scar on my leg.
Abby’s behaviour has made walks more tense. When a new dog comes along, I try to stay relaxed and make sure that the dog does not come too close. I also try to walk with dogs (and owners) that she has had a problem with. This usually works as they are now considered a bit of a pack so she accepts them without issue.
She is always on a leash now as I cannot trust her. The last time I let her off, she went after a lovely, old Labrador who was just hanging out as all the owners chatted. Everything was quiet and then Abby just looked up, saw this dog (even though we had been standing there for about 10 minutes) and just ran at it and tried to bite it. Thank goodness it was wearing a wool sweater to protect it. There was no damage done but I could no longer trust her.
Now, the biggest worry is about off-leash dogs. Dogs will run up and their owners shout, “Don’t worry. He (She) is friendly.” That leaves me shouting, “But my dog is not.” People with large dogs just say that is okay. They don’t realize that I am hanging on to what I can only describe as a tasmanian devil with larger teeth.
Ann agreed to babysit Abby for me for a couple of days. Before I was to go away, Ann and I met for the regular weekend walk. Unfortunately, Abby saw a dog that just set her off. She turned into a screaming, whirling dervish. Ann was stunned at the level of aggression that was displayed. I knew she was thinking, “Uh, I have to watch that crazy dog?” (I ended up not going away so she did not have worry after all.)
This behaviour is challenging. Abby was socialized and loved to play at the park with all dogs. I am starting to retrain her from the beginning to get her to relearn proper etiquette and that I am the boss (wish me luck with that one). I am also considering a muzzle.
Wish me luck!
Abby and her bestie Bridget:
Abby’s paw is doing much better but I am still going to continue to soak it in epsom salts which seems to be helping. We still cannot find what caused the problem. There is no sign of an ingrown hair, mite, etc. I appreciated all the advice and feedback from the Scottish Terrier News family. I am going to be starting quite a few diet changes for Abby to help with her allergies.
Here are some comments that were received via email:
“Our female Scottie Lydia had one several years ago and we had it removed surgically with no ill effect. Our vet in Maine recommended this action. I did not understand that this could be from allergies, ingrown hair, mite, etc. until reading your note today. She now has developed another one this winter. We are waiting to return to Maine in May before determining next step, but I wanted to thank you for information. Lydia lives with us in Belize 6 months of the year and I will certainly make sure she’s thoroughly checked for a mite of some sort or a foreign object. She is 13 now and we will avoid surgery if at all possible.” Thank you. – Janet
“I had a Scottie, Meagan, who developed one of these on one foot caused by an ingrown hair. The vet surgically removed it. She never developed another thank goodness!”- kvcoleman
We also received some terrific photos!
Here are Arthur, Bitterman and Dudley. Don’t they look awesome!
Here is Allister. He is a one year old wheaton Scottie.
Here is a stellar crew – Moxie, Duffy, and Mac. These cuties can hold a pose much better than Abby and Bridget 🙂
I noticed that Abby was having trouble walking one day. She would trip over her one foot and when we got home she would lick the paw constantly. I noticed some changes to her paw but it is a struggle to look at them as she is really sensitive.
I took her to vet and found that she has a interdigital furuncles which are basically cysts on her toes. Right now I am soaking her foot 2-3 times a day in epsom salts. We go back to the vet next week to see how they are.
Toe cysts can be caused by ingrown hair, a foreign object embedded in the toe, or a skin mite. I am not sure what caused this but I know that allergies can also be a factor.
Have any of you had this issue with your Scottie? If so, can you update the comments with your experience and what you recommend for Abby?
A thought provoking article on the traits of our beloved Scotties and whether those traits are representative of the Scottish. Check out the BBC article.