Select Page

MDR1 Testing for Herding Dogs

Orthopedic Dog Bed LargeIn a previous Post, I briefly mentioned MDR1 Testing for herding dogs because of Marina’s hind-leg weakness.  I ordered a test kit this week from Washington State University (College of Veterinary Medicine).  According to the order confirmation, I should receive the test kit within two weeks.

Treating Marina’s seizures and balancing the side effects of her meds has been a challenge at times. Once she was off the Potassium Bromide which causes an increased appetite, her interest in food dropped dramatically. She is still taking 125 MG of Zonisamide twice a day, and one of the side effects is decreased appetite. This poses a huge issue with getting her to take her pills. I’ve tried every trick in the book, and she’s way too smart for all of them.  The bad thing is that she has spit her meds out so many times now that she ended up with the first seizure in three years.

As soon as the test kit comes in, I’ll need to take two cheek swabs from her and mail them in for testing.  I’ll write a follow-up post when I receive the test results and any changes to her meds if she tests positive.

I would love to hear any stories about your experiences with the MDR1 results – please share in the comments below.



Potassium Bromide and Hind Leg Weakness

Marina AdoptionThe bond with a true dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth will ever be.
Konrad Lorenz

Life with our fur-kids is a constant learning experience. The picture on the left is Marina’s adoption photo. It’s hard to believe she’s been with us for over eleven years.  She was a feral dog – most likely abandoned by her owner, and thankfully saved by San Diego Pet Rescue.

She was a handful, not fully house-broken but as smart as as they come, and very food-motivated which made working with her  much easier. She is now a sweet girl, still with a bit of a wild streak I hope she never loses.

A month ago, I thought our journey together might be nearing the end and it was brutally painful. Over the period of a few weeks, her arthritis seemed to be getting worse and worse. It was harder for her to lay down and she stopped jumping on her favorite sofa.  When we took her on short walks, she had a hard time controlling her hind legs.  It had happened once before, but not nearly as severe. Her hind legs seemed to be getting weaker by the day.  I made an appointment for her with Dr. Peter Slusser, the miracle worker that saved Petey from IMHA and gave us several more years with him.

At the time of our appointment, Marina was taking 1 Yunnan Baiyao capsule twice daily to control a tumor, 25 mg Tramadol twice a day for her arthritis pain, 125 mg of Zonisimide twice per day to control idiopathic epilepsy, and 2.5 ML (500MG/ML) of Potassium Bromide once per day that was added approximately five years ago when the Zonisimide alone stopped controlling her seizures. She has been seizure-free for at least three years.

Background information:

I did a lot of research prior to our appointment. I learned that many herding breeds have a gene mutation known as the multidrug resistance gene, also called MDR1. In short, the mutation allows certain drugs to build up in the brain. Side effects can be as mild as tremors and severe as death.  As soon as I read about the mutation, several things came to mind. Marina’s seizures first started years ago when her flea medication was changed. She became lethargic, and I switched to another type suggested by one of her vets. She still had a reaction to that one – lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Our vet even called the manufacturer to see if there were any other known or reported side effects – nothing.  Both of the flea medications contained Ivermectin – one of the drugs that can build up to toxic levels in dogs with the MDR1 gene. The side effects are ataxia (muscle weakness), seizures, and even death.

The Solution:

During our visit, Dr. Slusser ordered CBC and Potassium labs. He let me know that Potassium Bromide can build up in the system to the point that it causes hind-end weakness. I also mentioned that she was a rescue and she was listed as a mixed breed of Cattle Dog, and possibly Australian Shepherd.  I let him know that I didn’t know about the MDR1 gene until recently, and was wondering if that might have been the cause of her seizures to begin with – they seemed to start and stop with the use of flea medication.  I started to taper her from the Potassium Bromide after that visit. There was a significant difference within a matter of a few days. Within a week, she was jumping up on the sofa, and is now back to jumping on “her” sofa, and running home from the park. As I told Dr. Slusser, when I took her in, I felt as though she had aged years in a month – and now that she was off the Potassium Bromide, it was as if she was five years younger.

There is always the chance that her seizures may return, but for now, we’re keeping her off the Potassium Bromide. I’m happy to say that she’s doing beautifully and we couldn’t be happier or more grateful. Once again, Our Miracle Worker came through.

Koda’s Success Fund

Marina 4x6I know I’ve been MIA, it’s been an intense six months. I miss my Petey Boy, and hold on to the fact that we gave him a great life after such a rough start. As a reminder, we didn’t lose him to IMHA, so if your fur kid is battling, there is hope. It’s a challenging road but a long happy life is possible.

This post is to help out Koda’s Mom. I’ve been there and know how helpless IMHA makes you feel. It’s a roller-coaster, but knowing that there are success stories, help us get through a lot. Whether it’s through donation, sharing her link, or offering support and success stories, I know your help will be appreciated.

Marina is adjusting to being single, and is letting her playful side show again. She’s enjoying the extra attention and even tolerates me brushing her endlessly shedding coat.


Wishing you all Success Stories.


Goodnight Sweet Petey

We Love you Petey

We Love you Petey

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive. ~Gilda Radner

It is with great sadness that I let you know of the passing of our dear, sweet Petey. Many of you started following this blog because of his battle with IMHA, and it’s similarities to Evan’s.

It was not IMHA that took him, rather his tired body, and our desire to always return his unconditional love .  For this reason, we made the most painful, yet responsible decision when it became clear that his qualty of life would no longer be what he deserved to have.  Because we loved him, we did not want to subject him to a life of pain from advanced osteoarthritis and a now fragile and unforgiving body.  We are heartbroken over the loss, but better for having had his love in our lives.

We cannot thank Dr. Peter Slusser and the amazing team at VCA Animal Group for their outstanding care. It is because of their care and compassion that Petey pulled through his bout with IMHA. I give them my highest reommendation, and my utmost respect. If you know me, you know that is not something I give easily. Thank you Dr. Christine Wilson for referring us to Dr. Slusser.

Our entire family would also like to thank Dr. Kristi Freeman, who, through her kindness, compassion, and dedication to animal companions, allowed Petey’s final moments to be filled with love and peace.  Without a doubt, Petey’s second chance at life would not have been possible without Forte Animal Rescue and it’s volunteers Raquel Magro and Diane, who quietly work behind the scenes to create forever homes. It’s because of them, that the unwanted, forgotten and abused come into the lives of those lucky enough to be chosen to be their forever caretakers.

Following is an excerpt of my letter thanking Marie Atake, founder of Forte and volunteers Raquel and Diane for all they do. They are my heroes and I am eternally grateful to them for introducing me to Petey and allowing us the honor of caring for him for the last eight years. We love you Petey, we will miss you, and you will forever live in our hearts. Goodnight my dear “Sweety Petey.”

Email Excerpt:

Thank you for sending Petey your thoughts and prayers today. During a most difficult time, Dr. Kristi Freeman helped us give Petey the best farewell he could have possibly had. She is the kindest, gentlest person you could imagine and Petey took to her immediately, she even won Marina over and she is much tougher to win over.

Since we were at home, Petey was very comfortable and had all of us around him. He was given a deep sedative/anesthetic and you could tell when he became pain-free, there was such a sense of peace. He was awake with us long enough to experience the relief of pain and know without a doubt that he was very loved. That love is the last thing that he was aware of. When he was in the deepest sleep, Dr. Freeman gave him the second injection and he was very peacefully released from his tired body. All I sensed, in every moment, was peace. It was the best one could hope for at such a difficult time, and the best send-off our dear friend could have had.

His ashes will be back to us in a week or so, his love will never leave us. After some time at home today, we went to the ocean, it’s the place where Eddie and I both feel the most connected to the universe. As we were walking towards the sand, the very first thing we encountered was someone walking a big pointy-eared dog and the second thing we encountered was a man walking a dog who could have been Petey’s twin, big ears and all. It made my heart feel good to see him running. Maybe it’s just to make myself feel better, but I liked to see it as a sign that our Petey boy was free and happy again. They were the only dogs we saw our entire time there.

And so it goes, our hearts break, but they are a little bigger for having had such a wonderful companion in our lives. Thank you both for all you do and thank you for giving us the opportunity to have Petey and his unconditional love in our lives.

Dogs and Grief

If you’ve been fortunate enough to experience the companionship of a dog, it’s almost certain that at one time or another, they’ve been there to comfort you through a difficult time. Maybe it was a bad day, a break-up, or on a much larger scale, the death of a loved one.

This post was inspired by the recent loss of a friend and mentor, who also happened to love dogs. During his illness his companion, a rescue, provided countless hours of comfort not only to him but also his wife. After his passing, their companion continues to help his wife through the grieving process.

At times, my own companions have been the only ones that have witnessed my tears and felt the depth of my grief. They allow me to sit and cry without apology or need for comfort. Their presence offers more support than any words can possibly give. They sense the pain and gently stay by my side. They ask nothing, and they give everything in return – themselves, their love, and their loyalty.  Even now, as my grief ebbs and flows, they seem to know just the right time to sit with me and just “be”.

During WWII, a tiny Yorkie named “Smoky” became the first documented therapy dog. Since then, therapy dogs have been used in many settings with a notable increase in funeral homes to offer comfort to those mourning their loved ones.  As Petey and Marina sit by my side and offer unspoken support, I look at them and wonder who is rescuing whom.

Thank You Bloggers Unite for Dog Rescue Participants

Marina and PeteyA huge “thank you” to everyone that participated and helped us promote this event!  We couldn’t have done it without you.

If you missed the event, the links below are the posts in support of dog rescue/adoption – and perhaps a cat or bunny post or two – we love all animals!

I’m making my way through the list, not only are the posts incredible – so are the people behind them! Please visit the blogs below – I’m very grateful to the people behind those blogs. Together we can make great things happen…


Please Help Bloggers Unite For Dog Rescue

Bloggers Unite for Dog Rescue


How you can help today

Please help us publicize Bloggers Unite for Dog Rescue, a special online global event held on July 23, 2012 stressing the importance of dog adoption. Dog Rescue Success  is proud to partner with Blog Catalog, and YOU to harness a global online community to help save the lives of dogs in need.

1.) Grab a badge from the sidebar.
Paste the code from Dog Rescue Success‘s sidebar to your blog’s sidebar. This lets folks know you’re taking part and how they can too. Copy any of the event images too!

2.) Tell others!
Post this to Facebook and Twitter:

SPREAD THE WORD – BLOGGERS UNITE FOR DOG RESCUE – Promote dog adoption on July 23rd! #BloggersUniteforDogRescue>

ON JULY 23rd:

Post your Blog Entry


  • Blogging about a Dog Rescue related topic on July 23rd, 2012
  • Adopting a companion:
  • Donating to a local dog rescue organization
  • Fostering a dog
  • Volunteering at a local shelter or rescue organization
  • Sharing this post across all forms of social media and encourage others to participate!


  • Millions of dogs are euthanized each year because not enough people are adopting dogs through local rescue groups and shelters.  Instead, many people purchase from pet stores not knowing that most come from puppy mills – read more at:  Additionally, many people underestimate the the time and dedication it takes to become a responsible pet owner, and surrender their dogs, or worse.
  • Local dog rescue organizations consist of volunteers who help by fostering dogs in their own homes while they search for permanent placement, taking dogs to adoption events, fundraising to cover medical and boarding costs to name a few.  Most rescue groups do not have the luxury of employees or people dedicated to promoting their efforts on a large scale. This is where Bloggers can give these unsung heroes and homeless dogs a voice.
  • As their own resources permit, these groups work with local animal shelters in an effort to place adoptable dogs that are scheduled for euthanization. The sad fact is that many dogs die every day before they find a “forever home”. The commercials you see on television about neglect and abuse are very real. Consumers can literally save a dog’s life simply by choosing adoption over a pet store or breeder purchase.
  • Per the HSUS, “Nationwide, only about 20 percent of dogs in homes come from shelters—the rest come from other sources. It would only take a relatively small increase in the adoption rate along with a modest reduction in the birth rate to go a long way toward solving the problem of euthanizing healthy and treatable dogs in many communities.”  We all have the ability to make a difference in the world by taking action. Bloggers Unite for Dog Rescue participants have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of dogs in need.


Learn more about puppy mills:

Need help for your rescue group?:

Deaf Dog Rescources:

Dog Trainers:

Dogs and Fireworks

Cajun loved us but not fireworks...

Happy Independence Day!

I hope you have a wonderful day planned doing something you enjoy to celebrate our freedom. If those plans happen to include leaving your companions at home, I’ve included links to two articles with tips for helping your dogs cope with fireworks anxiety.

We happen to live in an area where every night at 9;50 p.m., we can hear the fireworks show at SeaWorld. Thankfully, Petey and Marina have been with us long enough to finally be desensitized to them. The louder Fourth of July fireworks still give them a bit of anxiety but on a much smaller scale than when thy first joined us. In the years that we are not at home,  we make sure to leave the TV on to help block out some of the noise.

Our previous companion, Canjun, was deathly afraid of load noises and never adjusted to them.  The weekly trash trucks would scare him to the point that he would shake for an hour after they left.  Fireworks were very difficult for him. You have to know your dog and what works best for them. If you leave your companions alone today, make sure that every possible escape route is blocked off. Even a tall fence isn’t always enough to stop a traumatized dog from jumping over – especially the wooden fences that have the backs of the boards facing towards your yard – they make great steps for leverage. More dogs escape on this day than any other.

Please take a moment to read some of the tips below. If you have a tip that worked well for you – I’d love for you to share it in the comment section. Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

From Cesar Milan:

From Mad Mikes America:

Don’t forget to share YOUR tips!

The Birth of Dog Rescue Success

Petey Adoption AdI’ve always been an animal lover, but it was Petey who inpired the creation of Dog Rescue Success, and our July 23rd Bloggers Unite for Dog Rescue campaign.

I’ve always had rescue companions in my life.  When we adopted Petey, his history really tugged at my heart. He was a sweet, good-tempered guy who had been turned into a bait dog at the hands of his “owner”.  His life was spared from the goodness of the hearts of the female officer who originally rescued him, and Forte Animal Rescue.. Had it not been for him, he would have died long ago.

Because of Petey, and the many wonderful rescue organizations I have encountered in my lifetime, I wanted to give something back to them. I wanted to acknowledge and promote the good the organizations and the people behind them do. For those companions in search of a forever home, I want to give them a voice. For all of the “Petey’s” in the world who made it to a forever home and give us their unconditional love, I wanted to give that love back by sharing their stories. We will be featuring rescue groups, trainers, and rescue-friendly organizations on a regular basis.

I would love for you to help us on July 23, 2012 by posting any rescue related story and helping us raise awareness to the importance of Dog Rescue. If you have a blog – please help us promote by using one of the badges to the right of this page. If you’re on ANY kind of social media, please help us promote the event, and posting a rescue related story and posting the link on this page in the comments section. Thank you SO much for helping us give a voice to the dog rescue community!!

Community Solution for Dog Rescue

I always seem to encounter amazing people in the dog rescue community. Kim Clune and the rest of the pack over at Dog House Adoptions are a perfect example. What really caught my attention about this group is how well they integrated the entire community in their dog rescue efforts. I’m excited to introduce this dynamic team to you and hope that their vision will inspire you.

Regardless of how we’re involved with the dog rescue community, there are a multitude of ways that we can incorporate new ideas to raise awareness, increase adoptions and facilitate the process of dogs and people helping and healing each other.

Dog House Adoptions – A new breed of Dog Rescue 

Dog House Adoptions - Lori Harris, Audra Bentley, Tim Clune, and Kim Clune

Dog House Adoptions – Lori Harris, Audra Bentley, Tim Clune, and Kim Clune

Q: Dog House Adoptions captured my heart at the “About” page. You’ve covered so many critical components of creating forever homes. You didn’t stop at rescuing; you took it several steps further by engaging and creating change at a community level. Can you share your long-term vision with us?

A: Our greatest goal is to celebrate the tremendous emotional value that a dog’s life has, no matter their mix of breeds or a lack of known history. We have spectacular dogs in our care, uniquely beautiful friends who would add immeasurable love to any family’s life through adoption, but why wait? And what if you aren’t in a position to adopt?

Our dogs have the ability to symbiotically serve a caring community who serves them in return. So, right now, we invite people of all walks of life to indulge in the healing power of dogs – from those who require occupational therapy that a little dog brushing or ball tossing can provide, to victims of domestic violence, those struggling withloss, or anybody who needs a little unconditional love. Meet our dogs. Walk them. Sit with them awhile. You’ll comfort them while they comfort you and that love gets paid forward at the time of their adoption.

To facilitate this best, I envision building a human dog house featuring all the comforts of home. A cozy living room complete with plush couches, fun paint colors, curtains, and art on the walls will make a great space for community members to spend time while facilitating training for dogs to stay off the furniture and not to chew. A kitchen and laundry room with all the usual appliances will acclimate the dogs to normal household operations and noises while helping to maintain the space. This environment would also allow prospective adopters to imagine their new best friend in their own home (a staging idea I borrow from my HGTV addiction). We believe this will encourage more dog adoptions and lessen return rates because each dog will have a great head start to being a good household member.

Q: I love your focus on education. Knowing that many local rescue groups
operate on very tight budgets; do you have any suggestions on how they might create similar programs or connections on a smaller scale?

A: We incorporated in April 2012 and are an extremely small rescue with very active board members. We operate on a shoestring budget – but nothing stops us from introducing ourselves to the community and inviting folks to come by. All it takes is one volunteer willing to offer their time and one community member willing to learn.

Marlene Wagner, a certified dog trainer, offered her time to teach about signs of stress in dogs and general dog safety at our first volunteer orientation. 15 people came. Many are now dog walkers and adoption clinic handlers. Marlene has offered our handlers and adoptable dogs free access to her Tails onTrails class to learn respectful, reward-based training suitable in any environment. We can’t wait for this to start! It costs us nothing, but the value to people and dogs is tremendous.

We also spoke with the Berkshire Farm where young adults are in need of positive experiences. A little dog encounter therapy could be the perfect means. We’re working on facilitating some terrific interaction with groups like this.

Another exciting adventure includes a local band called the Stray Dogs who play often in our county. Having never met, but finding them on Google, I asked them to write a theme song for us, which they did. It’s called “Pick Me” and they’ve played it at local venues inciting all kinds of fun conversations. Education doesn’t always have to come in the form a classroom!

The ideas are boundless once you start talking with people. By all means, engage everybody and use every talent they have!

Q: Dog House Adoptions is brand new with such ambitious goals. What made you decide to found this organization and would you recommend that others follow suit?

A: First, let me say that joining an established organization is far more ideal, as mentioned in Kyla Duffy’s guide, Road to Rescue – a resource we heavily rely upon. Help is always needed and resources are best spent directly on the animals rather than incorporation and other startup fees.

In our situation, towns had contracted with a local kennel to house the strays from Rensselaer County, NY and, at the end of a dog’s five day hold, surrounding rescues were often stretched too thin to help. The kennel owner cared for unclaimed dogs out of her own pocket while finding families to take them in. The need was very apparent.

Mike Arms, a man who inspired me during a talk onrevolutionizing rescue, offers a free, week-long ACES Workshop at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, CA . He teaches how to best to start and manage a new organization or improve upon one in existence. By all means, educate yourself before diving in, and get to this workshop if you can. We found it invaluable.

And, if you decide to move forward, enlist the help of good friends. Coming home wholly inspired, I shared what was learned with my husband, Tim Clune, and our friends, Lori Harris and Audra Bentley. Ultimately, this group became our hard working Board of Directors. Our friendship feeds our rescueand our rescue feeds our friendship – all in the name of helping people and dogs.

Thank you Kim and Dog House Adoptions for sharing your insight, we certainly enjoyed getting to know you! I hope everyone reading this will take a moment to visit the Dog House adoptions site online or locally.

Do you know of a dog rescue group taking a fresh approach to adoptions? Let me knowand they could be our next featured Rescue Group!