I am on the k9epileptics yahoo list and, as much as I worry about the future, we have it easy thus far. There are many people with dogs with seizure episodes every couple of days. I'd be a crazy-woman...
I posed a question to the list and learned a couple of things about Keppra (levetiracetam).
- It is the better drug to try initially, less side affects, but more expensive. My first 30 days worth cost me $108, but today, after shopping around I got it for $28.
- It takes about 3 days to stabilize serum levels when you start out, but it can take a few weeks for the dog to acclimate to how it makes her feel.
- In humans there is a side affect known as Kepprage - increased agitation and/or emotional outbursts.
Gimme is still a bit more reactive regarding other dogs - not hugely, but definitely notable. As I said, I was seeing some of this before the recent seizure episode, it just seems a little more so since then. I had planned to do some work on this over the summer to get ready for Fall obedience shows. I think for the time being, I'll take it slower, until I know if Keppra will be a good fit for Gimme in the long run. In a couple months we'll begin tapering down the dosage, so then might be a better time to focus on such things in training.
Last night's nosework class was interesting to say the least. We are entered for an NW3 trial this Sunday. Gimme I'm sure can do her job - me I'm not so sure about. Still do cross your fingers we get lucky and I don't screw up too badly. Gimme's job is pretty much the same as it was at NW2 level, while mine has increased significantly.
We started class with an interior search of an area full of chairs. The task was twofold - leash handling skills and knowing when the dog was done searching. The dashed line and two orange "cones" shows the leading edge of the search area - thus two chairs were not in the search area. Gimme found the chair against the wall and the one in the middle, but I rushed her and she didn't commit to the one in the back row. Gimme did well, but I called "finish" too soon.
From there we did two searches outside. One was a largish area with a sidewalk running down the middle of it. Gimme started out okay and found one hide pretty quickly, but then she became completely unfocused and stopped searching. We ended the first search and went to the second area and Gimme never did make any real effort to search. This is so unlike her and we were all blown away by the difference. We ended this second search after she peed (which, bless her heart, she did leave the search area to do so).
I walked her to let her pee, then we returned to the van to wait our second turn. The co-instructor came to get us because Dorothy wanted Gimme to get a simple motivational search before trying again. Gimme rocked it and was very much herself. From there I went to where I could be handy to go to the startline when the dog in the area got done, but not so close I would see where the hides were. While we waited, Gimme pooped twice - yucky, squishy, stinky poops.
When Janet and Moxie finished, they crossed the road to walk, which put them within 50 feet of where we'd be searching. Gimme was very interested and watching Moxie closely and I wasn't sure she'd be able to ignore her, but wanted to give it a try. Once I gave Gimme her search cue, she instantly ignored Moxie and went to work. She found two hides and then I didn't do a good enough job getting her around the area and called finished before she found the third one. On the second search, Gimme worked and found one hide. Dorothy asked me, "If you see this in a trial, what are you gonna do?" I said "Based on her behavior, I think she's done, but I would probably walk her quickly down along this wall again because she didn't really check it at all." Dorothy made the point, if I have to make her search an area, there most likely isn't anything there. There was only one hide.
So lessons learned...
- Even though Gimme's reactivity is a bit heightened, she is still able to go to work when she has a clear job to focus on. This is very good to see (and I saw it in tracking this week as well). I'm trying to think of how best to use this in our walks.
- I think needing to poop while trying to search is another case of divided focus or multi-tasking, which Gimme can't seem to do right now.
So we go into the weekend with a trial on Sunday. Cross any body parts you can spare for us. The following weekend we have a barn hunt trial in Oregon.
- She completed two vehicle searches at the recent element trial, despite needing to poop. She wasn't as focused as usual, but was able to do so successfully. This was before the recent seizure episode, so she used to be able to do it.
- Clearly I need to get her out for a lot of potty walking before asking her to go to work. This is my job…