Milo's Dog Training

Dog training in Hampshire, Surrey & Berkshire


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Goodbye, Milo!

Milo

Milo. 18.04.2006 – 08.02.2018.

Almost a month ago Milo left us. It was sort of expected, but still sudden. He died in hospital after an emergency operation to remove some bits of plastic toys from his stomach. We have been prepared to say “goodbye” for quite some time because he has gone downhill over the past few months. His dementia had been getting worse by the day. We knew we were going to make the decision to put him to sleep soon: to spare him suffering from being confused and for our daughter’s safety, as he had shown aggression towards her. However, Milo decided to take matters into his own paws, and I am glad it happened this way. I will be honest and admit that it is also a relief. It had become very difficult in the last few months because of the safety concerns. I was under a lot of pressure to keep a constant eye on Milo and Sonya (who is two and can’t be trusted to keep her distance). I only wish we had a chance to say a proper “goodbye”.

We miss Milo a lot here and we will always miss him. He had been a part of our family ever since my husband and I moved out of our parents’ houses and moved into our first flat. We were eighteen and nineteen, and Milo was eight months old. Milo had been with us all our adult lives. He moved with us (twice across the Atlantic) and shared our ice creams (guilty!), our travels and, at some point, even our bed. He kept us warm in our first (very poorly insulated) flat in England. He was there when we brought home our daughter. Milo had been the reason I decided to become a certified dog trainer, and he probably taught me more than my dog training course. He was stubborn, independent, sometimes very annoying but always loving and loved. It had been almost a month, but I still sometimes expect him to be there – snoring on the sofa when I come downstairs in the morning. The house just seems too empty without a dog.

We will always remember our Milo.


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Canine dementia: Milo’s case

img_6008_smallMy aim in writing this post is not to educate, but to share my personal experience hoping that it may help someone looking for answers. Milo was officially diagnosed with canine cognitive dysfunction in July 2015 when we decided it was time to deal with his puzzling symptoms. Getting a referral to a pet behaviorist Dr.Jon Bowen at the Royal Veterinary College was part of our preparations for the arrival of our daughter due a couple of months later.

Symptoms

Milo had his first anxiety attack in November 2012. It was triggered by me leaving on holiday after several months of being home with him most of the time. Milo was six years old at the time. After this first episode, he was fine for about a year and a half, and then he started having anxiety attacks up to several times per months.

The anxiety/panic attack would usually start at night some time between one and three. Milo’s symptoms included obsessive digging, scratching at our bedroom door, crying, panting and breathing heavily, a vacant look, restlessness and head shaking. He literally needed to climb onto our heads to calm down just a little bit. Sometimes we had to let him into our bed to get any sleep or to sleep with him on the sofa downstairs.

Treatment

After a few episodes we sought advice from his vet, who suggested we try Zylkene, Selgian and Diazepam (to use when we are desperate). Although there was some improvement, we could not say it was reliable. As a result Milo was referred to the RVC. Dr.Bowen administered a questionnaire to assess Milo’s cognitive function, which turned out to be within the normal range. We were not surprised as we have not noticed any confusion in him. However, Dr.Bowen was convinced that his anxiety attacks were due to his ageing brain and this was just a less typical case of canine cognitive dysfunction. We were to stop Selgian and to replace it with Fluoxitine (anti-depressant) and Activait (a supplement). This scheme seemed to help for a while, but then Milo’s attacks became more frequent again after almost a year of relative stability. I do not know what triggered it – possibly our daughter becoming more mobile. Regardless of the cause, we decided it was time for a follow-up with Dr.Bowen. He listened to our concerns and suggested we add Melacutin (melatonin) to help regulate Milo’s circadian rhythm and coconut oil as another supplement. This was about 6 months ago, and I am pleased to say Milo has had just a couple of minor anxiety episodes since then.

Living with canine dementia

A major issue with Milo is that his self-control is getting worse and worse. This is partly due to the illness and partly due to the side effects of his medication. He cannot resist food (before he would not think of stealing when we are seating right there) and he steals toys. Of course, I absolutely cannot trust him around our daughter. So to make it more manageable we put up a playpen\room divider around his bed.

Overall, however, we are very lucky. We have not seen any confusion or have not had any toilet accidents. It is still very hard emotionally, and I have to constantly remind myself that Milo’s behaviour is not his or my fault, but a result of his illness. It must be very hard for him too. I just hope that the treatment will delay the progression of canine cognitive dysfunction for as long as possible and that Milo will be enjoying himself for years to come.


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Back in Business

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It has been a long time since I updated this blog – I took time off to focus on caring for my daughter Sonya, whom we welcomed to our family just over a year ago. This was a huge change for Milo too, and it was interesting to see how his attitude towards Sonya was changing from complete indifference to curiosity to annoyance. Just before Sonya was born Milo was diagnosed with canine dementia. It is under control with medication, but it certainly makes life more challenging for Milo and for us. So there has been a lot going on and I am looking forward to sharing my experience and knowledge with my readers.

I am now ready to get back to work and will be taking on new clients. It would be nice to hear updates from my former clients too!

 

 


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A Sunny Day Out on the Coast

Today the sky is pouring with rain, and it makes writing a post about a sunny day out on one of Hampshire’s dog friendly beaches so ironic. A couple of weekends ago the weather was the exact opposite of today, and we decided not to miss a chance to enjoy the sea. We are not particularly beach people and we try to avoid crowded places with sand castles and picnics. One reason is that we like to walk on a beach, not to sit on it. But the main reason is that Milo likes picnics very much. He also thinks people’s things lying around are perfect for marking. So, to save us from those awkward moments when we pretended it’s not our dog, we prefer to seek out some remote and semi-wild beaches, where we can let him off the lead.

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Moving house? Help your dog deal with it.

Last week Milo had to endure yet another house move. He changed countries three times during the seven and half years of his life, and this move was his fifth house move. Despite being used to it, Milo hates moving. It seems that it isn’t the prospect of a new place that annoys him (after all, I don’t think he actually knows about our plans for a new home), but rather the whole process of packing, moving and disassembling furniture, things disappearing from their usual places and, no doubt, our stress.  Milo’s way of expressing anxiety and frustration is stealing and guarding various things. In addition, his allergy always flares up when he is stressed.

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How to choose boarding kennels?

We love travelling. Milo, however, is not the biggest fan of it. Although Milo is used to transatlantic flights and long road trips, today we prefer to leave him in the kennels. Sometimes, we take him with us on short weekend breaks, but taking a dog on a plane is too much of a hassle, especially, when travelling to and from England. Milo has been to a number of pet resorts in England, in Russia and in America. I decided to share my experience in choosing kennels. So, how to choose a pets’ hotel?

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Happy Birthday, Milo!

Milo is 7 today. Over the years he has lived in four countries, chewed numerous useful and expensive things, travelled in planed, came to love cuddling up with us on a sofa, learned a number of tricks, taught us many things (including keeping our staff out of his reach), and, most important, inspired me to become a dog trainer. I wish Milo to live twice as many happy and healthy years!