Friday, 22 September 2017

Thursday, 31 August 2017


Solar has today been to the vets.

We have done this visit different to previous visits, today Sue took Solar to the vets on her own.

Solar barked on arrival, and as usual liked to announce his presence, the purpose of today was to have a Titre test to check to see what levels of immunity he has, or is lacking.

We have chosen this to avoid over inoculation and because we have elected not to just blindly have boosters injected without just cause. There are many horror stories out there and we will do our best o ensure Solar is not another.

As Solar is a bit bouncy and vocal, it was decided it would be safer for the veterinary staff if he was muzzled.  They took him and successfully managed to shave his leg and take the necessary blood sample, check a lump/cyst on the back of his neck and put cream in his left eye, which has been continually discharging every day.

When they returned him back he was without his muzzle, he was then weighed 36.5 kg a weight which has maintained for the last few months.

They took a sample of the cyst to check it out, and along with the results of the Titre test we will know more in two weeks, in the meantime we have some cream for his eye, a mild case of conjunctivitous .

Solar had his usual swim last night, followed by shower, blow dry and spray....

Tomorrow we head off to Cumbria, Solar's first holiday at the Lake District, the place we are staying at does not have wi-fi so there will be no further updates until we return.

While we are away we hope that Solar will get to meet Margaret and Cito, a german Shepherd who live close by.

Also a chance to meet up again with Molly the Golden Retriever, who will have travelled there also on her holiday. Molly and Solar have meet a few times now, they get on really well. They last met up at Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

Below is an early meeting where Molly was encouraging Solar to swim off the Isle of Wight.

We will look forward to sharing Solar's adventures upon our return, but for those that would like to follow sooner, check out his timeline on twitter as SolartheGSD

Monday, 28 August 2017

End of August 2017

So as we approach the end of August 2017 Solar will soon be going off on a new adventure.

At the end of the week we will be travelling to the Lake District in the North of England for Solar's second holiday this year. His first holiday in April was to Scotland where, a few weeks before travelling he became lame with suspected ACL, meaning it was in the balance whether we went away or not, we travelled the 650+ miles but walks and stair climbing were severely restricted.

Solar out and about in Scotland in April

Although there have been few posts, most of Solar's life has been shared on a daily basis on twitter, where he shares his adventures, mainly in image form as "SolartheGSD"

Solar is not a quiet traveller, so much so we have tried numerous tactics, the most expensive being the exchange of Sue's Renault Clio for a Citroen Berlingo, affectionately known as the "Solarmobile"

Solar still gets very excited and can be heard as we drive along, dog barking and loud CD !!

Solar remains raw fed, and a varying degree of treats, some a little more unusual raw turkey neck, beef pipe and fish to name but a few.

Swimming is an exercise he enjoys, where possible once a week....

although take him to the beach, he only wants to bark at the waves and chase stones, no interest at all with swimming.

Solar is very social creature, he often meets other dogs in the local park or while out and about, some small dogs have an issue with him, but generally he is well accepted for a play by other dogs.

He has spent time playing and chasing off lead in the local park, but because of his high chase instinct and being very focused on moving cars, it has to be well away from any exits.

Solar has a had a couple of "Play dates" with a Staffy named Daisy, they really do have a great time in the safe enclosure of K9 Pleasure Park just a few miles down the road from us.

Solar is a cheeky, fun loving, adventurous, playful and wilful dog who likes nothing better than enjoying action adventure meeting and greeting.

We will soon find out what he makes of these over the next few weeks.....

Herdwick Sheep; Resident of most of the Lake District

Thursday, 13 April 2017

10 months old

Incredible, but Solar is now 10 months old and boy does he have a lot of character.

When weighed at the vets last week, Solar is now 37 kg; next to the weighing scales it reads an adult Male German Shepherds ideal weight is 36.6 kg. (One of his Sisters weighs 38 kg)

Solar was at the vets after having an injury to his cruciate ligament of his left hind knee, which meant he was limping and crying pitifully with the pain last week. He is currently on pain relief and strict rest, try telling a 10 month old German Shepherd puppy that !!!

Fortunately Solar is crate trained and follows what we say 90% of the time. He needs to avoid running, jumping climbing stairs and exercise is limited to five minutes at a time this must be the norm for another five weeks, two of which we will be in the Highlands of Scotland. We did consider cancelling the holiday, but Solar has been good to now and we feel sure he will cope well.

Solar is growing to be a very good looking intelligent dog, certainly not a wall flower, he loves to be heard, not aggressive but "Hello look at me" we met up with Molly the Goldie, Mark and Steph at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, where Solar began barking at 11:00 am when we arrived and only stopped at 16:00 hours, when we were leaving.

Training is now on hold due to the knee injury, which we hope to resume after his rest period, fingers crossed that surgery will not be required.

Solar remains raw fed, he had a knuckle one day (see the top picture), not the easiest of things to eat and certainly not for indoor snacks. His brother who is a trainee Police Dog is not allowed to be raw fed.

It has been a while since his last update, further updates on his condition and progression will follow with a bit more regularity.

Not sure where it stems from but Solar has a thing about birds, they should not land, anywhere, if they do he has taken on the role of moving them on, our garden bird table has had no visitors since Solar began his patrol. 

Planes or birds that fly overhead, are watched until they have safely passed over, some people say dogs don't look up, well Solar certainly does.

For now here are a few images of Solar, but you can also check out his random gallery page.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

26 Kg and growing

Solar now weighs 26 kilograms, and remains slim and trim.

The bout of illness seems to be in the past, although we heard this week his brother "Ash" lost nearly 5 kilo's over a two week period, as far as we know, none of his sisters were affected, so it remains no more than a coincidence.

Solar continues to do well at puppy training, where he has only one session remaining this year.
The training has helped, us o find ways of working with Solar, although he picks and chooses which commands he does follow, and sometimes at lightening speed, at other times you would not need a second hand on your stopwatch...

Solar has continued yo meet and greet many dogs in the local park, he has good social skills around other dogs, sometimes very much in their face looking for a reaction to play, being gentle to submissive dogs, and accepting when told to back off and give them some space, all with intervention from us.

Yesterday in the park he met Beau, an 11th month old German Shepherd, she was only interested in her ball, but the Weimaraner he meet at Natural Instincts wanted her own space and warned him off, he was comfortable with both.

Solar is beginning to realise that sofa's are no longer an obstacle, the ease in which he ascends them has surprised us all. It is a game at the moment, so we are trying to ignore and distract.

Our biggest challenge remains road walking and traffic; Solar wants to lunge and chase every car he sees, we are working on it, but as he is getting bigger and stronger it is becoming a harder challenge. We have decided to invest in a "Dogmatic" head collar. Which we will review in a future blog.

Watching television is now becoming a challenge, random images or sounds sends Solar charging across the room to bark at the TV, however now he is taller when he puts his paws on the screen, the television teeters on the point of falling over.

Like many German Shepherd pups, Solar likes to dig and rake, not fussy if it is in the garden or the lounge carpet, he certainly keeps you on your toes.

Solar enjoyed a runaround in the park this morning, and the hard frost meant he did not get too muddy....

Sue got Solar a new outfit for Christmas,
though I think it might not fit after he has had his lunchtime turkey.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Growing or not growing;

This week based on episodes previously encountered at our Vet's, we have made further enquiries into possible other practices.

There was more than one to choose from, and our main concern was a vet that understood and accepted raw feeding of dogs. So we have signed Solar up with a new practice, the only down side is the emergency vet is based a couple of miles away, but then anyone who has ever visited Reading town Centre will know the challenges crossing town during the daytime, a journey that should be less than 10 minutes could end up being significantly longer.

We are very pleased to report that Solar has just began eating his raw food from Natural Instincts once more. A mixture of "Puppy" and "Working Dog Puppy"

To err on the side of caution we purchased ZooLac Propaste for any times when an upset tummy needs a little assistance.

The vets comment recently about Solar being out of proportion, has astounded everyone that it has been repeated to, only having had one Shepherd before our comparison of Solar against "Blue" would certainly make Solar much smaller on an age by age basis, but in fairness Blue was always referred to as a big dog, weighing in at 50kg as a fully grown adult German Shepherd.

Checking on various web sites, Solar is average for weight and wither (height to the top of the shoulder blades), and in direct comparison to his siblings.
However after any gastro illness in a puppy, it is important to restore the lost nutrients and fuel used to aid growing. Solar's breeder was astounded by the Vet's question, "did you see the Mother and Father" we did see the mother but not the father in person, but the images we see he is an impressive dog.
Before the recent episode we discussed how much food to give Solar and discussed with the breeder, Michelle, how gave sound advice

  • If you can see their ribs; they are underfed
  • If you cant see their ribs but can feel them, they are within a good range
  • If you can neither see or feel their ribs, they are overweight
Charts offered by food suppliers are normally based on averages, you should know what your dog needs and gets.

Before we collected Solar, he had acquired a nickname of "Dora the explorer" as he always seemed keen to explore beyond the permitted boundaries.

"Dora" became "Houdini" yesterday, we drove to pick up some of the Zoolac Propaste, from Camberley, Sue went into the shop, while I stayed in the car park opposite

Solar was being very vocal, so I thought I would get him out of the car, and play in the car park, while Sue was in the shop.
As I lifted Solar out, and set him down, his clasp came off his collar, he was free. A look of surprise on his fast was replaced with the site of him running off towards the shop. A couple heard my shouting "Solar" as he got to them he thought oh where am I? and at the sound of my call he came back across the car park very excited, just as I touched his collar, he went off in the same direction once more, and with a slightly higher pitched recall, he came back across the car park, where this time I was able to secure his lead to his collar. Breathing a sigh of relief and a wave of acknowledgement across the car park to let them know Solar and I were now fine and attached.

While we waited for Sue to return, we played a game of tug with his free "Amazon toy" remember this 

We greeted Sue as she returned, oblivious to the drama, saying 

"I knew you had him out of the car, I could hear him barking, now I know why it was so clear".
Sue ironically had done off lead, puppy recall on Friday night, and clever Solar knew what to do then and more importantly today. 

Our major concern is Solar is obsessed with trying to chase cars, so we are more concerned how easily he became detached, so have agreed to put a carabiner on his lead while out near traffic or in the car.

Puppy Training
After missing a week, Solar returned after his enforced lay off, and picked up from where he left off.

Solar and Sue are forming a real bond and working very well as a team, at the moment Sue is saying her fingers feel very sore because Solar's teeth are razor sharp and are not fussy or delicate when it comes to taking treats.


A quick play in the park on Saturday morning


See also more pictures on his Random Gallery in the menu at the top of this blog

Sunday, 20 November 2016

You know your dog

Solar  is now 20 weeks old, and has just gone through a health issue, which is still ongoing.

 Last Sunday we were awoken to Solar feeling poorly, retching but not being physically sick, enough to give us concern to contact the out of hours vet for a emergency visit in the small hours.

 This began a week of concern where we were to encounter prejudice, opinions more important than ours, along with lack of information and support, however that was mostly turned around yesterday.

When we got Solar to the emergency vets, he underwent an examination, at this time we were unaware of whether Solar had ingested something whole or had drank or eaten something, but it was evident it was an intestinal reaction.

His gums were pale, and he was in a lethargic cooperative state, not a bouncy twenty week old German Shepherd puppy.

 We agreed to blood tests being carried out, and the results would be known within 15 minutes. Off Solar trotted with the vet without a backward glance. The news was not good, Solar had high lactic levels of 6.9 where normal is 2.9, his blood was not generating oxygen sufficiently, he needed to be put on a drip to help his fluid levels, bordering on the edge of going into shock. More concerned for his welfare we agreed to pay the deposit required, which would also see Solar booked in and placed on a drip to induce fluids.We could do no more than leave him with the professionals to work their magic on this very poorly pup.

 We were to spend many hours, if not days wondering what could be the root cause, a hoof chew was missing, Solar had been swallowing sea water the week before, he had eaten cow poo, he loves to drink from puddles while out walking, we have a garden pond which he drinks from when seeking a reaction, and so the list goes on, in essence it could be any, some or none of the afore mentioned.

 Anxiously we awaited a call, but it was us that called them at 9.00am for an update, he was responding to the drip. A long story short we were to get updates through the day on his condition but it was evident that there was something wrong, yet to be identified and he had encountered a bout of diarrhoea. Solar had improved enough during the day to pull his catheter out, along with refusing any food offered, Sunday evening the vets decided that Solar should be collected Monday morning. We collected him as agreed and paid the bill of £1,200.00+ he was glad to see us, as we were him.

 Sue was to spend the next two days off work, booking annual leave at short notice, caring and watching over Solar, the diarrhoea was reducing, the food they had given us, Solar would not even touch. We were advised not to feed him his usual raw food diet, he ended up eating cooked chicken.

 There was still vomiting of food, and unhealthy stools, he was taking antibiotics to fight any infection and a probiotic paste to restore the healthy bacteria lost from his gut. Although there were signs of improvement, Solar had began to retch, where his stomach would be heaving and contracting, bringing up white frothy liquid not dissimilar to bile.

 In himself he was bright, playful and keen to eat his chicken, the concern was that every two hours he would bring up this fluid, so we made an appointment to visit our own vet on the Thursday.

Solar had a thorough check over and the Vet concluded that there was no longer any signs of swollen internal organs, but should be fed brown rice and chicken, as it could be hunger that was now an issue, raw food should be held off and re-introduced gradually as he improves, temperature was normal. Once again our decision not to have Lepto 4, immunisation against Weils disease was questioned, our information was based on evidence of other dogs suffering sometimes fatal episodes with a vaccine that can not cover all strains.

To our dismay and concern the retching returned Saturday morning, once again an appointment was made for later in the day. In the meantime trying to find out how much cooked chicken he should be given was nigh impossible to find out. We are still awaiting requested advise from Natural Instinct, phone not being answered, online request unanswered.

What made this retching different to previous days was it was spontaneous, and occurred while Solar was sleeping,  it was an involuntary act.

Once more outwardly Solar seemed full of energy, and the visit to the vets did not go well.

On arrival Solar was sparked into barking barking mode because of the traffic noise from the adjacent road, entering the veterinary reception it continued, efforts to weigh him were challenging, he was around 23.5 kilo's

Solar was so unruly, we had to take him outside due to the incessant barking, where the cars were going by and this got him even more vocal and agitated.

Eventually we were summoned to enter for our appointment, Solar had a temperature of 40.3 which the vet was concerned with. She said that even in an agitated state it was too high.

She was concerned he was raw fed, and stated that he looked out of proportion, German Shepherds are a breed prone to many afflictions etc etc. She also asked if we had seen the Mother and Father of Solar.

We were offered an injection to help with the retching, which would last for 12 hours, and if returned, should consult the emergency vet as we did last week. It was said also if this condition continued we should consider booking Solar in for more scans and tests, and the usual are you insured.

Sue said, yes we are insured, but it cost us money and should not be an excuse to charge for unnecessary treatments at costly rates, we have just spent over twelve hundred pounds to be no further forward with a diagnosis.

We were told to give him the equivalent of his original meals replaced with chicken and brown rice.

The Vet, who was a Locum, suggested we kept an eye on Solars temperature, by purchasing a rectal thermometer, Sue purchased one later in the day, but we have decided it is not a good thing to do, as neither of us are trained, and it has to remain in place for two minutes. We couldn't imagine for one moment Solar would stand there let us insert it, leave it in place for two minutes before removal.

We returned home, vowing to seek out another veterinary practice, now with a dog that is out of proportion, too low for his age, not knowing if equivalent food is by weight or volume etc etc.

Sue contacted the breeder to recount Solars condition and the prejudice encountered at the vets.
The breeder was horrified at the way Solar was being viewed and treated, to the point where she gave us some support and guidance how to move things forward.

Solar had met up with his sisters a few weeks previous, as the seven of them played he looked much as they did, size and proportion.

We are now feeding Solar raw chicken and bone mince, a handful at a time and an hour between snacks, the retching has stopped, the poo is still around a 5 out of 10 but he also seems brighter in himself.

There has been a lot to take in the last week, and we will always do what is best for Solar.

It is clear there is huge money invested and spent in the Veterinary practice, but in all walks of life there are chosen lifestyles that should be respected.

At the moment we are happy to challenge prejudice against raw food feeding, pre-conditions with German Shepherds and will share our experiences with others.

Solar stands ready to pounce while lining up with six sisters at a South London Park

Ava; Isla; Azyah; Ruby; Kira; Solar; Pepper