Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Brita’s Dentist

When Brita needed dental work this is where she went.  Her lower canines were growing inward and back instead of forward and outward.  She had surgery to reconstruct the roof of her mouth so the point of the canine wouldn’t continue to put a hole in her palate like it was starting to do.  Dr. Dale Kressin of Oshkosh is one of four veterinary dental specialists in Wisconsin.  This is a great article about him from the local newspaper.  Dr. Dale Kressin of  Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery in Oshkosh removes a splint from the jaw of  12-year-old Taylor, a Pug. Periodontal disease led to a weakening of the dog's  jaw and the eventual break. Dr. Steven R. Honzelka assists. Veterinary dental  specialists are able to identify and treat periodontal disease, perform root  canals, replace metal crowns and many other advanced treatments for pets  including orthodontics.   Oshkosh Northwestern photo by Joe Sienkiewicz

OSHKOSH - Elton John crooned his rendition of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" in the cozily warm second floor operating room of Dr. Dale Kressin at Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists, LLC on Omro Road as the veterinarian laid a plush towel over the top of Taylor and patted her lovingly.

Not only was the 12-year-old Pug enclosed in a special blanket that circulated warm water, she was blanketed by that extra towel pretty enough for a spa. The extra towel would help keep the anesthetized dog warm.  "Little dogs lose more heat than big dogs," Kressin said.

Kressin is a Board Certified Veterinary Specialist recognized by American Veterinary Dental College. As such he is able to perform a host of services most veterinarians do not, including endodontics, periodontics, orthodontics, restorations, dental radiology and oral surgery. Specialty certification requires from three to six years of training in the area of specialization beyond the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

Resident Dr. Steven R. Honzelka, wearing a burgundy scrub suit identical to Kressin's, prepared Taylor for her procedure. She would have a splint removed from her jaw. He inspected equipment that provided a reading of her blood pressure and other vital signs. He checked her breathing tube. He prepared the X-ray viewing monitor for images of her jaw and the splint used to keep it in place while her fracture healed over many weeks.

Taylor suffered periodontal disease, which weakened her jaw bone and led to the fracture, Kressin said.  He would use those X-ray images as he worked on Taylor.  Later, she would be good as new.  "No more tug of war, but she won't have any other major restrictions," Kressin said. "Usually they can eat immediately following."

Increased sophistication of veterinary medicine along with the acknowledgment by society that pets play an important role in their owners' lives have resulted in establishment and growth of such practices as Kressin's, ones that provide services similar to those offered in human medicine.

Dr. Kim Krause, a veterinarian at Animal Medical Surgical Clinic in Wisconsin Rapids, referred the Pug's owner to Kressin.  "I am overjoyed he was available and has the specialized training. The average practitioner can't do these specialized procedures. It takes significant advanced training," she said.  Krause has observed a growing need for veterinary specialists. As patients learn that specialists are out there and can provide advanced care it opens the door for even more specialists. Krause took her own cat to Kressin for a procedure Wednesday. "We want the same care for our pets that we want for ourselves," she said.

Kressin offers many advanced procedures such as root canals, orthodontia, crowns, fillings bridges and implants for dogs and cats. About a third of Kressin's cases involve oral tumors and another third is devoted to periodontal issues. The remainder covers a variety of treatments for other conditions.

The two doctors discussed Taylor's case as they assessed her readiness to undergo her surgical procedure. Her long pink tongue was clamped and pulled to one side to keep it out of the way.

It was a typical morning at the clinic. In the next room, Randall, the year-old domestic long haired cat of Nicole Hoffman and Rich Clark waited for his procedure. His owners brought him to the veterinary dental specialists when they detected problems inside Randall's mouth. Nicole is a trained dental assistant for humans with a professional background in pet care at Petco. "We've noticed smelly breath," Hoffman said. She had no qualms whatsoever regarding the cost of the day's treatment, which she estimated at "upwards of $800." That covered a cleaning, X-rays and a surgical procedure to cut away gums that grew too far up the cat's teeth, creating pockets between gums and teeth where bacteria could grow and cause decay, Hoffman said. Follow-up care includes daily tooth brushing for Randall and annual cleanings. Hoffman and Clark are happy to brush Randall's teeth and bring him to the clinic for professional cleaning. "We want all our pets to live up to their potential and be happy and healthy," Hoffman said.

Kressin became interested in specializing when, in the mid 1990s, he handled a patient with a very unusual tumor that he wanted to refer to a specialist. He sought help at a veterinary school and learned there was no one specializing in the area for which he sought help. "That turned on the light bulb to that niche," Kressin said. He took the training to become a specialist. Today, there are just four veterinarian dental specialists in Wisconsin that do what Kressin does. Other veterinarians call on Kressin and the three others when they need work done that is beyond their scope of expertise. Kressin treats patients in Oshkosh, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Randall sat quietly in his carrier watching the activity in the next room where Taylor was having surgery. The fracture had made it difficult for the Pug to chew her food. Kressin had removed teeth from the fracture line earlier before bonding the splint to her jaw. The tooth removal promoted healing of the fracture, he said. "The splint creates stability. It's made of a temporary bonding material that is used in human dentistry," Kressin said. On this day his task was to remove the splint and wires holding it in place. It was precise and painstaking work that required a number of different tools.

"It's very rewarding doing this work," Kressin said. "Patients do extremely well really fast."

Procedures are oftentimes costly and Kressin is aware not all pet owner can afford it. He tries to give them a few options so people can make a good choice, he said. Dawn Wood of Wisconsin Rapids is the Pug's owner. "Dr. Kressin is the rock star of animal dentistry. I wanted the best for Taylor," Wood said. Wood did some research and was impressed with Kressin's credentials. "He's an international consultant with offices in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We are lucky to have such an expert." Like Hoffman and Clark, Wood had no qualms about dropping big bucks for her dog's care. "She is 12 but small dogs can live to be 17 or 20. She is part of our family."

Kressin's favorite advice for pet owners who want to avoid costly treatment is to brush their pets' teeth. "It gives you a chance to look in their mouth and notice problems so you can get help early," he said.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Questions – Questions – Questions!

I love them because it means you care about your dog enough to look for information. Following are questions that have been asked of me over the years. If you have one that is not answered, let me know because this will be a work in progress.

Feeding and Housing

What do you feed your dogs?
When I feed kibble I feed Flint River Ranch. Have been since about 2001. It was one of the first dog foods on the market that used human grade ingredients. Click here for more info or to buy some. I also feed raw - we used to call it the BARF (Bones and Raw Food) diet – now it’s simply called feeding “raw”. Click here for more about feeding raw.    And click here for some good questions and answers about feeding “raw”.  There is also some good dehydrated food out there…  click here to read about that.   I give them supplements, kefir and other good stuff. Read about that here.

I have a puppy.  How many times a day should I feed him?
2-3 times a day…  period.  No free feeding.  Put food bowl down for 10 minutes and then remove it.  They will soon get the picture that they eat when you put the dish down.  After picking up the dish… out to potty.. no playing at this time.  By feeding a puppy on a set schedule, the puppy will go to the bathroom more regularly, making potty training easier and faster.  now..  personally I would hand feed each time for a bit just so they know where the food came from.  And don’t forget to allow for the fact that there may be training treats involved and if so, feed less for the meal.  NO fat puppies!!IMG_0003

What would you do if your dog was choking?
The Heimlick Maneuver

Where do your dogs sleep?
Hhhmmmm… where all dogs should sleep… on my bed…

Do you crate train?
You betcha! Best way to house train a dog. My dogs would sleep in crates with the door open.. it’s their den. I actually had to remove crates recently because Olivia was hiding in them and I didn’t want her to live her life in a crate. After a bit, she became Queen of the Couch. (Yes I allow my dogs on furniture but if I want them to get down I will say “off” once and if they look at me as if to say: “No. I don’t think so”, we have a “discussion”. It’s rare that it happens after that.

Health and Vet

Do you have health insurance for your dogs?
Yes I do for Brita and Jake. There is more risk of something happening to them because of traveling etc. No I don’t for Olivia. She’s almost 13 and anything that would go wrong now I would choose not to correct. She is almost blind and almost deaf, can walk but not much and has outlived all the other of her generation. It would be “her time”. If you’re interested shoot me an email and I’ll have some information emailed to you. This is not for routine expenses – It’s sort of like major medical I guess.

Do you vaccinate your dogs?
Well, yes and no. They get the first set as puppies but then I have titer tests done and so far in all the dogs I’ve had and done titers, the results showed that they still had the antibodies from the previous shots. Don’t know what titers are? Click here. Of course, you have to do a rabies shot.

Do you take your dogs for VOM treatments?
You bet.  Read about it here.  I haven’t been to an acupuncturist but have heard they work wonders on dogs.

Do you license your dog?
Of course. Doesn’t everyone?? Go to your city, town or village and do it now if you haven’t done so.

Are you concerned about Bloat?
I’m very concerned. Brita’s father bloated and died. There is a good article here that talks about it and lists the factors that are associated with an increased risk of bloat such as:

  • Raising the food dish more than doubled the risk for bloat.
  • Speed of eating -Dogs rated by their owners as very fast eaters had a 38% increased risk of bloat
  • Age: The study found that risk increased by 20% with each year of age. Owners should be more alert to early signs of bloat as their dogs grow older.
  • Family History: Having a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or offspring) that had bloated increased a dog's risk by 63%.

If you had to transport an unconscious dog to a vet and you couldn’t lift that dog, how would you do it?
Read here about a doggie stretcher.


josephine-redcrossWhat training methods do you use?
Check out the course I wrote when I was a trainer at Bark Avenue Day Care and you’ll have many questions answered. It’s called K9 Companion and uses many of Michael Ellis’ training videos and has a link to his school website. If I have written anything that is in conflict with what he is saying… he is right. This course was written maybe 16 years ago and methods are constantly being updated.

Are your dogs Therapy Dogs? 
Not any more – click here to read the final post.

Do you train Service Dogs?
No. I trained a dog (Tori) who became a Psychiatric Service Dog. Click here for her story. I’m training Jake to be my service dog. When I have back “issues” I can not bend over to pick things up. Click here for his story.

How do you introduce a new or visiting dog?
VERY carefully! There are so many variables here that it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. Probably as many variables as there are personalities of dogs. There may be no problem at all or there might be REAL trouble. One thing I do think is best… do it in a neutral place. You’re on your own on the one.

What is a Puppy Scavenger Hunt?
AAHH… Socialization at its finest… J

What is NILIF?
An acronym for Nothing in Life is Free! I’ve had to use that philosophy many times with certain dogs. Ari for one – Jake also! There is NO free lunch, if you want a paycheck you have to work for it!

What do you do when you get a new dog or puppy?
Well.. a scavenger hunt, crate training, NILIF and what I haven’t mentioned is that I hand feed the new addition for weeks so he or she clearly understands that I went out and got that food that is going clearly straight to his or her mouth. Regarding hand feeding – I’ve also done it on more than one occasion when one dog or another was starting to get an attitude or if there was an upcoming trial.

What titles have you put on your dogs?
Coming soon when I figure it out.  …..ok…  here ya go…  Titles on my Dogs

What seminars, classes or workshops have you attended?
Coming soon when I find the list.

Favorites and Miscellaneous


Are you a breeder?
No…. never have been, never will be…. There are too many bad German Shepherds being bred out there with no regard to whether the hips are good, other genetic problems or temperament. Good GSDs are amazing dogs; bad ones can be downright scary.

Where can I get a “nice” German Shepherd?
My idea of “nice” and yours may be different. I always ask: “Do you want a pet or a working dog?” Not everyone should own a German Shepherd Dog. I’ve talked people out of getting a German Shepherd when I realized they just weren’t ready to commit to what it takes to own one. (or any dog) Not all GSDs have the same temperament and drive. Best thing for a pet – check with a rescue. Here is a good one. German Shepherd Rescue Alliance of Wisconsin. If you want a working dog, you should not be asking this question.

Anything else you’d like to share?

So there you have it! If I get questions I haven’t answered I’ll add them but in the meantime… enjoy your dog!


2012.2  Jake running

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Titles Anyone?

So here it is…  the good, the bad and the ugly!  Titles and certificates that my dogs achieved from 2003 to 2009.  50 I in all when counting Therapy Dogs.

The beginning….  Josephine, the German Shepherd who made me a dog trainer was a great Therapy Dog but never got a title.  NOT THAT I DIDN’T TRY!  I believe I won the award for the most failures on one dog while trying to get her Schutzhund BH.  She always found a new and exciting (to her) way to humble me whether it was running off the field to greet the spectators or simply playing catch me if you can.  In hindsight, HAD she been an easy dog to train I most likely would not be a dog trainer today.  She did pass the Canine Good Citizen Test but certainly not on the first attempt!DSC_8067

The first title I put on a dog was a BH in Schutzhund and it was Olivia who started it in 2003.  Ari soon followed after, as did Teddy and then Kobie with BHs.  This was the generation of dogs who taught me lesson after lesson. They all were Therapy Dogs and received their Canine Good Citizen certificate.  Ari was a bit of a butthead (mostly decoys called him that) and we repeated the BH and achieved a Tracking 1 title in Schutzhund. 

While I was strugglingCopy of DSC_9251aa with Ari, I took my 3 Amigos (as I called Teddy, Kobie and Olivia) on the road.  They each got a AKC Companion Dog title and Olivia went on to get an AKC Companion Dog Excellent title. They also got a UKC Companion Dog title and again Olivia went on to get a UKC Companion Dog Excellent title.  At the same time they each got an AKC Rally Novice title.  These 11 titles each required 3 legs (that’s a total of 21!) and we did them in a four month period in 2004.  In addition, Olivia and Kobie each received a Herding Instinct Certificate.  Teddy turned out to be a sheep chaser and I never gave Ari a chance to meet the wooly whites.

In 2005, I was introduced to a sport called PSA and it was perfect for Ari.  It was a tad wild and crazy and a boatload of fun!  However, like Josephine before him, Ari found yet new and different ways to humble me.  Two trials in Appleton for a PDC…  failed.  A trial in Baltimore for a PDC – failed.  Two trials in Baltimore handled by Greg Williams and he almost got his PSA 1 title…  ok..  so he CAN do it… now he has to do it for me!  Two trials in Northeast PA – failed. All this in the summer of 2005.  Two trials in upstate New York for a PDC – first day – failed…  second day.. p2010.9.4 PSA trial (49)aassed – woohoo!  For the NY trials I took Olivia along with us and entered her both days for a TC which is the obedience part of the PSA 1 title and each day she was the high score of all the dogs that were entered (60 over 2 days)!  By the way, this was in the days when at a PSA trial maybe 15% of the entries actually passed.

Over the winter of 2005-06, Ari and I trained and trained and in June of 2006, we traveled to Baltimore to compete.  Finally, not only did we achieved the PSA 1 title but also took FIRST place!  For the rest of the summer, we “played” in Level 2, passing the obedience portion but never achieving the title because Ari never really “got” the “call-off” scenario!  Late in 2006, Ari competed in his first AKC trial getting his Rally Novice title with excellent scores and he also passed 2 legs of a CD.

In February of 200IMG_28407, Ari was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease almost losing his life before AD was diagnosed.  After a few months of recovery it became apparent that he couldn’t compete so we did one last trial in Bourbonnais, IL in PSA Level 2 on 07-07-07 which was a fitting day to retire.

Tori was another dog I had at the time and she simply did NOT like obedience but she was an excellent Therapy Dog and passed the CGC test with ease.  Then in 2006, I placed her as a Psychiatric Service Dog – not bad for a dog adopted from a rescue at one year old who thought she was a princess!

2007. Enter Brita.  Before she was a year old she had not only a HIC but also an Herding Tested title.  In a few months time she achieved her Rally Novice, Rally Advanced and then Rally Excellent titles and passed the CGC test and became a Therapy Dog.   Next was a BH, an AD which is an endurance test, then a Schutzhund TR1 and a Tracking 1 from Service Dogs of America (SDA).  She also achieved the Watch Dog (WH) and Rescue Suitability (RH) titles in Schutzhund and then in 2010 rounded it out with a PSA-TC in Illinois after an unsuccessful attempt at a PSA-PDC in St. Louis.  

And then there is Jake…. who squeaked by the Canine Good Citizen test to get the certificate and now is probably doing something way more important than any title and that is becoming a Service Dog. 

So there you have it.  Will I continue to train and trial Brita and Jake?  Train – yes…  trial…  we’ll see… It may be a situation of “been there, done that” and I’ll go on to other things… as I said, we’ll see..  Whatever happens…  it HAS been a good ride!

Josephine (1991-2003) CGC, Therapy Dog Extraordinaire
Ari (1999-2009) CGC, Therapy Dog, BH, TR1, PSA-TC, PSA-PDC, PSA1, RN
Olivia (1999-  ) CGC, Therapy Dog, BH, CD, CDX, UCD, UCDX, HIC, RN, PSA-TC
Teddy (1999-2009) CGC, Therapy Dog, BH, CD, UCD, RN
Kobie (2001-2011) CGC, Therapy Dog, BH, CD, UCD, HIC, RN
Tori (2003-?) CGC, Therapy Dog, Psychiatric Service Dog 2006-2008
Brita (2006-2019) CGC, Therapy Dog, HIC, HT, RN, RA, RE, BH, AD, T1, TR1, WH, RH, PSA-TC
Jake (2008-  ) CGC, Service Dog in Training

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