Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Extreme Makeover: LuLu Edition

LuLu, my 15-month-old pointer, is resting comfortably at home, after a big day at the vet yesterday. I'm getting her ready for her early June trip to the trainer -- more on that in another post, but here's a list of the procedures she underwent:

Ovariohysterectomy (AKA spaying). As I mentioned in my previous post, I no longer harbor any illusions of breeding one of my dogs, and as I learned firsthand with Dottie, it's much more healthy if female dogs are spayed. After much research, I opted to let her go through one cycle prior to the procedure. There are pros and cons of that, but I thought for a bird dog, it was important to let them reach full physical maturity. And besides, the increased cancer risk was fairly negligible.

Nipplectomy (2 nipples removed). Yeah, I know, weird, huh? As a by-product of going into heat, it is common for many female dogs' teats to enlarge. But hers were ridiculous! For some reason, two of LuLu's nipples grew to ginormous proportions, and never shrunk after she went out of season. They were literally the size and circumference of my pinky finger. Gross, but more importantly, I was concerned she'd lacerate them in the field. So after consultation with my vet, off they went.

Front dewclaw removal. When I picked up LuLu as a pup, I was a bit disappointed to see she still had her front dewclaws. Circumstances with my breeder prohibited him from removing them at an early age, so I opted to have them removed while she was already under anesthesia. I have been told that removing a damaged dewclaw can be much more complicated, painful, and potentially crippling, so I opted to be proactive.

Microchip implant. Despite an extensive ID collar and an Astro, I opted to get my big-running dog microchipped for easy identification. The company that my vet uses is HomeAgain, but my research indicates I can register it with virtually any database for a reasonable one-time fee. I believe I'm going to choose the AKC registry, which seems to be the largest and best-known. Anyone out there have any additional advice on microchipping?

Rattlesnake vaccine. In addition to her various other vaccinations, I've chosen to get LuLu vaccinated against rattlesnakes. While I've read about the horror stories on the internet, any reputable breeder or trainer that I've spoken with likes to vaccinates dogs that frequent snake country. LuLu certainly does -- between western Kansas, Montana, and Texas, her odds are pretty good of coming in contact with a rattler. While I'd still take any dog to a vet if they were struck, I think the vaccine might mitigate the effects -- especially since it's a 45 minute drive (at least) to the nearest vet when I'm out hunting. My own vet wasn't familiar with the vaccine, and after calling the manufacturer, Red Rock Biologics, I learned that no vet in the Kansas City area has the vaccine. After consulting with my trainer, he's going to have his vet do it once LuLu arrives in Montana for training this summer. Any other advice or thoughts on this vaccine?

All the poking and prodding slowed down LuLu a bit -- she was actually a pleasure to pet and love on, instead of her usual hyper-puppy self -- but this morning she was almost back up to full speed. I never cease to marvel at bird dogs' capacity to recover. At any rate, by the time she goes to college next month, she should be ready to rumble.

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