spiceofbroadway: (Default)
The last topic of the day was hypothyroidism. About 70% of the thyroid gland has to be destroyed before classic hypothyroid symptoms present, so Dr. Dodds spent a lot of time going over the early signs of hypothyroid that aren't commonly recognized as such:

General symptoms: lethargy, mental dullness, exercise intolerance, neurologic signs, weight gain, cold intolerance, mood swings, hyperexcitability, stunted growth, and chronic infections.

Neuromuscular symptoms: weakness, stiffness, laryngeal paralysis (which results in a changed bark), facial paralysis, a "tragic" facial expression, knuckling or dragging feet, muscle wasting, megaesophagus, head tilt, and drooping eyelids.

Dermatological problems: dry scaly skin and dandruff (which can be treated by bathing the dog in Murphy's Oil Soap), coarse dull coat, bilaterally symmetrical hair loss, "rat tail", "puppy coat", hyperpigmentation, seborrhea or greasy skin, pyoderma or skin infections, myxedema (coarse, thickened skin), and chronic offensive skin odour (smells like rancid butter).

Reproductive disorders: (males) infertility, lack of libido, testicular atrophy, hypospermia/aspermia; (females) prolonged interestrus interval, no heat cycles, silent heats, false pregnacy beyond the maiden heat, and weak, dying, or stillborn pups.

Cardiac abnormalities: slow heart rate (check when the dog is at rest and look for changes over time), arrhythmia, and cardiomyopathy.

Gastrointestinal disorders (chronic, not occasional bouts): constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Hematologic disorders: bleeding, bone marrow failure, and low red blood cell count, white blood cell count, and platelets.

Ocular symptoms: corneal lipid deposits, corneal ulceration, uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye), dry eye, and tear duct infections.

Other disorders: IgA deficiency, loss of smell, loss of taste, glycosuria (glucose in the urine), chronic active hepatitis, and other endocrinopathies (adrenal, pancreatic, and parathyroid).

I've seen various of these symptoms and disorders discussed on Toller-L and the Holistic Toller group. While just one isn't necessarily diagnostic of hypothyroidism, having an affected dog tested for hypothyroidism is probably a good idea.

Link to nutrition: there is too much iodine in many commerical foods, and iodine suppresses thyroid production. If you're supplementing your dog's diet with kelp, don't feed too much of it as kelp has lots of iodine.

The typical age of onset of hypothyroidism is 1.5 - 3 years, but it can happen any time after puberty. A complete thyroid panel should be done annually or every two years. Blood for testing should be drawn between heats and after false pregnancies, which means 12-16 weeks after the start of a heat.

Hemolife is the diagnostic arm of Hemopet and will be doing its own thyroid tests within the next month. A complete basic thyroid profile includes T4, T3, FT4, FT3, T4AA, and T3AA. FT4 and FT3 measure the amount of free, bioavailable T4 and T3, while T4AA and T3AA measure autoantibodies. Additional tests are available for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and TgAA (thyroglobulin autoantibody). The OFA thyroid registry performs limited thyroid panels and will miss about 8% of positives. If you want to send blood in to Hemolife, you can find the instructions for how to do this under "Services" on their website: www.hemopet.org. Hemolife will provide you with a breed-specific, age-specific interpretation of the results.

When interpreting the results of thyroid tests, you have to know your dog. Puppies have higher thyroid levels than adults, while geriatric dogs have lower levels. Large and giant breeds have lower thryoid levels, and sighthounds have higher levels. Rabies vaccines can raise TgAA levels, so wait at least 60 days post-vaccination before testing.

Dogs with autoimmune thyroiditis should NOT be bred, regardless of their clinical status, because autoimmune thyroiditis is a heritable trait. Relatives of potential breeders should be screened annually from puberty. Dr. Dodds recommends that dogs not be bred until at least the age of three (later is better) to allow time for the condition, if it exists, to show up.

Hypothyroid dogs can be treated with thyroxine. The half-life of thyroxine in the body is 12-16 hours, so it's better to give the dog two doses per day instead of one. Two doses per day will provide more constant levels of thyroxine. Thyroxine binds to calcium and soy, so it's better to dose directly by mouth rather than putting the pill in food. Give doses one hour before or three hours after meals. "Pill pockets" (e.g., a bit of bread, a dunk of peanut butter) to encourage the dog to eat the pill are fine.

When testing dogs on thyroxine, draw blood 4 to 6 hours post-pill, and have the full profile done to make sure everything's as it should be. Readings should be high if the blood is taken 4 to 6 hours post-pill. Dogs should be dosed based on their optimum weight, not their overweight weight.

Dr. Dodds recommended the Whole Dog Journal as a valuable source of information on all kinds of things.

And finally, proof that I'm not just making all this up:

Dr. Jean Dodds Seminar Certificate
spiceofbroadway: (Bella - Rally Advanced)
The afternoon session of the Jean Dodds seminar was devoted to nutrition and hypothyroidism. I'll just do nutrition in this post.

Commercial kibbles have a 90-day shelf life. They're dated like milk is, so when you're choosing a bag, pick the one with the longest expiry date. Choose brands that don't have preservatives, and read the ingredients! Ethoxyquin, an antioxidant, used to be a common ingredient in kibble until it was recognized to cause significant health problems. For some reason, it's now making a comeback--it's even showing up in prescription kibbles sold only by vets, so watch out for it. If your dog has gastrointestinal problems, avoid commercial foods containing gluten, soy, and corn. If your dog has seizures, avoid rosemary extract.

The protein content of dog food should be about 30-35%, and the fat content should be < 14%. The quality of the protein is more important than the amount. If you dog has pancreatitis, its food should be < 9% fat. Beef often causes allergic reactions or triggers food sensitivities. Avoid lamb if it hasn't been grass fed, otherwise it may contain too much copper. For more on food allergies, see www.foodallergytest.com.

Home-cooked and home-prepared diets are better than kibble. Adding raw food to kibble is also better than just kibble. If you're making your own dog food, it should be 70% meat/organs/bone and 30% veggies. The best veggies are leafy greens or yellow vegetables: parsley, kale, spinach, carrots, squash, and yams. Feeding these types of vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of cancer. Vegetables should be chopped or cooked--dogs don't process cellulose very well. Dr. Dodds didn't feel that rotating protein sources improved nutrition very much, but she did say that it would reduce food sensitivities. Don't feed cooked bones because they can splinter.

Dogs with liver or gastrointestinal issues may not be able to tolerate raw diets. The short, acidic digestive system of dogs is why they can eat raw meat and the bacteria it may contain without getting sick. Food passes through them quickly enough that the bacteria can't reproduce and make them sick. GI issues can slow digestion, and blossoming bacteria tends to travel from the gut to the liver. Dogs with GI or liver issues should be fed cooked or commercial diets.

Dogs on raw diets will have different lab results (e.g., blood tests) than those on commercial diets. Some data on this have been published in veterinarian nutrition literature. Raw-fed dogs will tend to have higher blood urea and nitrogen, higher blood counts (e.g., red blood cells, white blood cells), and higher creatinine. Individual dogs should have blood drawn and analyzed when they're healthy--then, when they're sick, you have their normal baseline to compare lab results to. Typical lab results for different breeds of dogs are available from Hemopet.

To be continued...

~*~

Bella's eyes are still looking good. She hasn't had any discharge since the first two applications of cream (which is basically the same as Polysporin). I brought her into doggy daycare today because she didn't get to go on Wednesday. She has a new playmate there today--Brady the four-month-old golden retriever. He's going to be a big golden--he's already as tall as Bella and probably weighs more than she does. His nickname is "Tank." :-)

Jane held a rally practice last night. Bella did pretty well--she was attentive and enthusiastic without being scattered. She's even starting to go over jumps at a distance, which is a good sign for agility. We practiced several honours in different positions (the judge can ask for a sit or a down, with the handler either beside or in front of the dog). Bella was kind of distracted by something at the far end of the field--I couldn't see anything, but Zoey kept staring down there, too, so something was going on--but she held her sits and downs with only one or two lapses. The only thing she did consistently wrong was to curve away from me during backwards heeling. She hasn't really done that very often before. I don't know why she was doing it last night, but sometimes she has "aberrations" like that that just go away on their own.

When I got home after practice, I discovered that our entry for Bowmanville had arrived in the mail. There are five dogs in the Rally Excellent classes in two of the four trials (Cinders is one of them). There was only one in all the trials at Pefferlaw, so I was kind of surprised to see that. I'm already starting to get nervous. :-/

LittlestJim's school had a BBQ fundraiser the other night. It backs on the schoolyard/park at the end of our street, and it was a nice evening, so Bella came with us. One of the fathers came up to talk to me--he has a Toller from Kare who may be Kare's Mazie. For a relatively uncommon breed, there sure are a lot of Tollers in our neighbourhood: Chelsea lives across the street, Jessie lives a block or two away, Cedar and Lyza are just a little farther than that, and now we have Mazie. Peterborough, little city that it is, is proving to be a hotbed for Tollers.
spiceofbroadway: (Bella - All About Pets)
It's going to be a bit of a challenge to write up my notes--the seminar tended to jump from topic to topic, especially when people were asking a lot of questions--but I'll give it my best shot.

According to Dr. Dodds, yearly vaccinations were originally recommended for dogs and cats not because there was evidence that they needed them that often, but because it was a mechanism to get pets into the vet's office for an annual check-up. When you compare the number of vaccinations that a dog typically gets in its relatively short lifetime to the number of vaccinations that a person gets in their much longer lifetime--well, it's a bit ridiculous, really. The core vaccinations for dogs (the ones every dog should have) are distemper, adenovirus 2, parvovirus, and rabies. The core vaccinations for cats are feline parvovirus, herpes virus, calicvirus, and rabies. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm not sure what adenovirus is, never mind the what the difference is between adenovirus 1 and 2. I know that Lucy was vaccinated for feline leukemia when she went from being an indoor to an outdoor cat, but I don't know why that's not one of the core vaccinations.

For dogs, parvovirus is the most serious and common disease right now. There have been a number of parvo outbreaks in the U.S. in recent years. There's not much distemper around in the pet population anymore, because of vaccination programs, but it still exists in wildlife and feral dogs and can enter the pet population through contact with those animals. As I mentioned yesterday, there's very little rabies in Ontario. There's no difference between the one-year and three-year rabies vaccine except for the label on the bottle, so dogs don't need to be vaccinated for rabies annually. The goal of Dr. Dodds' rabies challenge study is to evaulate the duration of rabies immunity conferred by the vaccine. She thinks it lasts for seven years or more, perhaps even the lifetime of the dog. When vaccinating your dog for rabies, ask for a vaccine that doesn't have mercury or thimerosal in it (Imrab makes this kind of vaccine).

Another serious illness that dogs can contract is canine influenza, and there is no vaccine for it. Its symptoms look a lot like kennel cough, which isn't life threatening. The difference is that canine influenza comes with a fever, while kennel cough doesn't. If your dog starts to cough and is running a fever, it should be taken to the vet and started on a course of antibiotics immediately as the risk of pneumonia is very high.

The optimal age for vaccinating is 12+ weeks for puppies and 10 weeks for kittens. The earliest safe age to vaccinate puppies and kittens is six weeks, but Dr. Dodds said that vaccinations really shouldn't be given before eight weeks. The age at which vaccinations are effective depends on when the maternal antibodies wear off--if maternal antibodies are still present when a puppy is vaccinated, the antibodies will neutralize the vaccine. This is why puppies get a series of vaccinations: because it's difficult to predict when the maternal antibodies will wear off, and there may be differences between individual dogs and between breeds. Dr. Dodds prefers single vaccinations to combinations, and she recommends giving them 3-4 weeks apart. Again, the most important one is parvo, so it should be given first. Females shouldn't be vaccinated just before becoming pregnant in order to increase antibodies in the pups, because their hormones are out of whack when they're in season, and this raises the risk of adverse reactions. Dogs shouldn't be vaccinated at all after 10 years of age.

It's considered safe to take puppies out into the world three days after their second vaccination. The problem, of course, is how to socialize a puppy while not exposing it to life-threatening viruses when it's still vulnerable, particularly if you're spacing individual vaccines 3-4 weeks apart. Dr. Dodds suggested taking puppies to public places where dogs aren't common, such as parking lots outside of stores and malls, or inviting healthy dogs to your home. Carrying the puppy and having people play with it in your (or their) arms instead of letting it touch the ground in public places will also reduce the risk of exposure. Puppies can attend puppy obedience classes after their first round of shots because owners who take their puppies to classes are generally a clean and responsible lot, so the risk of infection is relatively low. However, there is still a risk, because nothing is risk free, so puppy owners should have this explained to them.

The only vaccination required by law in Ontario is rabies--everything else is a recommendation and is optional. Vets incur no legal liability by not recommending vaccinations, except for rabies, because everything on the label is a recommendation. Ontario law doesn't clearly specify a minimum age at which puppies should be vaccinated for rabies--it says something like "three months or older," which may be interpreted by individual public health officers either as "it must be given at three months of age" or "it must be given sometime after three months of age."

A titre measures the immunity conferred by vaccinations and by natural exposure. Because of the lower limits of lab tests, any measurable titre is considered protective--a measurable level = committed immune memory cells. The number provided on a titre test (e.g., 1:256) refers to the number of dilutions it took before antibodies could no longer be detected. A higher second number in the ratio (1:1024) is better than a lower number (1:16), but any measurable titre is a good titre. However, in Ontario, public health officers will not accept titres as evidence of vaccination.

After vaccination, a dog's titre will rise for about three months, after which time it will stabilize and return to the dog's basal level. Once the animal has stabilized, its titre should stay at its basal level and not decrease with time. This is only true for virus vaccinations, not bacteria vaccinations (such as lepto), but I don't know why. This is why Dr. Dodds doesn't think that dogs need to be repeatedly vaccinated against viral diseases. You can't boost an immune system that is already on guard for a specific disease, and over-vaccination can backfire and weaken a dog's immune system. [On a human note, annual flu shots are recommended for susceptible individuals because cold and flu viruses mutate quickly--this year's flu is not the same as last year's flu, and immunity to one doesn't provide immunity to another. That's why you can catch colds and the flu throughout your life. I don't know why these viruses mutate quickly while other don't.] Titres should be done several months after vaccinating (so that you're not measuring the temporary spike) and then again in several years.

Inoculated dogs will shed virus, so dogs that come into contact with them may show a measurable titre even if they haven't been vaccinated themselves. Dogs can also be exposed to a virus in the environment without necessarily becoming sick, so they can produce positive titres that way too. Rabies is always fatal, however, so a dog can only produce a measurable rabies titre through vaccination. I'm a little fuzzy on why rabies virus can't be shed by vaccinated dogs--I'm guessing it's because the the rabies vaccine is a killed virus rather than a modified live virus. A modified live virus will reproduce in the dog's body, but a killed one won't. In any event, Dr. Dodds was quite clear on this point: positive rabies titres can only be gained by vaccination. She has had the occasional positive titre from an unvaccinated dog come up, but it's always been a false positive as a result of a clerical error.

The rabies vaccination is the strongest vaccination given to dogs, and it's one of the ones most likely to cause adverse effects. Rabies vaccinations should be given separately (i.e., 3-4 weeks before or after) from other vaccinations when the dog is healthy, not in heat, etc. Dogs with chronic conditions (e.g., hypothyroidism) shouldn't be vaccinated at all. A letter of exemption from a vet is acceptable in lieu of a rabies vaccination in Ontario, so owners of geriatric dogs (> 10 years old) or dogs with chronic health problems should get one of these from their vet. Adverse reactions from the rabies vaccination can include changes in temperament.

To be continued...

~*~

Bella's right eye was kind of runny yesterday evening, and the white part of her eye was an interesting shade of pink. I made an appointment with the vet for this afternoon. The vet examined Bella's eye, said her cornea appeared to be clear and unscratched, noted that the accumulated goop (which I hadn't wiped off because I wanted her to see it) was slightly green and the tissues around her eye were a little swollen, and concluded that it was conjunctivitis. I have cream to put in both eyes to clear it up/prevent the other one from becoming infected. Bella's eye looks a little more gooey than usual, but it doesn't seem to be causing her any discomfort and she's not squinting or blinking any more than normal. She sure doesn't like having the cream put in, though. But, then, neither would I. And she can't go to doggy daycare tomorrow because she might be contagious. :-(

While I was at the vet's, I also had a Lyme test done to see if that's what made her sick in July. It came back negative (she was also negative for heartworm--they do both at once). I talked to the vet about whether her illness could have been a reaction to the vaccination, but she was inclined to say no until I mentioned that Bella had been having a false pregnancy at the time of the vaccination (it was a different vet than the one who told me about the false pregnancy). Then she conceded that it might have been. Since parvo is an immunosuppressive virus, it might also have been the start of an opportunistic infection that moved in while her immune system was below par after the parvo vaccination. There's no way to know. I think I'll bring Bella in for titres--including a rabies titre--after her next heat. If the rabies titre comes back positive, then I'll ask if they'll sign a waiver for rabies shots on the condition that I have rabies titres done every three years. I'm also going to email Jean Dodds and ask her opinion. Mairon has emailed her a few times, and she said that she's always gotten an answer.
spiceofbroadway: (Dogmom - eyesthatslay)
Went to Jean Dodds seminar yesterday. Information overload. Head exploding. Oy.

She talked about three main topics: vaccinations, nutrition, and hypothyroidism. The audience asked a LOT of questions, so although I took copious notes, they don't exactly follow a linear progression. I will attempt to summarize them in installments in the next week or so.

There were two main points of interest for me: leptospirosis vaccinations and vaccinosis. I should qualify that--it was all interesting, but those two things were ones that were on my mind going in and coming out.

Regarding lepto, Dr. Dodds said that she would never vaccinate for it unless there was a huge local outbreak that had been shown to be caused by one of the serovars included in the vaccine. She thinks that the risk of an adverse reaction is just too high and the benefits too low. She acknowledged that lepto is a very serious disease that can be passed from dogs to humans. She said there were two strategies for dealing with it in areas (such as Peterborough) where it is endemic: vaccinate and hope for the best, or don't vaccinate and whisk your dog into the vet's at the first sign that something's off. If symptoms suggest that it might be lepto, then the dog should be started on a course of doxycillin or amoxicillin immediately, and a test for lepto should be performed. There's no way to confirm a lepto diagnosis quickly, so you have to treat in the absence of a diagnosis. That pretty much sums up what happened when Bella got sick this summer: I had her at the vet's within an hour of coming home and finding her acting "not right," and the vet started her on amoxicillin the next morning after Bella's fever had risen overnight. As it turned out, Bella didn't have lepto, but it's comforting to know that the vet and I both responded appropriately.

During lunch, I told the people at my table about Jilly's terrible reaction to Fort Dodge's lepto vaccine a number of years ago. A couple of people mentioned that Fort Dodge had admitted to batches of contaminated lepto vaccines that made a lot of dogs sick. After they'd mentioned that, I remembered that Jilly's vet bills were paid for by Fort Dodge, so she was almost certainly one of the dogs who got the bad vaccines. I'm pretty sure Linus got the lepto vaccine that year too (but never again)--I guess it was either stunning hybrid vigour or luck of the draw that he didn't get sick.

Regarding vaccinosis, Dr. Dodds wasn't entirely clear on whether individual vaccines were preferable to multiple vaccines. At one point, she did say that individual vaccines should be given several weeks apart, but she also referred to parvo/distemper/adenovirus vaccine combos without saying anything negative about them. (On a side note, I'm not even sure what adenovirus is. It's one of the four "core" vaccines that she thinks every dog should get, but I've never actually heard of it before. Linus got annual "combo-wombo" vaccinations (except for lepto, except that one year), so presumably it was in his mix, but Bella's never had it as far as I know.)

One way or the other, several things can increase the risk of vaccinosis: genetics, stress, sex hormones, poor nutrition, and existing health problems. Breeds with dilute coat colours are more prone to adverse vaccine reactions. Dr. Dodds didn't mention Tollers specifically here, but she did say that dogs with lighter coat colours and pink noses were in this group. Females shouldn't be vaccinated when they're in heat, in the 30-day period before estrus, while pregnant, or while lactating. Males shouldn't be vaccinated around times of breeding or if they're housed with females who are in heat. Adverse vaccine reactions typically happen within 3-10 days following vaccination, although they can show up as late as 45-60 days. (I would have liked to have seen a list of possible reactions, but there were so many questions being asked by the audience that she wasn't showing her slides methodically here.) Additionally, parvovirus and retroviruses are immunosuppressive viruses. Therefore, parvo vaccinations will suppress the immune system for several days. Thus, if you vaccinate puppies for parvo and there is "street parvo" in their environment, they may come down with parvo. They don't get parvo from the vaccination, but the street parvo can move in and make them sick during the period of immune suppression before immunity kicks in. Finally, if a dog has a vaccine reaction, that dog should not receive any more vaccinations, ever, including rabies.

Speaking of rabies, and I did not know this, the current protocol for dogs is to get their first rabies shot sometime in their first year, to get a booster one year later (regardless of the fact that current vaccines are three-year vaccines), and then to get rabies shots as required by law (generally, every three years) thereafter. Dr. Dodds has begun a rabies challenge study to determine how long rabies immunity really lasts, but she said at least twice that rabies should be given at < 1 year and again one year later. (The one-year booster is the part I didn't know about.)

So.

Bella was vaccinated against rabies a couple of days before she flew from Minneapolis to Toronto. She didn't have any adverse reactions to this shot, as far as I know. She was very shy for the first couple of months in Peterborough, but I think that was far more likely to have been the result of the huge change in her lifestyle and environment, not to mention the flight itself, than an adverse vaccine reaction. That was her first rabies vaccination; according to Jean Dodds, she should have another in December 2008.

Bella was given a parvo/distemper (only) vaccination on July 4 (it was specially ordered in for her). We also discovered that day that she was having a false pregnancy. On July 10, I came home and discovered that she was getting sick. She was running a low fever and was lethargic, but she didn't have any other symptoms at first. Her fever was higher on July 11, as was her white blood cell count, and she was stiff, sore, and having problems getting to her feet after lying down. She also had difficulty going up stairs or even getting into the car. She was started on a course of amoxicillin and showed significant improvement within 24 hours, as is often the case when an infection is treated with antibiotics.

Tollers are one of the breeds that are predisposed to vaccinosis, so Bella had genetics working against her. She shouldn't have been vaccinated during a false pregnancy, but I didn't think of that until a day or two later, so she had that working against her too. She wasn't particularly stressed--all dogs get a little edgy when they go to the vet's, but Bella was pretty relaxed about it all. She has a high-quality raw diet and is generally in great health.

So why did she get sick? Was it vaccinosis? It could have been--it was in the right time frame. She was vaccinated during a false pregnancy, which is a no-no, and that increased her risk of reaction. All the tests they ran came back negative, and her final diagnosis was "fever of unknown origin," which isn't a diagnosis at all. And, in fact, vaccinosis is usually a diagnosis of exclusion.

Did she get sick because there was something in the environment that took advantage of the period when her immune system was suppressed? That's possible too--the time frame was also right for that, and she seemed to respond to the antibiotics in the way that infections typically do. Amoxicillin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, so even though an infection was never found, Bella could have had something starting somewhere that was quickly knocked out by the drug.

But what if it was vaccinosis? If that's the case, then she shouldn't be vaccinated ever again for anything, including rabies. Which, because Cathy and I agreed to follow Jean Dodds' protocol, is the only vaccination she has left, and she's due for another one in December. And rabies happens to be the strongest vaccination out there--it's known to cause a lot of vaccinosis.

Except for bat-strain rabies (and the incidence of rabies in bats is very low), there is no rabies in the Peterborough area. An aggressive anti-rabies initiative by the provincial government has wiped it out in this part of Ontario and limited its entry from New York state to small areas around Wolfe Island and Niagara Falls. Rabies vaccinations are required by law in Ontario, but you can get a waiver from a vet if your pet has had an adverse vaccine reaction in the past (this is what Jilly has).

I discussed all this with the people at my table at lunch, and they agreed it was a tough call. There's really no way to know why Bella got sick in July. If it was an opportunistic infection, then it's okay to vaccinate her for rabies. If it was vaccinosis, then she shouldn't be vaccinated anymore, period. I was sitting next to a Golden Retriever breeder who believes in minimal vaccinations, and her opinion was that Bella shouldn't get any more rabies shots. I don't know if I could convince my vet to write a waiver for me or not. She might do it if I agreed to annual rabies titres.

I think I need to email Dr. Dodds.

~*~

I met and talked briefly with Shannon Viljasoo and Mairon Bennett before the seminar started (they were sitting two tables away from me), and then met up with them and Chris Choi in the parking lot afterwards. Chris looked quite delighted to see me and gave me a hug :-). For the most part, I've found Toller people to be friendly and helpful, but sometimes I detect an undercurrent of bias against newbies to the breed, so it meant a lot to me to have Chris do that. I've emailed Shannon a fair bit (and Mairon, but much less), so it was great to meet them in person. The four of us made for an odd kind of symmetry: Shannon, Chris, and I have the only three Maverick pups in Ontario, while Shannon, Chris, and Mairon are owners of dogs from the near-legendary Onepenny Pipercub litter (Mairon was the breeder, of course). I need a Onepenny Toller and Mairon needs a Maverick pup, and the circle will be complete. :-) There's a specialty fundraiser in Bowmanville in October, so I'll go to that and get to hang out with them some more. We'll all also be at the the Toller booster/AGM in Orangeville in December, so I'm looking forward to that too.

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