Behavior Changes

Schwartz is my German Shepherd. He is about 11 years old. When he first came here to live here, he would bark at anything and everything. He would bark, rear up and lunge at other dogs, trying to get at them. He was a hand full. But, luckily for him, there was something about him that I really liked, in spite of the bad behaviors. We worked out most of his issues, he can be off lead around other dogs and stay calm. Small dogs still seem to give him a little gleam in his eye so I am always watchful of him then. I am ready to interrupt any thought he has of doing anything “negative”. He was my demo dog here at Aunt Faye’s Dog Training for a few years but he started having some health problems.
First was a series of broken toenails. That was eventually diagnosed as SLO or Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy which means he has an autoimmune disorder where his body fights off his toenails. It is under control pretty much now, he has had it for about 5 years and it will occasionally flare up. The nail crumbles away and leaves a stump with the quick exposed, it’s very painful for him. Most of his nails are now kind of deformed looking.
A year or so later he started having back pain. Diagnosed with “spondylosis” which is arthritic changes in the spine. We saw the chiropractor regularly and also had some acupuncture/aqua-pressure treatments to get him through the rough spots with that. Once the spine fuses together at the affected vertebrae the pain lessens.

For the past 6 months I noticed Schwartz was slowing down. He’s getting older, I thought. He doesn’t do much anymore, just hangs out in the house, goes out to pee and comes back in. He lays under the table or by the front door. He doesn’t play with his toys anymore. He used to always have a toy in his mouth. He didn’t chew it, just carried it around, put it down next to him while he napped, picked it up to greet you with it or to take it to a new spot to lay down. He hadn’t been looking for a toy to carry for a while. He was getting heavier and I contributed that to his sedentary lifestyle. I also thought his flabbiness was from not getting the exercise he used to so he was losing muscle tone. He wasn’t jolly any more. He was shedding quite a bit, he blew his coat 2 or 3 times in that 6 month period. Then I noticed he had a scabby area on his side. I looked him over closely and noticed another his belly. I thought maybe a bacterial infection from losing a toe nail? But I didn’t remember him losing one and none looked shorter than the others. So off to the vet we went. He had some blood drawn and they ran it while we waited.

The results showed he is hypothyroid. He is now on medicine for that and what a difference! He is happy again, he has that prance in his step. He is carrying a toy around again, he takes it outside with him, puts it down on the deck when he runs off to pee. When I open the door to let him back in, he starts to come in, then stops and looks for whatever the toy of the day is and picks it back up and brings it back in. He did have a bacterial skin infection and that was treated with antibiotics and cleared up nicely.

He feels good. He is anxious to go somewhere again. He loves to take walks around the back field and he is asking to do that again. Everytime you go towards a door he stands up and says “Now? We gonna go now?” Can I go? Come on, can I go? Can we go out to the back field? Wait, where’s my toy?” Sometimes I’m just going to the kitchen.

It’s good to have him back.


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  • Schwartz with a toy
    Schwartz with a toy