560 — Lessons from Orlando and Holiday Musings

Lessons from Orlando and Holiday Musings

Lessons from Orlando and Holiday Musings

The extravaganza of purebred dogs that is the AKC National Championship week in Orlando has come to a close. I skipped the last couple years with the pandemic and all that entailed, so it was really good to be back with the people I so rarely get to see.

I think we all learn something new each time… Like how it’s possible to walk 10 miles and never see the sky…. Or just how many shiny suits St. Johns actually makes…. Or what we jokingly refer to as “snacks in Orlando” … where a cheeseburger, an appetizer and two drinks costs $100….

But there are some actually useful lessons to be learned, some that happened to friends, some observed, some that have happened to me over the years, so here we go.

Wait, my dog is HIGH?

First up, dogs put ridiculous things in their mouths. Even at high-end hotels, be observant and careful when letting your dog roam free in the room. My friend Ingrid learned this lesson the very hard way this week when her Chihuahua found and ingested marijuana in a hotel room on her trip to Orlando. She is now extremely aware of the signs of cannabis toxicity in dogs….

This has become something of an epidemic at veterinary practices, according to Dr. Marty Greer. So, for those who haven’t experienced this, here are some tips. Also, take a listen to our past podcast on the topic of how cannabis can be useful in treating dogs in forms that do not contain THC.

Cannabis contains more than 100 different chemicals (or compounds) called cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid that has the most psychoactive effects. It is also the compound responsible for some of cannabis’ medicinal uses, such as treating nausea and improving appetite in cancer patients. Other compounds, such as cannabidiol (CBD), have shown promise for medicinal use and do not have psychoactive effects.

Dogs have more cannabinoid receptors in their brains, which means the effects of cannabis are more dramatic and potentially more toxic when compared to humans. A small amount of cannabis is all it takes to cause toxicity in cats and dogs.

Per VCA Animal Hospital, most of the signs of intoxication are neurological. Pets may become wobbly and uncoordinated. They may be hyperactive or sleepy, disoriented, and/or very vocal. Their pupils may dilate, giving them a wild-eyed appearance, and they may drool excessively or vomit. They may also develop urinary incontinence (i.e., urine leakage). In severe cases, tremors, seizures, and coma can result.

Physical signs include slow or fast heart rate, altered blood pressure, and slowed respiration rate (breathing rate). Lethargy and increases or decreases in body temperature may also be observed. Fortunately, these side effects are usually short-lived but they can still be dangerous and make your pet quite miserable.

Diagnosis is based on an accurate history and clinical signs. Although there are tests to determine the level of THC in the urine, the results take time, making them impractical. Human urine drug screening tests are quicker but are not dependable in pets. The diagnosis is made much more quickly, and treatment initiated, when responsible pet owners provide accurate information regarding the pet’s exposure.

When a toxin enters the body, often the first line of defense is to get it out. If the toxicity is discovered shortly after ingestion, your veterinarian may induce vomiting to prevent further absorption of the toxin.

Two factors may interfere with this early defensive strategy. First, the signs of toxicity may manifest only after the drug has been absorbed, meaning it is already in the system. Second, cannabis has an anti-emetic effect that inhibits vomiting. In life-threatening cases, the stomach may be pumped (gastric lavage). Activated charcoal may be administered every six to eight hours to neutralize the toxin. Enemas are also used to reduce toxin absorption from the gastrointestinal tract.

The second line of defense in cannabis toxicity involves providing supportive care until the effects of the drug wear off. Medications and supportive care to regulate your pet’s heart rate, respiration, and body temperature are used if needed. Since your pet may be lethargic, with no desire to eat or drink, IV fluids can help prevent dehydration, support blood pressure, and maintain organ function. Anti-anxiety medications can minimize agitation. Gastrointestinal treatments may be needed for nausea or vomiting. To prevent self-trauma while your pet is disoriented and uncoordinated, confinement in a safe, comfortable space is helpful. Noise should be kept to a minimum to decrease sensory stimulation.

If cannabis is ingested with toxic or problematic substances, such as xylitol, chocolate, raisins, or foods containing a lot of fat, supportive care or additional treatments may be required to treat conditions associated with the ingestion of those substances.

Pro Tip

Next, carpets are slippery! The AKC National Championship show, Westminster Kennel Club, and many of the biggest shows in the country feature beautifully carpeted rings to showcase the dogs. Experienced exhibitors know that dogs don’t move well on the carpet because their feet slip and they can’t drive off their rears. Even in a stack, dogs can have trouble holding their normal position. The best solution to this problem is to keep the dog’s feet wet. Spray bottles of water or wet towels will soften the hard pads enough to give the dog a grip on the carpet. This will allow you to showcase your dog to its best advantage on that gorgeous red carpet.

Your feet also need some consideration…. We’re putting in LOTS of hours on our feet… moving, standing, running, walking. Your entire body depends on those feet, so take care of them. Change shoes midday. Just the slightest shift in fit makes an enormous difference. I’m given rations of grief about my “shoe suitcase” but I promise, if I had taken better care of my feet when I was younger, it’s a good bet I’d live with less pain today…

Third, we would all do well to learn lessons from the best junior handlers in the country. They are supportive and outstanding sports, they cheer for each other, they encourage each other, they tease friends through bouts of nerves. They are composed under immense pressure, they are driven to succeed, they ooze talent and dedication. They may or may not be the future of the sport, but *their* futures will be immensely improved by the lessons they take away from the sport and incorporate in their daily lives.

We hear an awful lot about millennial this or teenage entitlement that, but when you see these young men and women working their butts off, sprinting over miles of concrete, competing at the highest level and often working ridiculous hours for handlers to support their dreams, you are left with a much different understanding of our youth. The best and brightest of these kids will shine no matter where their life’s journeys lead them.

Redemption is a Thing

Winston Churchill’s oft repeated quote is more fitting to our sport than most…

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Watching friends battle back from injuries, defeats, disappointments and setbacks has been inspiring for me, particularly this year. Kelly Shupp, who just handled our Spinone to win the Sporting group here, shattered her ankle in September and we really didn’t think she’d even be walking by this time. She fought through pain and frustration and disappointment and dedicated herself to being on the end of Josie’s leash to wrap up what had been a history making year already. Her strength and determination and sheer will power literally bring me to tears of awe.

Sharing is Caring

Whether it’s the YaYa Sisterhood of the traveling outfits when you win the group and didn’t expect to or a corner of a grooming space in a crowded building, this sport really can bring out the best in us. I treasure the people and friendships built over my lifetime in this sport.

I know there are Debbie downers out there, but I firmly believe that our lives are immeasurably richer when we focus on the positive and find the beauty around us. It’s lots easier to do that if you simply avoid and/or ignore the folks who would burst that bubble. 

Big Trips are Exhausting

Having driven cross country innumerable times, in various vehicles, daunting weather and impossible schedules, I offer a few words of wisdom.

  • Plan ahead. If something can go wrong, it will and at the most inconvenient time. Have backup plans for your backup plans. Pay attention to the weather apps. I used weather underground to route around upcoming storms. Adding an extra few hours or even a day to the trip to travel safely saved me countless headaches. Factor that into your planning. If you don’t need the extra day to arrive safely, you can always use it to relax and have a little fun on the journey.
  • Sleep more and eat less. I always stop for a good night’s sleep. I need it to be safe on the road. And the dogs sleep better when the rig isn’t moving. I snack a lot when driving but rarely eat huge meals. I also stop every three to four hours to x dogs, get fuel, walk a little, stretch and keep the blood moving.
  • Listen to a podcast! Lol

Thank YOU…

In closing, as we end the year of competition and transition into the holidays, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you guys. It’s been 6 years now of talking to y’all. I was stopped this week by a lovely young man with a Barbet. He shared with me that the whole reason he was at the show was because of the work we do here. That he’d discovered the breed because of our episode with Judy Descutner. That the podcast gave him the tools and encouragement to stick with it. That brief conversation was the best gift ever.

And it’s those stories, YOUR stories, that keep me keepin’ on. So, thank you for taking us along …. On your road trips, your workouts, your grooming sessions, and your lawn mowing. I’m looking forward to a whole new year of sharing fabulous stories with you.

And I hope you’ll join us on the first Tuesday of every month for the live podcasts on the Facebook page, LIVE@5. If you haven’t had a chance, stop by Pure Dog Talk and join our Patrons getting their Pure Pep Talks.


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