The Second Chance Times

LABMED Quarterly News :   Volume 3, Issue 1: January, 2003
What's Inside: The Seventh Annual Bullet's Benefit Bash: Teamwork at Its Best, A Labby's New Year's Resolutions, Recipe Corner,
Calendar of Events,
Understanding Epilepsy, Thoughts on Being a Lab Foster Parent
LABMED Board Members:

Deb Hamele,

Dianne Walsh,
Vice President

Beth Bodenstein,

Andrew Sherriff,

Beth Adamson

Linda Bagby

Heather Bowden

Judi Ebbert

Jim Groenke

Donna Harrison

Vicki Kilmer-Rinker

Andrea Walker


Dogs Funded:

4th Quarter, 2002:

Big Guy

1st Quarter, 2003:


Seventh Annual Bullet's Benefit Bash: Teamwork at Its Best

LABMED's Seventh Annual Bullet's Benefit Bash was a huge success. Bids on about 500 items raised over $17,000 to help more Labs and Lab mixes get well and get a second chance to have a happy life in a forever home. Heartfelt thanks goes to our extraordinary auction coordinator, Heather Bowden, and to ALL the hard-working volunteers who so generously supported this noble endeavor. From those who solicited donations to those who graciously donated items to those who provided storage and publicity and communication, everyone was integral to this marvelous example of teamwork, sacrifice, and dedication!

A Labby's New Year's Resolutions

Blackie1. I will NOT wag my tail within a foot of the coffee table UNLESS the breakable container is brimming with snacks.

2. I will risk a 15-minute "down-stay!" ONLY if the snitchable human object is shakable, tossable, or edible.

3. I will stay off forbidden furniture at all times EXCEPT when my family is off the property.

4. I will refrain from eviscerating those pricey little fleece toys for at least 1 day, AFTER WHICH I will destroy the little suckers and free those incorrigible squeakers.

5. After my bath, when my owner says "shake," UNLESS the door is open, I will vibrate vigorously in the bathroom instead of lifting my paw before tearing off to roll on the plushest upholstery and thickest carpeting I can find.

6. I will pray harder each night that people lavishly donate money and time to LABMED.

7. I will pray even harder that puppy mills are disclosed and dissolved, becoming a thing of the past that is universally perceived as a blemish on society never again to resurface.

Understanding Canine Epilepsy
by Saralyn Sharp

Savannah2What does epilepsy do to a dog?
One of the most frightening things a dog owner can witness is a seizure in one's beloved pet. There are several types of seizures that a dog can experience. The most frequently observed type is the generalized or tonic-clonic, which may be Grand Mal or mild, and is characterized by loss of consciousness, rigidity of limbs, and apnea (cessation of breathing). The tonic phase usually lasts 10-30 seconds, and is followed by the clonic phase, characterized by paddling of the limbs, chewing, or other muscular vacillations. Both phases can be accompanied by hypersalivation (drooling), urination and defecation.

Dogs can have partial seizures, where movements are restricted to one area of the body. Partial seizures can sometimes progress to generalized seizures. Although rare, dogs can have complex partial seizures, which are associated with bizarre behaviors such as fly biting (the dog snaps at nonexistent flies), aggression, or flank biting. It is important to rule out behavioral causes for these actions before attributing them to seizure activity.

If multiple seizures occur over a short period of time with brief periods of consciousness in between, these are called "cluster seizures." Status epilepticus is a condition in which one seizure exceeds 30 minutes, or multiple seizures occur without any periods of normal consciousness in between. It is often difficult to tell the difference between cluster seizures and status epilepticus, and both should be considered a life-threatening emergency.

Although epilepsy is characterized by seizure activity, it is important to note that not all seizures are caused by epilepsy. Seizures can occur as a result of trauma, toxins, or metabolic diseases. Seizures can be transitory, for a period of time following the insult, or they can become a permanent problem. Metabolic diseases that can cause seizures include portosystemic shunt (liver disease), as well as any disease that causes hypercalcemia, hypoglycemia, or hypothyroidism. Your veterinarian should recommend tests to rule out these possible causes of seizures before he or she makes a diagnosis of epilepsy.

What exactly is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurologic dysfunction occurring in the brain. An uncoordinated firing of the neurons in the cerebrum causes the animal to convulse or seize. It is important to note that there seems to be a "seizure threshold" in all animals and seizures occur when this "threshold" is exceeded. It appears that animals with primary epilepsy have a very low threshold. It is believed that this "threshold" is inherited; therefore, animals with a history of primary epilepsy tend to produce puppies that will develop epilepsy. Some veterinarians also believe that repeated seizures alter the brain and lower the "threshold" further. Seizures can occur at any time, however, seizures related to primary epilepsy generally begin when the dog is between the ages of 2-5 years. It is estimated that anywhere between 0.5% and 5.7% of all dogs are affected by epilepsy.

Epilepsy is treatable but not curable. The goal of most anticonvulsant treatment is to reduce the number of seizures that an epileptic dog may have to two or less seizures a year. If the epileptic dog has no more than one seizure per month, depending on the intensity of the seizure, medical therapy is usually not recommended. However, when the seizures become more severe, longer in duration, or more frequent, or if the presenting seizures are particularly severe, then the necessity for therapeutic intervention is indicated.

ChinookHow is epilepsy treated?
There are a number of anticonvulsant drugs, and determination of the appropriate drug should be made by your veterinarian. It is important to realize that the goal of treatment is to decrease the frequency and severity of the seizures while minimizing drug side effects. As most anticonvulsant drugs are processed through the liver and kidneys, periodic bloodwork to check the status of these organs is required. Your doctor will often recommend concurrent bloodwork to check the therapeutic blood levels of the medication so that your dog is maintained on the lowest effective dose, to minimize side effects. It has been postulated that an intolerance or allergy to certain foods or food preservatives may cause seizures, therefore some dogs have been helped by changing to a particular protein/preservative free diet.

A dog owner dealing with primary epilepsy should realize that medical treatments may fail for a number of reasons. The most common reason is improper administration of the drug. It is important to make sure that you, as an owner understand how often a drug should be given and in what manner (for example, with food or on an empty stomach). Most anticonvulsant drugs work best on a strict schedule. Varying the schedule can allow break-through seizures. Gastrointestinal disorders can affect drug adsorption, thus it is important to contact your veterinarian regarding re-dosing if your dog vomits or has diarrhea. Drug interactions (and this includes neutraceuticals and herbal remedies) can adversely affect the level of anticonvulsant drug in the dog's system. And finally, the drug may not be the correct one for a particular case, and some experimentation on drugs and dosages may be necessary.

A diagnosis of primary epilepsy is not a death sentence. Most epileptic dogs can be comfortably maintained with the proper drugs and dosages. Consider the experience of one Lab owner who has had two dogs with epilepsy.

"My late black lab, Bear, began to have generalized epilepsy at the age of 2, and with the establishment of an appropriate dose of Phenobarbitol, he never again had seizures. Bear lived to be 13, dying not of epilepsy, but of a complication, aspiration pneumonia, of surgery for laryngeal paralysis. Because of my experience with Bear," Judi continues, "when my 3-year-old yellow Lab recently began to have generalized seizures, I was not too alarmed. As soon as my veterinarian started her on Phenobarbitol, the seizures stopped. This definitely is a treatable disease that usually is not fatal."

So in conclusion, remember that it is important to work with a veterinarian to develop a treatment regimen for an epileptic dog. Most important, the regimen must be upheld and your veterinarian should continue to monitor and adjust the drug levels throughout the dog's life.

Thoughts on Being a Lab Foster Parent
by Saralyn Sharp

Buddy17As you know, the majority of the dogs that are helped by LABMED are in foster situations. They are either formally fostered through groups who are specifically set up for this, or they are found by some kind-hearted person who is compelled by compassion for a dog in need of help.

It takes a special heart to be a foster parent (and I think this is true whether you are fostering a child or an animal). Most of the dogs we get are lost and confused. They don't understand why their former family has left them, and they are not sure of the new people in their life either. Luckily, Labs have an infinite capacity for love and forgiveness in their hearts.

The easy part of being a foster parent is getting a new foster dog. Often the hard part is letting him/her go to a new home (this is why many people only foster one - they are incredibly hard to give up). You often have to deal with an adolescent dog that has never learned self-control or manners. Occasionally you may foster a dog that, through sad circumstances in the original family, is perfectly behaved, and just unsure of what to do in a new world. Those dogs are frequently the hardest to pass on to an adopter.

As a foster person you must set limits, teach manners, and give love so that the fostered dog may go on to its forever home to be a beloved family manner. It all sounds so easy when you start. Frequently you already have a dog, and it is well behaved, and you are sure you have the capacity in your heart and your home (not to mention your wallet) to help another dog find its forever home. And then the Rescue brings you your first foster. It starts out well, the dog is an unbelievably friendly adolescent male (the age and sex most often turned into rescue), who was turned over to rescue because his original home found they lacked the time to deal with his energy. You play out in the yard until evening and everything is going well, until it's time to go inside for the evening. You find out that "Rover" has never been inside, walked on linoleum, or been trained to stay off furniture. (To be honest, my own dogs aren't trained to stay off of furniture, but you never know where your foster is going, so I always try to restrict the foster dog off all but one chair in the family room.) Worst of all, you may find that he has never been in a crate in his life. You sit down and wonder how you got yourself into this. Now, lest you think that I am against fostering, let me tell you how this story ends. "Rover" is a quick learner and only wants to please you, so he quickly becomes house-trained, he learns the rules of the house, and with training, sees his crate as a safe haven and sleeps in it with the door open. After a few weeks to a month of training, "Rover" has become an exemplary dog.

Now, you think, I can rest and my home is back in order. You are beginning to love this new dog and remember the reason you wanted to foster. Then it happens, the Perfect family comes over to your house to meet "Rover." They immediately fall in love with "Rover" and would be wonderful owners for him. You know it would be a great family for "Rover" to live in, and he'd get lots of one-on-one attention. Just the kind of family you'd dreamed of for "Rover". Suddenly, you face the facts. "Rover" is leaving, and you're not so sure you can let him go. This is where many foster parents decide to keep their first foster. It is emotionally wrenching to send a dog you have spent time nurturing out the door, not to mention the niggling idea that the new family is profiting from your hard work. Then you embrace the old saying, "You can't keep them all." That's when you realize that this is the day for which you've been working-- the day when your foster goes forth and finds his forever home. You know that even if this new family doesn't realize all the work you've put into "Rover", "Rover" will remember, and that, in the end, is what is most important. So you reluctantly hand over "Rover's" leash to his new family and you watch him bound down the driveway, looking over his shoulder, trying to figure out why you aren't coming.

"Oh no," you cry, "He's so bonded to me that he'll never love anyone else. I should probably keep him." But you remind yourself that you can't keep them all, and you tell the owners that if "Rover" doesn't adjust, or if they have any problems, you'd gladly take "Rover" back. You slowly walk back into the house and put away the extra bowl, shut the door on the extra crate and wonder what you are going to do without Rover. You also wonder if "Rover" is missing you as much as you miss him. You decide to give the new family a week, and then you'll call and see if they want to bring "Rover" back.

Three days later, your telephone rings and it's the Perfect family. They want to thank you again for "Rover" because he is the greatest dog and he's already a part of their family. They can't ever imagine life without him. That's when it hits you. You've accomplished what you set out to do. You took a raw, unloved, uncertain dog and gave him the tools to be a part of a family. Along the way, you gave him a piece of your heart, but you realize that's the funny thing about hearts. The more pieces you give away, the more you have to give. (I think it's something like sourdough starter, but a whole lot better.)

It's never easy to send a foster dog onto his forever family, but it's always wonderful. I hope as you read the success stories at LABMED, and as you donate your money or your time, you remember the fosterers. Without fosters, LABMED and Lab Rescue would not be possible. If you have a rescued Lab to love, give an extra pat on his or her head from and for the foster family, and remember that without them, you might never have gotten a chance to know that special dog. Most of all, when it comes time to choose a new member of your family, check out Lab Rescue. You never know who's out their giving a piece of their heart to your special dog.



Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

Billy looks Hungry!

1. Combine flour, wheat germ, and salt in a large bowl. Add peanut
butter, egg, oil and water.

2. Roll dough out on a floured surface -- 1/4 to 1/2" thick depending
on how crispy you want the biscuits and cut out in desired shapes.

3. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 15 to 30 min. in 350 degree oven depending on size/thickness of

5. Transfer to cooling rack, cool and store in airtight container.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies (depends on size of cutters used).


Lab Liver Chip Cookies

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
6 tablespoons water
¼ cup cooked beef liver, dried OR
¼ cup beef jerky-style treats, chopped

Rose looks for a Treat!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, butter, egg, and water.

2. Mix well. Blend in liver bits. Turn onto a greased baking pan.

3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and cut.

Reprinted by permission:


Liver Brownies

1 pound beef liver (cut into small pieces)
3/4 cup water
2 large eggs
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 to 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons garlic powder

Chubbles and Harlie's Birthday Photo!

1. Line large cookie sheet with aluminum foil and grease or spray with PAM.

2. Puree liver in blender or food processor adding water as needed to blend.

3. Add remaining ingredients in order given, blending as you add them.
Mixture will be very thick. (Adjust water/flour as needed.)

4. Pour mixture onto pan and spread evenly.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 min. Brownies are done when a toothpick
inserted comes out clean.

6. Remove from oven, cool, peel off foil then cut into small squares. Can
freeze squares in baggies then take out batches as needed.

LABMED Calendar: January - April, 2003


February, 2003

February 14 : National Pets at Work Day (PAWD)
February 22 : 7th Annual Paws in the Park, Jacksonville, FL
February 25 : Spay Day USA

March 2003

March 21 : First day of spring

April 2003

April 9-11 : LRC of the Potomac Spring Specialty: Frederick, MD
April 13-19 : Prevention of Animal Cruelty Awareness Week

Abbey's Best Smile
Abbey's Best Smile