My princesses

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Sava Sara Brakada, AKA Xsara was born on 06-27-2004. She was raised in Kennel Brakada spending the first two months of her life on beautiful countryside Gorenjska (Slovenia) with her siblings and parents. As soon as she came to Ljubljana we started a puppy class, followed by an obedience class. She passed her B-bh exam with 96 points (instructor Agility EO winner Polona Bonač). We now continue with Rally-Obedience under Polona's supervision. Our biggest passion however is Agility. We started our first Agility class in October 2005 (club Agility Ilirija, instructor Silvia Trkman, two times agility world champion). When Silvia stopped teaching agility classes, we switched to Daša Zakotnik. We regularly participate in Agility trials in Slovenia and sometimes abroad. Xsara also loves to learn new dog tricks, you can see some of them in our videos. Her other passions include long walks, big meals and playing with dogs, specially her pyr shep sister Tani, her crazy agility pals and her sister Sena.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays everyone! Apparently Xsara was a good girl this year, so Santa left her something under the tree. Her gifts were ordered from our favourite online store for agility enthusiasts :) She knew it was for her right away, so she jumped on the package and started to unwrap it - with our cat closely monitoring her every move. With one move she opened the gift and the baggy of natural treats for active dogs, so the treats fell out of the baggy and it took us some time to clean up the mess. Then we proceeded with the other present: a tug toy with real rabbit skin. She went crazy over it, so this year Santa really got her the most perfect presents ever. We also celebrate New Year in Slovenia, so next week we're expecting another nice old man with a bag of gifts. We call him Dedek Mraz (Grandpa Cold).

Today we had a very relaxing morning after a real drama. Xsara's sister Sena ran away two days ago, chasing an animal in the woods. We spent an entire day looking for her, we even went there in the middle of the night in case we would be able to hear her in the silence. Xsara helped us as much as she could, but she got very nervous in the woods so after a while we took her home and went to continue searching for her ourselves. We were soooo worried about Sena, it's really cold outside and she had been out for 24 hours! But then her people called us and told us that someone found her and saw a poster of her missing, so she was reunited with her family on Christmas Eve. She is very tired, but otherwise she's fine. I hope Santa gets her a GPS device so she won't get lost again :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Xsara's Personal Chef

We had another vet appointment yesterday. Her blood work and ultrasound are a lot better, but some parts of her intestines are still inflamed. She cannot digest processed food well, so we will probably have to cook for her. We can try different brands of kibbles and cans to see if there is any formula that suits her, at least for our shows abroad it would be a lot easier. It will be a little complicated, but with the right diet she'll be totally fine. We just need to find out what the right diet for her is, and that might take a while. It seems like she's always had sensitive digestion, so it's not stress related. I never considered her to be under stress, so this diagnosis makes sense to me. I'll be more than happy to learn how to cook for her, if that will make her feel better.

We can slowly start to include our normal routines back into our life. Since her intestines are still a little inflamed, we will start in baby steps. We will go to a trial as spectators on Saturday, where she'll be able to see her friends. But we won't stay there for too long. I also ordered a theraball DVD to learn some easy exercises that will help her to regain muscles before going back on course. And after consulting with our vet I also decided to try an Ayurvedic medicine that is supposed to help with digestion. When we will go back to training, I will reward with tug games and balls more than food, and I will try out some home made treats recipes that will be even more tasty, easy on her digestion and chicken free, as she is allergic to poultry. If you have any recipes to share, please let us know. We would really appreciate it!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Greatest Wealth Is Health

First of all big thanks to everyone sending us "get well" wishes and the first Christmas cards. It's nice to know that there are so many friends who think of Xsara and wish her all the best. We really appreciate the support!

Our girl seems to feel fine most of the time, but mornings are still a bit of a problem. She wakes up at 5 a.m. feeling sick, throws up a little bit of gall and goes back to sleep for a couple of hours. She then wakes up again at 7 a.m. feeling great. This started two days after we switched to soaked kibbles, so our vet says it's most likely related to the change in diet. Which means we're back to cooking. I normally never cook for myself, I always make things explode or I hurt myself in the process, so it's really best for everyone if I stay far away from the kitchen. I even managed to cut myself with cheese two times (no knife, just cheese), so you can see it's clearly not the best idea for me to cook. But somehow I never mess up when I cook for Xsara (OK, maybe I got a little burn a couple of times, but nothing big). And to be honest, I like cooking for her. It's something I can actively do to make her feel better, so it's comforting for me as well. Being such a nice little girl as she is, Xsara loves to help out in the kitchen. As you can see, her job is to do the dishes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Health Update

We are just back from the vet. Xsara is better, although she is still a little paled and she lost more than 1kg (2.2lbs). It's understandable considering she's on light food diet, but it's not the best news. The good news is that she can be taken off antibiotics and will only continue to take gastric acid inhibitors! Our next vet appointment is in two weeks, then we will decide how to proceed. Tomorrow we can try changing her diet to soaked kibbles and see if she will digest them well. We still need to divide her meals into many small portions. And, of course, she still needs to rest and cuddle a lot, and she can play and run if she doesn't get overly excited - but she cannot train yet.

Last week we got a little bit of snow in Ljubljana. She really liked that and she was so cute running around like a little puppy. But it started raining a couple of days ago and all the snow melted away. At least for now! It seems like after two years of practically no snow, we will have a real winter this year.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Never Boring!

I am happy to report that Xsara keeps getting better and better. We had a check up at our vet and he was very glad to see her doing so well. We now know that the meds are definitely working, so he prolonged this therapy until the beginning of December. We are taking it easy while she's on two strong antibiotics and acid inhibitors, but resting totally bores her :) So I am doing my best to occupy her with easy but very fun stuff while she is recovering from this illness. Thanks to Azu for a great toy idea you can see on the picture. It's a maze made out of PVC pipes. You put a ball in the maze and the dog's task is to get the toy out, using his paws, mouth and, naturally, brain. We are having a lot of fun with it.

This weekend we had a very nice weather and we spent most of the time outside. The vet said she can run as much as she likes to, as long as it's relaxing and she doesn't get overly excited. So we had two fun outings. Yesterday we were doggy sitting Xsara's niece Luna. We took the girls to the spring of river Krka where we went for a long walk and they could play in the meadows. We really liked having Luna around, she is a very cool dog.

And today the weather got even better, the sun was shining and the day was perfect for a hike. Of course, hiking would still be too much for Xsara, but we know that she absolutely adores the fresh air and long walks where she can be off leash, so we decided to take her to Velika Planina. It's a big Alpine meadow and you can get to it by rail car. We went for a very long walk up there and there was even some snow on the top, so Xsara had a great time. You can see how she learned to ice skate on a little frozen lake:

And here are some other pictures from this walk:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Finally Some Good News!

Seems like the medicines are starting to show their positive effect! Yesterday evening the feces were brown and more compact with no blood in them, and this morning half black half brown, which is very very good (the organism calms down at night and mornings are usually the worst part of the day for ulcer patients). I've never been so excited about poop before, but today I definitely am!
Also, we finished the box of anti-vomiting medications two days ago, and she hasn't thrown up since she's off pills. Hopefully she will continue to feel better and better, now that we definitely know that the meds are working properly.
Thanks to everyone sending us positive vibes, we are very grateful for all your messages of comfort. Currently I don't have much time for blogging, but will visit all of your blogs to thank you individually as soon as I can.
We also have a treat for all agility freaks: Xsara is on the official Slovenian agility calendar again, this year she is miss September. The calendar is made by the staff of Agility Portal Slovenije.

Update: We just got the test results for ehrlichiosis from the Faculty of Medicine. They test two blood samples using two different methods. Both results were negative, so Xsara does not have ehrichiosis!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Updates

Big thanks to everyone expressing concerns about Xsara's health. It's nice to know that there are so many people who care about her. I wish I could tell you we finally have some good news, but unfortunately she's still not well.
She was constipated for 3 days, didn't poop at all. We went back to the vet and he X-rayed her. There is no blockage in her digestive tract, which is good, so he told us to include some flax seeds and more rice in her diet. That helped and she can now poop again, but her feces are still black, which is bad. It means she is loosing a lot of blood and that there is still blood in her digestive tract. She is also a little hypothermic, but not pallid. I am very worried, but luckily the vet calmed me down a lot. Her body weight hasn't changed a bit, which is also good and she seems to feel fine. I'm trying to be calm, even though I am incredibly worried about her. I will keep you posted on her condition.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Bad News

Xsara felt better for a couple of days. And then yesterday she started throwing up again - luckily she didn't vomit any blood this time, but there was blood in her excreta. So we went back to the vet. He performed an ultrasound exam on her and had plenty to see! Her entire intestines and stomack are inflamed, and she does also have ulcer. She was prescribed stronger antibiotics and a more powerful inhibitor of gastric acid, plus he gave her something to stop the vomiting. She is not feeling well at all, she sleeps all the time and really is low on energy.

We have absolutely no idea why this happened! But she is very pain tolerant and it's most likely that her tummy has been bothering her for quite a while and she didn't show it to us (apart from occasionally throwing up saliva after eating notable amounts of corn in the field, but I'm quite sure that's a normal reaction). The whole thing is weird because she is not stressed out and she NEVER got any medications that are known to cause ulcer (Rymadyl, Medrol, Aspirin ...). Some vets think it's possible that my absence set it off, specially if she had a pre-existing condition (if that was more of a stress than we thought) - or it could simply be bacterial. We honestly don't know at this point. But the main thing right now is for her to recover fast and be her happy, carefree self again.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Little Update

We've seen 4 different vets in the past few days and consulted some other people who could help us out. Luckily, most of them agree with the first diagnosis (ulcer), which is not the nicest diagnosis to have, but it's better than the alternative. However we're testing her for ehrlichiosis as well, just in case (although it's far less likely). We're expecting the results to come in in a couple of days.

The main problem is that although the vets agree with the diagnosis, they have different opinions on the best way to treat ulcer. So I have to decide between 3 different medications. Big thanks to our famous agility friend who has riecently been through a smiliar situation and has done many many research on the subject, for sharing what she's learned with us. Having all this information made my decision a lot easier.

Xsara is currently feeling a lot better, she hasn't thrown up since we started her treatment, she is playful and has appetite. But she does sleep more than usually and likes to press next to me all the time. We're very grateful to everyone sending her positive vibes! To lighten things up a bit, I'm finally posting a couple of photos from EO:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bad News!

Our little girl is sick again :( She threw up brown saliva this morning and this usually means blood in the digestive tract, so I rushed her to the vet. Since this wasn't the first time she's vomited in the past months (although blood was involved for the first time), the vets suspect it's ulcer (although it could still be just gastritis). They started her on antibiotics and two other medications, strict diet (no food for 24 hours!) and no stress. We have another appointment tomorrow and we'll see if she will feel better and if they will have to do any more tests, however she will most likely be on medications for at least one whole month. Side effects are mild, but she could feel tired a lot and be low on energy. I really hope she'll feel better soon, all I want is for her to be a healthy and happy little dog!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Together Again!

I've been back at home for 3 days now but haven't been able to post much because I've been busy bonding with Xsara. Many people asked me how she deals with my absence and I haven't really been able to answer because I've never been away for an entire week without her. But now I can tell you that she actually took it very well. She would mostly sleep while Gas was at work and they spent the rest of the time taking looooong walks, even though it was raining all the time. They went to a beagle convention organised by our breeder and Xsara had fun seeing many of her siblings and other relatives. But by the end of the week she was getting a little nervous and would watch the door more than usually.

I missed her like crazy, but the trip I took with my grandfather was amazing. I've always wanted to go to Africa and now I was able to see a little piece of it. I really hope to experience more of this oncredible land some day, and it will be easier now that I know that Xsara would be OK with me gone for a week or two. Anyway, I took many pictures and here are some of the most interesting ones:

As I said, I missed Xsara like crazy and was really anxious to see her when we landed. When we got home she jumped in my arms, gave me a big wet kiss and then went sniffing around our room to see if everything was the same. She really didn't make a big hello out of it, but I think it's because she knows that we belong together and that I would never leave her. However for the next 3 nights she would sleep so close to me that she almost pushed me off the bed.

To reassure her that we will now continue to do all the fun things together, I immediately took her out for a long frisbee session and yesterday we went for a nice trip. Gas wanted to go to the sea and I wanted to visit my beloved Isonzo river, so we went for a hike to waterfall Boka and then to watch the sunset and have a dinner by the beach in Lucija. Luckily, Slovenia is small enough so that you can do all of it in one day :)