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3 May 2016

Red On The Bench: No Work For Now. Think We Found The Cause.

Red Sidelined For Now

Red Sidelined For Now: Dr. Fariello and her X-rays

Red is off-duty for now, at least for 10 days, perhaps beyond. This morning, his right rear leg was dangling as he ran out to get the sheep. It was startling, and I took him to the Cambridge Valley Vet, they took him in, sedated him and did a series of X-rays on his hips, legs and elbows.

Dr. Suzanne Fariello said she saw signs of arthritis in his hips and legs, but nothing out of the ordinary for a nine-year-old border collie who has worked all of his life.

She found signs of a serious injury at the base of his spine, two segments of the tail bone almost crushed together. Once I saw the X-rays, it hit me right away. A week or so ago, Red had an incident with Chloe, Maria's pony. Red was in his fixed crouch, staring at the sheep, Chloe, excited about hay coming out, stepped backwards and onto Red, pinning him.

Red, the calmest of dogs, reacted, he couldn't get out from the weight and nipped Chloe on her rear leg. She turned and stomped him with her right hoof, he moved away and went on to move towards the sheep. Maria and I saw it, but Red seemed fine and we cleaned off the dirt from the hoof.
Chloe had her ears back and moved towards Red after that, but then seemed to forget it. It was precisely where the  X-ray showed the injury, I had completely forgotten about it.

This makes sense, we finally figured it out. Dr. Fariello, Maria and I all agree this is by far the most likely explanation for his limping.

Side note: I could see Maria was anxious about the incident, she was concerned that I would be furious with Chloe and want to send her away. This, I told her, was an old fear, not a current one. When you live on a farm with sheep, horses, donkeys, things will happen. These are animals, not domestic pets.

No working border collie has a safe or protected life, things can and will and do happen. My border collies have run into barbed wire, been butted  by rams and ewes, run over by donkeys and kicked by them, torn their paws on rocks. It wasn't Chloe's fault, it wasn't Red's fault. We will just have to be vigilant.

So no working for Red for awhile, we  hope rest will do the trick. Red is back on anti-inflammatory medicine, and next week, he's going back to the vet for a massage, Cassandra has been certified to do that work. Dr. Fariello wants to resume the laser treatment for a few weeks. Red is home now, and sedated.

It's a serious injury, real and in a bad place, but there is no reason it won't heal. I'm just sorry I didn't connect all of this sooner, Dr. Fariello has been great, she has smart and focused plan for healing Red.

The affected area has major nerves running through it, it doesn't hurt much when Red is standing still, but it does when he runs.

He can come out to the pasture, but not run, and no walks in the woods for now. We'll see if Fate gets more interested in serious herding work, I won't push it too hard, but I'll give her the chance. Life happens, and it is happening to Red.

Posted in General

Limited Edition: The Back Porch Potholders. Flo And The Red Hen

Back Porch Potholders

Back Porch Potholders

Today, Maria is making some limited edition "Back Porch Potholders," featuring  our "Books" sign, Flo, our barn cat in her wooden box, and the red hen, who loves to join her there. The barn cats and chickens have taken over our porch.

This is a touching and peaceful and meditative potholder, Maria has sold her potholders all over the world, a kind of friendly, re-invented and utilitarian art form, although I am told most people hang them on walls rather than cook with them. I love the simplicity and affection woven into this new potholder.

And also the nod to books, important around here.

Maria is re-inventing the art form in a way, the potholders are very utilitarian but also quite friendly and unpretentious. Our lives and are art are no longer separable, and we have accepted that, and making the most of it. I think the artist is making a small number of these potholders (such things are secret here, and not discussed with me) and they will cost $25 plus shipping. The Back Porch Potholders will soon be going up for sale on Maria's website,

You can also e-mail Maria at [email protected]

Posted in General
27 April 2016

Red And Nicole: Laser Treatment Three

Laser Treatment Three

Laser Treatment Three

Today was the third laser treatment for Red, one more to go, next Monday.

He knows Nicole now, he knows what to expect, I think the only part that is hard for him is the wearing of the protective goggles. I have to wear them also. Red sits quickly while Nicole moves the laser pointer on his right elbow and his two hips. She wets the fur above the treatment areas to keep them cool, the laser beams can be hot.

Red sits quietly and patiently, sometimes looking at Nicole in his sweet and understanding way. There is a sweetness about Red that is a powerful force. He seems free of pain, he is running well, herding well. After Monday, we'll stop the laser treatment and discontinue the anti-inflammatory medication.

I think modern science has given Red more years  to work and run.

Posted in General
25 April 2016

Video/Photo: Nicole and Red: Second Laser Treatment

Second Laser Treatment

Second Laser Treatment

Red had his second laser treatment this morning with Nicole at the Cambridge Valley Veterinary Clinic, we all have to wear special eye protection goggles. The treatments last about 20 minutes and are completely painless. The laser wand is slightly warm and causes the dog no discomfort. The goggles probably bothered Red more than the laser.

Red is a wonderful patient, he put his head in Nicole's hand and lay still. The laser went back and forth over  his left elbow and both of his hips and some areas of the spinal column. This is where Dr. Suzanne Fariello felt and saw some muscle tightening and discomfort.

Red is 100 per cent, he seems comfortable, is moving fluidly and quickly, he is back to his old working self. I am a bit surprised, he was so stiff last week it was hard for him to stand up. Border collies are stoic, it is always tough to know when they are hurting, but he was hurting. Not any more, it seems. Dr. Fariello prescribed a balanced but efficient program- anti-inflammatory pain killers; advanced joint medicine, and four laser treatments. This was the second, one more this week, one next week.

If he keeps progressing in this way, we'll stop the pills and the laser treatment. We might do massage, which the service is now offering. For a nine-year-old border collie like Red, who was born in Northern Ireland and has been running hard every day of his life, I think this treatment is a godsend. I recommend it highly from what I have seen, the change in Red is beyond what I expected.

When we got home, I took a video of Red working, you can see his progress for yourself. Plus the usual cast of characters.

Took Red out to work to check on his progress after the laser treatment. Come and see.

Posted in General
23 April 2016

Red Nearby

Red Nearby

Red Nearby

Red is always nearby, I have come to take it for granted. When I am in my study, which is most of the day, Red sleeps under the table next to my desk. He does not move or make a sound when I work, but we are aware of one another. I went out of the office for a few minutes and came back and he was waiting for me. Nearby.

Posted in General