Site owner & magazine publisher Tania Kidd lives in the sunny Southern California desert.
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All About Simply Schnauzers
In 1995 I was given the opportunity to breed a beautiful bitch of mine, "Rosie," to the conformation stud dog of my dreams: Am Can CH Sole Baye's TJ Esquire owned and bred by Yvonne Phelps. The breeding produced a litter of six, and I kept two; the bitch was very sound and I planned for her to be the foundation of my new, better line. I called her "Rave." There was one impressive male I just couldn't part with; he was called "Riot."
I followed ALL the recommendations of club members, mentors, and veterinarians to the "T". . .I made sure Rave & Riot received all the "extra" vaccinations that were recommended at that time for show dogs. We lived in Southern CA and parvovirus was on a rampage at that time; there really was no good understanding of how to save dogs that acquired it. And so - my pups also received a parvo shot every ten days as recommended until they were 20 weeks old. Vets and experienced breeders alike were supposedly doing the same, and thought this would prevent parvo. I had already had pups in another litter with parvo, and I had lost an adult dog to parvo, so I shared the fear and gave the shots without a second thought.
Rave & Riot were shown at our club's puppy match in the fall of 1996 and Riot was Best of Breed with me handling. They were 8 months old when the Kennel Club of Palm Springs show rolled around in January of 1997. I planned to show them both which I did - with professional handlers in the ring. Riot won Winners Dog and Best Puppy, and we participated in the Puppy Terrier Group later that day. I have never been more excited than when the judge pointed at Riot for Group 1 - and members of the MS Club of So. CA stood ringside cheering us!
The last weekend in January, Riot was Winners Dog and Best of Opposite Sex at Orange Empire Dog Club, and in February I took him to the Del Mar Show, where he once again won Winners Dog over other entries with professional handlers. He was being noticed in spite of his inexperienced, less-than-talented owner-handler! I was thrilled beyond belief!
But it was too short-lived. In early April, little Rave started refusing to eat and became very lethargic. After several trips to the vet and a number of blood tests, it was determined she had autoimmune thrombocytopenia. I was unable to afford the expensive blood transfusion the vet said might possibly save her, and I had to put her down on April 18th. It was devastating, but the biggest blow was yet to come.
Just after Rave died, our breed magazine,Schnauzer Shorts,published an article on autoimmune disease and the Mini Schnauzer written by Dr. Jean Dodds. It was suggested that too many vaccinationscould contribute to the problem. It was too late for Rave, and something I had already tried to push to the back of my mind. I didn't give it a lot of thought until after the next tragedy that struck in May.
I came home from a long day of teaching and was relaxing when I suddenly realized that my beautiful Riot was having strange seizures. I rushed him to the vet and it was determined that my boy had distemper. DISTEMPER? He had been vaccinated appropriately for this disease of (mostly) puppies. How did he get distemper? I actually purposefully and repeatedly banged my head against the brick wall of the vet's examining room as she was explaining that his footpads were "crumbling" (his nose later did as well) and the focal seizures of his head would continue without phenobarbitol. He was put the medication but just never really did improve; he lost a lot of weight and had trouble moving. The other dogs were afraid of him and tried to attack him. It broke my heart to watch all of this. There was little to do except put him down - and on May 22nd - a bit more than a month after Rave, Riot left me for Rainbow Bridge.
Hoping to cut my losses as best I could, I bred my black bitch, "Gypsy," the following year. An ultrasound showed she had a large litter, so when her labor started and no pups were produced after 3 hours we went to the emergency clinic. The (student) vets there gave her tranquilizers to calm her (the vet later said this is not uncommon but knowing what I know now, I should have refused). They performed a c-section. I helped with trying to revive the pups, but only three of the seven beautiful, fully-formed pups were brought around. Once again broken-hearted at the shocking and unexpected losses, I brought the three home and began tube-feeding the tiniest - a boy we named "Bow" (short for "Over the Rainbow" in memory of Rave and Riot). But Bow soon developed his own problems and was diagnosed with juvenile renal disease. He lasted six months before the effects of the disease forced his euthanasia. I was left with his two sisters, one also diagnosed with JRD and the other clear of the problem.
The vets said "Vegas" would not live more than 2 or 3 years. I spayed her as well as her dam and neutered her grandsire so that the disease would not carry on through my dogs. I did not own the sire of the JRD litter, and I don't know what happened with his other litters - if anything. Vegas had good periods and bad; summers seemed especially hard on her and there were several times I was sure I would loose her. But she always pulled back, and with her headstrong determination and my interest in feeding the dogs a raw diet, Vegas lived with JRD until she was 8 years old.
It was shortly after the JRD litter was born and diagnosed that I decided I must do something to help others learn the things that I had learned through the loss of these dogs. They had been my pets first - show dogs second. They slept with me, rode in the car with me, kissed my tears away when I cried, made me laugh with their crazy antics. They kept me going during a very difficult time in my life; but when they needed me most - I was ignorant of how to help them or even where to find alternative help. At that point I created the Simply Schnauzers website to honor all of these dogs I'd lost due to my own ignorance. Simply Schnauzers originally was just a collection of health (and later nutrition) links to sites I had found useful during my several years of suffering along with my dogs.
The MINI Magazineconcept developed during this time. It was an online publication sent out by e-mail for 2-3 years before I attempted printing it. We have now been publishing the magazine for nine years. A third "branch" of our work is the Worldwide Mini Schnauzer Yearbook which honors the dogs and people who work so hard to maintain our schnauzers as schnauzers - and are awarded for such through competition at the dog shows.
I think I have made a difference - not alone - but along with a large number of others who see the dangers in too many vaccinations given at one time and alongside other medications. I think, finally, veterinarians are beginning to relax about the topic when a client questions certain vaccinations, postpones them, or even refuses them. The vets too have seen the high numbers of autoimmune disease coming through their doors and they are reading the scientific research correlating poor health in pets with too many shots. More, as they say, is not always better.
We are beginning to understand that the immune system which protects us from disease can also become a victim of "better intentions;" we are beginning to understand that it is possible to weaken or even kill the immune system with too many of the wrong kinds of chemicals in our pets' bodies.
We, the clients, are searching for the vets who do NOT force certain brands of dog food in their lobbies but who realize, with us, that a partnership between vet and the well-informed client-owner is quite often better for the pet. These are vets who keep up with their education and modern developments in veterinary care. These are vets who do not fear the internet but use it to become more and better informed and who help guide their clients to the websites that are truly valuable.
It is horrible to lose any pet at any time for any reason. It is even more horrible to lose a pet that did not have to be lost - but whose life was lost because a vaccination protocol was, in fact, not appropriate and caused (I now believe) the deaths of both Rave & Riot. And so, if any of the information in any of my websites or printed projects can help prevent another person from suffering in a similar way, then I have done well to honor my dogs in this manner and appreciate the opportunity.