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We have an 8 year old, black, female, small (46 lbs) standard poodle named Saratoga's "Harper Lee" Beckman. She and I are a certified and registered therapy dog team by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. I am the Vice President of Kindly Canines (Kindly Canines – Join An All-Volunteer Group of Friends and Therapy Dogs who deliver comfort, encouragement and joy.) a therapy dog organization. We have been making visits to hospitals, courthouses, radiation centers, women's shelters, elementary schools and libraries for READS programs, middle schools and high schools for autistic and emotional support classes, child advocacy centers and other facilities and community events for the past four years. Harper has successfully completed basic, novice and advanced obedience and agility training at a local dog training center, where she also achieved recognition as an AKC Canine Good Citizen.

We usually call her Harper but will call her Harper Lee when she is mischievous or a little disobedient. Up until recently Harper has been a loving, energetic, obedient and playful companion. We would walk 3 - 5 miles per day, weather permitting, visit facilities 5-7 times per week, and play (fetch the ball, tug-of-war, etc.). She eats 2-3 small meals a day: breakfast = cooked chicken or hamburger mixed with kibble, lunch = 2-3 tbsp of either Nutro Ultra Adult wet dog food or Blue Buffalo Natural Adult wet dog food, dinner = cooked stew beef and kibble. We have been feeding her Canidae Pure Real Lamb, Goat & Venision kibble for years. She is a bit of a finicky eater!

But, recently she has not been herself. She doesn't want to walk far, she lays around a lot, has little energy to play and does not respond to commands the way she always has in the past. We take her to her vet twice a year for shots and health checkups. The only health problems we have had with her are minor ear infections, which we now have under control with ear wash solution twice a week and as she has gotten older she has developed several sebaceous cyst, one which she chewed open on her back early this year that required medical care, which healed in several months. I'm thinking that since we have not been able to do our therapy dog work since late January, she is in a funk. Also, I do wonder whether because of her age whether she is beginning to have joint discomfort. We do everything possible to minimize her jumping down from high places. We pick her up and set her down out of my large SUV. She does jump up and down from our high, four-poster king size bed. So, we are a little at a loss to know what to make her happy and comfortable??

Harper is the inspiration for most everything we do and is the light in our life!!!

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She's beautiful. Since she could well be missing her regular interactions with humans and displaying her skills, is it possible that learning a few new skills might give her some satisfaction?

She's a working dog who has been unfairly retired by circumstances that have adversely affected us all.

My mini poodle misses interactions with other humans and dogs. badly. So do I.
 

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Welcome! She is lovely and I SO admire a working dog! I’m sure she’s has brought joy and comfort to many.❤
 

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She's beautiful. Since she could well be missing her regular interactions with humans and displaying her skills, is it possible that learning a few new skills might give her some satisfaction?

She's a working dog who has been unfairly retired by circumstances that have adversely affected us all.

My mini poodle misses interactions with other humans and dogs. badly. So do I.
Thanks! I like your idea about more skills. She has always been a working dog who likes to learn.
 

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She's a working dog who has been unfairly retired by circumstances that have adversely affected us all.
I agree with Dianaleez - Harper could be experiencing depression from the lack of work and activity that she's used to doing.
 

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Welcome to PF! Your altruism and volunteerism is fantastic.

Now, about Harper. They symptoms you describe are worrisome. Yes, she could miss going on therapy meet n' greet activities, but that you have to pick her up to place her in the car doesn't fit depression.

... I'm thinking that since we have not been able to do our therapy dog work since late January, she is in a funk. Also, I do wonder whether because of her age whether she is beginning to have joint discomfort. We do everything possible to minimize her jumping down from high places. We pick her up and set her down out of my large SUV. She does jump up and down from our high, four-poster king size bed. So, we are a little at a loss to know what to make her happy and comfortable??
Have you ever had her DNA tested?

The lab Paw Print Genetics tests for those invisible problems that may not be picked up on a general vet exam until a problem has progressed. If you click on this first link first, you'll get the drop down coupon code & info for this months 50% off for testing of a breed specific panel; this would amount to $140 with the discount. Here's the direct link to the Standard Poodle Essential Panel. It's a simple saliva test you do at home, and get back the results in a week or ten days.

Not to scare you, but in particular I would want a rule out of Degenerative Myelopathy given your description and since she's about the age this genetic condition hits. I recommended the PPG poodle panel b/c they cover other tests, and depending on your vet, be much cheaper than if do it individually or as a panel. Give a copy to your vet on your next visit, who will know it is or isn't an issue and can do additional testing from there.

I really, really hope she's only in a bit of funk.
 

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Hi and Welcome!

The above mentioned are all possibilities. She's at an age that several getting-older issues can start cropping up, like arthritis, for example.

My vet does a senior wellness type of exam. Off the top of my head, I don't remember specifically what's included but I think a complete blood work up and an xray series of spine and chest are likely. It's the equivalent of a human full physical exam. It's worth asking.

One of my older girls had started slowing down, nothing specifically wrong, just getting older. Our then vet put her on carprofen, an anti-inflammatory rx for dogs, and it made a big difference in her activity level for several more years.

Check with your vet about a senior oriented exam.

I hope she's feeling more herself soon.
 
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Welcome! I would definitely ask your vet to give Harper a full check up, including blood tests. If it shows nothing significant you have a useful benchmark for future comparison, and can concentrate on making life fun and interesting again; if there is an issue then most things are more manageable if caught early.
 
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Welcome to you and Harper! She looks and sounds like an absolute angel.

My last girl started similarly slowing down as she entered her senior years. I assumed it was just normal aging, but it ended up being her teeth. And she'd received a "clean bill of health" the previous year from another vet! Almost a dozen extractions later, she was a new woman.

But health issues aside, I do feel there's a natural shift around 8 years old, from youthful springiness to a more deliberate, measured energy. It's a wonderful season in a dog's life. :)

Thank you for sharing Harper with us. I hope you'll share more.
 

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Welcome to you and Harper! She looks and sounds like an absolute angel.

My last girl started similarly slowing down as she entered her senior years. I assumed it was just normal aging, but it ended up being her teeth. And she'd received a "clean bill of health" the previous year from another vet! Almost a dozen extractions later, she was a new woman.

But health issues aside, I do feel there's a natural shift around 8 years old, from youthful springiness to a more deliberate, measured energy. It's a wonderful season in a dog's life. :)

Thank you for sharing Harper with us. I hope you'll share more.
Thanks, I greatly appreciate your shared thoughts! I have had thoughts that Harpers age is catching up with her. Plus the fact that she/we have not worked at our therapy dog business since late January is also contributing to her mood, Harper had her teeth cleaned last September without any extractions, so we are unaware of any teeth or gum problems. She has a 6-month checkup in September, so we will have the opportunity to discuss with her vet her current state of health. Glad I found this forum, as input from other experienced poodle owners is valuable.
 

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Welcome! I would definitely ask your vet to give Harper a full check up, including blood tests. If it shows nothing significant you have a useful benchmark for future comparison, and can concentrate on making life fun and interesting again; if there is an issue then most things are more manageable if caught early.
Thanks for your thoughtful input! Harper's 6-month checkup is scheduled for September, which will give us an opportunity to have her vet check her overall health. I will make sure to ask for a complete blood panel test.
 

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Hi and Welcome!

The above mentioned are all possibilities. She's at an age that several getting-older issues can start cropping up, like arthritis, for example.

My vet does a senior wellness type of exam. Off the top of my head, I don't remember specifically what's included but I think a complete blood work up and an xray series of spine and chest are likely. It's the equivalent of a human full physical exam. It's worth asking.

One of my older girls had started slowing down, nothing specifically wrong, just getting older. Our then vet put her on carprofen, an anti-inflammatory rx for dogs, and it made a big difference in her activity level for several more years.

Check with your vet about a senior oriented exam.

I hope she's feeling more herself soon.
Thanks for the thoughtful input! At her 6-month checkup in September, I will make sure to request a full blood panel test and full body X-ray.
 

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Welcome to PF! Your altruism and volunteerism is fantastic.

Now, about Harper. They symptoms you describe are worrisome. Yes, she could miss going on therapy meet n' greet activities, but that you have to pick her up to place her in the car doesn't fit depression.



Have you ever had her DNA tested?

The lab Paw Print Genetics tests for those invisible problems that may not be picked up on a general vet exam until a problem has progressed. If you click on this first link first, you'll get the drop down coupon code & info for this months 50% off for testing of a breed specific panel; this would amount to $140 with the discount. Here's the direct link to the Standard Poodle Essential Panel. It's a simple saliva test you do at home, and get back the results in a week or ten days.

Not to scare you, but in particular I would want a rule out of Degenerative Myelopathy given your description and since she's about the age this genetic condition hits. I recommended the PPG poodle panel b/c they cover other tests, and depending on your vet, be much cheaper than if do it individually or as a panel. Give a copy to your vet on your next visit, who will know it is or isn't an issue and can do additional testing from there.

I really, really hope she's only in a bit of funk.
Thanks soo... much for your thoughtful input! I will followup on the DNA test and PPG poodle panel before we have her 6-month overall health exam with her vet.
 
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