The Day I Retired My Dog’s Swimming Suit

dog health, Cilliary Dyskinesia

Photo Thanks to Wayne Ramsay


I want to start this post off to say, this isn’t about dog training or working toward specific behaviors, or avoiding certain behaviors.  This is about the day my dog almost died and I realized how important our relationship is in my life and the odd genetic condition that almost killed her.

It was almost a year ago that I decided to get my highly decorated dock diving dog her own swimming suit.

Many of you who know my writing and have taken my courses here, through know my sweet Fury!

She is a long haired Dutch Shepherd, which is fairly rare in and of itself, so I wanted a swimming suit that would set off her stripes and accentuate her beautiful flight.

So I opted for a stripey suit with a purple cape.

Over the years she has gone from about 8 or 9 feet to over 22 feet with great precision.

She has also gone from the place and send technique where the dog simply chases the toy out into the pool; to catching the toy mid-air!

By the way, this isn’t easy!  It is difficult to gauge the speed of the dog running as fast as possible down a 40 foot dock and then toss a toy with enough accuracy that the dog can actually catch it in the air.

She has also taught a great number of handlers and dogs to use these techniques to boost their distance and exactitude.

Fury was known for running down the dock so hard and so fast that you could literally hear the dock POP when she finally took flight.

dog health, Cilliary Dyskinesia

What Ciliary Dyskinesia looks like; every day

She has always embraced everything that she encounters with complete eagerness and excitement, which makes me an extremely lucky dog handler and owner.  Not every dog is as apt to take to any training presented to them.

Unfortunately, she was born with a condition called “Ciliary Dyskinesia”, which took years and thousands of dollars to finally diagnose.

I used to carry a note from my veterinarian in case she blew snot in the ring at an obedience trial.  It would state that her condition was not communicable.  I was always afraid we would drive thousands of miles to a competition and be kicked out because she looks so ill.

She came to me as a sick, snotty puppy and despite all of the efforts of several vets and the help of different kinds of antibiotics nothing seemed to help; hence the eventual diagnosis.

In effect, her nose and immune system has never really worked.  She can walk past a piece of chicken and not realize she is walking past a piece of chicken because she simply can’t smell it.

And, unfortunately I believe when she dock dives, she aspirates some water into her lungs.

The average dog can clear this water easily, but due to her age and her condition she has gotten to the point where she no longer can.

I Didn’t Even Know

This is a normal chest x-ray

This is a normal chest x-ray


Her lungs should be mostly dark, the lightness indicates pneumonia

Because she has been sick to some degree since she was born, she shows little signs of distress and is

extremely stoic when she can’t breathe.

So I came home one night and she didn’t eat dinner.

Anyone who knows my girl, knows she has never skipped a meal.  Later that night she was elongating her neck in an attempt to breathe.

The next day we were all amazed and horrified at the x-rays that showed how little function her lungs actually had.  It was a feeling and moment I will never forget.  The reality that she could easily die of pneumonia hit home in a big way for me.

And my veterinarian and friend searched furiously and spent hours on VIN to try and find a sufficient treatment for this disorder.

Don’t Worry

dog health, Cilliary Dyskinesia

Nebulizing to Help Her Lungs Heal

Don’t worry, this particular disease is very uncommon!

Interestingly enough, it is also something that humans can suffer from which helps to give more reliable information and treatment when it comes to treating our canine friends.

Only 1 in 16,000 or 20,000 people suffer from this debilitating and incurable disease.

More About The Disease

Primary Cilliary Dyskinesia is the result of a autosomal recessive genetic condition in which the microscopic cells and hairs in the respiratory system do not work.

This prevents the clearance of mucous from the lungs, sinuses and ears.

Symptoms Include

  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Choking
  • Lung collapse
  • Chronic sinus, ear, and lung infections

Which all leads to irreversible scarring and of the bronchi and lung damage.

Interestingly, cilia is also present in the ventricles of the brain and reproductive system.

I have always joked that we veterinary technicians end up with the weirdest problems with our dogs.  My last dog had meningitis and another had 2 spleens!

She is Back to Normal

Thankfully she is back to her normal self; thanks to a great vet and an even better treatment program.

I spent 3 weeks nebulizing her and administering aerosolized and oral antibiotics, steroids and bronchodilators.

And, honestly, I don’t care about her swim suit or having to retire her from a sport.  Her life is much, much more important to me!

I am glad at her last event we had a wonderful photographer, Wayne Ramsay, that took many shots of her catching her toy in flight.

The Long and the Short of It?dog health, Cilliary Dyskinesia

Life is short!

My dog almost died of pneumonia with little to no warning.

The most important thing is to spend quality time with her, finding something else she likes to do and build memories.

The truth is, she won’t live forever.  I wish that she could.

The hard truth is, she will probably die of this disorder at some point.

So I am going to cherish every moment we have together, whether we are watching TV and she is in my lap while I nebulize her, or if we are playing Frisbee at the park.

Every moment we have together is priceless!



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  1. Julie Bunjer says:

    I am very thankful that your dog got better. We get very attached to our dogs and want them to live as long as they can. It is wonderful that you have taken such good care of your dog.


    Minette Reply:

    Thank you so much 🙂


  2. Pamela says:

    Congratulations on helping her heal. That is a victory all by itself. Now enjoy the next best game she picks for you. Hope you can have her around along time!


  3. fred silver says:

    Im so happy she doing good, or better
    That’s one thing ,they will do so much for you an play intill they drop
    So you got to watch them and make the judgement to stop
    Never push your girl or boy , because they will go forever for there owner
    Beasuse they love there owner


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