Pass Along RJ
March 09 Living with EIC
by Red Wilkinson

When my female Lab Dusty collapsed for the first time, I had never heard of Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC). What was planned for that particular autumn day was a walk with a friend and six Labs through a farm field spotted with ponds. The foliage was turning yellow and red, the dogs were enjoying their romp, and it felt great to be outdoors. Without any warning, the picture turned ugly. Dusty was about a year old at the time, slender and athletic, and packed with power from her field trial sire and dam breeding.
The first hint was her wobbly gait -- especially her hindquarters -- but she was still trying to keep up with the others. Dusty was glassy-eyed and appeared to look at me with a What's going on? Finally her legs wouldn't hold her body, and she fell in a heap. Stan and I splashed water on her and separated her from the other dogs by picking her up and placing her in a truck kennel. Fifteen minutes later she was fine, enthusiastically wanting to continue the pursuit in the field.
I monitored her for a few days, but she performed flawlessly on some serious marking drills. Over the next week, I put the episode behind me. Until she collapsed again -- this time more serious than the first.
My training partner, Wayne, and I had set up a hunt test triple in some brushy cover, along with a 150-yard blind to the top of a beaver house. The weather was somewhat chilly, and the nine Master-level dogs appeared to be handling the workload with ease.
When it was Dusty's turn to come off the truck, she was, as usual, aggressive in the field. After the marks, but before the blind, she started coming unglued. All four of her legs started to wander this time, and she ended up thrashing/spinning on the ground. I picked her up and awkwardly carried her to the edge of a marsh. When I placed her into about three inches of water, thinking that some cool water might "snap her out of it," she started to spin and worked herself into deeper water. Her head was submerged, and she was drowning.
I tried to take my boots off, but there wasn't enough time. I was in up to my crotch before I could grab her.
The time had come to seek professional help. Dr. Susan Taylor, professor at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and a researcher/
collaborator into EIC, would be visiting shortly to attend our club's annual field trial. After explaining Dusty's symptoms, she was certain we were looking at EIC. A definitive commercial test was still not available, but it was suggested that I back off a strenuous training program.
The full article "Living with EIC " by Red Wilkinson appears in the upcoming April/May 2009 issue of Retriever Journal. If you are a subscriber, stay tuned! That issue will soon mail! If you are not a subscriber and would like to read the rest of this article, request an issue right now! If you do so by April 25th, you'll receive the issue with this article in it! You can request an issue by following the links below or by calling 1-800-447-7367. Make sure you tell our circulation representatives that you'd like the April/May 2009 issue!