Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The War of the Ear!

We are pleased to announce that the War of the Ear has been WON! Above, you can see pictures of Kyrie side-by-side. The one on the left, with the floppy ear, was taken when she was six months old. Soon after this we attended Homecoming in New York and the daughter of our breed founder, Lisa Barber, showed me how to properly brace Kyrie's ear. A good ear brace needs to be light (we used moleskin), attached with a good non-latex skin adhesive (we bought some Torbot Bonding Cement, the same brand Lisa used), and also the right shape and size! Below I've included a picture of the brace. After the one we got at Homecoming fell out (it took Kyrie about two weeks to wear out a brace to the point where it would fall out), I kept it and used it as a pattern to cut new braces. :)

You can see that the brace is fairly large. Be sure to put its base near the base of the ear, so that it can work with the good support musculature and cartilage there where the ear meets the skull. You can also see that it is rounded; I realized that this shape helps to spread out the ear a bit so it can keep its proper shape. Lisa is one smart cookie! And she has LOADS of experience, of course!!

We did one further thing to the brace, and I would like to send a thank-you out to Buddha the ISSR Shiloh Shepherd's owners for their great blog on bracing his ears! In it they talk about how they used a product called Breathe-Right Nasal Strips to help give additional strength to the mole foam. As we were pretty sure that Kyrie's ear had a heavy crease on the outside edge that was keeping it from standing, we applied one of those nasal strips along the outer edge of the moleskin, for additional support. Here is a picture of Kyr in her pen at my workplace. I took her to work a lot with me until she got used to the braces, to make sure that she did not worry them out!

We had been told that ear bracing was not something that got results overnight. After the first brace stayed in for two weeks and fell out, I was very disheartened because Kyrie's ear sagged again after only one hour. :( But we braced again, and two weeks later when it fell out her ear stayed up longer...three to four hours and the sag was not as bad. That still seemed like not enough change to me, and I was afraid that nothing would work! But we braced again...two more weeks and I put in another brace right away without seeing how long the ear would stay up this time--I didn't want to discourage myself!! So four weeks went by. I kind of screwed up that last brace because I didn't put it far enough down in the ear--it was a little wobbly. But even then, it seemed to be staying up...I was full of hope! Finally, when that brace fell out, we let it go and waited. The ear stayed up...it was up for good!!! The war of the ear was won!

It took us two months of bracing to override seven or eight months of floppy ear. Kyrie turns eleven months this Friday. I am very happy that this coming year, she will be able to go to the IABCA shows and participate! A floppy ear would have disqualified her. Lisa, Olga, Buddha's parents, and everyone who chimed in with ear tips on our wonderful Shiloh Shepherd Friends forum, we can't thank you enough for helping us to win the War of the Ear!