June 12, 2015

I Cried a River...

I've cried a river over you! 
canine degenerative myelopathy

My dear friends it is with a heavy heart that I have to tell you that our dear Mikey was diagnosed with a horrible disease Canine Degenerative Myelopathy. (It is compared to human MS.) At this time there is no cure or fix. It is a neurological disease involving the spinal cord...and attacks a dog's nerve pathways, as I understand it. 

Within a couple of weeks Mikey went from going down on one hip/leg to going down one the other hip/leg ...paralyzing his hind quarters. He had absolutely no control of what his legs were doing. The nerves and signals were glitching out. I watched him struggle for several days trying to pull himself with his front legs. He went down the front steps but had to crawl back up, with my help. It was heart wrenching to watch friends. He could not roll over, turn around, or go forward. How confusing would that be!
We would try to help him move...and he would growl and bark...like "don't touch me." He had never ever growled at us before. 

I would have to get down on my knees to wrap myself around his upper body and try to pull him to the door, inch by inch, so that he could go potty. Each move was a struggle for our brave boy.  At one point...he could not even wag his tail.
After a few more days Mikey could not move. His front legs were giving out. If he could manage to get up on his front legs...they would shake and quiver. We gave him a doggie nsaid and other meds...but nothing was helping. Mikey kept trying to crawl...but was giving out after a little bit of movement. 
Our son came home and helped us...and even he had trouble moving Mikey outside to potty. At one point Mikey went a day without success voiding. Another symptom. 

We were having to hand water and feed him. He could not get to his food and water. We were afraid to let him have too much water because of not being able to void. And we did not want him to dehydrate either. We knew we had to get Mikey back to the vet. Quickly.
To transport Mikey to the car hubby and son made an improvised stretcher with a folded blanket. Mikey was not too thrilled about that...but they got him in the car and to the vet, where he was transported inside with a better animal stretcher/gurney. He was stoic about the moving...and did not appear to be in pain.

Everything happened so fast. Mikey spent the night at the vet hospital, where he was treated with steroids, etc. to try to help. He managed to get on his feet, but only briefly. His rear paws would rotate as if he were walking on the tops of his feet.  This is NOT good. This is one of the symptoms of the disease, and one of the tests...the paws test. 

The suddenness of all of this made my head spin. A disease I had never heard of had gotten its grip on my sweet Mikey. I did read that the disease is not painful. I am thankful for that! The legs just stop working because of neurological problems in the spinal cord.
We made the decision to not let Mikey suffer any more. He became a paraplegic in a couple of weeks. He could not walk. It killed us. Mikey has been the picture of health over the years. That is why were were so stunned by this sudden turn. 

We have lost other dogs. But losing Mikey brought all of us to tears. We cried like babies! Even the big tough guys! We had just lost our furbaby. We were just a mess. I am glad the vet's office had a box of tissues.

This disease is seen in German Shepards, and other breeds...and our vet had to put hers down a couple of weeks ago after working with him. I guess it was good that our vet had experience with the disease...and knew what to look for. If you have more interest in reading about this...
just google Canine Degenerative Myelopathy. I think it is mostly in large breed dogs, but not positive. Here are a couple of good sources for more information.


Mikey has no control of his rear legs in this photo. 

He still had upper body strength to raise up. 
But in time...all he could do was lay his head down. 

He was just "beached." 
My Mikey had been struck down with a horrible neurological disease. 
Perhaps there were symptoms that we did not catch. As a twelve year old boy we knew that Mikey was having difficulty getting up and down. He was slower than he used to be. But hey, I am slower too. Not the spring chick I used to be either. We were getting older together. 

June 2003
Mikey was my empty nest puppy, and he was MY first puppy. We had dogs around the house and farm...but they were outside dogs. Mikey was different. Boy I'll say he was different. I came to find out that Mikey was typical of his breed... a gentle and sweet companion dog. (aka velcro dog) All of those traits worked for me. I fell hard for the little ball of fluff. He was about five weeks old when I brought him home to live with us. 

Mikey kept me so busy in the first few months that I did not notice that my house was empty of kids. There were leaks, dribbles, and dog fur! Lots of cleaning and sanitizing happened multiple times a day. We had a cage in a corner of the kitchen for him. That was his "bedroom." I can remember sitting playing roll the ball getting him ready for lights out. Potty in the grass, then lights out. Well, there was a night light and public radio for white noise. 

I had the crazy idea that Mikey would be an outdoor dog like our other farm dogs, and that he would sleep on the back step. WRONG. With the increase of wild animals on the back of our farm...we brought him in to stay at night. While he was getting to be a larger dog, he would be no match for a coyote or bear if he went roaming around. (Our previous dog was part German Shepard...and he was large and in charge. He actually refused to come in the house when a storm was approaching.) 

Little by little it seemed that Mikey became a house dog. Wow. Me, the one who always wanted the house to be spotless, was learning how to deal with dog fur, drool spots on the floor, paw prints, etc. I later learned that Mikey more than paid for his room and board with love, hugs, quiet understanding, and companionship.

Mikey had his work cut out for him too. He had a papa, a mama, and two grown kids to help take care of. Then our daughter married and his circle included another two people. It is a lot of work to love so many people and take care of their emotional needs. 

I remember locking myself out of the house once when Mikey was about a year old. I was so exasperated that I sat on the front porch and cried. I remember looking at him and how he had this expression of what's this all about. Head tilted and ears rotated up. 

Mikey endured two moves with his family, adapting to his new surroundings each time. He loved making friends with new people, kids, dogs. Mikey did not have any bad habits either. He did not dig holes in the yard. He did not bark...unless absolutely necessary. His favorite treat was a "golden" oreo. He was one good boy!
I took golden oreos with us when we went to say goodby. Each of us gave him one last golden oreo! Hugged, cried, hugged cried, hugged cried. 
Mikey with Larry the Lion...one of his favorite toys.

Rest in Peace
Mikey E.
May 30, 2003 -June 11, 2015
Joins Duke, Sam, and Q
 over the Rainbow Bridge.
We will see you later! 
mama & papa
Sweet dreams big boy!

I will miss having "designer" dog with me on my photo shoots around the house. Looks like I am back to having an empty nest.

I will celebrate his life and his contributions 
to our family...after the tears dry up. 
I am heartbroken.   

Mikey's registered name is
Lady Sheila's Major Mike E.
His mother was Lady.
His dad was Major.
Our son's middle name is Michael.

We have no plans to raise another puppy, but plan to support golden rescue organizations in the name of Mikey.

(All pics were taken after Mikey's legs stopped working. Normally I could not get a pic of Mikey because he was "in my face" with tail wagging.)

Thanks for visiting today... I will heal, but I will always remember sweet Mikey for showing me a special kind of love. 


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S H Elliott
S H Elliott

Hello, I'm Sheila and my house is a giant art project! I enjoy creating an environment where my family can feel safe, secure, and loved. We are empty nesters learning to slow down and enjoy life.

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