View Full Version : Companion for my SM dog?

17th May 2010, 01:50 AM
My Tucker, a black and tan male, was 2 years old a week ago. He was diagnosed with SM last fall and the diagnosis was confirmed by MRI in early January. On January 14th he had cranial decompression surgery at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, MN. It is hard to tell at this point if the surgery had any effect. He isn't any better, but it's hard to tell if he's worse either. He's on 600 mg of gabapentin daily and still has episodes of face rubbing and scratching, both "air" and actual. Before he got sick, I was contemplating getting another Cavalier. Tucker seems well adjusted to me being at work all day (I always come home at lunch) and he goes to doggie day care one day a week plus we go to the dog park, but I thought he might like having a companion. Given his present condition, however, I'm not sure if he would find a companion to be a comfort or an annoyance. I would appreciate any thoughts anyone would like to offer. Thank you!

17th May 2010, 10:15 AM
It's hard to know really.My Daisy is two and has SM,but not anything that required surgical intervention.We have a pup,although she's almost 8 months now.
With a pup,there will be annoyance,barging,bumping,jumping on etc..
perhaps in your situation,you need an older, more mature cavalier who will happily co exist without being too demanding on Tucker.

Love my Cavaliers
17th May 2010, 02:01 PM
That's a hard one to answer and I think it depends entirely on Dylan's dispostion. Riley has SM and had decompression surgery 2 years ago. She has never known living without another dog, but she does not play with any of my others. She certainly likes to be near them and I think draws comfort from having other companions here. She used to play with her half-sister Madison, but I think as her SM progressed (she was not diagnosed until she was almost 6 years old) she lost the desire to play. She is certainly better than before surgery - thanks also to the miracles of prednisone - but she has no desire to engage the other dogs. Now Riley is a lot older than Dylan and her SM had a longer time to "wear her down". She also had advanced and severe SM when diagnosed. We got Oz shortly before she was diagnosed and his puppy energy wore her out. She would hide under tables and chairs to get away from his incessant playing, tugging on ears, tails, etc. He has calmed down now and she tolerates him well - just not as a playmate.

Sins' idea to add a mature dog is probably a good idea, just based on Riley's experience with Oz as a puppy. There are others on this forum who have successfully added an adult dog into a household with an SM dog. They might be able to give you a different perspective.

17th May 2010, 04:54 PM
Our Riley was diagnosed with SM in April of 2009. And we chose to do the medication route instead of the surgery, in fact we are in the Minneapolis area so have also been to the U of MN a few times. We started with gabepentin but recently switched to Lyrica and are very happy with it. But on to your question, we weren't sure either, but after seeing Riley at a Cavalier only playgroup last fall we knew that we needed to do it for him and for us. We only had the one Cavalier Riley and chose to look at a rescue dog as they are a bit calmer and aren't the type that are usually big players. We found Tucker a 3 year old in December and we say on a daily basis how glad we are that we did get him. He is the perfect companion for Riley, they will lay together and have even started to play together on occassions. But both dogs seem to know the limits of the other and play absolutely perfectly together. So for us it has worked out perfectly and we know that Riley appreciates having that companion, you can see it comforts him and inspires him in the bad moments.

Karen and Ruby
17th May 2010, 06:29 PM
I think every dog is different but for us getting Charlie as a companion for Ruby is the best desision ive ever made.

She was having a hard time of it for 6-7 months after diagnosis and we tried many differnt drugs to make her comfortable.
I knew at this time that my relationship with their 'dad' was breaking down and I couldnt contemplate her being alone all day whilest I worked full time.
Charlie was a rescue and was 9 months when we got accepted to be his family.

They complement each others personality and suit each other perfectly. She plays with him all the time and I certainly saw her become happier shortly after he came to be in our family.

They snuggle together, argue, play and keep each other company whilest Im at work. I still get the dog walker in every day but that is more due to the lack of toilet control that Ruby has developed with her tablets than much else but as far as I can see they are both very content with each other.

The best disision I ve made by far!!!!!!

17th May 2010, 06:33 PM
Thank you so much for your comments. Tucker's breeder also suggested that if I do get another dog, a mature dog would be the best choice. She also suggested a try-out for a week or two if at all possible.

Thank you also, Barb, for the comment about Lyrica. The vet has suggested this as an alternative. I know this isn't available yet in a generic. Can you give me an idea of how much a prescription might run each month?


17th May 2010, 07:47 PM
I have introduced both adults and puppies to a house with an affected Cavalier...but I'm home all the time and they are closely supervised.

Firstly, even coming home at lunchtime, I feel that is too long to leave a puppy - many breeders will not sell puppies to someone working full time, as they need so much company and training.

Cavaliers do seem happier when they have a companion - especially if they are on their own for quite a while during the day.

My badly affected Cavalier, Teddy, adored puppies and used to play with them, but as he deteriorated, he was no longer able to play and did not want to interact with them at all.

Do you know anyone with Cavaliers who could maybe visit and you could see how Tucker responds to having company?

I personally feel that the best option for Tucker and for you is a slightly older Cavalier. Even at one year, Cavaliers can be very lively and active - they are at the peak of their fitness. So that might be too much for Tucker.

They would be wanting to play a lot of the time - and could easily barge into him.

Maybe a two plus or even older?

It would be ideal if you could have a trial period - most responsible breeders rehoming an older dog would do that anyway as they would want to be sure that the dog and you were happy.

Keep us posted anyway - if you let us know where you live, someone might know of a suitable dog in your area. {Contact by PM please, do not mention breeders on the board}

17th May 2010, 09:29 PM
We were up to 4-5 gab. a day with Riley and had Prilosec in there as well. I am on the Walgreens prescription program with Riley and we are doing 2 - 50mg a day of Lyrica at $2.50 a pill. We started with 2 - 25mg and it just wasn't quite enough. I definitely recommend at least trying the Lyrica if you can for a couple weeks just to see what the difference is. But they usually recommend that they are not on any other medication during this trial period of Lyrica to fully see the reaction to it. I also work very close with Lucky Star Cavalier rescue here in Minneapolis and would be more then happy to assist you in finding the right older Cavalier that would fit right in with Tucker! I am assuming that you are probably in the midwest area.

18th May 2010, 02:34 AM
Do you know anyone with Cavaliers who could maybe visit and you could see how Tucker responds to having company?

There aren't many Cavaliers around here, but he is good friends with my sister's part-Lhasa female. She's never been in my home, we always go to hers since my sister has a big yard, but since she and Tucker are already friends, it might be interesting to see how he reacts to her being here. I'll give it a try.

18th May 2010, 02:50 AM
[QUOTE=gnbbrumm;361254] I also work very close with Lucky Star Cavalier rescue here in Minneapolis and would be more then happy to assist you in finding the right older Cavalier that would fit right in with Tucker! I am assuming that you are probably in the midwest area.

I'm in Grand Forks, Barb, so I'm very close. I went to the Lucky Star website and read about some of the rescues. The stories break my heart, but I'm sorry to admit that I'm reluctant to take on a dog with a lot of issues or medical problems because it would take too much attention away from Tucker and he's my primary concern right now. :( I hope that doesn't sound hard-hearted. On the other hand, if there were a dog who simply lost his home for some reason (elderly or ill owners, for example), I would be interested.

18th May 2010, 03:54 PM
Hi Everyone,
I too, am contemplating bringing another dog into my home. I was in contact with Barb at Lucky Star about a rescue who was up for adoption. Riley has been around other cavalier puppies and adults, and he clearly cannot handle a puppy right now. In fact even with an adult dog he will not engage in much play behavior but I do think he likes having other dogs around. I have tried several different scenarios to see how Riley would be. Riley is much more interested in people than in other dogs so another dog would have to be pretty much the same. I know that the idea of bringing in another cavalier is really for me and not for Riley but I have to put his comfort and well-being first.

1st June 2010, 02:38 PM
Hi there- I'm sorry to hear about Tucker's health problems. I hope that you find the surgery was a success and he starts to become more comfortable.

If you are interested in an older Cavalier, try getting in touch with the ACKCSC Rescue Trust. I am the rep for Cavaliers of Greater Atlanta and most of the pups that have come in this year have been owner turn-ins due to the bad economic times. Ray is the Director for your area and he is a super nice guy based upon the email contacts I have had with him.


You can also try Cavalier Rescue, USA


Also, contact some of the reputable breeders who do all the proper health testing in your area. Sometimes they rehome/retire their older dogs that they are no longer showing or breeding.

Here is a starting point from the club websites (but be sure to ask all the right questions re: health testing, etc)



Good luck to you!