View Full Version : Others share our pain too

Kate H
16th December 2010, 08:30 PM
This was posted on an obedience forum to which I belong, as part of an obituary of a much-loved dog, and is crossposted with permission. Max was an English Springer Spaniel who died 2 days ago at the age of 14. I felt - and Karlin agreed when I told her about it - that it says very eloquently what a lot of us feel about our Cavaliers with MVD and SM. Warning: I finished reading it in tears, so have the tissues handy.

One thing Max taught me which I wish he hadn't, was how to cope with an epileptic dog! Max started fitting at 4 years old. It has been the most horrible things to cope with!! I make no apologies for the strength of sentiment in the next bit! For ALL those people who breed from lines KNOWING there is epilepsy present, this is what you potentially 'inflict' on your customers!

The first time Max fitted (luckily) was as we walked into my vets' waiting room. Down he went thrashing about on the floor, wetting himself and contorting into positions that shouldn't be physically possible! I thought, having never witnessed a dog fitting, that he was having a heart attack. I was screaming at the receptionist to get a f**king vet NOW! Everyone in the waiting room was in tears as they thought they were witnessing a dying dog (including me)! Three vets came out, picked him up by his legs and carted him off. After an hour on a vallium drip, I was allowed to go and see him. A sad, sorry little man who was totally shell-shocked!! MY little man!!

Numerous fits followed over the years. After his third one, he started to become very aggressive before he came back to full consciousness. How awful to deal with your own dog whom, under normal circumstances, was the softest, cuddliest, friendliest of animals, but following a fit, would quite happily rip your face off - which he nearly did on two occasions! I have had to use long-handled brooms to fend him off me, and my other dogs before he could inflict any damage. Do you know what it feels like to be terrified of your own dog?????????

For the last ten years Max has never been left with anyone other than myself, or my husband. We couldn't risk him potentially attacking someone who didn't know how to handle him after a fit. He has never had a day, or night apart from one or other of us. We called him our 'special needs' dog. He would get so distressed following a fit that I would 'spoon' with him on the floor to comfort him for up to four hours until he stopped howling. Do you know what it feels like to hear your own dog howl for that long????

I dare say that won't prick too many consciences as 'sss mean so much more than distress and feelings of other people - but, hey! I feel better for saying it!

Maxi Moo Moo, you have taken such a huge chunk of both our hearts with you to the Bridge - wait for us with Daisy and Oscar. No more fits my boy.
Love you always, my special man.

16th December 2010, 09:51 PM
Having had an epileptic dog myself I can empathise with this poor lady - and at the pain of her loss.

I can't imagine having to deal with that post fit aggression, how truly horrific :(:(:(

Those of us who have heard a dog scream with Syringomyelia know that it wrenches your heart out and you are never the same again, you live in terror of hearing that noise, it is like a timebomb to live with an affected dog.

Thank you for sharing this - indeed so eloquently written, I hope a few uncaring breeders do get to read it and maybe have some idea of the pain they inflict not only on the dogs, but on their caring guardians too. Like so many of us, these loving guardians' lives have been completely overtaken by the needs of their dog and responsibility to him.

The routine of medication and care is actually - and surprisingly - one thing you miss when you lost them, as there is a constant doubt in your mind that you have forgotten to do something.

It is obvious that Max was very much loved and he was lucky to have such wonderful caring and loving guardians - please pass on our sincerest condolences and tell them we have great respect for them sharing their story.

16th December 2010, 10:15 PM
A lot of people on other forums do read posts here, so with a bit of luck some of the uncaring people who inflict this sort of misery on their poorly bred animals will be brought up short by Max's story - but I'm not holding my breath.

Do thank your friend for allowing you to crosspost, Kate - and our heartfelt sympathy to her on the loss of her beloved Max, who she obviously loved and cared for extraordinarily.

16th December 2010, 10:52 PM
So sad to read this. Poor Max and I am so sorry for his human family having to cope with such severe fits. I quite agree, an epileptic dog should never be bred from.

I have experience of this too, but to a much less severe degree because my handsome Little Joe is epileptic too. Joe is a dog bred from healthy lines by a responsible breeder. His sire had the full set of health tests and passed them all. His mother was heart and eye clear too and from a famous and reliable line.

Joe's fits started when he was about 3 months old and being lead trained. There was a traffic diversion just around the corner because of road works, with heavy lorries passing down our narrow streets, which terrified Joe and started off his fits. I took him out in another direction after the first few times, but there were noises which terrified this sweet boy too. Then when the diversion finished Joe became terrified and fitted when other people came too close in the street for his comfort, or other dogs passed, even on the opposite pavement.

I took him to see the local vet, who gave Joe a thorough health check and prescribed low doses of Valium before taking him out. It did no good. The vet diagnosed Juvenile Epilepsy. I thought a neurologist would be better equipped to deal with Joe's affliction and requested a referral. I had hardly heard of SM, but it made perfect sense when the neurologist suggested an MRI scan, so this was done together with a full set of spinal x-rays, but everything was clear. The original diagnosis of Juvenile Epilepsy was confirmed and I was told the fits were likely to stop by the time Joe was about 18 months. Meanwhile I was to keep a diary of events before and after each episode, including it's duration.

It was clear from keeping the diary that Joe's fits were both short lived and triggered solely by anything that was stressful to him - a loud noise outside, a stranger coming too close or a dog barking loudly in the street. The neurologist suggested I should keep Joe strictly indoors for a month with the only visitors from outside being people he already knew and trusted. The fits stopped. He was now 8 months.

Slowly I started to reintroduce him to the outside world again - bad idea - he was terrified again, standing on the street absolutely rigid and doing belly flops so that he did not have to walk any further. I tried walking him for 2 or 3 minutes at a time for a few yards along our very quiet little road. One day he would be keen to go out, the next he would be fearful again. Then he panicked again because he saw a neighbour looking at him from outside her house, resulting in a 3 minute fit in the middle of the road, while my neighbour made sure no cars were coming towards us.

I spoke to the neurologist on the 'phone, who suggested that it was a clear choice between trying out powerful drugs on such a young dog or keeping him in his chosen 'safe place', his home. I opted for the 'safe place' treatment where he only went out for essential purposes, i.e. trips to the vet. The fits stopped, but Joe had his regular neuro. checks.

Joe was 3 years old when he had his annual neuro. check-up. There had been a change of staff and we saw a new man. 'I think it's time this dog tried to get out into the world' he told me 'he's gone over 2 years without a fit and has probably grown out of it. Nobody can be sure what his situation is, but I think you should try him out. You show dogs I believe? Is there a small local show that you could take him to for a couple of hours so that he can meet other dogs and people? You might be surprised at how well he does!' So I entered him for a local Open show, which I thought would be ideal.

He got lots of fuss from both adults and children on the bus, most of which he enjoyed and I felt him growing in confidence. The venue was busy and noisy, but Joe coped well and got second in his breed class. Somebody was selling a buggy that she had just bought for her Papilions, but they would not go near it, so I tried Joe in it. It was love at first sit and I decided to walk him down to the nearest ATM to draw out the money to pay for it.

As we were leaving the hall a large van rattled it's way down the driveway too close for Joe's comfort, resulting in the longest and most violent fit I had seen him have, which I timed at 4 1/2 minutes. As before though, he got up, shook himself from side to side and carried on as if nothing had happened. I took him back to the hall, strapped him into the buggy and asked somebody to keep an eye on him while I went to the ATM. He was fine.

To cut this long saga a bit shorter. Now that Joe has his 'carriage' he has become a different dog, who now goes absolutely everywhere - busses and trains and noisy roads hold no fear for him any more. I have shown him four or five times since then. He is a lovely looking dog, who has been placed at Companion, Limit and Open shows. Last weekend he showed quite nicely in the noisy atmosphere of NEC at the LKA Championship Show. The highlight of his day was to sit in the buggy, hood folded back, while I wheeled him around all three halls, shopping at the trade stands.

Joe now has his 'safe place' to travel in and he absolutely loves it. I will be really surprised if he fits again and he is now living so much closer to a normal life than I ever thought possible.

Epilepsy is truly a horrible thing, both for the dog and for the helpless owner who can only stand by to soothe the dog while it is happening, but feeling upset and inadequate while onlookers stand and stare. Joe is a well bred and lovely example of his breed, but, as I have already said, because his condition is likely to be genetically transmitted, I will never, ever take a chance by using him for breeding.

Despite his condition Max had a long and what I would suppose was an otherwise happy life until he died at 14, although his agressive post fit episodes must have been truly horrible for everyone concerned. I don't know about Max, but I must say that my Joe is probably the most affectionate dog I have ever had the pleasure of owning and is also probably emotionally closer to me than any other has or is ever likely to be.

Please tell Max's owner how truly sorry I am to read her story, but that I have written about my experience with Joe to show that sometimes there is a little chink of light at the end of the tunnel.:thmbsup:

16th December 2010, 11:02 PM
This bought tears to my eyes and made my heart heavy. It is as though some Breeders are a different species to us, no feeling and just plain cruel.

The Breeder I bought Molly from is once again advertising a litter of puppie on an online e site. I have created myself a page on this site and paid for a year to be there, perhaps I should quote this very sad experience without using any names.

Most people here know exactly how these people feel, not being able to let your dog out of sight just in case something goes wrong!.

Can you imagine the big hole Max has left in their lives.

Thank you for posting this Kate.

17th December 2010, 10:00 AM
This bought tears to my eyes and made my heart heavy. It is as though some Breeders are a different species to us, no feeling and just plain cruel.

The Breeder I bought Molly from is once again advertising a litter of puppie on an online e site. I have created myself a page on this site and paid for a year to be there, perhaps I should quote this very sad experience without using any names.

Most people here know exactly how these people feel, not being able to let your dog out of sight just in case something goes wrong!.

Can you imagine the big hole Max has left in their lives.

Thank you for posting this Kate.


Can I mention our Becky ,a B/T who also Suffered from Epilepsy,and give you our Experience

Becky was around 2 years of age when she Developed Epilepsy.

I contacted Dr M. Willis ,Geneticist,about her Problem, he replied to me ,telling me to get in Touch with her Breeder to tell her what had happened to Becky.

I phoned Becky's Breeder ,who is still to-day a Top Cavalier Breed , and told her about what had happened to Becky,all I got was a Lot of Abuse and the word Bull Manure Screamed at Me .Only it was not Manure she was using!!!!

Becky ,unfortunately had Cluster Fits, she would have One Fit then another Fit all at the Same Time, she lived till she was 9, but the medication she was on went for her Liver and we had to have her Put to Sleep.

The Wee Bit of Comfort we had from Becky's Fits ,was that our Vet said she was not Suffering, she did'nt know what was happening to her.

Mayby now ,some of you in the Cavalier World can understand why I don't think much of some Cavalier Breeders and their Cavalier Breeding .