View Full Version : SM Awareness Teddy's Story

26th January 2011, 04:02 PM
I have met some wonderful people on this forum. Getting to Nicki a little better, I have seen that not only was she Rupert's mom whose story we should all know, but Teddy. Teddy is on the cover of this year's Rupert's Fund calendar and is in Rainbow's Bridge with Rupert, Monty, Grumpy Old William and others. I hope she does not mind, but I wanted to post the story that she gave to be on the www.twolittlecavaliers.com (http://www.twolittlecavaliers.com) event. I know that Teddy has a Very special place in her heart and mine also.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Syringomyelia Awareness: Teddy's Story (http://www.twolittlecavaliers.com/2011/01/syringomyelia-awareness-teddys-story.html)
Tweet (http://twitter.com/Felissahadas)

Guest Post by Nicki from Rupert's Fund

Teddy's Story:
Teddy came to live with us in April 2005 at 19 months of age - he had been living in an outside kennel and was not house trained, but he quickly learnt about living life indoors He was a gentle, soft boy, and a wonderful companion for Rupert - they were very close.
I soon realised that something was not right - but even my vet could not believe that we would be so unlucky as to have TWO affected dogs (little did we know...).
Teddy was scratching, to start with on one side only, not making contact with the skin – and just behind his front leg. It soon became bilateral, and eventually both ears too. He was not happy being groomed – and was generally such an easy dog, happy to do anything you wanted him to do, so I knew it was not naughtiness. He was treated for parasites, skin irritation and put on exclusion diets for food allergies, none of which made any difference.
Teddy was MRI'd a year later - and we were shocked to discover that he was indeed moderate to severely affected. When we obtained Teddy, we had impressed upon his breeder that we desperately wanted a healthy Cavalier – obviously we had recently been through Rupert's bad pain episode and feared he would not be with us for long; we also had another little Cavalier who sadly had many health problems, and was euthanised at the age of 7, not too long after we had Teddy. We were looking for a healthy Cavalier who would be with us for many years...
After Teddy's diagnosis, we wrote to his breeder explaining what had happened, and asking if she would be prepared to offer us some help with the huge vet bills we were now facing. She wrote back wishing him well and sent us a refund of his purchase price.
Teddy started a program of treatment, having medication every 8 hours. We were lucky in that every time he deteriorated, we found or were told about a new treatment or supplement which helped him. It was an emotional rollercoaster, but when you love them so very much, you do everything you can to help.
Teddy's symptoms
Scratching – initially one side, later both. Behind the front legs and later both ears too. If you touched his chest, that would trigger a scratching episode. It was hard for him to stop scratching, even if you called his name or touched him.

Pain – he NEVER yelped or cried out. Pain was apparent though in his facial expression and demeanour. Eventually he started to vocalise - moaning and groaning noises.
Intolerance of grooming. Particularly hated having his nails trimmed and eventually had to be sedated for this and for clipping his coat.

Sought cool areas to lie, he could not cope with heat/warm rooms.
He was very restless – at his worst times, he could not stay in the same position for more than about 30 minutes and would wander around trying to get comfortable.
Excessive tearing from eyes
Haunted look in his eyes, and ears held lower and back.
His balance was initially very good, but eventually he started limping and his reflexes were affected, and he then started to stumble occasionally.
Mild urinary incontinence

Teddy dropped a lot of coat, his gorgeous bushy tail disappeared and his belly and groin area were actually bald. This was believed to be a side effect of the Gabapentin. He was clipped under sedation at the vets in January 2010 – and his coat never grew again, an unsolved mystery.
Teddy had a follow up MRI 2 years after the first one as his symptoms were getting worse. There was some progression but not as much as we had possibly expected, which gave us some hope. However symptoms do not always correlate to the degree of severity apparent on an MRI – the width of the syrinx is more significant than the length, also whether it is asymmetrical.
Teddy was on an extensive schedule of medication, for over four years - we tried everything we could to keep him comfortable and happy. He also had natural supplements and homoeopathy. Teddy had regular blood tests to monitor the effect of the medications on his body – he had to take a liver support medication, as his liver was affected, possibly due to the drugs.
He developed some urinary incontinence but this was treated homoeopathically with complete success!
Sadly Teddy also battled with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth so he had to have daily antibiotics; he also developed a heart murmur at the age of 4, which progressed with frightening speed and in just under 2 years became a grade 5/6.
Teddy started vocalising showing that his pain was not under control, he was limping intermittently {neurological rather than injury}. He was very restless. It became apparent that life was no longer enjoyable and Teddy did not even want to go for walks anymore. We could no longer keep him comfortable, so he was given his rest peacefully at home on 8th April 2010 at only 6 years of age :-(
We gave the gift of love and put Teddy through the Syringomyelia Cavalier Collection Scheme – a difficult decision to make but it is a huge comfort to us now – it gave value and meaning to his passing and hopefully the tissues harvested from his body will help this very important research.

Teddy loved to be involved in whatever we were doing. He was very close to my husband but he always wanted to be wherever I was - he was my soulmate.

Dealing with chronic conditions such as Syringomyelia is very draining, it's hard to take pleasure in and enjoy your dog when you feel like you are living on borrowed time. Every day you would worry about new symptoms you might be seeing, you tend to blame everything on the Syringomyelia but also have to investigate other possibilities.
Not only is is very draining emotionally, your whole life revovles around the dogs, making sure you or someone responsible is around to dispense their medication. Teddy was on an 8 hour schedule for over 4 years, so we could NEVER have an early night or a lie in. We never resented it, we adore all our dogs and would do anything for them.
It is also draining financailly, even with insurance we were paying out hundreds of pounds a year, not only on veterinary fees, but also travel costs to the practice and to specialists, supplements and complementary therapies. A considerable amount of time is spent nursing the dogs, also researching the condition and treatments and working with vets. It is tragic that this wonderful breed has to suffer from so many horrible problems, it affects so many lives.

Our experiences have inspired us to help with raising awareness also with fundraising, lately particularly for Rupert's Fund, www.rupertsfund.com (http://www.rupertsfund.com/) which was named for our Rupert. Supporting and donating to Rupert's Fund is one of the best ways of helping our beloved breed - to fund research to find the genes responsible for Syringomyelia and to produce tools to help breeders make appropriate breeding decisions. Obviously it also helps us find MRI Grade A older dogs, which can only help the breed.

26th January 2011, 05:06 PM
Thank you SO much for posting this Anne - yes Teddy was my very special boy, I still go to pieces reading his story and seeing his photos - he was such a darling and we went through so much together :(:(

Christmas Eve 2006


Sept 2006


March 2008


Both taken on the same beach on the Isle of Skye!

Dec 2008 - you can see he is having a bad day :(:(


Snow Feb 2009


Christmas 2009 - our last photo


26th January 2011, 05:35 PM
Oh Nicki, wasn't he just so beautiful!

I know you were in pieces to lose him last year, but his story is so moving, and your loving care of him so inspirational, that I know this can only help so many of us who are facing the same problems. TLC CAN make a helluva lot of difference to their daily lives.

Bless you for sharing http://i673.photobucket.com/albums/vv97/Cavviewagtails/Animations/Heartblowingpoog.gif

26th January 2011, 05:59 PM
He was such a beautiful boy and I am sure that even through the heartache, your life was better for having him in it. R.I.P Teddy and I am thinking of you Nicki:hug:

Cathy and Winston
26th January 2011, 07:06 PM
What a beautiful boy! Thanks for sharing your story.

26th January 2011, 07:42 PM
What a sad story! Poor Teddy was unlucky in many ways but also so lucky to have such a wonderful person caring for him!! My he was a handsome boy!! What really amazes me about Nicki is that after all she has been through she still wants to own cavaliers and is as dedicated to the breed as ever. There are many who would run a mile after what she has been through and start looking at owning a different breed...it would certainly make me think twice I have to admit!

Cathy Moon
26th January 2011, 11:11 PM
Thank you for sharing Teddy's story. What a lovely boy he was! :lotsaluv:

27th January 2011, 10:28 AM
Thank you SO much everyone - I love that you all admire him too!! There is something about the way the sun reflects off the Ruby coat too - and shows all the different shades - just beautiful. He had the most amazing personality, and just loved his cuddles . Sadly he found it painful to be cuddled towards the end but we managed by him lying across my lap so he could still have the contact he craved.

Nicola - your post was very humbling :flwr: - we just adore Cavaliers. I had Westies previously and know many other dogs, but none of them are quite like a Cavalier...I really can't imagine life without at least one [despite everything :(], and I do hope for the day when we no longer have to deal with all these horrid problems, for their sake as well as ours, I hate that many of them have to deal with so much pain :(:(:(

I confess we do sometimes wonder about having another breed too :yikes Possibly a Tibetan Spaniel? [although not a true Spaniel and more independent, they are much healthier and generally live well in to their mid teens]

Everything we have been through has made me more determined than ever to do what I can to help raise awareness and has inspired me to help raise money for Rupert's Fund, as I truly believe this is the way forward. :thmbsup:

[B]I hope that Teddy's story will inspire people:

to investigate complementary therapies to help with Syringomyelia and other conditions, I do strongly believe they have helped all my dogs [and myself!]

to consider [I]the gift of love for your own Cavalier - yes it is very hard at the time, but as I said above, it is a huge comfort to us now it gave value and meaning to his passing and hopefully the tissues harvested from his body will help this very important research.

To help with fund raising for Rupert's Fund - even just the simple act of telling your friends and family about the auctions, buying items like the Calendar [there's still a couple left!], the recipe book, Christmas cards [at the appropriate time!!], even small donations [perhaps in lieu of presents for occasions such as birthdays or a memorial to someone you've lost - human or animal] ALL make such a huge difference.

Gift of love


Rupert's Fund




27th January 2011, 08:44 PM
I had heard from Nicki to read http://charliesm.wordpress.com/ but to be sure to have a tissues. I have not gotten the strength to read the whole story but today Cathy had several posts about Charlie, Why Rescuers need to understand the disease and even the one that she was brave enough to write, Courage to end the suffering.

I have to say that they were very thought provoking. I know the last one is something I fear but I don't know how to say the words but I know Ella is not to that point now. Yes it is progressive, but some manage on medication but I know Ella may come to that day. So you fear the worse, hope for the best and I try to concentrate on these days.

Charlie was lucky to get a chance with someone like you :lotsaluv:

28th January 2011, 05:32 PM
Teddy was such a beautiful boy. Your story brought tears to my eyes. Having a dog with CM/SM is an udertaking. I can relate to scheduling my life around Jack's medication schedule, however, he is so definitely worth it.
Thank you for sharing such a touching story. May sweet Teddy rest in peace.