I have a 4 1/2 year old Tri colour Cav male called Elvis, (he came with the name!), his original owner was sending him to a well known animal rescue centre when he was approx 2years as she couldn't cope with him!!!, our original intention was to attempt to rehome him, but within about an hour of having him I had been to the local pet shop to have my mobile number put on his collar, that was two and a half years ago, I fell in love with Elvis immediately as did my firefighter husband and two teenage sons. On the 23rd Jan Elvis was taken to the vet by my eldest for his booster, Aidan mentioned that he had been scratching on the walk down to the vets, this is where my traumatic fortnight started. A bit of background first, Elvis walks 5 miles daily, jumps onto sofas, runs up the stairs at the mention of the word bed and will be comfortably laying on his back in the middle of the bed beore I have made the bottom stair! Following the vet visit, she referred us to a Medical centre in Suffolk where on the 2nd of Feb, following an MRI scan Elvis was diagnosed with SM, we had never heard of SM, (a bit green, I know) but he had never displayed any signs of pain or discomfort. When we collected him on the 3rd Feb, we were told that his condition could not be treated with meds and that his /our only option was surgery, which they could perform on the 8th Feb, this would involve removing part of his skull then removing a syrinx from his spinal column at a cost to us of approx 2.5k, the majority of our insurance had already been used for the scan etc. During the journey home as you can imagine we were in pieces. As a police officer I deal on a daily basis with some shockers, but this was different, I embarked upon our arrival home on a fact finding mission which has lasted approx 7 days and leaving me filled with hope. I have spoken to some wonderful ladies over the past week from the Cavalier Club who patiently listened to me snivelling, I have now booked an appointment for Elvis to see Clare Rusbridge on the 21st Feb, with the heartfelt hope that we can manage his condition with meds. I have also spoken to a wonderful chap called Jonny Plessas from RCVS who has also filled me and mine with hope. I have a beautiful little dog who still shows very little signs of this condition and has a very waggy tail. I would like to hear from anyone who has experience with SM, who have had thier cavs operated on, or are managing with meds. I am not as emotionally disturbed as I was on the 3rd and have hope for our future.
I'm sorry you've had this diagnosis, but there are many people on this forum who can help you with shared experiences and advice - and who have dogs with SM who lead normal, happy lives. My Oliver is one of them; he was diagnosed at 6 and is now nearly 11, walks a mile or two every day off-lead - and would do more if my wonky legs could keep up with him! He really enjoys life, and is simply on two forms of medication. Most dogs with SM do well on medication (though there are also, of course, those who have SM so severely that control of the pain becomes impossible - but Elvis doesn't sound that bad); surgery is an option with a younger dog - but it is only one option, not a necessity with no alternative. One thing you learn, living with a dog with SM, is that there are many signs of pain or discomfort that we are slow to pick up. I would have said that Oliver, when diagnosed, had no symptoms of SM - but learning to recognise them, I know that in fact he has had symptoms of pain all his life - little things like squinting in strong light, being a restless sleeper, being careful to avoid being jumped on by other dogs. Most people (including some vets) don't recognise these as signs of pain, but living with an SM dog makes you very sensitive to them.
You will find Clare sympathetic, gentle and extremely competent, and if anyone can, she will be able to suggest a way forward for you and Elvis. So with any luck you will be able to have some more years together. Hope all goes well:xfngr:
Kate, Oliver and Aled
That must have been traumatic being told that the only option is surgery especially when you don’t know any better and trust what you are being told. When my two were diagnosed with SM/CM I was already on this Forum so knew what I could expect and it was still very hard.
My two see Clare Rusbridge and you could not ask for a better person. She takes her time explaining everything and she does it for the love of this lovely breed. You are in good hands. Mine are on medication and Clare did give the option of surgery but I decided against that, but that is your own personal choice.
I am glad you found this Forum as we have lots of people that have experience with SM and everybody is more than willing to listen and give advice. You will also find that every dog is different in symptoms, like my Harley was lame for 1 month and we thought it was an agility injury but it turned out to be SM. With my Ebony it took a few month to get the medication right but now she is doing fine and people never believe that she got SM. So there is light at the end of the tunnel.
All the best for the 21st.
Hello and welcome.
There are many of us here with SM cavaliers. I have had quite a few affected dogs
At the moment I have an eleven year old who was diagnosed when he was five years old and he has been kept comfortable with a changing combination of medications for many years.
I think it would be right to say that surgery more often appears to be the chosen route in USA, whereas in the UK SM affected dogs are very often managed on drugs.
If you are going to see Clare Rusbridge you are with someone who is probably the leading authority on SM. Elvis could not be in more experienced or kinder hands.
This is a very supportive forum. Just ask your questions and somone will try and answer you.
Welcome. I have three with SM -- two are so mild they are not on meds and one was diagnosed at 1 and been on meds since 2.5 and is now 8.5. It is very hard to predict what will happen -- sometimes the dogs with the worst syrinxes seem to manage OK and those with only CM and no syrinxes can have terrible pain. I know people who have had good and poor experiences with both meds and surgery. Each dog is very individual and there's no right or wrong approach -- except to leave a dog in pain when it can be managed, and to be honest with ourselves when pain gets difficult and the time comes to let a loved dog with this condition go and not ask them to keep enduring just for us.
I am glad someone in the club suggested working with Clare Rusbridge as she is one of -- in many people's opinion, *the* -- top expert on this condition in cavaliers and will give you a good assessment of your choices.
Let us know how the first visit goes. :flwr:
Welcome. Like you, I had never heard of SM when Riley was diagnosed. I found it interesting that Margaret said that surgery appears to be the chosen route more often in the US and in the UK medical management is more the rule - - interesting because all of the previous responses came from the UK and all of the dogs were managed with medication and I am the first one to respond fro the US and my dog had surgery. She did have a trial of meds first, but she had no response to them, so I opted for surgery. That was 3.75 years ago and she is doing phenomenally well. She is still on daily prednisone, but she is living and loving life.
She will never be normal and like Kate said I have learned to recognize when her SM is bothering her, things like hiding under a table or chair to get away from my other dogs. She can't jump so I got her stairs to get up on chairs and our bed. You help them adapt to their life. I'm glad you found Clare. I wish we had her over here. At least we have this forum. I found CavalierTalk as I was waiting for Riley to come out of surgery and it has been a godsend. Good luck with Elvis. Let us know how it goes.
Well fingers crossed for our appointment with Clare tomorrow, thank you for your kind words of support I will update on our return, ps Elvis is still showing very little signs and still enjoying his walks and being groomed.
I assume you will have an early start in the morning if you are driving up tomorrow. Clare is great I am sure you will like her, and in my opinion you are seeing the best person there is for SM.
Will be thinking of you & Elvis.
Well what can I say, what a fantastic lady, Clare has the bedside manner of an angel!!! We have come away full of hope for the future so much so getting lost in central London for 3 hours didn't end in a domestic between Chris and I, it was well worth the 0615 start this morning and getting home at 1630!!!.
Elvis is starting the 'drug' trial from Thursday, Clare didn't think that our only option was surgery. My only regret is that our vet in Stamford did not refer us to Clare in the first place. I cannot thank everyone enough for listening to me wail on, but special thank to Jay Forsyth for recommending Clare. I will keep 'blogging' to let you know Elvis' progress. Thank you all again so much.
I know from experience it’s a VERY long day, but well worth it. I knew you would like Clare, she is fantastic. So glad you can see a light at the end of the tunnel now.
The trial Elvis is on must be the one people were talking about on this Forum a few weeks ago.
Please keep us updated, would be nice to hear how Elvis gets on