Many of you have read about my Tucker (Craigowl Joplin, DOB 10/10/2002) who had an MRI last Monday funded by Rupert's Fund as part of the CKCS genome study. Little did I know during the holiday auction when I bid on and won a few items that this initiative would affect me personally!
It began when I read here on CT about the search for older dogs who were symptomless for SM and who had never been scanned. I thought to myself that Tucker (renamed by me when he came to live with me at age 4 - and named after my father and brother) would be a great candidate for this study. At age 8, Tucker has a clear heart, is a wonderfully healthy boy, and has not shown symptoms of SM. He has been under anesthesia for dentals every year and has never had a problem. I knew that the risk would be almost nonexistent.
I casually mentioned on a thread here that I had a boy that fit the profile for Rupert's Fund, and Karlin contacted me and introduced me to Penny Knowler via email. I wasn't sure that this would work because I am in the US and far from the low cost scanning centers. Luckily, UK neurologist Simon Platt is working at the University of Georgia (about two hours' drive from me) including work on a scanning study for Brussels Griffon, and he was willing to do the scan for a reduced rate. I talked with my vet and we even took baseline chest radiographs just to make sure that there was minimal risk for my boy. While drawing blood for his pre-anesthesia blood chemistry, we drew extra to overnight to Canada for the DNA part of the project. I was a bit nervous about the MRI because this was the first time that Tucker ever had any procedure or test or was under anesthesia without my being present. I was also nervous because I would know for certain one way or the other whether Tucker had SM, but at the same time I really wanted to know his status so that I could be a better caretaker.
So, the results have already been announced in the SM forum. Tucker was graded an A by Dr. Platt. He does have CM - "mild flattening of the cerebellum and a slight herniation" but he has "no evidence of SM, no syrinx or pre-syrinx, normal ventricles, and no PSOM." Dr. Platt graded him a CM-2 and an SM-0 on the new grading scale. CM is a 2 because there is mild flattening (1) plus a slight herniation (moves it to a 2). His age is also part of the new grading scale; if he were a young dog, the CM-2 would be a different number. I was not familiar with this grading system until last Monday. Dr. Platt said that because of Tucker's age it is highly unlikely that he will ever develop SM or experience any problems from the mild CM.
I am hopeful because I read the report here that about 2/3rds of the Cavaliers scanned under Rupert's Fund project have been graded A, although all had CM (some very mild). We need more of these older Cavaliers scanned to help us learn more about the incidence in this age group and to try to understand why some Cavaliers with CM do not go on to develop SM as well as helping with the genome and EBV studies. I would never have been able to do this MRI on my own - I have four dogs (three seniors) and a cat and spend a lot of money on their care. There would not have been $1,500 "extra" available to MRI a dog that had no symptoms; I just could not justify this expense as a middle class person.
I want to extend sincere thanks to (in random order and please don't let me forget anyone):
CT members who started and all that have contributed to Rupert's Fund - keep up the good work!
Karlin for introducing me to Penny and keeping Rupert's Fund in the public awareness
Penny Knowler and Clare Rusbridge for their tireless work on behalf of Cavaliers and for putting up with me
Simon Platt who was wonderful and went above and beyond to give me all the information that I sought
My GP vet and friend, Sue Goodman, for her support and friendship and helping keep those bills low
Norma and Gordon Inglis for bringing my wonderful boy into the world
Gerri (don't know if she wants to be identified so first name only) for importing this boy to the US and giving him to me after I lost my beloved Capers