The reason I was away last week was that I took Kayleigh down to Glasgow University Small Animal Hospital for an MRI scan - she has been symptomatic for a couple of months, and the symptoms were progressing fairly quickly. It was very difficult to arrange as I am not able to drive very far at the moment, so had to go by public transport, and rely on various friends for lifts etc. We left here at 7.30am on Monday and arrived at my friends' house in Ayrshire 8 hours later - following one car journey, two separate trains, a taxi and a short walk. The taxi driver did not want to carry Kayleigh even with her being in a travel crate Coming back was even more of a nightmare as there was vandalism on the train lines which meant the local trains were delayed and we thought we would not get to Glasgow on time to catch the train to Inverness . Fortunately my friend was coming as far as Glasgow with me and knew the area well enough to arrange a taxi to go to another station with more frequent trains to Glasgow - we managed with about 5 minutes to spare. If I'd missed that one, the next train back home involved a change -which would have been very difficult with luggage and Kayleigh.
The MRI scan results were better than perhaps we expected - surprisingly no syrinxes were found, but Clare Rusbridge et al recently published results showing that 25% of cavaliers with SM symptoms have CM only, so it appears that Kayleigh fits in with that study.
This is my first MRI scanned symptomatic dog to show symptoms from the malformation only, so we are on a new learning curve here, as I don't know what to expect in terms of prognosis etc. In the dogs presenting with clinical symptoms, Glasgow have only seen syrinxes - they have recently started a low cost MRI scheme for breeding and are obviously seeing the malformation on most of those, but the dogs are not symptomatic.
Kayleigh will be managed medically - I had one severely affected dog undergo decompression surgery and following that experience [we had 10 months with him post op], I would not put another dog through surgery at the current time - JMHO, and for many reasons.
As many of you know, we bred Kayleigh ourselves, both parents are MRI grade A, one at 2 1/2 and one at 3 1/2 - there are quite a few MRI A dogs around her and behind her too.
The studies show SM affected offspring may occur when SM unaffected dogs are used [15.4% from A x A parent crosses - parents under 5 years of age] from Interim Breeding Guidelines -- 4 Year Report. SP Knowler, AK McFadyen, C Rusbridge. Abstract at 23d ECVN symposium, Sept. 2010.
There is an element of guilt that I am responsible for bringing this wee dog into the world and she now faces living with chronic pain and some curtailment of her favourite activities she lives to run, is a very active Cavalier, but now can't keep up with her litter mates and if she does do any running, she is very sore afterwards.
Kayleigh is on room rest for a month - no running, no jumping, short lead walks and potty breaks; she will be reviewed after this time to see if the Gabapentin is helping her.
She also has a slight prolapsed disc but this is not thought to be causing her any problems - obviously the spine in a dog is in a horizontal rather than the vertical position of a human, so does not have to support the weight of the head etc.
We will just take each day as it comes, treasure time with our precious girl and do everything we can to keep her comfortable and happy.
Our precious girl
T-26April2011-0001-22 by Happy Haggis, on Flickr