Please help. My story is quite a long one, so please forgive me if I may sound as if I am rambling.

My mothers dog died a few months ago - Not a cavalier. We looked around for a suitable dog as she was very lonely without one. She is 83, but quite active. I spoke to vets, friends, the kennels and anybody I thought I could get advice from as to whether to get another dog and if so, which breed. We eventually found a cavalier, nearly 2 years old, from a couple who were both out at work, and felt that the dog was on his own too long. Their story seemed genuine and we did not want a puppy for my mum. As far as I could found out about cavaliers from people I know who had them, heart disease was the biggest problem, but usually not until they were older, and to make sure that they were not overfed.

However, after getting Thomas, a tri colour, my son bought my mum a book about the breed for Christmas. In there I read about SM, and consequently researched it on the net, and found your site.
We have had a real bad run of luck with our own 3 dogs healthwise (all big dogs)- one is epileptic, one has recently developed a heart problem, and one, after a knock on the beach by our other dog, landed up in the emergency vets, where it was discovered she had a very rare tumour that had ruptured. She had major surgery as they felt that she could survive and have a good quality of life, if it was succesful. Touch wood, it is now 3.5 months on, and she is doing pretty well. Because of our own problem dogs, and my mother's dog dying very suddenly from a brain tumour, I have become very paranoic.

At first I convinced myself that Thomas' scratching was nothing, and that I was letting the paranoia get the better of me. However, a couple of weeks ago he was out playing with our Golden Retriever (the epileptic one)for the first time, as previously we had kept their play contained somewhat. Suddenly after taking a flying leap down some steps over a clump of heather, he screamed out in pain, and ran in. He kept screaming on and off for about half an hour. We rushed him to the vets, and she gave him a Metacam injection. He calmed down quite a lot, but he squealed when she did something to the bottom of his back. She said that she felt he had not been exercised enough with his previous owners and rushing about like an idiot (which he defintely was - he was almost flying), had caused him to pull
something in his back.

Anyway 2 weeks on and with Metacam every day, he now seems,fine but we had him neutered last Friday and the vet took an x-ray of his spine and a slight narrowing of 2 veterbrae showed up in exactly the same spot that he appeared to hurt.

Anyway to jump to today, he had his post operative check this moring, and the wound is healing very well. He has had a 'lampshade' on all weekend to stop him licking the wound, but the vet said it could come off when we are around, and just on when we are not for the next 2 days. Tonight though, he started to scratch very badly on both sides of his head and rubbed his head on the floor. He was quite excited at the time, playing ball with one of the other dogs. I have seen him do it a good many times on the last few weeeks, but tonight it went on for ages. I know a lot of his syptoms are normal behaviour as I have seen our other dogs do the same, but I tonight in particular was defintely excessive. I have put the lampshade back on, as I thought it might help. Since Friday I had not seen him scratch at all until this evening.

I am going sick with worry, as I know my Mum cannot stand all the worry of this, and having all 3 of our own dogs with various problems, I feel that I am not going to cope.

Any advice from you experienced owners would be most appreciated.