Hi,

I got Fergie when she was three months old from a reputable breeder. I knew it was important to go to a reputable breeder since King Charles Cavaliers could suffer from heart problems and SM. I met both Fergie's parents, both of whom were very healthy. I was told that Fergie's grandparents were also alive and well.

Fergie has been the best dog that I could have imagined. She loves other dogs and people, and her favorite activity is to walk the beach and personally greet every person and dog she meets. She has simply been a joy, and I can't imagine not having her.

A month and a half ago she started fly biting. It came out of no where, and each day the episodes became more frequent. I had been on the look out for symptoms of SM, since I had done some research on the disease when I decided to get a King Charles Cavalier. I could have just put her on phenobarbital for the fly biting seizures, but I wanted to know if this could be a sign of SM. Therefore, I had an MRI and spinal tap done at the Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital. The MRI confirmed chiari malformation and mild SM. Perhaps even more devastating than the diagnosis was the fact that the anesthesia progressed the condition which, prior to the procedure, had shown no symptoms other than the fly biting. My little girl came out of the procedure with a lot of pain in her neck and weakness on her right side. She stayed in the hospital overnight. The pain in her neck subsided, but she still could not walk straight and kept collapsing on her right side.

Fergie has made progress with walking over the last five weeks thanks to ongoing prednisone, and the seizures have stopped with the phenobarbital. But the SM symptoms are now real, and they seem to be getting worse. Her neck isn't straight and leans to the right side, and her spine appears swollen, crooked, and C-shaped. She is no longer comfortable curling up with me, but instead prefers to sleep straight on her belly on the cold floor with her neck elevated. She does some head-scratching and yawning. She was just under 12 pounds before this nightmare started (a very petite girl), and quickly gained over two pounds on the meds. Sometimes, it is hard to know which are symptoms of the disease and which are due to the meds.

I have an appointment on January 2 for Fergie to see Dr. Dewey at Cornell. Despite all of my research, I am still unsure whether surgery is the right choice. The personal stories on this forum have been helpful, and I thank you for posting them. My heart breaks for Fergie and for all of you and your beloved dogs who have been impacted by this disease.

It would be very helpful for me to hear from anyone who has had experience with the folks at Cornell. I am not really sure what to expect when we get to the hospital.

Warmly,
Karen