Ella was diagnosed with Syringomyelia and taught me more in her short life about how to live life to the fullest, love with all your heart, and learn from each other.

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The moment I first held Ella, my world changed. She has touched so many people giving love as a therapy dog but now it is time to give back. No matter how hard she tries to give, her eyes show sadness and pain.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Two Little Cavaliers Spreading Awareness of SM Event

When I heard that http://twolittlecavaliers.blogspot.com/2010/12/syringomyelia-awareness-event-we-need.htmlwanted to do a special week to spread awareness of Syringomyelia, I was so excited.  So I wanted to share again Ella's Story.

“Half of the Cavaliers here probably have Syringomyelia”, Ella’s neurologist said when I had him talk to a group of Cavalier owners in Charlotte. He began to show slides of what it is, SM breeding protocol, treatment, etc. which I listed some links of the information available but I am just a pet owner with a love so deep for an angel that was brought into my life 4 ½ years ago. The most important thing in my life is her and if her story and pain will help another then it gives me hope and something I can do to when I feel helpless.

Ella’s story begins with a Cavalier named Ollie. I was looking on the Internet and I saw a picture of this beautiful dog Ollie. At that moment, I wanted to learn more about him and I read about what he went through. I bought the book and cherish it everyday. I will always talk about the book For the Love of Ollie because the story gave me knowledge about this condition and helped me recognize what was going on with Ella. I will always be thankful for that. Sandy Smith did not write the book to make a profit, in fact the money goes towards SM research. This one book made a big change in my life. Ollie touched me and I reached out to Sandra when I found out about Ella and she offered her support.

It was Ollie’s story which put together pieces of a puzzle which several months later ended with results from an MRI which diagnosed her with severe CM/SM. I thought I heard him wrong. I knew the symptoms from reading “For the Love of Ollie”, that can not be. I knew about Syringomyelia (SM) and was able to notice symptoms that had been diagnosed as allergies, ear infections but deep down I knew there was something more and I demanded her vet refer me to a neurologist. What if I did waited it out longer as the vet told me? I thought I caught it early enough if anything he would say mild. Had it not been for Ollie, I don’t know where Ella would be right now. Ella did not act like some of the dogs I saw on YouTube so how could it be that bad? Thank goodness I did not wait because it saved her from more damage which I don’t know where she would be now.

Every dog has different symptoms but this is what I noticed with Ella

I started to notice something was off with Ella probably when she was about 2 years old. She was almost 4 when she was diagnosed. It was nothing major, it just seemed like she scratched more than usually. I tend to notice everything about her. Her vet said that it was probably food allergies so we changed her food and I didn't really think anything about it. .Then several months later she just looked funny walking up the stairs. I can't describe it but no one else could see what I saw. I even took her to see her vet to watch her go up the stairs. I felt like someone taking their car into the shop and it works only when you are their. People thought I was crazy. She would put one paw in front of the other and she always seemed to walk on one side. She always seemed to scratch at her ears, which was diagnosed as an ear infection. All of these things may sound like typical dog behavior and some of it could be but looking back on it, they were pieces to a puzzle.

It was probably in April 2009, I noticed the lack of energy at the Dog Bar.  would think she was just tired from day care. I would laugh and say what is wrong with you? At her birthday party she would seemed not her playful self. She would move away at times and Ella is a very social girl. Check her out on the Bar!

The other things I noticed was the restless nights. She seemed to never get comfortable. Always making a bed or rubbing her face on the covers. I heard about the "phantom scratching" and I didn't really see that. I started to look to see if she was scratching on one side. She was always scratching on one side. I paid close attention to all the things she was doing. It then went downhill real fast. In about two weeks she was hiding under the bed, under the table, laying on the floor, shaking her head constantly, hardly able to walk up the stairs, dullness in the eyes. Again I went to my vet and he said not to jump to any conclusions it's probably an ear infection and allergies and we still want to rule those out before I recommend her go to a neurologist.

I knew she had Syringomyelia. That weekend I took her to my cousins house and the thing Ella likes to do more than anything is run after the ball. I threw the ball and she was did not move. I started to sob. I called and demanded for them to let me see a neurologist. She went that following Monday. I thought I caught it before anyone. My friends did not even think she needed to see a neurologist so when it was severe I was shocked. I think it was because of the rate of her progression.

Now that I knew she had it, the hardest part of Syringomyelia is deciding what treatment option to take.

I can not recommend which is the best option because it is different for each dog. I wish I could because you don’t know how many times I read questions asking what should they do. Her neurologist said he could not tell me she would be around in 3 months and I couldn't live with that. She had a severe case and it was progressing fast and medication did not seem to do anything. Different medications work for different dogs and I did not feel I had time to experiment and I did not want any more damage done. She had surgery a couple of weeks later. It was a tough decision but I do not regret it. She continued to be on several different medications however I started to notice some symptoms again and my heart sank. I learned in September she developed scar tissue and she was actually worse than before even continuing on medication management. Now I am faced with another decision which I still don’t know what I am going to do. I don’t regret making the choice to have Surgery because I don’t think she would be here now but I don’t know. Actually in September, her neurologist said again that since with surgery, medication, and having the results show that it actually was worse than before in just 6 months, I did not think we would make it to the end of the year and look at us now. I am constantly reminded of how lucky I was to know about this condition because if I didn't I do not know how much damage to her spinal cord would have been done.

I have written several posts about this past year and to sum it up in one post is hard. Each dog is different in regards to symptoms, severity, reactions to different medication, and progression. I have listed some helpful links because I can only tell you about her.

Ollie and Ella are not alone. Ella was diagnosed last January and this past year I have met several wonderful people, heard other stories, read research (which I still am trying to understand), heard stories from breeders, saw Pedigree Dogs Exposed, learned there is a lot of politics, tried to figure out what I could do, and I am still searching for answers. One thing I know is that it started for me with an owner and a love for her Cavalier and has led to a fight to help others not go through nights of tears and heartache and a passion to help save a breed I love so much. Any Cavalier owner who loves this breed needs to know that there are many people trying to save the breed which is in now their future is in their hands. So please take her story to heart because if you have a Cavalier you may not know it but they too could have SM and you don’t even know it or ever will. If you are not going to bred your Cavalier and they have no symptoms, then it is not something to go run and get an MRI.

I am not a researcher, breeder, expert, but I have a love for Ella which now I have a new understanding of what is really important to me. Because SM is asymptomatic for a lot of Cavaliers, it can be passed on with each new generation. That is why knowing about SM breeding protocols is so important.

For the Love of Ollie, is not only a great book and is something I am so thankful I got but the proceeds were used to help fund research for SM that should be recognized. In fact there are several research projects. Ollie helped Ella in the beginning, but it is a special Cavalier Rupert that is giving me hope for the future.

Rupert is very special to me and I hope someone else will talk about him and Rupert’s fund but you can find my post here.

So to go back to the beginning of Ella’s story, I will quote Sandy Smith.

Think Big Start Small- "to the world you are but one... to me You are the world"

I have been thinking of so many big issues and even though I think they are important, I need to be reminded of the one thing that makes the biggest change. That is knowledge, support, and spreading awareness. I have been contacted by people who have read my blog and her story has touched others. I met a very special person Tania who has the website Cavalier Matters who told me about Cavalier Talk. Through that I have met many others and have been given information, support, and will always be thankful for that.

The day I got the e-mail from Tania, I was so happy. I felt that someone cared and I know there have been many others along the way, it was that realization that helped me. I also have met Jana who writes Dawgbusiness, who wrote about Ella’s story and helped her get another MRI. She does not have a Cavalier but does know what it is like to go through loving a dog that has major health issues.

This is quoted from Rupert's Fund.

"Because SM is a progressive condition -- meaning it tends to develop slowly over time and may not be apparent when affected dogs are younger -- finding older cavaliers with little or no SM is especially valuable to determine how it is inherited and help breeders identify promising lines. But time is running out. With every new generation of dogs, lines are further mixed. Some old, probably healthier lines have disappeared already. The chance diminishes of finding the fully clear dogs that could provide a genetic rescue plan."

Please look at these websites from people active in keeping this breed around and healthy.





In memory of Ollie and Rupert, please share their stories and read about this condition and learn about the importance of knowing health issues.

Thank you,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You Can’t Put a Price on Health

I hate to compare a Cavalier or any dog to an item since it is a living breathing animal but I am going to just this once.

There is a car that everybody wants, however it is extremely expensive because of the parts that go into it to make it the car that is safe, attractive, and reliable. Let’s imagine that this car company decided to produce more cars and lowered the price but did not go through all the safety tests and used broken parts. They look the same on the outside but no one would know that there is a faulty part. The cheaper one could be packaged up pretty on a nice website and sold for less, no one would know? Would you want to buy a car and drive it knowing that it has not be safety tested and the parts could fail which would put your life in danger? I don’t think so.

You can not put a price on safety and you can not put a price on health.

How could you not want a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel? They are cute, affectionate however,, there are some health issues associated with this breed. So people want them but don’t want to spend the money that some breeders charge.

     I don’t want people to think just because a Cavalier costs more, the breeder or the Cavalier is better.

They see this cute puppy for a lot less and get that one never checking to see what kind of health tests were done, who the breeder is, anything, just wanted the one that looked cute and at a price they could afford.

Fast forward… This “cheaper” puppy ended up costing much more than the one that came from a breeder who did all of these health screenings from some health issues that required several surgeries. Even worse, the puppy ended up bringing tears to a child’s eyes because it had to be put to sleep at an early age.

Ella came from a breeder that did several health tests except at the time was not scanning for SM. I don’t want Ella’s story to say anything about her breeder, but if anything it shows that no matter what all tests were done and how great she is, Ella had surgery to remove part of her skull before she was even 4. Now she is almost 5 (yeah!!) but she is having trouble walking up the stairs. I feel lucky that her parents hearts were tested and the MVD protocol was being followed because her parents were 5 and 6 when she was born. However, I hate to say this but I am not worried about MVD for her right now.

Her parents have great health records (minus the MRI scans which were not done) but she inherited this terrible condition.

A lot of people are talking about if the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breed can be saved. I feel it can be saved but pet owners and buyers can not continue to buy from people who produce litters with “bad parts”. If people can wait and not buy from someone not testing, breeders can not breed so early to meet demands and start to follow protocols, and if we all help research, then there is a chance.

There are Cavaliers that are CM/SM clear and clear hearts. If we do not do not buy from the breeders with cheaper dogs because we can afford it but adopt a Cavalier. There are a lot that need a second chance. Now is not the time to be looking to make money or save money etc. Now is the time to save the breed. There are breeders that actually spend more money to produce healthy dogs for the love of the breed. If anyone says they do not do any health tests because of price or it is not neccesary,  they should not be breeding because it is hurting the breed. If you want to buy a Cavalier and can not afford one from a breeder that is more expensive that has done health tests, get a rescue because that is hurting the breed too.

I want another Cavalier but don’t have money for one that costs a lot, but I would never get in a car and put my life in the hands of something that has never been tested.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Who will Lick my Tears?

It has been almost one year since Ella was diagnosed with SM. Part of me is so thankful she made it to Christmas and then the other part is scared if this is the last Christmas we will have together. No one wants to read sad stories and part of loving a dog comes, with the inevitable part of saying goodbye. Ella is only 4 years old and I never expected to be hoping for one more year. I know I can not dwell on the “what if” and celebrate each day I have with her but I have to think of when she is gone, who will lick my tears away?

I got Ella at a time when I needed someone to show me love. She lifted me up and gave me hope. I have been looking through pictures and every single picture I have with her, I have the biggest smile on my face. She does that to me. I knew when I got Ella, she would not live forever, but I thought by then I would have a family and it would be easier. It is just us and even though I am sure it is difficult no matter what, I don’t have a husband or children to come home to. My house would be empty. I read someone talking about having to take her Cavalier to be PTS and licked her tears to comfort her even though it was her last day. I began to cry. That is how they are so giving and even in pain, they want to make you feel better.

It is not just a dog that will feel pain. Think about the owners tears when they lose a dog. I have been blessed to meet some caring people on the Internet who I know will hold me up when that time comes. We all support each other and I am so thankful for that because I don’t feel so alone.

So for now, I am blessed to have someone to come home to. I make every day I have with Ella count. I will hold her head up when she needs to. I will give anything for her, because if it wasn’t for her, I don’t know if I could have ever experienced the love I have felt.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is it the right time for a puppy- learn from my aunt and uncle

My last post was about my aunt and uncle and how they fell in love with Ella but due to her medical situations made them reconsider if they would ever get a Cavalier.  I need to clarify this just a bit because there are also some things to learn from them too. 

  • Is a puppy a good present for someone?
Several years ago after they lost their dog Snoodle to old age, my cousins thought it was a great idea to get them a puppy for Christmas.  I still hear about this one because although they became to love the puppy (Buck) more than anything, they were shocked and did not want this then. They were not ready to train a puppy and were not even looking for one at the time. So here they were with a little puppy to take care of, go through all the training and they were still mourning Snoodle.  They had a trip planned, so what to do with the puppy?  The moral of the story is a puppy is a responsibility and not just something that is cute with a bow.

  • Puppies are so cute and you may fall in love with a dog (Ella) but it is not something to buy on impulse without asking yourself is it the right time for a puppy.
My uncle would not let me bring Ella around because his wife would keep talking about getting a Cavalier puppy.  Is that mean? No, simply because he was being rational and knew that the time was not right.  So his children and I saw also how this Thanksgiving a dog was missing and could see that they kept talking about Buck and my uncle was talking about how great Ella was. That is when he said the comment.  People have said comments and I saw a perfect rescue on Cavalier Rescue USA named Robyn in Kingston NC. They would be perfect because they are not wanting the puppy stage, they are retired, they do not have another dog, and believe me they pay special attention to their dogs. 

I called and talked to my Uncle about Robyn because I think that Rescues are awesome and need great homes like theirs would be.  One thing about Cavalier Rescue USA and other great breeders are they would want to meet the potential owners and make sure it was a fit. They would never let me get a rescue or a puppy for someone else because they would want to know the dog would be taken care of and in a great family. 

My uncle said that if the dog was anything like Ella then I bet she is special but now is not the right time for a dog.  They are building a house in Florida and driving down there a lot to do things and would want to get into the home and make sure it would suit a dog and with traveling it would be okay.  This is one question people should ask themselves. Think about these things because a dog is a huge responsibility and to be a responsible pet owner and buyer, you need to take several things under consideration.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club USA have several things about finding a breeder and some helpful tips including questions to ask yourself. When I read some of these points it made perfect sense why he would want to wait. Here are the questions they have on their website. I put in bold some things that stood out that were especially why my aunt and uncle want to wait until they are settled.


You should be able to answer all of the questions below affirmatively before you begin your search for a Cavalier.

Are you prepared to ………

Take full responsibility for this dog and all its needs for the next 10 – 15 years? This is not a task that can be left to children!

Invest the considerable time, money and patience it takes to train the dog to be a good companion? This does not happen by itself.

Always keep the dog safe -- no running loose, riding in the back of an open pickup truck or being chained or penned outside.

Make sure the dog gets enough attention and exercise?

Live with shedding for the next 10 – 15 years?

Spend the money it takes to provide proper veterinary care including, but certainly not limited to, puppy vaccinations, heartworm testing and preventative, spaying or neutering, dentistry, and annual checkups?

Become educated about the proper care of the breed; correct training methods, and how to groom?

Take your questions to the breeder or other appropriate professional before they become problems out of hand?

Have the patience to accept (and enjoy) the trials of Cavalier puppyhood and each stage afterwards?

Continue to accept responsibility for the dog despite your inevitable life changes such as new babies, children going off to school, moving, or returning to work?

Accept responsibility for the dog’s inevitable changes due to old age and/or ill health?

Resist impulse buying and instead have the patience to make a responsible choice?

Install fencing, even if you live outside of an urban area? Cavaliers are notorious for being hit by cars. If you allow a Cavalier to run in any area where a moving vehicle may pass by, there is a huge chance that your Cavalier will be killed. Many are killed by their owners in their own driveway. Cavaliers are perpetual adolescents and require constant vigilance in unsecured and unfamiliar areas.

If you answered YES to ALL of the above, you are ready to start contacting breeders. Remember, the right puppy IS worth waiting for! "

Now with Christmas coming think about how my aunt and uncle reacted to that Christmas morning. It is a huge responsibility and something that only the person taking care of the dog could answer. They are going to be the ones walking the dog in the middle of the night, puppy training, etc.

 Although my aunt and uncle are well settled and it ended up okay, I know that many children want a cute puppy for Christmas. I did. When I was in 4th grade my mom and dad got me a Cocker Spaniel. I liked to dress Flip up, hug and kiss him, but it was my parents that lived with the vet bills, walks, training etc.  They unfortunately did not take the time to find a great breeder. Even though we went to the persons house and saw the puppies, they did not ask any questions to the breeder.  My Christmas present ended up getting countless surgeries becoming blind and deaf and lived with many health problems. That one Christmas present could have paid for my college tuition, a new car, because I can not even count up the money they spent on his health problems.

So I guess you can learn from both of us. Don't feel like you need to have a puppy under the Christmas tree. Take time to find a good breeder, know if the time is right, and it will pay off in the long run!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Learn From Ella

This Thanksgiving I was with my family and I have a lot to be thankful for especially having Ella with me this year. One thing that did upset me was how my aunt and uncle had fallen in love with Ella and decided that if they ever got another dog it would be a Cavalier. They told me that because of her health condition, they are now reconsidering this.

When someone sees a person they care about go through the heartache of having a dog with SM or another health condition, it can have an impression on them too. I don’t want Ella to suffer but if she is, then it should show people how important it is to find a breeder who will breed for health. I think Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are the best breed and I will always want one and suggest the breed to others, however, it is important that if you get a puppy to make sure the breeder is doing health tests to help prevent this heartache.

I am especially thankful to have met someone on an SM forum that has shown me the side of a breeder, showing Cavaliers, health issues, training etc. and also has been a shoulder to cry on. She showed me that there are great breeders out there and that are especially concerned with this. I emailed her because I was upset and asked if she knew anyone that is following the SM breeding protocol. She said there are and gave me some names. I want my uncle and aunt to have the joy I have had of bringing a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel into my life.

I would like to point out a couple of things I think are important.

• Even great breeders will have a puppy that will develop a health condition and it is upsetting to them also. There are no guarantees but the good ones are doing everything possible to keep the number limited.

• Not all breeders are the same

• Ella did not come from a puppy mill or Back yard breeder (BYB). Her parents had several health tests done but at the time did not do any scanning for SM. This is why I feel that all tests are important.

• The CKCSC-USA and the ACKCSC are not just for shows. They have valuable information and they want to help the breed. The breeders that are members of these clubs and regional clubs are a good place to start. The clubs have ethical guidelines and recommendations but it is still important to make sure to still ask the questions to see if the breeder is following things.

• Get involved. It’s up to the pet buying public to push for breeders that do more health tests.

• The price of a Cavalier does not mean that it is better. If you want to save money and get a Cavalier from someone not doing tests, you probably will be spending more in the long run if your puppy has inherited health problems. If money is an issue, think of adopting. There are many Cavaliers that need a good home and sometimes good breeders will have older Cavaliers that they were going to show but did not end up being show quality.

• Buying a puppy is not something to do on impulse. Take the time to learn about the breed, research what questions to ask breeders and what to look for, it will be well worth it in the long run. You may have to wait if you find someone that does not have available puppies, but the wait is worth it especially if it means you may have a dog that is with you longer in the long run.

I am going to get a checklist together for my aunt and uncle because I do want them to get a Cavalier because I see how their eyes light up when they see Ella. (I gave my uncle a baby Rupert to love on). Don’t give up because now is the time to promote the people who are breeding for health. What we have gone through is painful, but it does not have to touch more and more people. Please learn from Ella and thank the breeders who are following SM breeding protocol and pushing for a healthier breed for the future.

I read somewhere that doctors would prescribe the Toy Spaniel (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) for people with an illness. Now its time to return the favor.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We may be worlds apart…You can stand under my UmbrELLA, Ella, Ella

Rihanna’s song “Umbrella” is a great song (not only because it says Ella) but it expresses how I feel about the Cavalier world and the people I have met.

When the sun shines, we'll shine together

Told you I'll be here forever

Said I'll always be a friend

Took an oath I'ma stick it out till the end

Now that it's raining more than ever

Know that we'll still have each other

You can stand under my umbrella

You can stand under my umbrella

(Ella ella eh eh eh)

I give anything for her because of how she has been there for me through everything lending support, comfort, joy and now that she is sick, I will be there for her throughout. However, Ella is not alone and when I wrote this blog it was to help others understand things, express my heartache, and maybe someone else would read this and could identify some things. I never imagined how many people I have been introduced to through this, supported me and I supported them and learned so much more each day.

Going through this, I looked on the Internet for answers, advice, prognosis, anything to help me determine what to do and what to expect. With SM you don’t have those answers. Some people are told by Doctors their Cavaliers would never live as long as they have and still are. What makes me get through each day is the support I have received from people I have met on the Internet, which are as close as my same city, to Australia. We all share the same thing, love of our little ones. The people that have gone through having a dog with SM will never forget how hard it is, but even going through any dog you love with an illness is tough.

These beautiful Cavaliers are Miki and Miki’s brother Morris who live in Rome, Italy. They posted a picture of Ella on their Facebook page and sent me an e-mail saying how touched they were by Ella’s story. Immediately, I received comments from people all over the world who gave prayers, comments, support and I was overcome by emotion. I knew Ella was a special girl, but to know that all of these people read about her was truly amazing. In this great big world we live in, the love of our Cavaliers (or other animals) brings us together to pray and support each other which I know has kept Ella and me strong through this fight.

With this I have met someone that lives close to me and also saw a comment from another person who lives near me who let Ella borrow her stroller. It is amazing how small this world is and how we all come together and support each other for our Cavaliers.

Please let me know if you want your name added to the prayer list.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

buying a puppy is and should be like buying a car part 1

When I was little, I wanted a puppy. Several surgeries and years later, that puppy could have paid for my college tuition and a new car.

The puppy I wanted to dress up, kiss and hold, became a dog my parents took out, fed and ended up spending a lot of money on due to all the health conditions resulting from a poorly breed dog.

A new puppy will be with you as long as a new car if not longer, yet more people do research before buying a car that is not a life and does not hurt when a part breaks.

Before buying a puppy, think about what you might do before buying a car.

Does the dog (car's) characteristics (features) fit your lifestyle.

Sure that pretty convertable may look nice next to a minivan, but ask my sister after a long car trip what she feels about the DVD player for the restless kids.

Think about 3 hyperactive kids crammed in a car for several hours with no stimulation or breaks. I think havic. Now picture an active dog needing lots of exercise in a small space for several hours. I can see some scratched doors, broken items, maybe even holes in the walls.

You might not be the right fit for a particular dog (car) needs.

Monday, November 1, 2010

a howl of a good time... halloween was special this year

i have been long overdue for a post but there is so much to say. First, pictures say it all and yesterday felt like a fashion show. We were so excited to have dogtopia of charlotte to let us have a halloween party. About a month ago, ella got bitten by a dog and we are having her eye removed.

Ella has had a really tough year so not only is she perfect as a pirate from having a battle wound, she is as tough as one. So i tried to get people together and have a reason for some fun. Thanks to the people who came (it was small but better for her) because she got partied out!

bobbing for howl-o-weenies, treats, anything with food, she jumps on it. Ella is the sweetest dog, except when food is related. She wants it all and does not like to share. She may not even want the bone but she will guard it with her life.

If you look closely you can see two stuffed cavaliers in a crate. Ella was in there some to get away from the excitement. They are baby rupert's. I have mentioned rupert but of the 4 people there everyone wanted one. Again, ella loves her ruperts.

Ella won the costume contest, but i think she had a little bit of an advantage with being hurt. Her costume was the best of the 4 dogs there anyway.

Halloween can be so much fun for dogs and children. It gave me a reason to celebrate for everything she is going through.

Overall, she had a good time and was nice to do.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A New Meaning to Man's Best Friend- Canine Genome Research not Just for the Dogs

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not the only ones who suffer from Syringomyelia and Chiari Malformation.  Humans also suffer from this painful condition but it is not nearly as common as it is with a Cavalier.  Bobby Jones, a famous golfer, was diagnosed with Syringomyelia which eventually restricted him to a wheelchair. 

Can Cavalier King Charles Spaniels provide the clues of this condition?

Yes, in fact recently with the Human Genome Project gave valuable information on understanding genetics. I am not a scientist but this YouTube Video explains that with we are not that much different.  Dr. Clare Rusbridge along with others started to build a DNA database and has already had some major discoveries.  They believe to have already found the genetic region for SM. This is all thanks to Rupert's Fund along with other organizations that have contributed. Here is a document that describes more in scientific terms.

The American Syringomyelia and Chiari Alliance Project

They wrote about how dogs might just be the answer to some of their pain. The genetic understanding and research would be extremely valuable information. Thanks to the worldwide campaign they were hoping to be able to pinpoint this gene. How great would that be for human kind!  It looks like Dr. Rusbridge is on the right track.

They could get a better understanding of how things develop. How it passes on through certain generations. Since there are more Cavaliers and other dogs Friends of Lola with Syringomyelia and that the generations can be traced gives scientist knowledge and humans hope. 

What a pet owner of an SM dog can learn from a human

I always wonder what Ella goes through because she can not tell me. Sometimes it is hard to hear people talking about the terrible pain but it makes me understand more.  We need to learn from each other.

Don't Give up on a Breed

Purebreds do have hereditary conditions. It is easier to pinpoint these health issues because they have several generations and history. Understanding and being able to trace this valuable DNA, may do wonders for mankind.

Please see futher information

And As Always Please Visit Rupert's Fund-

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Little Cavalier that Could

This weekend a terrible thing happened to Ella, yet she remained strong, brave and a true inspiration. People said when they learned she was attacked by another dog that she has already gone through so much. It's not fair, I felt her pain but something came over me. I just knew I needed to take care of her and that she would be ok. I have always thought she was special and I knew if that nothing could change her spirit.

“God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight” Reggie White

I saw everyone react to her getting attacked with shock, tears, panic, and hysteria. I am not saying it was not traumatic for me, but I knew that this was not life threatening. She would make it and she is a strong little girl. I have been going through the acceptance process with Ella and her SM. To me, that is much more hurtful to her. I was picking up Kennedy (another Cavalier) at his owners friends house. It happened and who, what, when, where, why is not important. The important thing is how we take something we can not change, and move forward.  Also the importance of people being there to support you.

My friends rushed to meet us at the hospital, tears in their eyes, and their hearts filled with love.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Having them want to be there and concerned meant so much to me. Everyone I have met online has been there to not only support me with this, but with her Syringomyelia. It is hard even for another Cavalier owner, to know what Ella has been going through. You can see her eye and her face with blood, but you can not see the inside of her brain and the syrinx. She can not tell someone the pain she feels inside but it is easy to see pain when there is blood.

"Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.” unknown

They keep saying they don’t understand how I could have remained so strong. That is very simple. Ella is dealing with so much more than an eye. Although it may seem tragic to someone with a healthy dog to lose an eye. I have posted how I felt staring into her eyes, I still know that is would be hard for me but that it would not matter to her. She will get over the initial pain but with SM there is no end. I stare into her one eye, (the other one may or may not be saved but it is shut) and I still see this beautiful soul. It did not change that and that is all that matters.

I saw people blame, say how it’s not fair, and get angry and not understand how I didn’t. I know that blaming someone else does not change anything. I am responsible for her and I need to make sure she is healthy. I knew the other owner was probably just as hurt as I was.

I have learned a lot and it is all because of Ella. She was able to forgive and keep a smile on her face no matter what happened. She looks at me with love because she knows she is loved. I have also learned to have faith. I know that she has made me a better person. I also know I have to stay strong for her.

"A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug." Patricia Neal

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Dog Bar

I recently posted about a photo competition to raise funds for Rupert's Fund and Cavalier Rescue and one of the pictures sparked some interest.

Ella loves the Dog Bar in Charlotte and has spent several nights there.  So tomorrow is Kennedy's birthday and what better way to celebrate than at the Dog Bar. That is where they first met.  I love the owner and she is familiar with Ella. She makes me feel like Ella is the most special dog and one of her favorites (but I am sure most people feel the same way).

We have gone to the Dog Bar since Kennedy's 2nd birthday. She is now turning 5! My cousin used to go there all the time but now her job is taking that time away. You can actually see her behind the bar in the picture with Ella on the bar.  I miss the Dog Bar and I am so thankful to have that in Charlotte.  I am looking forward to tomorrow!  Even though I feel like this place is family, I saw that another blog wrote about it. http://www.ohmidog.com/

I was thrilled to see that it got this attention.  Look at the video they did!

Here is there post you have got to see and when I can figure out why I am having trouble uploading pictures I will add more!

I want to say that this is my favorite and basically only place I like to go out.  You would be surprised at how easy it is to meet people when you have a dog. It is different than coming up to a person at a regular bar, there is an instant conversation starter.  Other than that the most important thing is you are around dog lovers. People who have a kind heart and passion.

It is where one time I was real upset about Ella and I walked into the Dog Bar and carried Ella in and cried to Audra. She knows the love you feel for your dog and I know she loves her.  It is a place where you can let all your problems go away or even talk about them. 

I have met other dog lovers online and they are great but it is also good to see some others in person over a beer.  Ella will be happy to see her boyfriend and play and I know I will like to have some time to be with friends.

I am looking forward to tomorrow night!  That reminds me, I am going to try to make cookies. I told Kat that I would but now I hope I can do it!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cavalier's Make a Difference

I have often talked about the first time I held Ella and my heart exploded with love.  I was fortunate to see eyes of the elderly in nursing homes instantly come alive when in her presence. The eyes of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can show so much. Sometimes you can see the expression when they are about to do something naughty. The best and worse is the look they can give you when you are about to leave saying "don't go". Ella has this look mastered when she wants food. She can look like she has not eaten for days begging for a piece of cheese or any food. She fools many.

These beautiful eyes that have given so much, now tell a different story. I can see the pain asking for help.
Seeing these eyes full of pain is hard to forget. I think that is why I don’t want to make these beautiful eyes less magical. Going through this, I have talked to some extraordinary people who have a passion for this beloved breed. Tania is one of these people. She started a website called Cavalier Matters (www.cavaliermatters.org). It has everything from SM information to brushing teeth. It is such a great site for information and just to look at all the cute pictures of Molly and Dougall.

Now Tania is making a difference for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. There are some important health matters that are concerning for this breed. Tania has taken steps to inform the public on things to look for in buying a puppy, symptoms that could be a health concern, things being done to help the future of the breed, and turned it into (I hate to say this) fun. The most important thing is she is raising money for Rupert’s Fund and Cavalier Rescue. All of this is done to help the future of the breed we adore so much. It is a matter and a matter of the heart. Once you learn that there are some major things that need to be done, it is hard not to do anything.

So I would like to share some things that she did at the recent Bermondsey Street Festival. You can see that her tent drew some attraction. You can also see from the pictures the fun. The children with a Cavalier stuffed animal, the pictures taken in the picture booth, and all of this in an effort to raise awareness of “Cavalier Matters”. She now has a shop open on her website where you can buy your own Rupert stuffed animal along with other things that have proceeds go towards such a great thing.

Even though there are some important matters that need to bring awareness to, there also is a way to do this by coming together as lovers of the breed. Ella’s eyes are lighter knowing there are people doing things to help future Cavaliers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Did I Want a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?

I could say that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are the best breed, but a more accurate statement is they are the best breed for me.  My cousin has a weimaraner but she runs marathons and is active which did not run in the family.  That dog is perfect for her.  Could I see her with a Cavalier, no.  Then there are the dogs that have functions, like police dogs, working dogs on farms, the hunters, watch dogs, etc. None of those fit my need.

I have always been in love with dogs. I used to draw the same dog over and over again when I was young.  It just so happens that the dog looked exactly like Ella.  Maybe I got the picture from the move Lady and the Tramp, or maybe I knew something about the future dog that would steal my heart. When I searched for a dog, I did not look for someone who had that image. Even though I think they are beautiful, I had a different reason for wanting one.  I needed a dog that would show me the affection that I needed. I wanted a dog that would be by my side and want to lay with me in my lap and by my side.  I have said that my choosing to have a dog was because I was in a difficult place and depressed. Someone (I don't think of her as a dog) that loved me unconditionally would be just what I needed.  That might sound selfish but it was a mutual bond that I can not even describe.

When I was young I went through my parents divorce and it was extremely difficult for me.  I got my first dog as a birthday present. Okay buying a child a dog may not be the best decision because Flip (my cocker spaniel) soon became my parents responsibility. However, there were times when I wanted to hide. I would hold on Flip and every thought would make things okay. 

When I read about Cavaliers and there eagerness to please, show affection, complete love was what made me know this was the breed for me.  Yes, Sex and the City, made me familiar with them, but it was not the social status of this breed or anything else that was my thoughts.  When I went to see the puppies from a breeder I researched, I met Ella. She instantly came to me. She was not playing with the others but fell asleep in my arms and on my chest. I heard her heartbeat, I felt the bond and I fell instantly in love. Ella was not one of the puppies for sale. Actually the breeder was going to keep her for breeding.  I have said God gave me Ella and maybe another reason was because she having SM would have saved others from this condition. I guess it is more complicated but she was my angel.

I was instantly lightened with joy. I had a purpose to live, and I will always be thankful to her.  As I look into her eyes, I see that closeness. I feel so strongly that I sometimes can see to her soul.  A dog having a soul maybe a stretch but there is something unique about dogs.

I have read stories and heard from friends about dogs having a sixth sense.  I know personally, Ella will know when I am feeling a certain way and come to me for comfort.  How can a dog sense that. The amazing tales of dogs and cats and knowing things before they occur.  Recently you may have read the story of Ollie the cat at a nursing home who could tell before a person died. Scientist might say it is because of certain smells etc. but any explanation still remains that this story shows that the future is known before.  I have a friend that a lab found a spot of cancer and saved her owner before anything was detected. There are many stories of animals knowing people are sick before.

What about the ability to tell an earthquake is about to happen.  Coming home several months later and miles away. So many stories but one that stole my heart was the story of HACHIKO.  I watched the Richard Gere movie on this legendary dog in tears. It is a tail of devotion and a bond I feel with Ella.  http://www.northlandakitas.com/hachiko.htm tells the legend of this dog that even after his owners death, would go everyday at the same time to the train station awaiting the return of his beloved friend. 

I really suggest reading this or watching the movie. If you thought Marley and Me was a tear jerker, then it is even more. 

To sum up my story of Ella is pretty simple. I wanted a dog to have a bond with. To share a mutual affection and love that I so long desired. I look at her everyday and I feel it.  Some people thing of dogs as pets, some family, some I hate to think of but I think of Ella as a love that I have in my heart that will live on forever.