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.

About Me

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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.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

CM/SM Very Simple

This is frustrating me so much because I can not get this adobe flyer on my website. If ANYONE can please help me I would appreciate it because it is so helpful. Some of this can seem confusing so Rachel had an idea to make an flyer that is easier to understand. I am going to take the information from the flyer until I can get it right.

What you should know about Syringomyelia (SM) and Chiari-like Malformation

What is is SM?

A malformation of the skull which is too small, and of the brain, which is too big and squashed and pushed out the back of the dog’s skull into the vertebral canal.(CM) This blocks the normal flow of fluids in the brain and spinal cord so that cavities develop called syrinxes which affectthe nervous system(SM). A syrinx can develop as young as 3 months or more slowly over a period of years. CM/SM is rarely fatal but can be increasingly painful and debilitating. Suffering is such that affected dogs may need surgery or early euthanasia.

How do I know if my dog has it?

Many dogs never show signs but could be a ‘carrier’ passing on this serious condition to offspring. Others may only show discomfort on occasions such pain onjumping or be unwilling to exercise. However in some dogs the pain is severe and they may have a twisted back or walk with a characteristic scratching movement. The only way to confirm diagnosis is an MRI. (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
Do I have to do anything?

Yes – because it is impossible to get rid of this painful condition unless EVERYONE helps the breed. Breeders have particular responsibility for health. It is devastating to worry and watch a much loved pet suffer and your dogs may inadvertently be contributing.
  • You need to get an accurate diagnosis of whether your breeding dog is affected or not. There is going to be a new BVA/KC* scheme for MRI testing with universal standards.
  • Do not breed from any dog that has symptoms.
  • Ideally only breed with dogs that do not have SM at 2.5 years but mildly affected
Is it a problem in particular breeds?

CMSM has been shown to be inherited and has been most researched in Cavaliers and Griffons. However it is also found in King Charles Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Boston Terriers, Miniature Dachshunds, Miniature/toy poodles, Chihuahuas, Bichon Frisé, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, Papillons,French Bulldogs a Pekingese, a miniature Pinscher and several Cross Breeds. Research is looking for the genes that cause it. Dr Rusbridge at the Stone Lion Veterinary Hospital, UK, is the leading neurologist involved. She suggested breeding guidelines which have been recognized by the *BritishVeterinary Associationand the Kennel Club and used in a proposed MRI scheme to reduce the incidence of inherited CM and SM.
If I use the breeding guidelines will I get rid of CMSM in my lines?

Because SM can develop after a dog is used for breeding, breeding clear to clear may produce affected offspring but breeding affected to affected almost certainly will. Until the gene/s are found it isn’t possible to get rid of the condition entirely.
How can I help research?

It’s simple, join the group who MRI their breeding dogs Contact Dr Clare Rusbridge

This was taken from the flyer that I am trying to post on my website :(


I just wrote the post about the dog stroller and the best thing happened. Beth who is a wonderful person contacted me and said she had a dog stoller I could use! It could be passed around to people in our group in Charlotte that needs it. The sad thing is that even though there is already another dog in Charlotte with SM, I am sure they will not be the only two in the future. Oh well!

So I dug up all my change in my couch and went to our local coin machine at the grocery store and I had $40. What did I do with it, well not pay off my care credit for Ella's surgery but I was feeling in a good mood, so I went to Office Max. It was closed so CVS so I could go into work and print out these awesome Syringomyelia awareness posters the Rachael made. I will post it in just a moment I am just excited about the stroller. I made little cards that said thank to Gemma the Graphics Designer "Support the Queen City "Little Kings" and we are off to day to spread the word.

Dog Stroller- then and now

You know when you buy something thinking it will motivate you to exercise, cook etc. That is what shopaholics do. Two years ago I got this wonderful dog stroller, the kind you can take running in a hope that somehow I will make myself exercise. My idea of working out is walking up the three flights of stairs to my apartment. So the dog stroller collected dust along with my pilates equipment, Wii fit, all the things I used to buy.

I am big in giving to charity. Ella would volunter as a therapy dog and go to the nursing homes, we would do things around the community anything to give back. Each year I got involved in PetPalooza which is a fundraiser for charlotte's Humane Society. I organized a silent auction so I could raise money and put some things that I did not use to raise money.

My dusty dog stroller that was top of the line was one of the items which I had no idea i would need so desperately now. The stroller I spent several hundred Dollars for raised a only $20. My finances have changed since last year and so has my need for a dog stroller.

This weekened Charlotte had Bark in the Park and I wanted to go but Ella needs to be careful with how much exercise she does. Where is my dog stroller? With someone that thought it was "cute". I went home and got a baby stroller my mom had and off we went to Bark in the Park. I have always felt it is important for dogs to socialize so Ella needed to go. I know I got looks or people said how cute, but I wished we were like the others. No worries, just fun which we had but I felt isolated.

The stroller worked and Ella liked being outside but the one table we wanted to find, the dog stairs, we couldn't. We did see Kim at club k-9 where she used to go to day care so overall we had fun but we are very tired!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Holding Ella Hostage

I love Ella and I know how everyone that gets to know her falls in love with her too.  Everyone says their dog is special but I really think she is.  Sometimes I get a little mad because people will only want to hang out if Ella is with me.  Do you want to see me or the dog?  It's always Ella.  Oh well, at least she has people that love her :) Last night I went to my friend Gemma's house to see her dog Corey that I talked about who just got diagnosed with a severe case of SM.  My friend who LOVES Ella came along.  That night we were in seperate rooms watching TV and I could not find the remote.  I said "I'll give you Ella if you give me the remote".  The funny thing is I knew that was my only bargaining tactic. 

I went in the room to check up on them and Ella was being guarded.  She was being held hostage!!! I think that they were scared she would come back to me because she is a mama's girl.  Well I eventually got her back after searching for another remote to swap.  It is funny how much people want to be around her.  Ella loves my friend but she is still a mama's girl when it comes time for bed. 

Now if you did not already think I was crazy, you will now.  I sing to her at night before we go to sleep.  She has a special song.  I have been doing it since she was a puppy.  Once she hears that song she comes to bed.  So I have the ultimate trick card.

Spread the Word- Cavaliers and Griffons are in the Together

I got an email from Rachael Harvey who is actively trying to bring awareness to SM.  It is important for people to understand that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not alone.  There have been research studies on Syringomeylia in Brussels Griffons and information learned in these studies are also helpful to Cavaliers.  Rachel told me she had three of her girls scanned and Mia was diagnosed with SM.  She sent me an awareness flyer to hand out and once she gives me the authority I will put it on my blog.  So now my prayers include Mia.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How do you know

I have people ask sometimes how I knew Ella needed an MRI. I also have people ask questions about there dog does this is it SM. I just know about Ella. I think I have said the hard thing is diagnosing SM is expensive and even if the MRI does not show anything it doesn't mean that will not change. I think people should always notice what's going on with their dog.

I think when it comes to the point to get an MRI, there is something going on. That doesn't mean it's SM. I got my vet to refer me to a neurologist. The neurologist should look at the dog and they will help you determine that step. I know Ella yelped in pain when he squeezed her neck or something. Do not try that because I have no idea what he did. I thought since Ella never yelped in pain then it could not be bad. Some dogs yelp, some scratch it is all so complicated and since dogs can't talk you just have to start noticing the other ways they communicate. Ella would take a long time getting comfortable. If you look at all the things instead of one symptom it is helpful.

I wish I could make things easy but those two websites are a place to start.

My Past

Today I was looking up Cavalier King Charles Spaniel images because I wanted to design something for a fundraiser.  Well I came across this necklace and I fell in love.  I used to shop a lot but my situation has drastically changed.  It is strange how one year I am giving to charities and now I feel like a charity.  Well this image took me back in time and I a bit of a reality check when even though it is $25, it is money I no longer have.  I may not have money but I have an angel that sleeps with me every night and that makes it all worth it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Good news and bad news

Good news first is I think Ella is doing good on her new medication :). Bad news her friend Corey got back the results of his MRI and he has a severe case of SM with a syrinx larger than ella's. Even though I'm happy for Ella my heart goes out to Corey. I know Corey and Ella has played with him before so I know how special he is. All cavaliers are special and I want the best for them but I've become close with coreys parents so I feel terrible.

I will have Corey in my thoughts especially now for his parents. The hardest thing is deciding the best route for treatment. After I made my decision it seemed a like a little of the weight lifted. I really want to write more but my little pooh is having a good day. She is snuggling up with me and is very comfortable in my lap. I have to take advantage of this moment.

Take care Corey, Scarlett, Madeline, Bailey, riley, Abby, Ollie and the list goes on and on.

Monday, April 19, 2010

They are a success!

If anyone wants to buy treats online or if you are in Texas go to www.pawsfurtreats.com. The owner has two beautiful cavaliers and has been very thoughtful with Ella. She said that apple and pumpkin treats are lower on fat for dogs that are like Ella and need to watch their weight.

I wanted to try to see what it was like to make some to sell at some dog events or to friends etc. To pay for ella's surgery and treatment. I got some recipes and went to the store and stacked up on things I never heard of. Ella is real picky and does not like many treats ever. I just whipped up a batch and she loved them. They don't look good and they are fattening but she was a good tester.

There is no cure for syringomyelia

A couple of things today made me realize that some people may assume that if a dog has surgery for SM then that is the end of it. This is not correct. I keep hearing my mom saying to me when I picked Ella up from being away at work the same words "she is fine. She doesn't need medication. She was having so much fun chasing the birds." I have seen Ella get worse and today I asked if that time she ran in the yard at moms caused her to get worse. He told me I can't worry about what is already done, but we have to change medication and hope for the best. It's the assumptions that things will be fine, that can mislead people.

Don't assume that if you opt to have surgery that things will be back to normal. Most dogs will have to continue on medication and it is not a cure. I did not assume everything would go away and that I would not have to worry about her having too much activity. I will always need to monitor her activity and notice how she is doing. Yes Ella has symptoms again but I can not look at the past but I want to clear this up to others.

Sometimes when people would say "look at her play and how happy she is" questioning why I would hold her back and not let her play. I learned that people can be critical but I know more about Ella than any other person.

I have heard one too many times that Ella had surgery so why is there still an issue. I heard today someone tell me I should have another MRI. This really puzzled me because why would I do that when I know what's wrong with her? I am still puzzled and I don't know how to respond to that. My mom was taken a back when I told her that Ella will always need to have limited activity.

I am confused as to why I feel like I'm the only one that knew there is no cure for syringomyelia. Just because Ella had surgery does not mean she will no longer have to fight this condition. Her neurologist told me that things may get better but she will have good and bad days. She will have nights like Friday when she has an episode and would not stop scratching. She chewed on her feet and I was scared. I picked her up from her neurologist and it looks like something is stuck in her hair above her ears. Is this blood from her scratching? So to anyone who think ella's battle is over it isn't. She could live with this for several years. I cherish the good days and get scared when there is a bad one.

What I will not do is give up. She has a long way to go and it doesn't stop with her. To me, this is so much more. I will not stop trying to help once Ella is gone. I don't care about just her. Yes she needs help and I will make dog cookies to sell, make harnesses, wash dogs, etc. So I can pay for her treatment, but i want to help others. I want people to buy "for the love of Ollie", I want her neurologist to speak to people to educate them about SM, I want to get people to donate to the charitable trust, and I want to make sure that I will remember for as long as I live how hard this is. I know I will never forget and I would like to do what I can in the future to maybe help it be easier for others.

Thanks to those people that have helped me and truly cared for my precious "pooh"

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Queen City Supports Her "Little Kings"

I feel quite proud of myself today. I'm always thinking of something I can do to help since sometimes I feel helpless. After being upset at ella's pet insurance for not covering her MRI which I thought was covered, I got proactive. I feel like instead of staying upset then try to do something so I let my little mind go. The best way I can help is by telling ella's story. If you don't read this at least go to www.cavalierhealth.com because it has tons of valuable information.

If someone is reading this then they either are like I am and have a loved one with this condition or most likely know about this inherited condition that is facing some cavaliers. Sometimes I want to scream PLEASE for the love of your dog be aware of their health. That is the most important thing. Charlotte cavalier owners will have this great opportunity to have ella's wonderful neurologist Dr. Brofmann come talk. It's free and he is offering his valuable time and I'm SO thankful. This is how I want to help. Owners need to know what's going on but they need to know what questions to ask.

I have talked about Ollie and the reason is it was him that made me see things that her vet did not think of. I said to him that she needs an MRI because of this that and another. Granted it's best to rule out other things before going this route, but I had been thinking something was wrong for some time. So I want others to know and sometimes it frustrates me. How can I help when people are not open to listen?

So here's where I'm proud of myself. I love my job but I do not have to use the creative part of my brain but I did today :) I live in Charlotte NC which is called the Queen City. So I thought come on Charlotte people and at least we can be educated. So I came up with this slogan. "the Queen City Supports her "little kings" that grace her streets. I think it is good even if it isn't. So come on queen city use this fortune we have been granted and come listen to this sweet expert talk to us. That's more than a lot of people have and information is free.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Symptoms I see more clearly now

Now that I see some symptoms come back after surgery, I think I can describe it more. I always thought it looks like they are scratching their neck. I really never saw that with her. It's true that when she's excited it's worse, but she uses her back leg to scratch at her side. I noticed it was always one side. I can now see why scratching can be confused with allergies, fleas tec. Because I'm confused right now. I called her vet because I still have that feeling that it could be a flea especially since I saw one the other day. But after a thorough examination I gave her, I found nothing.

Here's a big thing I notice. If I try to pet her head she lowers it just a little. It's like she is scared or flinched like someone getting ready for a needle for a shot. It's not very noticable but I see it.

she rubs her head on things. She has a hard time getting comfortable or ready to go to sleep. But she has no problem eating because as I was writing thus she sneaked up and grabbed my sandwich. She's a mess but I love her!

Meet my Parents

At first I thought Ella looked like her dad but I see her special mom now. Her dad was a show dog (I think that is what you say) but her mom is a therapy dog. I think her mom is so special for giving birth to this very special dog.
her mom  on left and Dad on Right.  Would not change anything because they gave me something special.


Her mom's name has Heaven in it and that is right.

Positive Thought. One good thing about having a dog with SM.

One good thing about having a dog with SM, is that it does wonders for your arms. Friends ask me if I have been working out because I have some muscles. It's from carrying Ella up and down three flights of stairs. I have to Move!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Whats wrong with her? What did I do?

I write more frequently now because I'm so terrified that I will forget even though I know I will never forget her. What did I because she is getting worse. The medications do not seem to help and if she is getting worse then why did her neurologist take her off one of her medications? Is he losing hope too? I don't know how I will handle losing her. The only thing that seems to help her is acupuncture which just may help with the pain. I have pain too and Ella is simply too tired to help. What was my only comfort now feels like is slipping away.

I am so happy to read that Riley is doing good on medications but what is wrong with Ella that it is not helping her? I want to be strong for the others but I feel a heavy weight on my chest and it's not her. She is now wanting to be alone sometimes. Last night she hid under a chair. I believe acupuncture helps but for how long will she manage? I would give her anything I can possibly offer her. Without her is something I refuse to think about.

I have shed so many tears and have so much sorrow. I have tried to think of anything I can to help someone not go through this, anything to keep my mind off of thinking the day I lose her. She may get better and these past couple of days could just be a set back but this is my baby. I can't let anything happen to her. Fight Ella and I will be strong for you. At least I will try my hardest.

How to make people aware without scaring them

SM and Ella consume my life and sometimes it is a scary thing. I asked if Syringomyelia is becoming more common or are people just more aware? Does that matter? I know that I want to say listen, you need to know about this, however I need to say that this is not the end to cavaliers. It's a road bump and to many breeders it the end of a line. I know when my breeder told me she felt terrible and when the time was right she wanted to give me another cavalier. Nothing will replace this remarkable being laying in my lap right now, but when she told me she had a 3 month old little girl, this might be the last chance I have to have a piece of Ella someday.

To some, like me, they are everything and my family. If I knew that I could no longer continue that family, it would be like losing a part of who you are. How would you start over when you have seen generations continue on. People are trying to figure this and that out which is way too complicated but they need to figure things out so they can figure out how to not pass it on. Mitral valve disease was similar and there are certain protocal breeders have. SM is something they are trying to figure out.

I enjoyed talking to my new friend and I'm glad I could see that it may be the end of a breeders line and family but not the very end to cavaliers. This is not something to be taken lightly but I don't want to scare people. The best way to help is communicating to other owners so they know symptoms and can maybe see things sooner rather than later.

It's tough because it is not something easy to diagnose but as I see Ella start to show symptoms again, I now more aware of things I was not before. I might be able to describe it better so that it may help someone.

I still don't know if what she is doing is related to SM and last night I was totally confused who to call. We know our dogs better than anyone else and they are so funny. Dogs have a way to express things through their eyes. I know ella's expression when she sees me go to the fridge to get cheese for her medicine. You would think I starved her to death if you see her pleading to me :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Putting it Together

I have been writing several posts tonight because I am up with Ella and I'm worried. We saw our cavalier neighbors finley and lulu tonight and I started walking with their owner talking about SM and how we can help, why is it seeming to be more common, why did she not hear about until Ella and mainly where to go from here. When I first got Ella I was so excited to have someone that had a Cavalier that is no gone but lived to 13. She got Finley after and he is just 6 months older than Ella and it has been nice having a person to go to with cavalier issues.

The hardest thing is trying to let Ella enjoy life and at the same time be aware to know when to go home. I was talking to my neighbor and we talked about how you know more than anyone when something is not right. I usually know the look when she is tired or can pick her up after 10 minutes or so even though her eyes may scream "oh mom but can I play longer" but tonight I feel terrible. This is so hard because even though she seems so happy, I hear underneath her breath a whine that no one else can't. Someone said today that I can't analize everything and study her every movement but I do and I can't help it.

If I carry her around and don't let her have any exercise then how can it be good for her heart? I met another cavalier at the park Sunday and they had a cavalier that they said had the cerebral fluid problem or whatever they called it because this was back before 2005. They told me their dog would whelp but he seemed to grow out of it and died of conjestivs heart failure. When they had their previous cavalier with what they think was SM it was before anyone here (us) really knew anything. I think even today, Ella was the first dog my vet saw and I had to beg that I thought she needed an MRI and I could no longer rule everything else out.

That's what's hard too. It's not some simple test to see if your dog has SM and most of the symptoms could be confused as other things. Dogs scratch, dogs have ear infections so should someone go spend $2000 for an MRI only to find out that it's just skin allergies? Maybe if you have enough money that the cost is nothing but even so what an MRI says one day it does not mean it could change. Let me say if anyone has the means to get an MRI anytime then PLEASE help with donating towards research or help the breeders out by low cost MRIs because it will also help this breed now and in the future. This is a big problem and I pray that something changes because I would hate to see something happen to this breed because they are so special.

That was my little plea but for most people an MRI is just not easy. For Ella, her vet wanted to rule everything else out and an MRI was her last step. I knew Ella and putting things together and reading about Ollie, I knew it was more. Now thinking back I think of other things I missed. I noticed that Ella only would walk on one side of me up the stairs. I had her eyes checked because she seemed scared at night going outside. Was that something related because they can have balance issues. I thought it was cute because for as long as I remember, Ella would cough once everytime she drank water. I thought I read this could be a symptom.

Now the hard part of was this a symptom, each tome she scratches I think oh no it's coming back. My neighbor says she started to think these things after learning a little bit about SM but she said she knows her dogs. I am big about people being aware of the symptoms but everytime a dog scratches you can not assume that it's because they have syringomyelia. She said the truth that I know Ella and she knows every look etc. with finley and lulu that I had a feeling something is off.

That brings me to tonight. Something is off. She saw her neurologist Monday who told me that after surgery they can be fine at first and then start to show the signs again and it is all part of her recovery but it should even out. Please even out and please not have her have heart failure or MVD because I could not take it. I read about Darcy who had MVD and all she went through and that's tough too. My neighbor said her cavalier lived to 13 and on 15 different medications with MVD. I know that Ella has a huge heart but I worry about her every day.

I saw a flea on her the other day after being around a cavalier that I was told had flea problems. It was like Santa clause came I was so excited over a flea! Ella's scratching from a flea! What a relief :) I then made sure to double check her calender and yes I had given her the monthly heart and flea medication.

Moral to this story: it's okay to worry about our dogs but don't assume the absurd worse. You never know because it might be a flea. However, make sure to be aware of changes or if something is out of the ordinary. For a long time I though Ella had fleas or skin allergies, ear infections but I knew she looked funny walking. She seemed to look different walking up stairs. I took her to the vet and of course she was walking fine up the stairs when I tried to show them what I was talking about. Trust yourself because I know I just knew no matter if no one else saw it, I knew there was something going on.

I forget she is a spaniel

Ella made me laugh so hard the other day. We have become quite attached that I know her looks, moods, etc. but I love how she is with birds the best. It really cracks me up. I forget she is a Spaniel who can be retrievers but I read that at some point in time toy spaniels were used for hunting. Please anyone correct me because I can't find where I read this, but there were certain spaniels that strayed. The not so bright ones became companions of royalty and elite. I do not want to give the history but I want to point out that Ella has some hunting instincts but not so good to catch anything.

We were at the park and not surprisingly someone came up to Ella and said the normal things and then came THE BIRD. She sat real still, pushed her lip up (which is what she does when she concentrates) and waited for the right moment. I have to get it on video because it just makes me laugh. The man said he has never seen any dog like that. I laughed thinking to myself that if he only knew. So Cavaliers I know I was told by her breeder, have the tendency to run off if they see something.

Now I have to say when I found out about this was when I took her to the beach for the first time. We took a boat ride from charleston sc to Capers which is a small island that people will go to. There is nothing on capers except the beach and dunes. She ran all around the dunes and in the grass when I saw a bunch of birds fly by and Ella took off. She was only a puppy but even now I don't want to chance it again but she did not listen to me. My sister ran after her long after I ran out of breath and could not catch her. My sister came back after a long time with Ella in her arms. I asked how she finally got her and she told me Ella ran to the end of the island which is over a mile long. Good thing my sister is a runner because I can't remember the last time I ran a mile.

Moral of this story, if you own a cavalier make sure you own a leash.

What's been going on? Is it happening again?

An old blog buddy Jud emailed me to say that he had noticed I had not been posting anything on my old blog and saw this. Even though he did not have a Cavalier he understood how tough it is to go through loss or struggles with "man's best friend". It reminded me thus is not just about SM but about the love of an animal. Not all people have to have a dog with SM to relate and also it's not just Cavaliers with SM. I was told that griffons are also needing help. Overall a dog is something that can make you laugh, cry, worry and change your life.

My life has changed and things that were important to me now aren't. Every thing I do now is for my as Jud said "little one". My life has become all about her and even though it may seem like I letting my life pass by, I feel the exact opposite. She gives me life and a need to do something bigger. I have her and for now that is a huge blessing. So my friends understand what I am going through and will be there when I need them because they are wonderful. So much that the day I found out about Ella one special person called people and got everyone together so I would not be alone.

I have found new friends and additional support from others going through this. So pray for Madeline, Scarlette, Bailey, Star, Cookie and the many other little blessings that have come into lives and touched someone. I am amazed at how many people Ella has touched but that's not true I know she is something special. What I am constantly reminded each day of the people that tell me that have a dog going through this or the unfortunate ones that are gone. Thank you to www.pawsfurtreats.com that put something up about Ella and for everyone to pray for her. It's these people that I have never met yet they carry Ella in their hearts and wish her well. So thank you for allowing Ella to touch your heart.

I told Sandy Smith who wrote "for the love of Ollie" that Ollie will remain in my heart forever because he is the one that made me see the symptoms sooner than later. He might have given ella a little longer with me and for that, I will always be thankful!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Time to Celebrate!!!

I started this wanting to mention Darcy’s Blog and how I could not read it yet because wow I feel for her and her caring parents but I will come back to that sweet girl. This weekend is all about Ella!!! Not that is hasn’t been for I don’t remember, but it is time for a party and what a better time than to hear some good news. Today my heart leaped with joy that I could not help but it felt good. It came at the best time because we are celebrating Ella’s birthday this weekend and we need to have some fun. So a person that has been interested in Ella, I found out lives very close to me and she said she would be there if I wanted to email and talk about things. I am not excited to find out she has two Cavaliers with SM but I am because Ella may have some new friends. Let’s hope and keep our tails crossed. I forget that Charlotte is in North Carolina and NC State has done some studies there but enough of that. I am going to put all of that away and for now we are “Going to Celebrate Good Times, Come On”!! So I want to remember this feeling forever and when I loose myself in other things, I am going to take my little girl to the park and see the birds that she will always think she will get. I feel like the over-protective mother that does not want her to exercise too much because it can make things worse. But screw that for now and let her eat cake and shake her cute fanny chasing the birds and playing with her friends this weekend. She has a date tonight with her long time boyfriend Kennedy and her younger boyfriend Elvis who knows how to shake his hips. Birthday wishes Ella. I love you and its time to party!!!

These are Pictures of Ella's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Birthdays.  I can't wait to post pictures from her 4th.    I have pictures from her party last year that was so much fun being around all of the Cavaliers.  The cutie with the blue hat is Ella's "Old Man" he is so much older but she like that way because he is 4 1/2.  The picture of the three on the bar is of Ella and her two favorite men in her life Kennedy and Elvis.  The first one is of Ella and Kennedy asleep on my birthday when it was past their bedtime.

I'm Just a Girl with Overflowing Love

My head is spinning with information from lots of different views. I have been searching for other people that know the pain I am feeling but I need to be careful what I say. I don't know if anyone even reads this but if they do I am no expert. The Cavalier SM Yahoo group I put a link to, has several people that know a lot more than I do and it is a wonderful support group. I think people are so caring because they know the frustration and how tough this is.

I think the Internet is a wonderful tool to get infrmation but you need to be careful because people can voice opinions and things can be not really the whole truth. So here are some facts. I love Ella more than anyone will ever know. I am not a doctor of anything, I am not a breeder, I am not a member of some national cavalier club, SM is not just a problem with cavaliers, I think that this is a very real problem and I want to help but don't know how.

I have very mixed feelings about the BBC special because I know for fact that one person here in Charlotte saw it and it brought her to realize that her dog might need to be checked out. I think it brought awareness to a lot of people and that special makes it seem like no one is doing something and that breeders are a certain way. I also heard fom someone (now it came from a national organization but who knows if it's true) but they got the dog excited so it would have an episode. There are many responsible breeders that care about these dogs and know how special this breed is. So here is a fact, without breeders there would not be cavaliers.

I want to help but I have no money and i'm trying to pay for Ella but I have a passion and a caring heart. So when I brought up wanting to get our meet up group to come together and make SM something we could try to raise money for, I wanted to know how. I had to talk to the president about it and I am still shocked at how little people think this problem is. When I got one of my Cavalier books that I got a couple of years ago I saw several pages on. MVD but nothing on SM. I think it had a paragraph about Fly catchers disease. So when people say this is a new, it is not new but it is fastly growing and now people know this isn't fly catchers disease.

Back to be careful of what you read. When I first started talking about it I got the reaction from her that I first had, "that breeder should not have been breeding." "that is why people pay so much money for cavaliers to not have these health problems". I thought she had to have known so why was she breeding. I think the BBC special took this viewpoint too. That is not true. She did not know and even though ella's family was screened for MVD, it just isn't simple for SM. I am not going to go into it because I don't want to give wrong information, but all I can say is to not assume things before thinking of another point of view.

Back to how to help. Don't know the best way. I think there is a national society for people but not animals. So if anyone knows of anything please tell me but it shouldn't be this hard to know the best way to help. I don't have money but I do have a passionate heart and I know how this is so hard for anyone.

I was told last night something that made me see yet another view and this one meant more than all of the others. I was told that God gave me Ella for a reason. I am known for volunteering (Ella is a therapy dog) and for helping with PetPalooza which is a fundraiser for the Humane Society in Charlotte so they thought I could reach others through my heart and because I want to do something. So please help me by giving me the best thing possible, letting me know I have touched someone or that this will be true. Ella is the most special dog and when I saw her with her litter she came to me. All the others were playing and Ella cuddled in my arms and I fell in love.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

There is hope

I apologize about the post last night but as I have said before each case is different. So here something I read on the CKCS-SM yahoo support group. A owner said her cavalier was diagnosed at 23 months and now 7 years later I think she is still here living a happy life. She said they still have good days and bad but overall things don't have to be the worst. This dog has not had surgery and so there you go a happy story for those of us that need to hear that. So anyone that is like me and want to have support or people to answer questions, then see if the support group will help. There are many people with different opinions, suggestions, helpful tips but I would always remember that it is your decision and each case is different.

I will always remember that tip from Sandy Smith and it is true. Also even with surgery, there is still no cure. For me I think I made the right decision and even though it might not have worked, I would not change it. Please spread the word because I am going to submit the next post on the shocking information I received about the need for research and my torn thoughts on the BBC special pedigree dogs exposed.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"oh no" from a neurologist is not a good sign

I think we are all born looking for a happy ending to a story. I have wanted to give hope to others but tonight I can't. I know there are dogs worse off than Ella but I am literally sick with worry over her tonight. I have been lying to myself to think that surgery is the cure. I know that some of her symptoms might not go away and there was no guarantee that it would not come back but I needed that hope.

It is a fight and I am scared she will lose her battle. I wanted to try and help others so I called her neurologist Dr. Broffman to see if he would talk to our cavalier group in Charlotte and when he asked how Ella was doing I told him. This is so hard because I have been in denial but I think it has come back. She has good days but I noticed some things this weekend when I picked Ella up from staying with my mom. I saw the worst thing for me which was her lifting up her paw and also doing the bunny hop.

After her surgery she no longer was scratching but little by little here we go again. A couple of weeks ago after I thought things were worse she got on medication. She started to do better with that and acupuncture which I have to say really helped. I told Dr. Broffman what I noticed and then I heard the words no one likes to hear. That's when I put my effort in other areas. I meet Corey and his owner to talk about SM because he will be getting an MRI. When someone is around her for a short period of time, they don't see what I see when she comes home.

I started to notice ella being tired easily about a year ago at her birthday party. Why is she not playing with the other dogs? She is not normally like this I would tell others. What breaks my heart is why did I not notice it. So tonight I noticed. Why did Ella not go to meet-ups? Well because of what I am seeing tonight and I can't take this feeling. I really want her to be okay but she isn't. And even though she seems okay, she isn't. People don't see her move away because she does not want to be touched. Lay on the floor because she is in pain. Not eat, when Ella definately likes to eat. Somehow she had no problem eating the cheese with her medicine and somehow managing to eat the cheese and not her pills. How dogs manage that I will never know. Hold a water bottle for her to drink because she has a hard time coughing if I don't and will not drink. I can't be strong tonight. Tonight she was all of the above. I had hoped that at least for her birthday month for the first time go to our meet-up at least for a bit and on a leash but tonight she was on a leash tonight at starbucks but she got too excited. She climbed to go up stairs but I tried to stop her. I can't say that Ella had surgery and then majically every thing was gone. I will still say that at least for a period her eyes were full of life that has been missing this past year. The pressure was gone that caused her so much pain. Her scratching amazingly has not come back.

Pray for Corey He is Getting an MRI Wednesday

I am in a cavalier group in Charlotte and I sent an email about Ella in hope that someone will be able to see signs before it was too late. Another member has a pretty Ruby named Cory that sadly has some symptoms. Corey is getting an MRI Wednesday. Please pray that it comes back with good news. I hope that even if he has SM it is a mild case and not severe like Ella's. If her battle has helped another then her fight made a difference. If you have stories please leave comments or send me an email and I will post them. Spreading the word is the only way I can fight back.

Corey was born in September 28, 2007 in Ireland. Yes Ireland! We fell in love with him at the first time we saw him despite his overbite ;). And he’s been the best dog ever since then. When we take him for a walk people would stop us and say hi to him or just smile at him, because he always gives that “smile” face at you. His best buddy is our Siamese cat Honey Bunny. They get along very well and often sleep together in our bed. It is absolutely our best decision in our life to get Corey and we just can’t get enough of him.

8 things about Corey:

1. His favorite places are our lap and our bed.
2. His favorite things to do are walking, playing with daddy and doing tricks to get treats.
3. He has an overbite.
4. He snores when he is sleeping.
5. He likes to crawl on carpet. (funny!)
6. He gets over excited when we come home and we need to give him his toy or he’ll jump and grab our clothes.
7. He scared of water, but will do his business in the rain (strange boy!)
8. He loves car rides.

Posted by Cavalier King Charles Group in Charlotte, NC at 8:17 AM 0 comments

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shopping- A car seat

I was trying to add links for helpful finds for any dog but I wanted to put what I think is good for dogs with Syringomyelia or that have some illness where they can be limited to activity. I used to write a newsletter for the King Charles Cavalier group in Charlotte and wrote some posts for a blog. Ella has this car seat that she loves because she can look out the window. That is her favorite thing to do but jumping up and looking out the window is out for Ella. I bought this car seat when Ella was younger because I was scared she literally would jump out the window but she did not like not being in my lap so I would give in. It is a little dangerous but I was bad.

This car seat is perfect because it gives them the ability to look out the window when they can no longer stand on their back paws to look out. And on a side note keeps the dog safe if their is an accident and it can be distracting to have a dog in your lap!!

I bought mine at GW Little and I think it was because the picture they had was a cavalier but you can find something similar real easy on the Internet if you google dog car seats.

Football Season

I know today I have posted several things but it has been hard recently. I will get into that later but I wanted to share a photo I came across of Ella in her Gamecock (University of South Carolina) jersey with her boyfriend Kennedy. Let's hope she will be around for next season. I am a huge Gamecock fan and I want Ella beside me to watch the games!!

The Surgery


I decided to get the surgery. The day I took her in for the surgery was long! I had to wait for the phone call to hope there were no complications. When I got the phone call that everything went great and there was little bleeding. The neurologist said that it could not have gone any better. I was so excited. Ella survived the risk of complications that could happen with surgery.

I went to see her the next day and she was walking and wagging her tail. It was so great to see her!!! She had to stay one more night and I could take her home that weekend. I had her stay with my mom because I work and I thought that she could take care of her and it is really important to restrict their activity during their recovery. I would be at work and so I know I could not watch her during the day.

My mom kept her for a couple of weeks and I missed her so much but it was better for her recovery so that comes first. She seemed to do so well and the hardest part was keeping her from walking or getting excited. However the first weekend was scary. She would not come out of her crate to go outside or eat. I think that was because she felt safe and now looking back on it, could I have kept her in there longer? I had to take her outside and I carried her but you just never know if that has caused any damage.

My mom and my stepdad became attached to her. They had to put down their lab a month before they kept Ella and I think that they missed having a dog around. They do not want another dog but they have said they their would keep Ella if it suited. Which I think that is going to be often because my new job requires some traveling and the first trip I went on I just heard how sweet she is. My mom was talking baby talk to her. They wanted her in their bed instead of mine.

I know I got upset because I was going to give Ella her medicine and mom said that she gives her a piece of cheese before and that is what she is used to. Well she definately does not need any extra cheese because with her limited activity she has become quite fat!!
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Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Choice

I have not posted anything recently which is because any free time time I had, I have spent it with Ella. I promised myself that if I could reach one person and be of help, it would mean I was doing something. I felt helpless sometimes and writing this blog has helped me and was one way I could relieve this feeling. I want to help others and when I have to face the terrible day that Ella is no longer a part of my life I want to help raise funds for research. I will do whatever I could to help win this terrible illness facing more and more King Charles Cavaliers. But for now I feel selfish. I have been so consumed with Ella that I have not been there and trying to do something to raise funds to help fight Syringomyelia is out of the question because I don't have enough funds for her own battle. It has been painful and any energy I have has been with her.

Some dogs are okay with medical management but Ella was getting progressively worse fast so I knew I did not have much time to wait and see. I do not have any emergency funds (not that people that do have any easier time with this news)but it was real upsetting that I did not know how I could manage to pay for surgery which, for me, seemed like the only option.

Ella saved my life so knowing that I could not save hers was devastating. The medication was not working. She was on prilosec (which I don't understand how that helps) but for Ella it did not. This is how Ella saved my life. I was extremely depressed living on my own and I started to seclude myself from all of my friends. I thought getting a dog that would show me affection would help and Cavaliers are definitely known for their affection! I read that if you want a watch dog then King Charles Cavaliers are out because they would greet a bugler with kisses. Ella was not exception. She laid on the couch with me and pretty much nursed me back to health.

I am tearing up when I write this because seeing her look up to me with those sad eyes full of pain was like her pleading with me to help her now and return the favor. So I told my parents that I would sell my condo and move to Columbia to commute to Charlotte for work. I would try to get a second job. I would live on the streets or do anything I could to help her. My parents knew what Ella had done for me and I think deep down they were scared that if I lost her what it would do to me.

My mom got a special credit card for this surgery and I called her neurologist and said I have made my decision. Which after I told him that he said that with Ella's age and how she had a severe case, I was making the right decision. He said that having the surgery earlier may help prevent any more permement damage that may be done.

I would like to say that no one can tell you what the right decision is. There are many risks with surgery and there is no promise that it can not come back or not even help at all.
www.sm.cavaliertalk.com and www.cavalierhealth.com have good information about the different medications, risks of surgery, etc. I am not writing this as a medical professional, I am writing this as an owner of a precious dog who has Syringomyelia. My choice to have surgery is not the right choice for everyone but it was the best choice and the only choice I thought there was for Ella. I still don't know how I can pay back the money I owe but I know that I would always think "what if" and I would not be able to get over it.