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

My photo
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.

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.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

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

About a year and a half ago, 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.  Yesterday I e-mailed her because she had sent me some books to spread the awareness of SM.  I told her about Ella's recent news and she shared about Maggie. 

I have been thinking of so many big issues and even though I think that is important, I need to be reminded of the one thing that makes the biggest change. That is knowledge and support.  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 can not stress enough the importance of understanding and looking into things. Ask questions, talk to someone, see why things are the way they are. In general it is better to know more than not. 

I have talked about Rupert and the bright light he is trying to be for all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.  I am not asking for money. There are many ways that research could benefit with donations.

Please do this one thing. It does not cost anything, it is really easy to do, and by doing this you may help another dog the way Ollie helped Ella. Save another dog, spread the word. Look at the symptoms and learn about the issues because it would be a shame to learn about it once it is too late. 

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,

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Consequence of Actions- A Story from a Teacher

Sometimes it is hard for me to put into words my feelings. There are many emotions that have been building up and they overcame me this weekend. I have said before that going through this has changed me forever. What started out as something to tell her story and hope that another person could recognize the symptoms of SM, has become a cry for help. I feel not only her pain, but I feel for the many others and I carry that weight with me everyday.

This post is not about Ella, but about my pain and the questions that I wish I could answer. I could not understand how people did not see the importance of responsible breeding and being a responsible pet owner. How not understanding the importance of health can cause so much pain. I do not blame my breeder for Ella’s problem. I think that this breed has a lot of health problems and that the answers are not that simple. I will tell you that I have seen the good in people. The people who have so much love for these dogs. I have seen what they have done to speak out no matter what the consequence because they feel that this is such an important issue. I have so much respect for them. Even though I am just learning things everyday, I know I have to do something and but how can I help? I am just a pet owner. I am not a breeder, a politician, a scientist, so what could I possibly contribute? I know I am going to do everything to find out. It all begins with one step and the road is going to be difficult. I was telling my friend this and she then said she wanted to tell me a story. She wanted to tell me how being emotionally involved can be difficult and how children can be compared to animals.

This good friend is in education. I began talking about the things I see and how I much I wish I could change. I told her that I talked to many people and seen things from all different eyes. I talked about I have started to ask more and more questions and see that things are not as simple as it may seem. There are so many politics that I never thought about and until I know what the consequence of my actions, I can not say what the best thing to do is. We both felt that the way you treat an animal, should be treated as how a person would be treated. Abusing an animal is no different than abusing a child. She went on to describe how hard it is to be a teacher. A teacher that cares and then sees what can happen years later. Here is her story.

My friend’s husband was a police officer in a city that had a high crime rate. One night he returned 5 hours later than when he was supposed to be back from work. He said he decided to stay on because he had been involved in a drug deal that went bad. The result was that a teenager had been shot and was killed. She did not know why but he told her his name and to her surprise this same “child” was who she taught as a teacher in third grade.

She taught in a school in a district that had many problem children. The first day of class, she saw a boy with so much anger in his face. I can not remember why but something she did built a bond and a trust with him. One day he asked if it would be okay for him to stay after school and help her file papers. She had another boy that wanted to do the same thing. They did not want to go home. She did not know what it was like there, but she saw through his anger. She wanted to save this child and like so many others, she felt helpless and it carried a weight on her too. It was very difficult and eventually she went on to higher roles in education but she felt that she would have not been able to handle the emotions she felt for the children. She said that all he wanted was for someone to care. He did not have a happy ending and was not saved from a life that I am sure was filled with pain.

She said that there are many teachers that experience this until the get to a point to not become emotionally attached. They either can not handle it or they accept that they can not be responsible for saving each child. I was telling her how much of an emotional toll this has been for me and reading more and more about things has made me want to become more involved. Even though all these feelings have been building in me, I was able to escape it and actually have fun which I have not done in a long time.

My favorite thing is South Carolina football. I watched the game and began to think about other things. It felt good to go home and be with friends doing something I enjoyed more than anything. I could then understand why people do not want to understand the problems with the health of this breed. It is easier not to think about it or even want to know. I do know many people who have devoted their time to help animals. They can see the pain and even though it breaks their hearts, they want to do something.

When I got home that night, I then saw things from someone else’s eyes. I saw Ella looking at me for answers. Why does she feel this way? She was wanting me to do something to ease her pain. I could feel her being scared. She does not know what is happening to her and I could not tell her what her future will be. Ella can not escape her pain like I did this weekend. I may not have these answers but I can say one thing, I am not going to give up until I do everything in my power to search.

As I drove home, I listened to the words of my favorite singer Dave Matthews. The song’s words gave me an answer for now. It spoke for me all the things I have been feeling and I know one thing I can do, I can be there for her. I can comfort her but I need to remain strong. I owe everything to her and for that I will give everything I have to help these eyes and the eyes of many others no longer show fear. Like the child that my friend taught, I will do everything to make that go away.

Dave Matthews Band lyrics to the song that spoke to me.


Where are you going

with your long face pulling down?

Don’t hide away like an ocean

But you can’t see, but you can smell

And the sound waves crash down

I am no superman

I have no reasons (answers) for you

I am no hero, oh that’s for sure

But I do know one thing for sure

Is where you are is where I belong

I do know, where you go, is where I want to be

Where are you going, where do you go?

Are you looking for answers

to questions under the stars?

If along the way you are growing weary,

You can rest with me until a brighter day

It's okay (You're okay)

Ella, for now “You can rest with me until a brighter day and ‘hopefully’ you’re okay”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Meet Rupert, A Bright Flame and a Very Special Cavalier

When I looked up the meaning of the name Rupert, it said it is a German-derived name that means Bright Flame. I did not know what it would say and hoped that it would somehow come close to describe Rupert, but I was amazed at the words that came before me.  I did not have the privilege to meet and know who Rupert was but what I do know is that he has touched many lives. I asked his owner Nikki to tell me some things about Rupert so I could get a better picture of his personality. You know each Cavalier has such amazing personalities! This is what she told me that he loved and a little bit of his personality which made me laugh :) The italics is what she said and I added my own comments

Rupert loved
people, other dogs, particularly Cavaliers. He loved the beach but also running in the woods, we invented a game chasing pine cones"- Hmm a game of chasing pine cones. I wish I could have seen that one!

"He adored young people - used to lie back in my friend's daughter's arms, she was about 14 at the time and loved him dearly, she'd spend ages cuddling him and rubbing his belly!

He enjoyed obedience, also did a bit of agility for a while.

He loved visiting other people's houses - would sit in their dogs' beds LOL- Oh Rupert! Trying to be the man of the house!

A vegetable rack was a self service restaurant to him!- At least Rupert wanted to eat healthy!

He could be incredibly naughty, he would just get a certain expression on his face and take off when we were out sometimes, but he wouldn't go that far, he thought it was very funny!- I thought that Ella could be naughty and I definitely know the expressions but pictures say 1000 words.

Now that you can get an idea of his personality you can see why a Fund was started in his memory. I would wanted to know Rupert because of what the fund has already started to do! I am not scientific so visit the website to read a better description.  Basically the researchers that have been busily trying to find a way to prevent less Cavaliers go through what Ella has, the researchers believe they have been able to pinpoint the genetic region of SM which is huge. If that isn't enough, they may be a protective element. I tried to read the report but it was very technical but this is so much hope.

All of this could not have been done because of Rupert and all the donations to his fund. I wanted to point out the success but the fight is not over. We still have a way to go and Rupert's Fund is providing a means to give the valuable research so that we can move forward.

I can not lose track of the main goal. That is bringing awareness but also stress that this is not a battle to give up on. Sometimes I get frustrated with the condition but I have never blamed her breeder. I just want pet owners to be aware and pass on the importance to know what issues are going on with our breed. 

I read today from someone who has a Cavalier with SM and her first vet misdiagnosed her as having allergies. This is very common and actually what happened to Ella. What she did is something we all can learn from. Once she found out the correct diagnosis, she went back to her first vet and gave him information on Syringomyelia so that he could be more aware of what to look for. She did not blame the previous vet, but educated him so that he could help others.

Please visit Rupert's Fund website Rupert's Fund website: http://www.rupertsfund.com/

Despite everything he was such a happy boy with a real joy for life.

She continued by saying: I hope that gives you a picture of him - we miss him every day, he was our first Cavalier and was just so very special, we were honoured to have him in our lives.

I wanted to end the day on a positive note. What is being done and what you can do. Pass on the information. If you can donate to Rupert's Fund, but if not then just share his story. Pass on information about Syringomyelia and most of all love this breed.

So here is to Rupert! A Bright Flame that will live on forever. If you read his story and what he went through but continued to remain happy, that shows true courage.  The Bright Flame will show in the eyes of future Cavaliers that can be more healthy because of his Fund.

Ella's future: whose hands do i turn to

Going through this journy with Ella, I am constantly learning new things each day. My heart became open and filled with love when i first held her. Now my eyes are open to things I never thought about.  I have gotten support and information from people that know the breed and this condition better than anyone else. Now would I depend on someone that has no experience to help her?

The reason why i am writing this is because of some things i have read and even heard from others.  I am responsible for Ella and making sure I make the right decisions and to help her so i am getting as much information as possible. That is what i would imagine a lot of people would do. Now what has been on my mind is what about things i have read about the Cavalier breed. Yes there are health problems but they are the most wonderful breed and i will definately continue to want to have Cavaliers.

My question is whose hands would you put the future of the breed in? I have seen comments about "show" breeders that hurt me because i have talked to quite a few of them and they have been very supportive. In fact, i would think they are the ones that know the most about the breed. I read somethings from posts right after the BBC pde aired about people saying they would no longer buy a cavalier from a breeder that shows. Even though it rose awareness, i hate that the people are grouped together.

Who do we turn to? There is blame and things said about more things could be done by the cavalier clubs. Well i will not go into that, but they at least have ethical guidelines and know far more than a lot of people. I see ads and tweets about "healthy" cavalier puppies. I would suggest someone who is going to buy a puppy take the same caution as if they were going to be preforming a brain surgery. I am not going to just take the word of someone before i have ella undergo such a serious operation. Would you want people that are experienced and know a lot of information about this breed who are doing tests for health be the ones to continue breeding, or just put them in a category.

I saw a very disturbing post on a blog today "cavaliers: a crap breed that will stay that way" wow! Should we not be supporting the people helping the breed or should i say Ella is crap because she has a health condition.  NO.

There is an article about puppy mill legislation that mentions that show breeders are a community that does everything to make sure the dogs they breed do not end up in shelters. This is another issue but my point is there are people that are doing things to not only benefit health but also there are rescue groups.  I depend on the Cavalier Rescue groups to help the Cavaliers without homes. I am thankful for the members of clubs that support ethical breeding guidelines. Our breed is not a crap breed, but if people do not do research about the breeder, believe everything without getting all the information, then that makes me feel like crap.

I see ella and then i see all the other things that are just a start. Her life is in my hands and i am doing the best for her. Now lets make sure other puppies come from hands that are gentle, caring, know about the breed, have done everything they can to make sure they are healthy by doing testing, and then placed into a loving hand. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another Surgery or Post-Surgery Soundwave Therapy?

I wish things were clear but they are not. It is so important to get as much information as possible before making any decision regarding health or in general. Actually even before buying a puppy but that is another issue.  I am a member of several forums and asked some people for information after I talked more with Ella's neurologist.  I have read about Post-Surgery Soundwave Therapy on Cavalier Health and wanted to know if anyone had experience or could give me some input. I have also asked if anyone had gone through a second surgery. What is interesting is that no one responded to the second surgery experience but I had a couple of people tell me some positive things about Alphasonic Soundwave Treatment. 

The actual machine is expensive but there is less risk. However, surgery is concrete. I know there is more risk but due to Ella's progression do I want to take the chance with Soundwave therapy? There is a local animal hospital that offers rehabilitation therapy, Steele Creek Animal Hospital. They do not have the actual Alphasonic machine but I did not get to talk to the Doctor but I did talk to the tech and it seems to do some of the same things.  Ella's neurologist said I could give it a try but I would not know if it is helping and then would I need another MRI. What if it doesn't help?

Yikes!!! I know one thing for sure! I am not going to do nothing. I am not going to give up and I am going to get as much information as I can so I can make sure I feel comfortable that I am making the best decision.

Just look at her! Would you give up on her either?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ella Update. New Decisions

I met with Ella's neurologist today to go over her recent MRI results and to talk about what to do for her future. Before meeting with him, i wanted to get as much information as possible. I posted on forums and asked if they could offer me any insite. When people first learn their dog has SM, they want to know what to do. Surgery/medical management. I have people contact me about Ella and ask what they should do. I have always said that the decision is really only something they can make. You can not compare each dog because it is so different with each dog.

I wanted information and i know that the decision will ultimately be up to me.  I would like to say that even with Ella's surgery not giving the results that i had hoped for, i would not change it. The reason i decided to have surgery was because i felt her SM was progressing fast and she was medication seemed to not help. Today i know i was right. Even with surgery which initially released the pressure and allowed for the csf fluid to flow and with several medications, Ella did not improve. In fact she is worse than she was before. If i did not have the surgery would she even be with me now? I dont think so.

Ella having the MRI proved what i had been fearing and even though it was not good, i have the information that many people do not. I needed this because of Ella's progression. There are many things i learned today and one thing is how i have said many times the variations with each dog. One thing i wanted to ask about was the size of her syrinx which i had learned had increased in size. There is hope that surgery will reduce the size but in Ella's case it grew from .35 to .53. That is a pretty big difference in such a short period of time.

My question to Dr. Brofman was that i have read studies with dogs with larger syrinx size and even Ella has a friend with a syrinx .9 (who just had surgery) but Ella seemed much different. He told me they have determined that it is not the size that is as much a factor but the location. Ella's is located at the top and at the worse place. He said this is why she can show different symptoms.

I knew progression was bad, location bad, medication not doing what it should so i asked about alternative therapy. I actually learned a lot about this from a couple of people but he said that this is not a solution. I would like to point out that it was not because he does not believe in it because he actiually will give Ella accupuncture, but Ella really needs something more.

He talked about another surgery that would be done to remove the scar tissue that is blocking the CSF flow. He said the risk would be if the the scar tissue has attached which he will not know until surgery. If that is the case he would have to carefully scrape or remove each tissue. This is where risk comes in. it could cause complications that result in perminant neurological damage. It is not a given and i asked what the odds were and he said that there could be swelling, hemeraging, but he could say it was not as much as i feared.

He would put in a bone cement to cover the space that was removed to help prevent scar tissue to develop again.

We briefly mentioned shunting which he said he would not consider.

So this is where my story is different. Many people dont know at first how their dog will react to medication. They dont know if it will even progress. I could say i am unlucky and wish Ella was like a lot of the others, but i am actually very lucky that i got the MRI because i know a lot of things that make it clear how fast this is for her and even with the subtle signs, i fear where she would be a month or months later.

Ella's neurologist is going to work with me and if i do decide on surgery, he will keep the cost as low as possible since he knows my financial situation. 

I just found out all this information today and i would tell anyone who is going to make a serious decision to really think about it.  I know i can not do nothing and watch her get worse and suffer more pain. Putting her through the risk of surgery is scary and i have to figure out is it the best thing for her.

Someone in my family said no one would blame you if you let her go. I know how much it put you through and how hard it was. It was shocking because the only thing that concerned me was not what it would put me through, but what it would put Ella through. Am i going to do this for her or for me? If she was old and not have the life i see in her would be one thing. It would be selfish to keep a dog barely alive just because i could not let her go.

Ella has a lot of life, love and so much to give. How in the world could i watch that slip away. I did put my life on hold and it has been tough on me, but looking at her and seeing her smile makes everything worth it. She saved my life.  I am not going to give up. I am going to do everything i can (no matter if it is hard) for her. She is the most important thing and i care about her more than anything else

Monday, September 6, 2010

Good News- Thanks to many cavalier lovers all over the world Rupert's Fund

Karlin Lillington gave me permission to pass on this email and share some good news. I have mentioned Rupert's Fund before because I feel it is extremely important and what good it is doing for our beloved breed.  If you love Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, don't you want to know what is going on and what people are doing to help the future of our breed? Although I know they would love donations but I also think it is important to understand more. This is a critical condition and it is important for the future of the breed. I think of Ella all the time, I also am contacted and read stories of others.  I read about the health problems but I also read about what good people are doing to help.  Let me share Karlin's e-mail and what has Rupert's Fund has already done and is a promising start. I don't want more dogs to go through what Ella has. It has been noted that each generation it is worse. 

"Thanks to many cavalier lovers all over the world, Rupert's Fund -- a fund to cover the costs of scanning older cavaliers for a critical phases of the syringomyelia genome research -- has just passed the $10,000 milestone today (in just 6 months, due to a fantastic and generous response). Thanks to several recent donations from individuals and groups who fund raised over the summer, the Fund's total now stands at £6,771, or $10,428 -- enough to cover the MRIs of over 34 cavaliers in the UK.

These scans are a key element in the final work of the genome project, to pinpoint in detail the areas of the cavalier genome that account for the development of SM. Results so far suggest that there is not only a gene for SM, but also a genetic area that protects against it developing in some cavaliers, offering real hope for breeders to work towards reducing the incidence of SM in the breed.

For further information on the project, on making a donation of any size, or on contacting researchers about a dog that might be a scan candidate -- please see www.rupertsfund.com.

The goal now for Rupert's Fund supporters is to reach £10,000!

Karlin Lillington"

Good job to those people spreading the word, donating, and helping our beloved breed.  Also note that SM is not just Cavalier.

She is fine, but she isn't

The hardest and frustrating thing about syringomyelia is how it changes and is so hard to notice the signs. I personally can share how from someone else's eyes who does not know the things to look for Ella could seem completely fine. She stayed at my mother's house for a week and although she said she seemed to sleep a lot and be tired, she seemed okay.  Ella has not been showing the most typical symptom of syringomyelia which is strange. She hasn't been scratching.

This is the one thing my mom knows and so she did not notice it and because they do not know the other things to look for, she seemed ok. They have a back yard and they just let Ella go outside, do her business and come back in. They do not see the difficulty climbing stairs. They are not with her enough to notice the changes in laying on the floor, shaking her head, and not wanting to be touched.

Back in May Ella stayed with a friend who has a Cavalier, and she told me nothing was wrong with her. She was the one who said the same thing before Ella got her first MRI and said the same thing. When the results came back, she said she would never doubt me again.  I started to notice things with Ella even back then. I would watch her all the time. I could tell when she had enough. I could see her tuck her paw under (a sign), i saw her sometimes struggle up the stairs.

This is where I come to the part of how it changes day to day. Yesterday Ella had a great day. She was full of energy and we had so much fun at the park. Even though she was worn out the rest of the day, i was so happy. Maybe it is not as bad as the MRI said. Then she changed.

Last night and today she was running away from me. Hiding under the table for protection because she did not want to be touched. I had to carry her. I can hear faint cries.

I knew what to look for and her MRI proves that she really is bad off. Dogs can not tell you they are in pain. SM does not have things like vomiting, fever, and what seems normal isn't and it could get to a point of perminant damage to the spinal cord and paralysis in serious cases. That is another thing. Estimates vary on the amount of Cavaliers with SM (some up to 70 %) and a lot of them are asymptomatic. So each dog varies.

Ella's neurologist said when he talked to a group of Cavalier owners in Charlotte that the majority of the Cavaliers here have SM. He said most of the time it is diagnosed is by having done an MRI for another problem. A dog comes in for one thing and finds out their dog has SM which is completely unrelated to what they came in for.

Ella is an unlucky one and even because a lot might never get to the point where i am so scared of just how long Ella has, it can not be taken lightly. It is getting worse with every generation. Had I not seen these new symptoms develop as i said before, it would be too late.

I will know more tomorrow after meeting with Ella's neurologist but let's pray she beats the statistics i have read.

Look at her yesterday. She seems fine and not the dog i'm hoping for another day, month, and if a miracle many years.

Why knowledge is important even if it is not easy to accept

Throughout my blog i have been thankful for knowing what syringomyelia was so i was able to see the symptoms in Ella.  If you are reading this blog then you already know about syringomyelia (SM). Either from Ella's story or they are going through it with their own loved one. I have several points and realized a lot of things recently when I saw signs that Ella's surgery was not as successful as I hoped and was scared to get the results from her MRI.

Let me start off by saying how thankful I am for people supporting me and also shared Ella's story on their blogs because a lot of people have never heard of this condition.  I have always wanted to spread the awareness of SM because I know how it gave Ella more time and less suffering. This also gave me the opportunity to get the information I need to see what damage has been done and what needs to be done in order to cause less damage.

How could I who has stressed how important it is to see the signs not be the first one to get this done. Well besides the issue of finances, I have to also admit I was scared to face the truth. 

People want to read about happy stories. It is even an issue about how some feel that talking about the health problems with cavaliers is something that to hide.  Even trying to talk to friends with cavaliers, I found they did not want to know the truth. I feel that most people feel that unless that they experience it, then they dont care as much. That is true with a lot of things. 

I want to explain why it is especially important for people to know about this condition especially if they are an owner of a breed that can have this condition.  The hard thing about this condition is that seem like normal behavior.  I will prove this in my next post about Ella's recent visit to my mom's house who said she could see nothing wrong with her. 

I said in another post that if you know about this condition what are you going to do with this knowledge? The best thing anyone can do is to spread the word. Help another dog. Tell your vet. I know that many people just want to see a cute smiling face and pretty eyes of our Cavaliers, but read on about what is being done to help less have the eyes of pain that I have looked into when I look at Ella. It may not be easy and it may not be what you want to learn about what is going on with the breed but it is important. It is important to know what is being done for the future of others with research. It is important to help another know what to look for.  Please if you read this post, continue to read the next ones. They will tell the story of how SM is hard to see. I will also tell the good news about what is currently being done and has already had progress in helping our breed that is already known for health issues, have more without these problems.

Ella's results were not what I wanted to hear but I am glad because it might have caught the scar tissue before it attached.  Think about it. Spreading the word might help another before it progresses. Helping with research could save the breed.  Is it easier to turn a blind eye and not learn the hard truth, yes. But the truth will be what will help many others.

Ruperts fund.. support will help the future of cavaliers

Shared via Tweetcaster'>Tweet from Tweetcaster
Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.8

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Time to recognize those who help

 Tweet from Tweetcaster i wanted to share this because i know several people who have made an impact for animals. Time to recognize these people instead of focusing on the negative. I know that @dawgblogger website www.dawgbusiness.blogspot.com spends her time helping share health concerns with others and shared ella's story. I will always be thankful. I thank the wonderful breeders who for the love of the breed, will take steps to make sure the breed is as heathly as possible. I thank karln for www.sm.cavaliertalk.com for sharing her knowledge of sm.  I thank dr. Clare rusbridge for all the research she has done to help with sm. Lets take a moment and realize who is doing and not just saying what the problems are. How can i help more? I have met wonderful people that are unselfish and have been an inspiration to me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Results- How much worse without support & the future

I have had several people prayer for a good report from Ella's MRI and I know that I did not want the results that she had.  It was worse than before and I am going to meet with her neurologist on Tuesday to look at our options.  Options that I would not have been possible without meeting (online) Jana Rade and telling her about Ella through some weeks, I would not be able to know this and be able to have a plan to fight it.  She took interest in Ella and kept asking her how she was doing. I know I was seeing signs and I did not want to face the truth because an MRI would cost money and then if the results were bad, I would just feel helpless.  She did not want to accept this. Going through Ella's first MRI and Surgery, I was searching for anything I can do to give her the best I can.  So Jana spread her story and it kept going.  This blog even talks about it http://www.dancingdogblog.com/2010/08/be-the-change-for-pets-4-ez-ways-to-take-action/

Jana said knowledge is key and you can't be in denial.  She pushed me and thank goodness because I really need that time. 

I am thankful to the people who helped Ella but also thankful that her face told the story.  A story about a lot more issues than just her.  She is an extremely special dog and I know there are so many others but I want to say that it was hard for me to get and pay for her MRI and treatment.  I am a pet owner but if we can help the others that are trying to help it not continue, then there will be many others that will benefit.

This post from Kim Cline really tells a story also and what she said about blame and what we do going forward is inspiring http://thisonewildlife.com/dog-health/breeding-dogs-vs-inbreeding/

"By the way, I have to thank Jana Rade from Dawg Business for introducing me to this film. Interestingly, Jana wrote a post back in January about our ability (or lack thereof) to detect a dog’s pain and how much they stoically hide.


I came across it while writing this post and realized how much our dogs chronically bear before giving us a sign. It makes me hurt for those who suffer in silence from faulty bone structure due to breeding for extremes. Again, how could we know without being educated on why animals hide their pain?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what we may have known on some subconscious level – although I think you’re right because it’s less than shocking when all the pieces click. What matters is that we certainly know in this moment. When we know, we are held accountable – without excuse. What matters next is what we do with that knowledge"

I can not tell you how special the people are that have given others help and care that is so important.  So how do I pass this on?  What am I going to do with this knowledge? I started this to tell her story and really wanted to help others going through this.  I have met some wonderful people and learned a lot of information. 

So I will not give up hope.  I do not want Ella's story to make other people who also have dogs with Syringomyelia to get discouraged. I have said many times, each dog is different and I would not change any decision I made.  I will be there for others as much as I can. 

Most importantly, I want to pass on and help support the people who are doing things to help this and other breeds so that less people will have to go through this. 

It is a matter of knowledge.

  • The knowledge of what is being done.
  • Knowledge to potential pet owners at how important to make sure breeders are doing what they should for the health of the dogs.
  • Knowledge that there are many people that are really concerned about these things.
  • Knowledge that there are people that are selfless and have so much love for others and give. 
  • Knowledge that what can we do to make sure less dogs are in pain.
I have heard a lot of people say things and if Ella's story makes someone realize that there is more and there are good people, breeders, scientists, and we should acknowledge them. 

So I will continue to post and thank you for all the positive thoughts, words of encouragement, prayers, and so much more that have helped me beyond words.