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.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Where would cavaliers be without responsible breeders? Think before you speak

I have a problem of saying things before i really think about it or come up with the facts. With the  two little cavaliers sm awareness event i have found that even though i have tried to get a lot of information this past year, there is still a lot i don't know and even now question. One thing i do know is that everyone is free to have their own opinion. I simply ask that people try to form their own opinions from getting information from several different sources.

I have said from the beginning, i can not tell anyone what is best for their dog. Each cavalier is different and treatment should be different, but i can only tell about ella and what i personally have learned.  I have said from the beginning, i never blamed ella's breeder. Each breeder is different, so before anyone places blame or negativity to breeders in general, i hope they would talk to one. If you learn that your cavalier has SM, then responsible breeders need this information and most likely are a good place to start. Unfortunately, people may come across denial or other things but great breeders would be there for support. They are the future of this breed along with pet owners supporting them.

I need to share how i came to learn the side of a breeder and not just from the book  for the love of ollie, but from a SM support group. I have heard  her talk about the pain she has to learn her girls have SM . How she has lost a line and a family she has cared about. How she will never breed or give someone a Cavalier before having and MRI on the one Cavalier she has left and praying that she is okay. Until she will have the MRI, is faced with the cost of having this done. The struggle to find a place to offer low cost MRI.  Should she give up on this one Cavalier? Well I think that since she is not breeding UNTIL she knows the results and can have her scanned, absolutely NO. She is one of the breeders trying everything they can to produce as healthy puppies as possible.  Her friends fought to get low cost MRIs, not because they wanted to make extra money but because they would not breed a Cavalier without doing everything possible to make sure they breed for health. Sure they probably don't want to make a loss (while a lot do) but they love the breed. Many people might say breeders are only to make money, but there are some that simply love the breed and want to do everything they can for the future.

Her friend does not talk about the six months on the phone struggling to get a better cost for them. They do what they can, hope others follow, and stay out of the light.  I now understand why.  I would not want to be questioned, looked down on, or anything else simply when I would be speaking out. 

So when faced with the problem of the cost of MRI, one person fought and got the cost lowered. Why do i feel its important to share this? I think its also important to support these breeders because without them, i am scared of who will be the ones breeding cavaliers. It is them that are the future with the support of the public and pet buyers.

It is extremely hard to breed healthy cavaliers and to see some still develop problems, but it is real easy to make assumptions before understanding more. If i was a breeder and was doing everything i could, yet still was being viewed in a negative light or questioned, i don't think i could handle it. So i am scared of what will happen if they feel that no matter what they do or try to do, its not ever going to be good enough. Should they give up and leave it to others that don't know as much?

Should i give up on ella and not want  another cavalier in my future? No. I never think or regret that ella came into my life. I have cried many tears but that is because she has such a strong place in my heart. I am thankful i had someone that brought her into my life.

Get involved. Talk to the clubs (they even have health clinics), gather information before buying a puppy, and as unfortunate as is sounds, never assume that no matter how much a breeder may try, there always is a risk of SM.

should people no longer breed cavaliers even though there is a risk no matter what they do of developing cm or sm? If people speak and say how could they do that?  Then that would mean there would not be any cavaliers. That is why it is tough for breeders that are responsible and care deeply about the breed. Even with the best, there are no guarantees. Puppy buyers should know this and be supportive of the ones being open and honest, doing everything they can.  They can also have their own opinion and say they should never be breed.

That would mean there would never be ella. 

"I LOVE this breed. I have had cavaliers since 1991 and I hope that I will never have to live a day without one. I want us to figure this SM thing out so that dogs like your precious Ella don’t have to live in pain. My hope is that there are lots of people that feel the same way we do and will jump on this band wagon to MRI their breeding dogs!!

Thank you for being a voice for the cavaliers, AND for taking the time to listen and understand the issues around SM—from ALL sides. There is no quick and easy solution. I think we all understand that. But the only way we’re going to get this figured out is by using the tools we have—and right now, the best one we have is MRI-ing!"

Take the time and listen or get more information before speaking about what a breeder did or did not do. Why not ask?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

For the Love of Ollie, A Story that Comes from the Heart

"To the world you are just one, but to me, you are the world" is exactly how i feel about this book.  How can I possibly write a review of the book that means exactly that, the world to me? I have several pages of scribbled notes trying to try to say it just right, but I think its best to just let this come from my heart.

I need to tell the story of how this book brought awareness of SM to me and saved the most important thing in my life, Ella.  I did not know when I stumbled upon the website www.fortheloveofollie.com how important that day would be. I was trying to write a newsletter and  was looking up something to write about Cavalier Health back in April 2009. I saw the beautiful picture of a cavalier named Ollie and a book that says is a story of compassion and courage.  I saw that if you buy the book proceeds would go towards research for something called Syringomyelia so I thought I would buy it. Something called Syringomyelia would soon become something that I would soon become very familiar with because 6 months later she would be diagnosed with severe syringomyelia which I know call SM

April happened to be the same month Ella turned 3 and for that same newsletter I wrote about her birthday party. I did not understand why she seemed so tired recently and I thought she just must have played too long. Now I know there was a different reason for that.

The book tells a story from the heart from Sandy Smith (Ollie's Mom).  She tells about Ollie as a puppy which still puts a smile on my face but she also tells how she went through not knowing what was wrong with Ollie until she got a letter from her breeder telling her about a condition that she should know about.  I feel the same way about this book as she must have felt when she got that letter. Answers to a puzzle that you finally could put together.

SM awareness is so important to me because had it not been for this book, I would have not called in tears that one Saturday morning and demanded Ella see a neurologist.  I had talked to my vet about my concerns with Ella especially after reading this book because I knew that Ella was doing several things that the book said were symptoms.  We had already gone a year with thinking she had food allergies and ear infections. I even took her to the vet to have him watch her walk up the stairs because just looked funny.  He said he didnt see anything strange when she walked up the stairs, which could be because its not something she did all the time.  "Let's just wait and see because I dont think there is any reason to assume she has syringomyelia yet".

I thought I was crazy and maybe I was over reacting from reading the book until several months and visits later. It was a Friday in December and I had talked to him again about my concern because we eliminated food allergies but now he thought she could be allergic to smoke.  He gave some drops to numb her ears and said we should still not jump into conclusions. She was shaking her head so much it just wasnt normal. Yet it was not a concern and all my friends also thought i was over reacting.

The next day i went to my cousins house and was in the back yard and was going to do what Ella loves more than anything, throwing a ball.  When i threw it and she didnt move tears came down my eyes and i knew what i had known deep down a long time ago, I was not crazy at all.

The picture of him staring at his favorite toy a black plastic bowling ball popped in my head and I immediately ran home crying calling her vet but I spoke to his partner and she referred me to a neurologist to see first thing Monday morning.

The neurologist said he definately thinks she should get an MRI, i thought if most it would be mild but it wasnt.  The next two weeks she tried medication but it only got worse.

Had it not been for this book and I waited I dont know how much longer, I dont think Ella would be with me know. As i say those words tears are falling and that is why this book means so much to me.

When I read it after everything it has a deeper meaning. I feel like she is telling everything exactly how I felt. Each time something else comes to mind so my book is worn from tears stains and also from referring to different things.

This book is more than a story, it also has a lot of helpful information and the book has raised a lot of money to fund research for SM.

It also has a letter from Ollie's breeder who Sandy is so thankful for, who tells what it was like to learn about Ollie and his sister Maggie May had this condition. It was devastating because she felt the pain and how much sorrow she brought but Sandy did not blame her. In fact it was her who made her aware of syringomyelia.

This is a book is what SM awareness truly is and includes and touches everyone.  There is a lot of information now available on Syringomyelia but nothing quite sticks with you like a book with a picture of a cavalier named Ollie and his story.

Ollie, a cavalier king charles spaniel that will remain in my heart forever. Thank you for sharing your story to save another.

I would personally like to thank Sandy Smith who also reached out to me when I did not know where to go. She gave me the courage, strength, and helpful advice at a time when I was lost.

If you do anything this week, please buy this book. I promise you that you will never forget it!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Acupuncture and SM

Ella responds extremely well to acupuncture. Even though I know it does not benefit everyone, I am glad it does help her. Her neurologist actually does this for her but being there you can tell the difference. I have actually had acupuncture so I know how beneficial it can be. Of course now I do everything for her health!  It starts out with them inserting the needles and then I stayed with her for maybe 10-20 minutes. I did not keep time but she began to slowly get more relaxed. It was funny seeing her try to hold her eyelids open and them begin to get heavy until finally she was out! When we were done she was wagging her tail and so happy. I just knew how much it helped her so it felt good to see some positive signs. Here are some pictures and a video from the visit.


Staying Strong and Positive- Ella Update

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

Ella is a fighter and extremely brave but she looks up to me for answers. Sometimes I just feel like I want to cave in and say I can't do anything except not doing anything is giving up. We can not give up hope because it is that hope that keeps us strong.  If I am not strong for her, then she is worse. I have to make her happy and enjoy every precious moment I have with her. I can not focus on the future except the positive.  So many people can be negative, blame others, make excuses, but what good does that do? She is looking at me for answers and even if I do not have them right now, I will do everything in my power to keep strong even though that is the toughest thing to do.

I was talking to a friend who has a Cavalier and has gone through this and she said she spent a year depressed and it almost killed her. She told me how important it is to be strong for Ella. I have known that from the beginning. Everyone says stay strong and it is very hard. I feel like dogs and especially Cavaliers can feel what we do. I was actually looking at a book of the history of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the first Spaniels were actually known as "comforter spaniels". They were used in hospitals, used to help the ill, used to keep people warm, keep pests away and I know from personal experience how she has healed me in a time of illness. Now that she is sick, I can not have her be my "comforter". I have to be the comforter to her. It is time to pay back what they have done for me and others for several years.

With Ella's eye problems from the dog attack and not knowing what her prognosis will be, I had an appointment Thursday with both the optometrist and her neurologist. I wanted to see the neurologist first because I wanted him to see what our next move is and I needed to know what is best for her. If her eye is not bothering her or if she doesn't have long, do I really need to go through surgery? I don't know how long she has but I hope it is a long time. I did not want to hear him tell her optometrist her prognosis but he did talk to him. I just think there is no good to know because they can be proven wrong and I am not going to give up hope but it is important to know in order to make this decision.

Then I Hear Some Good News

The optometrist looked at her eye and said he expected so much worse! She was actually scheduled a month ago to have surgery but I waited because I just had a feeling that I needed to focus on her SM. Her eye did not seem to bother her. She was not scratching at it and if I can spend money on her other things that is where my focus would be. It was a tough decision and even though it weighed on me, I really wanted to sit down and discuss it with both before I did anything. You never know if you make the best decision but knowing that  I trusted my instincts and waited makes me feel so much better.

I asked him if it had anything to do with what her neurologist said. I could not help it but I wanted to know if maybe he said something that determined what he was saying.  He told me that it had improved and really without SM, he does not think he would suggest to have it removed anyway!!

So hope and trust and a little miracles can do wonders!

Friday, January 7, 2011

For the Love of a Cavalier: Come together to bring Awareness

The recent issue of Dogs Today Magazine said “Health Update: Can the Cavalier still be saved?” Ella is a fighter and I wish I had the strength she has but YES we can! I have been blessed to meet so many great people on Facebook who love Ella and I love their Cavaliers and we all have the same thing in common, “We a Cavalierish World”.. I am so thankful for Felissa who has put together the Syringomyelia Awareness week on her blog www.twolittlecavaliers.blogspot.com and also Miki and the Facebook group “We love a Cavalierish World” who started the Facebook event because I feel it’s important for anyone who truly loves this breed (Cavalier owners, breeders, people who show Cavaliers, clubs) it doesn’t matter except that we all come together and recognize that SM is a problem and we can do something to help the breed we love so much.

“The greater the loyalty of a group toward the group, the greater is the motivation among the members to achieve the goals of the group, and the greater the probability that the group will achieve its goals.”

Rensis Likert

Keeping quite and not telling others and raising awareness is hurting the future of the breed and also making more people go through what I have and I would not with that on anyone.

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn”.

Benjamin Franklin

I did not know what SM was when I got Ella but know I know what it is like to have a Cavalier with severe SM so I did not know what questions to ask to make sure I choose a breeder that was following SM breeding protocols to help reduce the chance of her developing this condition. So many people do not know about SM but I am sure they do not know that there has been research going on for years to come up with a way to help our breed.

“Don't make excuses. Make things happen. Make changes. Then make history.”

Doug Hall

Now here is the good part. We have this outlet to help others. Learn from stories and hear how there are people that are making a difference and also what we can do to help!