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

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

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Facebook- The Good and Bad When Getting A Cavalier

When buying a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, you need to do your homework. You want the best chances at getting a healthy, happy puppy and there are some wonderful breeders out there that are doing what they can to better the breed. Facebook makes the search easier. I am a member of many groups and have met a bunch of great Cavalier lovers as friends. Of course some are breeders and post their pictures of the beautiful puppies that were born. I can see people fall in love with the pictures and all the questions and homework are forgotten.

Here are some of the things to look for as far as health testing goes. Make sure they are able to provide you with certificates!

1) Are both parents over 2 1/2?
*Mitral Valve Disease breeding protocol requires both parents be over 2 1/2 and grandparents over 5, examined by a board certified Cardiologist and free of a heart murmur

2) An MRI on both parents and have followed the recommended Breeding Protocol?

3) Eye testing by an ophthalmologist on both parents. They should have CERF certificates

4) Hip Displaysia- Both parents' hips should have been x-rayed after age 2 years and cleared of HD by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

5) Patellar Luxation- Both parents' patellas should be examined and cleared by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

The Canine Health Information Center has specific tests to qualify for a certificate. A certificate is not mandatory but it shows that the breeder has done the minimum tests that are recognized for this breed. It also is a database you can search which can help you in your search. According to the ACKCSC,

"Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Requirements
To qualify for CHIC, Cavaliers must be screened for Hip Dysplasia (OFA, Penn HIP or OVC),
Cardiac (OFA - exam performed by Board Certified Cardiologist. Recommended Annually.),
Patellar Luxation (OFA), and
have a CERF eye examination. Although it is not required, it is recommended that an initial CERF exam be performed at 8-12 weeks, with a follow up exam once the dog reaches 12 months of age, annual exams thereafter until age 5, and every other year until age 9."

OK now for the good. Facebook brought me Elton. Without meeting a friend on Facebook, I would have never known about her fostering Elton and I would be without this great Cavalier that I adopted. Also Facebook has been able to start groups when dogs are lost and people ban together for their return. I have seen so much good also.

There is a lot more in buying a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I really like this blog post.

I also like the brochures the Cavalier Fanciers of Southern Ontario did.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ella, An Inspiration

I just wrote a blog post about blame and effort and I want to share my inspiration, Ella. No matter what she felt she was a true defination of the breed and a comforter. I would sing, "You are My Sunshine" to her because she was. She is the one who brought me out of a depression and she just made things better. She did that with her visits to the nursing home and just by passing people on the street. They say Cavalier King Charles Spaniels originally were "Comforter Spaniels" and that she was.

She was in pain yet she knew how to make others feel better. She did not blame anyone but kissed them to make them feel better. I never met anyone who didn't fall in love with her. I truly believe she brought me Elton because she knew I needed to share the love. I talk about Ella on this blog but she was an inspiration to me. It is coming up on a year since her death and I feel several years down the road, I will still be thinking of her and talking about this very special Cavalier that was sent to me from Heaven. Her time on Earth was short but she taught me more in those few years than a lifetime. She taught me how to love someone (even a dog) more than themselves, forgiveness, things that really are important, she gave me friends I couldn't imagine having.


Blame and Effort/ Enjoy the Day and Do

"A man can get discouraged many times, but he is not a failure until he begins to blame somebody else and stop trying." John Burroughs

I like this quote because I feel it is so easy to blame others and even yourself and with Chiari Like Malformation and/or Syringomyelia it is so easy to get discouraged and stop trying.

When Ella was first diagnosed with CM/SM, I asked myself questions that I am sure many others do as well. Why her/me?, Why didn't the Vet notice earlier?, What did the breeder know? (However I am very lucky to have read http://www.fortheloveofollie.com/ where it had a letter from Ollie's breeder explaining their point of view).  Did I miss any symptoms and should have caught this earlier?

Then after I went through the many questions on whether or not to have surgery and what type, Did I do the right thing? Then I blamed myself when she developed scar tissue and I wondered what would have happened if I went with something else.  Although it is important to ask questions when deciding what surgery, all of this blame did not matter.  It is now almost a year since she has been gone from me and I am so very glad that I did not spend too much time blaming others but enjoying each day. All of that did not matter but I still think about all the others with these conditions everyday. I read forums, try to read research (even if a lot is over my head) and I know I am not doing enough.

Where is my effort going to?

I felt the only way to help or do anything was to share Ella's story but now that she is gone, what am I doing? It feels like nothing. There are some wonderful people like Sheena Stevens who started
FOETAL TISSUE RESEARCH.  This has caused some great break throughs. There of course is Sandy Smith who wrote For the Love of Ollie. There is Mary Beth Squirrell who blogs about her cavalier Mylee with symptomatic Chiari Malformation on her blog embeecav.blogspot.com. There are so many more but a lot of these people never say anything but just do.