“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” – Will Rogers

I realize it’s been a long time since I last wrote an entry on here.  It’s honestly just been too painful.

It’s been a little over three months since I said goodbye to Molly.  The hardest decision and worst day of my life to date.

As Molly’s disease progressed, she began to lose control of her bladder and was having multiple accidents inside daily.  She struggled to move from room to room without significant help and/or falling into furniture and onto the floor.  She could no longer play with her toys, get up onto the couch by herself or go for a walk without using a wheelchair.  She was starting to need assistance standing upright to eat her food and drink her water.   It took a lot of her energy just to move around, so she spent a lot of her last days napping in the sun.

Despite all of these obstacles, it was incredibly hard for me to see or know that it was time.  And honestly, I still struggle a lot with guilt and question whether I did it too soon or too late.  Because the disease is painless (aside from all the falls) and because it doesn’t affect their minds, she still seemed mostly content and was always still very happy to see me and spend time with me.

I spent a lot of time grieving before she was even gone, and writing out lists of pros and cons to keeping her going, consulting trusted veterinarians and friends for advice, and leaned on my family who had helped me raise her and loved her as much as I did.  I struggled in general with making a decision that would end a life – what gives me that right?  It’s an incredible burden, and I knew it was mine alone.  No one else could make this decision for me.  From the research I’d done, almost everyone said it’s better to do it a week too soon than even an hour too late, and most people regretted waiting too long.  Also with this disease, since they are so prone to falling/twisting their legs, I didn’t want her to have a painful accident that would force us into an emergency situation where she would be stressed at the time we put her down.

In the end, I decided to have an in-home euthanasia company come to our house to do it where she would feel comfortable and would be surrounded by people that loved her.  My dad came in town and was there with me and Carter.  Up until the last minutes I wasn’t sure I was ready or making the right decision, but I knew that no matter what we did she was only going to get worse and continue to struggle more and more every day.  I wanted better for her, and I wanted to let her go while she still had some dignity and wasn’t completely miserable.

I don’t want to focus on the actual day we said goodbye to her, but rather on the wonderful life she had and all of the joy she brought to us.  We spent her last few days doing all of her favorite things.  We drove around all of her favorite parks, cooked all of her favorite foods, spent time outside with her basking in the sun, and of course smothered her with belly rubs and kisses.

She really had an amazing life, and I feel so grateful to have had her for as long as I did.  She made us laugh, gave us comfort, protection and unconditional love.  When I think about her now I try to focus on the times where she was running like crazy, sneaking treats and stealing toys from the neighbor kids, splashing around in the lake where she grew up, riding in the car with her head out of the window, eyes closed, taking in all the smells and sounds, sleeping soundly on her bed or more often, on the couch at night.

I miss her every single day, and pray that she is at peace.  She was so very loved, and always will be.

Molly in BedMolly FlowersMolly KissesMolly Outside

Molly’s Game

Hi everyone!  It’s been quite a while since I last gave an update on Molly.  That’s because I can’t believe she’s still going at almost 11 1/2 years old when I didn’t even think she’d make it to her 11th Bday.

In addition to her DM diagnosis, she also had a skin cancer scare back in January.  As a (mostly) Boxer breed, she’s always had little growths pop up that have always tested as benign, but she had two that came back malignant this time.  To be honest I debated for several days whether it was even worth it to have them removed with her age and everything else she had going on, but I sought out the opinion of several veterinarians and they all advised removing them because there was no way to tell if the skin cancer was going to cause her pain/issues before the DM advanced.  When I took her in to have the lumps removed, I asked them to go ahead and check her over and remove any other lumps that looked suspicious because I didn’t want to put her under again unless it was absolutely necessary.  She already has to be put under once every three months for check ups for the clinical trial she’s in, and it makes me nervous at her age.  They ended up removing five lumps, and this poor girl looked like Frankenstein when we picked her up.  She had massive incisions all over her body – back of her neck, one on her side, one on her hip and two on her belly.  It was awful.  She was also so weak from the anesthesia and the DM that she could barely walk, and it was almost impossible to lift her up and down stairs  or in and out of the car without touching one of her incisions.  I was also terrified that she would start itching and scratching, tearing out her stitches as they were starting to heal.  I think I cried myself to sleep for two days because I regretted doing this to her so much.  In the end though, she amazingly left her stitches totally alone, without wearing a cone of any kind, and everything healed up nicely.

These days I do a lot of math games to quantify how lucky I am to still have her with me.  Especially since multiple vets told me she only had 6-12 months about 15 months ago.

I can’t say she’s doing great, but she’s definitely doing much better than expected at this point.  Although they’re very weak, she still has the use of her hind legs.  She can still go on a short walk, maybe half a mile or a little more.  She can get around the house independently for the most part.  Carter and I do a lot of carrying her up and down stairs though – and with a 50lb dog, it’s a pretty good workout!  She’s having more accidents inside the house which isn’t fun to clean up.  But I told her after 11 years of never having an accident inside, it’s totally ok.

I think the biggest surprise to me is her attitude through all of this.  At every declining turn I’ve fully expect her to become depressed and give up.  Now that she can’t be as independent, can’t chase after squirrels and bunnies like she used to, can’t go up and down the stairs etc.  But it’s kind of incredible that she’s basically acclimated to each phase of this with total acceptance.  She’s still a super happy pup and shows zero signs of self pity or sadness so far.  She still loves spending time with us, eating her treats, going for her short walks, going for rides in the car, getting her belly and ears rubbed.  I’m so thankful for this, because I dread that look in her eyes that says “I’m too tired” or “I’m done” more than anything.

So here’s the math that I’m doing on a regular basis to help me focus on the positive more than the negative.

  1. She started showing symptoms of DM in March 2018 and the typical prognosis once you start showing signs of this disease is 6-12 months.  It’s now mid June, so she’s made it approximately 3-9 months longer than expected.  Her local veterinarian thinks this is likely due to the clinical trial that I got her into.  That she most likely got the treatment vs the placebo, which helps me sleep at night knowing everything we did to get her into that trial may have actually been worth it after all and may be helping advance the science behind a treatment for this disease in dogs, as well as potentially ALS in humans.
  2. She had her MRI in June 2018 and that’s when they officially diagnosed her with DM.  She was given 6-9 months at that time.  So she’s made it 3-6 months longer than predicted by her neurologist.
  3. When she was first diagnosed, I told myself I just hoped she would make it to her 11th bday, without thinking she actually would.  She’s now 4 months past her 11th bday, so I’ve had 4 whole extra months with her that I never expected to have.
  4. Her typical breed’s life expectancy is 8-10 years, so she’s already beaten the odds by at least 1.4 years.
  5. I’ve been lucky enough to have her with me for literally 1/3 of my entire life.  She’s been there for me though so many ups and downs and has taught me so much about patience and acceptance.
  6. Since I’ve had her we’ve been on approximately 5,000 walks together, maybe more.

There are probably other equations that I’ve gone through in my mind, but those are the most frequent ones I think about.  I know when you make the decision to bring a dog into the family that you’re signing up for heartbreak in 10, 12, 14 years(ish) if you’re lucky, but that doesn’t make it any easier when you start nearing that time.  I’ve always been the biggest animal lover and I can’t watch any movie or TV show where an animal gets hurt without crying.  I am so connected to Molly that my heart breaks at the thought of not having her sweet happy face at the door when I come home.  I know that time is probably not far away, but I’m so grateful that I’ve had all this extra time with her and have been able to spoil her a little extra for the last year basically (she is totally ruined now!)

I think that’s everything for now – we are continuing to try and keep her strong and keep our spirits up for as long as we can.  Thanks for all of the support!

Molly SnugglesMolly CouchMolly Carried

Molly FlowersMolls DoorMolls Outside

 

 

 

Clinical Trial & Error

IMG_3124 (1)

To update everyone, Molly had the procedure at Mizzou and it went well. Again, I don’t know if she received the placebo or the treatment – or if I would even be able to tell regardless with such an experimental treatment in the early research phases. During the procedure they did some routine blood work and discovered Molly’s platelet count was low. They called and asked me if they could test some blood from her spleen because they thought they saw a mass. The test came back benign, thank goodness, but they weren’t sure what was causing her platelets to drop when they were normal a month before. Their best guess was some kind of infection, potentially from a tick bite. She’s on flea/tick prevention medicine so I’m not sure how that would have happened, but we started her on heavy antibiotics right away in addition to two different immunosuppressants needed to help support the treatment for the study. Needless to say, she was miserable. She was taking 10 pills a day, barely eating anything and what she did eat, she couldn’t keep down. It was a miserable week after the initial visit of basically trying countless recipes and foods to try and get her to eat and be able to tolerate all of the medicine, and it was a losing battle. She had no energy and her legs seemed worse than ever. After talking with my local vet and the researchers at Mizzou, we decided to pause all of her meds for a few days to let her get her appetite and strength back.

Thankfully after a few days, she was feeling MUCH better. She started eating again and we slowly started introducing the medicines at lower doses which so far, she’s done really well with. Her platelets had started to come back up, so we decided not to put her back on the antibiotics – the likely culprit of most of her stomach upset.

Once she was feeling back to normal, I actually thought her legs were starting to look better. She was doing great on walks and seemed to be a lot more stable than before. A glimmer of hope!

We went back to Mizzou about three weeks ago for her first 1 month check-up. They took some videos of her walking to compare to when she first came in, and assessed that she looked about the same. A win in my book since before the procedure I felt like she was getting noticeably worse each week. They put her under anesthesia to do a few more tests and drew her blood again. Her platelets had dropped, again.

A few theories from them included: bone marrow disease, spleen disease, and auto-immune disease. The next steps for testing any of these potential causes were pretty invasive and I was obviously feeling pretty deflated. We decided to try putting her back on antibiotics in case there was still some kind of infection that wasn’t all the way knocked out with the first short round of meds. I was really worried about putting her back on them because she felt so awful on them the first time, but she’s actually done really well so far. And the best news – her platelets are totally back to normal range now! Finally a break. Now back to focusing on her legs.

To be honest – I have no idea if the procedure has done anything. My assessment a few weeks ago would be to say that yes, it has. I never expected a full cure for her, but I do think that whatever they gave her has helped to slow down the progression of the disease. She was officially diagnosed with DM on June 11th, and was given 6-9 months before total paralysis. We are now heading into month five, and she is still fully mobile. She definitely slips & falls more often now, especially on slick surfaces. But we’ve been able to mitigate that as much as possible by laying yoga mats around the house and keeping her booties on if we know we will be somewhere with slippery floors. I finally got around to trying the painted on adhesive, which was pretty effective too, although a little messy and difficult to apply.  It’s nice though to give her a break from the booties and let her paws breath a little better.

IMG_3309

In general she still seems very happy and enjoys her walks and coming to work with me a few times a week.  Although she tends to sleep on the job most of the time..

IMG_3375

On a typical walk she is still pretty strong and can walk over a mile without seeming to tire out. She always gets more energetic when the weather starts to cool down so we are very excited for Fall!

IMG_8293

Molly’s Hail Mary

img_1734.jpg

I’m sitting in a café in Columbia, Missouri. I dropped Molly off at 9:00am this morning at the Mizzou Veterinary Center for her first procedure of many in this clinical trial. It’s been a long road getting to this point, and I’m hopeful that she will receive the treatment they claim to have seen very promising results with – though there is a 20% chance she receives a placebo. Still, an 80% chance is better than no chance. It’s been an emotional few weeks getting all of the pre-requisites completed, waiting for results, finding out if Molly is eligible, and then weighing the pros and cons of participating in the trial at all once we knew she qualified. In the end, the pros outweighed the cons and now here we are.

Today entails a full neurological exam, MRI, muscle analysis, and serum injection into her upper and lower spine. I anticipate a lot of funny looking shaved spots on her when I pick her up tomorrow morning. She will be put under anesthesia for most of these procedures, and then they will keep her for 24 hours to monitor her before she is able to go home. Afterwards, she will be put on immunosuppressants for 3 months to help the treatment take effect and make sure her body doesn’t try and fight off the foreign substance.

It’s an interesting turning point in our journey with this – because this is the last possibility for her to be helped with this debilitating disease. Her “Hail Mary” so to speak. After today, I will have done everything I possibly can to try and help her, and then it’s basically out of my hands. I’m not sure whether that’s comforting or not, but I’m trying to see it that way. I also keep reminding myself to keep my expectations low, and focus on the fact that regardless of what happens, Molly is helping complete some pretty amazing research. If they find that this treatment works, it will be an enormous breakthrough to help future dogs with DM as well as people with ALS. The vet I’m working with, Joan R. Coates, DVM, is the #1 researcher in the country for this disease. It’s kind of crazy that the top research center for this specific disease is only 2 hours away from where we live. I also saw this beautiful double rainbow on the way here this morning – so I’m taking all of these things as good signs.

IMG_2818

After today we will come back in one month for a check-up, and then return every three months until she passes. I’m not sure I will ever really know whether she got the treatment or the placebo. Even if she gets the treatment, there’s nothing concrete out there that says it will definitely benefit her. So I guess there’s still a chance that even with the treatment I will not see any improvement. There are so many unknowns, but I’m going to stay hopeful that all of this is worth it and she may get some healthy years back because of this.

I took Molly to work with me yesterday to have some mother/daughter bonding time and it was a really great day. She loved meeting new people and getting extra attention and pets, having new things to smell and watching people pass by for meetings in the halls. Here’s a few pictures of her cozying up to my cube mates:

I’ll be anxiously awaiting updates today and will share more soon. Until next time.

The Unsinkable Molly Schmid

Underwater Treadmill

I’ve been talking with the veterinarian running the clinical trial at Mizzou and am still in the process of sending over all of the pre-requisites to see if Molly is eligible. It’s been pretty intense. They need several different X-Rays, MRI scans, blood work/serum for testing, an abdominal ultrasound, a referral letter from the neurologist, etc. I won’t even say how much all of this is costing just to see if she is going to be able to participate. I also spoke with the neurologist again last week and he told me to really level set my expectations for this study. That this is a disease we’ve failed to find a treatment for in humans or dogs and is all still very experimental. He said I should go into this with the mindset that this research may benefit future dogs, but not necessarily Molly.

It’s pretty disheartening to hear, obviously. That said, he didn’t think we had anything to lose by participating in this trial as long as we didn’t mind driving a few hours to Mizzou and as long as Molly did okay with it, so I’m still working to at least get down there and talk with these people and will go from there.

It does seem like she is getting slightly worse each day, which makes it extra hard to wait while all these tests are being completed and analyzed. In the meantime, I’ve been talking with another veterinarian that I work with, and she gave me some great pointers for physical therapy I can do with her at home. Here are the exercises she recommends:

-A short warm up walk of 3-5 minutes or so
-2 sets of 10 sit to stands (basically making her sit and stand up–doggie squats–10 times in a row)
-2 sets of 10 Biscuits to the hip, left and right side. This is where you have a treat and have her follow it with her nose to her left hip and then to her right hip
-2 sets of 10 biscuits up and down. She follows the treat with her nose up towards the sky and then down to the ground.
-2 sets of 5 3-legged stands for 10-15 seconds. You pick up one back leg and make her balance on 3 legs, hold for 10-15 sec, rest for a couple and then start again. Repeat 5 times and then do the other rear leg.
-Walk in figure-eights 10 times in each direction
-Rock her booty back and forth gently to get her to shift weight back and forth between her hind legs, 15-20 times
-A short cool down walk for as long as she’d like without getting too tired
-Nightly massage of her front paws, rotating them in small circles. As their hind legs weaken they put a lot more pressure on their front legs to make up the difference.

Molly is a rare breed of a dog who is not at all food motivated, which makes some of the “biscuit” tricks difficult, but we found a few workarounds to accomplish those movements without using food. We have been practicing and I think we will get into a good routine soon. I will say I’ve learned it’s important to ease into these exercises. I went full force with these and she started cramping up really bad and could barely walk the next day. I was in full panic mode thinking overnight she completely lost her ability to walk, but she regained strength over the next day or so. So now we just alternate a few of the different exercises vs trying to do all of them every day.
We also went to our first physical therapy session at VSS. She walked on the underwater treadmill for 15 min and did pretty well! She was really nervous at first and was clawing to get out, but eventually she got used to it. It sounds like this is probably the best form of physical therapy you can do since it’s low impact on their joints etc. My goal is to take her there once a week and do the other exercises intermittently.

Aside from that I’m just trying not to be hyper focused on every slip and trip. It’s hard not to react to every misstep but I think it’s important to act as normal as possible and not fall apart in front of her. She’s still a very happy, sharp and energetic girl so we are trying to maximize every day for her while she’s still able to run and play.

On a happy note – some of our friends reached out to see if we wanted to do a little party for Molly to celebrate her life and come love on her. It was such a blast. People brought all kinds of fun gifts from toys to homemade dog treats and essential oil blends for her paws. It’s been so amazing to have a strong support system in our friends & family who all love dogs as much as we do and who want to help us show Molly how much she is loved. A few fun pictures from the party:

Thank you so much again for all of the love and support as we navigate through this!

These Booties Were Made for Walking.. and a Potential Treatment for DM??

IMG_E1756

This past week has been a little better. As I got the items in the mail I ordered, I guess it felt like I was somewhat taking things into my own hands and being proactive – I felt a little less hopeless. We’ve tried a few different types of booties and socks, and Molly actually did pretty well with them. I think I just assume she will totally hate all of these adjustments and it will be a huge struggle for her to acclimate, but she’s really surprised me so far. We’ve worn booties on her longer walks so her back toe nails have grown back out nicely. She also doesn’t seem to show drastic changes in her capabilities from day to day, which makes me hopeful the disease is progressing slowly. I think I’ve moved into the bargaining stage of the grief cycle – if she can make it comfortably to her 11th birthday in February, I will be ok (right).

So far our favorite booties are these little blue rubber balloon looking ones (in cover photo) by a company called PawZ and you can get them on Amazon:

PawZ Booties
Balloon Booties

I bought them after reading a recommendation on someone else’s blog and I’m so glad I did! They give her great traction inside on the hardwood floors, which is why I think she doesn’t totally hate them. They’re really light weight so they’re easier for her to walk around in as she normally would. They’re also more durable than you’d expect. We’ve worn them on long walks and the same pair is still holding up after a week. Thankfully they’re pretty cheap so we can keep buying them as needed. It’s like $15 for 6 pair. We’ve also tried some heavier duty booties:

Heavy Duty Booties
hd-booties.png

She does ok in these too, but they’re a little more awkward because of the lip on the bottom, so she really has to pick her feet up with these. They also fall off more often. I like them for longer walks because the soles are definitely more durable, but because this disease causes them to drag their feet, they definitely trip her up more often than the balloon ones.

Inside the house I’ve laid out a few yoga mats in between the carpeted areas so she can walk without the booties and still have some better traction. Those have been super helpful. I haven’t tested out any of the harnesses yet because she’s still doing really well on her own and I don’t want to drastically change her daily life all at once. Thinking we will ease into those as needed.

In other news – I was doing some additional research last week and stumbled upon the below article titled “Degenerative Myelopathy Dogs Got Good News from The University of Missouri.”

https://lessonsfromaparalyzeddog.com/degenerative-myelopathy-dogs-got-good-news-from-university-of-missouri/

First of all, what are the odds? Mizzou is two hours away from us and has an extensive research center at their veterinary school for Degenerative Myelopathy. The good news in a nutshell is this:

1) There may be a new way to accurately confirm a DM diagnosis (vs. diagnosis of exclusions, autopsy)
2) They’ve discovered a genetic link between DM in dogs and ALS in humans (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and are testing a similar treatment in dogs that they’ve seen strong results with in humans to drastically slow the progression of the disease.

They’re now looking for dogs that are in the early stages of this diagnosis to participate in a clinical trial for the new drug. It’s administered via injection into their lower spinal cord while they are under anesthesia. They need a total of 16 dogs (Boxers, Corgis, other – age 9+), 12 of which will get the treatment, 4 will serve as the control group. That would mean each dog has an 80% chance of getting the treatment. Needless to say, I emailed the woman running this study right away to find out more. Does Molly qualify? When does it start/end? What are the risks? Have they ever done this study before? If they see significant improvement at the end of the trial in the dogs who received the drug, would the other 4 dogs then get the treatment as well? Etc. She emailed me back pretty quickly asking for videos of Molly walking from a few different angles so they could see how progressed she is. Obviously, I have multiple videos of Molly readily available on my phone, so I sent those over immediately. Then I teetered on the border of persistently following up and harassment to make sure the videos were what they needed to make a decision on if Molly would qualify.

They think she will! She got back to me saying Molly looked like she was in the early stages of DM and put me in touch with a few other vets helping run the study. They sent over a long document outlining the requirements to see if we were still interested in participating. I read through everything and still had a few questions, of course, and am now waiting anxiously patiently to hear back. Until then I will continue to harass follow up with them to see if this study makes sense for Molly.

Hopefully I will have an update by next week. Stay tuned!

The beginning..A new way of walking

Molly 2

It started when Molly peed in our bed. She hasn’t had an accident in the house in ten years, let alone in our bed. What was going on? It did thunder that day – maybe she just got extra scared and she is ten years old after all so maybe it’s just a little harder to control her bladder when she gets scared these days. That would be understandable? I decided to take her to the vet just to be sure she didn’t have a bladder infection or something.

I took my dog to the vet to check her for a bladder infection, and they pointed out a weakness in her back left leg. When they overturned her left paw while she was standing up, it wasn’t self-correcting right away. The right foot was still functioning at 100%, but the left was just a little slower. Well that’s strange – I hadn’t noticed this before at all. I guess I noticed she was getting just slightly weaker in her hind legs, but she was ten years old and I assumed it was just a little arthritis or something.

The vet said it could be a pinched nerve which may or may not self-correct. And it didn’t seem to be bothering or hindering her in any way at that point, so I really didn’t think too much of it. They gave me an anti-inflammatory and a mild pain killer for her to take to see if it helped anything. She hadn’t been acting like she was in any pain, but I did as instructed and started giving her the medicines twice a day for a few weeks. The medicines did nothing. Her legs became noticeably worse over the next 4-6 weeks. What was going on?
I decided to take her in for X-Rays to see if they could determine if this was actually a pinched nerve or something else like hip dysplasia etc.

It was both.

The vet came in to talk to us and explained she did have some pretty serious hip dysplasia, especially on the left side. Ok this is common, I can handle this.
She also has some sort of nerve issue. There were two possibilities: Lumbosacral Disease or Degenerative Myelopathy. These are both totally foreign things to me, so I’m trying to process what they are and what the solution is. Lumbosacral Disease can be potentially fixed by surgery. Degenerative Myelopathy can’t be fixed at all. Ok it’s most likely the first one she said – wonder how much this will cost. On top of that she has hip dysplasia – but that sounds manageable too. She’s still pretty young and everything else is working perfectly. She has tons of energy, perfect hearing and eye sight. I will just investigate the surgery options so we can get back to our normal life together.
The vet recommends I see a specialist, a dog neurologist. She says they will most likely need to do advanced imaging, an MRI, to confirm a diagnosis. The MRI itself can cost between $2,000-$3,000. Yikes – just to diagnose the problem? Wonder how much spinal surgery is going to cost then. Guess we won’t be going on any trips next year. But she’s my baby and she’s so healthy otherwise, so if they think they can give her some healthy years back it’s totally worth it.

This is when I go home and cry my eyes out. I don’t want her to be in any pain and I was totally not expecting this sort of diagnosis. A few weeks ago she was perfectly fine and I just thought she might have a bladder infection. I’m still trying to process through all of this when another vet calls me that I had reached out to earlier for a second opinion. After describing her symptoms and the way things have progressed, he tells me based on her breed and the info I gave him, it really sounds like Degenerative Myelopathy. Oh shit – that’s the bad one that can’t be fixed. What?

At this point my heart is literally breaking.

I start researching the two diseases, and it’s really looking like she has the incurable one – Degenerative Myelopathy. All of the symptoms make sense. She’s wobbly/unstable in her hind legs, and it started more in one side then moved to the other side. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain, another thing that’s a strong indication of DM. The prognosis says they can survive around 6-12 months before the disease eventually moves to the front legs and they become completely paralyzed. There’s an image of a Corgi with its legs outstretched completely. And I fall apart completely.

Flash forward a week and a half later, and my husband and I are at the neurologist getting a full neurological exam and MRI. The doctor confirms our fears, but I already knew deep down that he would. The thing is, DM doesn’t sound all that common. It’s not really diagnosed that often. But that’s mostly because it is a diagnosis of exclusions. They must rule out all other possibilities first and they can do a blood test to confirm the dog is a carrier of the gene, but that’s as close as you can really get. The only way to truly confirm DM as the diagnosis is to perform an autopsy. I’m betting not many people do autopsies on their dogs.

So now you’re pretty much caught up to where I am on this journey. My dog is the love of my life. I’ve had her since she was three months old. We rescued her literally from a crack head on the side of a road, who asked for $5 and some cigarettes in exchange for her. I’ve spent the last ten years trying to spoil her rotten and give her the best life possible. She was the most scared timid dog when I first got her. Now she’s the most loving, sweet, spoiled little girl. She loves going for long walks, chasing bunnies and squirrels, riding in the car (going “bye bye”), treats, belly & butt rubs, and spending time with me, my husband, our parents & our friends.

I’m still trying to process and accept that her last 6-9 months will be spent slowly losing the ability to walk. I’m lucky I work for a pet care company where I have access to a lot of veterinarians and pet behaviorists to use as resources for advice on this diagnosis. They’ve all been very supportive and have all pretty much said this will be a heart wrenching thing to watch –but to just try and stay positive for her because generally dogs with this disease are mostly happy and normal up until the point where they can’t move at all…

I decided to start this blog because as I’ve been doing research on this disease, it’s helped me to hear from other people that went through this – things they’ve tried, what worked and didn’t work, and to be honest I thought it would just be cathartic for me to write about this experience instead of bottling it all up. Hopefully I can successfully help Molly transition to her new reality, but I know a lot of this will likely be trial and error. I also hope this blog will help other pet parents who are faced with this situation find some comfort and education on what to expect and what we can do to help each other along.

First order of business – I ordered a bunch of things from Amazon the other day including:

-Chest Harness
-Support Harness for Back Legs
-A wide assortment of different booties/socks with grippers
-Adhesive paint for paws (I’ll let you know..)
-Special scissors to groom the hair in between her paws so the adhesive will work and not be as messy
-Life jacket for swimming/physical therapy (she hates to swim, we will see how this goes)
-Dog ramp to help with stairs, getting in and out of the car (so far she wants nothing to do with this)
-Peroxide to clean wounds on her feet (it’s common for them to start dragging their feet which can cause the hair to wear down on their knuckles & sores to form – hence the booties and socks)
-Resolve Carpet Cleaner to get in front of any bleeding or accidents that may occur (the technician at the vet cut her back nails down really short when she was under anesthesia – standard procedure I guess – and because she drags her back legs when she walks her nails immediately wore down to the quick and started bleeding). I’ve been keeping her on the grass when we walk at the park now to let her nails grown back in).
-Rubber bands to help keep the socks on
-Neosporin just in case

I’ve received about half of these items and plan to spend the next few weeks trying them out. I’ll let you know what works and what doesn’t work.

Thanks for reading,

Bri