Denny and Charlie (and the rest)
It started with OnePug...

Catch-Up Time!

Friday, 24 February 2012 15:59 by Robbi

It’s been far too long since we have posted here. It’s been a very eventful year and we have neglected this blog whilst we’ve gone about our daily lives. The webcam has remained in place and we know it gets checked regularly by people wanting a peek at the pugs. We use it ourselves whenever we’re out and just want to check that the doggers are okay.

But in light of recent developments, we felt it was time to recommit to the blog.

I will start with a brief recap of this past year’s events. I may elaborate further on certain items in future posts, but for now this is just a quick catch-up.

Firstly, I am happy to report that the number of furkids in our house continues to outnumber the humans. There has been no change to our cast of characters.

Munchkin the cat celebrated her 14th birthday this past fall. She still looks like a kitten to me. Denny turned 9 this past summer, but has very little gray to show for it. Maggie’s birthday is not known, but we choose to celebrate it in May. We believe she will be 11 or 12 this year. The black markings on her face are fading into a beautiful white-gray and she looks like the feisty old lady she is.

Phoebe has just turned 6. Her playful personality remains but she is really starting to go gray around the chin – even more so than Denny! Charlie has a touch of gray around his mouth and speckles on his belly.charliegraybear

It still shocks me to see the gray, especially since he doesn’t let us see his belly that often.  His back is still a beautiful black so I forget about his gray until he rolls over to stretch.  He turns 6 this summer and though he will always be my puppy, I’m looking forward to seeing his salt-and-pepper fur over the next few years. Stewie has grown so much. He celebrated his second birthday a couple of months ago. He’s solid muscle and the same size as Phebes, but his face still looks like a pup.

Unfortunately, we’ve spent more than our fair share of time at assorted Veterinarian’s offices this year.stewpotswollen

We were blindsided by Stewie’s severe allergic reaction to his annual vaccines. We had a speed-limit-breaking dash to the afterhours emergency vet when his face swelled so severely we could barely see his eyes. Thankfully we were able to give him some Benadryl before it got too bad so that by the time we got to the vet his swelling had stopped progressing. He was treated with steroids and antihistamines and sent on his way home where I don’t think I let his feet touch the ground. A few months later he had a reaction to something in the garden, so the Benadryl was administered around the clock until he was clear. It looks like he’s going to be our “sensitive” pug and we will have to keep a close eye on him for future reactions.

Maggie has developed some arthritis in her front left leg. It doesn’t bother her during the day when she’s moving around, but she’s quite stiff when she first wakes up or if she jumps off the sofa. Sadly, I can’t seem to stop her jumping, but we’ve put rugs down in the living room so at least she has a cushioned surface to jump down on. It seems to help. Plus we’ve increased her glucosamine supplement and added some more things to her diet to help her be more comfortable. We’ll be keeping an eye on her to see when we need to look at more aggressive treatments.

Denny has been through a lot this year. We had noticed last spring that he seemed to be having more difficulty walking. We started him on glucosamine, thinking it was hip dysplasia or arthritis. Initial x-rays seem to confirm dysplasia. We had additional x-rays done with our local vet so that we could get a referral to see an orthopedic surgeon. However, those x-rays showed the hips were clear. As time went by and he didn’t get any better, we got a referral to a neurologist to check his spine. He had began “knuckling under” in his back feet when he walked and his back had started to slope. He had an MRI in August which revealed disc compression in his middle spine. We scheduled him for surgery, hemilaminectomy, in late August.

Acupuncture and Laser this morning.

He came through with flying colors and seemed better immediately. In fact, it was quite tough keeping him calm and on crate rest during the recovery period. His post-op check up confirmed what we knew – the surgery was a success and he was getting control back to his legs. He continued to show improvement over the next month or so, enjoying his walks and looking better than he had in months. However, by late November he was starting to look a little weaker. By December it was obvious that he was deteriorating. We consulted his neurologist who said it was possible that scar tissue had formed at the surgical site and was causing pressure on the spine again. We tried a round of steroids to see if it helped. It didn’t. In January we decided to have another MRI to see what was going on. It showed no new area of compression, but some scar tissue at the surgical site and a bit of swelling on the spinal cord in front of the surgical site. At first the neurologist said he could do surgery to remove the scar tissue. But after speaking to his colleagues he told us he didn’t think surgery was a good option. He left it with us that we could try another round of steroids, with strict crate rest, to see if the swelling could be reduced. If that didn’t work then we could discuss surgery again. So we started the Prednisone and brought the crate in from the garage for Denny.

We also started researching alternative therapies. When Denny had his surgery, we elected to have a new genetic blood test done to check for Degenerative Myelopathy. We knew that it was a possible cause of his symptoms. There is no cure for DM and there’s not really definitive treatment either. Thankfully the results came back negative, so we could rule that out. However, the neurologist did tell us that he could be suffering from degeneration of the spinal cord, just not DM. So without a definitive diagnosis we started digging around, trying to see what we could do for the little guy.

This story doesn’t have an ending yet. We are still researching, still trying things and ruling things out. But from our research we know there’s a lot of other owners out there trying to find answers for their dogs. We’ve learned a great deal from others who have posted their stories in their fight to help their dogs, so we felt we should do the same. We’re going to show what helps him and what doesn’t. And we’re going to share all the research we do, in case something we find that doesn’t work for Denny might work for someone else.

In the meantime, I can assure you that Denny is still living the pampered life that he always has. He and the other furkids are happy and overall healthy. They have devoted parents and a lifestyle and most dogs would envy. We plan on sharing all aspects of their lives here – not just chronicling Denny’s condition. So if you want random pics of pugs living the good life, this is the place as well!