November 2007 Bruno and I are at our scheduled veterinary appointment. Our vet observes Bruno walk up and down the hallway and then proceeds to feel, rub, push, pull, and poke around on the big guy who takes this all in stride. The first logical thing to do is rule out hip dysplasia with x-rays.
X-ray results are in and the results are good. Bruno’s hips are as tight and stable as they were at age two when he was rated “Good” by O.F.A. (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). So now what? Through deductive reasoning and process of elimination, my vet determines that Bruno is a victim of Degenerative Myelopathy. My heart sinks into my stomach as my brain begins to process.
Degenerative Myelopathy is a spinal cord disease that is chronic and progressive and has a genetic predisposition in the German shepherd breed. Other large breeds, long spine breeds, and working dogs are susceptible to this disease but it is known to appear with relative frequency in German Shepherds.
So basically, Bruno’s spine is slowly deteriorating and neurologically causing the lack of control in the hindquarters. My vet explains that there is no cure or treatment for this disease and the only thing that can be done is pain management from here on out.
Bruno and I leave the vet’s office with doggy medication that is equivalent to Motrin and the knowledge that this disease will eventually debilitate him to the point of not being able to walk under his own power. Bruno’s lifespan and quality of life will now be determined by how quickly this degenerative neurological disease advances.
The clock is ticking…
*Originally posted April 29, 2010*