For those of you that know me, you know my dogs are my life. They are my passion. I spend countless hours a day making sure they live quality lives with adequate physical and mental stimulation that enriches their lives and strengthens our bond. I meal prep their food which takes hours of my time every week. Wherever I go, my dogs are likely there with me. I have made lots sacrifices in life for them, including skipping out on weekends at the bar with my friends because in my mind... a $50 bar tab is $50 I could put towards my dogs. They are my priority, as I am theirs. I live a very different lifestyle than most college students because of my dogs. My free time is not spent out partying, it's on the training field with my dogs or at the nursing home with my therapy dog. Most of my free time revolves around them because I believe they deserve that. I give them my all and it pains me that finances are a limiting factor; because if I had it, I would give every cent to my name (and I have, which is why I am swallowing my pride and asking for your help).
Starting in December 2017, Kai began exhibiting some rather strange behaviors such as spinning around and biting at his torso/back legs/nubbin and toes. These episodes started off happening about once every two weeks. Since he has only recently matured physically, he has recently started more high impact exercises. I assumed that this biting was because of a muscle cramp or sore muscles from exercise. As time went on, by late January he was exhibiting these behaviors multiple times a week as well as occasionally falling and hanging his head low to the ground. By the time February came I started to get concerned so I emailed some pictures and videos to my vet who had just seen him in early December for routine blood work. He agreed that they were not normal or something worth monitoring any longer so I made my appointment to be seen. Our first appointment was mid-late February. Because of his breed, they suspected possible wobbler's disease and opted to take X-Rays of his cervical spine (neck). They sent us home with a small dose of prednisone (5mg) 2x a day and Gabapentin (300mg) 1x a day for nerve pain and to reduce any inflammation he had. By the third day of medication, Kai was a mess. He had full blown facial paralysis, he was falling down the stairs and struggling to walk more than a few steps as well as peeing and pooping himself in his sleep. I immediately called the vet who advised that we ween off the medication as well as see a neurologist because the radiology report stated that Kai had CVI (cervical vertebral instability) in his cervical spine (neck) from C4-C7. So, I made the appointment for the very next day. I was very excited to finally have answers for my struggling boy. Well... we ended up leaving there with a diagnosis of OCD (yes, obsessive compulsive disorder) and were referred to a behaviorist. Obviously I was highly skeptical and quite honestly worried as my freshly 3 year old boy is deteriorating before my very eyes. But, I appreciated his professional opinion so off to the behaviorists I went. I actually reached out to two of them. BOTH of which immediately informed me that my dog is quite obviously in pain, he needs to see a vet. *SIGH* He was finally weened off the medications by now and had shown slight improvement. The facial paralysis now only happened while he was sleeping, not when he was awake anymore. He was slowly regaining the ability to hold his bowels and balance enough to walk. I was not satisfied with our answers so far so I took him to a different vet for a second opinion. At this point he was down 7lbs since our appointment in December despite eating almost twice what he should be. Most of which was quite obvious muscle loss in his head, face, neck, and rear end. By the end of our appointment she advised us to go see a neurologist. When I told her I have, and showed her his diagnosis, she was floored. So they did some generalized blood work and a urinalysis and also sent blood out to MSU for a full thyroid workup. All of which came back normal. I was left feeling completely defeated. Kai was now regurgitating his meals on a regular basis and continuing to lose weight so I met back with our primary vet, and we both agreed on doing full torso and chest X-rays to get a broad spectrum look of his major organs as well as his spine. This required full sedation, which always carries some risk, but I opted to go ahead and have them taken. The doctor immediately returned to the room with no expression on his face claiming "good news and bad news". The good news is, that "most" of his organs looked normal and healthy. However, his hips are "not pretty" (his words), he has spondylosis (arthritis in the spine) that is comparable to a 12 or 13 year old dog. 6 of his vertebrae are almost completely fused together. He said in his 22 years of practice he has never seen a 3 year old dog (let alone freshly 3) with spondylosis this bad and is unsure what could cause such a thing to happen. Additionally, his lungs appear to have (maybe?) bronchitis, and a heart that was (maybe?) enlarged or misshapen. He sent the rads out to an official radiologist to read them and confirm or deny the areas he felt were "maybe" abnormal. The report came back saying NOTHING of his spondylosis, NOTHING about his hips, normal heart and "common aging of the lungs" as well as a request for neck x-rays (which were attached to the file since he had those taken already) and a test for Myasthenia Gravis as the muscle loss was apparent on the X-Rays. My vet called me to share the findings of the report with me but claimed that he "wasn't satisfied" with it at all so he sent them out to a second and third radiologist for other opinions. I'm left feeling like I am twiddling my thumbs while I watch my dog struggle. I am still waiting for the results from the other radiologists to come back. In the mean time I have made an appointment with a holistic vet to discuss alternative therapies because of Kai's poor response and serious side effects to steroids and anti-inflammatories. But today.... my boy collapsed into what I am assuming was a cardiac event. Just when I thought the light at the end of the tunnel was in sight... I was sadly mistaken. I now am going to have to do cardiac testing and meet with a cardiologist (which were in my plans for routine care, given his breed and double Fedor lines in his pedigree but it has been put on hold due to these unexpected issues and expenses). I feel like I'm getting so deep into the rabbit hole. It is so difficult to determine where to draw the line and quit taking him for more tests. Especially because when he is good, he is great. He still has so much life left in him and willingness to learn. Due to his physical restraints we have switched to low impact exercises and training like balance. He's approaching all of this with such a will to live and continue on. I want to get to the bottom of this once and for all. No matter the outcome, whether terminal or treatable, I am going to be facing a lot more expense than I am prepared for. Kai has always had such dignity and pride and I do not wish to make him suffer. IF (big fat if) that day comes and euthanasia is in his best interest due to lack of quality of life, I am still struggling when I look at the cost. I do not wanthave to make him suffer just because I cannot afford to euthanize him while he still has some dignity. Whatever his future may hold, and whatever the outcome may be, I know that there is still a lot of expenses left on our journey for answers and comfort. To date I have spent (with the help of my wonderful, amazing, supportive parents) $1,218.13 not including supplements, diapers, or medications. I am a firm believer that everyone that gets a dog, should be able to support it with a good quality of life. And up until now, I have. I work for every dollar my dogs need and it goes against a lot of what I believe in to ask others for help. But I also know that a little bit would go a long way and what we have spent in the past 3 months goes way above and beyond your typical vet bills. No amount of whatever you give is too small. Whether that be money, a prayer, a share, a good vibe, a well wish, a thought, or anything else. We appreciate it ALL. Thank you so much for taking the time to read our story. God Bless.
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