Teddy’s Story

Nicki Hughes shares Teddy’s Story.

Teddy the CavalierTeddy came to live with us in April 2005 at 19 months of age – he had been living in an outside kennel and was not house trained, but he quickly learnt about living life indoors.  He was a gentle, soft boy, and a wonderful companion to Rupert – they were very close.

I soon realised that something was not right – but even my vet could not believe that we would be so unlucky as to have TWO affected dogs (little did we know…).

Teddy was scratching, to start with on one side only, not making contact with the skin – and just behind his front leg. It soon became bilateral, and eventually both ears too. He was not happy being groomed – and was generally such an easy dog, happy to do anything you wanted him to do, so I knew it was not naughtiness. He was treated for parasites, skin irritation and put on exclusion diets for food allergies, none of which made any difference.

Teddy was MRI’d a year later – and we were shocked to discover that he was indeed moderate to severely affected. When we obtained Teddy, we had impressed upon his breeder that we desperately wanted a healthy Cavalier – obviously we had recently been through Rupert’s bad pain episode and feared he would not be with us for long; we also had another little Cavalier who sadly had many health problems, and was euthanised at the age of 7, not too long after we had Teddy. We were looking for a healthy Cavalier who would be with us for many years.

After Teddy’s diagnosis, we wrote to his breeder explaining what had happened, and asking if she would be prepared to offer us some help with the huge vet bills we were now facing. She wrote back wishing him well and sent us a refund of his purchase price.

Teddy started a program of treatment, having medication every 8 hours. We were lucky in that every time he deteriorated,  we found or were told about a new treatment or supplement which helped him. It was an emotional roller-coaster, but when you love them so very much, you do everything you can to help.

Teddy’s symptoms:

  • Scratching – initially one side, later both. Behind the front legs and later both ears too. If you touched his chest, that would trigger a scratching episode. It was hard for him to stop scratching, even if you called his name or touched him.
  • Pain – he NEVER yelped or cried out. Pain was apparent though in his facial expression and demeanour. Eventually he started to vocalise – moaning and groaning noises.
  • Intolerance of grooming. Particularly hated having his nails trimmed and eventually had to be sedated for this and for clipping his coat.
  • Sought cool areas to lie, he could not cope with heat/warm rooms.
  • He was very restless – at his worst times, he could not stay in the same position for more than about 30 minutes and would wander around trying to get comfortable.
  • Excessive tearing from eyes.
  • Haunted look in his eyes, and ears held lower and back.
  • His balance was initially very good, but eventually he started limping and his reflexes were affected, and he then started to stumble occasionally.
  • Mild urinary incontinence but this was treated homoeopathically with complete success!

Teddy always wanted his cuddles, but this gradually became more and more difficult for him – he no longer could cope with being picked up. We came to a compromise where he would lie across my lap, giving him the physical contact he craved without the pain.

Teddy dropped a lot of coat, his gorgeous bushy tail disappeared and his belly and groin area were actually bald. This was believed to be a side effect of the Gabapentin. He was clipped under sedation at the vets in January 2010 – and his coat never grew again, an unsolved mystery.

Teddy had a follow up MRI 2 years after the first one as his symptoms were getting worse. There was some progression but not as much as we had possibly expected, which gave us some hope. However symptoms do not always correlate to the degree of severity apparent on an MRI – the width of the syrinx is more significant than the length, also whether it is asymmetrical.

Teddy was on an extensive schedule of medication, for over four years – we tried everything we could to keep him comfortable and happy. He also had natural supplements and homoeopathy. Teddy had regular blood tests to monitor the effect of the medications on his body – he had to take a liver support medication, as his liver was affected, possibly due to the drugs.

He developed some urinary incontinence but this was treated homoeopathically with complete success!

Sadly Teddy also battled with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth so he had to have daily antibiotics; he also developed a heart murmur at the age of 4, which progressed with frightening speed and in just under 2 years became a grade 5/6.

Teddy started vocalising showing that his pain was not under control, he was limping intermittently {neurological rather than injury}. He was very restless. It became apparent that life was no longer enjoyable and Teddy did not even want to go for walks any more. We could no longer keep him comfortable, so he was given his rest peacefully at home on 8th April 2010 at only 6 years of age 🙁

We gave the gift of love and put Teddy through the Syringomyelia Cavalier Collection Scheme – a difficult decision to make but it is a huge comfort to us now – it gave value and meaning to his passing and hopefully the tissues harvested from his body will help this very important research.

Teddy loved to be involved in whatever we were doing. He was very close to my husband but he always wanted to be wherever I was – he was my soul mate.