Syringomyelia - Gizmo's Fight Special for Boston Terrier visitors: FREE Shipping on Dog Food (USA Only)! at Orders $49+
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 22

Thread: Syringomyelia - Gizmo's Fight

  1. #1
    Young Pup rob-rene's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    North Carolina

    UnhappySyringomyelia - Gizmo's Fight

    Hi everyone,

    This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write. What I want to do here is kind
    of a living memorial to the most precious creature I have ever met, my Boston Terrier,
    Gizmo. I struggle to (usually can't) hold back tears when I write, talk, or even think about
    her. She has touched me more deeply than any person I have ever met. She showed me what
    unconditional love is. I am 38 with no kids so she is like my own child. My love for her has
    no end. God blessed me by bringing her into my life, but He also blessed her with us because
    I don't think she could be more loved, and I shudder to think of the life she might have had
    with different owners, especially now and in the future.

    Here is the link to my original post:

    Just a little history first:

    Gizmo is actually my Girlfriend (Rene) and her daughters (Jordon) dog. I knew Rene for
    almost 20 years prior to us starting dating in Dec.2004. I met Gizmo the next day. She was
    3.5 years old then. It was love at first sight. We bought a house May 2006 and all moved in
    together. I was never the same after that day. My bond with Gizmo became so strong, I was the
    one with separation anxiety, I hated when I had to go to work. (I'm a self-employed
    electrician so I might work every day one week, then be off the next two.) We decided to
    live separately in Aug. 2008 for reasons I won't go into, but we still love each other very
    much. With a little luck, I’ll be home soon. Meanwhile, Gizmo went with Rene & Jordon.

    Now to the purpose of this writing:

    Its partly for me, as a way to deal with whats going on, but I really want to make people
    aware of Gizmos condition in hopes that maybe it will help other dogs/owners/vets when SM is
    suspect. I get kind of long winded sometimes so I apologize for that, I just want to have a
    complete record of her history, present, and future condition in hopes that owners won't
    mistake early warning signs for normal behavior. I am NOT a vet so my observations may or
    may not point to SM, but it is our personal experience.

    Gizmos history:

    Gizmo has always been a very active doggie, loves chasing squirrels, loves people, and
    playing with her toys. She seemed normal until July 2008 when she had a sudden change. It
    seemed to come from out of the blue. She has always been a very healthy doggie and never
    suffered any major trauma. She lived the life of a Diva. She was the runt of the litter and
    her brother (Boscoe) was taken by Rene's brother. He has no problems.

    Possible signs:

    As alot of info on SM can be found on other websites I will only talk about her possible
    signs, but here are some things she used to do that I thought was normal or cute but now I'm
    not so sure...

    1.Air scratching. She would do that alot, would actually scratch skin but would sort of
    drift off into thin air. Also when excited if company came over while walking over to them
    she would "Air Scratch". She was diagnosed with allergies as a pup, but that might have been
    a mis-diagnoses. I read that the spinal fluid flows with every heartbeat, with SM the fluid
    is under higher pressure than normal and feels like needle pricks causing the "Air Scratch".

    2.Head rubbing. She would lie on the carpet and turn her head sideways then push with a hind
    leg. That would rub on her forehead and kind of push her in a circle. Then she did the other
    side. Then would roll over and do her back. I suppose that the needle prick feeling caused
    that also.

    3.Bunny Hopping. When She would run fast She ran like that. Not sure if that was connected
    or not.

    4.Shaking. That came up over the last 1.5 years prior to July 2008. Even sweet talking to
    her caused her to shake. Suspect excitement caused the needle prick feeling to cause pain.

    5.Gait. While walking away her bum would be to the right of her front shoulders. Maybe 1/2
    to 5/8 inch off. Running she was almost straight.

    6.Fly Biting. Alot of times flying bugs would buzz her, she got stung 3 or 4 times that I
    know of because she whelped up on her back (and screamed when it happened), but sometimes
    there were no bugs cause we were inside.

    All she does anymore is the Shaking. She hurts too much to do any of the other...
    If I think of others I'll add them.
    She does NOT yelp in pain when her head/neck is petted. (yelp is a sign) She only cries loud
    when she tries to get up, using her hind legs. She is still eating normally and going to the
    bathroom ok.

  2. #2
    Young Pup rob-rene's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    North Carolina


    Gizmos Neurology report:

    This is the e-mail from her doctor after her appointment at NC State Vet Hospital.

    I hope this e-mail finds you and your family safe and are the
    discharge instructions for Gizmo. Our radiology department will get me a
    final report on her MRI, and we will discuss potential surgery for her in
    more detail to offer you more information in making your decision.


    History: Gizmo is a 7 year old spayed female Boston Terrier that presented
    to the NCSU VTH Neurology Service on 1/5/09. She was last normal in July
    2008 when the owners noticed that she was acutely lethargic and unwilling
    to jump or play. Gizmo was initially worked up at the rDVM with
    radiographs and prescribed Prednisone, Tramadol and Methocarbamol.
    Gizmo's owners feel that these medications helped with her pain but did
    not lead to any improvements in her condition and she has slowly worsened
    over the last 6 months. Her signs have progressed to the point that she
    screams when she is helped to stand up or lay down, has decreased strength
    in her hindlimbs, is off-balance and shaky, falls over instead of laying
    down and is unable to use the stairs. The owners also report that Gizmo's
    spine appears crooked and her appetite and water consumption are
    decreased. The owners have noted weight loss.

    Physical Exam Findings: T 100.3 F P 120 bpm R 42 breaths/minute
    Wt 4.0 kg (BCS 3/9)

    On initial physical exam, Gizmo was quiet, alert and responsive with pink
    mucous membranes and CRT less than 2 seconds. Thoracic auscultation and
    abdominal palpation were within normal limits. Abnormal findings were
    limited to the neurological and musculoskeletal systems (see below).

    Pain Score: 3/4

    Neurological Exam Findings:
    Mental Status - Alert
    Posture - Head turn to the right, slight head tilt to the right, left
    scapula extended, scoliotic thoracolumbar spine
    Gait - Stiff and stilted in all 4 limbs wild tetraparesis and ataxia
    Palpation - Resists head manipulation to the left, pain on palpation of
    the neck (C1-C5) and thoracolumbar (T3-L3) regions
    Postural reactions - decreased postural reactions most notably in left
    forelimb, but also diminished in left pelvic limb and right pelvic limb;
    proprioception intact in all 4
    Cranial nerves - anisocoria with mydriasis OD
    Spinal reflexes - Increased spinal reflexes in the hindlimbs (clonic
    patellar reflex RR), withdrawal present in all 4 limbs; crossed extensors
    noted in pelvic limbs
    Sensation - intact with cervical +/- thoracolumbar hyperpathia
    Lesion localization - C1-C5 with possible multifocal involvement at T3-L3

    Results of Diagnostic Tests:

    CBC: No significant findings
    Serum chemistries: No significant findings (mild ALP elevation consistent
    with prednisone administration)
    MRI: severe syringomyelia throughout cervical spinal cord. The spinal
    cord parenchyma is markedly diminished in the scanned area and appears to
    extend further down the spinal cord (scan stops after T2). No overt
    evidence of caudal fossa dysplasia. Final report pending.
    CSF: normal cell count and protein level; final cytology report pending.

    Diagnosis: Syringomyelia (fluid dilatation of spinal cord) of unknown
    Procedure: MRI; CSF collection

    Case progress: Gizmo has a severe change to her cervicalspinal cord which
    is likely affecting her diffusely. The majority of her spinal cord is
    compressed by increased fluid within the cord, which eventually leads to
    destruction and loss of spinal cord tissue. This leads to signs of pain,
    weakness, and incoordination. Due to the severity of her change, her
    prognosis is guarded in terms of response to medications - we can try to
    make her more comfortable, but it is unlikely we will be able to improve
    her neurologic dysfunction. A surgical procedure (shunt placement) may
    remove the pressure damage and alleviate her signs, but due to the unknown
    cause and the severe level of change, her response to this therapy is
    unknown. We will discuss among the neurology department what we feel to
    be the best treatment for Gizmo and contact you further with all options
    if you are interested.

    Prednisone 5 mg: Give 1/2 tablet by mouth every 24 hours.
    Gabapentin: Give 25 mg by mouth every 8 hours (three times per day).
    Activity: Please continue to restrict Gizmo's activity at home (which she
    has already been doing on her own). Please don't let her run, jump, climb
    stairs or play with other dogs. Use a harness at all times instead of a
    neck collar.

    Diet: Normal.

    Other: Please call us with an update on Gizmo's condition in 3-5 days, or
    earlier if her signs are worse.

    If you have any concerns with how your pet is doing, or would like to
    schedule an appointment, please contact the Neurology Service at
    919-513-6692 or 919-513-6714 (fax). For after hours emergencies, call
    919-513-6911. There is a veterinarian on call 24 hours a day.
    NOTE: If your pet is in need of emergency aid and you are not able to get
    to the NCSU VTH quickly, please seek care at the nearest veterinary
    emergency facility. Take these discharge instructions and current
    medications with you so that the treating veterinarian will know as much
    as possible regarding your pets' medical condition.

    Zachary E. Niman, DVM
    Resident, Neurology/Neurosurgery
    NC State College of Veterinary Medicine

    Current condition:

    Gizmo is currently very sore, sluggish, and sad. She is a totally different girl than the
    one I used to know. She has better days and when she does she will play with her toys, and
    talk with us. She does not run much anymore, I kind of doubt that she ever will. A new
    chapter in her life, as well as ours has definitely began and its scary. But she brings me
    more joy than ever, and we will do the best that we can for her to make her life as happy as
    we can. Even if medication only ends up being the road we take, I am so glad we had the MRI
    if for nothing more than knowing why she was hurting. Also with this disorder appearing more
    often, it has to be better for the doctors to have more case studies to compare.
    At least now we can care for her in the best possible way.

    Well I guess that covers where we were and where we are now. We are to speak with her
    doctor in a few days for the final verdict. I will post back how that goes and what we
    decide to do. I also want to try to get the scans, If I do I will post them. I feel that
    this is pretty rare in Boston Terriers as opposed to other breeds, also the doctor doesn't
    feel she has the skull deformity that is common in other breeds (King Charles Cocker
    Spaniels), And that gives me some hope. So if your dog scratches or bites at the air, don't
    panic, it may be fine, just be aware it may not.

    Thanks so much for reading this, and Rene, Jordon, And Gizmo, I love you girls so much!!!

  3. #3
    All-American Dog Mena's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Glenpool, OK


    Thank you for sharing the info and for taking care of Gizmo. Please do keep up the posting so we will know how she's doing.

  4. Remove Advertisements

  5. #4
    Young Pup Heather's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    We are thinking of you and your precious little one. I know that you are doing everything you can for her. I appreciate you posting your/her story. Please keep us informed when you can.

    We'll be praying for her!

  6. #5
    Big Dog Bryan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Nashville, TN


    Welcome to the forums, Rob and Rene. And thank you for sharing Gizmo's story. So sorry to hear that she's having such a rough go of things here lately. You'll alll certainly be in our thoughts.

    Please do continue to keep us updated on how things progress with the vet. We'll be hoping for the best!

  7. #6
    Young Pup GroominPuppiez's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Missouri, USA


    I'm so sorry to hear about your little girl. I first heard of this disorder when I watched this program from the BBC:

    Syringomyelia is a topic they cover in regards to Cavaliers. It was heartbreak to see the videos of those dogs.

    Our thought are with you and your family.

  8. #7
    Young Pup rob-rene's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    North Carolina


    Hello everyone,
    First I'd like to thank Bryan for these great forums, you have done a wonderful job here and I hope you continue for a long time to come.
    Also, Thank you to everyone for their kind thoughts and words, it means so much to us in this tough time.There are so many wonderful people here and I am so glad that I can share Gizmo's story with you all.

    That link you provided GroominPuppiez is spot on. What is happening here is just heartbreaking. Its just not fair to these wonderful animals to have to endure what they are going through. All so that a dog will look a certian way. I am thankful for the uniqueness of each of our babies, what fun would they be if every Boston looked and acted the exact same...The methods of line breeding/inbreeding have to stop. People want the 'Perfect' dog, but the imperfections that Gizmo has are what makes her perfect to us. She was not bought as a show dog, she was bought as a 9 year old girls pet, and that girl deserves a friend that will live a long, full, healthy life. Just as Gizmo deserves a long, full, healthy life...

    The Kennel Club feels that "The vast majority of dog breeds are healthy", well what about the minorty of dog breeds that aren't??? What about the Cavaliers??? Those poor, poor, dogs. They are estimated to be 1 out of 3 affected with Syringomyelia. Also, their brain is too large for their skull causing even more suffering than SM alone... What kind of life is that, for the dog and the owner??? I am so sad for them, but I am thankful that Gizmo does not that to deal with on top of SM...

    Anyway... Gizmo seems to be doing better, the Gabapentin is helping her alot. I haven't seen her in a few days but Rene said she is getting around much better, not as shakey walking. She can get up from laying down without as much pain as before. She used to really struggle to stand up before. I think her system is getting used to it, she had upset tummy the first few days after coming home, but that is getting better.

    Rene did get Jordon another puppy, a German Shepard. Her name is Sage. I think that it is good for Gizmo to have a friend to be with her so she doesn't feel alone now. I didn't know that Rene was going to do that, but I had wanted to talk to her about getting Giz a new friend. I was scared that Gizmo would feel like she was being replaced, but I think she knows that she is #1. They seem to get along ok although Gizmo will let the pup know who's boss. I think Sage will care for Gizmo and take care of her as time goes on. After all, thats what Shepards do is watch over things...

    We still have not herd from NCSU yet. Dr. Niman said that he wanted to talk to the Peidatric Neurologists at Duke University to get their input on her condition and options for treatment. He did say that he would apply to NC State University for a grant for Gizmo to help her. That would mean that she could get the rest of her treatments/MRI's for free. We still need 2 more MRI's to fully image her lower back and see the rest of her spinal cord. She may end up with a shunt tube to drain fluid off the cord to reduce pressure. He said that in places 70% of her spinal cord is gone... He also said that dogs only need ~14% of cord to function so she still has hope.

    He is going to mail us a CD-ROM with her MRI images and when I get them I will post them. Untill then we will hope for her, pray for her, and love her!

    Here is a pic of her almost 4 years ago to the day. She stuck her tounge out at me. She's such a silly rabbit...
    Attached Images Attached Images
    I Love You Gizmo!

  9. #8
    Young Pup rob-rene's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    North Carolina


    Here is a webpage for Cavaliers that I found very imformative:

    It has the most info I have seen so far on SM.

    Also on that page they talked about paw licking as a symptom. Gizmo licked her paws alot, also she would lick the bed comforter leaving a large wet spot. At first I thought she wee wee-ed in the bed. She also bit her nails alot, on a daily basis sometimes...

    Anyone else with experience with SM, or a BT with SM, please feel free to post here.
    I Love You Gizmo!

  10. #9
    Young Pup
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Defaultterrible disease

    I joined this forum to reply to you about Gizmo. That is sad indeed. I have had 7 Bostons in my life and my Lilly died 2 yrs. ago after developing Cushings disease.They are such wonderful dogs.
    My concern now is for my Brussels Griffon Oliver who I got after Lilly died. He too is such a sweetie.
    He began having random pains a few months ago and thru research on the internet I suspected Syringomyelia. UGA in Athens is doing a study and accepted him so we went last week and spent the day so that he could have an MRI. We were surprised and disappointed to find that he does have it.
    He is our baby! I have convinced myself that this may not advance due to not seeing any symptoms for a while. Tonight I am searching for all the information I can find and that led to your story.
    This is heartbreaking. Losing your dog to pain and the life an active dog had is just so sad.
    I will keep posted on your dog and hope for the best. Thanks for sharing your story.
    Oliver's Mom

  11. #10
    Alpha Dog Reba-doo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    Hi Rob,

    My prayers go out to you and your little Gizmo. Thank you for making us aware of this condition as it may catch this disease sooner then later. After all we are the voice of our furry companions.

+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts