Meet Brodi, AKA Gold Dog. He's our 12 year old golden retriever. He didn't come to us as a puppy but instead we found him while looking through the Kansas City Star, our local newspaper, & he was needing a new home. You see, his family loved him so much and were devastated that they had to find a new home for him but sadly, their son was extremely allergic to him. Their son was 7, Brodi was 13 weeks old.
It was love at first sight when we saw him & that evening we took him home to meet his new fur-sister, Stoli. Stoli wasn't super stoked with the change but it didn't take long for her to warm up to the idea of having a buddy around all day. & here we are 12 years later. We've been through two major surgeries with Stoli, one surgery with Brodi, ear infections galore and countless destroyed pillows & comforters. But the love that these two pups have given to us and the boys can't be measured.
In the recent weeks we have noticed that Brodi wasn't feeling like his normal self. He was starting to move a little slower and we figured that his old age was starting to catch up to him. Then almost over night he seemed to lose control of his hind legs. Not completely but periodically it seemed as though he couldn't control his legs--like he was walking drunk or something. So we called our vet and made him an appointment. I had done a little research and had a pretty good idea what we were looking at but I was hoping I was wrong. When Justin called the doctor said he had arthritis, which was good for two reasons--one, it could be managed with medication and two, I was wrong and in this case, that was a very good thing. So we started giving him the medication and hoping that his symptoms gradually went away.
They didn't. & I was convinced more than ever that we were dealing with something else. So Justin and I made another appointment & I stayed up all night researching what I had initially thought so I could be ready with questions. Besides not having control of his hind legs more often than not, Brodi never seemed like he was in pain. He was SUPER happy to see us whenever we walked in the door and would try and race over to us, hind legs following limply behind him. He never looked as though he didn't want to get up in the morning when we did. He didn't mind if I messed with his legs, think playing bicycle with a kid. He didn't mind me holding onto his paws. All of which should have bothered him if it was arthritis.
I preformed a little test while we waited in the doctors office just to confirm my theory on what I thought we were dealing with. He didn't pass my test & 5 minutes later, the doctor (different from the first visit) also performed the test with the same result. It wasn't arthritis. It was degenerative myelopathy. Or DM for short. It's fairly rare. Mostly found in shepherd or retriever breeds & is a neurological disorder. Basically, the signal from his brain to his hind legs is getting interrupted and is unable to pass through. He knows his legs are supposed to do something, he just can't always make it happen. & sadly, there isn't anything we can do for him except love on him for as long as we have him, which looks to be anywhere from weeks to 6 months. We just don't know.
The good news--he is in zero pain.
It sucks though. We don't know how long we have because we have no idea how far into this we are. We hope we found it early and he will be with us for months to come but we just don't know. We also have two little boys that love their Brodi boy & who are heartbroken with the news. Yes, we told them. They needed to know. They need to know how to help Brodi around the house. They need to know that if Brodi runs into them, it's not his fault. They need to know that their time with Brodi is winding down and that the more love we can show him the better.
So for now we are taking it day by day. We are helping him up the stairs. We have turned our hardwood floors into a maze of rugs. We lift him up onto our beds and twenty minutes later we lift him back off because we don't want him hurt himself as he tries to get down. & we give him as much loving as he will allow us too--which is a lot. He is such a lover & has been there for us for the last 12 years--through getting engaged and then married. To having babies and house remodels. To moving and summer trips to the lake. So now it's our turn to be there for him. To hold his paw and show him just how much he is loved and means to our little family.