Linda wrote this account of her corgi OC's battle with DM.
"OC was born one late afternoon in April of 1999. She was the second of three puppies in the only litter her mother (AKC Irish Misty Fire) had. She passed over the bridge on February 17, 2012 and was almost 13 years old. Her mother, Misty, had passed away of lung cancer 5 days after her 10th birthday, and her father, Buddy, had passed away of cancer that had gone to his brain at the age of 12. He was fine one day, and woke me the next morning having seizures, was rushed to the vet’s where they did tests, etc., and came up with that diagnosis, so was euthanized.
" OC had worked with her mom and dad for several years herding the goats we had, putting them in their pens or in parts of the yard that needed “trimming.” When she was a little over 4 years old, one of the goats got her and crushed her against a wall, injuring her back and hips, and it took a little over 6 months for her to get over that and walk normally again. We got rid of the goats shortly after that, as I was injured and hurt my hip and back, as well.
"OC learned so quickly, and soon became my helper dog, picking things up for me from the floor or under desks or tables while I was in a wheelchair, and continued in that roll as I graduated to a cane. She would carry small things to and from my husband or son, as well, and even go into other rooms to get things I sent her for.
Wheelchair Corgis group on Yahoo, and joined them. They are wonderful people and it was such a blessing to have so much information on the care of dogs that slowly become paralyzed… I had never heard of DM before that, but as I read more and more about it from the posts on there, I could see that she had all the symptoms, on top of the original arthritis. At least it kept her from having a lot of pain, though I still kept her on some pain meds as well as the Gabapentin during the last several months. I never had her checked with a DNA swab.
"She was able to tolerate the 4 wheeled chair for several months, but she had developed a mammary fatty tumor, which caused problems from pressure when she was put into her chair, so we figured out a sort of “potty area” that was slanted slightly and we could carry her outside and lay her on that for her to go potty during her last several months. It really bothered her to have an “accident” inside. When she was put down on her potty area, she would curl herself around a bit to put pressure on her bladder and then go that way, and the angle let the urine/poop run/roll away from her body. I used baby wipes to clean her and a generic “Desitin” (diaper rash ointment) to keep her from getting urine scald, which I’d never heard, or thought of, before she started to develop it.
"I used D-Mannose everyday after her second UTI (urinary tract infection). The UTI was treated with amoxicillin, but I learned about the D-Mannose from the Wheelchair group, and she never had another infection after I started using it. She took about 1000 mg. a day of the D-Mannose.
" Eventually, she lost sphincter control of her rectum and would “poop” involuntarily, but she was usually solid, so that was not a problem to clean up after. By that time, she was on extra absorbent “pee pads,” in case of an accident. I found that giving her some yogurt everyday seemed to keep her bowels regulated.
"She would also let us know, by barking her little weak bark (by that time) whenever she wanted a drink of water, needed to go outside, or smelled that she’d pooped, and when she got uncomfortable and needed to be turned over and/or propped a different way (about every 2-4 hours day and night). We had gotten her a piece of 4 inch Memory foam to make her a bed to be sure that she didn’t get “bedsores.” Because of health issues of my own, I sleep in a recliner chair, so we made her bed on a table beside my chair, so I could be touching her at night if she needed me.
"OC also got cancer and she started having trouble breathing (partially from DM) but that last day, she also started to have small seizures, so I had to let her go at that point. She still perked up a bit to bark at the other dogs she saw on her last trip… a beautiful Ornery Cuss to the end.
"It was a very difficult trip to take, with my precious OC, through this awful disease. To watch her slowly go downhill, and not know WHEN to quit, was the hardest. Caring for her as long as we did was only possible because I was home on disability and my son was home to help with my care and hers. I had worked for 18 years with severely handicapped children in the public school system, so had no problem with medical needs or cleanup, and my son was able to be there to carry her out 95% of the time when she needed it. Other times, my husband did, or she had to use the pee pads (which she HATED to do).
" I had thought that I was going to have to make “The Decision” when she was 9 and her back legs went out, and then I found out about wheelchairs and my son was able to make one for her. It was such a Godsend to have her so much longer, but this past several months as she got to the point where she couldn’t sit up without support, her breathing started to be more labored, and she started to get depressed or to tired to pay a lot of attention, or was only happy when she had my full attention, I could tell the time was coming and THAT was the hard part. I’ve cried most every day wanting to do what was best for her… she would always perk up if I sat beside her and petted or played with her, so I would think, “Just a little longer.” I’ve also had asthma and heart problems this past year, and others have talked about the stress being too much, but OC was a big part of me and I never could have given her as much love as she gave me."