CANINE DEGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY (OLLIE’S STORY)
Ollie was one of the unfortunates as he did not have a responsible Breeder to ensure his welfare or responsible Owners to provide his care. Ollie was micro chipped at a shelter in Ohio back in 2011 after joining the ranks of other dogs that found themselves without a home. He was adopted out only to find himself back in the same shelter in June 2020.
Ollie’s luck was about to change after Becky Walkos spotted Ollie online in horrible condition. She asked Mastiffs to Mutts for help pulling him so she could foster this sad old boy. The day before she was to pick up Ollie, the rescue sent her a video of Ollie. He was eighty-eight pounds, had bad skin, and something neurological going on. Becky took him anyway because she saw an old boy that needed love in the worst way and a comfortable place to spend his last days. She felt she could provide that.
Ollie needed help with steps but managed to walk with an awkward gait on flat surfaces. Carrie Klaiber came over to meet him and thought he might have Degenerative Myelopathy and so she ordered the DNA test to find out. Becky’s Vet had never seen a Mastiff present with DM, but also agreed to the diagnosis from his experience with the disease in German Shepherds. Since DM is not painful, they prescribed Carprofen and Tramadol for Ollie’s arthritis pain to make him more comfortable. Ollie’s DNA test for DM came back affected. He carried 2 copies of the gene that was causing his problems.
Carrie contacted the Mastiff Health Committee about Ollie’s case and Becky graciously agreed to let us harvest tissue from Ollie to help other dogs when his time on earth was done. Through funding provided for DM study, she had the funds to do what needed to be done. With that in place Becky stayed in touch until she called in August when Ollie started to decline to the point of falling and not wanting to get up at all and later, he developed incontinence and went into depression. Within 3 weeks, it was time for Ollie to be humanely put to sleep. We all know this is the hardest gift of all, whether it be our own or a foster, and Becky went through the process bravely to help research to help other dogs with DM. Becky told me, “The vets were kind, and everyone did their part. All expenses were covered, and they gave me Ollie’s ashes back just as they promised.” Becky said Ollie never lost his Mastiff qualities of being a guardian and good natured. She will never forget him, and we will always be grateful for his participation in DM research.
If anyone else discovers their beloved dog has DM, please reach out to the Mastiff Health Committee for support and resources. We are here for you and them.
Mastiff Health Committee