So I figured that since I have some new followers, perhaps I'd write a post about my Great Dane - Chassis. I named her Chassis because I used to be an engineer for GM. And when I worked at the plant in Oklahoma City, I did a lot of work on the chassis line....and I thought that that word sounded pretty feminine, but was also something that was big, strong, and powerful.
Chassis is now three and a half years old. I am not one of those people that calls my dog my "baby" - mostly because she is not. I love her dearly, but I can leave her at home with some water and some food and she's fine. When she was a puppy I even locked her in a crate. I don't have to keep her clothed and I don't even have to send her to school. Also, she did not come out of my body. :) Chassis was the CUTEST puppy I have ever seen - all paws and ears. She was clumsy - perhaps overly so - but that only added to her charm.
She is my dream dog in so many ways. First, she is big and that means that I am not likely to want to punt her when she yips at anything (seriously, I would never kick a dog - even the most puntable ones). Second, she is so very lazy. I do a lot of stuff away from home - which means when I come home, I want to be able to relax by reading, checking blogs, writing blog posts, or by making lists of things I will do when I win the lottery. I can do all these things with Chassis snuggled right beside me. It's even better after a long walk which she really enjoys. Third, she has such a sweet disposition. She is friendly to EVERYONE she meets and lets kids hang on her and pull on her ears...even when I want to punt them.
But there's one thing that only a few of you know about my dog.
And that's that she has a severe neurological disease that is absolutely heart wrenching to watch. She shakes all the time - whether she's standing or lying down - but most violently when she is on her way from standing to sitting or from standing to lying down (with a very brief period of sitting in between). It has now gotten so bad that she pretty much refuses to sit. In fact, it takes her being phenomenally tired for her to even want to lay down.
I've taken her to neurologists and after a lot of tests and money, they have no idea what is causing the tremors. They have tried steroids, meds for hypothyroidism (as this is sometimes related to muscle tremors and she tested VERY slightly in the abnormal range), and a couple of experimental meds- all without any results. The next step would be to do a nerve biopsy - which, as I understand it, is painful and at the end will only give me a name for the disease - but not a cure. As I understand it, her brain doesn't get feedback from the muscles in her body. As she's starting to sti or lay down, her brain doesn't know where her muscles are...so she tenses them to gain more control over them. Which means that they become fatigued - so she tries to tense them more and slows down whatever movement is happening. This means that there is even more pressure/tension which makes her feel more out of control, so she tenses even more. It's a bad cycle that is now affecting her when she's just standing.
So, when I found all of this out last November, I was bummed, but also relieved that it wasn't Wobbler's Syndrome or something very painful. The silver lining is that the neurologist has assured me that she is in no pain.
But the problem is that she is getting worse. And that fact lies like a pit in my stomach. We went to several events this weekend and I saw her shaking way worse when she was just standing - but mostly when she was excited. It was so bad that people started commenting on it. When she drinks or eats, she actually looks like she's a quarterback - getting ready for a hike. Her right leg raises about an inch of the ground repeatedly. It's funny and sweet at the same time.
I made a promise to her and myself - that I would keep loving her and pampering her for as long as she had until she didn't have a good quality of life. The vet told me what to look for when she starts having a worse quality of life and I feel better about being able to recognize those signs. And she currently has a great quality of life...so I hope that that tough decision is still a while away. But to be honest, I know that her getting worse - such that complete strangers are now noticing even when she's standing - is a sign that it will be closer than what I'm actually ready for.
And that breaks my heart.
2 days ago