American Whippet Club
1993 American Whippet Club Annual
GREG AND CAROLYN MOUNTAN • 232 SCHULTZ LANE, LATROBE, PA 15650 • 412/539-2925
SPINAL CORD INJURY: One Dog's Recovery
by Claire Larson
It is a sight that will make any dog racer's blood run cold: a dog goes down and, instead of that agile somersault that so many do when they fall, he starts thrashing around on the ground, trying to rise, but unable to. Your legs seem leaden. You can't run fast enough. You want to get there to help him, and the yards seem like miles.
I saw a spinal cord injury in 1985. My Dreamer was in the race, and when Tony and Helena James's black bitch Geenee went down, for a split second I thought it was him. The screaming was terrible, and I had that incredible feeling of powerlessness. What a relief it wasn't my dog! How horrible for the Jameses! It seemed like a freak accident. I didn't know my turn was coming.
Saturday, May 2, 1992, in the first program of a NAWRA meet, with its bizarre seeding of races, my six-year-olds, Pluck and Reckless Disregard, drew spots in the high point race. I loaded the dogs, expecting them to run well behind the pack. But though they were not in the same class as the A racers, they were determined. In trying to find a hole, about 50 yards down, Pluck decided to switch sides, and bumped Reckless on the hip as he moved over. In subsequent months I've often wondered if a younger dog could have sustained that bump— you see the dogs jostling for position all the time. But Reckless stumbled, then somersaulted, then was thrashing around like a toy plane with a broken wing.
Sharon Canales was foul judging and got to him first, which was truly a blessing, since he's known Sharon all his life and she makes her living soothing terrified dogs. In addition, she was incredible at keeping her voice calm and controlled when everyone around (especially me) was nearly hysterical. There were many people present who had there when Geenee had gone down seven years before; they, as well as others who had medical training, knew what to do. After the initial shock, people raced into action.
What Went Right
We did not remove his racing muzzle. If the dog is in pain, he will bite frantically at whatever he perceives may be causing the pain, including the humans touching that area.
A card table was pressed into service as a stretcher. You need to immobilize the dog immediately on something large enough for him to lie on his side with his legs out, not scrunched up like he would be in a crate.
He was loaded into the canopy of a pickup with me and two other people to hold him still. It is absolutely essential that the dog be kept still, strapped down if necessary.
We had every scrap of ice from everyone's ice chest wrapped in a towel and pressed along his entire spine, from skull to tail. This may not have been a factor in Reckless's case, but it sure didn't hurt, and in some cases it may help.
The person driving ( Sharon) knew the area well and knew the address of the very closest veterinarian, about 5 minutes away. The people in back with me were Paul Winden, a nurse, and Doris Hillen, who'd had experience with a spinal cord problem in an Afghan.
What Went Wrong
The closest veterinarian was about to leave for a seminar, came out to the truck, looked at Reckless and sent us on to my regular vet. He declined to treat him, saying that since he didn't know which would be my
vet's choice of steroid, we should wait until we reached that clinic to start any medication.
We continued on to my regular vet, another half an hour, who started steroids immediately. She examined him, finding his rear was completely paralyzed and he had rigid spasms in his front but seemed to have control of his front. She decided he was showing signs of Schiff-Scherrington phenomenon, wrapped his neck, and put him in a crate, saying she would x-ray him. She suggested we call in a couple of hours. Feeling we were in the way, we went back to the race meet.
When I returned a few hours later, films of his neck had been taken, but nothing was conclusive. My vet asked if I wanted to arrange for a neurology consult at the emergency clinic, but I declined because I'd heard stories about the local neurologist - other dog people described him in very unflattering terms and told horror stories about his fees. Instead, she called the emergency clinic and consulted with him by telephone; he instructed her to take thoracic films. These showed nothing, and I was allowed to take him home with a neck wrap on, with the caution of getting help to move him if I felt it was necessary to take him into the emergency clinic that night. I was told I could turn him every couple of hours to keep him more comfortable so long as I was careful that his neck was not twisted.
Two days later, when I realized there must be something that could be done for him, I took Reckless to an out-of-town neurologist; but instead of calling a friend to assist, I carefully loaded him into a wire crate with a flat tray bottom and drove him the 45 miles myself. He thrashed in the crate the whole way.
What Should Have Happened
We made a great start, but we got intimidated by professionals and I was unforgivably foolish. If you want proper care for your dog, this is not a time to be shy. We should have insisted that the first vet start some steroidal therapy, calling my vet if necessary for the specific type. Any steroid would have been better than none, and time is truly of the essence here. He should have strongly recommended that we take Reckless to the emergency clinic, where a neurologist could be consulted.
My vet should have called the neurologist immediately instead of waiting hours. She got the Schiff-Scherrington phenomenon right, but was too rusty on neurology to remember that it indicates a thoracic injury, which is why the neurologist she consulted told her to take thoracic films. She was out of her area of expertise, and as a result, her treatment was off-target. Immobilizing his neck was totally useless. Crating him gave him room to move, which he did any time someone entered the room.
I was a fool, first for worrying about specialist fees. There were people who were more than willing to lend me the money. I did borrow a substantial sum from a friend; yes, it was embarrassing to accept the offer, and yes, it took six months to pay it back. But when your dog is in trouble, you can make yourself put aside that ego. In addition, I wasted $150 on incorrect treatment. Secondly, I was a fool for not wanting to deal with an unpleasant specialist. I was forced to seek his help several months later; yes, he was pompous and pretentious, but he knew his stuff, and expertise is priceless in a spinal cord case. Thirdly, I had friends who would have been happy to help me, but I didn't want to "inconvenience" them further. I risked my dog's future because of that reluctance to bother them.
The Neurology Practitioner
There are a multitude of diseases that can cause temporary or permanent paralysis. Sometimes the first trial for the neurologist is the determination: is this problem caused by disease or trauma? In the case of trauma, the practitioner must determine where the injury is, then what the injury is, whether a fracture, a dislocation ("luxation"), or disc injury. There are only a few clinical signs that can be used as diagnostic tools: posture, pain perception, reflexes and motor ability. The general practice veterinarian observes variations in these occasionally the neurologist sees and evaluates these signs daily. In addition, a fortune (and not a small one) has been spent on specialized equipment. The neurologist may use radiographs, a myelogram, surgery or a cerebral spinal tap to diagnose the spinal cord problem.
On the Monday after the accident, I remembered Stephanie Hazen, my former vet down in Salem, speaking highly of a Dr. Clarke Berryman and sending all her cases to him. I called his office and described the problem. They said, "Get here as soon as you can."
Dr. Berryman is a personable, intense man. In the months that followed I saw him only once in something other than surgical scrubs. Most of the appointments took place as he was about to go into surgery or just coming out of surgery. But as harried as he was and as hectic his schedule, he would sit in the waiting room with me, patiently explaining the problems and answering my questions.
On that initial appointment, he first asked specifically about the accident - what had happened, what had been Reckless's reaction. Then he started checking clinical signs and showed the first enthusi asm when checking pain perceptions. A dog can show reflexes even with a severed spinal cord. But pain indicates the pathway is still open. The response was weak, but there.' In this case, a myelogram would probably tell the story.
The myelogram (a series of radiographs of the spinal cord after the injection of a radiopaque substance into what's called the "spinal arachnoid space") showed two thin lines properly flowing from the neck down either side of the length of Reckless's cord. But at the thorax, the lines diffused into a cloud, a "blush," Dr. Berryman called it. Farther down, one tiny line continued to travel down the middle of the cord. If you think of the cord as a cable, the blush showed where the cable had been smashed; the single thin line farther down indicated the damage was so severe the dye had reached the interior part of the cord and had continued by moving down that central corridor.
There was no surgery that could be done that would help Reckless. I would have to wait to see if any threads in the cable could take over the message functions of the threads that had been destroyed by the accident. Dr. Berryman gave some harsh encouragement: "If he were a human, he would be a paraplegic. But canines have an incredible ability to regenerate spinal cord function. If he gets bladder control back, I can almost guarantee he'll walk again."
He kept Reckless for three more days. The myelogram itself is debilitating; he wanted to observe his progress. On the Thursday after the accident, I took Reckless home - this time with help from Julie Ward. She drove, I sat beside him to keep him still. He stunk of urine. It is important to empty the paralyzed dog's bladder frequently as it is very susceptible to infection. You express it by pressing on his side at the loin area -it squirts out everywhere. When we got him home, we laid him in the grass and bathed him by pouring buckets and buckets of warm water over him. Within a day, he stunk again.
Then came the waiting, the watching and the work. His bladder needed to be expressed, fluids needed to be forced because of the high doses of steroids, he needed to be kept as clean as possible so that his skin wouldn't break down (if those seem to counter each other, you're right!). Daily I checked him for pain perception. We returned to Dr. Berryman's for a check. My boss let me come to work late, go home for lunch and then leave early. One of my friends called to say she'd whelp the litter I had on the way. Doris came by with money collected at the meet and at practice to help towards the expense - and with an invaluable tip: use a sandwich bag cupped around his penis when expressing his bladder. She said on the Afghan she was eventually able to "catch every drop." I didn't get that good, but it was an enormous help in keeping him clean. I called Helena James on Vancouver Island . Geenee was my ray of hope. She had progressed so much from her accident in 1985 that she had actually been able to gallop down their track again, a somewhat clumsy gallop, but one that kept her a happy member of the household for several years. And I waited and watched in vain for some sign that something was happening, that some function - how much function? - would be restored.
Dr. Berryman said, "As long as he can feel pain, there's still hope." Hope for what? That he might be able to drag himself across the floor like that dachshund I saw while I was waiting for Reckless to be discharged after his myelogram? I kept wandering back to the corner of my property, where I bury all my canine friends, wondering what I should do. It had been only a few days, but they had been grueling days, each one dragging by, with no indication of improvement. How long should I wait before euthanasia was the only appropriate action? A month? Three months? Could I keep this up for three months? I wasn't sure I could keep it up another week. I was getting very little sleep and quickly losing hope. If anything, he seemed to be regressing.
Reckless has been accident prone all his life (my sister Joyce calls him simply "Wreck"), but each time he has risen like a phoenix. This time he did it quite literally. Eleven days after the accident, he stood up, took two shaky steps, and collapsed on the desired blanket. "Don't even bother with a sling," said Dr. Berryman on the phone when I called with the news, "you've got the perfect handle already—use his tail." Two days later he "walked" into Dr. Berryman's office for his appointment. For every three or four steps with the front, he would take one with the rear, but the legs were definitely moving. The next day he walked unassisted to a particularly tasty patch of grass, grazed on a few blades and walked back to his eggcrate-and sherpa pad. Three and a half weeks after the accident he wagged his tail. I burst into tears. One month after the accident, he started galloping - a couple strides at first, just acting goofy, and eventually, over the course of several weeks, across the yard.
Five months after the accident I got up one morning to find him paralyzed again on his left side. I was terrified it was the end. Dr. Berryman was on vacation. I consulted the local neurologist and Reckless was back on track within a few days.
It's been 18 months since the accident. Reckless will always be "disabled" - one foot drags a bit, he has problems with going up more than two steps, he can't gallop in a straight line very well. Although he has full bladder control, he can't lift his leg. He never regained full bowel control, which is an annoyance but a
manageable annoyance. But even now, there are improvements. Just last month he was able to back up several steps to allow me to open a door. Although he always looks around for assistance, he can get up on the couch by himself. Two months ago he unexpectedly took a flying leap into the van.
I might have made other choices if it had been one of my other dogs. Reckless is highly intelligent and affectionate, but he's not very emotional or sensitive. He's always been easy-going and good- natured. I have some dogs that are quite emotional, who can be moody and restless. This was a nightmare, and each day dragged on interminably, so that a week became an endurance test. Would I have been able to persevere if it had been one of those other dogs? I'm not sure. But I hope for many more years with a wreckless Reckless.
1 I was horrified to learn that if Reckless had had a spinal fracture, the improper immobilization, the turning, and my solo journey could have caused the bone fragments to sever the cord entirely, causing irreversible paralysis. Sometimes, the serious damage is from mismanagement of the case, rather than the original accident. One of the frustrations Dr. Berryman expressed was the number of cases sent to him by veterinarians that were not properly immobilized. Regarding turning, he said, "Chance the pneumonia. You need to keep that dog still! "
Mimbres litter 1991
Breeder: Owen J. Light
Ch. Hasue Rude Awakening
BART STARTED THE YEAR WITH TWO POINTS IN MARCH AND FINISHED IN DECEMBER.
OWNER/HANDLER Mark Kocab
10260 Kile Road , Chardon, OH 44024 216/285-9170
BREEDER Kathleen Banks 20595 Wilmont Road Bellevue, MI 48111
Celebrating the A.W.C. Southern Specialty
SBIS Ch. Innuendo Peaches & Cream, FCh.
Best of Breed - "Peaches"
Judge: Iva Kimmelman
Alerek's Charwin Kodiak
Winners Dog /
Two weeks before the Southern Specialty, these two were bred - The results, on 12/15/93, were:
"Peaches" was bred by Bill & Jennifer Love and Chris Hatcher Woods and is co-owned by Bill & Jennifer Love Lopes
"Kodiak" was bred by Al Miniero, Rob Lopes and Charles and is co-owned by Rob
Thanks, Glenda, for making it a possibility !
Bill and Tasia (Tess) Graves
Elysian . established 1962
Another good year for "DINK"
Multi SBIS Ch. Elysian A-Few Perrier, LCM
Perry, shown only 4 weekends in 1993, had a successful year
And, most importantly:
Perrier was bred by Frances Hembree, is owned by James R. Gray MD and Chris Hatcher
James R. Gray, MD P.O. Box 1332, Winder, GA 30680 404 / 867-2978
Elysian ... established 1962
One of our best -
Ch. E lysian Fortune Hunter
( Ch. Elysian A-Few Perrier, LCM ex Ch. Elysian Oh Suzannah, FCh., ROM)
From a litter of 5 Champions, finishing with 3 majors,
With a captivating personality, P.J. is of beautiful type, make and shape, absolutely sound
P.J. is owned here, bred by Elysian and Cherche, and was shown by Jan Margaret Swayze.
Elysian . . . established 1962
Presenting once again -
Ch. E lysian A-Few April Showers, FCh.
(Ch. Plumcreek Walk On Water, ROMX ex Ch. A-Few Marthasville)
April is a multiple Hound Group winning sister to Perrier -She continues to represent our ideal in style and design.
James R. Gray, MD P.O. Box 1332, Winder, GA 30680 404 / 867-2978
Elysian ... established 1962
Presenting April's daughters, sired by Ch. Morshor's Majestic Prince, ROMX -
"May" accumulated 10 points very quickly and "Zelda", pointed, was Best in Sweeps, AWC Supported Entry,
Longlesson Elysian Phlox
Best in Sweeps AWC Eastern Specialty • Best in Sweeps, AWC Supported show the next day
Longlesson TN Woods Larkspur • 11 points, including a 4 point major
James R. Gray, MD P.O. Box 1332, Winder, GA 30680 404 / 867-2978
Ch. Karasar's Preference
(Ch. Karasar's Head of the Klass x Ch. Heatherlane Belle Starr, ROM)
" Pearl" started her career by winning second in a hugh class at the Futurity. The next weekend, she won her first point at age 6 months. After then winning her classes at the Eastern Specialty, she is pictured going B.O.W. at the Midwest Specialty at age 10 months, winning under judges Katrina Hamilton and Bill Bergum. She was also Best in Sweepstakes (entry 101) under Bo Bengtson. She finished her championship 7 shows later, with 3 B.O.B.'s over specials, a Group 2 and ANOTHER 5 point major. She has been shown once as a move-up special and was B.O.B. in an entry of 41 and won a Group 3. All these wins were by age 13 months, breeder-owner-handled by Kerrie.
" Pearl" has a multiple Best in Show winning litter sister in the Dominican Republic, Ch. Karasar's Priceless. " Pearl's" finishing qualified her dam for her R.O.M. (7 champions).
Ch. Karasar's She Devil
(Select Ch. Karasar's Front of the Klass x Ch. Heatherlane Belle Starr, ROM)
As of the end of '93, "Rosie" is ranked #4 Whippet in the country. She is a multiple group winner
and has 2 champion litter brothers. Handled by Jo Seitz, Chuck Burns and her breeder/owner. We hope to have a litter out of her in '94.
We had 2 other champions finish in '93, Ch. Karasar's Virtuous Victor, owned by the Levins, and Ch. Karasar's Vibrant Victoria, co-owned with Jo Seitz. These 2 are littermates to our 1992 National Specialty winning Best Puppy, Ch. Karasar's Vain Vanessa, who also won multiple B.O.B.'s in a few '93 outings. The last puppy from this litter is also a pointed B.O.B. winner. " Pearl" is a repeat of this litter.
We also had 2 other litters in '93. (Yet to hit the ring) One by Front of the Klass x Ch. Heatherlane
Bewitched (A special thanks to the Levandoski's for this litter) and 2 boys by Ch. Karasars Devilish x Ch. Karasar's Klass Act.
CH. CARRY-ON GEMSTONE, J.C.
(Ch. Hamrya's Ice Breaker x Ch. Sporting Field Dresden Doll, SC)
CARRY-ON WHIPPETS / SHARON MARQUIS • RUTH GILPIN• FRANK ZANIN • 203 / 429-6166
CH. CARRY-ON FIRST EDITION, J.C.
(Ch. Sporting Field Strider x Ch. Sporting Field Dresden Doll, SC)
CARRY-ON WHIPPETS / SHARON MARQUIS • RUTH GILPIN
• FRANK ZANIN • 203 / 429-6166
CARRY-ON SAILOR OF TARABET, J.C.
(Ch. Hamrya's Ice Breaker x Ch. Sporting Field Dresden Doll, SC)
presents . . .
We adhere to and support a Breeder's Code of Ethics.
Bred, owned and handled by
FARPOINT • Janet Busch • 41W 933 High Point, Elburn, IL 60119 • 708/377-8929
INHERITABLE EYE DISEASE IN WHIPPETS
Connie Brunkow, DVM
Once again, she's back, but with somewhat better news than in the past!
Last year I noted that CERF was behind on data entry, and that the numbers I had received seemed awfully low, but hopefully not final. The good news is that T was right, and both last year (1992) and this year were better than the past.
In 1992, 128 Whippets were examined for inherited eye disease. 53 were dogs (41% of the total) and 75 were bitches (59%). Of these, 10 males were found to have one or more problems (8% of the total checked and 19% of the males checked), while 19 bitches had one or more problems (15% of the total checked and 25% of the bitches checked.) Of these problems, the major ones continue to be cataracts and vitreous degeneration. 10 animals were found to have cataracts which are probably inherited and 9 had vitreous degeneration. One of those with the vitreous problem is one of my bitches, but on recheck, she was clear. I think that this points up the importance of regular follow-up exams when a problem is found, since sometimes it will resolve, or perhaps the examiner was in error the first time. It can be argued that it is best to get a second opinion from another ophthalmologist, but my feeling is that it's better to have your dogs examined by the same person as they will know what they saw on a previous exam.
The 1993 numbers are higher than 1992 which is good to see. A total of 170 Whippets were examined, 63 dogs (37%) and 107 bitches (63%) an increase of 42 checked. However, some of these may be rechecks of the same animal, which is not indicated in the data provided by CERF. Of these, 8 dogs had one or more problems (5% of the total checked and 13% of the males checked) and 15 bitches had problems (9% of the total checked and 14% of the bitches checked.) Of the problems identified, vitreous degeneration again tops the list, with 5 dogs and 10 bitches found with the condition. 5 animals had cataracts which are probably inherited, and this year one Whippet was found to have retinal atrophy. However it isn't clear at this time if this is the PRA (progressive retinal atrophy) that is seen as an inherited defect in other breeds.
While I am pleased that more people seem to be becoming aware of the need to have annual eye exams done, what concerns me is that the percentages of animals who may have inherited defects has not decreased as the numbers checked increase. In 1992 and 1993 about 15% of the bitches were found to have a problem, even though 32 more bitches were checked in 1993. I suppose that one might argue that this is OK since that percentage didn't go up as the total of Whippets checked went up. On the other hand, if as some folks suggest, there really aren't any problems in our breed, I would expect the number of animals with problems to go down as more animals are checked, because one might suppose that the breeders who are doing regular exams are ones who suspect problems in their lines.
When I first began this report in 1989, I postu lated about 20,000 Whippets in the U.S. If that is the case, and 22% of them have some kind of eye problems, when you run out the calculations, it means that about 4400 Whippets have an inherited eye problem. How should we feel about that?
Since vitreous degeneration seems to be the prominent condition showing up, I thought I'd give another explanation of the disease. As you may recall, the vitreous is a firm jelly-like substance just behind the lens. It basically fills the posterior chamber, the back part of the eye. In some individuals the normally firm substance begins to liquify, and strands start to "leak" around the lens. In itself this is not a problem, but it can indicate that the lens is moving more than normal. If there is enough movement of the lens, it can tear loose from it s attachments and pop through the pupil - referred to as lens luxation. This can create a host of problems, the worst of which is glaucoma due to the blockage of the fluid drainage from the eye. As you probably know, glaucoma usually progresses quickly to total, irreversible blindness. The most well known Whippet to have this problem is "Babs", belonging to Margaret Haese in Wisconsin. Anyone who doesn't believe how devastating this can be should give Peg a call and ask for photos of Babs, or see the interview in the Summer 1993 issue of "Whippet World" magazine.
Once again, I strongly encourage Whippet breeders and owners to have annual eye exams done. I'm concerned that, even though the number of animals checked has gone up a bit, many folks still feel that there aren't problems in the breed. Unfortunately, the statistics indicate that this may not be true and we might be sitting on a time bomb, which could go off any time. It's our responsibility to make sure this doesn't happen to our lovely breed.
Statistics provided by CERF, Inc. at VMDP, Purdue Univer sity , West Lafayette, IN.
"Whippet World" published quarterly by Hofflin Publishing, Wheat Ridge, Co.
A VERSATILE WHIPPET
HE TRIES TO DO IT ALL
PENNYWORTH RED RABBIT , CD, FCH, SC, CGC, TT
(Ch. Hardknott Maestro of Bohem x Pennyworth Cotton Tail)
Pictured above in his parade clothes where he helped win 2 trophies at 4 local parades,
Reggie thanks all the field trial, obedience trial, and conformation judges
Bobbie & Fred Lutz • 11930 Appling Valley Road , Fairfax, VA 22030
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