I dedicate this story to Dax (Alleghenys Creed of Solace) my wonderful boy.
3/26/2009 to 6/30/2010
pedigree listed on this link
He was totally a once in a lifetime dog and I was so blessed to have had him in my life.
Dax's life was cut so short due to major health issues.
I was so excited to get Dax as a baby. I had just lost my Ember, a Shiloh Shepherd, about 8 weeks before, and I just could not wait to bring Dax home. My boy came from what I thought were two very nice dogs, Trapper and Zada (Legacy's Hearts Content Of Allegheny). In my opinion the temperament that they produced by this breeding was just wonderful, however the genetics turned out to be not so good.
This is how his front legs looked prior to his surgeries and were getting worse as each month went by as he grew. He is 6 months in this picture.
My boy had more issues than any dog should have to endure. He had problems from the day I brought him home, first with his stomach and chronic diareah and by 4 months with his front legs. He had diareah for months and nothing the vets tried or tested for showed a cause until we finally ran a fasting TLI with B-12 and Folate and the testing revealed Proximal Small Intestinal Disease. (Note - this is not EPI - this is a totally different condition-it is known as Celiac disease in humans). He was then 4 months old. We put him on a special grain free diet and he gradually did start to get better and the chronic diareah started to subside. It took months to get him totally free of the diareah and have normal stool. At 4 1/2 months old x-rays of his limbs revealed that something odd was going on so we watched and waited. In December he was diagnosed with Bilateral valgus deformity radius caused by retained cartilage core in both front legs, with the right one worse than the left, but both pretty bad.
In January of 2010, (at 9 months of age) he underwent a double ostectomy on both of his front legs which removed 2 inches of bone from each leg and then plates were screwed to his bones for support and to allow for growth in an effort to try and correct the abnormal growth in both of his front legs and to try and turn them both back to the front again as they are supposed to be. Normally ostectomies are done one leg at a time, but in Dax's case, they had to do the two at the same time for fear that the one not operated on would break down to the point where it could not be repaired. He could barely walk for 12 weeks so I lifted him and assisted him the entire time to go out to the bathroom several times a day. I had a harness on him the whole time and that helped me help him get around. I hand fed him each feeding by holding his food bowls so he could eat and I also held his water bowls as he was unable to drink with it on the floor or even elevelated. It had to be tipped so he could get water.
Sixteen weeks after his first surgery he underwent a second surgery to have the plates removed. Upon opening up of the wounds the vet discovered that he had been having a massive reaction to the plates and crews and that a lot of the tissue had been eaten on the inside where the screws went through the bone into the skin. Those screw sores never fully healed and he had seeping holes in his front legs until he was put to rest. They just never completely healed up. I applied daily treatments to those wounds in an effort to get them to heal and keep him comfortable.
He wore these wrappings for 12 weeks from the first surgery
and for 4 weeks the second time around.
He had open sores for months that would not heal due to his allergies.
I purchased custom made orthodics for him but they still rubbed him and made him sore so he could not wear them all of the time. I worked on increasing his wearing every day by adding a 1/2 hour each time to build up callouses.
Above is a picture of one of his allergic reactions - he was allergic to his stitches - his right foot swelled to three times the normal size.
Dax went twice a week to water therapy to try and strengthen his front legs after his surgeries.
In May, 2010, as a total last resort, I took Dax to Ohio State University’s Veterinary Clinic in Columbus, OH and he was confirmed with a diagnosis of 5 separate genetic conditions.
The most alarming comment I heard that day was “we have seen all of these conditions in dog’s before, but NEVER in one dog.
My boy had the following confirmed conditions:
Bilateral valgus deformity radius caused by retained cartilage core
Bilateral carpal hypertension
Proximal Small Intestinal Disease (celiac disease in humans)
Unilateral Elbow Dysplasia – right leg
He had reactions to anything synthetic, i.e. stitches, medicine, plastics, medical wraps, the plates they used for his surgeries and it made it so difficult to take care of him as he reacted to almost everything we gave him and resulted in major complications at every turn.
Ohio State wanted to perform Arthrodesis surgery on Dax which is where they would go in and remove all of the cartilage in and around the bones in his feet and replace the cartilage with bone grafts taken from other parts of his body. The bone as it grows fuses and locks the bones in and around the pastern area and stops all movement. It is a grueling and painful surgery with a long recovery. They felt this was Dax's only option at this point.
It would mean at least five more surgeries for him over the next 18 months. He needed the Elbow Dysplasia surgery first to remove the bone chips to have enough strength in that right leg to undergo the other four surgeries. It would take 2 surgeries each for both pasterns to be fused.
I could not decide what to do and just wanted to give him a break for a while. I was not sure I could ask him to go through any more. The said they felt that I had a month or two to decide so we both took a break and totally enjoyed ourselves that last month. Dax finally made the decision for me. His front legs just gave out and he was in terrible pain. On 6/30/10 Dax laid his head in my lap for the last time and I felt the life leave his body and I knew he was finally free of pain.
Dax’s vet bills exceeded $10,000.00 with the potential for another estimated $6,000.00+. I was one of the lucky few that had insurance, so my part on the total bills were about 20% but that is still a lot of money, a lot of heartache and a lot of pain for my beloved boy. He underwent two grueling surgeries, had so many complications because of his allergies that I cannot even begin to tell you about what he endured, he had to wear braces that hurt him, he had physical therapy for months and months, which included water therapy twice a week, massage therapy 3 times a week and all of the while he was still in continual pain.
This is a picture taken of him on 6/29/10. He went over to my friends kennel and he played and played with all of his buddies. He had the best day.
He always had a smile though - He truly was a once in a lifetime dog.
Reg Name: Legacy's Hearts Content Of Allegheny-Zada
currently owned and being bred by Briarwood German Shepherds
Reg #:DN195087/01 07-09
Breed/Variety:German Shepherd Dog
Reg Name: Spirit Of Caleb Crossing Selah
Reg #:DN133907/09 06-07
Breed/Variety:German Shepherd Dog
This video was taken a week or so before he passed. You can see how he was starting to stuggle with his walking and his front legs were really starting to break down. He was clearly in pain and it hurt him to walk. He normally wore his braces but I wanted a video of how he walked.
A lot of people that read Dax’s story might think that I am a disgruntled owner. I assure you I am not. Stuff like this can happen to any dog. It is very sad, to say the least, but unfortunately for some, it does happen. I tried my hardest to do everything I could to keep him happy and comfortable and know in my heart that I did just that.
Dax’s original breeder was actually a good conscientious breeder and was so supportive of me and Dax throughout his whole ordeal. I truly could not have asked for more support from her and have no hard feelings towards her whatsoever. I think it broke her heart as much as it did mine seeing what he endured. I sometimes think Dax may be part of the reason why she decided to stop breeding.
Dax came from a first time breeding of the dam, so no one knew what she would produce. That changed pretty quickly when two puppies from that litter had some pretty serious issues. One puppy died at 6 months of age and then Dax at 15 months. The breeder tried the dam again with another sire, hoping that she would not produce any more puppies with issues, but sadly she did.
I think what upsets me, more than anything else, is that the dam was recalled by her original breeder, once Dax’s breeder decided that breeding was just not for her.
Dax’s dam continues to be bred without any thought of what she is producing. Her current breeder seems to be ok with what she is producing. It is only a couple of puppies, while the rest seem ok, so that is alright in her mind.
What if you are one of the owners of those couple of puppies.
That is very sad and is what disturbs me more than anything else.
Due to the kindness of some very dear friends, Dax's memory is always close now. They blessed me with a beautiful dogwood tree that is now planted in my back yard.
What a fitting memorial for a truly wonderful boy.
My Dax aka The Daxter.
I look forward to watching it grow tall and strong.
Something my beloved Dax never got the chance to do.
The sire of this litter was neutered but sadly his dam/mother is still being used for breeding.
To Dax - I love you big boy.
"God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be.
So He put His arms around you and whispered "come to me".
With tearful eyes I watched you, and saw you pass away.
Although I love you dearly, I couldn't make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating, hard working paws at rest.
God broke my heart to prove to me, he only takes the best."