Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Merlin is barking. I don't know if he barked while I was swimming laps; if so, he has been barking non-stop for 75 minutes. If he stopped it has only been 35 minutes non-stop.

He wants food. He will bark like this until I either get the spray bottle and zap him or give him food. He has had dinner. This is not a DM thing; he has always been willing to bark for up to two solid hours to get what he wants. He'll do it for longer now because I can't ignore him so I have to check more often (sometimes he is barking for a legit reason.)

I'd be tempted to let him eat all he wants, except I have to be able to lift him, and I don't want his front legs collapsing under the weight of his own tummy.

Pretty soon I will wait for a lull in the barking and then give the bedtime snack. Or maybe I will let him go for the record.

Another friend gone

Another one of Merlin's virtual friends has lost his life to DM.


There have been so many this year I can't name them all.. Guido, Yogi, Einstein, Dylan, Georgie, Liz, Serene, and so many more. Some old, many too young.

Yes, we've lost other friends to other diseases. What makes DM so hard is that we have to make the decision to end the life of a dog whose mind and spirit are still intact but whose body is failing. What makes it even harder now is that it is now a preventable disease, and while more and more breeders are beginning to test, too many more are not. The SOD1 gene is so thoroughly entrenched in the Pembroke breed that without some aggressive action the numbers lost to DM will only increase.

Goodbye, Beckett.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

DM a geriatric disease?

Someone on Performance Corgis asked about how late senior dogs were competing in agility. Here are some responses.

Senior corgis competing in agility

I'm doing agility with a pair of 8.7 yr olds.

Ringo is over 9 and going strong.

My Pem, Mandy is still doing agility at 10 1⁄2 years old. We have been at it for
a long time and she loves it and hasn't shown any sign of slowing down yet. She
got her MXJ last April and has 5 more legs in Excellent B to get her MX title.

This subject is a fascinating one, I retired Shadow at the at of 11 1/2
(after his last run at the AKC agility national this past spring).

Trystan will be 12 years old in a couple of weeks and he is still
competing. He finished his MACH5 in August and has 7 more QQs. And he's
still often in the ribbons 'cause "speed kills" ya know . Last year
was his best year competing - earning a MACH3 and MACH4 and 38 QQs.

Allie finished her MACH3 in mid-May, and turned 12 on June 4.? In December last
year she completed her APD.

You can do this! My Angel (bridge last year at almost 16) finished her MACh at

Merlin retired at 10 1/2 when he started showing signs of DM.
He wasn't headed for a Mach; he'd have been lucky to make it to his C-Tatch (Enthusiast CATCH) in CPE as he was just going into Level 4 when he stopped Q'ing. But he loved it and I loved it and DM stopped us from doing it- and moreover, is stopping me from taking Jack to agility trials even though he is young and healthy. (What do I do with Merlin who needs lots of care if I go off with Jack?)

Update on sleep

Ellen C. has been trying GABA on her reactive Pem, and I looked at the research for its use in dogs, and found it looked hopeful for nightime barking in dogs. So tried it with Merlin, and have now had three good nights of sleep! I hope it keeps working. Right now he is barking but it is daytime and he wants dinner.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Sleep is still an issue. Or barking instead of sleeping. Merlin doesn't act anxious or unhappy when I come see why he is barking, just glad that I've finally done his bidding. I can't ignore him because he barks when he is stuck, or wet. But mostly he barks when he wants something like more food (which is always.) Since we've been doing para-agility in the living room in the evening when it is too hot to walk, he'll go out there and bark for me to come do it with him. He's always been willing to bark like a mad fool when he wanted something- the problem is now that I can't ignore him so it gets worse and worse. But he ought to be sleeping some of the time!

I am working on wearing him out so he will sleep at night, but I may try some supplements that are supposed to help with sleep. Complex carbs supposedly help, and this got worse when we went to a grain-free food, so I'm also going to supplement with brown rice for awhile and see if it improves.

He's been better at night since I shifted 3/4 of his pb to the evening pills, but that may also account for not sleeping at all during the day, at least, not from when I get home until bedtime. When I'm home his mission in life is to try to get more food.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

6 AM

Merlin slept through the night! Well, almost, at 11, Jack and Janine were madly barking at joggers on the street, but Merlin was sleeping. At six I awoke and was going to go back to sleep but then I freaked out- why is he still asleep? Is he dead? and jumped up to check, and woke him up.

So even when he sleeps in, I can't!

He did go out and pee and poop all on his own. Thank heavens for cooler mornings and the ribbon door (it keeps flies out but lets carts roll through.) I wish I could afford a wheelchair doggie door. I found a company that can do one, through a wall, but no way to do that here and not worth the investment when we expect to move soon. It's cool, though, they can make a very wide door, and although it normally has a lip, setting it just below floor level would allow a roll-out door. (or you could do ramps to and from. It would cost about %600, though, and no where in this house to put one.

But at least in milder weather I can use the ribbon door. It won't work for cold weather and won't work for hot weather. I may look at industrial ones (they are called strip curtains and you sometimes see them on loading docks or freezer doors) to see if I can get something that works more of the year.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Goodbye, Merry

Merlin's friend (well, not really because Merry didn't like other dogs, but our neighbor) Merry died four weeks ago of DM. "Dying of DM" is a mis-statement as she didn't reach the point of being unable to breathe. A 90 lb GSD, Merry was put down when she could no longer stand at all. A cart had given her two years, counter-balanced for the last six months, but when she could no longer move on her own it was time to let her go.

I dread having to make that choice for Merlin. While we are lucky with our smaller dogs that we can lift them easily enough, I don't know how he would handle being a quad. Some dogs stay cheerful and connected, and he might be that way, or he might get depressed and be ready to go. I don't know, and I don't want to find out any time soon.

For him, since he is almost 12, it is probably a race of DM with Time and other illness. I'm not sure which is worse... sudden loss due to illness, or having to choose the day he dies. Neither is good, but I hope in my lifetime we see the end of death due to DM.

Goodbye, Merry. That you could manage so long with this disease is a testament to your owner's love and care and strong back.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cost of DM update

Recent expenses: new crate, with side opening, so I can lift him out now that he can't get out himself: $90. Two Palace bedding mats from Scout's house: $24. Cool bed, $35. Two boxes of 54 each Huggies overnites: $19 each (plus tax- each box lasts about ten days.)

Coming soon: front wheels for his cart or a new counterbalanced cart. I hope he stays strong enough for a few more months but sometimes I think he is getting weak in the front. (I hope it is just the weather tiring him out.) Cost, $150-$500.

Merlin himself is sometimes happy, sometimes frustrated. He will sometimes move on his own and sometimes wants to be carried. Sometimes he'll walk in his cart and sometimes he'll just lie down in it and bark. Sometimes he smiles and sometimes he looks unhappy but that's usually because I won't feed him any more.

Another DM discussion shut down

Not long ago it was on the "Mycorgi" site, where we were asked to step to the back of the bus.. .oops, I mean, keep our discussions to ourselves in a special group for owners of disabled corgis. The site owner refuses to understand that the discussion is VERY relevant to every corgi owner.

This time it was Corgi-L, because one breeder (and I use the term loosely) decided to flame anyone who believes in DM DNA testing. She succeeded in what I'm sure was her intention- shutting down the discussion. Well, I don't think the anti-testing faction is going to succeed for long.. this time on ShowPem she has no defenders. Other breeders are coming around to understand that right now, this is what we have, and using it will lead to better health and longer lives for their dogs.

Ironically, the same "breeder" refuses to participate in the research because no one will pay her to submit her samples.. but says she won't use the test until research has proven it to her satisfaction. My guess is that as long as they aren't going to offer her free tests and free shipping she isn't going to test. So we are back to my premise that educating puppy buyers is the way to go.

Luckily there ARE conscientious breeders out there who are doing what they can to defeat this miserable disease. I know that if I want to buy a clear or carrier puppy in the future I can. If every puppy buyer demanded the same thing, the demand would exceed the supply, but not for long.

What's frustrating here is that no one who does not have a dog with DM wants to talk about it. It's as if they believe that if they don't discuss it the disease will disappear. People, that's WHY it is so prevalent in Pems.. because people didn't talk about it. And until last year, couldn't test for it, so no one knew how to reduce its incidence. Now that they can test for the gene, they still don't want to talk about it.

The dynamics of this are hard to understand.