Date of Death:
It is with deep regret to inform you of Chip's passing.Chip came to MAGSR after his family had to give him up. The elderly husband passed and the wife could not provide for him by herself. He was then locked away in a room by himself in the their home. The caretaker would come by, open the door to throw food in and quickly shut the door. Once the wife went into a nursing home, Chip was surrendered to the shelter. When I was asked to see him at the shelter, I found him lying in his own feces and urine, overweight and clearly saddened by the life altering events which had occurred. He was extremely arthritic and greatly in need of some tlc. When I walked him out to my truck to get in, I was amazed when he made the decision to jump up onto the backseat of my F150! I immediately knew he was ready to move on with life.
Soon after coming to our house, the first order of business was to reduce his weight so that he could walk without so much difficulty. Soon thereafter, we had a couple struggles with pack hierarchy. But we were not giving up as we knew this is where he needed to be. Now that he was on good nutrition, joint supplements and NSAIDs he began to emulate Laci's ball drive. He loved to play ball. He was obviously struggling with limited mobility and a some rear limb incoordination. But he loved playing ball anyway and he loved being part of the pack. We saw it as a rebirth of sorts. He either discovered something that he had never experienced before or he rediscovered something that he experienced earlier in life. Either way, he was living a fulfilling life in his new "home". He was feisty and was clearly highest in the canine pack. We nicknamed him "The General". He was large and in charge. He loved lying in the yard when we were outside, especially on days that were not terribly hot. He also love lying on the deck on cool nights.
In the Fall of 2017 he began showing signs of DM. In the matter of a couple weeks, he went from being able to walk on his own to being completely down on his back end. He rebounded once and was able to walk again. As excited as we were for his ability to walk again, that only lasted a couple days and he was back down. If you know anything about DM, it has a tendency to progress, sometimes regress but ultimately progresses again. Chip became incredibly frustrated. Because we had been through DM with dogs in the past, we outfitted him with the Help Em Harness. We also tried Biko Bands which assist the rear legs with pulling them forward during walks. But the window of opportunity for using Biko Bands was somewhat limited. We then bought him a brand new cart from Bestfriend Mobility. He wasn't crazy about the cart no matter how much we tried to get him used to it. He's just one of those dogs who does not love a cart. Through everything, he tolerated all the harnesses, bands and cart. But the harness provided the most assistance in daily life for him. His frustration passed and being down became his norm. We quickly incorporated his lack of mobility into our lives and we made sure that he had as much, if not more time with us and mental stimulation as our mobile dogs. Just within the past week or two, he started showing signs of front leg incoordination. He would sometimes stumble when walking him outside to go potty. We knew that this was not a good sign. Reason being that DM starts with the back legs and as the disease progresses, it will affect the front legs, esophagus and ultimately the brain stem and other organs. He was now showing signs of being neurologically challenged in the front. He then developed a cough which ultimately turned into aspiration pneumonia because his esophagus was not functioning as it should. When his breathing started to become labored, we knew we were at then end and to let him go on was not humane nor much in the way of quality of life.
He peacefully passed in our arms surrounded by those who loved him. Caring for a dog with DM requires a lot of physicality and patience. But that extra time spent in caring for a needy dog creates a deeper bond. Chippy, like all dogs, was very special and we love him dearly.
Monty & Sheri