LOWER TRURO, N.S. – When her dog looks up at her, and she sees the pain in her eyes, it’s heart-breaking for Rebecca Ann Blair.
Her 16-month-old bull mastiff, Charley, was recently diagnosed with wobbler syndrome, a neurologic condition that affects the spine. She and her partner, Cory MacKay, are now trying to sell their truck and camper to raise money for the dog’s veterinary expenses.
“It progressed so fast, and we just love her so much,” said Blair. “This is very overwhelming, but we have to try and help her. If she doesn’t have surgery she would eventually stop walking and be incontinent.”
The couple got Charley when she was a few weeks old, and she immediately became a beloved member of their family.
She appeared to be doing well until April 4, when she fell while running around outside. MacKay carried her inside, thinking she would be fine after a little rest, but the dog’s condition didn’t improve. She was taken to their vet in New Glasgow. Bloodwork and X-rays showed nothing, and they were referred to the Atlantic Vet College at University of Prince Edward Island.
There, Charley went through more blood tests, cortisone injections to rule out Addison's disease, exams, and an MRI. She was diagnosed with wobbler syndrome, which affects the spine and causes a ‘wobbly’ gait. In veterinary articles, it is usually referred to as cervical spondylomyelopathy.
“They told us they’ve seen about five cases of this before, but it’s never usually caught this early,” said Blair. “They can do surgery, that’s very extensive, and they’ve never done it before. There’s no guarantee she’ll pull through surgery, or that she’ll be free of wobbles if she does, but we have to give her that chance.
“She deserves to live a normal healthy life, or as healthy as can be.”
Charley will make her third trip to UPEI Monday, for a spinal tap. If everything looks okay, surgery will be Tuesday. She’ll need to stay in hospital for about a month while she recovers.
Surgery alone is about $7,000.
“She means more to us than the truck and camper, so we’re hoping to sell them to help with costs,” said Blair.
“Lately, she’s been unable to play with her boyfriend, a poodle from next door, when he comes over. She just looks at him, and you know she’s afraid it’s going to hurt if she plays.
“She’s always had stairs she can walk up to get on our bed, but now we’ve removed the bed frame, and just have the box spring and mattress on the floor, to make it easier for her, but it’s still difficult.
“It just kills us to see her like this so we’re going to go with the surgery and pray she will be okay.”
The truck and camper are advertised on Kijiji and a GoFundMe campaign has been set up at https://www.gofundme.com/bgfnt3-charley